This afternoon I appeared on The National Pulse TV show with Raheem Kassam to talk about Joe Biden’s tenuous relationship with the truth. Catch the whole episode here – my segment is near the beginning, but it’s all worth watching.
Month: September 2020
Livestream 6: The Supreme Court, Lyin’ Biden, and More
I recorded my sixth livestream on Saturday September 19, 2020. Apologies for anyone watching live this evening, as I think my audio malfunctioned. I have the whole thing here in audio format though.
The Late Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.” So wrote poet W.B. Yeats in the chaotic time following the First World War. In those days, Western Civilization was struggling to make sense of a conflict that killed millions of people with industrial efficiency, a global pandemic that killed millions more, new technologies such as the automobile, airplane, telephone, and radio that were changing their ways of life, and new ideologies that were destined to erase centuries of development of human liberty and freedom.
The world of 2020 is in some ways similar to that of 1920. News happens fast, and society is changing so rapidly it is nearly impossible to keep up. So far this year we have had the Democratic House of Representatives impeach President Trump over a phone call to a fellow world leader, a global pandemic that, no matter how deadly it will have been in retrospect, has been used as an excuse for all sorts of tyrannical overreach, a summer of constant riots in our major cities as the angry left seeks to tear down the structures of our society, and all this in the most contested presidential election campaign since 1860.
As if there has not been enough tinder piled on the bonfire, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away last night after battling several maladies over the past few years. Rather than retiring during President Obama’s term, which would allow him to appoint a progressive replacement, Ginsburg held on, planning to step down during the administration of the first woman president. Like many on the left, Ginsburg could not conceive of a scenario where Hillary Clinton did not defeat Donald Trump, yet here we are. Once that happened, Ginsburg’s only hope was to wait out the Trump Administration, however long that would take. Alas, she could not hold out, and now the 2020 election has its flashpoint.
The Supreme Court was already going to play a part in this election. The Democratic Party has openly admitted that they will stop at nothing to steal this election. Progressive judges in swing states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan have already ruled that mail-in ballots must be counted after Election Day. Hillary Clinton admonished Joe Biden not to concede on Election Night no matter the circumstances. Democrat and media wargamers have played out scenarios that involve blue states threatening secession if Trump is not removed from office. Just across the horizon sits the Supreme Court, waiting to be forced into the fray.
Recall that in 2000, a close vote in Florida between Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore triggered a recount. The entire presidential election hung upon the outcome of this recount, as Florida’s electoral votes would make either Bush or Gore the winner. After the first recount confirmed Bush’s narrow victory, the Gore campaign sued, demanding hand recounts in heavily Democratic districts and also demanding that certification of the vote be delayed to allow these recounts to happen. After the Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Vice President, the Bush campaign appealed to the Supreme Court. In a 7-2 decision, the Court ruled that a hand recount in only certain districts violated the doctrine of equal protection under the law. In a further 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the vote had to be certified by the date written in Florida law. George W. Bush won Florida, and therefore the presidency.
In the succeeding twenty years since Bush v Gore, America has only become more polarized. If we face a similar situation, the Democratic Party will not accept the results the way Al Gore eventually did. Rather, they will call on their paramilitary thugs to riot in the streets, Democratic and NeverTrump Republican elected officials will call for a “bipartisan commission” to oversee the vote counting, and the left will urge military generals to arrest President Trump and force him out of office. We could already be facing a full coup this winter, and that was before Justice Ginsburg passed away. Now, a divided Supreme Court might only amplify the chaos. Judges across America will be making rulings about vote counting and the validity of mail-in ballots, and any Supreme Court decision that ends 4-4 means the lower court ruling will stand. This could create a patchwork of rulings across the country. Some states might end up with two slates of electors, one for each candidate, as is what happened in 1872. Both Trump and Biden could claim victory based on one court ruling or another, and there will be no arbitration that either side will accept.
The best way to stop this chaos before it starts is to make sure that the Supreme Court has its full slate of nine justices before Election Day. Despite what the Democrats and their media friends are saying right now, it is entirely possible and proper for President Trump to nominate a replacement justice, and for Senator McConnell to bring that nomination to a floor vote. Nobody doubts that the Democrats would do the same thing if they were in this position – they tried it in 2016 when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to succeed the late Antonin Scalia. McConnell and the Republicans held firm, refusing a vote until after the election. This gambit could have failed utterly had Hillary Clinton won, in which case she surely would have withdrawn Garland in favor of a much more radical progressive leftist.
