Sunday, December 20, 2020

District Attorney Michel Foucault

In the diabolical new disorder of things metastasizing around us, churchmen subvert doctrine rather than teaching it, and public authorities subvert law and order rather than maintaining it.  To be sure, these cancers have been slowly spreading throughout the bodies ecclesiastical and politic for many decades.  What is new is the sudden ghastliness with which an aggressive heterodoxy and criminality have broken through to the surface, making the reality of the disease evident to all but the most deluded of minds. 

What is its source?  Part of the story is natural, part supernatural.  There is, for one thing, the tyrannical degeneracy which is, as Plato warns us, the ironic fate of societies which value freedom and equality above virtue.  And for another, there is the chronic sickness of heresy which has for centuries periodically ravaged the Church before being vomited out, and the severity of which can sometimes approximate the predicted final apostasy. 

But all of that is rather “big picture.”  It doesn’t quite answer a more mundane question, to wit: What the hell is going through the minds of these people?  For example, how do persons who have at least a minimal degree of sanity (just enough to hold a job, to use the toilet, etc.) nevertheless convince themselves that abolishing the police would be a good idea?  How do you explain a lunatic like new Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, who has begun to visit upon my beloved city the destruction he inflicted upon San Francisco? 

General observations about the nature of egalitarian or apostate societies don’t suffice.  We want to know what the connecting link is that gets you from general social decadence to a specific official’s decision to stop enforcing the law.  The answer appears to be Critical Theory, broadly construed and in its many malign permutations – once confined to the most intellectually slovenly and irrelevant academic backwaters, but now sweeping through city governments, corporate HR departments, college administrations, and the like by way of an army of activists and bureaucrats whose minds have been rotted out by it.

The most important thinker in this connection is surely Michel Foucault.  Now, Foucault was critical of, and more insightful than, his less subtle Marxist predecessors.  He is also certainly a more interesting thinker than the mediocrities through whom his ideas are often filtered (Critical Race Theorists, et al.) – and, though he was a man of the Left, he was not entirely unambiguously so.  But the fundamental Critical Theoretic project of unmasking the sinister powers and interests lurking behind purportedly innocuous institutions is the Foucauldian project, and he famously applied it to an analysis of the modern penal system.

For Foucault, the purportedly objective systems of knowledge that characterize the mainstream thinking of a society or historical period reflect the interests of whatever power dominates it.  So far this is Marx’s theory of ideology filtered through Nietzsche, and thereby expanded beyond a crudely economic analysis.  A characteristically Foucauldian elaboration of the idea is that this power acts in a “capillary” fashion, seeping down into every nook and cranny of the social order and, indeed, of the individual psyche, in ways of which we are unaware until they are revealed by Critical Theory adepts.  The Critical Race Theorist’s paranoid delusion that absolutely everything is permeated by racism – so that even seemingly innocent remarks and actions are unmasked as “micro-aggressions” and “implicit bias” – is essentially Foucault read through a racial lens.

Foucault himself applied the idea to an analysis of mental illness as well as criminal justice.  Madness is interpreted as a concept by which those who do not conform to bourgeois standards of thought and behavior are designated as abnormal, and the confinement by which they might be controlled is thereby given a rational justification.  The purportedly objective science by which all of this is made intelligible is really a mask for bourgeois power – a way of cementing that power by pathologizing any alternative to bourgeois standards. 

The modern system of penal justice and imprisonment is alleged to perform a similar function.  Foucault interprets it as a manifestation of a broader tendency of bourgeois power not merely to discourage behaviors it regards as abnormal, but positively to mold individuals so that their behavior will come spontaneously to conform to bourgeois norms.  The penal system is in this way continuous with the curricula and examination regime of the educational system, with standard capitalist business practices, and so forth.  It is all of a piece, a system by which bourgeois power extends itself in “capillary” fashion through to the extremities of society.

Now, in an emendation of Foucault’s analysis, sociologist Loïc Wacquant takes this line of thinking in a direction that brings it even closer to the mentality that we are now seeing in state and municipal officials across the U.S.  Wacquant notes, first, that things have not gone the way Foucault’s analysis led him to expect them to.  Foucault had thought that as social institutions in general take on the prison’s function of molding individual behavior in order to make it conform to bourgeois norms, the institution of the prison itself will decline.  Building on an analysis developed by Pierre Bourdieu, Wacquant argues that the opposite has happened.

First, he suggests that the welfare state and the prison system should be seen as two means – the first maternal and nurturing, the second paternal and punitive – by which the modern capitalist state “manages” what he calls “urban marginality,” i.e. “the unruly poor” and minority communities.  Now, with the rise, beginning in the 1980s, of policies of a “neoliberal” or free market nature (he might as well have said “bourgeois”), the institutions of the welfare state went into decline, increasing “social insecurity,” especially among poor and minority communities.  And this has led to an expansion of the other, punitive method of “managing” them – to what Wacquant calls a “remasculinization of the state.”   Thus the penal system has expanded rather than declined, contrary to Foucault’s expectation.  And its focus has been on minorities and the poor, specifically, rather than on the molding of attitudes and behaviors in the general population.

Second, Wacquant says, this expanding penal system has not aimed at molding the attitudes and behaviors even of the individuals it does target – once again defying Foucault’s expectations – but rather merely at “warehousing” them, thereby neutralizing the danger they might pose to the “neoliberal” order of things, but in a way that is indifferent to what goes on in their heads.  And the general public is inured to this callous treatment by way of what Wacquant calls “law-and-order pornography” – entertainments that glorify law enforcement officials and demonize their targets (reality shows like Cops and America’s Most Wanted, dramas like Law and Order and CSI, and so forth).  Thus, Wacquant says, do we have the structure of a “neoliberal” or capitalist system of “punishing the poor.”

Now, is there something to such Foucauldian analyses of power and punishment?  Well, sure.  But there is also the studied imprecision, massive oversimplification, and tiresome melodrama that seem endemic to contemporary continental philosophy and fields influenced by it.  There is the refusal to think beyond the false binary choice of being either a broadly Randian pro-capitalist or a broadly Marxoid anti-capitalist.  There is the vaguely idealist-cum-voluntarist metaphysics that tends to lie implicit and unexamined behind such analyses.  There is the hermeneutics of suspicion, of which we should always be suspicious.  And all of that greatly overshadows any insight to be found in these analyses.

But yes, there is something to them.  For example, it is true that there is a link between bourgeois and “neo-liberal” economics and politics on the one hand, and the nature of modern penal and welfare systems on the other.  But the link is not what Critical Theorists and other leftists think it is.  The link is that the same individualism that drives the economics and politics destroys the stability of the traditional family, which in turn generates an underclass that is “managed” by the welfare state and the penal system.  The remedy is the restoration of the traditional family.  But of course, the contemporary Left will have none of that, because its hatred for traditional sexual morality is far stronger than its hatred of capitalism. 

