Reductio ad Leftism

Stacy McCain has some questions for the radical feminists:

Any skeptic must ask, why are the categories of “man” and “woman” political? Why is there a quasi-Marxist “class struggle” between men and women,” what does it mean to describe heterosexuality as an “economic system,” and what manner of “society” could exist without heterosexuality?

Let me take a stab at answering them.  Now, obviously these are rhetorical questions — the answer, as McCain notes in the very next sentence, is: “Wittig’s purpose is to destroy “society” as it exists.”  What I want to do here is explore some of the “thought” process behind this rhetorical strategy, because trust me, your kids are getting this in college.

There’s a nugget of truth in every Big Idea Leftist academics (BIRM) have farted out over the last half century… so I guess technically it should be “sharted out,” but whatever, point is, all academic theorizing is a variation of Jon Stewart’s “clown nose on / clown nose off” rhetorical strategy.  Stewart makes some asinine fanservice remark, and if he gets too much blowback for being an obvious partisan hack, he says “oh lighten up, it was just a joke,” and points to his smirking fanbois as evidence.  If he doesn’t get called on it, though, he and all his fanbois repeat it over and over as if it’s a serious bit of political analysis, which enables them to claim that they’re Smarter and Better Informed Than You even though they get all their profound mindthoughts from a Comedy Central bobblehead.

Academia works the same way.  They like to pretend that everything, and I do mean everything, is words and nothing but words.  Which is tautologically true: Since we can only think in words, words are necessarily what we think in.  So what happens if we change the words?

No, seriously.  Maybe you weren’t a huge nerd as a teenager, but trust me, this stuff is catnip to a certain kind of dork who thinks he’s way smarter than he actually is.  Normies see you calling a rabbit a smeerp and laugh, because hey, it’s still just a rabbit.  But playing with words does change your perceptions.  Consider these definitions of “human being:”

  • A human being is a rational animal, the only known rational animal in the universe.
  • A human being is a great ape, halfway in size between a chimpanzee and a gorilla.

Both equally true, but oh what a difference!  Clown nose off, this is persuasion, a selective presentation of facts towards a rhetorical end.  Clown nose on, and in comes the unstated but lethally important qualifier, the suggestion of which is the whole point of the exercise:  “A human being is nothing but a great ape.”

So the tautology

  • “as we can only think in words, we think in words”

becomes, clown nose on,

  • “as we can only think in words, words mediate our interaction with reality”

which with the addition of some baggy pants, floppy shoes, and a seltzer horn, becomes

  • “as words mediate our interaction with reality, words create our reality.”

which of course is logically equivalent to

  • “reality itself is nothing but words.”

And boom, you’re a Social Justice Warrior.*  My preferred pronouns are “xyr” and “jermajesty.”


Should anyone challenge you on this… well, since you usually only hear stuff like this in the academy, what you do is fail ’em and report ’em to the Dean for hate speech.  But if someone on the Board of Regents, say, asks you — pink slip in hand — if you’re really teaching undergrads that reality itself is nothing but words, you take the clown nose off and say oh no, of course not, we’re only teaching that words influence perception.

And that’s how you get feminists asserting that “man” and “woman” are political, that there’s a class struggle between them, et cetera ad nauseam.  It’d make your eyes bleed to do this for every item on the list, but here’s a brief e.g.:

“Masculinity,” say, is both DEscriptive and PREscriptive.  When we define behavior X as “masculine,” we’re saying “X is what real men do;” at the same time, we’re also saying “if you want to be considered a real man, do X.”  And who is this “we”?  Why, the community of language-users, of course.  And since that community changes, the sense of the word also changes — the Vikings had a word for “masculine,” no doubt, but it meant something very different than the English word.  Which means notions like “masculinity” are (nothing but) “social constructions;” they change as society changes.  And how does society change?  Via politics, of course, since “politics” is defined as the interplay of personal preferences in the public sphere.  Thus words like “man” and “woman” are, at bottom, political categories.  You and I and my prison gang voted; you’re the woman.

Feel free to take the final exam: If social life is nothing but economics — which follows, clown nose on, from the observation that people exchange stuff for other stuff — you should easily be able to deduce why heterosexuality is an economic system, and thus explain the quasi-Marxist class war between the sexes.

Yes, they really do think like this.  They have to — without the notion that life itself is nothing but words, Leftism will always founder on Reality’s rocks.  I’ve given you the academic version, but you can see it everywhere these days.  It’s why the Cult will never give up on the idea that Putin hacked the election, for example — if he didn’t, then the American people really did prefer Trump to their terrible, horrible, no good very bad candidate Hillary, which is unpossible.  So they’ll keep repeating it until it’s true, and it will be true — until the last remnants of the USA are overrun by superintelligent apes, it’ll be a true fact that everyone knows Putin hacked the election for Trump.  Because if you can just get enough people to repeat if for long enough, reality itself will conform to your magic, magic words, because after all, since we can only think in words, words mediate our interaction with….




*The Six Readers will undoubtedly recognize this as The Gem, aka The Worst Argument in the World.  I seriously can’t recommend David Stove enough to y’all.

