When we come together to discuss the problems of our world, their solutions and the means by which we can achieve these ends, it is often that emotions come to the forefront. This is understandable, since it is impossible to demand that someone engage in discussion of world-defining subjects without having strong feelings about the subject matter. When we bother to express an opinion or articulate a perspective, it is inevitable that we must care at some level, whether it is at the level of the issue discussed or the way in which it is being discussed.
We are motivated to action for reasons that are both rational and scientific, or emotionally, and when we combine our passions with reason and method, we place ourselves in the best position to understand our world and change it.
However, anyone who follows political or philosophical discourse knows that emotion and reason are not always in synthesis. In political and philosophical debates, it is not hard to find people who make arguments based purely in emotion, and as a result, go to extreme lengths and to the polar opposite of reason to defend their emotional convictions. There is no reasoning with such people in this position, and to become one of these people has the potential to both discredit yourself and the things which you uphold.
The reason for this is that those who argue purely through emotion only have emotion to back up their positions. Their analysis, the method they utilize to understand the world is as fueled by emotion as their rhetoric, and as a result, both their analysis and their arguments fall flat, since the virtues of neither of these things can be vindicated in the material sense. Analysis that is tainted by emotionalism is wrong, because it ignores material reality in favor of a “reality” more suited to the emotions of the analyst.
A Christmas Metaphor
In order to illustrate the problems with emotional analysis, let’s examine a cultural custom involving magic and mysticism that children, even in the modern era, are taught to believe in while their parents know better: Santa Claus.
Santa Claus, a portly old philanthropist who uses magic and flying reindeer to deliver gifts to the world’s children by breaking into homes all over Earth in one evening, is not real. Nevertheless, young children are bombarded with his image and are told fables about his exploits — even being told that “if you believe he is real, then he is real!” — with what seems to be the whole of society in on the joke. Even NORAD is in on it, putting on an entertainment program wherein they pretend to monitor Santa’s magical flying sleigh.
Yet despite the lengths at which our society goes to advance this lie, children eventually have to learn that there is no Santa Clause. For some, this is a traumatic experience, and for others, the subterfuge surrounding the Santa mythos leads the child to question Santa’s existence in the first place.
For our example, however, let’s put forward the hypothetical child who, through emotional attachment to the Santa Claus mythos, refuses to surrender the idea that Santa is real. Imagine such a person who dedicates many hours of their life arguing for Santa’s existence, and probably cites some kind of vast “conspiracy against Christmas” that has caused Santa to have to retreat to where he can neither be seen nor contacted. This person might picket mall Santas with signs saying “IMPOSTER!,” end up on surveillance lists for repeated threatening letters to NORAD for their cover-up (or even imprisonment of the true Santa) and through it all is known to bellow “I believe in Santa! My belief makes him real!”
For this hypothetical person, reason is gone, and material reality is merely a window dressing for the world he has invented for himself. Rather than basing his world-view on what is, and adapting his emotional desires for a kinder, friendlier, more charitable world to the one that exists around him, as a reasonable person might, their emotional metaphysics renders them impossible to move in the direction of what they desire. Their ranting and raving will not make Santa exist, will not make the world any better for their effort and will alienate everyone around them from what the person is saying.
Emotional Delusion’s Today: Modern “Socialist” China and other Illusions
Similar delusions to this one are commonplace in politics and philosophy, though in order to better illustrate this problem as it pertains to the contemporary left, more egregious examples of religious fundamentalism, reactionary nationalism and chauvinism will not be the main focus of our work. Rather, within the left, there are political trends which found themselves on an emotionally informed perception of the world while neglecting theory, rationality and objective, material reality. One example of this that is particularly prevalent within certain left-wing circles is the notion that contemporary China is a socialist society.