It is also true that a just society ought to avoid merely “warehousing” offenders, and that the welfare system ought not to treat human beings as mere “cases” to be managed.  The Left is right to criticize the impersonal bureaucratic nature of modern welfare and penal systems.  But here too it would refuse the correct remedy.  The remedy requires welfare and penal systems to be informed by the spirit of what Catholics call the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  As Pope Leo XIII taught in Rerum Novarum, in dealing with such problems “no satisfactory solution will be found unless religion and the Church have been called upon to aid,” and without them “human striving will be in vain.”  But if there is anything the Left hates even more than traditional sexual morality, it is traditional religious belief.

It is also true that the basic assumptions about reality that are inculcated through the culture of a society – through its educational system, its entertainments, its corporate culture, and so on – tend to reflect the perspective of the powers that dominate it, and that dissent from these assumptions tends to be pathologized.  But under contemporary capitalism those assumptions have moved ever further to the left, not to the right.  For example, in contemporary academic, corporate, and political culture, there is no one more “pathologized” – treated as a crank, as wicked, as not to be listened to or given a platform – than the person who dares to defend traditional religious belief or traditional sexual morality.  It is by way of this pathologization that secularist and Sexual Revolutionary “power” maintains its hegemony.

The Left does not see the fulfilment of our social nature in the places it is in fact primarily to be found – in the family and the community of faith.  It looks for it instead in collectivist political action, which is inevitably even more impersonal, alienating, and oppressive than market forces.  The Left wants to get us out of the liberal individualist frying pan, but only so that we might fall into the socialist fire.  It’s alterative to “bad” is always “worse.” 

But I digress.  Our topic is the origin of the Bizarro-world approach to law and order of the police defunders and George Gascóns of the world, and I think we’ve found it.  Foucauldian analysis yields a picture of the mental health and criminal justice systems as means by which malign bourgeois power exerts its control, especially over the poor and minorities, by pathologizing behavior.  This paranoid and simpleminded view of the world, first developed with cleverness by a thinker like Foucault, is retailed through second- and third-rate academics who add their own little details to the story.  It is then popularized by the fourth-rate minds who imbibe it in university, then regurgitate it through their activism, their Twitter feeds, their screenplays and journalism, their work as HR bureaucrats or high school teachers, or what have you. 

Eventually this worldview trickles (in “capillary” fashion, you might say) into the head of some dumb politician, who’s read a book or a New York Times profile of some Critical Race Theorist.  He gets it into his head that the way to free the oppressed is to defund the police, or in Gascón’s case to “stop filing first-time misdemeanor offenses associated with poverty and mental health.”  Before you know it, crime skyrockets, and garbage, rats, discarded needles, and human feces line the streets your children can no longer safely walk down.  This actually helps no one at all, least of all the homeless, drug-addicted, and mentally ill – now “warehoused” by the Leftist state below freeway underpasses – or the minority communities whose stores are looted and burned down and whose children are killed in gang crossfires.

But none of that matters to the unmaskers of “power.”  What matters is only ever to épater la bourgeoisie.


  1. Thank you Dr Feser for your illuminating post. I'm a senior undergrad majoring in physics and I get almost zero exposure to actually thinking through these issues. Maybe it's because the liberal arts part of my university is full of c-rate apologists for this type of thinking. Although, I can tell that at least some of my peers are getting tired of it since it's such a depressing and draining view. So,there's a little hope.

    1. I'm right in the eye of the storm, majoring in Visual Arts in Brazil. The latest obsession here is what's called "decolonization", a promotional bundle of epistemology twisted by Critical Theory so that considerations of race, gender, nationality and sexual orientation come prior to anything, alongside a fake praise of other cultures, especially native and African, and multiculturalism itself. I call it fake because each of these cultures seen through their own terms would clash with secular demands at some point, and the academics are only interested in them as tools to criticize whatever fits their loose criteria for male, American, solar, white, patriarchal thought.

      It’s massively draining as you said. Where I’m at, it creates this totally fake, fabricated environment of unconditional praise, because every other artwork, no matter how bad, is engaged in this grandiose “revolution of the imaginary” which only fascists could possibly face with suspicion. In general, teachers avoid the basics of traditional drawing and portraiture, because those too have long been described only by the qualifiers of ‘white’ and ‘western’ – to the point where most teachers don’t even know about the original Platonic ideas guiding them. Comically, some want to stop using the term “university” and adopt the term “pluriversity”, which I interpret as a clue that their entire project amounts, in the end, to hating the idea of universals.

      Needless to say, we’re all fed up with Foucault and Derrida. Sometimes, when those two get tiring, Lacan or even Zizek pop up for a dose of materialism. That’s why it’s so refreshing whenever Scruton and Feser discuss these authors. I wish more conservatives would follow the lead.

    2. Oii, meu compatriota! Fico feliz de ver outros brasileiros lendo o blog também!

    3. Olá! Esse blog é um tesouro, acredito que o Dr. Feser deveria ser mais conhecido pelo círculo conservador brasileiro.

    4. O conservadorismo brasileiro tá precisando mesmo de uma base filosófica clássica, mas ao menos o Dr. Feser parece ser conhecido entre os tomistas, tanto é que traduziram "A Ultima Superstição" e também alguns artigos dele online.

      Mas aqui realmente tem muita coisa que devia ser mais conhecida. A série de posts sobre o Thomas Nagel e a sobre o Alex Rosenberg são ambas ouro.

  2. I remember at university coming across critical theory. I thought there was something diobolic about a philosophy that seeks only to "deconstruct", destroy & take apart, but does not even attempt to put anything in the place of what it has "deconstructed."

    1. No doubt, such subversive garbage appeals to many college students for the same reason Nietzsche does: college students are intellectual feeble and such things help undermine anything that gets in the way of their passions. Young people are especially bad at controlling their passions and thus especially drawn to subversive material that contradicts any social norms or expectations, or even natural law itself, that gives them an excuse to indulge their passions guilt-free. It is no coincidence that ideologues have targeted the young through education. For all of the denial of natural law, ideologues seem to tacitly pay homage to it by instrumentalizing it for the purposes of social control.

      As Aldous Huxley once wrote, his generation, back in the 30s, wanted to go so far as to destroy meaning, but they wanted to do so for very particular reasons, namely, because it stood in the way of their sexual liberation. If there is no meaning, then why the guilty conscience? It's a diabolical tactic, but the quintessence if sin: all sin involves some denial of some truth in order to smuggle through something evil.

