Rietdijk feels that current intelligentsia largely adjusted to the status quo, among which are vested interests and habits of thought. So much so that, in actual fact, it has not much original to say anymore. Everything that has influence is humoured: from farmers to doctors, from many a cartel to immigrants, and also muddleheaded philosophy and art. (Only whistle-blowers are not.) They are humoured not only by politicians but also by the ideological speech-makers. The intelligentsia “institutionalised”. Only a few among such speech-makers fail to fit in the two main categories: “politically correct” (egalitarian) and “traditionally conservative” (kind to the rich, and back to religion, patriotism, sexual repression and convention).
Accordingly, in Rietdijk’s opinion, we should expect new developments and progress from what J.K. Galbraith called “the onslaught of circumstance” rather than from our poor thinkers. That is, such progress and actual developments in society, also as to new ways of thinking, will be concomitants of scientific, technological and economic (r)evolutions. For example, these produced radical changes in our thinking about religion, sexuality, social relations, euthanasia, convention etcetera. As a consequence, Rietdijk – who will put first and foremost reason and rational values – is more optimistic than most others. The more so because various developments he favoured for many years are starting to materialize now. A few specimens:
1) Freer sexuality and the development of a large-scale rational love market, in particular via internet;
2) More rational and less “mythical” ways of thinking about man and his qualities. Particularly note the role of genetics as to health, intelligence, personality, crime,… The relevant research also caused eugenics to come in the picture more and more. For example, compare the work of Lee Silver and the circumstance that, in connection with artificial insemination, the qualities of reproductive cells are advertised openly in the US.
3) The progressive erosion in the West of anti-rational ideologies: orthodox religion, nationalism, convention and (more recently) also socialism.
4) Also more recently, we see a partial abandoning of the soft approach of crime, Third-world immigration, squatters and the abuse of welfare.
On the other hand, there are disquieting tendencies too, among which have to be mentioned a massive here-and-now way of thinking, consumption mentality and increasing superficiality (everything should be amusing), also stimulated by the mass media and advertising. Increasing moral relativism, further, undermines values such as integrity and the prevalence of the common good on interest groups. Such superficiality as well as indolence also contributed to reducing the quality of upbringing and education. The latter now stimulate social conformism rather than independent thinking and the cultivation of rational values (optimise the common good). Compare Riesman’s other-directed personality as contrasted with the autonomous one. It generally has the appearance that Ortega y Gasset’s “rebellion of the masses” is now going on “on slippers”.
2. Deep Coherence in Nature
1) Rietdijk sees the world – both natural and social processes – as less chaotic (more coherent) than both most scientific and popular speech-makers do. His rationalism and rejection of uncertainty and chance are special aspects of this.
2) One among the scientific bases of this position is produced by some demonstrations he gave in the professional Journals, to the effect that the universe is four-dimensional in a realistic sense. This means that the future and the past exist “already” and “still”, respectively. (Earlier, Einstein expressed an intuitive preference for such idea.) This implies that the future has also to be definite, which means determinism. Such future and past that exist already or still also mean the possibility that present events could be influenced not merely by causality from the past, but also, “retroactively”, by a future that exists! Rietdijk also proved in the physical Journals that in some cases this indeed happens, though within narrow limits. Finally, he showed that such influences from the future are precisely in a position of constituting Einstein’s “hidden variable”. Note that, in Einstein’s opinion, the latter would define precisely those physical variables that, on the contrary, are considered to be fundamentally uncertain by quantum mechanics – at least within the famous uncertainty margins of Heisenberg.
Additionally, nonlocal influences that have been discovered rather recently and which are sometimes operative between mutually distant micro-processes, appear to be explainable within the scope of a realistically four-dimensional model of the universe. In about 30 articles in the professional physical Journals, Rietdijk also explained various other important phenomena from such model. For concrete references and a survey see
Books, Papers and Contributions to Conference Proceedings on Physics by C.W. Rietdijk. With an outline of Rietdijk's realistically four-dimensional theory on physics
Four-dimensional Reality and its Coherence – an outline of Rietdijk's theory on physics.
3) The conclusions of 2) mean that the coherence of physical phenomena reaches farther than mere local causality, operative from past to present, beside which there would only be coincidence and probabilities. For, because of Rietdijk’s above-mentioned results, there are additionally retroaction from the future and the nonlocal influences indicated that can be explained by his work. Jointly, these increase the control of processes by laws co-defining them and, therewith, the coherence of the world.