The Republican Party has 53 senators. Only 50 are required for confirmation – Vice President Mike Pence would break a tie. That means that the GOP could lose up to three senators and still win the confirmation fight. Mitt Romney of Utah will surely try to grandstand here, just as he did when casting a vote to convict President Trump during the impeachment earlier this year. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also enjoys stabbing her own party in the back every chance she gets. Susan Collins of Maine can be unpredictable – it was her support for Brett Kavanaugh that pushed him across the line in his own contentious confirmation fight two years ago. Martha McSally of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and even Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are all facing tough reelection bids, and could be tempted one way or another in hopes of saving their campaigns.
It has become a cliche, but this year is truly the most important election of our lifetimes – perhaps since 1860. If the Democrats win the White House and the Senate, they will radically reshape the government to ensure their permanent power. They will likely grant statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington DC, adding four senators to the Democratic majority. They will likely also pack the Supreme Court, adding as many justices as they can to make sure it stays a bastion of progressivism for all time. The silent majority of conservatives in America are looking for hope in these dark times. President Trump has shown us a way forward, but all too often the Republican Party and even Trump’s own administration have dashed those hopes in the swamp of our federal bureaucracy. This, however, is the moment we have all been waiting for. This is the moment when they can reward our trust in them, and show that they care about saving this country from socialism, authoritarianism, and totalitarianism. Will they step up to save America, or will they back down in the face of media pressure?
President Trump, at least, seems to understand the gravity of the situation:
Trump to End Critical Race Theory in Government
This week I published a podcast and an essay about the spread of Critical Theory in our society. This dishonest ideology teaches that white men are the source of everything wrong throughout history, and that we have built social structures that reinforce our racism and white supremacy. Christopher Rufo has been digging into the use of Critical Theory in federal government employment, and last week Tucker Carlson had him on his show. We all know that President Trump watches Tucker, so this is one of the best ways to expose the president to information that his staff might otherwise shield him from.
Tucker gets results. Yesterday evening, the Director of the Management and Budget Office Russ Vought issued a statement saying that federal agencies must cease spending taxpayer dollars to force their employees to sit through seminars based on Critical Race Theory and so-called white privilege:
It has come to the President’s attention that Executive Branch agencies have spent millions of taxpayer dollars to date “training” government workers to believe divisive, anti-American propaganda
The President has directed me to ensure that Federal agencies cease and desist from using taxpayer dollars to fund these divisive, un-American propaganda training sessions.
Read the whole statement here.
Cultural Marxists have been using Critical Theory to divide Americans and weaken Western Civilization for nearly a century, and the fact that it has become embedded in employee training programs throughout the federal government is an indictment on conservatives who should have nipped this in the bud decades ago. This is a great start, but the rot runs deep, especially in our K-12 and higher education systems. We have a long way to go.
Just a quick note to let you all know of my future plans for the blog and podcast. Starting this month I will be taking on some additional responsibilities, which will reduce the amount of time I have to create weekly podcasts. Therefore I will be scaling back, and will try to release one podcast each month for the foreseeable future. On the flip side, however, I will try to post more often to the blog, with shorter essays and posts that might not necessarily be enough for a whole podcast.
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Two Plus Two Will Always Equal Four
(The audio version of this essay can be found here.)
Last month, CNN aired video of buildings on fire in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rioters had torched several used car lots and vandalized dozens of businesses, and several people were dead after clashes between antifa and those who were defending private property. Over the top of this video, CNN displayed a ribbon of text explaining that these were “mostly peaceful” protests. This now-common occurrence on cable news goes beyond the gaslighting that I have mentioned in the past; it is an assault on reason and truth itself.