      The same holds for many thinkers that seem off. Philosophically, we can address their views on their own merits, but the biographies of these people shed light in a way that their work alone does not because it usually omits their own motives. Take Margaret Mead and her bogus claim that adultery is not a real thing in the state of nature, supporting that claim with fabrications about how Samoans don't have a problem with adultery. It later turned out that at the time, she was carrying on an adulterous affair. Or Freud's claims about the supposedly universal incestuous impulses in ALL men that civilization supposedly forces them to repress (we then learn about his freaky relations with his sister, for example). Then there's Kinsey and his homoerotic pedophilia. Foucault is no different (a gay frequenter of sadomasochistic bathhouses in San Francisco). These are all depraved men and women who wished to destroy the truth for very particular and personal reasons having to do with their enslavement to their often intrinsically disordered and intensely shameful passions.

      In life, you either conform your desires to the truth, or the truth to your desires. These people and the tenth rate crazies that loosely follow them have chosen the latter. When reason takes a back seat, insanity will follow out of necessity. It is no mystery why the world is going mad when the culture teaches people that it is good to be a libertine, that happiness consists of "following your passions", and that anything else is not a sign of maturity or virtue, but hypocrisy, bad faith, and fraud. Sexual revolution, like all revolution, devours its own children. Even if elements of the American establishment (and those most quintessential revolutionaries and rejectors of Logos) sought to instrumentalize sex as a means of social control, they, too, are victims of their own depraved machinations.

    2. Oktavian, there’s another reason why both Nietzsche and critical theory appeal to college students. Neither of them is based on actual reasoning, and both dismiss the accumulated claims of all previous lines of reasoning with an airy wave of the hand. This means that a college undergraduate can pretend he knows all about philosophy without ever having to learn any.

      In every field, there are snake-oil salesmen who promise miracles. They always claim that anyone who warns you against those promises is acting from corrupt motives, especially when those warnings are based on detailed and complex knowledge. They appeal to intellectual laziness by insisting that the whole problem is quite simple and they have the answer, which all the old, reactionary fogeys want to keep away from you.

      It is a very old game. According to one account, it began with a serpent telling a couple of people that they only had to eat a certain fruit to become gods. It has always been a con, and recognized as such by those wise enough not to fall for it.

    3. Tom,

      How does Nietzsche allow one to "dismiss the accumulated claims of all previous lines of reasoning with an airy wave of the hand"?

    4. Nietzsche was clearly opposed to reasoning because he didn't make philosophical arguments for his own positions. Instead he just wrote a bizarre series of aphorisms like "all morality begins in fear." But he doesn't even try to prove this is true. He is not a philosopher at all. He is just an eccentric poet. Reason never interested him.

    5. ‘Philosophically, we can address their views on their own merits, but the biographies of these people shed light in a way that their work alone does not because it usually omits their own motives.’

      I can play this game too. You see, Jesus’ mother treated him like a god and, lacking a strong father figure who would enable him to resolve the Oedipal complex in the typical way, he instead developed, in the Lacanian sense of the word, a perverted personality structure. He became the phallus of the mother, the direct instrument of the Big Other whose desires he felt he was intimately acquained with. His entire “son of God” shtick was but an inevitable expression of this.

    6. 'The same holds for many thinkers that seem off. Philosophically, we can address their views on their own merits, but the biographies of these people shed light in a way that their work alone does not because it usually omits their own motives.'

      I can play this game too. You see, Jesus' mother treated him like a god while, at the same time, not developing a normal sexual relation with a husband which would enable the child to see that his mother lacks something (the phallus).

      Lacking a strong father figure who would enable him to resolve the Oedipus complex in the typical way, he adopted, in Lacanian terms, the perverse strategy of personality structure. While the father figure did impose the Law on the mother's desire (thus preventing psychosis), the so-called third time of the Oedipus complex failed as Jesus came to imagine himself as the phallus of the mother, and an instrument of the Big Other.

      'The Pervert imagines him-/herself to be the Other in order to ensure his/her jouissance. The perverse subject makes him-/herself the instrument of the Other's jouissance through putting the object a in the place of the barred Other, negating the Other as subject. His/her jouissance comes from placing him-/herself as an object in order to procure the jouissance of a phallus, even though he/she doesn't know to whom this phallus belongs. Although the pervert presents him-/herself as completely engaged in seeking jouissance, one of his/her aims is to make the law present. Lacan uses the term père-version, to demonstrate the way in which the pervert appeals to the father to fulfil the paternal function.'

      'the term has a precise technical meaning: it describes a "particular psychic structure - a relation to the paternal function," the Law of the Father (Rothenberg and Foster 4). Perverts believe they have a privileged relationship to the prohibitive law that regulates access to jouissance(intense enjoyment beyond pleasure) and the big Other who authorized the prohibitive law. Perversion constitutes a kind of "epistemophilia," an absolute conviction that one knows what the big Other desires - rigorous obedience of the law - and that one's (dis)obedience, i.e. obligatory transgressions, constitute an essential source of the Other's enjoyment.'

      'Was not Christ simply the successful pervert, the pervert whose perversion was transformed into a new Law?'

  3. "It’s alterative to 'bad' is always 'worse.'"

    Going from bad to diverse?

  4. Gascon is there because Soros and friends strike again:

  5. A fellow named Lorenzo has a series of essays on the question "what are these people thinking?" In one of them he traces the root of it to Jacques Derrida's theory that language refers to nothing but itself:

    "Claiming that propositions are self-referential, that language or discourse only ever refers to itself — one of the key adaptations of critical social theory and its associated constellation of ideas from the post-Heidegger French theorists — has the effect of eliminating truth as a marker of having apprehended reality, there being no unified truth able to act as an arbiter. As I have pointed out previously, it decapitates one’s epistemology, one’s understanding of what it is to know. But it does not thereby eliminate truth talk, as that is inherent in language.

    "Moreover, one still acts in the world, perceives the world, experiences the world. We still have procedural knowledge, perspectival knowledge and participatory knowledge. It is just that truth in the sense of propositional knowledge, knowledge that, is eliminated (or at least hugely downgraded) as a mechanism for interrogating action, perspective and experience. Hence the talk about the “truth of your experience” and “your truth”.

    "Society thereby becomes relations of power and speech become acts of power. Standpoint epistemology, giving priority to “lived experience”, is what you are left with when discourse is declared to be entirely self-referential and truth is stripped of arbitrating capacity."

    The main error of Foucault, Derrida and those they influenced was to refuse to consider (as a point of principle) that the "bourgeois standards" they were criticizing might be true. Indeed, denying any ground on which an appeal to objective truth could be made to support those standards was the goal of all their work.

