We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

The shift from “it’s immoral to tell another culture’s story” to “it’s impossible to tell another culture’s story, but in any case, one shouldn’t try for moral reasons” is part of a process Pluckrose and Lindsay describe as “reification”, which emerged after I’d left the ivory tower and commenced moving companies around and drafting commercial leases for a living. Once reified, postmodern abstractions about the world are treated as though they are real things, and accorded the status of empirical truth. Contemporary social justice activism thus sees theory as reality, as though it were gravity or cell division or the atomic structure of uranium.

The correspondence theory of truth holds that objective truth exists and we can learn something about it through evidence and reason. That is, things are knowable and we gain reliable information about them when our beliefs align with reality. It’s termed “the correspondence theory of truth” because a statement is considered true when it corresponds with reality and false when it doesn’t. Reality, of course, is the thing that does not change regardless of what you believe.

Helen Dale

22 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • SkippyTony

    Such a fucking sad commentary on the world not only that this needs to be pointed out but also the fact that people who fervently argue the reverse get listened to.

    During the recent lockdown I had the pleasure of spending many days with my 12yo grand daughter, helping her with her remote lesson plans. It says something that we got through four weeks lessons in less than a week.

    To fill the time, she learnt long division and we spent a day exploring what “The scientific method” means and how it works.

    I thought I was helping.

    She was treated like a heretic when she started asking in class about repeatability of observations, objective facts etc.

  • The Pedant-General

    Hang on: isn’t the whole point? That the SJWs hold that there is no such thing as objective truth, only your lived experience? So why can’t we tell them to bugger off because _their_ view of the world has no objective truth either?

    I believe Jesus and Mo (pbuh:-)) nailed that some time ago.

  • NickM

    The (anti)social “sciences” are and always have been shite.

    They don’t and never have had any connection to any reality beyond whatever personal prejudice their shysters wanna peddle.

    Yeah, for sure, they use the kind of arguments that are used in the real physical sciences but that’s all just window-dressing.

    It’s all just wanking into a furby and calling it sex.

  • Stonyground

    “It says something that we got through four weeks lessons in less than a week.”

    It is something that occurs to me often when I look back to my schooldays so long ago. I’m reasonably bright but not a genius by any means, but subjects were taught at a snail’s pace. We had a maths text book that had maybe twenty chapters, all with the same format. A few paragraphs explaining a specific concept followed by examples for you to work out for yourself and the answers in the back so that you could check your work and go back over it if you got it wrong. Using this book I reckon that I could have prepared for and passed the O Level exam in a couple of months. Physics would have taken longer as the textbook was a massive tome but it certainly wouldn’t have taken four years.

  • Stonyground (August 8, 2020 at 6:55 am), I’m sure you’re right about the speed you could have attained, but maths is not for everyone. In a sizeable class, there will be those who take all the teacher’s time to get maths, though they may be wholly competent in less abstract subjects. (However, since the stats of this are no more likely to be randomly distributed w.r.t. fashionable identity groups than anything else is, it is racist to discuss, let alone to suggest teaching methods based on it – as some have found.)

    (BTW I’m “sure you’re right” because we had a similar book in my school and I did. Luckily, I had a teacher who, discovering in my first term that I’d already got far enough ahead to have done the assigned homework for next week, said, “OK, just work from the book till we catch you up.” Needless to say, they never did. As you suggest, I completed the course over a year early despite doing no maths homework ever and not pushing myself at all.)

  • The (anti)social “sciences” are and always have been shite. (NickM, August 8, 2020 at 12:59 am)

    I have read competent social science work. It is just very very rare compared to the mounds of sh-eerly idiotic (because politicised) garbage produced by those to whom funding is very, very disproportionately given by the academic establishment.

  • the SJWs hold that there is no such thing as objective truth, only your lived experience? So why can’t we tell them to bugger off because _their_ view of the world has no objective truth either? (The Pedant-General, August 8, 2020 at 12:09 am)

    This has puzzled me from the first moment I found, in an old feminist book (‘Man-made Language’, Dale Spender), the statement

    “There is no such thing as objective research. There is only feminist research and sexist research.”

    used in the particular context of dismissing the research results of modern (to her – 1960s) female degree-holders because she disliked them.

    This merely spelled out what was more blatant than latent in the rest of the book, and it was typical (the first chapter – the only one worth reading – of Janet Radcliffe Richard’s “The Sceptical Feminist” summarises very similar quotes from a raft of leading feminists of her day).

    I immediately wondered: so by what objective measure does one prefer feminist research to sexist research? And answer came there none, but that was because the very question seemed never to have occurred to any of these women, who were the ‘leading feminists’, taken seriously by the public domain and all who called themselves feminists save the rare mavericks.