Rietdijk also considers the question of coherence via laws versus coincidence from the perspective of man and society. For example, he refuses to believe that “God plays dice with tragedies and human destiny”, which would indeed certainly occur if, in the last resort too, individuals would be co-dependent on “margins of fundamental uncertainty” and on the “free will” of others. This instead of the case that the entire pattern of events is deterministically defined by four-dimensionally operative natural laws that, in a four-dimensional world, can also reckon with results, that is, with the future, and are not merely operative via mutually unrelated causal chains from the past. In any case the relevant four-dimensional determinism leaves open the possibility that coherent laws define human destiny and the outcome of great events.
4) By the mere foregoing Rietdijk’s work contrasts with what he calls the “paradigm of relativism and uncertainty” which calls the tune in Western thinking since about half a century. Such paradigm, apart from these two concepts, is characterised by an emphasis on coincidence, the poly-interpretable, an absence of direction, subjectivism, macro-incoherence and often meaninglessness. It “governs” domains from micro-physics up to and including social science, philosophy and art. Rietdijk’s mere rationalism and determinism contrast with it.
Since decades it struck his eye that criticism of his work time and again concentrated on the fact that such work flies in the face of the above paradigm (that was never explicitly referred to), and, therewith, breaks away from the “fuzziness way of thinking” which we see in so many domains. In particular, besides his rationalism and determinism, his adherence to rational and objective values and human qualities, and to makability and the idea of progress, constitutes the pre-eminent object of criticism. His concrete explanations and theories, then, will be ignored.
According to Rietdijk, on the contrary, the paradigm in question cannot be based on rational argument but can even be refuted by it. In addition, it only answers to the preference of those many who prefer troubled waters rather than transparent coherence.
3. Line and Coherence in Social Evolution too
1) Rietdijk considers as the core of what he sees as the coherent process of socio-cultural developments an increasing refinement, depth, and extension as to applications, of human intelligence or reason. In science and technology, but also with respect to a rational value system, as to the management of society and as regards the arrangement of our emotions consciously and coherently. Such processes evolved from primitive societies via Antiquity, Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution to modern man, culture and society. Especially the leading elites participated in this.
2) The public interest may benefit from such “red thread” of increasing knowledge, skills, and rationality of values and general attitude to life (for which values only count in happiness and unhappiness, as contrasted with dogma and convention), many vested interests by no means do so.
A typical historical example is constituted by clergy and nobility during the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. More generally, dogma, myth, convention, privilege and censorship almost everywhere and during many ages opposed to the same “red thread” of increasing reason and rationality of values and emotions because these used to and will undermine or menace established power, privilege and ways of thinking.
Rietdijk shows that the whole of socio-cultural processes through the ages can be explained much simpler and more coherently as soon as we see the most important social and cultural dynamics as a struggle between “Enlightenment” and “clergy and nobility”, both conceived in the broadest sense of red-thread tendencies and their opposites.
3) He also applies this to the present in which – at least in the West – violence, censorship, dogma, convention and poverty as instruments of power have been largely succeeded by psycho-manipulatory ones (which have also been refined as compared with the past). Think of taboos, ideologies (from nationalism to political correctness), superficial conformism (again compare Riesman’s other-directedness), bureaucracy and, further, the paradigm mentioned in Sect, 2.4). Viz. the latter contains the ideology of at least relativizing truth, reason, values and coherence. Note that the relevant “fog and chaos” are also favourable to the status quo because they do not confront it with anything convincing and, further, because fog stabilises by its making it very difficult to move something from its place coordinatedly.
4) Within the scope of 3) Rietdijk explains many current socio-cultural phenomena from one coherent point of view rather than considering them as coincidental or mutually unrelated. That is, he sees many anti-enlightened forces that are anti-reason-minded – and also because of this tend to shield vested interests and in-crowds – conceal and disguise themselves, much more than clergy and nobility did at the time (that is, as to their anti-enlightened position). For in our modern economic, technical and rather rational climate, openly anti-enlightened ideas would not easily be accepted. Therefore, such ideas will disguise themselves, unconsciously but suitably. Of course, you don’t say openly that you want to keep people ignorant; it is far more effective to carry through “progressive” educational reforms which reduce true learning and general education. (Unconsciously, your intuition indicates such “political” roundabout way.) Further, you no longer fight free discussion and argument by means of censorship but keep on and on asserting that truth, good and evil will be “relative” and depend on non-rational “premises”, so that one truth, convention or policy is as good as another and, therefore, the truths and values of the powerful and the status quo cannot be objectively wrong. This also relativizes fundamentally the very idea of progress (or, as the manipulators will say, the belief in progress).