The foundation for any rational discussion is the concept of truth. There can be no honest debate between one side which says that the sky is blue, water is wet, and fire is hot, when the other side disagrees with those basic truisms. Nearly twenty-five hundred years ago, the Greek philosopher Aristotle put it this way: “A is A”. It seems obvious, and something that goes without saying, but the idea that there it is possible for human beings to understand real concrete rational truths is at the basis of all philosophy, science, mathematics, and history. While there is room for debate about the value of money, the effects of increased taxation, or the relative greatness of Shakespeare’s works, there can be no debate that A is A, or that two plus two equals four. Yet it is exactly these fundamental truths that are under attack as a result of a generation of postmodern critical theory propaganda.
“Two plus two equals four” is one of the very first ideas we teach our children, because everything else builds from that basic truth. On one level, the ability to do higher math and to apply it to real world problems requires knowledge of basic arithmetic. On a deeper level, having understanding that certain things are always true no matter the context paves the way for understanding abstract things. Rational thinkers have long known how important it is to base empirical claims on solid truth and have often used this little equation to demonstrate that concept:
Catholic philosopher G.K. Chesterton:
“Two plus two must always equal four.”
English poet Rudyard Kipling:
“All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four.”
English author and political thinker George Orwell:
“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two equals four. If that is granted, all else follows.”
It seems inconceivable that there could be any possible disagreement on such a basic fact.
Last week I reread Orwell’s famous novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” for the first time in twenty years. When I read it in high school, I found it interesting but not very applicable to modern society. Indeed, in reading Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” at the same time I found Huxley to be the more accurate prophet. As Neil Postman wrote in “Amusing Ourselves to Death” in 1985, “What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley fears was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much those that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”
For most of the 90s and even the early 2000s, I agreed with Postman’s view that our world was more Huxley than Orwell. The fact that Orwell’s iconic Big Brother, the semi-mythical leader of the Party who watched your every move, had became the name of a reality TV show seems to have proven Huxley right. We did not need pervasive government surveillance, because we were held captive by our own devotion to mindless entertainment. Yet something has changed in the last five years. While information is still being diluted by mindless nonsense, the world of “Nineteen Eighty-Four” has been slowly converging upon us. Mass surveillance is indeed becoming commonplace. Corporations, rather than government, are unpersoning people who says things that are deemed hate speech. Yet the worst part is what Orwell feared the most: our very language, and even the concept of reality itself, is being redefined before our eyes.
Nearly a century ago, German philosophers at the Institute for Social Research, better known as the Frankfurt School, came up with a concept called Critical Theory. The driving force behind Critical Theory is a desire to tear down every philosophical idea in human society, deconstruct it, and rebuild it through a lens of oppression. In the 19th century, Karl Marx had redefined economics by reconstructing it as a constant struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat classes. What Marx did for class and economics, the Critical Theorists of the Frankfurt School did for everything; many on the right call the philosophies of Critical Theory “Cultural Marxism” for this very reason. By recasting every social interaction as based on oppression, Critical Theory not only identifies the issue but also proposes its solution, that is, that human society must be completely deconstructed and rebuilt from the ground up. That means every structure of our society that we take for granted – history, philosophy, science, math, language, the family structure, political systems, etc. – must be torn down in the name of freeing humanity from so-called oppression.
Over the past few decades, Critical Theory has become the foundation of higher education in America. It has even spawned spinoffs such as Critical Race Theory, which preaches that all human society is built on white supremacists oppressing people of color, and feminism, which preaches that all human society is built on men oppressing women. All of these offshoots are built around the idea that one group of people is oppressing another group of people, and that this system of oppression is at the heart of every social structure on earth. Intersectionality is the idea that all of these systems of oppression are intertwined, and so the end result of Critical Theory is the demonization of one particular group of people – heterosexual white male Christians – as the perpetrators of everything bad that has ever happened in human history.
I have mentioned the 1619 Project several times over the past year, because it is a perfect example of how Critical Theory is not only used to reinterpret the past, but also to rewrite it. The 1619 Project says that the entire American Revolution was all about maintaining slavery and white supremacy in the New World. Boston Tea Party? White supremacy. The Battle of Lexington? White supremacy. The alliance with France? White supremacy. The Declaration of Independence itself? White supremacy. This reductionist view of history is not only wrong but dangerous, as it teaches black children that they are justified in using violence to take back a country that was “stolen” from them, while teaching white children that they have no claim on the land their fathers lived and died to build.
