This quotation from Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is a frequent citation on The Declination, for very good reasons:
The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command. His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer. And yet he was in the right! They were wrong and he was right. The obvious, the silly, and the true had got to be defended. Truisms are true, hold on to that! The solid world exists, its laws do not change. Stones are hard, water is wet, objects unsupported fall towards the earth’s centre. With the feeling that he was speaking to O’Brien, and also that he was setting forth an important axiom, he wrote:
Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.
One of the harder lessons in life is understanding how little you know, and how small you are in the grand scheme of things. The Dunning-Kruger effect describes the great confidence utter morons often have in their conclusions, and the corresponding uncertainty possessed by those of more advanced intelligence. The idiot often has greater certainty than the skilled and talented.
This uncertainty is commendable in many ways. A man might remain mentally flexible, able to modify his opinions and beliefs as new information is revealed to him. But this uncertainty can also be cynically exploited. You can lob facts at a moron all day, and nothing will pierce the dense armor of stupidity that surrounds him. But you can do likewise with carefully-calculated lies and expert debating techniques, and convince a smarter man that lies are truth, and truths are lies.
Water is not wet. Stones are not hard. Objects unsupported do not fall towards the earth’s centre.
Let us review this part of the quotation again:
His heart sank as he thought of the enormous power arrayed against him, the ease with which any Party intellectual would overthrow him in debate, the subtle arguments which he would not be able to understand, much less answer.
One thing became clear to me in the 2016 election. The enormous power arrayed against anyone with right-of-center views is too great to defeat in a framed debate. Questions were leaked to Hillary’s campaign, so as to give her an advantage. The media went from suspected bias to openly siding with Hillary’s campaign. Media collusion was revealed in the Podesta emails. The hatred of Trump was constant, the tears flowed from journalists live on television as Trump’s victory became certain.
Trump was accounted to have lost the first debate, and if he won the second, it was by a nose hair only. The third was accounted a Trump victory, though not one based on substance as much as style. Trump has a talent for pulling one-liners out of nowhere and landing surprising blows on his opponent. But it was more rhetoric than dialectic.
In a framed debate, the argument is seen only from the Leftist perspective. For instance, if we were to talk about welfare payments, the Left would demand that any Right-wing alternative should give even more to the poor. Otherwise, they say, you must hate the poor and want them to suffer. When Milton Friedman proposed a negative income tax as a replacement for welfare, Leftists loved the idea… so long as it wasn’t actually a replacement for welfare. Negative income tax plus the welfare state was something they considered to be a great idea. Milton Friedman, of course, was advocating no such thing. He wanted the massive welfare bureaucracy to go away and be replaced with a more efficient system with less overhead.
Nobody can even discuss the opportunity cost of the welfare state. For instance, could we have colonized Mars with that money? Or perhaps could we have cured cancer with it? What else could those billions have been used for, what benefits might we have realized? And how does that weigh against the results of the welfare system? It is entirely possible that America without the welfare state may have actually elevated the poor relative to their current position. But we’ll never know any of it. We can’t even discuss it without accusations of greed and hate being lobbed our direction.
Those questions cannot be asked in a Leftist frame. The welfare state is axiomatic. All that is allowed the discussion of how much more may be given to the poor, and where the money might come from. In the same manner, discussion of whether or not illegal immigrants should be permitted to stay, and which countries we deign to accept legal immigrants from, are not allowed in the Leftist frame.
All illegals must be given amnesty — citizenship would be most ideal — and as many immigrants from any country on Earth must be permitted to come to America. That is the Leftist frame. All that is open for discussion is how we can give them more money, more benefits, and how we can best elevate their lives. The lives of the existing citizenry are irrelevant. Nothing is allowed to be discussed, except how America can best give up its wealth to everyone else.
Government, media, entertainers, academics, and most of the gatekeepers, from HR departments to publishers all agree that no discussion that takes place outside of these bounds is to be permitted. The debate is framed this way, and so framed, it is nearly impossible to obtain victory. The argument essentially becomes a moral superiority contest within a narrow Overton window that is exclusively Leftist.
Try arguing, for instance, that individual choice and responsibility means anything to Leftists. To them, this is meaningless. Nothing is choice. All is fate. A Rightist might say, for instance, that homosexuality is a choice. Sure, he might say, there are probably genetic predispositions, and consequences from upbringing that make it much more likely. But ultimately, it still remains a choice.
