Nominalism is a weapon

Suppose, in the future, the United Nations has nearly succeeded in making itself a world government.  Most people have learned to accept this, but there’s a minority in each country who want to maintain their own nation’s sovereignty.  These nationalists tout a well-articulated political philosophy whose central claim is the following proposition:  “The nation is the locus of political sovereignty.”  UN partisans hold a contrary belief, that sovereignty resides in the human race acting as a single collective.  Internationalists try debating the nationalists, but that goes nowhere.

Then they hit on an idea.  They control the media and academia.  That gives them power over words.  They redefine the word “nation” to mean “any corporate body that deliberates, makes decisions, and inspires loyalty.”  In particular, the public library board of Ithaca, New York is a nation, just like France or Brazil.  “No, it isn’t!” you say.  Well, that the hell is the matter with you, you bigot?  Have you got a problem with the Ithaca library board?  Love makes a nation, and who are you to say that the Ithaca librarians’ love for each other means less than the love of Mexicans for each other?  Most people can’t take the heat, and so they go along.  “I’m a moderate nationalist.  The more nations, the better!  Some of my best friends are Ithaca librarians.”

For the internationalists, the gain is incalculable.  Take any nationalist claim.  “The nation has ultimate sovereignty.”  So the Ithaca library board has ultimate sovereignty over its members?  “The nation has a right to maintain a standing army.”  Oh, really?  Well, Ithaca residents will be careful not to have any overdue library books, then.  Without making any arguments, the internationalists have rendered their enemies ridiculous.

If “love makes a family” and the State has no right to judge which loves are more worthy, then any group of people have a right to be considered married, or a family, or anything else they choose.  We conservatives say that stuff all the time, but what will the ultimate consequence be?  Once the liberals have debauched the word “marriage” to the point that it becomes meaningless, will they eventually discard the term, reasoning that there’s no need for government to be cognizant at all of a group of people with no distinct characteristics?  By no means!  Remember that the confusion caused by changing the meanings of words is not a regrettable side-effect; it’s the whole point.  Get rid of the word altogether, and the thing would still remain, but liberals would have lost a means of keeping people from thinking about it.  People are still bound to notice how babies are made:  it involves one man and one woman.  Not all groupings are equally interesting; this grouping of man, woman, and biological offspring stands out in a number of ways.  We may want to think about it.  What are the duties of each member of such a group to the other members?  How do these groups influence the common good?  Should the State be encouraging them, discouraging them, or be indifferent?  To think about these things, we need a word for what we’re talking about.  The liberals are working very hard to take this away.  They don’t do it by taking the words away–do that, and we’d just coin new ones.  They do it by attaching unrelated meanings to the existing words.  First, they grouped together real marriages with the concubinage practiced by the libertines, who never imagine that they have indissolvable bonds to their spouses.  Now, the liberals are on campaign to group together sodomitical and polygamous groupings with real marriages.  The fight is always about words.  The liberal’s one goal is to make sure that there’s no word that singles out the natural family.

If “family” can mean any group of people momentarily living under one roof, if “parent” is a legal fiction granted by the State, then social conservative positions become absurd, or rather they cannot be stated at all.  “The father holds ultimate authority over his children.”  Ridiculous, if “father” just means “any of the men with whom the mother is currently sleeping” or “any adult male role model” or “anyone assigned by the State to watch over these kids”.  “The parents should control a child’s education.”  How can one argue for this, if the word “parent” can mean anything?  “Sex outside of marriage is wrong.”  How can marriage legitimate anything without a distinct nature of its own?

6 Responses

  1. Instead of “nominalism”, better to use term reductio ad absurdum”.

    Most ,if not all, ideas proposed by “liberals” (better term is- radical left progressives) are paralogisms. Take for example term “family”, which have specific meaning (almost everywhere throughout history) and it means legal union of man and woman. When you change definition of some term so that it could mean anything, you basically have self-contradiction term which, in logical sense, is absurdity and have no meaning. Insisting on term without meaning is pure insanity.

