There is an old joke about a missionary and a cannibal. If it seems a little silly at first, let it sink in a little…
One day the missionary was trying to explain why cannibalism is bad. He says to the Cannibal, “God created man to be but little lower than the angels. For that reason alone it is wrong to kill and eat people.”
The cannibal thought for a moment and said, “Then why did he make them out of meat?” This joke is not about real missionaries and cannibals, it is about the heart of Western Civilization confronting the Agélaste Left.
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” he was setting forth a broad and revolutionary presumption - Humans have rights. Jefferson attributed the source of those rights to God as did many philosophers of his time but they were never actually rights in the real world until they were codified and written into The Bill of Rights which is the cornerstone document of the United States of America- more critical even than the Constitution.
I am not saying that Jefferson invented the idea of rights. He was, obviously, building on the principals of respect for the individual that spring from the book of genesis, derive from Greek Philosophy and were firmly established in practice the Magna Carta. But Jefferson crossed the last significant frontier by turning the view of rights around. He viewed the rights of man as the signal aim of governmental structure rather than an adjunct and a foil to the rights of a king.
Prior to the rise of the United States and the other constitutional democracies of Western Civilization there were no rights for the common man. There were only the divine rights of kings and churches which were enforced by the application of power. The concept of rights evolved slowly as the human race evolved culturally. At every other evolutionary level of cultural complexity, from the family, to the hunting/gathering group, to the tribal society, to the monarchy and all the way up to the despotic rule of the totalitarian state, the rest of human experience has been and is without rights as Jefferson understood them. Until the American experiment there were only functions and duties to be fulfilled with the occasional “favor” of some small freedom. It is only in the upside-down logic of the left that rights are assumed to exist independent of the deity and/or government.
Here is a short definition of the word “citizen” that I like. I found it on a kid’s web site that is run by the House of Representatives. “A native or naturalized member of a state or nation who owes allegiance to its government and is entitled to its protection.” Right alongside the protection, which includes the assurance of the citizen’s rights, there is that often forgotten but crucial bit about the allegiance owed. Allegiance is scoffed at in some circles these days but the protection of rights is a two way street and the government can’t protect anything if it can’t count on allegiance.
Unlike Jefferson, most on the left do not believe in a God that "endows" men with rights, neither do they believe in the government that grants and protects them. They seem to believe that rights exist as inviolable, innate properties on their own. This, of course is absurd. Even a cursory look at any society that is not a western democracy will show that rights are only ephemeral and exist at the whim of the ruler. Without a Bill of Rights, a Constitution to give it detail and strong safeguards including an independent judiciary and controllable military a right is just an idea.
If Jefferson wrote The Declaration today he would find himself having to defend that original presumption in the media. This is because the mass media is in the grip of the liberal left and the left in turn is in the grip of a peculiar, post-Soviet nihilism that has become the prevalent dialogue style of the modern left. The left used to be predictably pedantic. They would lecture you about the coming worker’s utopia and excuse all the excesses of Russia, China and North Korea by telling you that the goal of paradise had to be won over the objections of the vestiges of the capitalist and religious power systems.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, and now with the slow capitalization of China, they can no longer point to the steady evolution of the utopia. To avoid admitting that their ideology is now officially not a candidate for “survival of the fittest” but rather a victim of “extinction of the least fit”, they have sunk into a kind of glib but effective, antic nihilism in which allows them to take advantage of their right of free speech to deconstruct and weaken the culture from within its vital institutions.
The glibness of the left is based on a kind of intellectual guerilla deconstructionism. They start with a patently false accusations and assertions and then, when challenged with information, fall back on a series of lines of defense consisting of reasonable-sounding requests for more information that are designed to eat away at the validity of the assumptions behind the information. A question that one of these might have thrown at Jefferson would be “So if you say the creator endowed us with these rights but later on you insist that there must be no official religion- how can you then use the deity to justify your claim to these rights?” This is an example of a question that is also really an accusation in disguise. Then, if you take the time and energy to argue with them, they just fade back behind more of those kinds of questions . When that last line of defense is breached they simply go back to the beginning and assert some other naive and obviously uninformed anti-western slogan thereby entrapping the unwary and sincere in an endless loop of fruitless talk.
Now, look back up at the joke I began this post with. If you substitute “intelligent citizen” for “missionary” and “modern leftist” for “cannibal” in the joke above, you have the idea.
The effect of this tactic is a “no lose” situation for the nihilist progressive because even while he understands that, if we know what we are talking about, he will be disproved on every point, he has put us on the defensive while engaging us and wasting our time in the futility of “educating the in-educable”. On the off chance that one of his insipid questions stumps us, he wins the whole table without really having risked anything.
“Those writing sympathetically about deconstruction tend to use an "idiosyncratic" (sometimes in fact imitative) style with numerous neologisms, a bent toward playfulness and irony, and a massive amount of allusion across many corners of the Western canon."
