Ridicule, Not Reasoned Debate, Is the Best Medicine for Political Cults

Here is Bruce Thornton — he is so right re ridicule:

Time to take off the gloves.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley recently told a high school audience that conservatives shouldn’t delight in “owning the libs” ––  i.e. triggering a progressive into a hysterical response that you proceed to make fun of. Instead, we should be “persuading” progs with reasoned argument and “bringing people around to your point of view,” as Haley said.

In that way, we make a convert rather than energize partisans into clinging more tightly to their beliefs and voting to empower them.

Having spent more than 40 years in the incubators of today’s leftist nonsense, universities, I am skeptical about the power of reasoned argument among today’s ill-educated students. Most of their teachers, like most progressives, are pretty much immune to reason, evidence, and coherent argument, little of which makes it into their courses. As the old gag goes, arguing with a leftist is like playing chess with a pigeon: It knocks over the pieces, craps on the board, then struts around like it won the game. Reasoned argument cuts no ice when confronted with the irrational caprices and gratifying passions of human beings.

In fact, the assumption behind Haley’s plea is the old Socratic one that virtue is knowledge, that if one knows the good, one will do the good––one of the foundational bad ideas of modernity. When people believe wrong or dangerous ideas, the paradigm goes, that’s because they’re deficient in knowledge. They just need to be better informed of the facts, and better trained to spot incoherent and fallacious arguments.

The rebuttal of this claim was made by Socrates’ contemporary Euripides, whose sex-maddened character Phaedra says in a moment of lucidity, “We know the good and recognize it, but we cannot do it.” Two thousand years later, Dostoyevsky’s spiteful character Underground explains why: “One’s own free and unfettered volition, one’s own caprice, however wild, one’s own fancy, inflamed sometimes to the point of madness –– that is the one best and greatest good.” We are free to choose our actions and beliefs even if they’re destructive, dangerous, or irrational. The fact that we want them, and they gratify us, and we can choose them is all that counts.

Read more: Front Page Mag

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