If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.Sun Tzu, The Art of War.
We live in an age where ideas of our political enemies dominate the whole of respectable society. Yet, at the same time, common critiques of these ideas lack a basic understanding of what those in power believe. This work is a layman’s guide to understanding those important ideas from the Third Position.
“Eat the Rich”
This statement is a common leftie phrase; you’ve likely heard it a lot during the Occupy Wall Street protests in the early 2010s. “Eat the rich” is rooted in the idea of “conflict theory,” which says that social and economic institutions are tools in the struggle between groups or classes. According to this theory, institutions are ultimately there to uphold one group’s dominance over other groups, hence the name “conflict theory.”
“Eat the rich” is simply the logical conclusion to this way of thinking: the upper class has no healthy place in society; they’re a source of oppression; thus, they’re the enemy to be defeated.
The Third Position rejects “conflict theory” for three main reasons:
1.) This theory is unstable and, at its core, anarchistic. If one group were to overthrow the other, that victorious group is now the public enemy, and the cycle of senseless bloodshed continues.
2.) Men are not equally endowed, as some are clearly more able than others. Society functions best with people occupying positions that play to their strengths; inequality is not only inevitable, but necessary.
3.) The most essential reason to oppose this idea is our belief in class unity, not class struggle. A healthy and robust state functions through cooperation, not division. Revolutionary struggle is not abandoned, but is transformed into a nationalized struggle. The state becomes not an obstacle to radical revolution but essential to it.
“Gender is a Social Construct”
It’s amusing to see conservatives and progressives duke this one out because of the complete disconnect in terms. The statement above is rooted in social constructionism, which states that society, knowledge, and sometimes truth itself, are assigned values by that society. Social Constructionist theory asserts that nothing has intrinsic value, unless when meaning is given to it. For example, although no one disagrees that people are born biologically male or female, “woke” progressives believe the terms “man” or “woman” are roles determined by values rooted in a culture; therefore, they accept sex is a fixed biological definition, but believe gender is a culturally “fluid” definition.
Of course, gender is only one term out of many more that logically follow from a belief in social constructionism; terms like “race” are often subjected to the same wordplay. The term race has indeed changed in meaning over time, but this is ultimately just a semantic game, not a biological one. Race does exist despite changing definitions, because there are genetically different groups of people. The fact that there are gray lines between two different groups, or that methods of classification have changed, does not disprove this fact.
The issue with social construct theories is that they violate our common sense and change definitions of commonly understood terms. When normal people try to push back against such ideas, they are confronted with a posh word salad consisting of prepacked assumptions utterly alien to them. Confusion over new terms and changing words leaves the common person without any rhetorical tools at their disposal to defend themselves or attack the enemy. Because of these dilemmas, the “woke” ideology has executed a cultural blitzkrieg against normal people.
Having understood the basic logic of social constructionism, the following refutations should go as follows:
1.) Humans are not disconnected from the natural world, and hence biology.
2.) Just because gender and race definitions vary from culture to culture, it does not change the fact that culture itself is rooted in the biological reality of human beings.
3.) Social construction itself is only possible if there is something preexisting to construct onto, a foundation to build on. It’s not that I nor Third Positionism disagrees that society constructs and assigns values to things, but that these values themselves come from a first cause, ultimately even independent of material causes themselves, which bring us to the next pillar in the opponent’s edifice.
“It’s the current year,” so you’re supposed to just agree with ideological assumptions… While stating the current year may or may not invoke dialectical materialism (DM), it’s useful for us to familiarize ourselves with this term. Dialectical materialism, from Karl Marx, is the belief that political and historical events result from conflicts of social forces caused by material needs. DM asserts that each conflict has a contradiction, with one side representing the thesis, and the other side the anti-thesis; the conflict is resolved by the synthesis of the two.
So in plain speech, the statement “It’s 2021” usually means that history is reaching an endpoint that we are socially and economically “progressing” towards. The issue with this assumption is that it inherently believes history, with all its conflicts, will eventually end past a certain point of progress. DM theory asserts that a utopia is essentially possible if we get rid of the forces of social oppression and resource scarcity. This theory is powerful because, in many cases, it contextualizes both conflict theory and social constructionism.
Another huge problem with Dialectical materialism is the “materialist” part of the theory. DM theory is derived from Hegel’s historical dialectics; the difference between Marx and Hegel is that material dialectics rejects the metaphysical, and believes that matter drives ideals and men forward to new changes, while Hegel’s dialectic believes that ideals and the spirit of men themselves could change physical conditions. Essentially, Marx asserts that matter is primary, whereas Hegel asserts that consciousness is primary.
The Third Position rejects Marx’s materialism because men cannot survive on bread and water alone. We are more than just physical creatures, we are spiritual ones. Stating that material forces drive material to end its own material needs, is circular reasoning; it is an attempt to explain first causes with secondary ones. Consciousness is what makes sense of material; it’s what organizes and moves it. Whether it be nature or human societies, there exists a metaphysical structure organizing the physical.
This affirmation of the spirit being primary (idealism), is what drives me and many other Third Positionists. The fact American society is drowning in material abundance, yet is spiritually impoverished, is an affirmation against materialism, and an affirmation that life is more than not having enough things or gaining social power in the current year.
This is why we fight… Know thy enemy, know thy self.