This week, our president - one of the most diabolically insincere people on earth - evinced a "sincere" desire to see Intelligent Design taught in schools.
The reaction from the Left blogosphere was swift and predictable. The difference between faith and science was explained yet again, as was the difference between belief and proof. And I'm sure that every person who wrote one of these earnest pieces felt like a dauntless crusader for the truth, rather than like a monkey dancing feebly to the GOP's barrel-organ.
For the Right, the Left's reaction to such pronouncements is one of the primary reasons for making them. And the Left's stolid insistence on taking this disingenuous gobbledygook at face value drives me to despair. We don't believe anything Bush says, except when it comes to his "faith."
But this is not about faith; it's about fascism. The Bush Administration is fascistic by any reasonable definition of the term, and fascism thrives on the irrational the way Hummers thrive on cheap gasoline. There's no arguing with fascism, because it has consciously and proudly put itself beyond the reach of logic and proof and morality and compassion.
BushCo's irrationalism is not some sort of humble subservience before the glory of the Almighty; it's a psychologically liberating rejection of anything (including God) that might dare to put a limit on personal, temporal power...including, of course, the humanist ideal of an educated, scientifically literate public.
It's also calculating and cynical. Theodor Adorno often had occasion to note "the entirely calculated, highly rationalistic nature of [fascism's] irrationalism." Unfortunately, when this calculation dresses itself up in its Sunday best, much of today's Left loses the ability to recognize it as anything other than Faith Rampant and Militant. It's as though we're too busy arguing with Oz over whether wizards exist to look behind his curtain.
A while back, I discussed Hans Hörbiger's Cosmic Ice Doctrine, a crackpot theory that became orthodox in Nazi Germany. It didn't become orthodox simply because the Nazis refused to listen to respectable scientists, but because respectable scientists opposed it. Outraged scientists were, for Hitlerians, the best conceivable argument in favor of Hörbiger; anything that could dismay the "enemy" to such an extent was precisely as true as it needed to be.
I concluded that post with this thought:
It's not so much that people are ignorant, or are sinking back into a Medieval worldview, as that they're engaged in active, conscious rebellion against reason itself. I think this is a very important distinction to make, and that people who ignore it are adding to the Left's problems.I stand by that belief. And in closing, I'll add that the Right has been the primary force behind research into bioweapons. The PNAC recently became downright giddy at the thought of engineering viruses so that they'd target specific racial groups. These are people who are perfectly comfortable with hard science, when it suits their purposes.
How far this rebellion will go is anybody's guess; the idea that the current Left represents a serious obstacle to it is, I think, a mistake. To the extent that we come armed with statistics and facts and pro-science polemics, we're more or less toothless.
But fussing over Intelligent Design achieves several important goals. First, it taps into the paranoia and anomie of the underclass, and turns it against educators and other "elites." Second, it works towards establishing epistemological nihilism as the law of the land. Third, it makes Bush a halo'd defender of the One True Faith. And last, it makes liberals pig-biting mad, which the Right can triumphantly point to as evidence of our hostility to all that "real Americans" hold dear.
Not a bad little racket, all in all.