The Problem Of Reductionism
A sizable amount of people on the Right just seem to treasure reductionism. The left does too, of course, but they are not my target for this article.
Many individuals on the Right get some form of sexual thrill out of boiling down complex subjects as “easy to understand” tidbits of watered down, factually inaccurate descriptors or phrases.
It is neither correct nor worthwhile to use a reductionist viewpoint. The Right (especially libertarians) love this when it comes to things like fascism and communism, because they can just reduce everything to an easy-to-label subject so that they do not have to challenge its complexity.
It’s fairly often you hear it from them recently. Everything they don’t like is fascism. Or it’s corporatism. Or it’s a fight of “totalitarians versus individual liberty”. Or some other stupid, watered down phrase between very complex ideologies with lots of grey area.
It is simply reductionism:
the practice of analyzing and describing a complex phenomenon in terms of phenomena that are held to represent a simpler or more fundamental level, especially when this is said to provide a sufficient explanation.
Everything is not “Marxist”. Some things are, but some things are different and still just as problematic.
When the government does something you don’t like, it is not “fascist” unless it involves real corporatism, guilds, and a rule by one (which it doesn’t).
When corporations do something you don’t like, it’s not corporatism (as that likely doesn’t even mean what you think it means).
Everything that you don’t like is not “the left”. Some things you probably do agree with are on the “left”. Many others would debate would you categorize as “Right”. The Right too has skeletons in history that any real proponent of the Right must come to terms with.
“Western Civilization” is not whatever you just invent in your head. The goal is not “saving Western civilization”, if you cannot first even describe what that civilization is and how its different eras are at competition with one another. This world has deep historical roots. The idea of “saving Western Civ” doesn’t even really make sense, without further discussion on what constitutes that phrase.
So on and so forth.
The inter-workings of things happening in the modern day is complex. It’s hard to conceptualize and to explain. But to use reductionism to explain them is a silly approach.
It gives the intellectually lazy an easy escape route to not have to deal with these complex subjects. It makes it so they do not have to actually explain them in larger detail. It makes it so people do not have to get better by learning and studying.
When dealing with others that ‘get it’, we should not be reducing anything. They need the full picture. Not a brain-dead “omg fascism” or “evil totalitarians” approach. We should encourage the left to do this, while rejecting it ourselves.
So, if anything, this is more an article targeted at others like me with a platform. If you’ve reached that point, it’s time to start tackling the complex subjects or getting out of the way for those who will.
There are enough people that take a reductionist standpoint that we do not need to give a microphone to more.
We need people willing to actually address the complex issues. Not boil them down to an old 20th century philosophy or make it seem as simple as a false dilemma fallacy.
The only way we do that is by calling out people that take this approach.
I’m not perfect, I’ve fallen for the trap in the past myself. We all have. And we all likely will in the future again (myself included). Because it’s easy.
But we have to be better. Reductionism will get us nowhere. We have to know the exact disease that is infecting us to find the appropriate cure. Not reduce it to some generic illness and shotgun every med. We do more harm than good taking that approach.