The traditional historical view of American independence is that the thirteen colonies had developed into separate nations from the mother country of Great Britain. They chafed under British taxes and regulation and resented the rule of a King and Parliament half a world away who saw the colonies as nothing more than raw materials. The colonists initially desired reconciliation and negotiation, but once open war came to America, t hey declared their independence and founded a new nation. Contrary to what many people now believe, slavery was a huge issue. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson recognized that slavery was incompatible with their belief that “all men are created equal.” They knew that a reckoning would happen someday. But the Critical Race Theorists do not think too deeply about their positions, because they disagree about the fundamental concept of truth itself. It is hard for rational people like you and I to understand this, but the authors of the 1619 Project honestly believe that they are creating truth in their writing. They would say that what we consider to be the true historical record is just “our truth,” and that our truth is based on oppression and white supremacy, therefore we are morally bound to discard it in favor of their superior truth.
We on the right are accustomed to debating people with whom we agree on the fundamental truths of the universe. For example, when John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon debated in the summer of 1960, they both agreed that America was a great nation that was a force for good in the world, much less that two plus two equals four. Their disagreements were built on top of those premises. We have a hard time debating the modern left, because we find little common ground, even when it comes to empirical facts. The modern left not only believes that America is a bad country, and always has been, but they are even trying to convince us that two and two do not necessarily equal four.
A few months ago, mathematician and critic of social justice James Lindsay posted sarcastically about how Critical Theorists would dismiss two plus two equals four as a Western imperialist colonialist concept. This innocuous statement started a firestorm on Twitter, attracting hundreds of people who believe just that. A PhD student and self-described “teacher, scholar, social justice change agent” named Brittany Marshall tweeted “…the idea of 2+2 equaling 4 is cultural and because of western imperialism/colonization, we think of it as the only way of knowing.” She was not alone. Numerous social justice activists in academia and media jumped on the train, each one explaining exactly how two plus two does not have to equal four and that saying that it always does is an example of oppressive white supremacy in action.
Yet the idea that two plus two equals four is not, as these people believe, inherently western, colonialist, or white supremacist. Universal truths such as this are the foundation of all knowledge. How can we know anything if we do not know what is true? Without basic math, we could not build a horse-drawn wagon, much less a spaceship that can land on the moon. As Orwell said, “Physical facts could not be ignored. In philosophy, or religion, or ethics, or politics, two and two might make five, but when one was designing a gun or an airplane they had to make four.” Perhaps this abandonment of empirical truth is partly to blame for the shoddy engineering we have seen in our country over the past decade, from collapsing bridges to derailing trains to faulty airplanes. Like a Cargo Cult, we have forgotten how our ancestors built things, and just assume that is just happens organically.
Yet even a philosophy that says two and two can make five is doomed to failure as well, because it is built on a lie. In “The Soul of Science,” authors Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton argue that basic mathematics are necessary for understanding the deeper truths of the universe:
“In mathematics, it appears that we have access to truths that go beyond experience. Upon what, then, are they based? For Pythagoras and later for Plato, the answer was that mathematics is part of an ideal world – a realm of abstract principles that gives rational structure to the material world.”
Saying that two plus two equals four might be obvious to us, and heretical to Critical Theorists, but there is something profound contained in that simple phrase. Without it, we would lack any basis for rational thought at all!
I wrote a long post last year about how the United States has become a post-truth society. Nowhere is this more evident than in how Critical Theory has warped our education system. The same people dismissing the idea of concrete truth as just a “western colonialist perspective” are the ones teaching our teachers, the ones who ultimately decide what is taught to fifty million public school students every year. These poisonous lies have wound their way through every facet of our society. Public universities are forcing white students to sit through classes that berate them for the color of their skin. Government agencies are paying millions of dollars to corrupt consultants and forcing their employees to go to seminars where they deconstruct their “whiteness” and learn to take the blame for all the problems in our country. Television, Hollywood, and news media build their ideas on the basis of Critical Theory, without necessarily saying as much, so anyone who watches them is subtly and continuously propagandized.
