The Limits of Reason

And the kind of mind policing that is going on now would make the most ardent communists and Marxists blush. Bill Maher, someone whom I have no solid opinion about, did say something noteworthy recently, and it echoes what I have said in the past, which is that for liberals, diversity is fine except for a diversity of ideas. And this lack of diversity in ideas is then reflected in the mainstream media. As Noam Chomsky said: “Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media.” 

Reason also has its limits. The demand that all people have to think the same way and to be of one mind is an unreasonable and stupid demand, given that reality itself and its understanding go beyond any sort of reason. As Walter Lippmann wrote: “Until reason is subtle and particular, the immediate struggle of politics will continue to require an amount of native wit, force, and unprovable faith, that reason can neither provide nor control, because the facts of life are too undifferentiated for its powers of understanding. The methods of social science are so little perfected that in many of the serious decisions and most of the casual ones, there is as yet no choice but to gamble with fate as intuition prompts.” 

How does one explain the fact that support and sympathy for a former president charged with a crime actually grew after he was charged with a crime? So-called reason would assume that after someone is charged with a crime, support and sympathy for that person would diminish. Yet, the exact opposite happened, and this demonstrates the limits of reason which Lippmann had highlighted. And in reality, the problem is a complete disregard for public opinion by those in government and in the media. As Lippmann wrote: “But only rarely do newspapermen take the general public into their confidence. They will have to sooner or later.” And at some point, the people “will deal with the problem somehow, will deal with it badly.” 

Who is justified to curtail absolute liberty and to prevent individuals from forming opinions and expressing them? Once there is democracy and liberty in a society, who is justified to take it away from the people? Liberty also requires tolerance and an “indifference” to the opinions and views which are being formed and expressed in a democratic society. As Lippmann wrote: “If widespread tolerance of opposing views is to be achieved in modern society, it will not be by fighting [cases] through the courts, and certainly not by threatening to upset those courts if they do not yield to the agitation. The task is fundamentally of another order, requiring other methods and other theories.” 

And who is the proper judge of things when things have gotten as complicated as they have gotten in recent times? What reigns currently is confusion, along with “no end of derangement, misunderstanding, and even misrepresentation.” And as many experts, practitioners, and veterans of international affairs have already pointed out and have suggested, in a democratic society like ours, the people are the ultimate judges and sovereign, and it is the people who will ultimately have to steer the course of the country’s political and social process. In turn, only the people can overcome the credibility and legimitacy crisis which has befuddled and plagued the system in recent years and in turn has caused the confusion, misunderstanding, and the smoke and mirrors which ultimately only the people are capable of clearing and overcoming. There is no better judge and sovereign than the people, and it is usually the case that when political and social change and progress takes place, it first takes place amongst the people and then governments are slow to catch up with the people. And as Confucius said, when the support of the people is lost, the kingdom is lost. 

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