Friday, August 5, 2016

Origins of the "Political Science" Fallacy?

"Modern society," says Mr. Chesterton, "is intrinsically insecure because it is based on the notion that all men will do the same thing for different reasons.... And as within the head of any convict may be the hell of a quite solitary crime, so in the house or under the hat of any suburban clerk may be the limbo of a quite separate philosophy. The first man may be a complete Materialist and feel his own body as a horrible machine manufacturing his own mind. He may listen to his thoughts as to the dull ticking of a clock. The man next door may be a Christian Scientist and regard his own body as somehow rather less substantial than his own shadow. He may come almost to regard his own arms and legs as delusions like moving serpents in the dream of delirium tremens. The third man in the street may not be a Christian Scientist but, on the contrary, a Christian. He may live in a fairy tale as his neighbors would say; a secret but solid fairy tale full of the faces and presences of unearthly friends. The fourth man may be a theosophist, and only too probably a vegetarian; and I do not see why I should not gratify myself with the fancy that the fifth man is a devil worshiper.... Now whether or not this sort of variety is valuable, this sort of unity is shaky. To expect that all men for all time will go on thinking different things, and yet doing the same things, is a doubtful speculation. It is not founding society on a communion, or even on a convention, but rather on a coincidence. Four men may meet under the same lamp post; one to paint it pea green as part of a great municipal reform; one to read his breviary in the light of it; one to embrace it with accidental ardour in a fit of alcoholic enthusiasm; and the last merely because the pea green post is a conspicuous point of rendezvous with his young lady. But to expect this to happen night after night is unwise...."
from GK Chesterton, "The Mad Hatter and the Sane Household"

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The very men who most loudly proclaim their "materialism" and their contempt for "ideologues," the Marxian communists, place their entire hope on what? On the formation by propaganda of a class-conscious group. But what is propaganda, if not the effort to alter the picture to which men respond, to substitute one social pattern for another? What is class consciousness but a way of realizing the world? National consciousness but another way? And Professor Giddings' consciousness of kind, but a process of believing that we recognize among the multitude certain ones marked as our kind?

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I argue that representative government, either in what is ordinarily called politics, or in industry, cannot be worked successfully, no matter what the basis of election, unless there is an independent, expert organization for making the unseen facts intelligible to those who have to make the decisions. I attempt, therefore, to argue that the serious acceptance of the principle that personal representation must be supplemented by representation of the unseen facts would alone permit a satisfactory decentralization, and allow us to escape from the intolerable and unworkable fiction that each of us must acquire a competent opinion about all public affairs. It is argued that the problem of the press is confused because the critics and the apologists expect the press to realize this fiction, expect it to make up for all that was not foreseen in the theory of democracy, and that the readers expect this miracle to be performed at no cost or trouble to themselves. The newspapers are regarded by democrats as a panacea for their own defects, whereas analysis of the nature of news and of the economic basis of journalism seems to show that the newspapers necessarily and inevitably reflect, and therefore, in greater or lesser measure, intensify, the defective organization of public opinion. My conclusion is that public opinions must be organized for the press if they are to be sound, not by the press as is the case today. This organization I conceive to be in the first instance the task of a political science that has won its proper place as formulator, in advance of real decision, instead of apologist, critic, or reporter after the decision has been made. I try to indicate that the perplexities of government and industry are conspiring to give political science this enormous opportunity to enrich itself and to serve the public. And, of course, I hope that these pages will help a few people to realize that opportunity more vividly, and therefore to pursue it more consciously.
- Walter Lippmann, "Public Opinion" (Intro)(1922)

4 comments:

FreeThinke said...

The ENEMEDIA are nothing but an assortment of vicious, atheistic bigots determined to undermine and lay low every vestige of the once great civilization that evolved quite naturally over millennia.–That civilization once infused with a nearly miraculous blending of Faith and Reason ––, finally took flight into the advanced realm of spiritual enlightenment.

Unfortunately, the the Industrial Revolution brought with it a dark and dreary dependence on crass, collectively produced material products, and men were reduced to functioning no longer as individuals who could take pride and satisfaction in their work, but as mere cogs in a vast network of machinery over which they had no say and no control.

This soul deadening, dehumanizing process brought about the cynical, degenerative, envy-inspired theories of Karl Marx with the deadly consequences those of us of certain age know so well.

I love Mr. Chesterton, but take exception to his sarcastic swipe at Christian Scientists as not being Christian. That is a militant Roman Catholic stance rooted in the early Church's all-out embrace of the austere, harshly ascetic Augustinian theology, and militant rejection of the warmly humanistic teachings of Pelagius. A ecclesiastical policy which I believe fostered much cruelty and has led to incalculable harm.

Deriding and ismissing the Pelagian view that our God is a God of LOVE, while promoting the Augustinian position that Man is essentially vile and must live a life of continual penance if he is to have any hope of getting into heaven may very will have played right into the hands of the militant Enemies of Faith who have arisen to plague us in recent years..

FreeThinke said...

The naysayers have very loud voices, and they are incredibly persistent, but we don't HAVE to let ourselves be swayed by their ungodly, destructive litany.

Think of the words of William Blake: "

... I shall not cease from mental fight,
nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land."


Now that's language heavy with symbolism and not meant to be taken literally. "Jerusalem" may be read as a stand-in for "Zion." And "Zion" in its spiritual context does not refer to a small piece of arid real estate on the Mediterranean meant to be "A Homeland for the Jews."

"Jerusalem" or "Zion" means a blessed, holy state of mind where peace and harmony may dwell and thrive –– a "heaven in earth" derived from a perfected faith in our triune God.

Blake talks of ENGLAND, but in the realm of SPIRIT this blessed state of mind may be established ANYWHERE since it is eminently portable.

In rejecting spirituality and religious faith as childishness, foolishness and mere wishful thinking Modern Man has done great damage to himself and to the great civilization he built by dint of FAITH in GOD, energized by the COURAGE of his convictions.

FreeThinke said...

Walter Lippman was a brilliant guy, but –– like too many highly intelligent men confident of the truth of their own perceptions –– he had too much faith in the ultimate perfectibility of mankind through the persuasive application of Reason.

-FJ said...

If Nietzsche taught me anything, it was an inherent distrust of the Apollonian (as opposed to Dionysian) perspective.