Donald Hank
Never the twain shall meet
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By Donald Hank
May 8, 2011

Oh East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.

— Rudyard Kipling (the Ballad of East and West)

Recently, a quiet philosophical debate took place without media fanfare between Brazilian philosopher Olavo de Carvalho and Alexandr Dugin, Vladimir Putin's geopolitical strategist and leading organizer of the Eurasian Movement — considered to be the most influential Russian thinker in the Post-Soviet era. It was a classic clash of East and West.

Both submitted photos of themselves, and no reader could help but be charmed by the kneeling de Carvalho posing with his hunting dogs and shotgun, in contrast to the stern figure of Dugin standing in front of a Russian tank holding a machine gun. One prepared to kill human opponents and the other simply prepared to hunt rabbits or quail.

De Carvalho's opening remarks are as disarming as the picture:

    "I am just a philosopher, writer, and professor, committed to the quest for what seems to me to be the truth and to educating a group of people who are so kind as to pay attention to what I say. Neither these people nor I hold any public job. We do not have any influence on national or international politics. We do not even have the ambition — much less an explicit project — for changing the course of history, whatever it may be. Our only hope is to know reality to the utmost degree of our power and one day leave this life aware that we did not live in illusions and self-delusion, that we did not let ourselves be misled and corrupted by the Prince of this World and by the promises of the ideologues, his servants. In the current power hierarchy of my native country, my opinion is worthless, except maybe as a negative example and an incarnation of absolute evil[1], which is a source of great satisfaction to me. In the country where I live, the government considers me at worst an inoffensive eccentric.

    "No political party, mass movement, government institution, church or religious sect considers me its mentor. So I can give my opinion as I wish, and change my opinion as many times as it seems right to me, with no devastating practical consequences beyond the modest circle of my personal existence."

Incredibly, rather than try to assert that he too is writing as an individual and has a personal standpoint of his own, Dugin, in his response, argues against the whole notion of individual thought, saying:

    "I accept it fully and agree to recognise the fact that our Russian (Eurasian) individuation consists in the desire to manifest something more general than our individual features. So, being a collective entity ... for me is rather an honour. The more holistic is my position, the better it is."

Now it may be acceptable, even noble, that Russian leaders are willing to sacrifice their own "individual features" for the good of the fatherland, but de Carvalho wasn't talking about "features." He was talking about a viewpoint on the nature of vital philosophical issues of government and social thought. Though he doesn't mention this, the debate actually centers around whether one can think as an individual or only as a collective entity — a notion with overtones of science fiction, evoking dark images of Brave New World and 1984, for example. Just as importantly, Dugin's unvarnished preference for group think as opposed to individuality touches on the very nature of thought (or cognition) and what it is.

For de Carvalho, thought is modern (as opposed to postmodern) and concrete. Truth can be known and is objective, ie, something that exists on its own outside the self (the debater in this case) and outside the collective. For Dugin, truth is what his powerful autocrat friends decide it is and say it is. What you or I think is of no consequence. One of his arguments in a later round was that Olavo de Carvalho was on the losing side, not because his reasoning was faulty, but because his side lacks power in both the East and the West. Unfortunately, he is right. But in a fair debate, which of the two debaters has the most power is irrelevant. His reasoning amounts to bullying, pure and simple.

Aside from all the deeper philosophical arguments presented here, this debate boils down to a confrontation of freedom vs. serfdom, individual rights vs. rule by an independent oligarchy.

If Dugin has his way, the world would be ruled by a technocracy. If de Carvalho has his way, you and I can live in a relatively free world where individuals could use the observations and logic to draw our own conclusions about the world and issues that are vital to us. If Dugin has his way, the powerful decide for you. Whether Dugin considers himself a postmodernist or not, he in fact defends an important aspect of that philosophy. For while the postmodernist believes that truth cannot be known, the Eastern philosopher like Dugin believes that — if it exists at all — it is irrelevant and only power matters.

What's more, he doesn't seem to understand that the fight of de Carvalho and all free people is not only against the Eurasian viewpoint Dugin represents but also against the Ruling Elite in the West (as de Carvalho later contends). Thus, in terms of power, the fight is unbalanced, favoring Dugin and the vast majority of influential Western thinkers — a true David vs Goliath bout if there ever was one.

The whole notion behind our post-modern way of "thinking" is that the scientific method, consisting of

    1 — the formulation of a hypothesis through observations (inductive reasoning)

    2 — the testing of this hypothesis (experimentation)

    3 — the establishment of a conclusion (deductively) based on the results of that experimentation

    4 — Subsequent ongoing verification of the results and conclusion by independent researchers

has outlived its usefulness in areas such as philosophy, economics, political science, government, and social thought, no longer applies and must be replaced by a system based on consensus. Note that this conclusion itself was reached by fiat, not by use of a scientific method, but since that method is declared obsolete it supposedly no longer applies. Hence, this is circular thinking as the more astute reader will have observed. I need to point out that Dugin does not admit that he is a postmodernist and probably, he would reject my mentioning that issue, but the commonality lies in the fact that postmodernism in politics does in fact rely on consensus and denies the individual's ability to reach valid conclusions on his own. That, by inference, is a denial of the scientific method.

Despite the abandonment of the above-described scientific method in vital areas that affect our lives, but that fall outside the "natural sciences[2]," these 4 steps remain unquestioned as the requisite procedures by which we infer knowledge in the field of natural science. Thus, researchers in the areas of all natural sciences, such as physics, chemistry and medicine, are required to use this method, and aside from out and out cheating and falsification of results, such as that observed at the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, and aside from the area of origin of life research, most researchers stick to this rigorous method, out of necessity.