    1. Feser has written about "bourgeois standards" from Plato's perspective: as a sign of a decadent society (not as decadent as the halfwits that lived in CHAZ, but nonetheless decadent). Bourgeois standards are thus vulgar. Heck, we can riff on Nietzsche and call these an idol that remains after the so-called death of God until it has itself given way to something more base.

    2. Foucault and Derrida didn't attack "bourgeois standards" because they fall short of the true end of human nature, as Plato did. Quite the opposite - they denied that there is a true end of human nature, or any other truth, beyond what people happen to desire. In Plato's typology they were "tyrannous" souls, the worst of all his categories.

    3. The other error is that statements like "language doesn't refer to anything beyond itself" are self-contradictory.

      I would be embarrassed to hear my 10-year old say something so risible. Some things are so stupid that they can't be thought, only said.

  6. Hope you're enjoying this pungent taste of your own medicine. Whenever we scientists reach a conclusion you don't like (whether on COVID-19, anthropogenic global warming, or whatever else), you act just like Foucauld. Our appeal to objective truth is met with the same response; our "objective science" is merely a tool which the powers-that-be use to reinforce their own hegemony. The public's trust of us is merely an example of how this has reached the very "capillaries" of our society infested with "scientism".

    And as for "restoring the traditional family"? Gimme a break. It's all talk and no action. Doing that requires societal costs you aren't willing to pay. Any realization of the economic pressures young families are under (especially if it means raising taxes on the super-rich) is shouted down on the Right with cries of "redistributionism!!!" and "Socialism!!!". And furthermore the "traditional family" isn't merely, or even mostly, about sexual restraint. The "traditional family" is a patriarchy where the children belong primarily to the father and not to the mother. Now of course you won't actually promote this since your support among conservative women would plummet to near zero, and you'd be assailed as a misogynist and a knuckle-dragger, and so on. Instead (no doubt) you'll attack me the same way feminists would, with digs against my romantic/sexual history. (Even though I don't, in fact, support the "traditional family". The fact I point out your hypocrisy will be enough to provoke your ire and bring the daggers out.)

    1. >>>Whenever we scientists reach a conclusion you don't like (whether on COVID-19, anthropogenic global warming, or whatever else)
      >>>Our appeal to objective truth is met with the same response; our "objective science" is merely a tool which the powers-that-be use to reinforce their own hegemony.

      I don't know what you mean about the science of COVID-19, but I can speak authoritatively on AGW. There is no science of AGW, it is a conclusion in search of a model.
      Your appeal to objective truth is just a demand to comply. Real science would welcome debate on the inputs to the model, the programming of the model, the interpretation of the outputs of the model. But, none of these are allowed because any skepticism is shouted down as an Ad hominem attack "You are just a tool of Big Oil"

      But, as someone who saw behind the curtain, I can assert:
      The inputs are tweeked to get the desired result. If that fails the output is ignored.
      If too many tweeks don't get the desired result, the model is changed to get the desired result.
      The outputs are sorted to enhance the desired result, then analysis is done to change the models and method of tweeking the inputs so the outputs will be more consistently inline with the desired result.

      I don't call this "Science"
      I don't call this "Objective Truth"

    2. " Instead (no doubt) you'll attack me the same way feminists would, with digs against my romantic/sexual history. (Even though I don't, in fact, support the "traditional family". The fact I point out your hypocrisy will be enough to provoke your ire and bring the daggers out.)"

      What a pitiful, sad little man.

    3. A bunch of rambling assertions punctuated by a hint of malice. A typical post by GoneFishing (who'd be better renamed "GoneOffTheDeepEnd").

    4. Grodrigues You have a history of making abusive and personal remarks. You are clearly a total knob. Have you nothing more constructive to say?

    5. No, he doesn't. Grodrigues is one of the most valuable contributors in these comment sections, often explaining difficult philosophical and mathematical concepts. You're an "Anonymous", probably Gonefshing himself.

    6. No I am not 'GoneFishing'. The fact that you think that I 'probably' am shows that your powers of inference are laughable.

      Godrigues often uses abuse and ridicule in his pompous, sanctimonious posts, in which he exudes a condescending air of authority, justified by his make believe pHD. He is a knob

    7. "Godrigues often uses abuse and ridicule in his pompous, sanctimonious posts"

      And those are my *best* qualities.

    8. Whether G-rod sometimes is abusive to interlocutors here, at least THIS time he wasn't. Calling someone a "pitiful, sad little man" is not abusive. It's not even ridicule as that term is normally used.

      It remains true that Gone-Out-of-His-Mind's comment WAS pitiful and small. It had no actual argument, and bore no trace of sourcing of assertions that could be checked / verified. It was basically name-calling, which is what pitiful, little minds engage in. Gone has had a few interesting comments, but this wasn't one of them.

    9. While GF post is but a pitiful rant, he did have ONE good point: the traditional family is not that easy to manage on our economical sistem. I know that i will sound marxist or something(i'am not one btw), but this needs to be said:

      - It is harder to marry young if you need to dedicate several years of your youth to get a degree. A lot of young people then will end up managing their sexuality in a more hedonistic way, and that does not exactly helps they having solid marriages.

      - It is harder to have kids if both parents have to work and if the work leaves you too drained to take much care of they latter.

      - it is harder to mantain traditional values if your economical sistem needs people to care a lot about pleasure and consume more and more things. Marketing is not a friend of ascetical living, or of faith, or of happiness, or of any good thing really.

      - it is harder to settle down and have kids if you don't have a solid enough situation to trust in your ability to provide. You don't even have a house of your own, lives paycheck to paycheck, is already in debt and can't be sure to continue in your job? Them good luck there...

      - It is harder to fight individualism when you don't have much contact with your extended family and social bodies. If it is just you, a few friends, people that sell you stuff and the State them the individualist illusion is stronger, no?

      Now, does capitalism, a economic sistem where a few private individuals controls the means of production, makes living a virtuous life impossible? Of course not, but it creates a lot of problems if you want to make the land morality the traditional one. And lets face it: most people will not care much for philosopical arguments, if the normal view is individualism and traditional morality is hard them you will have a pretty low chance of making virtue popular again.

      That is why Dr. Feser(and conservatives in general) seemingly dismissal of something like Distributism is very naive. You can critique degenerate ideas all you want, promoting a sistem where most people have no access to the means of production, where the market has a pretty high importance and where cities are big, pluralistic and impersonal is not a good way to having what you want.

      Of course, most conservatives would define capitalism diferently and would not support directly what i describe, but i don't care much about semantics and this is the sistem that is the real thing and that they usually don't want to change, so who cares. If we don't reject Enlighment organization them i'am afraid that their mistakes will live for a long time...