As important specimens of the relevant veiled “counter-revolution against reason and enlightened thinking” Rietdijk discusses in his work extensively various important socio-cultural processes and situations that, on the contrary, will be seen as “coincidental” by our speech-makers and which, therefore, are said to need no explanation at all. Among the relevant phenomena we see:
* Anti-rationalistic philosophies, such as existentialism and postmodernism, strongly dominate.
* Virtually no public criticism is passed on incoherent “modern” art. The latter seems part of an unofficial anti-rational ideology.
* The general climate is strongly dominated by the idea: “The world is incoherent and coincidental, man is irrational, values are subjective and relative, and (therefore) progress is an illusion (especially one based on reason and moral improvement, which is also relative)”. Such an unmakable world – also by “coincidence” – is very nice for conservatism (that currently often calls itself “progressive”).
* “Innovation” of education in the entire Western world, that actually amounts to keeping people dumb: less and less knowledge and learning. That is, less emphasis on general education and on coherence and line in the subject matter, from history and languages (grammar and the like) to mathematics (deduction) and physics (system and general laws).
* A juridical system in which complicated and often obscure technicalities and procedures are at the centre rather than simplicity, finding the truth, and good and evil. If truth prevailed one would bring in the utmost difficult position anyone – including his lawyers – who has to hide something. In this context, also think of releasing a defendant because of a technicality! This flies in the face of a rational ethic based on common sense.
More generally, Rietdijk’s argument that ethic can and should be founded rationally and, therefore, there is a mere one objectively correct one, meets much resistance from both (dominant) relativists and traditionalists.
A whole caste within our juridical system thrives on complication and a host of “rights” that often frustrate finding the truth.
4. Rejection of Taboos; Rietdijk is far from “Rightist”: he puts first and foremost Progress and Openness rather than Rearguards in a Broad Sense; on the Contrary, the Pseudo-Left Cherishes the Underclass and Dumb Pupils, or Considers them as Victims
1) Most taboos now appear around egalitarianism: the politically correct idea that people are of equal value not only juridically but also morally and genetically. Rietdijk feels such “correctness” to be reactionary also because it objects to enhancing genetic quality (eugenics, which can be considered to be the most vital variant of progress) and, additionally, does not oppose the immigration of even more “disadvantaged”.
2) Rietdijk also violates a taboo as he posits that, unconsciously, “leftists” favour such immigration because of “the more `deprivileged’, the more leftist votes (in the long run)”, and the more clients for the “progressive” disadvantaged industry (redistribution, emancipation, care of the addicted,…). Opponents of such immigration will be called “extremely rightist”.
3) Our “free” society is so much conformist and positive as against the establishment (vested interests) that it seldom looks for (unconscious) bad faith at the background of negative phenomena and social abuses, such as the soft policy with respect to crime, immigration, education, squatters or addicted. Sociology is so conformist that it does not even seek an explanation of the sexual taboos (mainly of the past): not so sympathetic intentions – bad faith – might have played a part in their maintenance, which would undermine the authority of “the group” or the establishment and its values in the first place. Our social science – by pure conformism – does not expose taboos at all anymore, as contrasted with Marx, Veblen, Michels,… Half a century ago, Rietdijk himself explained the sexual taboos as being in line with “traditional” censorship as to freedom of thought; in the sexual case it refers to the instinctive-emotional domain. The basic idea of his relevant explanation is that freedom of thought and of the emotional-instinctive, respectively, cause man to be more conscious, coherent, articulate and rational in the relevant domains, which makes him less manipulable, which is quite the opposite of what anti-enlightened interests want. As to the manipulation of emotions, think of religion, convention, nationalism and other ideologies. Nobody reacted to this explanation, and the speech-makers kept considering Rietdijk a rightist.
4) In all, he puts first and foremost progress, genetic and other human quality, reason and a rational value system, as well as the exposure of taboos, of anti-enlightened ideology and unconscious manipulation and, therefore, of the bad faith of various sectors of the establishment. In his opinion, “correct” leftism largely institutionalised to the interest group of “evolutionary rearguards” such as anti-socials and problem youths, from the soft-hearted “concern” with respect to whom many derive good positions. (This is a reason why they strongly reject considering “nature” too, in addition to “nurture”.)
Accordingly, Rietdijk criticises political and cultural correctness from the idea of progress (also as to human genetic quality) rather than the conservative position. Its mere aspects of taboo, and the ambiguity of it (and of current “liberalism” more generally) with respect to the idea of progress, cause “correct” leftism to be actually conservative. It will even take under its wing anti-rationalistic and anti-individualistic Third-World cultures and societies. (Think of cultural relativism, multi-culturalism and soft Third-World policies as to cruelty and corruption.)