To a Leftist, this is not only a point of disagreement, it is considered outright hatred. Of course a gay man was born gay, and has no choice in the matter. Of course the trans person was born trans. Everything is fate. To say otherwise is hateful and evil.
“It’s not my fault,” is the rallying cry of the Leftist.
Note that the Rightist point-of-view is not that homosexuality is necessarily an evil, but rather that it is a choice. In contrast to the common Leftist view of Rightists, individual freedom is paramount, but it comes with individual responsibility, too. In other words, if you want to be gay, then be gay. But if being gay means a church down the street doesn’t want to conduct a marriage ceremony for you, then too bad. It’s not like you didn’t know, it’s not like you didn’t have a choice.
See how that works? Leftism subtly removes choice from everything, then only permits debate within a framework that doesn’t allow for individual choice. It becomes mental masturbation at that point. It’s utterly useless, like my old back-and-forth debates with Merkur, to which I’m sure most of my readers can relate. We’ve all had a persistent Leftist or two in our time that argued this way.
As Orwell explained for us, the vast power arrayed against us is impossible to defeat conventionally.
And yet water is still wet! Truisms are still true. At least, insofar as one believes objective reality actually exists, insofar as one avoids the trap of solipsism, and the resulting descent into nihilism.
I’ve learned in recent years that to defeat this trap, you cannot allow the Leftist to frame the debate this way. You must force them to acknowledge that reality exists beyond their narrow, self-determined bounds. That not only do their decisions have consequences in the strictest sense, but they also have opportunity costs.
And if they can’t acknowledge this, they are either fools or liars. Oftentimes, they will be both.
But above all, you cannot allow yourself to fall into the moralizing trap, because their system of morality permits no free will on the part of any participant except the Leftist himself. It is solipsism.
Here is a great example of this in action. In my neighborhood, there is one village/street that was opened up to Section 8 housing some years ago. That one street quickly became full of ruffians, drug dealers, thieves and a number of such undesirables. Almost all crime in the neighborhood originated from this one place. Given the demographics of Section 8 usage, most of the offenders were blacks.
Now, we’ve some good blacks in the neighborhood. There’s a good family down the street, real nice folks. And a few others in the village across the main drag. So far as I can tell, none of them wanted the Section 8 people either. The phase I CDD managed to get it isolated and restricted through legal means (I’m not quite sure how – I’m no lawyer – I’m just glad it happened), so that the cancer would not spread. Meanwhile, an effort to remove the existing Section 8 allowances was pushed, to which even the black residents agreed (after all, blacks are more often victimized by other blacks). My own phase II CDD has never allowed it, thank God.
I remember discussing with Tom Kratman as to why things like this happened. If it wasn’t the blacks in the neighborhood agitating for Section 8 to be adopted in a good area… who was doing it? He said “it’s always the white liberals.” And he’s right. White liberals get stuck in this solipsistic do-gooder trap, wherein they don’t even see the Section 8 blacks as real people. They don’t even see their neighbors, white or black, as real people. They are seen, rather, as something akin to an NPC in an role playing game. A static thing which can be manipulated for personal political purposes, or just outright amusement. Chess pieces, only.
They have an image of what the demographic balance ought to be in their minds, and they go about making it happen, without any regard for the fact that all those involved are human beings, possessing free will of their own. And if you presume to debate them on the wisdom of this, you will be called a racist, or forced to debate the issue in the framework of what’s good for blacks who need Section 8 housing instead of what’s good for the neighborhood’s existing residents (white, black, and otherwise). In such a framework, only one answer is possible: cede the neighborhood to criminals and thugs, and let it become a ghetto. After all, it’s easy to argue that giving them nice houses for free is good for them.
All because a Leftist got it in his head that he wanted to change the demographics of his neighborhood, for whatever reason, personal profit, virtue signalling, do-gooderism, or just for the lulz.
Now extrapolate this to immigration and the welfare state as a whole, and you start to see how allowing Leftists to control the frame is not only stupid, but quite possibly suicidal. After all, if the CDD hadn’t struck down the Section 8 crap, I could have sold my house (probably at a loss, but hey, I could still sell it) and moved someplace else. But if your entire country is rendered into a third world cesspit, as are all other first-world nations, where will you go?
Taking the frame away from them right now is exceedingly difficult. I’d be lying through my teeth if I told you it was easy. Vast powers are arrayed against us. But in the end, Truisms are True.
Water is wet.
Hold on to that.