Living in the Age of Contradiction

The basic laws of human thought as defined by Aristotle have been deliberately infringed in the totalitarian political space, the subject of Orwell’s classic dystopian study 1984, which, by an apt reversal confirming its thesis, was written in 1948. One can summarize the nature of totalitarian language -- Orwell’s Newspeak -- in the anti-Parmenidean phrase as “Whatever is, isn’t.” In Orwell’s account: War is Peace. Slavery is Freedom. Ignorance is Strength.

Communism and socialism continue to thrive, if not prosper, on such perversions of cogent reasoning: the individual finds his fulfillment in the collective; redistribution of wealth leads to personal incentive; nationalization of industry and finance are the infallible conditions of increased productivity; property held in common is the road toward a social utopia devoid of envy and competitiveness. Experience has proven otherwise, but such precepts are plainly irrational and contra naturam, as should have been evident from the start to anyone not blinded by ideological convictions.

Analogously, those of a social reconstructionist persuasion, mainly academics, believe that human nature as we have known it since time immemorial is merely a political and cultural artifice. We come into the world as blank slates or undifferentiated beings and are then imprinted or indoctrinated with a “nature” -- a dogma which creates the insoluble problem of origins. Who or what was the initiating presence? A related form of social reconstructionism -- deriving from Michel de Montaigne’s praise for the “noble savage” in “On Cannibals” (1580) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s exposition of the mythologem in Discourse on Inequality (1755) -- holds that primitive man was more peaceful, cooperative and egalitarian than civilized man and that the psychological structure of modern man can be radically expunged to allow the pristine substratum to re-emerge. These feeble and decrepit assumptions constitute a flagrant contradiction of everything we know from the anthropological study of primitive tribes and the fossil record. As historian Bruce Thornton comments, “Wisdom once known by every village explainer and cracker-barrel crank has been discarded and replaced with phony ‘sciences’ making claims about human nature and behavior that are based on nothing other than false assumptions, political ideology, and wishful thinking.” He might as well have said: specious thinking, though his allusion to the West’s “abject stupidity” is close enough.

To take a recent case in point. Lorna Salzman in Humanist Perspectives tells the story of Napoleon Chagnon, an evolutionary anthropologist who lived among the South American Yanomamo tribes. Using “scientific and statistical methodologies as well as first-hand observation,” Chagnon showed that the laws of nature working through genetic selection were valid, ascertainable and inescapable -- for which defection from the shibboleths and clichés of the day he found himself the target of a storm of “slanders, lies, distortions…intended to destroy [his] career and reputation.” The army of cultural anthropologists and social scientists who have invested in the canard that “humans are above Nature, not subject to her laws, have no evolutionary history [and] no genetically conferred attributes” cannot permit rational thought and empirical evidence to interfere with their theoretical hallucinations.

The absurdity doesn’t stop there. Such theorists also assert that gender -- some even go so far as to say sex -- is entirely a social construct, one’s identity as feminine or masculine, female or male unrelated to one’s physical anatomy. Anatomy is a delusion, a mere datoid that disguises the “truth” that gender identity is voluntary, an expression of desire or feeling rather than palpably somatic, a physical fact of nature. We are not dealing here with the rigors of evolutionary biology but with the illicit and puerile effort to force nature to conform to ideology. A man is a woman is a hermaphrodite -- a blatant violation of the Law of Identity.