The revolution must be beaten; do the math

Posted by Jimmy Minnish on July 8, 2020 under Links | Be the First to Comment

A teacher named Brittany Marshall recently tweeted, “The idea of 2 + 2 equaling 4 is cultural and because of western imperialism/colonization, we think of it as the only way of knowing.”

She describes herself, among other things, as a “scholar,” a “social justice change agent,” and as a “wannabe math person” and notes her undying adherence to Black Lives Matter.

Let’s set aside her poor punctuation — most of us sin in that way on Twitter — and assume that “wannabe” is a token of genuine (and appropriate) modesty. What remains is her idea that math is a cultural phenomenon, which she doubtless shares with many another teacher and with her classroom pupils.

That two plus two might equal five or any sum other than four has been used to exemplify obvious falsehood for centuries, notably by Winston Smith, the protagonist of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, wondering what lies his totalitarian government might oblige people to say they believe.

The Angela Merkel fallacy

We should thank Marshall for rejecting circumlocution and getting to the core of social justice thinking, which is that facts have no weight, words mean whatever the right people say they mean, and logic won’t be allowed to derail society’s transition to left-wing utopia.

I’m fond of the idea that math is merely logic. As many of us learned painfully in grade school, it is articulated in various complicated formulae. But these were discovered rather than invented. They always existed as a matter of logic and needed only to be worked out. Their truth did not depend on man turning his attention to them or expressing them in specialized notation. Math cannot be changed because we’d prefer a different answer. Logic is compelling. Thus, the old brain teaser about whether even God, though omnipotent, could make two and two add up to anything but four.

The political argument that logic is circumstantial and dependent on culture is not new. It was deployed, for example, in the 1990s when Tokyo sought to resist Washington’s effort to open the Japanese market to American goods. (This was in the good old days when Washington was in favor of free trade and the rise of Japan was thought to be a threat.) When American negotiators pointed out the illogic in some Japanese protectionism, one retort was that logic was a Western phenomenon and that it was a form of imperialism to try and impose it on a foreign culture. To which, I recall, one rejoinder was that Japanese manufacturers were happy to deploy logic when building ships, cars, or stereos. Try building them using math in which two plus two equals five, and you will engineer only dysfunction and disaster.

Dysfunction and disaster are what today’s social revolution in America will produce (and is indeed already producing) as it consciously displaces reason with the caprices of cultural consciousness. Our universities, once the best in the world, are becoming institutions of propaganda, often rejecting real education because it stands in the way of the academy’s agenda. Two and two may not be allowed to equal four if the totalitarian goal is to reach five.

One and a half millennia ago, monasteries preserved the ancient scholarship of Christendom after Goths and Vandals overran the Latin half of the Roman Empire. Monks traveled throughout Europe and beyond gathering volumes of man’s accumulated knowledge, copying it, and keeping it safe against the return of those who valued real learning. But modern universities, which grew out of religious houses or were modeled on them, are increasingly devoted not to preserving scholarship but to destroying it.

Many graduates are not educated people but politically indoctrinated obscurantists. And because the obscurantism of their cultural studies is all about power politics, these graduates are politically hyperactive — to everybody’s detriment.

Students who’ve paid scores or hundreds of thousands of dollars and massively indebted themselves to acquire their “learning” have a strong vested interest in refusing to acknowledge that their education is trash. It’s as difficult to accept the theory of sunk cost in this area of life as in any other.

The sunk cost theory demands that you start from where you are. Who of us on the side of civilization and the perpetuation of this great and good republic would start from where we are today? But we must. The Left’s march through our institutions has been a long one. Our march back, retaking and restoring, preserving and repairing, will be equally long. It needs to start today.


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