As an aside, it is more than intriguing that, in the non-exact sciences, the scientific method was replaced by those who are opposed to a society based on biblical principles. The Left's age-old notion that Christianity has been an obstacle to scientific thought would seem, a priori, incompatible with the abolition of the scientific method.

Yet it is the Left that wants to abolish it. Also beyond intriguing is the fact that one of the key links in the philosopher chain that led to the development of the scientific method was a monk named Roger Bacon, who was able to publish his three tomes outlining the method (Opus Majus, Opus Minus and Opus Tertium) thanks to a commission granted by Pope Clement in 1265.

None of this movement to eliminate the scientific method in the interpretation of our world is comprehensible without an understanding of the Left's desire to replace Christianity with their own religion, which could be called "Historicity." Though never enunciated specifically by anyone, this is the religion whereby History would be God. When the Democrats say "we are on the side of history," what they mean is that History (I use the capital H because it is their god) is tending toward all the progressive goals they are working toward, such as homosexual marriage, drug legalization, abolition of the words father and mother, abolition of the traditional family, wealth redistribution, abolition of borders, abolition of all immigration laws in rich countries and enforcement of Draconian environmental regulations in rich countries but not in the Third World, abolition of petroleum use, strict China-like population control, and in short, abolition of the traditional concept of law and order and the establishment of a Global Oligarchy with the "progressives" in charge), and there is therefore something sacred about these agendas.

Though they would never admit it, in an effort to implement these long-term goals, their short-term goal is to eliminate thought, or cognition, as it is traditionally construed, and replace it with the notion of consensus, as reflected by Dugin's statements quoted above. But what that means specifically is a consensus formed by a majority whose thoughts and attitudes are controlled by the Oligarchs through psychological control techniques designed to make the members of the target group believe that they arrived at their conclusions independently and that, therefore, they are free.

Which leads us to the thorny task of defining freedom.

Most of us derive our own definition of freedom simply by evaluating each individual situation and asking ourselves essentially "do I feel free or do I feel coerced in this situation?"

But, while that cognitive habit is useful in everyday situations, it is fatally flawed when we consider how easy it is, through thought control techniques, to induce the majority to arrive at predetermined conclusions and to convince them that they have arrived at these conclusions independently on an individual basis.

So that definition is a non-starter.

But post-modern "philosophers" have been saying, roughly since Nietzsche, that truth cannot be known. Now, by extension, freedom could not be defined if that were so. This claim, however, negates itself, because if it is true that truth cannot be known, then this statement itself obviously cannot be called the truth and is of no epistemological value.

More indicting of postmodernism is the fact that the scientific method is still used in the exact sciences, not because it is accepted by academics by consensus, but because it is indispensable and because the best minds have not only accepted its use but have not been able to successfully disprove its usefulness or get by without it.

All successful new drugs and new scientific discoveries are tested, verified and authenticated by this method. Any that are disqualified by the method are discarded. Patent specifications routinely contain hypotheses, test results and conclusions.

The claim that this method does not apply to other areas of vital national, global or personal interest would require overcoming a huge cognitive hurdle, and it would fail, because to say the scientific method no longer applies or that truth cannot be known would be analogous to saying that a glass is no longer necessary to hold drinking water. That would be sophism, pure and simple, and would in no way affect our lives because people would continue to use glasses to drink water regardless — not because consensus had made that the accepted method to drink water but because without a drinking glass it would be impossible or unnecessarily difficult to drink water. The musings of idle minds on this subject would be of no consequence in the real world.

Like the drinking glass, sound objective thinking based on the tried-and-true method generally going by the name "scientific method" is nothing but a tool and is not subject to sophist argumentation.

Therefore, by extension, Alexandr Dugin's argument that consensus ("being a collective entity" and hence thinking collectively) is superior to the individual's own thought processes, based (by implication) on the scientific method (even though neither debater uses this term), should also be rejected by anyone of sound mind. That is, if the free world itself is to survive.

Yet, the fact that fantasy-based Keynesian economics continues to be the dominant orientation in Western universities, and the fact that banks are allowed to gamble fraudulently with their clients' money and then receive unconstitutional bailouts instead of a jail sentence, is a reminder that, in spite of a sovereign debt that threatens our dollar and our children's future, Western society has yet to acknowledge the usefulness of practical tools — common sense and free market economics — as vital to our welfare as the common drinking glass.

I think even Alexandr Dugin would agree with me on that.

The author is a technical translator who has translated, since 1971, over 10,000 scientific and medical documents and patents.

________________________________________

[1] Olavo de Carvalho has been a thorn in the side of the leftist government in Brazil, which sides with Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez and imprisons or fines Christians, for example, who stick to biblical teachings on homosexuality.

[2] By natural sciences I mean sciences involving observable regularly behaving phenomena whose regular behavior can be used to derive laws by observation and experimentation.

The debate:

http://www.theinteramerican.org/blogs/98-olavo-de-carvalho/247-olavo-de-carvalho-debates-aleksandr-dugin-i.html

© Donald Hank

 

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Donald Hank

Until July of 2009, Don Hank was operating a technical translation agency out of his home in Wrightsville, PA. He is now retired and residing in Panama with his wife and daughter.

A former language teacher, he holds an undergraduate degree in French and German from Millersville State University (PA), a Master's degree in Russian language and literature from Kutztown State College (also in PA), has studied Chinese for 3 years in Taiwan at the Mandarin Training Center, and is self-taught in other languages, having logged a total of 8 years abroad in total immersion situations.

He is also the founder of Lancaster-York Non-Custodial Parents, a volunteer organization that provides Christian counseling for non-custodial parents.

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