Monday, July 15, 2013

The Right to be Wrong: Why Pop-Postmodernism leads to tyranny

To the unreflective, the slogan of postmodernism that "all views are equally right" sounds wonderful. The suggestion (quite false, I am quick to add) is that this means an end to persecution. Well, no, not really. For you see on a popular level, this idea that no-one is wrong and all are right reduces to the idea that no-one is allowed to be wrong. And that idea finally ends in tyranny. For we all understand that there is such a thing as truth and error, and in everyday life we use such categories. That's a good thing, for if I wish to put fuel in my car it is important for me to put the right fuel in, or the car will not run on it!

And the same thing applies with ideologies and philosophies; all of these work on the basis that they are true and the others are false, even Postmodernism does that! And people will keep on acting in such a way, whether they know it or not, whether they are honest about it or not.

And that is why the spread of the leaven of pop-postmodernism is dangerous, because the application of the idea that all sincerely-held views are valid is quite simply that people assume views that dissent from theirs are not sincerely held. This conclusion is not based upon assessment of people, but upon an often unconscious misapplication of pop-postmodernism. Not that it is merely found in recent decades, for the forerunners of Postmodernism have often fallen into the same trap, as the early Unitarians who assumed that all Trinitarian clergymen and preachers had to be hypocrites because "no educated man could believe in the Trinity".

Now, I am not saying that the "right to be wrong" means I have a right not to be corrected, but it must mean I have a right not to have the state attempt to correct me by means of penal sanctions. That is the great basis of the 18th century idea of toleration, that the state gives us a right to be wrong within certain limits (I do not have the right to persecute), and within those limits a vigorous intellectual debate can take place. It means no state heresy trials, but preserves the rights of individual debate, and of churches and societies to hold their own views and enforce them internally (so the Communist Party has the right to eject members who cease to be Communists).

Deny the right to be sincerely mistaken, and you deny any meaningful sort of toleration, because you assume that intellectual dissent is always due to deliberate evil. Western culture is dangerously close to making such a denial a matter of statute law, and that should concern everyone. I want the right to be wrong.

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