Sincerely Insincere Belief

A reader with the cervine yet canine name of Rudolph Harrier notes:

“when you are talking with a leftist their initial statements rarely have anything to do with their beliefs (to the extent that they have beliefs at all.) “

My comment:

Yes, and a thousand times yes.

In my household there is an argument I call “the eternal argument” because I see no way it can ever be resolved. Let me lay out the two sides without mentioning which side I favor.

One side says that the Leftists do not mean anything said, not a word, not a syllable, not even the jot above the lowercase j .

The other side says that they do mean what is said, because they act on what is said.

This second side says that any faction, any organization, even a small social group, always has leaders and followers, and even if the leaders are insincere in what they ask their followers to believe, the followers are sincere in the belief. When push comes to shove, the followers do not change their tune. That is what “real” belief really is.

The first side always argues that no one can actually mean something he does not regard as meaningful, such as when a man thinks or says something which, if told to think or say the opposite, he would, and without hesitation. This is because all he is really thinking is “all good people think X. I am good. I think X.” and it does not matter to him in the slightest what value is substituted for X.

The first side says the Leftist worldview is subjectivist, even solipsist, and does not allow for “meaning” in the way sane people mean the word.

Leftism only allows for “meaning” as an expression of willpower or emotional attachment. The first is subject to change at will, the second to the vagaries of mood and fashion. What a man changes by will or whim, he does not and cannot really mean.

Anyone who believe there is no truth does not truly believe this or any belief he believes.

The second side always counters by saying the person is sincere, even if the belief is wrong, and that anyone and everyone can believe something which they take on the authority of peers or parents or teachers they trust. These are beliefs for which the person speaking will riot, wound, maim or even kill. Their sincerity on that level cannot be doubted.

The argument between first side and second side is, alas, a semantic one, since both sides agree on what is happening, merely disagreeing on what constitutes a real belief versus a fashion statement.

Side one says no fashion statement can be a real belief.

Side two says any belief for which one will cheerfully commit arson and risk jail is real. It has real-world consequences.

Even though I am one side of this eternal argument, I have to say that both sides are right, given their two different definitions of what counts as real belief versus fake, supposed, fashionable or purely-performative belief.