Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Boas and Identity Politics (1)

Social science is the fountainhead of today's wisdom in the West. The springs of social science, as we've seen in many earlier posts, arise directly from 18th century counter-Enlightenment proto-fascism. We'll return to those springs during the life of this blog, but today we wish to look at a later development, at early 20th century anthropology and sociology. We feel that there we might gainfully seek the most obvious signs of why we in the West hate our own lives to the point that we literally dress up like savages and cheer the murder of our own by Islam-frenzied religious fanatics.

We will move here from our gazing at the lights of Paris, the fires in the night, the spectacle of Muslim pieties, and the dead man-- beaten for attempting to quell the Islamic fire; some of the following texts in this series on Left dhimmi fascism might well be difficult to read due to the style the authors prefer, the pretentious style of Adorno and the post-modernist poseurs who have almost nothing to say and who say it in Latinate garble. We must, though, wade through the syntactic muck to discover what it is that we, as a general intellectual culture, take as our own ideas and opinions. Frankly, with a bit of clear light shining on the ideological premises from the Left dhimmi fascists we will find ourselves embarrassed and disgusted by our assumptions of 'the way it is.' Our ideas, floating in the aether, as it were, actually come from concrete sources, and we'll examine some of them here, beginning now with Franz Boas.

When we write on "philobarbarism" we mean the love of barbarians. We've written before that barbarians cannot love themselves as barbarians because the critical distance to know oneself as a barbarian is impossible; only one above the stage of barbarism can love barbarism; therefore, we might look at the affectation of philobarbarism by analogy: the effeminate and flaccid homosexual who fawns over the leather-clad biker. It is that that the philobarbarist intellectual is in comparison to the Muslim. One significant difference between homosexuals and the philobarbarists and Muslims is that the former are few, more or less private in their activities, and that they are not bent on world domination and murder of the mass of Humanity. Drape an Arab headscarf around the Harris Tweed-covered shoulders of a Left fascist dhimmi and watch him swoon over the macho "freedom fighter."

The style of the times, the attitudes we hold to without thinking them through, without knowing their origins and histories, the common beliefs we have, they come in large part from listening to others say "this and that" and "the poor" and the "freedom fighters" and so on. Who has the time or the inclination to devle into the texts to discover the nature of our public ideas? No, we rely on our media, on our politicians, on our public intellectuals, and on our fellow men and women to tell us what is the nature of the common good. We live in trust. Yes, we are betrayed, and evily so, but we cannot easily shake the idea that most people, most of whom are our friends and relatives and community members are totally wrong in their expressions of questions concerning our public social lives. The war? The economy? The state of things? We get most of our ideas from others, not from any close examination of the texts that inform them. And rightly so. We don't want the chaos of every man for himself. We long to get along. But we are badly betrayed. We cannot continue down this path to complete ruination without stopping to examine our postions and finding out where we've taken a wrong turn. We're being screwed by our intellectual guides who follow their own fancies, and to hell with us. Well, it's time to part company with them and find new leaders, men such as Robert Spencer, for example.

Most people have no clue about the realities of the physical sciences, and those who do have only a layman's understanding of them. Who, outside a small group of professionals, has the time or talent to grasp the intricacies of science? And because we live in a milieu of science, of a culture that prizes science above nearly all else intellectual, we satisfy ourselves with pseudo science, with the arcana of anthropology, for example, as digestible and knowable. We, being intellectuals, can mouth strange incantations and speak deep mysteries akin to science, and we can at the least make moralistic noises that seem to sound brilliant. We can impress ourselves and each other with fancy terms and phrases, and we can also speak truths philosophical. Yes, all of that, and we never have to open a book. We merely have to listen to what smart people say, and then we say what they said, only we say it better than they. Or so we hope.

Forget that hard stuff of hard science. We have social science.

Edward O. Wilson writes:

[S]ocial scientists as a whole have paid little attention to the foundations of human nature, and they have had almost no interest in its deep origins.

