Mike Williams on DIM

 Posted by on 5 November 2006 at 7:40 pm  Objectivism, Religion
Nov 052006

Mike Williams recently sent a lengthy post on Dr. Peikoff’s (free!) DIM Hypothesis course to FRODO (Front Range Objectivism’s discussion list). I thought it worth reposting on NoodleFood.

Like many others, Mike was in strongly favor of voting for Bush in 2004. He’s changed his mind after thinking through the issues. When I asked him whether I could say that in introducing his post, Mike replied:

Absolutely. Most importantly, my progression came about after I reviewed Peikoff’s DIM course as well as reviewed the factual evidence about the rise of religion, both in the culture at large and within the leadership structure of the Republican Party. In retrospect, I think the evidence has been there (about the culture but particularly about the Republicans) at least since 1980 and certainly by the close of Reagan’s first term. However, it really took reviewing the fundamental significance of philosophy (“Duel Between Plato and Aristotle” and “For the New Intellectual”, in particular) combined with the insights of The DIM Hypothesis to see religion as the real threat that could preclude the advocacy of a rational alternative. (The most easily accessible factual info about the influence of religion within the Republican Party has been theocracywatch.org. Yes, its run by ACLU-types, but the best thing either side of the aisle ever does is expose the flaws of their opponents!)

So here’s Mike’s post on DIM:

In order to fully grasp what is at stake in the 2006 (and future) elections, it is important to bear in mind one of the central tenets of Peikoff’s DIM Hypothesis: that societal change [for the better] will not come from electing a given political candidate or slate of candidates from a particular party.

Fundamentally, electing neither Democratic nor Republican politicians will advance freedom or in any way secure our rights. Politicians from both parties will continue to erode the Constitution, hamstring our national defense and move us closer to a totalitarian regime. Both pose significant threats to our rights of free speech, self defense and free choice in medicine. Neither party’s members have any clear conception of how to fight and win the war with the Islamic bloc, nor the requisite moral certainty to do so. The party platforms of both the Democrats and the Republicans (as well as the Libertarians) are recipes for disaster in the short term and for tyranny in the long term. There is, however, a key fundamental philosophical difference between the two major political parties, and that difference has real consequences for us as advocates of a rational philosophy.

One of Peikoff’s identifications in his DIM hypothesis work is that the current schools of thought and future trends in a given field are shaped by the underlying approach toward integration of the intellectual leaders within that field. In spite of the successes that ARI and other intellectually active rational individuals have recently enjoyed, a reality-oriented, reason-based conceptually integrative orientation is not widespread in any culturally influential field today. The ‘I’ approach is not even a factor in the political arena (where it has no significant adherents), while it is just barely represented in the educational and cultural fields to which politics is derivative. Further, Peikoff notes that an other-worldly, faith-based misintegrative (or ‘M’) approach will be more internally consistent, more attractive, more influential and ultimately more sustainable in practice than the third possible alternative: concrete bound, conceptually blind disintegration.

Some in the Democratic Party, particularly the ideological hardcore of the far Left, are representatives of the disintegrative approach in politics (to the extent that they represent anything). They seek to destroy America and the West (for the sake of the third world, or the environment, or in the name of equality, or however they care to excuse and dress up their hatred of the good). While the majority of Democrats are surely less consistent mixed cases, and even with some consistent religionists obviously included, the most consistent ‘D’ types set the trend and the agenda within the Democratic party. The DNC is far more in thrall to Greenpeace, MoveOn or the ACLU than it is to Focus on the Family. If elected, the long term political influence of today’s Democrats will be to continue America’s slide toward self-destruction through increasingly statist policies.

However, Peikoff argues that the disintegrative approach is impotent in the long term. Politically, the far Left does not appeal to the majority of the American population and will not be able to hold political power or remain culturally dominant for any lasting period of time. These mixed cases or even pure nihilists do not offer any type of integrated worldview, no deeper motivating internally consistent system with which to justify or sustain their political ambitions. Whatever ideological remnants of their Marxist past might remain are in decline in the broader culture and pose no lasting threat to the advocacy of a rational philosophy. The Democrats in power will not be successful in implementing the full gamut of their political agenda, even if they were to gain control of both houses in Congress. And, though tenuous and vestigial, the Left retains some nominal commitment to hearing all viewpoints and to the equality of all opinions in their multicultural relativism.

