Tag Archives: fascist

The Danger of “My Truth: Our Current Crisis of Genuine Knowledge

There are two words we need to stop using so glibly: “My truth.” While we are free to express our opinions and need to allow others the same, these two words reveal a serious crisis of knowledge in our reactive, subjective social media world. History, philosophy, and science used to be fields of proximate objective inquiry, testing hypothesis, expanding knowledge, and evaluating arguments. And in many places, these and other disciplines admirably contribute to our knowledge.

Sadly, the shriller voices are self-absorbed subjectivists, arguing that being “good” or “moral” is more important than “facts.” What matters are the “narratives” we create or affirm, not the complexities of the data. This is not a Left or Right issue. This subjective and often irrational perspective subverts the public good and the ability of diverse folks to discover the truth of any matter and bring wisdom to real challenges.

We can transform neighborhoods, but not by the D.C. Leviathan parachuting personnel and resources with no understanding of the locale.

We can improve our schools, if we will listen to the facts of 30 years of research and liberate students and teachers from ineffective systems.

We can improve health care, foster new energy sources, open avenues of economic access…if we will learn from the mistakes and successes of the last half century instead of repeating tired mantras.

A young student who claimed to be an, “anarcho-syndicalist” and devotee of Marx, when confronted with the record of history, could find no evidence of his ideas ever working in a sustained and humane way. His refusal to modify his thinking was evident when he declared that the facts are unimportant, and devotion to the ideal is all that matters. The same mindset pervades awful fascist and racist groups on the extreme Right. White supremacy has no place in a pluralistic republic.

Renewing “the pursuit of truth in the company of friends” (my Cowell College UCSC motto – go Slugs!) will require humility, openness, love for neighbor, and constant refinement of thinking. Our dear friend, the late Miriam Self, once said about this, “Sounds too much like work,” Her humor helps us see the point well. As we decide to pursue the truth of any matter, we will still often diverge on both the data and the policies, but if we stay inquisitive, we may find hidden gems of wisdom and principled ways of fostering human flourishing hitherto buried under the noise.

In closing, I want to thank my late dad for making learning an adventure, my many older spiritual mentors modeling humility and inquiry in their eighth and ninth decades, and all of you that love thoughtfulness…thank you!

And above, underneath, and all around is our loving Lord, the Logos, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Agitation Propaganda: Projection and Subversion

In my writing, I aim for civil, principled conversation across ideological, political, and religious boundaries, respecting differences and aiming for consensus where possible. I am grateful for the many who join me (often with far greater eloquence and influence) in such peacemaking. But I would be remiss not to expose two tactics of the enemies of freedom: projection and subversion. These are the twin towers of agitation propaganda (known as “agitprop”) and have flourished for a century in communist and fascist societies. (One note here: the extreme Left (communist) and extreme Right (fascist) differ in some particulars but share similar roots of totalitarian control over people and societies, along with philosophies favoring particular groups [Party members or a particular race] over others.)

Projection is when one group accuses another of the very actions they are doing themselves. For example, a group of students, in the name of freedom and safety, calls for the firing of a professor that disagrees with their philosophies. Another form of projection is deflection: when individuals or groups ignore difficult questions and merely repeat their slogans. For example, a pro-choice activist was asked what she thought of recent remarks by her governor concerning his support of late term abortion and even infanticide (“Make the baby comfortable while the mother and physician decide what is best.”). Rather than answering with revulsion, support, or even a nuanced middle ground, the activist just shouted, “You want to deprive women of their access to healthcare and return to the days of the coat hanger.” This happened four times as the question was repeated. Religious adherents are declared intolerant when they refuse to support alternative lifestyles contrary to their tradition. This is projection – for the accuser is her or himself intolerant of the religious point of view (or wants it confined to private spaces!).

Subversion appears as the true agendas of groups are revealed. White nationalists and Nation of Islam adherents want to subvert the Bible, the Constitution, and a positive history of improving race relations and create completely segregated nations. Many Marxists are happy to use capitalistic and democratic means to achieve communalistic and undemocratic ends. They also combine projection and subversion when they accuse some of their own of not being revolutionary enough! Such was the case in the French, Russian and Chinese revolutions, where millions died for not being radical enough. Think about these historical illustrations:

  • The Nazis burn the Reichstag (parliament) building, blame the communists, and use it as an excuse to kill and imprison thousands (projection and subversion).
  • Lenin spoke of his need for capitalistic “useful idiots” to fund his revolution (subversion).
  • Closer to home, “Rules for Radicals” author Saul Alinsky advocates to creating chaos and dissatisfaction (subversion) and making sure no other peaceful solutions get in the way the radical agenda.
  • Radical Islam promotes deception and temporary truces with opponents as part of the long play for domination (subversion). Anyone who does not honor their Prophet is pronounced a blasphemer and subject to severe penalty, even as they claim victimhood status (projection).
  • And today, several extremist groups in the USA are calling for an end to nuclear family, and end to free enterprise, and overturning particular religious influences (subversion), as well as declaring all their opponents’ oppressors (projection).

May we examine our hearts and choose advocacy over mere accusation and acceptance of complexity over childishness. Let’s keep projection and subversion far away as we pursue peace and justice.