Sunday, April 9, 2017

How Dare You Say That About Bertrand Russell - Really Pissy Hate Mail

If you're not going to bother to read the links to things I write about to see if they provide support for what I said, don't claim they don't show what I claim they do.   Bertrand Russell's dishonesty in attributing even the atheist, anti-religious, priest and nun murdering Soviet Communist dictatorship to religion instead of its materialism, its atheism and its scientism is obvious from the first paragraph of that chapter treating the subject, that's why I gave a link to it.  I will go through it and the following paragraph to point out his blatant double-speak and his hypocrisy.

The materialistic conception of history, as it is called, is due to Marx, and underlies the whole Communist philosophy. I do not mean, of course, that a man could not be a Communist without accepting it, but that in fact it is accepted by the Communist Party, and that it profoundly influences their views as to politics and tactics. 

After saying that a "materialistic conception of history" is due to Marx, and underlies his whole Communist philosophy BUT, even though it "profoundly influences their views as to politics and tactics" you could, somehow, accept Communism without accepting what it's based in.  Let's guess, he wanted to claim that those murders that had already started accumulating under the materialist-Marxist dictatorship of the Marxist, Lenin, weren't really attributable to their materialist view of human lives.   At least that's a tacit claim in what he said.   The double-speak of that continues and is intensified in his further desire to get the materialism which the foundation of his own faith off the hook for what was developing into a horror that would make the Reign of Terror look like a practice run.

The name [materialism] does not convey at all accurately what is meant by the theory. It means that all the mass-phenomena of history are determined by economic motives. This view has no essential connection with materialism in the philosophic sense. Materialism in the philosophic sense may be defined as the theory that all apparently mental occurrences either are really physical, or at any rate have purely physical causes. Materialism in this sense also was preached by Marx, and is accepted by all orthodox Marxians. The arguments for and against it are long and complicated, and need not concern us, since, in fact, its truth or falsehood has little or no bearing on politics.

Notice that as soon as he denies that Marx's materialist conception of history is the same thing as (his) philosophical materialism (which he later admits is a monist ideology which denies that there is anything which is not thoroughly material)  he that that Marx shared his materialist ideology and that he even "preached" it and that such "philosophical" Marxism is accepted by all orthodox Marxians".  He goes on

In particular, philosophic materialism does not prove that economic causes are fundamental in politics.

Of course it doesn't "prove" that economic causes are fundamental in politics, as an eminent pure mathematician, Russell knew that such proof would be impossible as it is in everything but mathematics, but that doesn't mean that a materialist could believe that economic causes are fundamental in politics without those economic causes, themselves being a material phenomenon. Not much farther along at on the same page, but in a later paragraph, he said:

For another reason, also, the attempt to base a political theory upon a philosophical doctrine is undesirable. The philosophical doctrine of materialism, if true at all, is true everywhere and always; we cannot expect exceptions to it, say, in Buddhism or in the Hussite movement.

However, shortly before that Russell certainly wanted to get the ideology of materialism off the hook for the results of those Marxists who as "philosophical materialists" must believe that "The philosophical doctrine of materialism" which they held in common with him "if true at all, is true everywhere and always".   That insistence that materialism is true everywhere and always is absolutely basic to all materialism.  It is to materialism what the belief that God created the heavens and the Earth, all that is visible and invisible, is to theism.

Russell admits that, materialists as materialists "we cannot expect exceptions to it".  He even used the first person.   He finishes by saying that a materialist cannot even expect that Buddhism or the Hussite movement are exceptions, according to the materialist all must be based in the material substance of the physical world but he started by claiming that though orthodox Marxists were philosophical materialists, as was Marx, but that Marx's materialist conception of history, explicitly called that by Marx, was not attributable to the philosophical materialism he shared with Bertrand Russell.  That is typical of Bertrand Russell's style of double speak when dealing not only with materialism and it results but is something he applies in compound form when speaking about what he really loathes, religion.  That is something he shares in common with almost all atheists who speak on such matters - off hand, I'm hard pressed to name an exception.

You can see more of it as he continued that second paragraph in the chapter.

The view of Buckle, for example, according to which climate is one of the decisive factors, is equally compatible with materialism. So is the Freudian view, which traces everything to sex. There are innumerable ways of viewing history which are materialistic in the philosophic sense without being economic or falling within the Marxian formula. Thus the "materialistic conception of history" may be false even if materialism in the philosophic sense should be true.

The slight of hand by which Russell lets materialism off the hook, by him removing "economic motives" as defined by the materialist monist Marx from the exclusively material universe that he admitted all philosophical materialists insisted to be the only reality, doing to "economic motives" what he admitted that a materialist couldn't really believe of Buddhism or the religious doctrines of Jan Hus.  All he's doing is diverting attention from the fact that the Marxist concentration on, one hand, a materialistic conception of economics by pointing out that other materialists concentrated on other supposedly material phenomena.  It's stage magic, deception to dupe his audience to not notice something he doesn't want them to notice.

Bertrand Russell, in full polemical mode, is very good at covering up his frequently audacious dishonesty but you get the feeling he was always expecting a close reader to catch him, eventually - he was a pure mathematician, after all - and he wanted to be able to point out something to claim that he'd admitted what he obviously wanted a less careful reader to not notice as he swayed him to his preferred conclusion.  Especially when he, himself, knew what he wanted was unsupported by the actual evidence and rigorous consideration of the issues.   A really good example of how audacious he could be in a long stream of double-talk from later in the chapter

Treated as a practical approximation, not as an exact metaphysical law, the materialistic conception of history has a very large measure of truth. Take, as an instance of its truth, the influence of industrialism upon ideas. It is industrialism, rather than the arguments of Darwinians and Biblical critics, that has led to the decay of religious belief in the urban working class. At the same time, industrialism has revived religious belief among the rich. In the eighteenth century French aristocrats mostly became free-thinkers; now their descendants are mostly Catholics, because it has become necessary for all the forces of reaction to unite against the revolutionary proletariat. Take, again, the emancipation of women. Plato, Mary Wolstonecraft, and John Stuart Mill produced admirable arguments, but influenced only a few impotent idealists. The war came, leading to the employment of women in industry on a large scale, and instantly the arguments in favour of votes for women were seen to be irresistible. More than that, traditional sexual morality collapsed, because its whole basis was the economic dependence of women upon their fathers and husbands. Changes in such a matter as sexual morality bring with them profound alterations in the thoughts and feelings of ordinary men and women; they modify law, literature, art, and all kinds of institutions that seem remote from economics.

In piling on a large number of issues, not as real phenomena in real lives of real people living in communities within countries or in any detail but as icons, as static tableaux or as Hogarth would have drawn them, chosen and distorted for polemical purposes, not in an honest attempt to understand them,  Russell is a good example of that style of argument and ideological advocacy.  It is totally dishonest, not infrequently appealing to reliably present superstitions and prejudice,  and you would expect someone with any regard for the idealized obligations of scientists to match their evidence to the phenomena in the physical world they are characterizing to do better at it.  But that scientific ideal is exactly what was broken down by the materialist - atheist hijacking of science for their ideological purposes, even as they performed the pantomime of elevating science to the position of ultimate authority with total potency.  That is ever more true as the complexity of what is treated with such atheist-scientistic polemics grows.

The fact of having huge amounts of the writings of many of the major figures in the recent past available, online, for free, in convenient, easily searchable form has had a radical effect on my opinion of many of them which I got from the presentation of them in secondary literature, often polemical as well.  The idea I maintained of some, like Emma Goldman, who I admired when mostly known to me by some well chosen, radically clipped aphorisms, has shattered completely upon reading a large amount of what they wrote.  She was hardly a great egalitarian, a great humanitarian, she was a rather vicious, entirely impractical, snobbish zealot and more than slightly blood thirsty.  When, at the end of her life, on seeing the rise of the Nazis, she asked some of her friends if she had wasted it on her insane, irrational and absurd anarchism, the only honest answer was that she had not only wasted it, her political irresponsibility had hurt the cause of workers and others.  Finding out that such a person could be an admirer of the proto-Nazi misogynist and ultimate denier of equality, Nietzsche, was an enormous shock to me and showed me how much of the lefty catechism I'd absorbed through the pseudo-lefties was complete bull shit.

The other major iconic figure of my youth and early middle-age to fall was Bertrand Russell who I now regard as a, perhaps, less violent but equally dishonest intellectual.  He was a far more subtle liar and hypocrite when he, so often, operated in that vein.  And most of his writing that was influential on the alleged left were exactly those things which were the most dishonest.  I see him as just being an especially skilled  practitioner of  the British-aristocratic style of social commentary,  a very traditional aristocratic style British polemicist of the kind who had a distaste for Christianity because it impinged on both their privileges and their preferred social and ideological expectations.  Not to say a dislike of anything but that which was materially advantageous, the real basis of that style.  As such he was one in a line of Russells of that sort.  He made the most of a show of noblesse oblige, as suited the aristocratic British artificial substitute for liberalism that the putrid, cruel or at least cold and horrible Fabians did and still practice.

I might take what Russell says about mathematics as authoritative, the rest of his stuff doesn't much stand up to close review and fact checking.  I think I mostly admired him for his opposition to nuclear weapons, one of major contributions of the hard sciences during his life time.  I'll grant him that much.

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