Yes, these people exist, and they aren’t the same people who believe Obama and Western Europe are “socialist.” Certain individuals and organizations argue that China is functioning under “market socialism” as a means of building themselves up economically to perfect socialism in their society. These people, while they advance this position, revise Marxist-Leninist theory in order to define a capitalist society — where the means of production are privately owned, where the Chinese “Communist” Party is composed of billionaires and corporate titans, where labor is socialized but workers are exploited and left in poverty — as “socialist,” therefore deliberately redefining both terms and divorcing them from the material realities they seek to define.
Even the bourgeoisie, who live to seek out and destroy any attempt at the construction of socialism, acknowledge that the PRC is capitalist, with 97 of the 153 members of the World Trade organization recognizing their “free market” status, and many capitalist countries happily trading with China and making billions off of the labor Chinese workers. While China and Russia both occasionally block the ambitions of the United States and their allies in the international arena, China abstained from the resolution against Libya, and acknowledged the reactionary National Transitional Council as legitimate while the rebels continued a pogrom against blacks in Libya.
China and Russia, when they oppose the U.S., don’t do so out of “proletarian internationalism” or “anti-imperialism.” China has 115 billionaires and the number of Chinese millionaires has increased, while the lot in life for most Chinese workers remains stagnant. In China, the means of production are owned by private hands who reap private benefits from the surplus value of workers — this is the very definition of a capitalist system. If any reader has doubts, they should examine the hyperlinks following the article and attempt to apply reason to this reality.
It is very easy to demonstrate the capitalist nature of contemporary China, yet to certain people, no amount of proof will ever be enough. The reason is that, in the name of their emotional conviction, they have made the decision to close off all doubt and critical analysis concerning the possibility that China may not be socialist. The reason for this isn’t too difficult to understand; the idea that there is a country with some 1.3 billion people in it that exists as a surviving bastion of socialism is comforting to someone who would give nearly anything to see socialism in their society. Yet, because of this delusion concerning a modern-day capitalist country, the theoretical tools for understanding both capitalism and socialism have been abandoned in favor of weak excuses attempting to conceal the obvious. The irony here is that such “socialists” are abandoning any chance of being able to achieve socialism for the security-blanket of a “socialism” that doesn’t exist!
Our World is Material; How Humans Feel Does Not Change It
The thing that these people haven’t realized, and need to, is that China is going to be what it is economically and politically whether they like it or not. No amount of emotional desire without material action will change the world — simply redefining things in order to make something seem like something that it is not will not create any significant change. To uphold this view is to be a postmodernist whose forte is self-deception.
Emotionalist perspectives encourage warped and incorrect views of the world. The same force that compels people to believe that China is socialist is also the same force which backs absurd theories such as astrology, lucky coins and rabbit-feet, other superstitious traditions, and even more reactionary and menacing theories such as race theory and the “Z.O.G.” (an acronym meaning Zionist Occupied Government, meaning the shadow rule of the whole world by secret Jewish autocratic bankers — a concept central to Nazi thought). People believe these things not because they have proof in the material sense of their validity, but because they want to believe them on an emotional level, and this is dangerous.
Conclusion: Emotion has its Place, But the Science Must Rule
Rather than attempting to convey our emotional opinions to anyone who will hear until we are blue in the face, in order to achieve the ends we desire to see in the world, we must discipline ourselves in our outlook and analysis. Emotions have their place, but not in our analysis and in our arguments. If we allow them to infiltrate these areas, we inhibit our own understandings and undermine our own positions. The things we want are material, therefore we must use methods to understand and reach them materially, not simply in our own minds.
Rather, we should endeavor to work as scientists would as they search for the cures for epidemic diseases. While the scientist may have their own biases, experiences and emotions connected with diseases, they don’t let those feelings interfere with their work. Rather than emotionally invest in arguing that a certain placebo is actually the cure, they must work systematically and objectively to find what the real cure is, since the cure to the disease lies within the material realm. We must do the same as we struggle against capitalism and bourgeois domination, and it is also the reason that we struggle against revisionist and emotionalist ideas that cloud our abilities to find the truth and determine how we act.