QED

Trans activism and ‘The Pill of Murti-Bing’

In the early twentieth-century novel Insatiability by the Polish writer Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, the fictional Mongolian philosopher Murti-Bing creates a pill that solves the problems of philosophy. The medicine cures all the puzzles of human existence. All metaphysical, political, ontological, epistemological and ethical questions lose their mystery for those who take the pill. Thinking becomes, in the world of of Murti-Bing, superfluous.

Many years after the publication of Insatiability, Nobel-prize winning dissident Czeslaw Milosz used The Pill of Murti-Bing to explain the effect that the Marxist philosophy of dialectical materialism had on people in communist-controlled Eastern Europe. Milosz argued in The Captive Mind that dialectical materialism was so pervasive in the Soviet Bloc, where it was the official ideology, that people became almost schizophrenic trying to believe what the state claimed was true against the evidence of their own eyes.

It was impossible, in other words, to be a free-thinking, logical, ethical human being and to believe in the philosophy of dialectical materialism. You could believe nonsense or the truth but not both at the same time. Those who tried to make dialectical materialism adhere to reality suffered psychological problems. The conflict in their mind became manifest in their speech, in how they wore their clothes, in their mannerisms, even in their gait. They laughed too quickly at politically licensed jokes. They feigned enthusiasm about the second-rate art, sport and music sanctioned by the regime; they became manikin-like in their ability to hide the normal expressions of joy, anger or confusion that are a part of being human, and they discussed everything as if they were mindless automatons reading a script. Public and private life was torn apart. This behaviour became the everyday psychology of an unjust society because people were terrified they would inadvertently betray what they believed in their hearts. The result was a world based on fear.

Communism, then, like all cults, creates a form of neurosis, it makes you small-minded and forces you to live a lie, that’s if it doesn’t imprison or kill you, but it is not the only ideology that causes cognitive dissonance.

The Pill of Murti-Bing is the essence of ideology. There is one truth that explains the world and to deviate from its prescriptions makes you a heretic and an immoral person. This is the antithesis of human dignity. In recent years, we have once again entered the world of The Pill of Murti-Bing. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the issue of trans rights.

 

GREAT philosophies have many things in common, but they share one thing in particular  – they speak to both the most intellectually humble and to the most intelligent people in a community. This is why the words of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad and Confucius resonate with people in ways that the words of Einstein, Leibniz and Frege, for example, do not. In order for societies to survive and flourish ordinary people need abstract intellectual ideas to match, in some way, the reality of their everyday life. Science, thus far at least, has not answered the question of what gives life meaning, and possibly may never answer this question, which proves that even science, which is the greatest method yet devised to determine facts about the world, cannot be the definitive guide to personal truth. This argument alone allows individual conscience, no matter how irrational from another person’s perspective, to be a legitimate way for human beings to create value, worth and truth in their life. We cannot abandon or disregard this right if we want to maintain a civilised society. And nobody has the right to overrule this prerogative.

For all of human history a person with a vagina was a woman and a person with a penis was a man. Everything about sexual identity was related to this simple observation. The physiology, morphology, genetics, biology, psychology and other characteristics that made human beings recognisable as men or women stemmed from something that could be understood by everyone.

Leanne Mills: A Letter To Young Trans People

Trans rights, to be clear, are human rights. But in an effort to advance trans rights, we have been told, at the risk of being called bigots, losing our jobs, our reputations, or of being cancelled, to believe things that are beyond the powers of ordinary, logical human beings. This is not only unjust, it’s a recipe for the dissolution of rational thought and hence of liberal democracy.

Postmodernists, dialectical materialists, social justice warriors, critical theorists, and feminists view everything of which they disapprove as the antithesis of the Ship of Theseus classical thought experiment, which asked: at what point, if you remove one piece of wood at a time, is a ship no longer a ship. The arguments in support of the most extreme claims of trans activism rest on a form of a reverse Ship of Theseus. Instead of a ship losing its recognisable quality as a ship after so many pieces of wood are removed, trans activists insist that a single oar or mast is definitive proof that a ship exists. The almost infinite complexity of what makes a man or a women the thing they are is ignored. Thousands of studies outlining the hormonal, physiological, cognitive, biological, anatomical, behavioural, morphological and emotional differences between men and women are subject to totschweigetaktik, death by silence.

