Originally posted by me at Cause of Liberty blog.
For millenia, logic (the ability to make step-by-step arguments and arrive at the same conclusion as another) was assumed to be a sound avenue for arriving at truth (an epistemology).
However, during the 19th and 20th centuries, this assumption fell into disfavor as society slowly replaced the pan-human capacity for reason with “group-think” ideologies that assume that different races and different socio-economic classes somehow have different “logics” (polylogism: multiple systems of logic).
Ludwig von Mises, in his magnum opus Human Action, describes this process as being a flanking maneuver by those who would wish to plan economies and societies. These “planners” from Rousseau to Marx had difficulty logically refuting the ideas of free market economics that seemed to always work to the degree they were implemented.
Thus they specifically attacked the free market (and by association the free government) ideas as “bourgeois” class logic, only useful for exploitation of the proletarian class and not universally true and applicable (again, to the degree implemented).
This contention by Marxian philosophy is rather ironic since Marx, Engels, and Lenin were all of the “bourgeois” class, but somehow developed proletarian logic that allowed them to “understand” the worker class logic and make decisions for them.
This idea that there are different “logics” depending on what socioeconomic class or nationality or religion or ethnic group one comes from eliminates the need for a human being to discuss ideas and attempt to understand another human.
In fact, according to this idea human beings lack the capacity to understand the way of thinking of another human being who is different in any of these arbitrarily classified ways.
How, then, is one to influence or bring another over to his way of seeing things? If logic and persuasion aren’t available to convince another or arrive at an understanding, we are left with force as the only method by which we can arrive at agreement with individuals or groups that see the world from a different point of view.
Force as a method of convincing, however, results in the following from Gulag Archipelago (WARNING: graphic verbal portrayal of disturbing acts):
“If the intellectuals in the plays of Chekhov who spent all their time guessing what would happen in twenty, thirty, or forty years had been told that in forty years interrogation by torture would be practiced in Russia; that prisoners would have their skulls squeezed within iron rings; that a human being would be lowered into an acid bath; that they would be trussed up naked to be bitten by ants and bedbugs; that a ramrod heated over a primus stove would be thrust up their anal canal (the “secret brand”); that a man’s genitals would be slowly crushed beneath the toe of a jackboot; and that, in the luckiest possible circumstances, prisoners would be tortured by being kept from sleeping for a week, by thirst, and by being beaten to a bloody pulp, not one of Chekhov’s plays would have gotten to its end because all the heroes would have gone off to insane asylums.”
While these consequences of class logic were occurring in Soviet Russia, nationalistic logic was creating another monster at the western border of the Slavic nations. Hitler was able to convince Germans that German logic and thinking was different (needless to say “superior” to) Jewish logic resulting in the horrors of the concentration camps and the Holocaust.
With pan-human logic disregarded and replaced with polylogism, the only way to deal with groups and individuals who disagree with one is to destroy them since there is no way to convince them of their “errors.”
What if, instead, we saw others as human beings, just like us? What if we assumed that they have the capacity to use the same mental processes to arrive at conclusions (logic) as we do?
What if we recognized that “others” are first human beings and thus are endowed, either by God or by nature, with the same things that make us human; with everything necessary to cooperate and co-exist with every other human being?
In what ways do we currently practice this logical fallacy of ideology? Do we see individuals of other nations, religions, ethnic groups or socioeconomic class as fundamentally different from us?
If so, we are laying the groundwork for a frightening future. The “Balkanization” of Europe is a direct consequence of polylogism and the problem is deepening and spreading.
Fighting the concept of ideology in our words and actions may, perhaps, be the most important battle in our desire for liberty, peace and prosperity.