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Pragmatism and Totalitarianism

Who would be the better antidote to totalitarianism: a defender of objectivity, individualism, and private property, or John Dewey, the defender of the pragmatist brand of subjectivism (he calls “experience”), collectivism (he calls “new individualism”), and the abolition of private property (he calls “freedom”)?

Dewey, who could write:

“Natural rights and natural liberties exist only in the kingdom of mythological social zoology.” (Liberalism and Social Action, 1935, page 17.)

“[We must abandon] our ingrained habit of regarding intelligence as an individual possession and its exercise as an individual right.” (The same, page 65.)

“I ... affirm that the term ‘pragmatic’ means only the rule of referring all thinking, all reflective considerations, to consequences for final meaning and test.  Nothing is said about the nature of the consequences;  they may be esthetic, or moral, or political, or religious in quality  anything you please.” (Essays in Experimental Logic, 1916, page 330.)

“Insistence that the use of violent force is inevitable limits the use of available intelligence ... .  Commitment to inevitability is always the fruit of dogma;  intelligence does not pretend to know save as a result of experimentation ... . (Liberalism and Social Action, 1935, page 78.)

“No ends are accomplished without the use of force.  It is consequently no presumption against a measure, political, international, jural, economic, that it involves a use of force.  Squeamishness about force is the mark not of idealistic but moonstruck morals.” (Character and Events, 1929, page 787.)

Dewey is not talking about defending yourself from force initiated by others, e.g., the American Revolutionary War against King George, or destroying terrorist governments.  The context is setting up his ideal social system:  a socialist state.

In earlier articles we’ve seen ample evidence that Dewey’s philosophy is the theoretical basis of tyranny.  With all his talk about democracy, he is the advisor of dictators.

The Nationalsozialismusarbeiterspartei  the National Socialist Democratic Worker’s Party  Nazis for short  took advantage of the anti-reason ideas in the German cultural atmosphere put there by Kant, Hegel, and Marx.  Dewey differs in some technical details from these philosophers, but the essence is much the same.