Yet continuing political control by the Republicans could and would lead to political domination of the US by religionists. Make no mistake: the RNC is as deeply committed to as it is indebted to the Family Research Council, the Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family and their ilk. Unlike the disintegrative, nihilistic agenda of the far left, the misintegrative policies of the religious right are supported by an ardent, confident and growing base of US fundamentalists, who cannot be opposed by their less consistent, but equally faithful, fellow travelers. Republican success would fuel the ascendancy of an other-worldy misintegrative theology in both academia and the wider culture. Further, and most alarmingly, the continued control of the US federal government by the Republicans could lead to the political imposition of totalitarian Christianity, supported by a comprehensive though false worldview that has proven to be as sustainable as it is destructive (see medieval Europe).

And a primary target of the Republican religionistas is and will continue to be freedom of speech. Keep in mind Rand’s observation that each political party in the US seeks to control the realm that it considers important, either the mind or the body. The breakdown of the 1st Amendment injunction against state-sponsored religion under Bush, combined with the stacking of the judiciary to prevent legal challenges to this breakdown, continues unabated and will only accelerate if Republicans remain in power. The substitution of Christianity for cultural relativism in the schools, direct government funding for religious organizations, censorship of the media and the internet in the name of decency and family values: all these are only precursors to the political actions the religionists will take in their all out attack on the remnants of our rational, secular Enlightenment heritage (which they correctly identify as their only real enemy, rightly dismissing the hardcore of the nihilistic Left). Clearly, the Christian Republicans are seeking to control the minds of US citizens, or at least enough of us to ensure their dominance of the country.

Prior to the landslide election of Reagan in 1980, individual candidates from either party could be evaluated independently for their political philosophies, as they were often almost identical pragmatists, each grabbing for power and not serving to advance any real intellectual trend one way or the other. Exceptions like McGovern, who were holdovers from an already fading secular Marxist past, were soundly defeated. Today, individual dissenters within the Republican Party are ineffective and do not serve to stem the current dominant misintegrative trend as long as the Christian-Neocon cabal sets the agenda for the Republican leadership. Any truly pro-freedom Republicans cannot come to the fore until the religiously motivated political agenda of today’s Republicans has been stopped. Also, widespread failure of current Democratic candidates to get elected may prompt a philosophical shift within that party, giving a further boost to true leftist religionists, such as Barack Obama, while lessening the prospects of a pragmatic power luster such as Hillary. Failure to support a political stopgap today might destroy the possibility for such an alternative, and could lead to the further rise of an ‘M’ element within the Democratic party as well.

Try not to think of this election in terms of which candidate has the better understanding of the fact that we are at war, or who might lessen the chance of socializing medicine. (If you are concerned with the war, recall the assessment of Peikoff, Lewis, Brook and others that there is no foreign enemy that can defeat the United States militarily if we have the will to defend ourselves.) The real threat is not the Islamic theocracies abroad. Rather, it is the possibility that our political system will continue to be co-opted by Christian theocrats as they serve to reinforce and further institutionalize their growing influence, thereby shutting out the possibility of a true rational alternative ever having the chance to matter. Voting for a truly pro-freedom candidate in the future will be the eventual consequence of widespread adoption of a rational philosophy not its cause. Such a possibility will never even come to pass if the majority of individuals in this country succumb to Christian fundamentalist delusions and their mandates are enforced by law.

Mike Williams

PS: For comprehensive historical documentation of the calculated power grab within the Republican Party by the Christian fundamentalists, please see Theocracy Watch or the books With God On Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America by William Martin and The Theocons: Secular America Under Siege by Damon Linker, in addition to the Thompson article in The Objective Standard. While informative, recognize that these details are not necessary to understanding the basic alternatives we face in this election.

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