The effect of dismissing empirical facts is becoming obvious throughout society. Words have lost all meaning, causing discourse between opposing sides to be pointless. Media calls left wing violence “free speech” while right wing speech is labeled “violence” that makes people feel “unsafe”. Our media constantly calls the massive riots that have engulfed our cities this summer – riots that involve vandalism, property damage, arson, theft, assault, and even murder – they keep calling them “peaceful protests”. President Trump gave an Independence Day speech at Mt. Rushmore about the greatness of America, and the New York Times called it “dark and divisive”. Iowa Congressman Steve King spoke in favor of western civilization and the media called him “racist”. These definitions are fluid, of course, being applied unequally depending upon one’s political positions. Joe Biden can call Barack Obama the first African American who was “bright, clean, and articulate” and rather than being accused of racism, the media laughs at good old Joe. On the other hand, people on the right are assumed to be racists and white supremacists by virtue of our very existence.
This systematic redefinition of words was explained by George Orwell more than seventy years ago. The heart of his novel “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is not necessarily the totalitarian government or constant surveillance, but the way in which the ruling party uses language to control thought. The Party is continually recreating language into what is called Newspeak, the object of which is to reduce the vocabulary of its citizens until they cannot even conceive of an unpermitted idea because there is no word to describe anything outside of Party authority. Orwell explains that Newspeak renders such ideas as “freedom” or “democracy” entirely meaningless, while a word such as “love” can only be applied to one’s loyalty to the Party rather than feelings of affection for family or friends.
See how this is happening in our culture today: Free speech by someone on the right is redefined by the media and the left to mean violence, while leftist violence is redefined as free speech. When Ann Coulter or even the milquetoast Ben Shapiro visited college campuses to speak, they were denounced by the left as having committed violence and making minorities and so-called marginalized people feel “unsafe”. Yet when mobs of antifa and BLM rioters torch a business and assault anyone in their way, our concerns about safety are dismissed as racism and white supremacy, and we are told that rioting and looting is the “language” of marginalized and oppressed people, and are therefore protected speech. This is literally Orwellian, and straight out of the Critical Theory handbook. Antifa and BLM activists have recently taken this to a new level, chanting that “silence is violence!” Even trying to stay neutral is not good enough for the vanguard of the socialist revolution.
As I record this, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is accusing President Trump of “inciting” these nationwide riots. When we hear the word “incite,” we picture a rabble-rouser firing up his followers to commit acts of violence. Yet President Trump has done nothing of the kind. In fact, it is Trump’s followers who are on the receiving end of most of this violence. Indeed, the real incitement has come from people like Biden’s vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, who said that the riots should continue, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who called for her followers to confront and harass conservatives in public, leftist media outlet NPR which is promoting a book called “In Defense of Looting,” and professional blackface-wearer Shaun King who called for blacks to attack churches, deface Christian statues, and threatened every police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Yet the left and our media blames Trump. This is literally blaming the victim. Saying that Trump has “incited” these riots is like when they said a cartoon “incited” Muslims to attack foreign embassies a few years back. This is no different from blaming a woman in a short skirt for being raped. By this logic, the very existence of conservatives, Christians, and unapologetic white people literally “incites” violence from the left, and we are to blame. This is Orwellian.
One of the most obvious redefinitions in recent memory has been the word “racism”. The idea of racism is fairly recent; before a century ago it was natural that people of different ethnic groups would have preferences for members of their own group. When the Baby Boomers were growing up during the Civil Rights movement, racism came to mean unfairness toward one group, or having negative stereotypes about other ethnicities. Most conservatives still hold to this definition. When they hear the word “racism,” they picture the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross to intimidate a black family, or some slack-jawed southerner using racial slurs to describe African Americans. Many of these good-natured conservatives do not realize how completely the left has redefined that word. There is a strain of virulent leftism that began in the Frankfurt School, was nurtured in college campuses across America, and has now taken control of most of our corporations, news outlets, and even government organizations. The official dogma of these people is that all white people are racist. They also say that black and other so-called marginalized people are incapable of racism, because they do not have “institutional power”. Even coming off of eight years of a black president, with a black attorney general, in a world where every major corporation obediently intones that “black lives matter,” even as being black in America opens doors to massive subsidies in the name of affirmative action, we are still told that we have white privilege. Simply existing as a white person makes one guilty of racism under this new definition.