Moreover, a nebulous concept of gender theory, unprovable by definition, which privileges feelings is used to replace both science and common sense. This method of disputation can be used by anyone lacking intellectual and/or moral honesty to prove the most fantastical of claims. Nothing solid can survive this sophistry, even paradoxically the sophists’ own specious claims, which can be dismantled using their own methodology. So, to give a counter example of this fallacious argument, which focuses on one part of the ship while ignoring everything else. In a morphological species which needs two gametes to reproduce, men produce sperm and women produce ova. Sex, then, is binary. This cannot be changed with medication or surgical intervention. The logic of making a part represent the whole, could, if used by people with an anti-liberal agenda, undo the entire positive edifice of trans rights’ activism. It’s a paradigmatic case of being hoist by your own petard. Pushing anything to extremes causes a reaction, often a justifiable one.

What, then, can be done to ensure that trans people are protected while allowing ordinary people freedom of conscience? The answer is democracy and free speech. Democracy is the only political regime that protects human rights, which means that trans activists cannot expect or force people to believe things that challenge people’s cognitive faculties or consciences.

One way of ensuring the rights of trans people while not infringing others’ rights to freedom of conscience and freedom of speech is to recognise a new, internationally recognised category of sexual identity. This would allow trans people to retain their distinct identities while not forcing other people to betray their consciences. Feelings, though, or nebulous claims unsupported by scientific evidence or common sense could not be accepted as evidence of a trans identity. Evidence, grounded in a carefully defined set of empirical data, would need to be evaluated before one could be officially recognised as a member of the category.

And there must be a limit to the number of pronouns that are officially recognised. Creating a minefield of misgendered hurt feelings would encourage more problems than it solves. In other words, trans rights would be based on the concept of negative rights rather than positive rights. One criticism of this approach is that trans people could claim that they’re being treated differently to other human beings, but this objection is moot because trans people are already demanding that their unique sexual characteristics be officially recognised. Official government forms in many countries already have ‘other’ as a preferred designation. And the very fact that we are having a conversation, by implication, proves that something about this issue is unusual. The problem is not recognition, per se, but what form it would take.

The Pill of Murti-Bing is an affront to human dignity and so too is any ideology that forces people to say things which they don’t believe. Bullying is wrong. Words matter, concepts matter, ideas matter. We cannot have a functioning society where concepts are so porous that they mean anything. And we cannot maintain a psychologically healthy society when ideological conformity determines what can be thought or said. Freedom of speech and freedom of conscience are the twin pillars that hold up the civilised world. Without these rights our only way of resolving disputes is through violence.

No society can survive when one group forces another group, either by law or social sanction, to conform to a metaphysics with which they disagree. That road leads inevitably to tyranny. In a free society, individual rights always trump ideology.

Declan Mansfield is a regular contributor

12 comments
  • ChrisPer

    Boldly said.
    We can create a space for courtesy to trans people by treating them ‘as if’ their identity were as they project it or request it. We can avoid discriminating against them on the basis of identity in public treatment and employment.
    But someone else’s mental illness does not change reality; a person must not be forced to become a liar, and even more, the public, who must vote and debate freely for democracy to make any sense, must not be forced into pretending lies are reality.
    Or that nutbags are sane, and their gibberings are truth.

  • Harry Lee

    Great article.
    Couple points:
    1. No society can survive when the majority, or even a larger minority, live as parasitic residents instead of as contributing citizens.
    (The refugee and immigration systems combined with the welfare, community grants and other freebies showered on the incomers, are fast adding to the fast-growing numbers of home-grown parasites, of all colors. Parasitism is the natural consequence of ALP/Green policies which are now also embraced by the LNP.)
    2. Gender change is one form of a wider malady: Increasing numbers of people do not like the (abundant, free) conditions in which they live, and demand that the government (actually, productive, striving people who engage with the realities of Life-on-Earth) pay for their inability to accept reality, and fix up everything to make ’em happy.
    3. Multiculturalism is anti-White-ism actually. And the agents pushing transgenderism and homosexuality are anti-heterosexualist. The agents of multiculturalism and anti-heterosexuality want more than “rights” -they want power. power. power.
    4. The infiltration throughout all institutions of agents of the CCP and Islam, and the huge costs created by the many non-Western and anti-Westernist groups now living here, present far greater threats to the security of Australian society than the gender thing -though the gender thing is bad in itself, as I said in #2 above

  • Michael

    “Those who can make you believe absurdities can be make you commit atrocities.”

    Voltaire.

