One more time: American library censorship?

I just received my a copy of the book Pinker, Steven (2002) The blank slate, Penguin Books, London, ordered second hand through amazon.com. From the stamps inside the book it appears that this book was formerly the property of the Library Services of Metropolitan Borough of Sefton. It is marked with a ‘Withdrawn for sale’. There seems to be a pattern in the US regarding books that challenge certain fashionable discourses: When I have order books second hand that attacks gender feminism, political correctness and the closed social constructivist world view, many times these books have turned out to be discarded library books. They have been removed from the catalogue for some reason.Regarding my newly bought book ‘the blank slate’, I did today make the effort to check the entire on-line library catalogue of the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton and guess what, Pinkers book does not exist anywhere!!! So this title has been removed from the library. I am sure that this book is deemed political incorrect and has been removed from the library in the Sefton because it challenges the Marxist-feminist-constructivist theory complex.Pinkers book attacks the blank slate theory, the idea that the human mind is empty when an infant is born. Through biological theory Pinker argues that indeed the human mind is more that a social construction, we are born with certain innate human nature. But Pinker goes much further than this, he discusses the philosophical and political motives behind the insistance on the constructivist world view, that humans are only shaped by culture.So far I have only browsed through the book but it seems pretty potent, I will quote from the start of the chapter 8 The fear of inequality:

“The greatest moral appeal of the doctrine of the Blank Slate comes from a simple mathematical fact: zero equals zero. This allows the Blank Slate to serve as a guarantor of political equality. Blank is blank, so if we are all blank slates, the reasoning goes, we must all be equal. But if the slate of a newborn is not blank, different babies could have different things inscribed on their slates. Individuals, sexes, classes, and races might differ innately in their talents, abilities, interests, and inclinations. And that, it is thought, could lead to three evils. The first is prejudice: if groups of people are biologically different, it could be rational to discriminate against the members of some of the groups. The second is Social Darwinism: if differences among groups in their station in life – their income, status, and crime rate, for example – come from their innate constitutions, the differences cannot be blamed on discrimination, and that makes it easy to blame the victim and tolerate inequality. The third is eugenics: if people differ biologically in ways that other people value or dislike, it would invite them to try to improve society by intervening biologically – by encouraging or discouraging people’s decisions to have children, by taking that decision out of their hands, or by killing them outright. The Nazis carried out the ‘final solution’ because they thought Jews and other ethnic groups were biologically inferior. The fear of the terrible consequences that might arise from a discovery of innate differences has thus led many intellectuals to insist that such differences do not exist – or even that human nature does not exist, because if it did, innate differences would be possibly” (141).

I have never read a more precise summary of the wishful (political) thinking that drives the fear of nature as a determinant factor of human behaviour so much favoured in the social sciences of today. Now some pages later Pinker gets juicy:

“The Nazi Holocaust was a singular event that changed attitudes towards countless political and scientific topics. But it was not the only ideologically inspired holocaust in the twentieth century, and intellectuals are only beginning to assimilate the lessons of other: the mass killings in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, and other totalitarian states carried out in the name of Marxism. The opening of Soviet archives and the release of data and memoirs on the Chinese and Cambodian revolutions are forcing a reevaluation of the consequences of ideology as wrenching as that following World War II. Historians are currently debating whether the Communists’ mass executions, forced marches, slave labour, and man-made famines led to one hundred million deaths or ‘only’ twenty-five million. They are debating whether these atrocities are morally worse than the Nazi Holocaust or ‘only’ the equivalent” (155).

And now Pinker lines up his ‘weapons’:

“And there is the remarkable fact: though both Nazi and Marxist ideologies led to industrial-scale killing, their biological and psychological theories were opposites. Marxists had no use for the concept of race, were averse to the notion of genetic inheritance, and were hostile to the very idea of a human nature rooted in biology. Marx and Engels did not explicitly embrace the doctrine of the Blank Slate in their writings, but they were adamant that human nature has no enduring properties. It consists only in the interactions of groups of people with their material environments in a historical period, and constantly changes as people change their environment and are simultaneously changed by it. The mind therefore has no innate structure but emerges from the dialectical processes of history and social interaction… Marx’s twentieth-century followers did embrace the Blank Slate, or at least the related metaphor of malleable material… We come across the metaphor of the blank slate in the writings of a man who may have been responsible for sixty-five million deaths: A blank sheet of paper has no blotches, and so the newest and most beautiful words can be written on it, the newest and most beautiful pictures can be painted on it. – Mao ZedongAnd we find it in a saying of a political movement that killed a quarter of its countrymen:

Only the newborn baby is spotless. – Khmer Rouge slogan

The new realization that government-sponsored mass murder can come from an anti-innatist belief system as easily as from an innatist one upends the postwar understanding that biological approaches to behaviour are uniquely sinister. An accurate appraisal of the cause of state genocides must look for beliefs common to Nazism and Marxism that launched them on their parallel trajectories, and for the beliefs specific to Marxism that led to the unique atrocities committed in its name” (157).

Please read the last sentence again. How painful Pinkers writing must be to academics who still lean towards a Marxist orientation.

“Nazism and Marxism shared a desire to reshape humanity. ‘The alteration of men on a mass scala is necessary’, wrote Marx; ‘the will to create mankind anew’ is the core of Nation Socialism, wrote Hitler. They also shared a revolutionary idealism and a tyrannical certainty in pursuit of this dream, with no patience for incremental reform or adjustments guided by the human consequences of their policies… The ideological connection between Marxist socialism and National Socialism is not fanciful. Hitler read Marx carefully while living in Munich in 1913, and may have picked up from him a fateful postulate that the two ideologies would share. It is the belief that history is a preordained succession of conflicts between groups of people and that improvement in the human condition can come only from the victory of one group over the others. For the Nazis the groups were races; for the Marxists they were classes…” (157).

And I would of cause add for the gender feminist the groups are men versus women!!!

“The ideology of groups-against-group struggle explains the similar outcomes of Marxism and Nazism. The ideology of the Blank Slate helps explain some of the features that were unique to the Marxist states:…” (157).

And now Pinker lists about a page of these features, aspects of Marxism’s preoccupation with the Blank Slate view that had fatal consequences for millions of people who were murdered or suppressed by Marxist regimes. I will not list these features here, as I must preserve some of the excitement for potential readers.

“None of this is meant to impugn the Blank Slate as an evil doctrine, any more than a belief in human nature is an evil doctrine. Both are separated by great many steps from the wicked acts committed under their banners, and they must be evaluated on factual grounds. But it is meant to overturn the simplistic linkage of the sciences of human nature with the moral catastrophes of the twentieth century” (158).

Those who lean to a hard line constructivist and/or relativist stance would probably deny Pinkers cry for ‘evaluations on factual ground’, because facts are just social constructions used in power games between social actors, or positivist or essentialist inclinations. But to the rest of us, Pinkers suggestions might make sense.All in all this book appears to be promising, in my experience there seems to be a connection between the political correct censorship of a potential academic book from a public American library and the vitality of the content of this same book. I start to fear that my book collection is becoming very much like the library in Umberto Eco’s novel The name of the rose.

Hopefully I will not be arrested in the future by the feminist gendermainstreaming police (most likely male workmen) who should prevent the circulation of the wrong scientific information that could compromise the power of the state (tax) sponsored post materialist regulators/bureacrats/politicians who profit immensely by the enforcement of their ideological social engineering reform project….The Blank Slate is of cause listed in my facobook library list.

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