by Peter Morley
This particular article cannot begin with the word Truth, because I must be judicious with capitalisation. In fact, it will be a challenge for me to write this article concisely without beginning a sentence with the word Truth, or with the word truth, because there is an increasingly popularised distinction between the two. An example of truth would be “Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States”. An example of Truth would be “it is impossible for human beings to be certain that there exists within our horizon of experience a concept congruent with a mind-independent, inviolable Truth”.
The lowercase truth refers to that which is collectively accepted by “rational” communicators, while Truth is some indefinite anti-abstraction: some “fact” that is or is not, regardless of human perception. Truth has never been on humanity’s agenda, and cannot serve any political function: the political is by definition a hegemonic abstraction of what is commonly accepted. Nothing would ever improve if everyone always completely agreed on a Truth, and nobody would ever survive if everyone completely subscribed to someone’s truth. Surely, the search for Truth is the project of physicists, and this project is absolutely as important as any other. While many political thinkers in our history committed themselves to a search for Truth, their search must always have necessarily already been in vain, because humanity’s defining performance characteristics preclude the possibility of Truth, while simultaneously and paradoxically driving us to search for it.
The disjunct between truth and Truth entails a necessary rift between moderates and ideological fundamentalists. Ideological purity, otherwise known as fundamentalism, is democracy’s staunch enemy: democracy requires a dialogue, and both the left and right are radicalising to prohibit a functional dialogue. Moderatism, inasmuch as that can possibly be a word with meaning, is the only answer.
By “moderatism”, I mean that one must ascribe to no ideology, ever. Never should one align oneself with the code, creed, goals or manifesto of a particular politician or political party. Never should one align oneself with a label: never should one be a “liberal”, or a “progressive”, or a “conservative”, or a “reactionary”, or “pro-gun”, or “pro-choice”, or “pro-life”, or “anti-intellectual”, or “elitist”, or “anti-elitist”, or “Marxist”, or “Capitalist”, or “totalitarian”, or “communist”, or “national socialist”, or “white supremacist”, or “anti-fascist”, or “anarchist”, or, even, “moderate”.
One will only ever find betrayal in these same labels. Instead, I recommend considering arguments that may be filed under each label, and never let today’s decisions define tomorrow’s bias. Never confuse sense and opinion with personal identity and worldview. Such ideological designations are points on spectra upon which one should surely align oneself with honesty, in order to build community and mobilise hegemonic force, but never include in a rubric to make political decisions. The beginning and end of Western democracy depends on The Individual making his/her own choice. Purchase memberships to the Liberal Party, the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party and the Green Party, if you like. None of that defines your personhood. If you hold dual citizenship, register as a Republican if you lean left. Register as a Democrat if you lean right. If you’re reasonable, register as an Independent. (It may be worth noting that Microsoft Word had some grammatical difficulty allowing me to write the previous statement. Ideology, dear reader, is everywhere. It is up to you to destroy it.)
Impale yourselves with as many platform planks as you can, and then make your own decision. Loyalty is democratic cancer.
Statistical predictions and the “liberal elite’s” overintellectualisation led directly to both Brexit and Trump’s election, because their complacency was assured by positivist statistical research, which, unlike truly argumentative and qualitative sociological research, must always reinforce the observer’s preference. In essence, truth was mistaken for Truth, and those most effective in (and affected by) the recent American election were satiated by their bias toward empirical results.
Conservative friends of mine have expressed moderate offense at my acceptance of the nihilistic relativism that postmodernity entails. The argument progresses, usually, that Truth is necessarily good and must therefore be a goal. The logical problem that arises here is that Truth, if it is a goal, must have a definition. If that definition has ever changed, it cannot possibly be a goal. The Truth as an epiphenomenon may be a desired characteristic of some complete society, but such a society is necessarily hypothetical inasmuch as Truth has never been and (by definition) cannot be directly stated. Our only hope, inasmuch as hope is a useful endeavour (an argument I will save for another time), is to hammer out some ugly truth for long enough to get us into inventing new hammers.
Moderatism is the hammer we are currently given, and the only answer to postmodernity: identity politics eliminates individualism and causes zombie warfare. Conservatism, by contrast, accepts the ore as irreducible, while liberalism attempts origami with stone. There can no longer be factions; hegemony is (and may always be) the only answer. Rational self-interest through education is the only vaccine against radicalisation, and the former may always satiate the latter to result in continued philanthropy.
Egalitarianism is the only goal to which the West has ever striven and failed. Industrialisation was a roaring success. Imperialism was an unimpeachable victory, whereas conquest, domination and slavery were the goals. The White European has never failed in a single, self-designated endeavour. All of the White European’s endeavours have been self-designated and unqualifiably successful. It’s almost as if the White European is in charge of the designations which denote success and failure.