If you consider that "idiosyncratic" can be taken to mean that the style is not just individual but actively counter to accepted styles of thought (usually, but not always known as wrong) and "massive amount of allusion across many corners of the Western canon" is a euphemistic way of saying "overly broad generalizations taken out of context" then this is pretty thin support from your sympathizers.
Wikipedia goes on to say:
"Critics assert that when one takes the time to deconstruct writings about deconstruction one discovers it was not worth the effort. Deconstructionism is ultimately and literally a meaningless philosophy. It is devoid of meaning and is, in fact, a direct attack on any possibility of meaning, because if the reader alone creates meaning there can be no truth; one person’s meaning is equal to another’s so there is no possibility of reasoned discourse leading to actionable conclusions. Deconstruction leads nowhere and means nothing.”
Deconstructionism, as practiced in the arguments of the left, is the intentional reduction of accepted values and ideals through spurious comparisons and arbitrary relativism. Such absurdities as the equation of the moral value of our culture and that of the Caliphate Islamists fall easily from their lips. While it is possible to argue every point that the deconstructionist makes down to the finest detail, it is impossible to make any progress doing so because every time you prove a point, the creative and agile deconstructionist asks another intentionally ignorant question that forces you to go back over the same ground. They don't care about the wasted time because they have nothing to gain the emptiness of their tatics mirror the emptiness of their philosophy. Without some self-evident truths, you wind up stuck defending that which should need no defense while the important work of extending the reach of rationality, liberty and true tolerance lies undefended.
A deconstruction stretches the rights of free inquiry and speech to illogical extreme. (It is possible to over-stretch a right because rights exist within systems and are thus responsible to the limitations of the system they operate within) Denying the power, moral authority and prerogative of the culture that grants that right, it places itself outside of the cultural framework.
At this time of challenge and danger, Western Civilization can ill-afford to be paralyzed by the internal rot that this deconstructionism. As I pointed out on a comment thread at Augean Stables:
This…, all reminds me of Yul Brynner. When I was a kid I remember seeing him on one of the old “talk shows”. I never had the patience for those shows- Merv Griffen, Dick Cavett etc.. My parents were watching and I was floating through the room and the raw charisma of Brynner held me for a little while. The host, whoever he was asked Brynner why he never seemed to get drawn into Hollywood squabbles. Brynner said that he had been given a bit of advice as a young man- (I wish I could remember who had told him this and the exact words) It went something like this: “Never fight with an idiot. When you fight with an idiot, he can’t rise to your level so you have to sink to his level. At his level he will beat you every time!”
We need to find a way to stop wasting our time and effort on the losers of history who have found new and inventive ways of insinuating themselves virus-like into our schools, academies and mainline religions. We also need to guard against doing this without adequate safeguards against losing the benefit that comes from hearing valid criticism that we find painful. The discrimination is not easy but the comment thread I cited above is a good example of they way in which way too much effort is spent by way too many good and sincere thinkers when they encounter just one of these losers who is determined to pervert the process. These discussions become the equivalent of intellectual IEDs that bleed the commitment and energy from honest efforts to understand and persuade. This is really what the left and al Qaeda have in common, they know that they have the weaker (that is to say, non-existent) hand on all rational matters so they just want to blow people up, render rational discussion impossible, hack off heads, frustrate the sincere engagement of ideas and spill blood randomly hoping to drive the intelligent opposition into disgusted retreat. Whether it is physical violence or the passive-aggressive deconstruction of discourse by the flood of words that negates ideas it is terrorism. They call this terrorism “Resistance”. When you see them use the word “Resistance”, they mean resisting the inexorable reality that they are wrong.
It would help if the media would realize that this is their game and stop promoting them to the unwary public. Every time Noam Chomsky is presented to the world as anything but a linguistic theorist whose writings are impenetrable, he becomes a leader of Resistance. When Ward Churchill’s lunatic ravings are published anywhere he becomes a magnet to the loser resistance, a terrorist of words. But, then, the Main Stream Media is rife with leftists and their liberal enablers who pay more attention to losers like Chomsky, Zawahiri, Guevara, Nasrallah and Churchill than to true heroes of progress like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Walid Shoebat, Steven Emerson and Daniel Pipes.
The media, as I pointed out in my last post, also appoints obviously biased organizations like Amnesty International as the authority on Human Rights. If they understood rights and their provenance at all, they would realize that while Amnesty and their ilk focus their attention on trumped-up offenses and the occasional (mostly benign flaw) of Israel and the U.S., they are, by weakening the Wests moral authority, actively participating in the murder, torture and enslavement of millions who live under Islamic and other non-Western governments.
Here’s one last unfunny joke:
One day the civilized westerner was trying to explain why terrorism (with words and ideas) is bad. He says to the Resistor, “God created man to be but little lower than the angels. For that reason alone it is wrong to kill people either by blowing them up or by deconstructing their ideals.”
The Resistor thought for a moment and said, “Then why did he make them out of meat?”