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“Food for Thought” is an original column appearing every other Tuesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by Norman Imberman. Norman is a retired podiatrist who loves playing piano, writing music, lawn bowling, bridge, reading, classical music, going to movies, plays, concerts and traveling. He is not a member of any social network, nor does he plan on becoming one. Archived columns can be found here. FFT-only RSS feed available here.
(Author’s note: I write this challenge specifically to liberals [progressives] only because they need to think about the ideas of this essay more than conservatives. It could just as well be entitled “a challenge to the left and the right,” since conservatives also need to be reminded of the ideas hereby presented. However, liberals need this lesson to a greater degree.)
In building any edifice of knowledge, whether it is in the field of physics, chemistry, aviation, politics or sociology, one must begin with a foundation of principles. You may ask, “What principles?” You may even ask, “What is a principle?” A principle is a fact or a truth about some aspect of nature or reality that is an absolute. (Believe it or not, there are some absolutes—not everything is relative). In fact the entire structure of knowledge is built upon absolutes, without which there would be no such thing as knowledge.
For example, in physics, Power is defined as Work divided by Time. In order to understand this simple equation, one must understand the meaning of the term Work because Work is used in the definition of Power. So let’s define Work, which is Force times Distance. To understand that simple equation, one must understand the word Force because Force is used in the definition of Work. Force is Mass times Acceleration. Now Mass and Acceleration need to be understood. Physicists start their edifice of knowledge with a clear understanding of Mass and Acceleration. I need not go any deeper since to go deeper would require a greater understanding of physics and is not required to make my point. The hierarchy of this explanation goes as follows:
- Mass (M) and Acceleration (A) exist. They are absolutes. Everything has Mass and when Mass goes from being stationary to being in motion, it Accelerates.
- F = M x A Force = Mass x Acceleration
- W = F x D Work = Force x Distance
- P = W/T Power = Work/Time
Notice that one word in the last equation is found in the preceding equation, which is found in its preceding equation until we arrive at the basic principles of the existence of Mass and Acceleration. In fact the above are examples of syllogisms. By agreeing with number 4, one needs to understand and accept all of the steps that precede it. Each step is dependent upon all of the other preceding steps. There is no allowance for wishful thinking or hope or prayer to arrive at these definitions and equations. They are all reality-based. The same is true of the study of geometry. It begins with the acknowledgement of the existence of certain axioms (observable truths). From this recognition further truths or corollaries are derived about the nature of reality. Geometry is an extremely useful discipline to teach young people because it shows the students how to properly use their minds, not just for the purpose of studying architecture or engineering, but to think in general, using the same hierarchy for the formulation of ideas in any field.
Now look at the study of the Social Sciences. I see no similar building blocks presented by liberals. Once in awhile I’ll hear an attempt at some pseudo-principle, which upon careful analysis is not a principle at all. It is always either a desire to attain a specific goal or a floating conclusion. Desires to attain specific goals are easy to understand. We all have such desires, but methods and conclusions must be based upon reality-based principles. All goals must have methods to attain those goals. Here is a major principle in this context: the methods cannot contradict the goals and the goals cannot contradict the methods, since the identification of a contradiction is indicative of an error. Errors must be corrected, by definition and implication, since errors result in failure. For example, most liberals espouse the desire to eliminate starvation (so do I), or the desire to end homelessness (so do I), or the desire to end poverty (so do I), or the desire to end unemployment (so do I). Those are admirable goals or desires, but they are not principles. The liberals then make one giant leap of sophistry and come to the conclusion that the methods that are necessary to achieve such goals is to forcibly take the wealth of those who earned it and hand it over to those who need it. What are the principles upon which they base their conclusions and methods to arrive at those goals? Liberals never offer any. They blank out.
I constantly look for valid analysis coming from liberals with whom I have discussions and all I hear are the following types of comments:
- “I am not interested in principles.”
- “My opinion is just as good as anybody else’s. Aren’t I entitled to my opinion?”
- “How can you be so cruel? Don’t you care about the plight of the poor and homeless?”
- “You talk about human nature. I don’t believe in human nature.”
- “Even though my liberal ideas contain contradictions, I don’t care.”
- “I know I’m right because it feels right or because some authority who I admire, says it is right.”
- “You talk about science but we are dealing with human beings with emotions. You can’t apply scientific principles to the study of sociology.”
I am not suggesting that anyone should use mathematical equations to predict human behavior, nor am I suggesting that human beings should be placed in categories and placed in neat little cubbyholes based upon their behavior. Our present social system however, does attempt to do that very thing. We citizens are considered to be like termites or bees whose DNA predetermines the role they play. Human society is not a termite mound or a beehive.
Another tactic used by liberals is the attempt to quote statistics in order to prove their position. Statistics can be made to prove almost anything. It is used by both the left and the right in most discussions and gets the participants nowhere, each claiming that the other’s statistics are false.
As far as statement (g) is concerned, it is exactly the failure to utilize a proper analytical hierarchy of ideas to create a science of sociology that is leading us on the road to Armageddon.
Liberals of the world, please build me a society based upon basic principles, where all of the principles and methods of applying those principles do not contradict each other, where reality-based basic principles are the building blocks of your creation.
If we agree that action A is true and we then talk about action B and it turns out that action B is the same thing as action A in principle, even though action B is described in different words, we must agree that action A and action B are equal or the same.
For example, one of the basic axioms of geometry is that “things equal to equal things are equal to each other.” That axiom doesn’t just apply to the field of geometry. It applies to all of nature and all ideas and all knowledge. For example, theft (action A) is defined by everyone as the taking of a person’s property without his/her permission and that theft is immoral or wrong. Therefore, if I break into your house and take your $5,000, I am committing an act of theft (action A) and it is wrong. By extension, if I give you permission to do the same thing to someone else (action B), it is still theft (“things equal to equal things are equal to each other”). By extension, if the entire nation gives me, or a group of people permission to forcibly take your $5,000 (action C), it is still theft and wrong. If the Mafia does it by extortion, isn’t it wrong and a punishable offense? What suddenly makes it an admirable humanitarian act when the government does it, even if it has the approval of the majority? How does the number of people who sanction and condone it change the principle (make it non-theft or non-extortion) and make it right?
The most important subject of study on the planet is Causality. It is extremely important that in order to understand any sociological phenomenon one must understand the Cause of that phenomenon. If one wants to understand things like Poverty, Starvation, Homelessness or Unemployment, one must study the Causes of those states of existence. If you want to eliminate poverty you need a Science of Poverty and a Science of its opposite, Wealth. If you want to eliminate scarcity you need a Science of Scarcity and a Science of its opposite, Abundance. If you want to eliminate unemployment you need a Science of job-creation.
My point has been made. Liberals, please build me a society where you start with basic principles, which have a hierarchy of principles that do not contradict any of the principles that precede them. It must contain non-contradictory development and must be consistent with human nature.
Karl Marx tried it but to no avail because he didn’t start with any principles. He started with wishes, conclusions and bogus ideas of causation. In fact, in his book, The Communist Manifesto, he outlined a ten-point program intended to establish Communism in any country that applied it. Those very programs are the nuts and bolts of the system we have in America today. Is it any wonder that we are headed for the scrapheap of history, just like the Soviet Union?