Rietdijk feels himself to be one among the rare people who are positively interested in consistently extending the core ideas of the Enlightenment into the intimate and the unconscious (excepting the thesis that all men are good by nature), in the midst of a false dichotomy of the traditional right and a politically correct pseudo-left. A left which became the pressure group of those staying behind as to performance or moral or genetic level, and against the criticism of whom it keeps up the most vigorous taboos of our time.
5. Some more of Rietdijk’s Socio-Cultural Explanations; an Exposing Method of Thinking
1) According to sociologist Helmut Schelsky ideologists will be suspicious of technology because the latter makes man more independent of the superior powers of nature, so that he becomes less receptive to the social or religious messianism of such ideologists. Rietdijk radically extends Schelsky’s idea to a more general one. That is, not merely the ideologists but large sections of the establishment are not only suspicious of technology but, far more generally, of the earlier-mentioned complex of the “red thread” of enlightenment at all: more-than-instrumental reason, rational values, certainty, transparency and a coherent world that is far from poly-interpretable. More generally, they have a bias towards relativism, uncertainty and troubled waters. (Compare the paradigm of Sect. 2. 4.) These make people more dependent, uncertain and manipulable and – again compare Schelsky – more prone to non-rational messianism, among which is political correctness. Uncertainty, relativism and the poly-interpretable, therefore, are very popular among our speech-making philosophers, artists etcetera. Consequently, with the above extension of Schelsky’s idea Rietdijk exposes whole schools of thinking and most “incomprehensible” art.
2) Their aversion to independence and independent thinking also explains why major parts of the establishment will prefer seeing people to be “social” and group-minded. Again think of Riesman’s other-directed personality, that now dominates and is highly innerly dependent, not, this time, on the superior powers of nature but on those of “the others”. Also think of loudly proclaimed “uncertainty” and “unmakability” of life and society. All of this precisely fits in an extension of Schelsky’s idea as to the ideologists and technology.
3) The above partially appears in a specific way in the domain of religion. The latter also thrives on people being particularly dependent as to questions of life and death. This contributes to an explanation of the opposition of religion to abortion, euthanasia, eugenics and, partially and initially, contraception. Also think of the striking disinterest of religion as to scientific research into a possible hereafter: near-death experiences, out-of-the-body experiences, reincarnation and the like.
4) The whole earlier indicated climate of “the world is incoherent, man is irrational, values are relative,…” (see the third item at the end of Sect. 3.), anti-rationalistic and subjectivist philosophy and most “modern” art included, comes in a less than flattering light by the foregoing. In particular does so its nature of anti-progress-mindedness. In the past, those of an anti-enlightened mentality used to fight against reason and a rational ethic by means of violence, censorship, convention and superstition. Currently, they do so via relativation of the concepts of truth, reason, cogent argument, good and evil, with which they actually declare many things around “the great questions” to be basically uncertain, unmakable, subjective or otherwise troubled or beyond our power. Old wine in new bottles. There is hardly a sociologist or politician who seriously occupies him/herself with this kind of questions in an exposing way, which amounts to one more taboo.
5) One more specimen of indirect and unconscious anti-enlightenedness that fits within the above scope is constituted by the educational reforms which were carried through in the Western world during recent decades (and earlier in the US). “Intellectualism” and individual performance and independence have been more or less substituted by “the social”, skills and “learning to learn”. Coherence of the subject matter, deduction and general knowledge got less and less emphasis.
6) Relativism is a particularly essential element in the anti-enlightened, partly anti-scientific climate of current philosophical, sociological and artistic thinking. It implies every criticism of the status quo and any rational argument and conclusion at all to actually depend on “premises”. That is, on non-rational starting points (which will remain very unspecified). Such way of approach even better shields taboos, prejudices and “correctness” than censorship and jails did, whereas the relativists in question at the same time breathe a “progressive” spirit of anti-authoritarian thinking: everything becomes “loose” and noncommittal.
Do anti-reason, anti-coherence and a relativistic climate anyhow constitute an unconscious conspiracy? Yes, they do so in a similar way as nationalism was one earlier: a way of thinking and feeling that implied that – as one once formulated it – “many exerted themselves for the benefit of a few”. Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler and others, with their nomenklatura’s, indeed “concocted” such conspiracies unconsciously. And what to think of medieval Church which stimulated guilt feelings, or of the Greek leaders of Antiquity who said the gods to live on mount Olympus, but never took a look there? Will they unconsciously have realized it was a fraud, but one very advantageous to them? So much so that Socrates was condemned to death because he was said to undermine the belief in the gods.
