Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Convergence of Negation

As we enter a new calendar year, let us take stock of where we are in the history of denial. The movement itself has been running out of gas for some time. Anyone who visits the Cesspit can do some simple maths to see how its traffic has declined year-on-year, due partially to its openly antisemitic premises and self-contradictory censorship practices (no-one but a cretin is going to stay with a 'free speech' forum that crudely censors all deviation from a totally negationist editorial line). The IHR is non-functioning. Most damagingly of all, the Internet has exposed the techniques of denial, and the movement cannot do anything other than wilt and wither when exposed to the heat of reason.

Read more!

The methodology of denial has not changed since the days of Rassinier, whose approach is summarized here by Elizabeth Strakosch:
Instead of basing his history on the convergence of evidence (overwhelming oral testimony, documents, etc), he based it on a convergence of doubt. Unable to cast doubt on the undeniable fact of the camps, he made isolated attacks on various aspects of the seemingly unified narrative of the Holocaust. He concluded that these various errors were linked together by a political conspiracy of the victors, rather than by the fact of the Holocaust. Thus he established the basic pattern of denial - dividing the event into its component parts and attacking smaller targets, thereby casting doubt on the whole without confronting it.
As we have noted before on this site, deniers use the cloak of 'doubt' to create negations: doubt is used, not to revise knowledge, but to nullify it. Strakosch thus shares our insight that the main debating strategy of denial is the argument from ignorance. This can be defined as the claim that:
'a proposition is true simply on the basis that it has not been proved false, or that it is false because it has not been proved true' (Copi and Cohen, Introduction to Logic, 9th ed., 1994, p.116)
Strakosch cites a passage where Butz uses this fallacy:
If it [the Holocaust] did take place, it should be possible to produce a book showing how it started and why, by whom it was organised and the
lines of authority in the killing, what the technical means were and that
those technical means did not have some sort of more mundane interpretation (eg crematoria), who were the technicians involved, the numbers of victims from the various lands and the timetables of their executions…no historians have undertaken anything resembling such a project (Butz 1975: 8).
This is what I mean by my title for this blog, 'The Convergence of Negation'. It is the logical next step implied by Strakosch's phrase, 'the convergence of doubt'. A supposed faulty brick is treated by deniers as proof that the wall itself is a hoax. The supposed inability of any single historian to fill in every gap in a narrative that has millions of components is seen as proof of a deception, without any attempt being made to construct a plausible narrative of how the hoax occurred, or to offer an alternative account of the fate of the Jews that coheres with the evidence. A single historian - or, even more absurdly, the writer of a single post on an Internet forum - is assumed to be 'debunked' if he or she has not summarized in a few pages or paragraphs the thousands of pieces of evidence, often only existing in foreign languages, which prove that every single event included in the term 'Holocaust' occurred.

Beneath this negationist methodology, there is a paranoid epistemology. Instead of 'revising' the narrative that they find so objectionable, with new evidence and interpretations, deniers demand that legitimate historians prove that there was no hoax. How exactly does one falsify paranoia? We can show that lesser conspiracies than a 'Holohoax' have always been exposed in the past; that it would be impossible to silence thousands of witnesses to a Jewish resettlement in the East; that a vast number of false confessions by SS officials cannot go unexposed indefinitely without someone retracting or resiling; that no bureaucracy has yet been devised that could construct a body of thousands of pieces of evidence that converge across continents and decades; that no resettled population entirely disappears in modern times without leaving a trace of how it disappeared.

We can show all these things but no paranoid epistemology will ever 'see' them. Paranoia, by its nature, is defined by the exaggerated powers that the paranoiac gives to the forces of darkness. It is a form of chimeria. We can see this in the current Cesspit obsession with the OSS, which apparently gave inordinate powers to Marxist sociologists and Irish-American film directors, no less!

The Cesspit's failure to recognize that it carries any burden of proof to substantiate any of this paranoid shit-slinging with evidence is itself an hilarious spectacle, and gives us a reason to smile as we enter another year fighting against lunacy and lies.

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