A short response from CP to 'In defence of reason' by Allan Gregg

Allan Gregg takes the blind ideologues in the Conservative Party to task, but forgets to include the growth of knowledge and development of critical analysis that has occurred from Thomas Paine to today.

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Allan Gregg’s article is available here on the Toronto Star’s website. This is a continuation of his rather good attacks on the federal Tories’ abandonment of all reason, logic, and science when it comes to policy.

However, there are issues with Gregg’s Thomas Paine’s liberal analysis of rational “reason” derived policy that he does not touch on, but are evident in his own article. The problem is this: elite liberal “reason” often leads, not so indirectly, to fascist or authoritarian policy regimes where the powerful think that their reason is somehow above political bias.

That said, the basic fact remains that a government driven the type of movements like the anti-fact Tories are worse.

Dialogue, debate, and historical analysis is important, but it must go through the people and not stay at the level of elites. Allan Gregg’s “reason” is based on bad reasoning in many different instances and it ignores history. Stronger countries have not stopped invading weaker ones, no matter what “reason” says, because sometimes reason can give two contradictory answers depending on how one answers the question. Facts always pass through a political filter before they become policy, no matter how “reasoned” the process is. Similar analysis of free trade and economic policy can be applied even in Gregg’s article as he cannot help but make politically charged statements that he thinks are perfectly reasoned (and beyond reasoned criticism). Gregg’s liberal-ideology driven reason tells him free-trade is good, but the tens of thousands of auto workers that have lost their jobs would disagree based on a different ideology and reasoned just as well backed by economists and political scientists.

The answer to difficult questions comes down to more than just “reason.” It comes down to analysis, historical understanding, politics, economics, and socialization. These all have an effect on the person that is doing the reasoning and affect the outcome of that reasoning.

The problem we are having in industrialized countries is the loss of understanding and analysis among the masses, lead primarily by political opportunists, private-sector advertising science, and professional propagandists being put on the forefront of political debate. This is all not to mention the underfunding of public education and the erosion of history and critical politics being taught in our schools.

The supplanting of convincing communications-driven propaganda over that of analysis and consciousness raising is a dominant trend in today’s society and is making things worse.

To win battles with the right, we must arm people with the analysis that exposes the work of propagandists and solidifies the vision that a better world is possible. This is hard work, but it must be done.