    10. Talmid,

      Edward Feser has written several critiques about capitalism. His article "Hayek's Tragic Capitalism" in Claremont Review of Books is a great critique, in my opinion. On the topic of criticizing capitalism, he has written the following:

      The first thing that needs to be done in addressing these issues is to disambiguate the term "capitalism" so that we know exactly what we are talking about. It's one of those hot button terms that is used too loosely and polemically by both critics and defenders, and I don't think it is helpful to begin by asking about "alternatives" to capitalism before it's made clear exactly what one means by capitalism. The popes of the great social encyclicals -- e.g. Leo XIII, Pius XI, and John Paul II -- are always careful to emphasize that there are different strands in the modern so-called capitalist economic order that need to be carefully distinguished, and that just as it is wrong to endorse all of them uncritically, it is also a mistake to condemn them all en masse.

      Consider that, when people hear the word "capitalism," some of the things they might have in mind are:

      1. Private property, including in the basic means of production
      2. Market competition
      3. The existence of corporations as legal persons
      4. Inequalities in wealth and income
      5. An economic order primarily oriented to the private sector, with government acting at the margins and only where necessary

      Now, there is nothing wrong with any of this per se. Indeed, some of it is required as a matter of natural law (e.g. property as an institution, subsidiarity).

      On the other hand, other people using the term might have in mind things like:

      6. Doctrinaire laissez-faire
      7. The market as the dominant social institution, with an ethos of consumerism and commodification of everything as its sequel
      8. Corporations so powerful that they are effectively unanswerable to government or public opinion
      9. Doctrinaire minimalization or even elimination of social welfare institutions, even when there is no feasible private sector alternative
      10. Globalization of a kind that entails dissolution of corporate and individual loyalties to the nation state

      Now, these things are all bad and should be opposed on natural law grounds.

      The list is not meant to be exhaustive, but just illustrative. And what they illustrate is that it is just unhelpful to talk about either embracing or rejecting capitalism full stop. And the way the issue is usually framed generates heat and reduces light. When people say "I support capitalism," they often mean "I support 1-5" but their opponents hear them as saying "I support 6-10." And when people say "I oppose capitalism," they often mean "I oppose 6-10," but their opponents hear them as saying I oppose 1-5."

      An important further issue, of course, is whether you can in principle or in practice have (all of) 1-5 without (at least some of) 6-10. To analyze this issue no doubt requires further disambiguation.

      Anyway, as this shows, the issue is more complex than many friends and critics of capitalism realize.


    11. That is why Dr. Feser(and conservatives in general) seemingly dismissal of something like Distributism is very naive.

      I don't know what so-called conservatives you have been reading, but I don't know many who are simply dismissive of Distributism altogether. Many of the ones I have run into have a soft spot in their hearts for it. Some, while having viewing it mainly with affection, believe that Distributists generally have promoted a nice snapshot picture that, if achievable, would be fine. But it is (a) difficult to imagine a (just) way of getting from here to there, and (b) equally difficult to imagine (just) laws that would preserve it over many generations, instead of much wealth (including the land or other means of production) gradually aggregating toward (at first) those with more drive, energy, and intelligence, (whether decent or conniving), and eventually to the descendants of families of those with more drive, energy and intelligence, descendants who may themselves be morally or economically degenerate. If those practical difficulties have been solved by distributist theory, I have not heard of it, and would be happy to learn of the solutions. For instance, (just to take one detail), would a distributist model make it illegal to form a large corporate enterprise from the capital contributions of a large group of people? And if so, on what grounds other than "we think most private property should be owned 'closer to home' than that"?

    12. All of you can go pound sand. Your opinion doesn't count for sh*t. And it shouldn't. You are several light years removed from reality. You are marginalized from the public square, and rightly so. I will bathe in your tears as future President Joe Biden restores the Paris accords and promotes a sensible and science-driven policy to deal with COVID-19. And no, God will not come at the 11th hour to rescue you (yes, Joe Biden will be inaugurated next month), for He is a God of truth, and not one of lies, and lying has become second nature to you.

      You can call me all the nasty names you like, and I certainly wasn't disappointed here. Believe me, I'm quite used to it. And believe me, I also consider you pathetic, contemptible, disgusting, little people. You're afraid of the truth, for whatever reason. You're cowards, basically. You value power over truth, just like your opponents whom you condemn.

      You're every bit as postmodernist as the postmodernists on the left regarding science, for whom logic and reason are mere "tools of the patriarchy" and so on. R0, IFR, CFR estimation for COVID, etc.? Heh. For chumps. These are only what they are because of the hegemony of the scientific community and the "censorship" of dissenting views. And this, because the left is using this to advance "Socialism". Right?

      And you bemoan the "demise of the traditional family", while supporting a system which demands men invest, and invest heavily, in a system which refuses to protect their investment. And then blame them when they refuse to do so. But go ahead and listen to what your revered philosophers have to say about it. Do they say children belong primarily to the father, or the mother?

    13. GoneFishing, have you thought of trying decaf?

    14. Another addled rant by GoneOffTheDeepEnd, complete with non-sequiturs about climate change, unsubstantiated accusations of hypocrisy, and sadism. Lovely.

      I'm not sure what your mommy told you, but when grown adults disagree with you, you're not supposed to throw a tantrum.

    15. @Mister Geocon

      I know that Dr. Feser is not a libertarian or something like that for a long time, his post on Hayek is awesome btw. It is just that i fear that his analysis of the problems with our social organization tend to ignore the ways than the modern individualism is estimulated by economical and political factors. Sure that the land worldview needs to be corrected, but we should try to combat it on all fronts.


      It does depend on the conservative. Most i can think of are more prone to agree with classical liberals in economics. But them again i'am thinking on conservatives of another country and i'am not limiting they to catholics, so maybe it is a diference on reference.

      As i understand it, most distributists would not like to use the State to prohibit stuff, except maybe more fascists distributists, the exactly method can vary. I defend more to try to remove State actions that tend to stimulate concentration of the means of production. So i assume that some good ideas would be:

      - a land value tax and also a weakning of forms of taxation that targets poor people the most(like taxing consumption)

      - Land reform(i don't know how things are there, but here we kinda need it)

      - ending subsidies and other types of helps to large corporations, agriculturalists etc

      - changing intellectual property law(if we should keep it, that is)

      - Trying to remove some less necessary regulations to small business,

      - having strong anti-trust laws

      - probably removing some corporations rights as legal persons(that one i read about a few days ago, so who knows)


      - changing political organization A LOT, but that part needs its own post

      Sure that people are not equal and than in a few time some would become richer and some poorer, but the inequalities that we see now are not really natural, on a fairer sistem it will not be that easy to use the power of the State to get that sweet control of the economy.

      But i agree that distributists are not that pratical. I assume than that is because not only Chesterton and Belloc where, from what i know, more intellectuals that men of action but distributism is pretty unknown, so distributists have few oportunities to apply its teachings.