James White of Apologia Church in Arizona has taken notice. On one of his recent livestreams he said, “Obviously we live in a day, once again, we all know it, 1984, completely fulfilled, take every word, redefine it to mean its opposite, but then use it amongst people who are still using the old vocabulary, with the new meaning, so as to create utter chaos in society.” This is exactly what the left has done. They accuse us of being racists according to their new definition while counting on rank-and-file conservatives of hearing the old definition. When they call Congressman Steve King, or Nicholas Fuentes, or Michelle Malkin, or anyone else who dares to notice something politically incorrect “racist,” too many conservatives assume that these people must be on the same level of the cross-burning KKK of a century ago, and they rush to denounce these horrible racists lest they too be tarred with the same brush. This is cowardice, plain and simple.
As I explained last year in my essay on the post-truth society, the left is always engaging in “motte and bailey” arguments. Remember that motte-and-bailey was a type of castle that was popular in Europe about a thousand years ago that consisted of a stone keep built atop a raised earthwork called a motte, surrounded by a walled courtyard called a bailey. The inhabitants of the castle lived and worked in the bailey, but when an enemy attacked, they could retreat to the relative safety of the motte. In a motte-and-bailey argument, someone can argue from a very liberal definition of a word or concept, only to retreat to the safety of the motte when defending their argument. You see this in the example of racism that I just mentioned. When on the attack, they define racism as white privilege, an original sin that all white people are born with. Yet if they ever have to defend themselves, they retreat to a linguistically conservative definition of racism, which is the same one that political conservatives have believed all along. This is not discourse, rather it is verbal sleight-of-hand. This is Orwellian wordplay.
Like Big Brother in “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” the modern left is redefining language to the point where reality itself is malleable. After all, according to Critical Theory there is no such thing as objective truth, only conflicting narratives of oppression. Without even realizing it, we are being conditioned into our own version of Newspeak that prevents any meaningful discussion of political or social ideas. We cannot talk about racism when everyone has a different definition of the word. We cannot have a national discussion about the root causes and possible solutions to this summer’s riots when we all have completely different views on the nature of incitement. This is the goal of the left, and of the Frankfurt School: to deconstruct language to the point where we have no ability to express thoughts that stray from the party line:
- The word gay once meant happy, now it means homosexual.
- The rainbow was once a symbol of beauty, and for Christians, a reminder of God’s promise after the flood. Now it means homosexual.
- Conservative, reactionary, traditionalist, and nationalist all used to mean varying flavors of political theory. Now they all mean “racist” or “Nazi”.
- For that matter, “Nazi” once referred to a specific political party in 20th century Germany that had very specific views, but now it means any white person more conservative than Bernie Sanders.
- A liberal used to mean someone who believed in individual freedom, but now it is barely distinguishable from totalitarianism and socialism.
- Even the words “male” and “female” have lost all meaning in the modern era. We are told that a big ugly man with makeup and a dress is just as female as a feminine woman, and if we disagree then we should be censored, fired, and maybe even imprisoned as punishment for our wrongthink.
Again, this is literally Orwellian.
In “Nineteen Eighty-Four, the protagonist Winston Smith is captured by the Thought Police and tortured until he conforms to their image of reality. His torturer explains:
“You believe that reality is objective, external, existing in its own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident… But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes; only in the mind of the Party, which is collective and immortal. Whatever the Party holds to be truth IS truth.”
In other words, reality is whatever we say it is.
One of the most striking characteristics of the Party in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is the concept of doublethink. Party members are trained from birth to have the ability to hold on to contrary pieces of information and to recall each one at will, reciting and believing it with all sincerity. For example, early in the novel Winston is dismayed to have learned that the ration of chocolate from the government was going to be dropped to thirty grams per week. However, the Party later cheerfully announces that the chocolate ration would soon be raised to twenty-five grams per week. The citizens of Oceania, rather than noticing this obvious lie, buy into it completely, cheerfully thanking Big Brother for his generosity. The ability of Party members to engage in doublethink is called crimestop by Orwell:
“Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments…”
The American left has gone all in on doublethink. To be a Democrat today means:
- Saying at one moment that there are no riots, merely peaceful protests, and the next, with a straight face, that the riots are all Trump’s fault.
- Not only having been anti-war in 2006 but pro-war today, but pretending that you have had a consistent position the whole time.
