BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
The Genetic Fallacy is used by those short cutting their way to triumph in debate or – more often these days – defending the indefensible.
How does this fallacy work?
Regardless of the merits of a proposal or argument, the proposal or argument gets shot down because of whence it heralds. In the eyes of the user of the fallacy, it is damned to hell. “Ah, but that’s what Saddam Hussein thought, so it’s definitely wrong!”
Take the chart exposing Jeremy Corbyn’s links with terrorists and Hard Left lunatics, which a Lenin lookalike tried to shoot down – but, amusingly, attracted yet more attention to – in the closing stages of the 2019 General Election. A single link to an Aryan site (actually linked to from the chart via the Leftists’ beloved and subjective site Searchlight) was identified amongst the thousands of links on the chart and then Twitter-storm-exploited by Corbyn supporters to condemn the whole chart despite the chart’s objective spotlighting of truth:
Take the Left’s recent attempt to shoot down the argument of Cultural Marxism as used by Solicitor General Suella Braverman by relegating the term to mere “Nazi”:
Look for eugenics in the replies on Twitter whenever the commentator Toby Young makes a stand or dares show up on a radio show:
Despite the Left’s deep love for Toby Young, their favourite bête noire sources will always be Hitler, Pinochet and Mussolini:
The genetic fallacy makes the mistake of supposing that the source of an argument affects its validity. This is infantile – an argument stands on its own drawing neither strength nor weakness from its source. It is no surprise that the genetic fallacy, alongside guilt by association, is a favourite tool of Marxist ideologues yet again failing to recognise the obvious – they need just look in a mirror – that even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Defending a statement by a bête noire source does not mean that you support the source even one – let alone one hundred – percent. Andrew Sabisky, despite his super forecasting talents, should always fail a Tory Kroll check. George Galloway’s eloquent pro Brexit soundbites do not merit an offer of the role of British Ambassador to Iraq. Harvey Weinstein will never appear on Loose Women to look back on the wonderful performance of Kristin Scott Thomas in his film The English Patient.
For “It takes less courage to criticise the decisions of others than to stand by your own.”
Who came out with that statement of inexorable soundness?
Attila the Hun.
“I believe in one thing only, the power of human will.”
Who uttered that pearl of politically correct wisdom?
Would you pay attention to the words of a man in his 95th year asked by a journalist, what is the key to longevity?
Of course you would.
“Don’t drink at all, don’t smoke, you must exercise and eat vegetables and fruit.”
What sound advice!
That was Robert Mugabe.
Why the Right has hammered the Left in the culture wars over the last decade is precisely because of where the Left’s use of fallacies and other school debating tricks has left them in arguments – not because of the Right’s superior focus on identity which the Left, in the way it overthinks like the French creators of identity politics, still suspects to be the Right’s kryptonite.
The thing is – and people seem to have forgotten this – arguments exist not only to be won. What is right is not always right just as what is left is not always wrong. Often the best debaters are the worst at spotting nuance and, in the time-pressed cut and thrust of debate, fail to define or comprehend that ubiquitous characteristic of reality – trade-off.
Use a fallacy or other trick of school debating to defeat all arguments thrown at you – even those that are obviously sound – and you get blown off course. Cocksure ideologues are often great debaters. Reason escapes you as you drift out further away from the land of common sense and into the seas of absurdity. Hence those caricatures who have emerged on the Left like the racist and race-baiter David Lammy and barmy Richard “Benn University” Burgon – who find themselves smearing sensible as “fascist” and, alongside other Labour MPs, have wound up in the asylum taking out their frustrations on innocent boxes of Yorkshire Tea.
Get taken by the currents and eventually you become a Sultana. The Right has its caricatures also – particularly those who see all Islam as a cancer – useful pummelling bags for the Left to get distracted by while real world pragmatists get on with the serious business of economy and government. After all it’s these real struggles – up and downstream – that genuinely shape, rather than echo against, eternity.
Dominic Wightman is Editor of Country Squire Magazine.