    16. Gone Fishing, No conservative makes any of those silly straw man arguments. Some conservatives argue that it is hard to trust "the science" on COVID when we are told that protests against lockdowns spread the disease but protests against racism do not or told one day that masks are useless and the next that they are necessary. Some conservatives argue that climate science is badly done science. Other conservatives argue that even if the science on climate change is sound, the solutions proposed by the left are so draconian they are likely to cause as much or more disruption, dislocation, and death as climate change itself, and not coincidentally, would confer on the left enormous political and economic power. Now those arguments may be wrong or mistaken, but they are not irrational. They are not at all the same as arguing that science as such is nothing more than a self-referential discourse used as an oppressive tool of racist, capitalist, yadda, yadda, yada. Disagreement with your politics does not, in itself, constitute irrationality.

    17. Best not to feed the trolls. “All of you can go pound sand. Your opinion doesn't count for sh*t. And it shouldn't. You are several light years removed from reality. You are marginalized from the public square, and rightly so.” Smacks of the Rawlsian idea of Public Reason. Feser has addressed this here, “,” Mathoma has written about it here, “,” and there are two good video essays about it here, “,” and here, “”

  7. So Ed, you're upset about crime in your "beloved" L.A. ? Last year L.A. county had 300 homicides. In 1992 there were 2,589 homicides,according to the Los Angeles Times.I don't recall anyone blaming that horrific number on Critical Theory. But that is your pet rant now, isn't it?

    1. You don’t even know what Dr. Feser is talking about, do you? He isn’t talking about last year, but about things that are happening right at this moment. For some odd reason, turning violent criminals loose in 2020 has very little effect on the crime statistics for 2019.

    2. Can you not read,Tommy? There were 2,589 homicides that year! Riots broke out that year after an unarmed black man was beaten by cops and 63 people died. There had been many complaints about police brutality prior to the riots.The LA of 1992 was far worse than it is today
      But like I said, Feser is on his Critical rant.

    3. Crime went down in large cities around the US over the course of the '90s, because people got tired of high crime and voted in governments that actually instituted effective policing. Giuliani in New York City was probably the most well-known example. Those policing policies are getting gradually reversed, and we will see the result soon.

  8. Hello, interesting blog post. I took a seminar class on Foucault and I noticed that Leftism is influenced by Foucault. Foucault's thinking is present in Critical Race Theory, Feminism, Queer Theory and all those garbage theories (Moreover, add some Marxist ideas). Of course, I still think that Foucault says interesting things and studying him made me understand leftist thinking. Still, now that all of this "woke" nonsense is being pushed, it is a good idea to know its foundations.

  9. This is brilliant, illuminating with a little humor thrown in. I guess I should have read Foucault in my younger days, after all.

    1. It's good that you didn't. It's pretentious gobbledygook.

  10. Honestly, all that's necessary here is a neoabsolutist analysis of the events in question. What are the authorities gaining substantially by doing this? What purpose do Foucauldian idea play in the overall structure of things (since they wouldn't be promoted by power if power didn't find them appealing in some way). I think the answer is that it fits the overall democratic nature of society and performs the politically useful function of blaming all the failures of the Left on Conservatives and suggesting as the solutions giving privileges and handouts to the Left's political constituents (which include the criminal and the insane elements of society).

    1. I think this is well put and these are important questions.

  11. It's much too soon to say what the recent increase in homicides is about. It could very well be COVID-related.

    'A recent uptick in violent crime in South Los Angeles and in other parts of the city could be related to the pandemic and the increased stress placed on community members, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said...'

  12. P.S.: There is also something that right-wingers seem to be ignoring for some reason: over the last several decades, the general trend has been one of significant reduction in homicides. At this point, at 5 per 100k it's about half what it was in the early 1990s.

    Here's an ever longer-term view: 'In the long term, violent crime in the United States has been in decline since colonial times. The homicide rate has been estimated to be over 30 per 100,000 people in 1700, dropping to under 20 by 1800, and to under 10 by 1900.'

    I don't know what those colonials were thinking. Didn't they know traditional marriage and religion were supposed to make people virtuous?

    1. This is a facetious argument. There have always been and will always be vices in society, because humans are imperfect. This does not mean that all societies are equal. Just because things have improved in one respect does not mean that they haven't disimproved more overall, simply in other areas . There are more types of sin than one. Suppose a man became less violent and thuggish as he aged, but also became an alcoholic, porn addict, and child abuser. He'd have gotten better in one respect, but it'd be pretty ridiculous to think that he was now a better man than he was when he was younger.

      (Plus, all of this is me conceding to you, for the sake of argument, the presumption that abortions don't count as violence, which a conservative Christian wouldn't accept. If you factor those in, I think you'll get very different violence statistics).

    2. 1.As for alcohol: 'In 1770, the average colonial Americans consumed about three and a half gallons of alcohol per year, about double the modern rate.

      2.Sex stuff: 'Despite opposition by Puritans and others, brothels in early America were tolerated by state and local authorities. Discretion played a crucial role in prostitution, which was never an eye-catching public issue except on random occasions. Though it was perceived as morally wrong, the trade thrived under the concept of male sex-right and large-scale migration and over-sea trade. In many areas, taverns were accused of operating as “disorderly houses”— a reference to brothels.' ( )

      3.Child abuse? 'For many centuries laws failed to protect children from abuse. Children under English common law were considered the property of their fathers, as women were considered property of their husbands, until the late 1800s. American colonists in the 16th and 17th centuries carried the tradition of children being property of their fathers to the early years of the United States.'
      ( )
      4.Modern abortion methods make abortion much easier than it used to be. A better comparison is infanticide:

      'Infanticide in Victorian England

      In Victorian infanticide rates were high as it was a way of reducing the ever growing population and limiting the continuing poverty that was wrecking the streets of England.

      Finding dead babies on the street became normal during this period. The people that committed infanticide the most were the mother’s of the children.' ( ?
      'Some anthropologists, [note that in colonial Massachusetts, infanticide rates reached approximately one death for every 63,000 people each year. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports for 1994, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the murder rate for children under four years of age in the United States was one for 360,000 people. In other words, Massachusetts under Puritan rule had an infanticide rate almost six times higher than that of “decadent” modern America.' ( )

    3. Anonymous,

      First, the fact that you don't consider abortion to be a form of infanticide shows that your argument is flawed. To Conservatives, these things are pretty much the same in moral magnitude. If your argument is that Puritan New England was worse than modern societies by conservative standards, actually use conservative standards.