    For example, sign “1” means “one”. Using liberal sophistry we can redefine so that “1” can mean anything that we want, like: “one”, but also “six”, “twelve”, “banana”, “blue” etc…
    Consequence of that is that by using new definition sign “1” basically means absolutely nothing.
    Same like using term “apple” for both apples,oranges and potatoes.

    If we redefine “marriage” so that it could mean anything that liberals want, at the end we have erased any meaning to that term. But then, insisting on “marriage” of homosexuals is pointless , since “marriage” is meaningless.

    “Gay marriage” have the same meaning as “gigantic midget” or “dark light”.

    There is strange hypocrisy of people who demand gay marriage, but they don’t support polygamous or incestual unions (or both).
    If marriage is about love, then why just union of 2 people is marriage? Why not 3, 10 or 10.000? Why not between 3 or 10 incestual partners? Why not incestual polygamous marriages(between consenting adults)? Same sex incestual unions? Same sex polygamous unions? Can a person marry itself as well (if that person loves only itself)?

    What is marriage then? What is family then? And if we don’t know what is family, then what is society?
    These liberal ideas are nothing more than nihilism in disguise.

    They want to relativise traditional (not just Christian) marriage as union of male and female, but then they still insist on traditional Christian notion of union between TWO persons, while in other cultures polygamy is normal.

  2. Seems that in the process of writing my previous and lengthy comment, I forget to make main and crucial point…

    If liberals try to undermine actual meaning of terms like “marriage” and “family” using nominalism, then they put themselves into absurd position- more absurd than any traditional position they try to undermine. Absurdity of that position is manifested that, when they undermine traditional terms (like family and marriage), they also negate position on which they make their “critiques”. I have already mentioned why such attempts are absurd.

    They are doing this by promoting things like “gay marriages”. But by doing so, they have already undermine any real meaning and definition of “marriage”, thus making their lobbying for “gay marriages” or their ideas of family absurd.

    While nominalism may be their weapon, reductio ad absurdum could be traditionalist one.

  3. Certainly the connotation of “family” has changed over time.

    I spend quite a lot of time in France and it is very noticeable there that people are much more inclined to stress the vertical, rather than the horizontal dimensions of the family. Like most Europeans, the model of the peasant family, structured around a patriarch and expanding from hearth to hearth is something that still existed within the memory of many people and still colours current thinking.

    Thus, in giving evidence to the Senate, on Family Law, André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, said:

    “Even though it has not taken the modern form familiar in our civil legislation, there has always been a means of handing things down from generation to generation, which is the very basis of continuity and stability in a society. This transmission between generations is primarily effected by the family. It is the legal framework of family life that structures the transmission of life and shapes the future of society.”

    And André Burguière, an eminent social historian, told the Senate that the family is “perhaps the last religion—in the etymological sense of that term—in a secularized world: it connects us, in a mysterious way, with other individuals, in particular with those who have died.”

  4. Hello Wrangel,

    That’s a very good point. They can only offer “marriage” to more groups of people by watering down the word’s meaning, so that what they’re giving them has less and less value. I’ve said before that nobody really believes in gay marriage. That is, no one advocates extending the Christian/natural law meaning of marriage to gays (even if such a thing were possible). No one believes that homosexual marital sex is okay, but homosexual premarital or adulterous sex is mortally sinful, or that homosexual marriages should be indissolvable.

    Although the Leftist position is theoretically absurd, it is strategically coherent. Their redefinitions will make it impossible for anyone to speak meaningfully about marriage and family, including themselves. That doesn’t bother them because they consider all such talk to be empty emoting anyway.

  5. Hello Michael,

    It is a welcome surprise to learn that the French still have a robust sense of a family tying together more than two generations. Chesterton also would sometimes say that the French were more pious —in the etymological sense of that term—and family-oriented than their godless, republican form of government would lead one to believe.

    I assume, since you’ve brought this up as an example of changing understandings of family, that you believe that we Americans have lost this sense? I must admit that it does seem attenuated to me. Perhaps our greater geographic mobility has rent our ties to our ancestors. I live far from the town where my family lived for generations, and it’s easy to forget the ones who aren’t alive to remind me of them. On the other hand, if you asked any of us, we would affirm that the family bond is a real connection between, say, me and my great-great-grandfather.

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