Logical Fallacies and the Internet Left/Liberal Trolling (archive 2012)

It’s a nice evening in the mid-60’s Fahrenheit and the cherry blossoms are blooming, and I am finishing some grading after cleaning the apartment. My girlfriend’s cat is nuzzling me, and I can’t get the absurdity of a K-pop song’s questionable English out of my head. This said, I made the horrible mistake of getting on a facebook group of the left-wingers. I have made New Years resolutions to back away from the massive troll wars of the left as leftist internet trolls are a special breed of troll–admittedly often slightly more erudite than your average American conservative troll arguing on Huffington post, but only in the margins of difference.

So today I read an internet argument about Nationalism and racism. Now, as an avowed “anti-racist” and someone who takes nationalism seriously both positively and negatively, I would want to not call out basic mistakes in logic, but alas, being in the skeptical tradition and hating general illiteracy, I had to point out that the following paraphrased statement makes no logical sense: American capitalism developed among an explicitly white supremacist milieu, therefore any anti-capitalist movement is also anti-racist.

Now, I am not going to get into the history of how this is explicitly not true: the Southern Agrarians hated liberal capitalism and the decline of tradition therein, the National Syndicalists were explicitly anti-capitalist and were nationalists (which most said leftists and liberals would have considered racist, and the anti-capitalist rhetoric of the left-wing of the fascist movement. I won’t even get into how unbelievably wrong this sentiment is historically. Nor will I make too much hay on the fact that capitalism is much larger than the particular semi-hegemonic power in the United States, and it’s origins do happen to emerge roughly contemporaneously to European nationalism, but also play against it as many nationalists knew.

Setting all those criticism aside: this is a formal logical fallacy.

The fallacy at hand is the “Illicit contra-position,” which does sound like a new Cold War plot, is the following formal logical fallacy:

All S are P.
Therefore, no non-P are non-S

In this case:

All capitalism is racist*
Therefore, all anti-capitalism is anti-racist.

This not only is illicit contra-position, *whose first formal syllogistic statement is incoherent anyway (it does not follow that sense capitalism developed in a racist context that it would be always and forever racist), it also formalizes the informal logical fallacy of “No True Scotsman.” So historical examples to the contrary, I wouldn’t need that, I can merely point out that this short statement includes, at minimum, one formal (*always wrong) and one informal (*usually wrong) fallacy.

So the deeper question is this: Why do trolls not even bother to make convincing arguments? The hyper-reification of concepts leads to all sorts of fallacious foundations to arguments?

No ideological position has a mandate on illogical thinking.


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