- Believing that homosexuality is genetic and unchangeable, while transgendered people can change their sex through drugs and surgery.
- Believing that the Democratic Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam’s blackface picture in his yearbook is not disqualifying, but that former GOP Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott’s harmless compliment to centenarian Senator Strom Thurmond in 2002 was.
- Being able to criticize the Chinese travel ban in February as racist and xenophobic and then turn around in April and say it did not go far enough.
- Believing that masks were useless in March of this year, but required now, with no realization that you have switched opinions.
The left engages in Orwell’s crimestop every day. If you show a leftist a picture of a man claiming to be transgender beside a picture of a real woman, they will not be able to articulate a difference. Perhaps they are not even pretending – crimestop comes as naturally as doublethink once you have trained yourself. This is why arguing with the left about crime statistics, for example, is so difficult. You can show them plainly that blacks commit a disproportionately higher number of violent crimes per capita than whites, and they will act as if you are talking gibberish. No matter what facts you employ, their answer is always the same: You are racist.
Doublethink is a natural side effect of the erosion of truth. Once you discard truth as a foundational concept, and replace it with competing narratives, then there is no reason to be bound by any one idea. Switching between contradictory premises is as simple as changing the channel on the TV. Like the Party members in “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” many of our elected officials and media figures have so completely internalized this modern doublethink that they do not even realize they are doing it. They have zero cognitive dissonance. Truth is whatever we say it is at any given moment.
The final component of the thought control in Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is in the way the Party constantly rewrites the past. The main character of the novel, Winston Smith, is a worker drone for the Ministry of Truth, which is (as he says) concerned with lies. The job of the Ministry of Truth is not only to broadcast daily propaganda, but also to continually go back and “fix” past newspapers, books, and other media to make it match current doctrine. For example, if Winston’s nation of Oceania goes to war with Eurasia, then Winston must go back and alter records to say that Oceania was always at war with Eurasia. Eventually they make peace and go to war with the other superpower, Eastasia, at which time Winston has to go back again and change things to match the new situation. “Who controls the past controls the future,” the Party says. “Who controls the present controls the past.” Without any documentation to back up their memories, citizens are forced to accept the new reality and alter their thinking to match. Anyone who disagrees is obviously insane, right?
This too is going on in America today. The 1619 Project is one example of rewriting the past to fit today’s narrative. Even recent events are being memory-holed. The truth that Michael Brown was shot after assaulting a shopkeeper and attacking Officer Darren Wilson has been replaced with the lie that he had his hands in the air when he was murdered by a racist policeman. The truth about the virtues of our Founding Fathers is being replaced by a narrative that they were all horrible people because of the existence of slavery. On the other hand, the truth about black criminals such as George Floyd and Jacob Blake are also being erased in favor of a narrative that paints them as innocent and wonderful human beings who were attacked by racist police simply because of their skin color.
It is not only facts that are being reinterpreted. Everyone has an inner sense of beauty and aesthetics, but those too are being twisted by our cultural content creators. Truth, beauty, and love are all being perverted. In “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” Orwell explains that in the ultimate socialist utopia, “There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness.” In America today, marvelous marble statues of our heroes are torn down by angry mobs, while graffiti and vandalism are promoted as authentic art. Former first lady Michelle Obama, who is… homely by any objective measure, continues to appear on fashion magazines, while First Lady Melania Trump is blacklisted, despite being a literal supermodel and one of the most objectively beautiful women on earth.
Traditional feminine beauty is despised, while three-hundred-pound land whales are held up as a new standard of beauty. White nuclear families are called Nazis, while dysfunctional homosexual relationships are put up on pedestals. The great works of Rembrandt or Michelangelo are dismissed as white colonialist culture, while the farce that is modern art is praised. Modern architecture seems deliberately made to kill your soul, while classical buildings make one feel proud to be human. The difference between ugliness and truth was displayed during the competing National Conventions last week. The Democrats trotted out aging drug-addled rockers and disgusting young pop stars who seem obsessed with bodily functions, while the Republicans capped off their convention with a magnificent performance by an Italian opera singer. Do not let anyone tell you that beauty is purely subjective.
