Saturday, August 1, 2009

Everyday Anarchy 03: Ambivalence and Bigotry


By Stefan Molyneux


It is a truism - and I for one think a valid one - that the simple mind sees everything in black or white. Wisdom, on the other hand, involves being willing to suffer the doubts and complexities of ambivalence.

The dark-minded bigot says that all blacks are perfidious; the light-minded bigot says that all blacks are victims. The misogynist says that all women are corrupt; the feminist often says that all women are saints.

Exploring the complexities and contradictions of life with an open-minded fairness - neither with the imposition of premature judgment, nor the withholding of judgment once the evidence is in - is the mark of the scientist, the philosopher - of a rational mind.

The fundamentalists among us ascribe all mysteries to the "will of God" - which answers nothing at all, since when examined, the "will of God" turns out to be just another mystery; it is like saying that the location of my lost keys is "the place where my keys are not lost" - it adds nothing to the equation other than a teeth-gritting tautology. Mystery equals mystery. Anyone with more than half a brain can do little more than roll his eyes.

The immaturity of jumping to premature and useless conclusions is matched on the other hand only by the shallow and frightened fogs of modern - or perhaps I should say post- modern - relativism, where no conclusions are ever valid, no absolute statements are ever just - except that one of course - and everything is exploration, typically blindfolded, and without a compass. There is no destination, no guidepost, no sense of progress, no building to a greater goal - it is the endless dissection of cultural cadavers without even a definition of health or purpose, which thus comes perilously close to looking like fetishistic sadism.

The simple truth is that some black men are good, and some black men are bad, and most black men are a mixture, just as we all are. Some women are treacherous; some women are saints. "Blackness" or "gender" is an utterly useless metric when it comes to evaluating a person morally; it is about as helpful as trying to use an iPod to determine which way is north. The phrase "sexual penetration" does not tell us whether the act is consensual or not--saying that sexual penetration is always evil is as useless as saying that it is always good.

In the same way, some anarchism is good (notably that which we treasure so much in our personal lives) and some anarchism is bad (notably our fears of violent chaos, bomb- throwing and large mustaches). As a word, however, "anarchism" does nothing to help us evaluate these situations. Applying foolish black-and-white thinking to complex and ambiguous situations is just another species of bigotry

Claiming that "anarchism" is both rank political evil and the greatest treasure in our personal lives is a contradiction well worth examining, if we wish to gain some measure of mature wisdom about the essential questions of truth, virtue and the moral challenges of social organization.

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