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10 thoughts on “Reductio ad Leftism

  1. P_Ang

    Seriously though…why CAN’T you just round my 39% to an A? If I say I passed enough, it must be true, the problem lies with the teacher…

  2. Gary

    They like to pretend that everything, and I do mean everything, is words and nothing but words. Which is tautologically true: Since we can only think in words, words are necessarily what we think in.

    Whether this is tautologically true depends on what you mean by “think.” If thinking means formulating ideas in words, then yes, it’s tautologically true. But I don’t believe the common use of “think” is so restrictive.

    IMHO, people think in non-verbal ways all the time. The original form of an idea might be an image or a group of images or something like a video clip. I suspect this sort of visual mental activity is the most common form of non-verbal thinking, but ideas can spring from vague bodily sensations (ie a feeling about something, a hunch, an intuition, etc), or even sounds (eg some musicians “hear” melodies internally).*

    This not uncommon notion of equating thought with verbal activity is simply wrong. Words can influence thought. Sometimes ideas can come in the form of words. But very often (most often, IMHO), the inspiration, the original germ of an idea, comes in a non-verbal form. If this were not the case, why would people have so much difficulty putting their ideas, emotions, intentions and meanings into words?

    * Any sense impression will do. I believe chefs might actually think in terms of flavor, aroma, etc. People who formulate perfumes, deodorants or colognes probably think in terms of scent, fragrance, odor, etc.

    1. Severian

      I see what you’re saying, and I agree, but Gary… you’re not gonna make tenure that way, bud. I should’ve said “we can only articulate concepts with words,” but as this entire sad, dishonest exercise relies on terminological imprecision… well, I hope you can forgive a little poetic license. 🙂

  3. Robert Stacy McCain

    What’s interesting is that so many of those involved in promoting Gender Theory nonsense (including Judith Butler) are philosophy professors, and thus must understand the fallacies involved in their arguments. They are not ignorant, they are simply dishonest.

    1. Severian

      I don’t know about that, though. David Stove (referenced above) wrote an entire essay about how Idealism rests on this kind of fallacy, and some of the Idealists were very good philosophers. It’s worth reading (“Idealism: A Victorian Horror Story, Parts I and II”), especially because Marxism is Idealism’s bastard child, as Postmodernism is Marxism’s.

      Thanks for stopping by – obviously I’m a big fan! I have no idea how you soldier through all that Gender Studies crap — I had to take a semester of it in grad school, and it made my eyes bleed.

      1. KR

        I teach philosophy, specifically ethics. Just yesterday a student told me that she (?) found gender pronouns profoundly upsetting and would prefer that I used plural pronouns “to become radically inclusive.”
        I refused … gently. I told her that I’d try to refer to her with plural pronouns, to which she nodded expectantly, presuming if not assuming I’d refer to every student in that manner. This I will not do.
        The gall of this kid is irritating, but … her little mission has nothing to do with words or language.
        What that pink-headed, pierced, gender-neutered/neutral kid wants is the power to coerce. Political-like power. This has nothing to do with words. Words are a mere cudgel she uses to beat those who don’t accept her. Her needs are profoundly psychological and sad. She is desperate for me/others to pay attention to her. To coddle her … mother her. She wants milk and cookies, not pronouns. (Think: safe spaces, therapy puppies, coloring books … what is this if not a return to childhood securities?)
        She want me to affirm her mental oddities, to tell her she’s okay.
        But she’s not okay. Let us be frank: a “gender fluid” kid has serious mental health issues that need to be addressed, not ignored.
        My heart bleeds for that pink-headed kid. When I reached out to touch her arm as a gesture of kindness, as a way of reaching past her emotional block with what could have been the power of touch and genuine warmth, she didn’t respond.
        Her tatted skin was cold.
        As a “normie,” I don’t know what should be done. Should I give the sad one a few pronouns and send her on her merry way? Why not. For me, it’s much easier. I could write her off by throwing her a few linguistic bones, and then concentrate on the kids that can be saved, the ones who are educable. It’s a twofer – she gets her jollies from coercing me into using her pet pronouns; I use the rest of language (verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc.) to teach everyone else.

        1. nightfly

          Alas… it wouldn’t be harmless, for precisely the reason you observe – because it’s about power. More specifically, it’s about power that will never, ever, be enough. Never.

          For these folks, precedent becomes policy. “You did it for them! That one time!” And then you’re stuck trying to differentiate a set of criteria that made you accept then while rejecting now, and those criteria will immediately become binding on all future interactions, so that if they fulfill all the requirements (“You said that if…”) you are then obliged to concede to them.

          And so, a kindness entirely under your control has become a duty entirely under theirs, and they will seek the power to punish you if you decline.

        1. severian Post author

          I wasn’t complaining that we never get read. I was “complaining” — with my tongue so far in my cheek it was coming out my earhole — that RC never makes those “most influential conservative blog” lists, despite pictures of hot chicks, AND toilet humor. But now that RSM has linked here, we’re going bigtime baby! The only question is, how much should we sell out for? 🙂 (Rance, baby… call me!)

  4. Pingback: How Leftists ‘Think’ : The Other McCain

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