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The Meeting of the Dons

The meeting of the Dons, from “The Godfather”

I like to keep up with what’s happening over at Heterodox Academy (HxA).  I often leave heartfelt, but I like to think well argued, comments on their blog posts.

There’s a terrific blog post over there in which social scientists examine in excruciating detail the veracity of practically every statement and topic within Damore’s Google memo. It’s possibly the most commented on essay on the site. 

Here’s what bothers me.

The intellectual environment at HxA reminds me of that of the meeting of the Dons in The Godfather, in which a group of mature, thoughtful, sensitive, businessmen rationally discussing their problems, coming to a consensus about the nature of them, and agreeing on how to proceed.

But here’s the thing.  The Dons never talk about the elephant in the room; that the businesses they run are murderous organized crime syndicates.

I’m not for one instant suggesting that HxA are mafia kingpins so don’t even go there.

But I am suggesting that they’re not talking about the elephant in the room.

At the risk of being perceived as an “angry polemicist” or a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist I’ll tell you what I think is the elephant in the room at HxA.

The leftist righteous mind.

It’s true that many of the things that cause partisan rancor are common to everyone; Haidt’s first and third principles of moral psychology, for example, and the Argumentative Theory of reasoning, which shows that “reason is for winning, not truth finding.”

But cognitive style and moral matrix are NOT common to everyone. The epistemic certainty of the cognitive style of globalist, rationalist, three-foundation Platonic idealism of John Lennon’s “Imagine” is for all practical purposes THE defining trait of the leftist righteous mind, whereas the right tends to be defined by the epistemic humility of the cognitive style of the all-foundation parochial, holistic, Aristotelian empiricism.

The leftist righteous mind has brought us practically every single violent, oppressive scheme from the French Revolution to Communism to Fascism, to Nazism, to Antifa; all in the name of “fairness,” “equality,” “tolerance,” the “good society” and the “new man.”  

The leftist righteous mind is the source of the vast majority of the internal problems facing Western Culture today. Do we parse the hell out of THAT like we do the Damore memo?


We studiously ignore it like the meeting of the Dons.


5 thoughts on “The Meeting of the Dons

  1. Except for the fact that left quadrant of the political spectrum in the United States is deeply split on globalism, rationalism is far from the norm on the left, practically nobody would know Platonic idealism if it hit them in the face…

    …and you haven’t paid much attention to American politics if you think there is a large politically powerful group that has ever been very connected to reality enough to be holistic, empirical or hold onto epistemic humility.


    Posted by Shot of Reality (@Shot_of_Reality) | August 21, 2017, 1:03 pm
  2. My friend, I agree with your every word… but one. The Nazis were not egalitarians. They did not justify their pogroms and military expansionism “in the name of ‘fairness,’ ‘equality,’ ‘tolerance,’ the ‘good society’ and the ‘new man.’” They did so in the name of supremacy and the belief in their racial superiority and the prerogatives it allowed them, as they saw it. Nazism has a convoluted relationship to modernity and in particular to idealism. It’s a distortion of the Platonic ideals indeed, of the Forms, in which the Forms become their own Forms, the Forms of the Aryan as the ultimate Form of Truth and Right. But this is not a rationalist movement primarily. It is an ecstatic, emotive and herd-driven mass lunacy. It share mass lunacy collectivism with the Left, but the collective in the case of Nazism was the Volk, and not the whole of humanity. The Volk would attempt to carve out of the whole as much of it as they could or deemed necessary/possible to carve. It was relentless and insane like Leftism, but it dd not fly under the banner of “equality” or “fairness.” This is precisely why, despite the fact that it killed less people than those mass murderers of communism did, it is nevertheless more despised than them, by far.

    Otherwise, great post. On target all the way, except for this unfortunate inclusion.


    Posted by michaelrectenwald | August 20, 2017, 4:18 pm
    • This is a huge compliment. Thank you.

      I understand your point.

      I may need to refine my position, or maybe offer a clearer explanation of it.

      The inclusion of Nazism comes less from the the point of view of the rationales you describe and more from the perspective of what I call the psychological profile behind them. For support, I fall back on Thomas Sowell’s discussions of the role of knowledge and reason, for example here, and here, and what I see as a parallel between that thinking and that of Plato described by Arthur Herman in his book The Cave and the light:

      Despite their differences, Plato and Aristotle agreed on many things. They both stressed the importance of reason as our guide for understanding and shaping the world. Both believed that our physical world is shaped by certain eternal forms that are more real than matter. The difference was that Plato’s forms existed outside matter, whereas Aristotle’s forms were unrealiziable without out it. (p. 61)

      The twentieth century’s greatest ideological conflicts do mark the violent unfolding of a Platonist versus Aristotelian vie of what it means to be free and how reason and knowledge ultimately fit into our lives (p.539-540)

      Nazism is a hot button issue, what I’ve called a sacred sin, any use of it seems to turn off rational thinking. But maybe that’s precisely why we SHOULD talk about it, examine it, understand it, and its origins.

      If we as a culture promise each other to “never forget,” I think it’s imperative that we have a clear understanding of what it is.

      I may be wrong about Nazism. But for now I’m leaving it in with the others.

      Liked by 1 person

      Posted by The Independent Whig | August 20, 2017, 4:32 pm
      • Yes, by no means should you alter the original post based upon my comment. If it’s your conviction, by all means, stand by it. I by no means meant to cast any moral aspersions on the use or inclusion. I would never intentionally employ shaming tactics to “win” an argument, like the SJWs I so deplore. My point was not meant as anything like a taboo-enforcing statement. I would never do that. Cheers, mate. I really appreciate your work.


        Posted by michaelrectenwald | August 20, 2017, 4:38 pm
      • No worries. I did not in the least take it that way.

        In fact the opposite, I appreciate it. You gave me some actual meat to chew on, as opposed to many responses to this sort of thing which are little more than hate mail.

        Besides, if I’m going to be this blunt and expect others to have thick skin about it then my own skin has to be able to take the responses. If I’m going to put myself in this kitchen then I better be able to take the heat.

        Also, if I’m going to stand behind my overall thesis and/or adapt it to new/better information it has to be able to explain things like Nazism.

        Thanks again.

        Liked by 1 person

        Posted by The Independent Whig | August 20, 2017, 4:46 pm

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