The danger for a Western democracy like the United States is not that we will become a Soviet style tyranny; we will not. Instead the danger is that we will lose faith in the civic institutions of democratic liberty, and prefer in their stead the easy answers of the social scientific outlook. These easy answers are illusory, they will not work even in their own terms, because their claims, unlike the limited dreams of democracy, are dependent on their possession of an independent basis in reality, which quite simply they do not possess.
The purpose of the Soviet example in this context is to point out the logical consequences of the social scientific outlook, and to demonstrate their outright refutation in the real world. The social scientific mindset has no justifiable claim to our affections. It robs us of our freedom to the extent to which we accept it. It is, in every instance, a lie. In some instances, as in those of 20th century totalitarian regimes, it is a deadly evil ghastly lie because it is excepted fully. But even in less serious cases, when its adherents’ zeal is tempered by the humbling winds of democratic culture, it is still a lie and still a danger to our liberty.
In every instance, it yields a form of arrogance which eats away at democratic values. The most important influence which the social scientific mindset exercises is not on government institutions, but rather on the attitudes of individuals. Convinced of the discoverability through science of easy independent and objective answers, we cease to ask great questions of ourselves. The subtle corrosion of liberty is the true danger we face. When one side in a democratic argument has come falsely to believe that his views are sanctified by absolute objective proof, it comes to disrespect the whole debate, seeing it merely as an argument between reason and unreason, between wisdom and stupidity, and therefore not worth any effort or respect. This side then feels justified in forcing its position on the other, and thus subverting liberty for its own falsely elevated ends. Worse yet, we citizens accept it.
The tyrannies of the 20th century arose as a product of these attitudes, but the collapse of those despotic monsters should not lull us into thinking that the threat is gone. The conditions which created them, the ideas which provided their foundation, are still very much with us. In setting forward the Soviet examples, I do not mean to suggest for one moment that the social scientists in our society are secret Stalins waiting for their chance to bind us all in shackles, but only that the assumptions of the social scientific mind set – assumptions which many Westerners accept in subtle ways-lead, at their logical conclusion, to a total tyranny of reason. They are unfounded and profoundly dangerous. The social scientists around us are not out to cause harm, but the assumptions which many of them, and many of us, accept and attempt to employ do lead us astray toward dangerous territory. The intentions of citizens and policymakers driven by these views are always good – to improve our standard of living, or education or health or welfare systems, to build a better world- but their methods and their means are nonetheless founded on false premises which threaten liberty with every application of their axioms.
From The Tyranny of Reason by Yuval Levin
When you possess the infallible truth dissent is evil, compromise is surrender, and the opposition is demonized and pathologized. But the fundamental assumptions are never questioned; the heliocentric model of the solar system was rejected because it undermined the faith in the Church. The social scientific outlook requires a religious like faith in its institutions that means it never admits failure or defeat. Arrogance is the great enemy of democracy and political deliberation.