Halifax Media Co-op

News from Nova Scotia's Grassroots

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!
Not reviewed by Halifax Media Co-op editors. copyeditedfact checked [?]

Ideology versus Reason: How abandoning evidence leads to absurdity

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.
Russian Orthodox Primate Kyrill I and Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian Orthodox Primate Kyrill I and Russian President Vladimir Putin

In Irreconcilable Differences, continuing to parade nonsense concatenated with absurdity, Antoni Wysocki argues that our recent discussion illustrates, "the futility of debate between agonists that each reject the foundational premises of the other."

Au contraire! What it illustrates is the difference between evidence-based reasoning on the one hand, and drinking the Kool-Aid of propaganda and disinformation on the other.

The endless "see-saw" that Wysocki claims, "could conceivably continue forever" could indeed, so long as one party -- Wysocki  -- relies on conjecture, hypothesis, demonstrable falsehoods, erroneous information, and unsupported assertions. Wysocki asserts, "It all comes down to: 'Who ya gonna believe?'" It's not who; it's what: evidence. 

A notable strength of human civilization (and there are many weaknesses), exemplified in enterprises such as science, philosophy, logic, reason, mathematics -- and in political philosophy as well -- is reliance on evidence, and the tools of reason, logic, and evidence-based reasoning. All these establish fact. This is why the products of civilization are not arbitrary and, 'Who ya gonna believe?' is a razor only for the ignorant. This is why rumour, supposition, unfounded beliefs, and fallacious reasoning will get you nowhere, and why evidence-based reasoning carries with it the possibility of determining the truth.

'Who ya gonna believe?' is a last, desperate red-herring thrown out by Wysocki, who has failed to respond to a single point in which everything that he has claimed has been thoroughly refuted -- not by what I believe -- but by the evidence. Rather than continuously weaving, dodging, trying to change the frame, blaming the Americans and other dissembling, I challenge Wysocki to respond -- using evidence-based reason to all (heck, even any! ;~>) of the points in which his claims have been systematically shown to be fallacious. Parsed, Wysocki's 'Who ya gonna believe?' signals his intention to continue to cling to his beliefs even after they have already been shown to be false.

Another red herring thrown out by Wysocki is to try and change the subject to a history of American imperialism -- a perfectly valid topic (see below), just not the one under discussion.

A fantastically more idiotic and egregious tactic engaged in by Wysocki is to simply concoct statements that I "would likely say"! And then to carry out a dialogue between his imagined version of me and himself! Astonishing! Wysocki is of course, free to converse with himself, but it's utterly unethical to interject an imagined version of someone else into such a dialogue. It is utterly incompatible with journalistic ethics.

Wysocki also tries to alter the frame of the discussion: "I could point to the literature of critical media studies that have shown time and again, through exhaustive empirical and analytical work, that the mainstream media―both private and public―in liberal democracies demonstrates a consistent and overwhelming pro-establishment bias."

The point, however, is that the extensive writing and analysis that I (and many others; see Myrna Kostash's excellent article, My Maidan) have done on Ukraine, relies not on the "liberal democratic mainstream media" but on facts and evidence, drawn not only from a wide variety of credible sources (and not overt propaganda channels) as well my experience on the ground in Eastern Europe and Russia as a student and investigator, having, lived, worked, studied, and travelled in many areas, fluency in several languages of the region (allowing me to access sources directly), a degree in this field, as well a network of contacts in Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and elsewhere that keep me informed on developments. And Wysocki instead relies on what? Boilerplate anti-Americanism. If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, Wysocki's article demonstrates how hazardous no knowledge at all is. 

Furthermore, as I have demonstrated at length in Crisis in Ukraine: Disinformation and useful idiots, in regard to the current situation in Ukraine, the propaganda emanating from the Kremlin-owned and directed media are by far the more malicious, absurd and demonstrably false. In this context Wysocki would also do well to read in detail about the enormous control wielded by the Kremlin over virtually all Russian media and the degree to which this control is exercised politically in Faces of War and Peace on Moscow Streets. With an open mind, he might learn something.

Finally -- combining falsehoods with imagined positions -- Wysocki claims that I don't recognize that ills of American imperialism! What utter balderdash (to use a polite expression ;~>). He should, for instance, take the time to read Death in Yemen: Disillusion and drones in the desert.

The underlying problem that is typified by Wysocki's responses is what I pointed out in my earlier article, Elections and Politics: Learning to draw correct conclusions.