      Second, let's take on the sex stuff. It's a facetious argument to say "the Puritans had brothels, so they were just as degenerate as moderns." The Puritans had a moral norm that regulated such illicit sex. This norm does not exist in modern society, as demonstrated by the very public existence of things like "WAP" and other such nonsense.

      Third, the fact that your source on child abuse claims that women were the property of their husbands already makes me suspicious of them, as this wasn't actually true. They cite no sources for this nor the claim about child abuse being rampant in older times.

    4. Anonymous, just a point on homicides. I don't think that is a good metric to measure. Surely our modern healthcare (in 2019 compared to 1970, nevermind 1700!)saves soooo many people who otherwise would of died from violent attacks.

  13. P.P.S.: Even the North-South divide doesn't seem to be of help here, the South being more conservative. On the contrary:

    'The South has continued to have more than its share of violent crimes over the years, even as the rest of the country gets safer, Radford University criminology professor Tod Burke tells Business Insider.

    Of course, nobody really knows why the South is consistently more violent. There are a couple of pretty popular theories, though.

    One experiment published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found Southern men were more prone to aggression as part of a "culture of honor." In the experiment, a mole bumped into participants from the North and South and called them "asshole." Southerners were more primed for aggression after the insult. That is, their testosterone levels rose. They were also more likely to actually engage in aggressive or dominant behavior after being called asshole.'

    1. The vast majority of homicides are black male on black male and occur more often in the south where they are more populous. Hispanics congregated in the south don't help either.

  14. Man, the Leftie trolls seem *particularly* agitated today. I wonder what's got them so worried?

    1. Yup. I've had to delete several completely off-topic comments, along with some of the more bizarre and unhinged rants. Commenters, please observe the rules of basic combox etiquette (and of basic sanity).

    2. There's a bit of a whataboutism going on here. Leftists will talk endlessly about how Right-wingers are the REAL problem and will get mad when you don't agree with them.

    3. It occurs to me that the "third-rate" and "fourth-rate" remarks in the OP also set a couple of these weirdos off. Too close to home, I guess. They also seemed to think I was talking about credentials -- always an obsession with certain folks -- when in fact I was talking about quality of thinking. (An Ivy League professor can have a third-rate mind, and an independent scholar can have a first-rate mind.)

    4. Hi Dr. Feser, its a pleasure to meet you! I'm wondering if you will do a blog post on Simone de Beauvior? I believe Foucault was inspired by her and no doubt contemporary feminists are influenced by de Beauvior.

    5. It seems that whenever you give even the smallest amount of criticism they accuse you of "wanting to avoid progress". Even though when you ernestly read their work they clearly don't know what they're progressing towards. As an undergrad, I have a lot of intelligent friends who, rightly, want to persue justice. It's just incredibly frustrating that they don't approach it with the same rigor as their academic work.

    6. That is the standard reply of Marxists. They call you a reactionary because they want to make it look like you are opposed to progress.

    7. De Beauvoir was another predatory sexual pervert using her "philosophy" as a means to attack vulnerable young women.

  15. Great post, Professor Feser.

    "There is the vaguely idealist-cum-voluntarist metaphysics that tends to lie implicit and unexamined behind such analyses."

    I must admit, however, that I'm not sure what you mean by that. I have an idea: In these Foucauldian-inspired analyses, power becomes a fetish, a metaphysical first principle of social reality by which all social phenomena subsequently are interpreted and to which they are subordinated. Moreover, given that power so described is understood nebulously, the subconscious interests of the powerful, i.e. their psychology, are conflated with the objective states of affairs of the institution or society being critically analyzed. Is that sort of what you mean by "idealist-cum-voluntarist metaphysics"?

    As a layperson, I confess that I'm far from an expert in idealism and it's evolution throughout modern philosophy -- say, Berkeley through Hegel.

    Do you mind clarifying with a brief example or two? Speaking for me, I'd also be very interested in a followup post going into more detail with a few particular sacred cows of the social justice warrior left as instructive.

    1. Hello MP, what I was referring to was the tendency to treat social reality as entirely socially constructed (and in that sense mind-dependent) rather than grounded in nature, and to focus on will to power as the key factor in the construction (hence the voluntarism reference). Lurking further behind all this is a more general and vague post-Kantian tendency to write and think as if we can't get beyond appearances but only at the way we represent the world (with the representation being treated, pace Kant, as socially constructed and contingent rather than reflective of the way rational agents as such must represent reality).

    2. Ed, it goes way beyond that; some of these people regard the material reality (apples, dogs, mountains etc.) underlying the social reality as entirely socially constructed.

    3. Tim, what does that even mean? solipsism?

  16. Where does Marcuse fit into the picture in your take? I am interested - at some point - in trying to dive into the history of "68", and his emigration to the USA (I think to Columbia University?) would be a part of unpacking it... no?

  17. @ GoneFishingDecember 22, 2020 at 6:23 PM

    One of the more informed and insightful responses to Feser's OP. Bona fide commentators have moved on from framing contemporary social issues such minorities, undocumented immigrants, the plight of people of different colour and ethnicities, and reforming policing etc etc. the Paris Accord, Covid-19 in terms of the tired old tropes of natural theology, natural law, and a host of other old ways of thinking.
    Such views have shrinking relevance in the market place of ideas where more sophisticated, targeted and science-based research findings are needed to address the increasingly complicated and demanding needs for fairer, safer, more inclusive and peaceful neighbourhoods into which we can find a place to live. Religion and religious perspectives have largely failed to keep up with contemporary society, with an ever more wistful and melancholic focus of looking to the past for answers.

    Unfortunately, the world don't work that way. Never has. Religion and religious thought needs significant reforms if it is ever again to find a niche in the public square or relevance going forward.

    To date, Feser's blog hasn't provided one. Rather, it has largely been an exercise in sticking his finger in the dyke to hold back the tide, shoring up something akin to Hadrian's Wall against the flow of modern human advancement. How's that for mixed metaphors?

    This Foucauldian rendition is symptomatic of the weary legs of trying to explain the 'evils' of today's world.

    1. The relevance of something in the "market place of ideas" has nothing to do with the quality or truth of the idea but with its usefulness to political authorities. Which, if you haven't noticed, are presiding over a metastasizing decline. 2020 should have disabused you of the validity of the modern liberal project, but apparently, there are some people who've been living under a rock this time.

      Feser and other religious commentators have pointed out the flaws, fallacies, and limitations of the "science-based worldview" (really "scientism").

      Also, LOL at GoneOffTheDeepEnd as "one of the more informed and insightful responses to Feser's OP." The guy can't even make a cogent argument for his views.

    2. This forum is so irrelevant that it compels you to come here and tell how irrelevant it is.

    3. Comparing Feser's blog to a "finger in the dyke" is odd (for you) considering the success of the Little Dutch Boy.

  18. Thanks for the article!

    “The link is that the same individualism that drives the economics and politics destroys the stability of the traditional family, which in turn generates an underclass that is “managed” by the welfare state and the penal system.”

