Logic, Reason, and Fascism

For years, I've been trying to figure out why a number of affluent, educated people in this country would suddenly (in my perception, at least) turn against logic, reason, science, history -- in short, reality.  That is, until I had the difference between Philosophical Conservatism, and Political Conservatism explained to me.

Philosophical Conservatism is a tendency -- a way of thinking.  Although I never agreed with those ideals, they were, at least, consistent.  William F. Buckley was a Philosophical Conservative.  Probably the last.

Political Conservatism is an ever-evolving set of talking points used by some, in an infantile attempt to get want what they want, when they want it, without having to go through the tedious process of discussion, debate, or even thinking things through to their logical conclusion.

Without reason and logic, one does not have opinions, one only has affectations. Here's a quote from Ortega's "Revolt of the Masses" He is writing here during the rise of Fascism, as a philosophical Liberal:

The "ideas" of the average man are not genuine ideas, nor is their possession culture. Whoever wishes to have ideas must first prepare himself to desire truth and to accept the rules of the game imposed by it. It is no use speaking of ideas when there is no acceptance of a higher authority to regulate them, a series of standards to which it is possible to appeal in a discussion. These standards are the principles on which culture rests. I am not concerned with the form they take. What I affirm is that there is no culture where there are no standards to which our fellow-man can have recourse…
Under Fascism there appears for the first time in Europe a type of man who does not want to give reasons or to be right, but simply shows himself resolved to impose his opinions. This is the new thing: the right not to be reasonable, the "reason of unreason." Here I see the most palpable manifestation of the new mentality of the masses, due to their having decided to rule society without the capacity for doing so. In their political conduct the structure of the new mentality is revealed in the rawest, most convincing manner. The average man finds himself with "ideas" in his head, but he lacks the faculty of ideation. He has no conception even of the rare atmosphere in which ideals live. He wishes to have opinions, but is unwilling to accept the conditions and presuppositions that underlie all opinion. Hence his ideas are in effect nothing more than appetites in words.
To have an idea means believing one is in possession of the reasons for having it, and consequently means believing that there is such a thing as reason, a world of intelligible truths. To have ideas, to form opinions, is identical with appealing to such an authority, submitting oneself to it, accepting its code and its decisions, and therefore believing that the highest form of intercommunication is the dialogue in which the reasons for our ideas are discussed. But the mass-man would feel himself lost if he accepted discussion, and instinctively repudiates the obligation of accepting that supreme authority lying outside himself. Hence the "new thing" in Europe is "to have done with discussions," and detestation is expressed for all forms of intercommunication, which imply acceptance of objective standards, ranging from conversation to Parliament, and taking in science. This means that there is a renunciation of the common life of barbarism. All the normal processes are suppressed in order to arrive directly at the imposition of what is desired. The hermeticism of the soul which, as we have seen before, urges the mass to intervene in the whole of public life.
Sound familiar?  Think about it the next time you watch a freak show disguised as a political debate.

As for me, I'm too damn young to see history repeat itself.

1 comment:

Joe Pereira said...

Interesting and true. You're too young to see history repeat itself but old enough to worry about it happening. Nicely put as usual