Hang on a minute,
I am a white European descendant. My whole life, I have only ever been hamstrung by the obstacles placed in front of me by other White Europeans. In fact, I have only ever learned progressivism from other White Europeans. The most influential and radical influence in my consideration was Dr David Craig, a white, southern, gay, Jewish professor. Could it possibly be, could it ever be my lot, that I have never been a feminist, an ally to people of colour, an ally to religious minorities, an ally to those disaffected by a Trumpian majority, but simply a guilty bystander?
Could it be that the safety pins on my Pronto Uomo felt overcoat don’t mean anything?
Yeah. Yeah, that’s it.
I am a straight, white man shouting into a straight, white void. There is exactly no reason you should listen to my opinion. I happen to be very well educated. I happen to be correct, most of the time. I happen to be sympathetic to almost everyone who doesn’t fit my exact profile. I happen to be the ideal candidate for Prime Minister of Canada. I happen never to be likely to hold office, because statistically I am too open-minded to do so. If I were less likely to change my mind, less likely to have a public opinion distinct from my personal opinion, or at least more likely to deny I have ever had a personal opinion that differs from my contemporary public brand, I should be much more electable. Branded packages – consumable ideologies – are the nutritional packets of democracy, and the electorate statistically bites the hand that doesn’t feed. Counterintuitively, this mechanic undoes what democracy was designed to reinforce.
Ideology and partisanship are the enemies of democracy. Here’s why:
If Brevity Is The Soul Of Wit, Memes Are The Ghosts Of Long-Dead Jokes.
Recently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) declared Pepe the Frog an emblem of hate speech. This, of course, is both necessary and entirely preposterous. 4Chan, Reddit and the accompanying communities have abused Pepe the Frog to make him nearly synonymous with White Nationalism. Tumblr communities continue to use Pepe to indicate dissatisfaction and disappointment. There is no consensus on Pepe’s meaning.
Memes are a form of Orwell’s Newspeak. Memes restrict meaning by enforcing culturally accepted connotations and particular images over traditionally accepted social definition. There is never a reason, discursively, to use a meme. Never, ever, use memes in place of a legitimate thought. Memes are fun to use for half-jokes, for social validation, for building a network community. Never, it must be stated over and over, NEVER USE MEMES FOR ANYTHING IMPORTANT.
Memes are popular culture’s way of tricking you into thinking you have been heard. At best, you have betrayed your conviction. At worst, you have committed hate speech. I sincerely recommend using the traditionally written word.
If Nixon Made Our Parents Pacifists, We Must Never Be Passive.
Millennials are mostly children of Boomers. I hope never to instil a great conflict between generations, because the concept of generations is something generated entirely by sociologists to differentiate values and has been stereotyped and popularised by all generations to disparage both ancestors and progeny.
Boomers, Gen X and Millennials have largely the same values. There are most certainly differing methods among the generational aggregates, but these methods correlate absurdly well with exponential technological growth. We all want the world to continue, but we all want to be the victims of the previous generation.
As a sociologist, I can assure you that we have never designed to set you against your parents by aggregating you for the purpose of solidarity. We want you to be disparate. We want you to hate the current season of Survivor – Millennials vs Gen X – for the same reasons we do: “Gen X” has never made a single decision that adversely affects “Millennials”. Likewise, Millennials have never made a decision in the developed world that would adversely affect “Generation X”. We are siblings, and poorly defined age cohorts.
There’s No Justice In The World, And There Never Was.
As it happens, justice is in the eye of the beholder. 9/11 was justice in the eyes of Al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden’s murder was justice in the eyes of the West. For Trumpists, who think of themselves as the white and underprivileged middle-class victims of anti-white social and economic policy, a billionaire with no policy experience will deliver them justice, because he campaigned on a promise of maintaining the white-nationalist America that allowed them previously to build some degree of social and economic capital in the first place.
Trump has said he will “bring back law and order”. It’s clear that he means he will allow the Ku Klux Klan and like-minded groups to carry out vigilante justice, lynching people of colour in America like Trayvon Martin.
If you want justice, I recommend defining for yourself exactly what justice is, because (much like truth) it only exists in your thoughts and actions. You have no choice, therefore, but to make up your own mind on every individual issue with which you are presented. You have no choice, if you hope to remain a person and not a slave, to read and understand everything you can before the administration restricts your ability to do so.
Become a militant moderate. Think for yourself and never tell anyone how to think. Fight your own battle. Fight battles next to yours. Fight battles bigger than yours whose outcome will help your cause. This is the nature of hegemony and it’s the only thing we have left, now that democracy has concluded. Fight for yourself, fight for yours and fight for others. Walk gently with open hands. Fight when you must, but embrace all else. It’s not about Truth and it never was: it’s about becoming and continuing to define truth.
Visual courtesy of Creative Commons