"Stephen Velychenko writes in The Strange Case of Foreign Pro Russian Radical Leftists, there is a long history of leftists misunderstanding the difference between anti-Americanism and anti-imperialism, with a resulting knee-jerk anti-Americanism and a susceptibility (in this instance) to Russian disinformation and propaganda. As Velychenko says:

'Alongside issues such as Russophilism, material interest and simple ignorance, another explanation for this double standard is that such radical leftists analyze events in terms of anti-Americanism rather than anti-imperialism. This attitude makes them as amenable to Russian anti Ukrainian pronouncements, both official governmental and non-governmental, after 1991 as they were before 1991.  Anti Americanism is a set of beliefs that classifies imperialism as a singular specific American rather than global phenomenon and discounts or ignores competition between imperialists and intra capitalist rivalries.'"

The shameful history of American imperialism so utterly blinds such commentators that they ascribe everything reprehensible in the world to this force and end up believing that the enemies of their enemies are their friends. Thus, according to such reasoning, despite Putin's annexations of Georgian and Ukrainian territory (see Ukraine on the Brink), his clear violation of the Budapest Memorandum of Security Assurances, his brutal razed-earth destruction of the Chechen nation in their quest for independence, his suppression of democracy, his shameful campaign against the LGBT community in Russia, his persecution of dissident artists (e.g., Pussy Riot), his close relations with the most retrograde of Russian Orthodox religious authorities, his parliamentary advisers like Alexander Dugin -- such a far-right extremist that he quit the neo-Nazi National Bolshevik party which he helped found (whose "intellectual oasis" is the Waffen-SS), to form the even more extreme National Bolshevik Front, … that Vladimir Putin is a progressive force in the world, and a person whose word is to be trusted and believed. Astonishing doesn't even cover it!

It's also a clear illustration of how completely commentators such as Wysocki have abandoned evidence, reason, and evidenced-based reasoning as a mechanism to understand the world, turning the most simplistic analysis (America, bad.) into a stick with which to beat every issue (i.e., if the only tool you only have is a hammer everything begins to look like a nail; ~>)

What Wysocki is unable to comprehend is that, in a grand tradition extending back to Lenin and Stalin, he is serving as a useful idiot par excellence of contemporary Russian imperialism. What Wysocki is unable to see is that by so doing, and his dismissal of the Euromaidan Movement -- in which over a million Ukrainians participated -- as one of the foremost exemplars of insurrectionist politics serving genuine democratic aspirations of a broad swath of the populace (and labeling the Ukrainian government "fascist"!) -- he is utterly betraying the socialist principles that he claims to espouse. If this this is an illustration of "libertarian communism" then clearly it combines the very worst aspects of both libertarianism and communism. 

Note: those interested in this thread may wish to read Useful idiots: Addled by Ant-Americanism, which continues the discussion.

Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.
1273 words


Wait, what?

I can safely say that this is the first (and hopefully last!) time that I've seen it suggested that the successful realization of an insurrectionist politics is putting the richest man in a given country into the office of president.
Geeze, talk about "evidence"!

The will of the Ukrainian People

The salient evidence here is the democratic will of the Ukrainian people. Not mine, not Brad Vaughn's, not Antoni Wysocki's, Vladimir Putin's or Barak Obama's. The Ukrainian people's.

And those decomcratic aspirations for a civil society by the Ukrainian people were what elected Petro Poroshenko as president of Ukraine on May 25, 2014 with an absolute majority of 54.7 per cent -- more than the combined vote of all sixteen other candidates who ran against him. 

Petro Poroshenko, who won in every electoral district in Ukraine where the election was conducted save one. Petro Poroshenko, who has embraced the Euromaidan phenomenon from the beginning -- a movement in which over one million Ukrainians participated in over 33 cities and towns across the country.

This is what is glaringly obvious absent in both Brad Vaughn and Antoni Wysocki's conception of Ukraine: any consideration of what the Ukrainian people desire for their self destiny. To subscribe to the notion that this conflict is simply a shadow play of great-power politics is to miss the most fundamental aspect of the situation. 

The Euromaidan movement articulated a desire for democracy, transparency, civil society, an end to corruption and the kleptocratic Yanukovych government, and closer economic and cultural ties with the European Union (EU). Since independence in 1991, Ukrainians have strongly supported closer ties with the EU. Time and again Ukrainians have overwhelmingly support a unitary Ukrainian state. Time and again, Ukranian people have articulated what Ukranian-Canadian writer, Myrna Kostash has so elequently called a, "desire for a life of material, moral and spiritual dignity." 

If one bears in mind what the Ukrainian people themselves desire, much chaff falls away.

The site for the Halifax local of The Media Co-op has been archived and will no longer be updated. Please visit the main Media Co-op website to learn more about the organization.