Parasitic upon the truth
I will give myself credit that one thing I got right was, many years ago, I predicted that American progressivism would pivot from justifying its positions based on “tolerance” (and notice how much less often you hear that word now), and pivot to justifying its positions based on “the science says”. Something like that had to happen, because the sort of tolerance-based-in-relativism many were trying to live within at the time is unsustainable. Under relativism, my objection to your claim is just as valid as your claim, which makes it difficult for you to “win”, and they definitely want to win.
I had some related thoughts last night watching a video of Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, giving an answer that should by itself disqualify her from the position. You’ve probably already seen it, but just in case you haven’t I’ll drop it here.
Now most of the things that need to be said about this response have already been said. She’s lying of course, she knows what a woman is. This “I’m not a biologist” out is a “trust the experts” appeal ad absurdum, and makes as much sense as a child refusing to tell you whether that animal is a dog or cat because they aren’t a veterinarian. It isn’t a “real” out either, inasmuch as if Republicans brought in a biologist today who said “a woman is an adult human with two X chromosomes”, some reason would be come up with why that biologist was wrong. And inasmuch as Brown was chosen by Biden as part of a promise to nominate a black woman, her claiming to be unable to define the word is a particularly odd comment. But progressivism today is shot through with that sort of contradiction as it routinely claims to be pro-woman and also not know what women are (or, more commonly and worse, make “woman” into a completely meaningless designator anyone may choose to apply to themselves).
But, parasitic upon the truth
But the “I’m not a biologist” ending interests me because it does represent a recognition that we must at least give the appearance of rooting our ideology in objective reality, and science is now the only method recognized as legitimate to access that reality.
Something I’ve said before is that it seems to me that you can divide humans pretty well into those who are power-centric and those who are truth-centric. The power-centric people don’t care what the words emanating from their mouths actually mean, words are just a route to power. This is why Justin Trudeau can go directly from a “women get to make their own healthcare choices, period” speech (about abortion), to a vaccine mandates speech, and never bat an eye about it. He doesn’t care, at all, that the words he is speaking right now contradict the words he spoke five minutes ago. Words are just a means to power for him.
But, and this is worth noting, the power-centric worldview can only exist because there are enough truth-centric people around it who actually care that our words point to true realities. If 100% of a population was power-centric, if 100% of a population didn’t care about what words actually meant, that population would soon be unable to communicate amongst itself and would descend into barbarism. Or, put more prosaically, the power-centric are able to use words to manipulate others because those words have emotional power. But the words only have emotional power in the first place because the truth-centric people have preserved a meaning for them.
I’ll give you one more example here, from January. This was a cartoon that appeared in the Washington Post but, at least a tiny bit to his credit I guess, it appears to have now been deleted by the cartoonist, so I’ll pull a tweet from someone who was complaining about it.
This was in the context of the trucker protests in Canada. Those truckers were protesting, among other things, vaccination mandates, mandates that represented an alliance of big corporations and an authoritarian state trying to force the population to participate in a corporate product. Therefore if anything it would be accurate to say the truckers were against fascism, yet here they are called fascists. It’s absurd, but this is another example of the power-centric being parasitic upon the truth-centric. Inasmuch as cartoons like this “work”, they work because fascism is a bad-word. But fascism is only a bad-word because the truth-centric people have preserved a meaning for it. The cartoonist doesn’t care what the word really means at all, it is just an emotional weapon for him, but it only has power as a weapon because you truth-centric people do care about what the word really means.
So it’s an interesting situation. We can take a little bit a comfort in the wide recognition that it is necessary to at least appear to base your ideas in objective, accessible reality. The greatest absurdities of our time cannot last for that much longer, and I do think gender theory in particular (despite still large support in our big institutions) has already peaked in terms of popular support.