    I don’t disagree with this statement wholesale, but that is a pretty nuanced subject with a lot of tradeoffs to account for. There is substance to the claims of Adam Smith and the early Capitalists that self-interests maintain a balance of power and increase wealth (which, it can be validly argued is good for the family). But whether that is an “individualism” that contributes to the destruction of the family is a complicated question. I definitely agree the traditional family is one of the highest social goods, and I do agree that a Randian style pro-capitalism is harmful, but it’s a complex issue.

    “in contemporary academic, corporate, and political culture, there is no one more “pathologized” – treated as a crank, as wicked, as not to be listened to or given a platform – than the person who dares to defend traditional religious belief or traditional sexual morality.”

    I think this statement does an excellent job of illustrating the sleight of hand played by Foucault and the postmoderns: They act as if their analysis has lifted the curtain on the “enchanted world” of transcendent values (to use Charles Taylor’s expression), when all they have done is made all opinions equally worthless. But, as Mike Tyson said: “everyone has a plan, until they get hit in the face.” Reality has a very nasty way of reasserting itself despite our erudite theories.

    “It looks for it instead in collectivist political action, which is inevitably even more impersonal, alienating, and oppressive than market forces.”

    I’m almost done with Joshua Mitchell’s American Awakening: Identity Politics and Other Afflictions of our Times. He makes an interesting argument that the woke left is actually playing out a religious liturgy of sin, redemption, and scapegoating via identity politics with the exception that the reprobate (white, straight, Christian males) are irredeemable and salvation for the elect is by correct association with the “oppressed” (a sort of Calvinist double predestination). Much of the argument may be intuitive, but he does make a lot of interesting points. I’ve gone long so I won’t elaborate here.

    1. Praise God for that!

    2. Mister Geocon @ 12.45pm

      I have to agree with you about some living under a rock. And yes we are presiding over a metastasising decline. But it is not the modern liberal project, but rather the, unprogressive, establishmentarian and deeply reactionary character of religious and political conservatism that is driving this fundamental malaise.

      And yes, the 'market place of ideas' as propounded by political authorities have indeed nothing to do with quality or truth of an idea as we witness the unprecedented disintegration of the American conservative body politic. The once principled, ethical and morally upstanding GOP, once touting itself as holding traditional values, family morality and beliefs is now nothing more than a pathetic, sycophantic, antidemocratic rabble of Trump bum lickers, a party without a shred of moral introspection and self-worth. The psychopathically depraved indifference Trump has for the American people is reflected in the manner Republicans have cowered away, slinking with tail between legs from even saying one word, not one word, in challenging Trump's heinous and reprehensible character and behaviour.

      On the matter of Feser's attempt at pointing out the flaws, fallacies, and limitations of the "science-based worldview", they are flaws, fallacies and limitations that only an anti-science theologist could muster.

      As William Bristow notes in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy: "Philosophy, [that is, Enlightenment Philosophy, in which science is a central and conceptual tenet of thought] tends to stand in tension with established religion, insofar as the release from self-incurred immaturity in this age, daring to think for oneself, awakening one's intellectual powers, generally requires opposing the role of established religion in directing thought and action."

      He goes on to note: "Though the Enlightenment is sometimes represented as the enemy of religion, it is more accurate to see it as critically directed against various (arguably contingent) features of religion, such as superstition, enthusiasm, fanaticism and supernaturalism. Indeed the effort to discern and advocate for a religion purified of such features – a “rational” or “natural” religion – is more typical of the Enlightenment than opposition to religion as such."

      Of course this is anathema to Dr Feser. So it isn't any wonder that he would decry scientific truth, fact or veracity as simply 'scientism'.

      Religious 'truths' are just that, 'religious truths'. They are not universal and are singularly bound within the confines of the religious belief held. And as there are literally thousands of religions both dead and dying, each with its own panoply of fundamental religious truths, they can't all be right.
      Religion as an explanatory model about us, the world, the universe, is typically specific to the belief structure held. Science, or more broadly, methodological naturalism, is simply orders of magnitude more powerful in ascertaining what is truth, what is fact and what is veridical. Indeed truth and fact founded in science is universal regardless of the cultural, religious and societal practices that attempt to deny its existence. There is no there there.

  19. A sneer, whether 10 words or 1000, is not an argument. It's just a sneer.

    This post is like 99% of the commentary today in the "public square" attempting to rise to "argument", made by fools educated beyond their intelligence. It isn't right. It isn't even wrong. It doesn't rise to the dignity of an error.

    The humanities - and hence, general ability to reason - have been in a pitiful dark age for over a century, since about the time literary fluency in Latin and Greek were dropped as college admission requirements.

    In times of past, of true scholarship in the humanities, the focus in education was on understanding first, then seeking to contribute one's own ideas - and even then only moderately. Only moderately, because it was probable that one's kernel of an idea had already been suggested and developed by someone else, and probably much more cogently and eloquently. At least, that was the assumption. Humility first.

    Today we have swaths of idiots whose degree serves as nothing more than an inculcator of utterly unwarranted certainty in their minds, which have passed through the farce of "higher education" humanities departments - and I mean every single one of them, including the most "prestigious".

    Perhaps the greatest irony is the sort of rigor applied to the natural sciences today is the same kind of rigor applied to the humanities in ages past. "Science worshippers" are apparently too indolent and insolent to bother applying the same standards in their own inquiries into the humanities.

  20. Brilliant analysis! In the US, education is taken over by the left.In Russia, the field of school and higher education has not yet reached the same scale as in the United States, but it is also moving in this direction. We actively translate and publish left-wing intellectuals. Surprisingly, there are no traditionalists or conservatives on the shelves of bookstores! We have so-called "enlighteners" who, with the help of foreign funds, broadcast left-wing ideas to young people. This is much more dangerous than traditional Russian Marxism, which tries to take revenge by criticizing the modern socio-political system and falsifying Russia's Bolshevik past. However, among the main targets for the left, I would name not only traditional sexual morality, traditional family and religion, but any community and the absolute value of life. Abortion and euthanasia, both voluntary and forced, are the sacred cows of the current left. Any community is declared a sectarian, malicious totalitarian structure, if it makes at least some definite and clear demands on its member. Except, of course, the left-wing communities themselves.Left-wing ideas are declared scientific and rational, and their opponents are obscurantists and enemies of science, malicious dreamers.

    1. At least the old-school sincere Marxists could be reasoned out of their beliefs, because they were reasoned into them. Or they could be gulaged out of them. We'll never see the formerly "woke" version of Solzhenitsyn.