Against the Spirits of Wickedness in the High Places

A guest post by by a reader with the noetic and obsessive name of Concept Junkie:

In a world where everyone cries “Wolf!”, the legitimate wolf attack will go unnoticed.

In a world where accusations of racism and sexism, etc., are hurled more commonly than people ask about the weather, does it do any good to make accusations of racism, sexism, etc., _even if you are absolutely correct_?

Having finished “Transhuman and Subhuman” last night, I have explored Mr. Wright’s musings on the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of liberal thinking that drive its symptoms of racism, sexism, etc. His thinking is, in my opinion, very clear, and he reaches many of the same conclusions I’ve reached (although much more thoroughly), and he correctly points out that this is much more than a disagreement about how to govern, or about different choices in lifestyle.

Even though it’s much harder, I think this is the strategy we need to take in trying to develop an approach to combating the evil thinking that is pervading our society. Honestly, this obsession with race, sex, sexuality, etc., isn’t the problem, it’s just a symptom of a deep-seated and non-obvious problem, one I feel I can’t really explain, and definitely don’t understand.

While I can appreciate the liberal idea of paying attention to viewpoints and kinds of people that are often ignored, the fact on the ground is that in doing so, they almost inevitably focus attention on bogus viewpoints, stupid ideas, or kinds of people that don’t have anything constructive to offer, or if they do, focus on aspects (sex, race, etc.) that are completely orthogonal to the merit under which they are judged (e.g., the ability to write a good book).

This is the great challenge in our culture war, and unfortunately everything, even the friggin’ science fiction awards has become a battlefield in that war.

The enemy (and yes, it’s appropriate to see them as enemies, and not as a loyal opposition) projects intensely and is usually very guilty of the same charges he levels. Perhaps this is deliberate, if not conscious, because it instantly disarms much of the effect of turning the charge right back around.

“You’re racist.”
“No, _you’re_ racist.”
“No, I’m not, you are…”
… ad nauseam.

… and frankly, I can say that I, and most people I know, are privileged in some ways, and have benefited from those privileges. (Although I think my privilege is primarily due to having had sensible, moral Catholic parents that got me on a good path and a sensible, moral Catholic wife to help keep me there.)

I have been struggling mightily to try to figure out how to debate with people whose main strategy is ad hominem attacks, who will ignore all facts except perhaps to pick nits on some minor detail, or who failing everything else will simply attack how I respond, instead of what I say. Naturally, I usually only persist in this kind of engagement for the benefit of spectators, whom I can hope to influence… at least if I can manage to comport myself in a civil and intelligent way. Swaying the sideliners is a valuable benefit, but we are also called by our nature to reach out to everyone, foremost in spreading the Gospel, but regardless, in simply trying to raise the level of discourse and attempt to communicate clearly and logically.

Influencing the spectators, the undecided or those in quiet agreement, perhaps not passionately, but who are at least interested will help, but again, it doesn’t get to the core of the problem. To do that, we must reach the True Believers, the ones who persist in their irrational, dogmatic beliefs, even if they can’t defend them in any meaningful way, the people whose entire mindset is rooted primarily in their own pride.

To me, the real crux of the biscuit isn’t that we are trying to reach people who are wrong and are trying to change their minds, it’s that we are trying to reach people who will not allow themselves to be reached, and trying to get them to change their minds about ideas that they accept no less dogmatically than the faithful accept the most emphatic ex cathedra declaration of faith and morals, but without the philosophical and intellectual underpinnings that make these declarations pretty much self-evident.

“For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places.”

It was in 2008 that I came to realize just how true this is, and how pervasive it’s become. It’s not like I suddenly saw something I’d never seen before, but just that it came to the forefront of my attention, cast in much sharper relief than I’d ever witnessed before. It wasn’t just disappointing, it was downright creepy. But it definitely wasn’t new.

As much as I would like to think that if I can just speak clearly enough, cite some basic facts and appeal to common sense, that I can at least get an admission that I might have a point, I’ve had to come to the conclusion that even on the topics of politics, political correctness, even science itself, for Finagle’s sake, we are engaged in a spiritual battle, and much arm ourselves and engage in it appropriately. But most of all, we have to admit to ourselves that we can’t and won’t win this battle alone, but must rely on the Divine Physician who can heal any heart, and do what we can to open up a path to Him. It’s a much grander and much more difficult goal than getting someone to acknowledge a simple fact about economics or human biology or human nature, but it’s the only one that will truly have a lasting effect.

OK… I’ve rambled enough and my lunch is long finished. Anyone read any good SF lately? I’ve been listening to “The Dosadi Experiment” on Audible in the car and just started “Count To A Trillion”.