The most common form of absolutism is the projection of absolutism on one's opponents.
Few people view themselves as unhinged wingnuts. Most people view themselves as fair-minded rational creatures. When you listen to people outside the political context, you will usually find that they have reasons for their positions.
Projecting absolutism on others has the same effect as holding an absolutist position. It introduces the same paradoxes and conflicts as if the speaker was the one who held the position. Even worse, the act of projection makes it harder to discover the source of the problems.
When a rogue wants to dominate others, the rogue immediately jumps into a litany about how there is a mysterious other who is seeking dominance and that we must unite to defeat that other. (NOTE the paradox of unity: Uniting one group against others creates division).
The logical fallacies behind projection have been around since antiquity. Projection was a favorite subject of Sigmund Freud and has since become the preferred rhetorical trick of the left. It is also used by reactionaries.
If you want to sell radical socialism, you frame all others as being radical. Notice how people who believe in a constitutionally limited government are systematically dismissed today as radicals. The whole point of the Constitution was to establish a common set of ideas on which to build the nation.
Are the people who hold to the foundational ideals really unhinged radicals?
Projection in the Hegelian Tradition
The last several posts have been about the Hegelian Tradition. Hegel was a well read philosopher in the period following the US and French Revolutions. He admired Napoleon and his sympathies fell with the Kings.
Hegel was a CONSERVATIVE. The first conservatives were royalists seeking to preserve the social order of the ancient regime in an age of revolution against the monarchy.
The royalists of both Germany and England were in chaos and looking for ways to reframe their arguments. (NOTE the Hanoverian Kings of England were German).
Hegel created a philosophy of history and a philosophy of logic (modern logic) that allowed him to spin history to support which ever group was seeking hegemony. In his philosophy, Hegel presented a fantastic conflict driven version of history in which the world spirit manifested itself on the world stage as a resolution of thesis/anti-thesis conflicts.
Apparently, it is a compelling philosophy because a large number of people in the early 1800s took to his ideas and ran with them in all sorts of different directions.
There are only a few direct descendants of Hegel. Most of the people adhering to this chain of thought actually took the approach of projecting Hegelian thought onto a mysterious "them."
The philosophy is much more effective when you project it on your opponents because you can create a system of action and re-action that invariably leads to concentration of power.
The basic model of this projection is that there is a group of evil gentiles out there who are uniting to form an evil hegemony. We, the righteous, must therefore unite, centralize our resources so that we can fight that evil hegemony.
The direct descendants of Hegel were CONSERVATIVES seeking to preserve the social structure of the ancient regime. The Young Hegelians (typified by Marx) grabbed the same philosophy. This group learned to project their underlying philosophy onto their opponents creating the illusion that they are the defenders of social progress.
You can see this methodology clearly in the second volume of "The Open Society and Its Enemies" by Karl Popper. Popper's work projects all of the evils of Communism onto the Hegelian Right to justify all the same evils in the name of preserving The Open Society.
I've written the word CONSERVATIVE in CAPSLOCK to emphasize that there is a very ugly set of un-American ideas associated with the term "conservative."
I believe it is a great foolishness for the Tea Party and Republican Party to invest the future of America in this ugly term "conservative." The Left and Right regularly change positions on issues. The Right of the French Revolution was an ugly group. The Conservative Right of the Hegelian tradition is equally corrupt.
The insistence of groups like Fox News that we call the effort to preserve the Constitution "conservative" simply keeps our nation locked in an ugly chain of action and reaction that leads to economic and political consolidation.
It is not the left that is destroying us. It is the underlying system of thought that created the left/right and center (The dialectical center is often worse than the supposed extremes).
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