Once you dismiss empirical truth, all you have left is narratives, and the left believes that their narrative is superior. Many on their side truly believe this, that there is no such thing as truth, and so when they see us arguing for what we call “truth,” all they see is a narrative of oppression. In their minds, the only reason anyone would promote such oppressive narratives is out of selfishness and greed. St. Antony, a Christian monk of the third century, once said, “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad; you are not like us.’” Postmodern discourse is utter madness. Critical Theory is working to remove all traces of truth, facts, and even beauty from society and replace them with their preferred narratives.
G.K. Chesterton saw it coming a century ago:
“We shall soon be in a world in which a man may be howled down for saying that two and two make four, in which people will persecute the heresy of calling a triangle a three-sided figure, and hang a man for maddening a mob with the news that grass is green.”
Yet this is not just about propaganda. They are not just seeking to convince us that we are wrong, and they are right. English writer Theodore Dalrymple explains:
“Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.”
If we accept the lie that George Floyd was murdered by racist cops, then we are divorcing ourselves from the truth. If we go along with the absurd lie that a castrated man is a woman, then we are killing part of our own souls. We become complicit in the insanity, and eventually we become part of the system itself, turning and pointing at thought criminals and demanding they be punished for not joining us in the big lie. A perfect example of this phenomenon is superstar NFL quarterback Drew Brees, who tweeted out support for the American flag last spring. Brees, a white man, father, and patriotic American, did not realize that the paradigm had shifted this year and was quickly attacked by the left for daring to oppose the BLM movement. He retracted his statement, gave an apology, then did penance by attacking President Trump for continuing to support the flag.
Like Winston Smith, we torture our brains until we actually believe that two plus two can equal five, if we want it enough. During his mental reprogramming, Winston cries because his logical mind cannot conceive of two plus two being anything but four. His torturer responds, “Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”
George Orwell did not get everything perfectly right. He thought the government would ban sex to control people, but today we are flooded with sexual imagery. Huxley was more correct here – sex is not banned, but rather is made meaningless. Orwell also thought the government would control all information, but today information is controlled and manipulated not by a central government but instead by a multi-headed leviathan consisting of government departments, so-called hatewatch groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Big Tech monopolies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google. It is these Big Tech companies that are the modern-day Ministry of Truth. During the panic over COVID19, these companies appointed themselves the arbiters of medical truth and banned anyone who suggested treatments such as hydroxychloroquine that were considered politically incorrect. After a young man named Kyle Rittenhouse shot two antifa thugs in self defense in Kenosha, Wisconsin last week, both Facebook and Twitter banned users for expressing support for Kyle, while allowing or even promoting support for the violent antifa rioters. While these companies are not the government, they have become nearly as powerful, and can easily ruin one’s business or one’s life without a second thought.
What Orwell got right, however, is the way in which Critical Theorists are redefining language so as to control our thoughts. The endurance of “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is a testament to how accurate Orwell’s observations of the socialist mindset have been. Consider that words and phrases that I have used in this essay such as “Thought Police,” “Newspeak,” “unperson,” “memory hole,” “wrongthink,” “doublethink,” and the “Ministry of Truth” were all coined by Orwell in his book; yet they have become common in our vernacular.
Truth exists and it matters. Two plus two will always equal four, no matter what Twitter, Facebook, Google, Harvard, or the SPLC say. The lesson of “Nineteen Eighty-Four” is that human beings are easily malleable. If we do not have a foundation of truth, we can be made to believe anything. We must maintain that foundation. Build a library of old books. Download copies of articles and videos before they are inevitably altered or destroyed. Teach your children the empirical truths of the universe. Our fathers built the greatest society in the history of the world because they believed in truth. We are the heirs of a civilization that was built upon the twin pillars of Greek empiricism and the capital T Truth that God revealed through His Scripture. Those pillars are under heavy attack today from the socialist left, the Critical Theorists, and all the other enemies of God and truth. When the dust settles, truth will still be truth. A will still be A. Two plus two will still equal four.
Episode 52: Two Plus Two Equals Four
(The essay version of this podcast can be found here.)
Fake news and propaganda are more than just lies, rather they are an assault on reason itself. Chesterton, Kipling, and Orwell all warned us against those who would try to convince us that two plus two does not necessarily equal four, yet today we face that very challenge.
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