The social sciences are hampered in this last regard by the residue of strong historical precedent. Ignorance of the natural sciences by design was a strategy fashioned by the founders, notably Emile Durkheim, Karl Marx, Franz Boas, and Sigmund Freud, and their immediate followers. They aimed to isolate their nascent disciplines from the foundational sciences of biology and psychology, which at their inception of the social sciences were in any case too primitive to be of clear relevance. This stance was fruitful at first. It allowed scholars to search widely for patterns in cultural and social organization unencumbered by the patronage of the natural sciences, and to compose such laws of social action as the prima facia evidence demanded. But once the pioneering era ended, the theorists were mistaken not to include biology and psychology. It was no longer a virtue to avoid the roots of human nature. (Edward O.Wilson, Consilience. Toronto: Alfred A Knopf; 1998, p. 184.)

In a flourish of German irony, we won't bother quoting directly from Boas here. Let's call it laziness. (It ain't our fault, man.) What we will do is look a little more at Wilson, and then over the course of the next few days we'll look at an anthropologist's essay on "identity."

It's our thesis that the Left is no longer identifiable as a political movement in its classical sense but that it is a degeneration into fascism and philobarbarism. Here we look further at how that came about. We see that the early social scientists were reacting against Social Darwinism, the concocted idea that some cultures are so much better than others that those who aren't strong enough must by biological necessity die out and be taken over by those better. Well, so far so good; but the problem is the death of people who, through no fault whatsoever, die in the race to supremacy, a race they do not sensibly have anything to do with. The race is considered to be started and run and won by capital. The result is the destruction of cultures and people, those who have lived from time beginning till the advent of capitalism, in a state of pristine Nature. According to the social scientists, the rise of capital is evil in that it wipes out the innocent for the sake of machines and exploiters, and no good comes of it regardless of the product. The result of the race of capital is one of racism and genocide. Who wins? Only the privileged and the rich-- at the expense of the world at large. This is, on the face of it, hard to argue with. From this position comes the moral stance so many philobarbarists strike when they condemn capital. No right-thinking person wants to strip forests and plunder the Earth for the sake of idiots in Manhattan. No one wants to support factory owners at the expense of peasant families who've lived on the same farm for thousands of years. However, rather than look at the nature of Humanity to see the reality of the life of Man, the social scientists within our view here relied rather on ideologies and Romance philosophy from Germany in the late 18th century to inform their positions and theses.

The theorists were inhibited from probing in that direction [of analysing human nature] by another problem endemic to the social sciences: political ideology.... With caution swept aside by moral zeal, they turned opposition into the new ideology of cultural relativism. (Wilson: p. 184.)

One must realize the origins of this movement before one condemns it outright. Anthropologists were discovering for the first time people in primitive cultures in far-flung places, and those people were utterly defenseless against Modernity. They were faced with extermination. Social Darwinism allowed for it philosophically on the grounds that the barbarians were unfit in the biological world of the survival of the fittest. To the fore came a class of [mostly, and mostly unmarried and childless,] educated women in history, who had made for themselves a profession unknown before in history: social work. These professional social workers and anthropologists, Margaret Mead, for example, became the high-lights of philobarbarist cultural relativism. Their intentions, like those of so many of those who today consider themselves Leftist, were lofty. So lofty in fact that they never touched the solid Earth.

Believing it a virtue that all cultures are equal but in different ways, Boas [et al,] ... lent strength in the United States and other Western democracies to political multiculturalism. Also known as identity politics, it holds that ethnics, women, and homosexuals possess subcultures deserving of equal standing with those of the "majority," even if the doctrine demotes the idea of a unifying national culture. (pp 184-85.)

When we continue here we'll look at the devolution of rights to identity politics and interest. We will see the end in the Left of the 'Universality of Man' as first enacted in the American Revolution and in the French Revolution. The point is that when the social scientists rushed out to protect the rights of barbarians, they gave a place of privilege to the whole, to the family, to the clan, to the tribe. What they lost was the rights of the individual, a concept they could not accommodate within the scope of ideology of the collective of the Natural Man. the philobarbarist was not interested in the person but in the romance of the culture. They were interested only in the ideology of identity. When we return next we'll look at an essay that shows this line of reasoning, clearly perhaps, but also in a style that some might find tedious and obnoxious. We'll do our best here to make it presentable to our readers.

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