    Their hatred of free speech is, of course, easy to suspect as a determination never to be asked that question and never to be forced to answer it, based on a deep unconscious belief that objective reality is ‘sexist’ – that is, not as they would have it be.

  • Bruce

    As famed SF author, Philip K. Dick succinctly put it:

    ‘Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.’

  • John B

    @Stonetgtound… ‘ We had a maths text book that had maybe twenty chapters, all with the same format.’

    What’s a maths text book? I was educated in the 1950s/60s, arithmetic, maths were taught by teachers with sticks of chalk and blackboards. Pupils had exercise books (in my first two years at school, chalk and slate) in which they copied from the board. Problems were set on the board, copied down into said exercise books to be worked out, exercise book handed in for marking – got it wrong… stay in at playtime and get it right.

    But then most schoolwork was from a blackboard.

  • NickM

    Niall,
    I did UG Physics at Nottingham (’92-’95). One of my bosses was Sir Peter Mansfield. That’s quite a guy…

    …I also met students of “Social Policy”. Not even the pretense of dispassionate “Sociology” but balls to the wall, “How do we make it so?”. Hence my general contempt.

    I also wrote my earlier comment after a few light ales and the Sky box was playing Les Buggeurs Risible….

  • Paul Marks

    Marxism is mistaken, it is objectively untrue, it is false theory – indeed a collection of false theories. For example, Marxist economics is based on the Labour Theory of Value which is just WRONG, and the Marxist theory of history (that changes in technology, “the forces of production” produces such things as slavery and serfdom and then paid labour) is wrong as well – for example areas of Europe (or even England) that had serfdom did not have different technology from areas that did NOT have serfdom.

    All this, and much more, was very clear by the 20th century – so Marxists faced a choice. Admit that Marxism was WRONG and abandon it (which some did) – or DENY the very concept of objective truth.

    Relativism, the denial of principles of universal and objective truth, had already been pushed by the late 19th century German “Historical School” (the Historicists) in the late 19th century – before the Marxists got a hold of it.

    This led to the once famous “War of Method” between the German Historicists (and their followers in other parts of the world) and the Austrian School of Economics – a conflict that led to the “Errors of Historicism” (1883 – the year Dr Marx died) by Carl Menger – a work whose righteous anger (as Aristotle rightly pointed out – anger can sometimes be morally justified) was well earned by the horribly dishonest words of the German historicists such as Gustav Von Schmoller.

    People such as Von Scholler knew very well that German government economic interventions of Bismark and co were HARMFUL – the laws of economics made this clear. So they had two choices – denounce German government policy, or DENY THAT ECONOMIC LAW (principles of economics) EVEN EXISTED. Translated into honest language the writers of the historicists were a denial that objective and universal truth even existed – they were classic “Treason Of The Intellectuals” stuff – like the “noble” LIES of Plato.

    The German Declaration of War on France in 1914 is actually an example of this.

    The document is a tissue of LIES – it even claims that French aircraft are bombing Bavaria.

    Why are the lies in the German Declaration of War upon France in 1914 so gross? Could they not make up more plausible lies?

    It was the French President (Poincare – a philosopher) who understood the purpose as to why the German lies were so extreme.

    The German elite were making a PHILOSOPHICAL point – their war was to be against the IDEA of objective and universal truth, a war against the EXISTENCE of objective and universal principles of truth and justice.

    One must be careful here as this is NOT how the ordinary German soldier thought – nor even how all the German elite thought (I can think of many exceptions even among the German elite) – but it was how the ruling faction thought, it was their Relativism, their denial of (indeed hatred for) universal principles of truth and justice.

    It was to be, translated from the German, a “War of Cultures” – with a denial that there are any objective principles that can be applied across cultures.

  • Paul Marks

    Turning back to Marxism….

    The Marxists took what the “Intellectual Bodyguard of the House of Hohenzollern” (the Historicists) had done and applied it to Marxism.

    Marxism is objectively wrong – just as it is objectively not the case that French aircraft were bombing Germany before the German Declaration of War on August 3rd 1914.

    So a Marxist (like a German leader in 1914) faces a choice – admit that one’s position is objectively wrong, OR deny the existence of objective truth.

    Both German “Frankfurt School” Marxism (which started to be developed in the 1920s – but became much more famous and influential in the United States much later) and French “Post Modernism” (which shares the Marxist objective of destroying “capitalism” – as it is, supposedly, “exploitation” and “oppression” by “power structures of privilege”) took the later course.

    Under their vast web of words (an incredibly complex web of words – designed t confuse the reader, and to undermine the will of the reader to really critically examine what the “intellectual” is saying) their answer to the charge is simple.

