Politics and the Death of Reason

xkcdwrongoninternetHave you ever had an argument with someone with a completely opposite view from you? Not just a little off, I mean a person who holds a position so completely opposed that you find yourself at a loss for words. In such conversations, emotions tend to rule us. We become defensive, offended and angry. We lash out against anything the other person says. On some level, we act like they aren’t even human. Certainly, I find it extremely difficult to consider the humanity of the person when responding against something that’s deeply offensive to me.

Eventually, when we cool off, we can think about it a little clearer. How can we dialogue with someone like this? Well, if we want to be reasonable, and we care about the honest truth, we need to find something to agree on.

It may take a while, we may have to boil down to the absolute basics, but eventually, there’s something to be found.

So what’s the point of all this? I think that where any political question is involved, post-moderns have lost the ability to do this. Whether consciously or not, we live in a culture where you don’t debate to find the truth, you debate to dominate your opponent. And this forces us into being ruled by a government that makes decisions based on emotion and power-mongering, rather than reason.

Not only does this happen, it happens so openly that politicians are not even ashamed by their refusal to consider rational evidence. They wear it as a badge of honour.

Nowhere has this been more on display than in the Canadian House of Commons, as MP Stephen Woodworth attempted, twice, to get politicians to review criminal laws in light of human rights. That these laws exist contrary to any reasonable account of human rights is in my opinion very clear, but I, like Mr. Woodworth, am open to discussing it.

Many of Canada’s politicians are not, and it’s pretty clear why.

There is a sacred cow to protect, and emotions are on a rampage. So, they shot down the initial proposal to examine scientific evidence of when human life begins.

With Motion 476, Mr. Woodworth proceeded the only way a reasonable person could. He attempted to find common ground for rational discussion. There was absolutely nothing controversial about the motion. Here it is:

That the House of Commons affirm that every Canadian law must be interpreted in a manner that recognizes in law the equal worth and dignity of everyone who is in fact a human being.

That’s it. From here, honest dialogue could begin.

There is no doublespeak here. There are no smoke and mirrors. There is no trickery. Mr. Woodworth asked parliament a question: do human rights exist in Canada?

Our government answered, no.

I, for one, am terrified of a government that can justify that.

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About anotherepigone

I'm a Catholic, software developer, writer, gamer, and all-around nerd. I write for orthodoxcatholicism.com. Check it out and leave me a comment!

Posted on April 15, 2014, in Catholic. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. It seems to me that this is a natural result of liberal democracy.

    Getting people to agree on basic principles before discussing something, basically amounts to getting them to agree that what we’re doing is pursuing Truth: We agree on premises, and then we reason validly, and therefore whatever conclusions we arrive at must be true; and accordingly we both will be bound by them.

    But politicians in a liberal democracy can’t commit themselves to going wherever the truth leads them, because their job is to get elected and re-elected. And what that requires is doing and saying what the majority of people want to hear. When there isn’t a clear majority position, then they have to dance around and try to please as many voters as possible, which means avoiding the staking out of clear positions on some issues.

    In this context the pursuit of truth is, basically, irrelevant.

    • anotherepigone

      Exactly, Agellius.

      This is a basic flaw in democracy – that it often promotes good actors rather than good leaders.

      That’s one of the reasons that we have certain safeguards against our own government, and the most important of these is universal human rights.

      Without that most essential check against its power, our government is out of control.

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