Doublethink

From George Orwell’s 1984, doublethink is the concept that one can hold two contradictory opinions to be true. From the novel, the government would proffer that “WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”

I’m concerned that our communal sensemaking apparatus is failing to purge similar ideas from the public domain. I intend to collect examples here as I recognize them.

Identity Politics

Racial Identity Politics

  • Identity is a construct so you can change your sex, AND identity is a biological reality so you cannot change your race.
    • Such as support for transgenderism and disdain of transracialism (i.e. Rachel Dolezal).
    • This problem is amplified the fact that there is significantly more biological justification for sex to be static than there is for race.
  • Race and culture are inextricably linked, AND race and culture are not inextricably linked.
    • The former is exemplified in the claim that cultural appropriation is bad because that culture should be reserved for those of that race. The latter is used to discount the positive contributions of European enlightment to discount predominantly white progress.
  • Racism is prejudice plus power, AND empowered minorities who are prejudiced are still not racist.
  • Racism is prejudice based on skin color, racism is bad, AND prejudiced views against white people or for the benefit of minorities is good (or at least acceptable).
    • This could be like the 2020 Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone specifically banning white people from one of it’s parks, to relatively more innocuous examples of affirmative action. Essentially—it’s okay to be racist in the name of anti-racism. Rather than restorative justice, sometimes this contradiction can devolve into retributive justice.
  • We ought specifically celebrate minority history months, AND we ought not celebrate minority history months because doing so situates “white history” as the default narrative.
    • The latter view is taken by Critical Race Theorists like Robin DiAngelo in White Fragility.

Sexual Identity Politics

  • Men and women are equals or should be treated as equals, AND women are better than men.
    • Referencing any number of female empowerment memes that amplify those areas where women excel compared to men as a means of describing them as superior.
  • Women should have equitable representation in the fields that generally cater to men’s interests (engineering, math, military, etc.), AND men should not be treated as the default sex.
    • Women generally prefer more sociable fields. Nobody is insisting that we need more men in nursing, teaching, public relations, social work, or veterinary medicine. That some insist that women ought to be taking over certain predominantly male-interest fields is to treat men’s preferences as the default to which women should model their careers. I first heard this argument from Helen Pluckrose in The Grievance Studies Affair (00:03:55).
  • Men and women are not biological realities but social constructs, AND men and women need to biologically alter themselves to become the other sex.
    • If it’s just a social construct, why are hormones and surgeries needed?
  • Trans women are real women, AND trans women are not real women.
    • As illustrated in the LGBT versus TERF divide.

Morality

  • The progressive belief that morality is subjective, AND we ought judge our founding fathers, Churchill, conservatives, and others according to progressive standards.
    • The latter must obviously illustrated in the vandalization and tearing down of statues of once-revered people—such as George Washington, Ulysses S. Grant, and more.
  • Western countries are the worst because of how they oppress minorities, AND non-Western countries that are far more oppressive are somehow better or less in need of social critique.
    • People will heavily critique America for the insufficiency of progress on gay or women’s rights, for example, but will fail to levy the same judgment at far less progressive countries in the Middle East, Africa, or Asia.

Public Policy

  • The problem with gun violence is the guns, AND the problem with police gun violence is the police.
    • This may be an uncharitable interpretation—as most strident gun-reform advocates would (assumingly) not discount that murderers are still a problem. But the emphasis on the tool versus emphasis on the actor is still different in each case.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, that open-the-economy, pro-Trump, or other protests were unacceptable and unsafe, AND that the 2020 BLM protests (at dramatically increased scale) were acceptable and safe.