    What is the charge? The charge is – “you are LYING”, and the modern “Cultural Marxist” answer to this charge is really “there is no such thing as objective truth”.

    It should be noted that French thinker Sorel (another “noble” liar) and Mussolini (the Founder of Fascism – but someone who retained his love for the ideas of Karl Marx to the end) had got there long before the Frankfurt School and French Post Modernism were to.

    Both Sorel and Mussolini had got to the point of cultural relativism – to the denial that there even are objective principles of truth and justice.

    The Nazis were in the same intellectual space as were the intellectual apologists for the regime that took over Japan.

    The Nazis denounced the very idea of objective principles of truth and justice as “Jewish” (they denounced everything they hated as “Jewish” – but in this case they had a point). The “philosophy of a Superman comic” (the idea being that Free Will, moral agency, and objective principles of truth and justice are “Jewish” and, therefore, do not apply to another “race”).

    What the modern Marxists, the Fascists and the Nazis (National Socialists) offer is “the freedom not to be free” – the idea that there is no Free Will, no Moral Agency, and no objective principles of truth and justice.

    In short – it is not your fault when you rob, rape, murder and so on, as you could not have CHOSEN to do otherwise.

    And it is not objectively evil to rob, rape, murder and so on, because there is no such thing as objective good and evil – everything is relative to your society, and in our new society……

    It is interesting that the modern Western “anti Fascists” and “anti Nazis” share the same basic philosophical assumptions as the Fascists and the Nazis.

  • Paul (Paul Marks, August 8, 2020 at 12:23 pm), I agree as regards socialism. The 1890s ‘crisis of socialism’ was precisely the crisis of socialists discovering (in a sotto voce “not in front of our voters” fashion) that, since enough of their fellow marxists had also noticed that reality was not merely “refusing to go away when they disbelieved it” (Bruce, August 8, 2020 at 9:26 am) but was blatantly refusing to behave as theory demanded, socialists could now safely discuss it. They therefore split into three groups.

    – Revisionists: “Let’s hang onto our voters and the positions they’ve elected us to, while quietly revising the meaning of ‘socialism’ into something we have more chance of pretending can happen.”

    – Revolutionaries: “Let’s have our revolution anyway, by redefining socialism as a ‘myth’ – something that is true if the masses believe in it enough to revolt and (empower us to) reconstruct society according to it.” (The fascists were those who later decided socialism was no use even for that, so went looking for a more-motivating myth.)

    – Bird-brains: sounding similar to the others when talking to “the workers”, but actually not having noticed the ‘crisis’.

    However I think Poincare, though quite right about German philosophy in general, was probably overthinking things if he saw the crudity of German WWI-launching propaganda as intentional. Even in WWII, when things had gone yet further, the Nazis were eager for plausible pretexts of war against Poland in 1939 and were annoyed when Poland – to its military cost – refrained (to impress the UK and France) from precautionary actions that the Germans had hoped to exploit as Bethmann-Hollweg had exploited Russian mobilisation. The crudity of the WWI lies was because it was an aspect they had not cared to prepare in detail beforehand. The US official who, in August 1914, heard so many German generals tell him of

    “the assassination of a German officer by the son – or sometimes the daughter – of a burgomeister that it seemed to him the Belgians must have bred a special race of burgomeisters’ children, like the assassins of Syria”

    (quoted from memory) was encountering this symphony on a theme with variations, not because those Generals wanted to convey to him their contempt of objective truth but, on the contrary, because they hoped to fool him, had not well-prepared excuses for their pacification methods (no-one had wanted that particular job), and so reused the thin material they had.

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    SkippyTony,

    I have no children and so had had very little to do with the educational system since I left school forty years ago, so I find what you write disturbing.

    In which class was your grand daughter treated like a heretic for talking about objective facts and repeatability of observations? Those concepts are absolutely central to science, so if it was in her general science classes we are, as a society, in serious trouble.

  • Stonyground

    It wasn’t maths specifically, it seems to me that all subjects involved a slow drip drip of information over the years. Wood work, it took us a whole term to make a bloody tie rack.

    I never did A levels but my daughter did. This seemed to involve a period of enormous pressure while cramming to get the best possible results for both her ability to choose a university and to boost the reputation of the school. If they got a shift on earlier surely this could be avoided?

  • Stonyground

    I don’t recall the title. I remember that it had a geometric pattern on the cover, a circular pattern perched on the point of a triangular one. There were very clear explanations at the beginning of each chapter and I can remember thinking that it was an excellent book.

  • Paul Marks

    You may well be right Niall – Poincare (like me) always wanted to “join up the dots” – and sometimes a mess, is just a mess (rather than a deep philosophical statement by the enemy).

