“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what is not true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ~ Soren Kierkegaard
When I was thirteen years old, I was a boy scout working on my First Class rank. One of the requirements was to swim 50 yards. I was in need of swimming lessons, which cost money I did not have. So, I worked out a deal with my dad. He would provide the cash for the swimming lessons and I would repay him by mowing other people’s lawns.
Did I say this was 1952? The only lawnmower available to me was the old hand powered reel-type push mower. They have one in the front yard of the 1900s house at Living History Farms in Des Moines. I mowed several yards each week all summer to pay for my swimming lessons. I learned to swim and earned the First Class Scout rank. I also learned there was a direct correlation between hard work and the attainment of my goals. This is a lesson I have learned many times, and that still remains true 69 years later.
We live in postmodern times. Essentially postmodernism proclaims that there is no absolute truth. Science and technology — and even reason and logic — are not vehicles of human progress, but suspect instruments of established power. This can lead to the position that whatever I believe is, at least for me, the truth.
Whatever you believe to be true is only true if I agree with you. Another teaching of postmodernism is that human behavior is socially determined or constructed. This all fits neatly with the current entitlement mindset of so many people.
How does all this relate to postmodernism? Many people believe they are entitled to have all their wants and desires fulfilled — without effort. To justify this belief, they claim that they are being oppressed, or discriminated against by the “power structure.” Any failure to attain their goals is not their own fault. Instead, it is caused by those in power, who are “oppressing” them. This easily leads to the conviction that this oppression is caused by one or more of the “isms.” Sexism, racism, elitism, etc. But never Marxism. This “ism” supposedly gives power to the people, provides redress to the people and sticks it to the man. Marxism leads down the path that requires the establishment elites give me not only what I need, but also what I want.
The theories of Karl Marx always lead to totalitarian government. Under the guise of “social justice” the government ends up with all the power concentrated into the hands of a new elite. Russia under Joseph Stalin, Cuba under Fidel Castro, China under Chairman Mao.
Postmodernism erases reality. There is no certain knowledge, no general theory of the natural or social world that can be valid or true. We can declare our own truth. Postmodernism allows us, as Kierkegaard says, to fool ourselves twice. We can fool ourselves into believing we are something we are not. We can be male or female. It matters not how we were born. It is all up to the individual. The social compact is erased. We are no longer bound by the rules.
We can also fool ourselves by refusing to believe what is true. If I am indolent and therefore fail to learn to swim, I can shift the blame to the swimming coach and say she did not like me, so would not teach me the skills I needed to pass the course. I thus refuse to believe it was my fault when I failed to learn to swim. We can say to ourselves; “that child in the womb is just a blob of tissue”. An extra part, of no value, like the appendix. By refusing to believe the unborn child is unique, with its own DNA, we refuse to believe what is true.
To be fooled means we are made into a fool. This is a do-it-yourself project when we believe what ISN’T true; or refuse to believe what IS true. “What fools, these mortals be.” Puck, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Shakespeare.
Mike Lang, Chairman, Union County Republican Central Committee