12 Dec

Free to do what you’re told

I am ceaselessly impressed by the ability of the human mind to shoot itself in the foot, so to speak. Consider this…

The concepts of freedom and liberty have never been so bandied about. Those words are our contemporary shibboleths. Taken together with the word democracy, they form a modern, and of course secular, trinity, so we should always give them their initial capitals: Democracy, Liberty and Freedom. Whosoever will be politically-correct, before all things it is necessary that he hold this Secular Faith.

Even when it is easy to demonstrate that this Secular Faith amounts to a pile of gibberish and that it is immediately undermined by its own internal contradictions.

The chief contradiction is in this: never so much jabber about Freedom, yet the three most powerful and influential dogmas over the last century and more are all deterministic. I refer to Marxism, Darwinism and Freudianism.

Marx turned Hegel on his head, accepting the Hegelian dialectic but re-interpreting this as dialectical materialism. Under this, all our choices are illusory, for everything that happens – and this means absolutely everything that happens in our personal lives, our politics and our history – is determined by economic forces. How odd then that Marx should promote his version  of determinism and then urge us all to choose communism. Nice trick if we could do it, Karl!

Freud’s version of the deterministic contradiction famously took the form of a psychological dialectic in which the human mind consists of three sections: the Ego, the Superego and the Id. The Ego is our waking consciousness – the place where we would exercise our freedoms if these freedoms were real. But Freud goes on to say that the Ego is governed and directed by the other two sections, the Superego and the Id which are unconscious and over which the Ego has no control. So Ziggy, what’s free about free-association in the snake oil of psychoanalysis?

Darwin told us that our lives are determined by natural selection. Darwinism has evolved since Charlie’s days and now tells us – through such luminaries as Richard Dawkins – that we are the slaves of our genes. The contradiction again. So when Richard tells his wife how much he loves her, what should she think? My advice: “Don’t trust him, Lalla, it’s only his genes talking!”

This is all barmy enough already, but there is confusion the worse confounded. For many Darwinists claim also to be communists, and there are Freudians who are Darwinians too. (Choose – I use the word ironically, of course – any combination of these three deterministic ideologies that appeals to you).

What then follows is that you have set yourself not merely at the mercy of an internal contradiction in any one of the three, but the compounded contradiction involved in believing two or three  ideologies which are also the contradictories of one another.

Specifically, if unconscious forces are the basis of all that happens, then both economic forces and genetic forces are relegated to a place of only secondary consideration. Work your way through the whole unholy trinity. Perm any two from three…

Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll