Progressivism is intellectualism for stupid people.
As I listen to the baseless, moronic yammering of progressive postmodernist “scholars”, I am reminded of two people – early computer software pioneer Chip Morningstar and Soviet agronomist Trofim Lysenko.
In 1993, Morningstar wrote an article about his first adventure with postmodernism and deconstructionism titled “How to Deconstruct Almost Anything – My Post-Modern Adventure”. In it, he chronicles how he and an associate presented a paper at the Second International Conference on Cyberspace in 1991 and ran headlong into what, 25 years later, has become what is considered “intellectual” in academia today.
Morningstar notes, “The things they said were largely incomprehensible. There was much talk about deconstruction and signifiers and arguments about whether cyberspace was or was not “narrative”. There was much quotation from Baudrillard, Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard, Saussure, and the like, every single word of which was impenetrable. I’d never before had the experience of being quite this baffled by things other people were saying. I’ve attended lectures on quantum physics, group theory, cardiology, and contract law, all fields about which I know nothing and all of which have their own specialized jargon and notational conventions. None of those lectures were as opaque as anything these academics said. But I captured on my notepad an astonishing collection of phrases and a sense of the overall tone of the event.
So, what is a cheeky software developer to do? Why, he and his associate jotted down a list of the nonsensical phases and put together their own presentation, which they delivered:
“The next day I stood up in front of the room and opened our presentation with the following:
The essential paradigm of cyberspace is creating partially situated identities out of actual or potential social reality in terms of canonical forms of human contact, thus renormalizing the phenomenology of narrative space and requiring the naturalization of the intersubjective cognitive strategy, and thereby resolving the dialectics of metaphorical thoughts, each problematic to the other, collectively redefining and reifying the paradigm of the parable of the model of the metaphor.
This bit of nonsense was constructed entirely out of things people had actually said the day before, except for the last ten words or so which are a pastiche of Danny Kaye’s “flagon with the dragon” bit from The Court Jester, contributed by our co-worker Gayle Pergamit, who took great glee in the entire enterprise. Observing the audience reaction was instructive. At first, various people started nodding their heads in nods of profound understanding, though you could see that their brain cells were beginning to strain a little. Then some of the techies in the back of the room began to giggle. By the time I finished, unable to get through the last line with a straight face, the entire room was on the floor in hysterics, as by then even the most obtuse English professor had caught on to the joke. With the postmodernist lit crit shit thus defused, we went on with our actual presentation.”
We were evidently smarter in 1991 because today, Morningstar would never have gotten past the “nodding their heads in nods of profound understanding”.
The second person is perhaps less known but had a huge historical impact.
Most people are at least aware of the Holodomor, the Stalin era famine in Ukraine that ultimately took an estimated 20 million lives, but few know that was just the beginning. Famines continued in post-WWII Soviet Russia and in Mao’s China, largely due to the “settled science” based policies of Trofim Lysenko. See, Lysenko and Stalin had somewhat of a bromance going on, and as such, Lysenko increased his influence and power as he rose within the government, ultimately becoming director of the Institute of Genetics within the USSR’s Academy of Sciences.
But there was one real problem – Lysenko’s theories had no actual basis in science. He rejected genetic science based on the findings of Gregor Mendel because they were too reactionary or idealist. Lysenko did not believe genes or DNA existed. Noted British biologist S. C. Harland opined Lysenko was “completely ignorant of the elementary principles of genetics and plant physiology”.
Mao adopted Lysenko’s “science” in 1958, an act leading directly to the Great Chinese Famine that lasted from 1959 to 1962.
All in all, Lysenko’s “science” contributed to the deaths of an estimated 30-40 million people in the Soviet Union and China.
And yet, because Lysenko tailored his “science” to satisfy his masters, his failures were overlooked and he accumulated enough power to imprison, execute or starve to death anyone who disagreed with him, most notably Nikolai Vavilov, a former mentor, whom starved to death in prison in 1943. It should come as no surprise, that Lysenko’s influence and power declined significantly after Stalin died in 1953 and it was safe to say that Lysenko’s purges and pseudo-science had set Soviet biology and agronomy back a half century.
Those who know Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” will know what I mean when I say that virtually all contemporary philosophers are Dr. Simon Pritchett and virtually all contemporary academicians are Dr. Floyd Ferris. Rand was identifying classes of pseudo-intellectuals when she created these characters.
If any of this sounds familiar, it should – because this is our world. We live in the gobbledygook world Morningstar described combined with the politicized “listen to the settled science of the scientists” of Lysenkoism.