My Time Among the Savages of the Left
Yesterday I mentioned that Chagnon seems a little naive about the uncommonly rotten core of academia, but how many people realized what was going on there in 1966? The notion of a left-wing takeover of academia would have been regarded as either 1) paranoid, or 2) about time!
So, Chagnon innocently presented his academically incorrect findings about the violent and girl-crazed Yanomamö. Afterwards, the colleague presented him with an offer he would be ill-advised to refuse: "You shouldn't say things like that. People will get the wrong impression."
Excuse me? I thought this was a university. Aren't we engaged in a search for truth? (Those are my words. Well, almost. What I would really want to say is bitch please. Don't make me go all Yanomamö on you.)
"We shouldn't say that native people have warfare and kill each other. People will get the wrong impression" (Professor I.M. O'Toole).
That's political correctness in a nutshell: it always revolves around a revealed, gnostic, a priori truth that is not to be questioned. One may deduce other truths from it, but one is not permitted to make empirical observations that lead inductively to a conclusion that challenges the alpha dogma at the top. Do that, and you're barking up the wrong tree and consigned to the doghouse, as Chagnon would soon enough find out.
And who are these "people" who are susceptible to the "wrong ideas?" I suppose it is the LoFos who are supposed to believe as told by the academic priesthood. Which is another irony, because this surely resembles what the left always says about, say, the Galileo affair. Let's leave aside the fact that they never discuss what actually happened, but have instead constructed a self-congratulating myth about Speaking Truth to Power.
Using their own (albeit intellectually dishonest) terms, Chagnon is Galileo and Big Anthropology is the medieval church, terrified that its subjects might question its dogmas. I mean, one question tends to lead to another, as in the Global Warming scandal.
Nowadays the left's power is so complete that a Chagnon would simply not be allowed to rise up among the rank and foul. Using an analogy from my field, imagine a naive graduate student who was truly curious about the settled science of homosexuality. Well, first of all, curiosity is precisely what is not permitted by the academically correct, so you'll have to indulge me.
This graduate student decides to do some original fieldwork by living amongst homosexuals in, say, San Francisco or West Hollywood. She has no preconceptions or biases, but is simply there to blend in and record her empirical observations about their attitudes, customs, and behaviors.
Upon her return, she is asked to give a lecture on her findings before an introductory psychology class. Maybe she even has careful and extensive photographic documentation of her subjects, like the estimable Ms. Zombie.
It's difficult to imagine her receiving a comment as gentle as "You shouldn't show things like that. People will get the wrong impression." Rather, she'd probably have to be escorted off campus through a gauntlet of rock-throwing primitives.
The lesson here is that the evidence of your eyes might contradict the dogma of the Church of Liberalism, and if your eyes offend us, then you'd better pluck them out before we do.
There's so much I want to say about this subject, but one of the supreme ironies here is that the academic left is exactly in the position of another of their mythological demons, the dreaded Creationists.
As with the Galileo incident, the left has systematically distorted the Scopes "Monkey Trial" in order to forge another foundational, self-serving myth. For in point of fact, as explained, for example, in Siegel's excellent Revolt Against the Masses, this was by no means a simplistic debate between Enlightened Science and religious yahoos.
The whole thing was a contrivance from the start, but if anything, the lawyer chosen to represent the prosecution, William Jennings Bryan, was a populist man of the left who was deeply concerned about the cultural, economic, and political implications of a doctrine that reduced man to an animal and revolved around "a merciless law by which the strong crowd out the weak." For him, naked Darwinism, shorn of any higher ethic, represented "a license for unbridled capitalism."
So, "the irony of the Scopes trial," writes Siegal, is "that it led liberals to tag Bryan, who was in many ways a proto-New Dealer, as a 'right wing authoritarian.'"
Conversely, an A.L. Mencken -- "the rabidly anti-democratic and sometimes anti-Semitic supporter of eugenics who admired both the Kaiser and 1930s Germany" -- would be regarded as a champion of liberalism for his passionate support of iconoclastic Darwinism -- that is to say, not Darwinism as science, but Darwinism as general philosophy (which it obviously can never be, except for Nazis and other Progressives).
Now fast-forward to the 1980s and '90s. One of the main issues that made Chagnon a demon of the left is the suggestion that man isn't an infinitely malleable blank slate, able to be bent, crushed, or mutilated into any form by the state.
Rather, there are these things called genes and this thing called human nature. Thus, he came face to farce with the "widespread biophobia built into cultural anthropological theory, which results in deep suspicion and contempt for biological ideas."
Now, if man is what he is, then there's not much the state can do about it (well, maybe abortion and other forms of eugenics). Thus, apologists for statism must attack any idea suggesting that man has a nature. Therefore, they accuse their adversaries of being apologists "for almost everything hateful in the history of Homo sapiens: wars, fascism, racism, colonialism, capitalism, eugenics, elitism, genocide, etc."
Or in other words, like Bryan in the Scopes trial, they can't object to the science, but rather, the ideological implications of the science. Ironically, natural selection is under attack from two equally misinformed sides, the Christian fundamentalists and the cultural Marxism of institutional anthropology.
Conversely, the Catholic Church, for example, has no issue with natural selection, so long as it is kept in perspective and integrated into the totality of human knowledge. I mean, all truth comes -- must come -- from God, so the more the merrier. Let it all in. The religious, of all people, shouldn't be afraid of the Light -- including any light that natural selection may shed on the human condition.
One more irony. A cultural Marxist is obviously a materialist. But wait -- isn't a metaphysical Darwinian also a materialist? So, why are the materialists at each others' throats? Well, it seems that the materialism of the anthropologists is a "biology free" materialism. Which is a strange materialism, being that man is composed of biological material. Not to mention psycho-pneumatic material.
But their materialism is refracted through the prism of postmodernism, whereby "'truth' and 'facts' are merely subjective categories, ideological constructs, inventions of the subjective observer. Science and the scientific method are viewed by these cultural anthropologists with skepticism, suspicion, and even disdain."
Indeed, even "the very notion that the external world had an existence independent of its observer was challenged." In this ideological darklight, science becomes an exploitive ideology "designed to keep the poor, the disenfranchised, ethnic minorities, and women in subordinate social positions" (Chagnon).
So it wasn't that Chagnon's science was wrong. As in the Scopes trial, that is utterly beside the point. Rather, if you contradict the truth of the left, then you are denounced as a "racist, sexist, biological determinist" (ibid). Denunciation and slander displace reason and evidence.
Which anyone who has spent time among the savages of the left already knows.