    After all if the Germans were going for deliberately absurd lies they could have done better……

    “The Russians and French have cooperated together to produce a squad of 100 feet high KILLER PENGUINS they almost managed too murder the Kaiser, but the heroic Houston Stewart Chamberlain managed to spiritually commune with the World Spirit and save Germany by a mighty magic spell. However to rid the world of the 100 feet high killer penguins, we must declare declare war. And this is nothing to do with wanting to occupy even more of France,and dominate the world – not even slightly”.

    As HSC (a renegade Englishman who was one of the Kaiser’s spiritual mentors – who later anointed Adolf Hitler as the saviour of Germany) regularly claimed to commune with spirits that only he could see (the socialist John Ruskin did the same – he writes extensively about his “Demon” guides in his diary) this would not have seemed that odd.

  • Good lord, Paul! You need to expand that into a novel!🤣👍🏻

  • Paul Marks

    In the 2nd World War the National Socialists felt the need for some sort of “evidence” for the fake “attack upon Germany”. So they dressed up some Concentration Camp prisoners in German uniforms, shot them – and then pretended the Poles had done it. The bodies were shown in cinema newsreels all over Germany – clearly it was a “defensive” war.

    “Hans – are we the bad guys?” are the words that spring to mind.

    On the NATURAL SCIENCES.

    It was thought that they would be free of Frankfurt School of Marxism and French Post Modernism – but this is NOT so.

    In recent years the Relativists have been messing up the natural sciences – denouncing objective truth as a “social construct”.

    These days they going the Full Monty and declaring objective truth, capitalist “Whiteness” – which is, by definition, evil.

    I profoundly hope that the left have messed up this time – and there will (finally) be some push back. But such push back must not be scared to NAME THE ENEMY, if people are not even prepared to use the name of the Frankfurt School of Marxism, then the conflict is lost before it starts.

  • Paul Marks

    Niall – it was, as you know, the Revisionists who did the worst damage.

    Alas, no 100 feet high Killer Penguins or “Demons” of Houston Stuart Chamberlain or John Ruskin – but lots of other bad stuff.

    They carried on the interventionism of Bismark but carried it to an extreme – just as the Fabian socialists in Britain carried on the interventionism of Disraeli (why anyone admires “Dizzy” beats me – just about everything he did, in both domestic and foreign policy, was wrong) – but also carried it to an extreme.

    The 1920s Weimar Republic in Germany was essentially a modern Western country- in that it was a bankrupt dump.

    Fiat money, endless benefits and “public services”, unlimited union power – and on and on.

    Such a society was bound to collapse (just as modern Western societies, which have betrayed their traditions and destroyed basic liberties, are bound to end) – the only question was “what will replace this mess”, the mess the Revisionist Socialists created in the Weimar Republic, and such people as Clement Atlee, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath and Boris Johnson were later to create in Weimar BRITAIN.

    The Communists (the KPD) hoped that Weimar Germany would collapse into Marxism – but the Nazis hoped that it would collapse into National Socialism (harking back to pre Marxist collectivists such as the philosopher Fichte).

    What Weimar Britain will collapse into has yet to be seen – but Weimar Britain can not last many more years.

    Remember things were very bad, from both an economic and cultural point of view, even BEFORE the lockdown.

    The United Kingdom was very ill, economically and culturally, BEFORE the lockdown – what the lockdown has done is take an ill person (this country) and put a bullet in the back of their head.

    “But Paul – Mr Johnson did not INTEND to destroy the county, he got terrible advice from the totalitarian leftist scientists and Public Health officials”.

    Yes – but he did not have to take that “advice”. And he still seems to show no sign of waking up.

    Being fooled in March is rather different from still being fooled in August.

  • Niall – it was, as you know, the Revisionists who did the worst damage. (Paul Marks, August 9, 2020 at 9:37 am)

    In Britain, yes, because in Britain only revisionists (or those who pretended to be no more than that) gained power.

    I suspect a Russian who survived Stalin would tell us we hardly knew we were born. 🙂 In Germany, as pointed out by Hayek, the revisionists paved the way for Hitler. The same happened in Russia, but as regards being in power there was a blink-and-you’ll-miss them quality about the provisional government that preceded Lenin’s coup.

    Revisionists are more insidious but often slower, so offer more chances of less costly escape. (Chances which can be missed, of course; morally as well as financially, Germany in the interwar years reminds me of the old joke about how one goes bankrupt – at first gradually and then suddenly.)

    And overhasty revolutionaries can compromise slow, insidious revisionists. Here’s a small but cheering story from yesterday’s instapundit

    One of the things that struck me today was how many stories involved people pushing back. They’re pushing back against the Black Lives Matter narrative, they’re pushing back against cancel culture, and they’re pushing back against the Wuhan virus lockdown.

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