The Left & Weaponizing ‘Truth’
A reader writes:
I read your article on James Damore’s termination this morning and did a bit of digging around the Internet for the Left’s response. A fairly typical sample is this Guardian article[by commenter Owen Jones — RD]:
The trend I’ve noticed resembles nearly every liberal response to conservative arguments that I’ve seen in the past year, as illustrated by the above-mentioned article [the reader quotes directly from it in his numbered points below — RD]:
1. The conservative claim in question is bad, and therefore wrong, because it will enable Trump and the alt-right. “You’re going to hear a lot about him in the coming weeks: he’ll probably be a star guest on alt-right shows and the rightwing lecture circuit, splashed on the front covers of conservative magazines, no doubt before a lucrative book deal about his martyrdom and what it says about the Liberal Big Brother Anti-White Man Thought Police.”
2. State factual claims made by the conservative with simple incredulity. Don’t refute them, just state them as if they were self-evidently bad, and therefore wrong: ‘But men and women are simply biologically different, he argues: women have a “stronger interest in people rather than things’, and that their alleged neuroticism and attachment to cooperation makes them less suitable as coders, compared to men who apparently inherently value competition and systematizing.”
3. Allege that the entire swath of claims made are pseudoscience and obviously false by picking one part of a complex and lengthy argument, attacking that single part, and proclaiming victory over the whole thing: “Damore’s assertions about gender are, frankly, guff dressed up with pseudo-scientific jargon: not just belittling women, but reducing men to the status of unemotional individualistic robots. But as Yonatan Zunger – until recently a senior Google employee – puts it, those men could not be good engineers. ‘Engineering is all about cooperation, collaboration, and empathy for both your colleagues and your customers,’ as Zunger puts it. Yes, he notes, women are ‘socialised to be better’ (note, not genetically pre-programmed) “at paying attention to people’s emotional needs and so on” – but this makes for better engineers.”
4. When all else fails, state the allegations from conservatives that actions like Damore’s firing represent suppression of free speech, and respond by arguing that the historically oppressive power dynamic against minorities means that suppression of conservative male speech is justifiable: “‘Political correctness gone mad’, ‘you can’t say what you think any more’: these cliches underpin Damore’s manifesto, even though he refers to them fancily as Google’s ‘ideological echo chamber’. But he’s wrong. These movements have been liberating, not repressive.”
But who’s the joke on here? The Left is always (rightly) labeling Trump as a symptom of our post-truth society, in that he makes wild and utterly false statements on a regular basis with relative impunity. It seems to me, however, that the essence of being post-truth is making or attacking an opinion or truth claim on some grounds other than its factual merits. And by that definition, the Guardian article is just as much an instance of post-truth balderdash as Trump.
Damore cited one social science result after another in justification of his claims. The Guardian article makes no effort to refute any of them, because the truth or falsehood of these results is fundamentally beside the point. It doesn’t matter, for instance, whether or not social science indicates that women have higher neuroticism measures than men (and they do). What matters is that such a claim, irrespective of its truth, serves to bolster the white male supremacist bourgeoisie narrative over and against the liberationist narrative, and must therefore be suppressed.
The reaction to Damore’s firing is about as clear an illustration to me as you could ask for that the Left, just like the alt-right, regards truth in a Nietzschean fashion: truth is simply a social construct designed to serve the ends of power. What Alasdair MacIntyre said in After Virtue of ethical claims ultimately has come to be true of factual claims in general. They are uttered as if they corresponded to an objective, mind-independent reality, but in fact their meaning is something entirely different — the expression of a will to power by this or that extremist group.
Dissenters will be sent to the Goolag.