Note that the above six explanations, too, fit within the larger scope of the antithesis of pro- and anti-enlightened forces as the central source of socio-cultural dynamics, everywhere and during all of history, as far as the primitive stage had been passed. The concepts clarity, rationality, coherence and the common good are essential in this controversy. The indirect method – shrouding, repression, taboos, the unuttered,… – is well-nigh inherent to the anti-camp.
Rietdijk sees it as a very strong aspect of his social core theory, as it has been summarized in the foregoing, that it explains so much from so little: from subjectivist and relativistic philosophy and modern art up to and including educational reforms, political correctness and the cults of uncertainty and the unmakable, the prominent roles of which can hardly be made clear otherwise. Such theory is both simple and coherent.
6. A Number of Rietdijk’s Theses that Characterize his Work
1. Happiness is a question of information and genes.
2. Evil is just as objective as the unhappiness that is the consequence of it.
3. Culture is efficiency in increasing happiness and in reducing suffering.
4. What is the meaning of truth if it is not true scientifically?
Paraphrasing Revel: Objective truth and goodness cannot but exist because it is so extraordinarily clear what their opposites are.
5. Society has no bases but efficiency and love of one’s neighbour.
6. The moral ruin of our establishment, parliaments an the intelligentsia included, is irrefutably demonstrated by the mere circumstance that it acquiesced in whistle-blowers more often being fired than being decorated.
7. I refuse to believe that nature plays dice with tragedies because its laws, also in the last resort, would only refer to local causes (and probabilities) rather than results too.
8. If paranormal phenomena actually appear, they do not demonstrate that the world functions less rational and less coherent than we used to think but, quite to the contrary, that its laws and coherences even extend to nonlocal phenomena. That is, to coherences referring to phenomena that are mutually distant as to space and time.
9. Philosophy is worthless as far as it does not bring us nearer to a coherent model of the world.
10. Art that lacks beauty, coherence and eloquence with respect to objective truths or values is mere pompous emptiness; it can be compared with the emperor’s new clothes in the well-known fairy tale.
11. The only solidarity we should aspire to is the one with the objectively good. For the rest, if something is not good in an objective sense, in what sense and why should it be preferred at all then?
12. The absolute truths of the past were wrong, not because they were absolute but because they were not true.
13. How can one be a moral relativist and at the same time subscribe to the opinion that the Nazi’s had no right to choose a value system by which the Holocaust was implied?
14. One who has nothing to say should hold his tongue. (Let nine among ten philosophers, politicians, ethicists, columnists and producers of “modern art” keep this in mind.)
15. Taboos constitute an informal way of censorship. Not only the ones about sex but also those referring to “racism”, “discrimination” and eugenics.
16. “Poly-interpretable” art, chaos, coincidence, relativism and uncertainty are much in demand, for the simple reason that troubled waters are so.
17. Social problems and abuses will be in the last resort moral problems. Underclass behaviour is one case in point. The explanation of such problems, then, should be sought on the moral level too. Dogma’s as well as relativism will counteract such approach. Mainly for such reason they are so popular.
18. Once I advocated the thesis that the parents of seriously handicapped newborns should have the right to choose euthanasia with respect to the child, after consulting some doctors. Much publicity was aroused and 54 % of the Dutch sided with me. Still, none among the prominent intellectuals or opinion leaders did so publicly. So radical is modern conformism.
19. Current Western values and purposes mainly amount to: consume and be amused. That’s why we lack more enduring values, motives of existence and vitality, also in controversies with other civilizations. We should scrutinize our values as to their being rationally deducible and, therefore, objective. For, as far as they are not, we cannot pretend our culture to be better than others. Egalitarianism, multiculturalism and superficial materialism obstruct the relevant soul-searching…
20. Softness on crime, addiction, the underclass and the like, disinterest in the idea of progress and an aversion to eugenics, the degradation of education and a general lack of direction, as well as a frequent experience of meaninglessness, are also concomitants of our lacking vitality, that in turn ensues from relativism and satiation. Therefore, one does not see crime, genetic rearguards and social abuses as clear flaws of the creation, but one reacts by “appeasement”.
From this mere point it is clear that such softness with respect to crime, genetic rearguards and abuses in the broadest sense does not stem from progressiveness but from its very opposite.
21. What a pity that historically the decline of authoritarianism of officials as well as of the sexual taboos came about in “the spirit of the sixties”. That is, a Bohemian ambiance – “here and now” and the incidental –, relativism, not-so-serious upbringing, and indolence. Is it impossible to combine bourgeois solidity, method and dynamics with the relevant freedom?
22. My opponents will keep silent because they have no arguments and, apparently, not much of a conscience too.
A more extensive outline of Rietdijk’s socio-philosophical ideas can be found on the page On Socio-Cultural Evolution – Outline of a Comprehensive Theory.
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