  • Citizen Kane

    There are limitations to the concept of human rights. The idea that underpins many arguments around individuals and group claims to human rights rests on a myth that human freedom is absolute or absolute freedom is an obtainable goal. It also rests on a notion that the individuals rights at all times usurps the rights of human society as whole. This is a nonsense as their are simple immutable biological realities and societal constraints that stand in the way. I may wish to be free of mortality or the need to shit when I don’t want to but I have little or no recourse against these realities. Similarly, there are people I may have wished seen exterminated by my own hand but thankfully if I want to live in a functional human society, religious, moral and legal precepts constrain this behaviour and furthermore actively advocate against it. How far do we extend the notion of human rights into the realm of human fantasy and psychological dyscrasia? There are many paedophiles who claim there sexuality is innate. Do we extend human rights to these individuals and as a collective group. Psycopaths and sociopaths are often born with this preponderance (read Born or Bred – the story of Martin Bryant if you don’t believe me) despite predominantly leftists/socialists being welded to the nuture over nature argument – which fits their socialist agenda. Yet these same people are quick to flip to the nature argument when it comes to the trans debate – i.e. ‘they were born that way’. I may wish to identify as a goldfish but should this ‘human right’ be extended by society at large in the face of such a biological absurdity. And how, I ask, is the debate about trans rights any different?

  • Winston Smith

    “.recognise a new … category of sexual identity”; “retain their identities”. Umm… No. This is mixed up thinking. Might as well allow the schizophrenic or anyone else with a neurosis to ‘retain their identity’ and leave them trapped in their sad, destructive and dysfunctional cage. People don’t have a ‘human right’ to choose their sex and be treated with respect any more than they have a ‘human right’ to believe they are a goldfish and be treated with respect. Treated with the human dignity due to a psychiatric patient yes. But respect, while being someone who refuses to acknowledge the reality of their dysfunctional condition, no.
    This is a serious business. Someone who has clear signs of emotional instability, (e.g. they have a penis yet demand to be regarded as female because that is how they feel), should not be given access to top secret documents for example. Bradley Manning showed the world the consequences of making that sort of error.

  • Harry Lee

    Rights -but no responsibilities.
    Question:
    Which persons animated by which political ideology, and seeking power for themselves, would push for Rights without Responsibilities?
    Note to those attracted to such ideology:
    It’s a “bait and switch” ploy.
    The power-mongers want you fully disempowered and fully ignorant so that they can exploit you, and get your vote, and then enslave the people who do take responsibility to be productive, contributing citizens.
    So, if you believe you should have Rights but no Responsibilities to the community, to the nation, then you are just another Parasitic Destroyer of Civilisation.
    And, in case you do not know it, that’s A Bad Thing.
    But lucky you, the ALP and the Greens fully endorse, encourage and reward your destructiveness.
    And almost all productive/responsible people are too busy and/or too timid to push/support the Libs and Nats to save the joint from this terrible destruction.

  • STD

    I cannot remember the chaps name – he had this nice idea that It was in the innocence of children that all our woes could find their resolution. Ah innocence what an efficacious medicine you are.
    There was a child and he looked up and said to his Mum “ Mum, why is that man dressed as a woman” . The Moral being- you can’t deceive or fool a ‘well’ developed mind in a good brain.

  • Citizen Kane

    Anyone who may unquestioningly believe that trans rights are an inalienable human right might like to read the very recent post by Stella O’Malley on Quillette here;
    https://quillette.com/2021/05/04/gaslighting-the-concerned-parents-of-trans-children-a-psychotherapists-view/
    The title does not do the article justice as it is a much deeper analysis of how gender dysphoria typically presents and is a clarion call to all concerned parents.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    “For the past seven years, Marlo has been making a podcast about life as a single mum raising her transgender daughter. In the first programme, Marlo explains why she put her daughter’s story out for the world to hear. She says she felt compelled to tell their story, and to show people that ‘we exist’.”

    https://wspartners.bbc.com/episode/w3ct2fph (Available until 05 June, 2021)

    What right does Marlo have to raise her young daughter as – or perhaps encourage her to become – “transgender”?

  • lbloveday

    I’m watching Jenner being interviewed re her gubernatorial run and turned to Wikipedia for some information (Wiki is good for facts, dates, marriages, children, awards, employment..) and sure enough there was the woke “Assigned male at birth” terminology.

  • STD

    Alice, does that child possess Gillick competency ,is the mother medically psychiatrically qualified to make the judgement call? There in lies the problem. As for political inputs , those people are qualified to deceive and lie- I’m sure there’s a psychiatric name for that condition, it just escapes me at present.

  • Alice Thermopolis

    STD: I can’t answer your questions, but do wonder how any mother could do this to her daughter, and for seven years. What drove her compulsion “to tell their story”? Call me cynical, but perhaps this tells us something about what some people are prepared to do for financial gain.
    And what’s the BBC’s role here? This is only the “first programme”. Gaming “transgender” must be a lucrative business.

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