Political Truth

One of the key elements of totalitarian, or even just authoritarian, regimes is the concept of “political truth”.  This, basically, is something that must be true because the tenets of the ideology demand that it be true.

In Marxism, a political truth is the exploitation of the working class under capitalism.  It’s simply assumed true and any arguments otherwise–argument about the value those who provide capital bring to an enterprise, the concept of risk and compensation to induce people to take that risk, and so on–are weasel worded around or simply dismissed.

Another example in the American Left which simply declares that any difference in outcomes between different groups that can be defined in terms of various physical characteristics–melanin content, shape of facial features, hair texture, possession of reproductive organs, how they choose to pair said reproductive organs with others, etc.–must be, can only be, because of discrimination by other groups (well, actually there’s only one group that is ever called to task for this).  If one suggests that cultural factors that form self-propagating learned behaviors might actually be part the differences, well, that too is part of the discrimination don’t you know.  And don’t you dare suggest something as “racist” as assimilation into cultures that produce more desired outcomes.

And, yes, there’s the other side where such differences are taken as stemming completely from genetic differences.  To them, the claim is that such differences mark the inherent “superiority” or “inferiority” of one group compared to another.  Suggest to these folk that maybe the differences are learned–culturally or otherwise–and you’re just…well, the names can get creative.

One thing all these various forms of “political truth” have in common is a deep and abiding avoidance of objectively verifiable reality.  Oh, sure, they may cherry pick a few “facts” that appear to support their ideology, but anything beyond that, anything that challenges their cherished tenets, is anathema.

And the main tool that all of these have in common–every single one–is to attack the motive of the person presenting the uncomfortable facts.

“You know, maybe the learned behaviors in that subculture are suboptimal for success in modern American society and…” THAT’s RACIST!

“You know, if folk had just had a better environment at home and in their communities there’d be a lot less…” YOU X LOVER!

“You know, if you simply let people make the voluntary economic transactions across the board that they choose to make, the net result is prosperity across the board.” YOU FASCIST! (Which is a very strange accusation to make to that claim but…it is a claim made.)

“You know, there are some situations involving things like external benefits and costs which voluntary exchange, the market, does not handle well, so perhaps…” YOU COMMIE!

None of these actually address the issue at hand in each case.  They attack the motive, and therefore the character, of the person raising the point.  They are classic example of “Argument ad hominem” “argument to the man” where one accepts or rejects an argument not because of its logic or factual support but because of who makes it.  And it’s a logical fallacy for a reason.  Good people can make bad arguments and have erroneous conclusions.  And bad people can make good arguments leading to correct conclusions.

For that matter, a bad argument might still have a correct conclusion and a good argument might still lead to an incorrect conclusion (chiefly because some unknown factor might affect the result).

When people make arguments that a particular statement is some form of “ist” (or the closely related “phobic”), watch out.  You’re usually running into somebody’s political truth.  And that political truth, stemming from cherished ideology, will not stand contradiction.

And if they can’t dismiss your facts, they’ll simply dismiss you.

3 thoughts on “Political Truth”

  1. Being called -ist or -phobic is rapidly losing it’s punch. They’ve become so overused that it seems most people (at least in my circle) don’t care anymore. They shake their heads and just walk away.


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