12 August 2012

Ann Coulter’s Lamentation

Liberals tell whopping lies, and most conservatives can't be bothered to learn history.

In the last few days, we've heard both George Will and Charles Krauthammer, otherwise intelligent people, repeating bogus Democratic talking points about how Joe McCarthy allegedly smeared innocents with false allegations.
Of course, the real reason Ms. Coulter is so upset is that she is laboring under the delusion that conservative elites substantially differ from liberals in their ideology.  They don’t of course, which is why conservatives so often sound like liberals on a lot of things.  It is why, in fact, conservatives can justify their support for liberals.

Ultimately, though, the main issue with conservatism is that it is inherently reactionary, and thus must always accept the premises of whatever ideology it opposes.  Conservatives pretty much always debate liberals on their terms, which is why they eventually accept the tenets of liberalism,* since terms are inherently tautological.  Therefore, the main difference between conservatives and liberals is that of degree and not kind.

The solution to the problem, then, is to approach problems on one’s own terms, and to reframe the debate in one’s favor and according to one’s own mind.  This is basically Game, distilled into a form palatable for the politically-oriented.  This also allows one to approach the problem positively, instead of merely offering the knee-jerk reaction of rejecting leftist approaches out-of-hand.

More to the point, the only way for conservatives to fix the problems facing the nation is for them to stop being conservatives and to start being something more constructive.  If all conservatives want to do is to be leftism lite, as appears to be the case with George Will and Charles Krauthammer, then they need only to continue to do what they are doing.

* For example, conservatives shouldn’t have opposed feminism, they should have affirmed patriarchy; they shouldn’t have opposed abortion, they should have affirmed life (and note that anti-abortionists began to make serious political progress once they rebranded as pro-lifers); etc.  The reason for this is due to the nature of Western logic, in that one cannot prove a negative (this is a tautology, and the one exception being that one can only prove a negative tautologically, although a tautology is not a proof per se).  As such, once one attempts to deny an assertion, one can never fully disprove it, but rather only cause doubt to the validity of the affirmative.  Thus, it is easier to embrace an assertion, especially once one accepts its terms.  To state it another way, once you accept how the debate is framed, you also accept the affirmative’s conclusion.


  1. "The reason for this is due to the nature of Western logic, in that one cannot prove a negative"

    Logic fail. How is someone as intelligent and smart as you trumpeting such a tired old cliche? The attempts to add the caveat about tautologies make you sound even worse.

    You didn't have to bring up logic. Just point out that people prefer positives over negatives. This has absolutely nothing to do with "Western logic"

  2. @Anonymous- Please prove this logic fail using syllogistic logic while refraining from using idioms.

    An example of what I meant might be seen in the assertion that "gun control does not increase crime." The only way to prove this correct is to a) affirm that gun control increases crime (this is a positive argument) and b) assert tautologically that an increase in crime is not not an increase in crime. Again, this in line with my initial assertion.

  3. C'mon, man. Haven't you ever taken a math class where you do proofs? It's not even particularly difficult to prove a negative. In Aristotelian syllogistic logic, for example, nine of the fourteen modes have a negative conclusion. If anything, then, it's easier to prove a negative than a positive! Here's an example in the mode of Camestres (all A are B, no C are B, therefore no A are B):

    1. All marriages are between a man and a woman.
    2. No "gay marriage" is between a man and a woman.
    3. No marriage is a "gay marriage."

    Modern formal logic can do a superset of what the syllogistic can do, so it is certainly no weaker in that regard. As the anon said, you probably should have stuck with psychology here.

  4. @Remir- obviously we are not using the term "Western logic" identically. When I use that phrase, I generally tend to use in reference to formal logic that is deployed rhetorically. Unless I'm mistaken, you take it to mean in form of reasoning, including abstract mathematical proofs. Incidentally, your example proves my initial assertion regarding tautologies, and your final concession lends credence to the validity of my assertion about Western logic when viewed through the lens of rhetoric. Thus, you have convincingly defeated a straw man.

    I will suggest that you read the rules of the blog, particularly the one about reading prior posts. I view my blog as continuing narrative, and often implicitly reference things I written on before. This is one of those cases. I would suggest you read my prior posts on logic, and in particular my post on the subjective nature of mathematical truth.