In our days, leftists are not really left. Traditionally, the right-wingers were conservatives seeking to preserve the time-tested order of things, and the leftists thought to change it for what they think is better. Since Plato, the leftists’ major qualification was their belief that immensely complex human societies can be fully understood, therefore redesigned, and therefore reshaped.

The nineteenth century saw a trend toward nihilism: the professed leftists didn’t try to create anything (however wrong), but only to demolish the existing order. Like everything else under the sun, save the Cambrian explosion, that trend wasn’t new: nihilism has surfaced time and again throughout history, usually in well-off, established societies. Why? Because some of the aspiring young people saw no place for themselves in the established hierarchy of the entrenched bureaucracy. Their way to the power was to demolish the old order. Nihilism is very simple: anyone can become a prominent nihilist. From the Ancient Greek Sophists to fringe Franciscans of the late Middle Ages to the modern “war-solves-nothing” peaceniks, nihilists pose as leftists, but they are really zealous ignoramuses. Unlike leftists, nihilists have no positive agenda, they only want to divert the existing ways of societies.

Here becomes clear the futility of debating nihilists on their terms. Like their Sophist predecessors, they ask their opponents to prove every premise—which is impossible. In natural sciences, including sociological and political discourse, the process of proof is different from mathematics. No hypothesis can be formally proved, but once it is both simple (Occam’s Razor) and not refuted by the available evidence, it is taken for truth. For example, how do we know that the earth rotates around the sun? Perhaps all the evidence has been falsified in an immense conspiracy; but in the absence of refuting evidence, we presume the heliocentric theory to be true.

Nihilists agree that throughout history, there was no goodwill among nations and conflicts were settled only by power struggles. They ask, however, how do we know that a different approach—e.g., of universal love—won’t succeed? Can we formally prove that war is the only path to peace? Of course, we cannot prove it; again, no hypothesis in natural sciences has been proven formally. But neither can the nihilists prove their point. Indeed, it is easily refuted by real-world examples: Laotian people, the paragons of peace, were bombed by Americans and overrun by Vietnamese. Jews in the Diaspora, paragons of humility, were constantly murdered. When debating the nihilists, don’t fall into their logical trap of formally proving your statements. Show that your statements are consistent with historical facts, and ask them to prove their own suppositions.

At this point, nihilists start saying there is no corroborating evidence for their hypotheses because no one has yet tried them; the peaceful resolution of conflicts is one example. Now you’re faced with two options. If you know history really well, you can quickly show that indeed such utopian measures were tried a number of times, and failed. Otherwise, you can just point to the impropriety of experimenting on societies. Think of it: nihilists protest experimenting on animals, exhibiting a Luddite aversion to progress by ethically unpleasant means. At the same time, they stage experiments on humans—indeed on entire unsuspecting populations.

When a religious or philosophical sect wants to establish its principles on earth, it first establishes a community, usually a commune of its own. Touting their own success as an example of the phenomenal success of their teaching, they attempt to convert others. In our situation, nihilists should try establishing a peaceful community in, say, Lebanon or Gaza, and if they manage to live in peace and sisterhood with Arabs for decades (or even months), that would constitute good evidence in favor of their hypothesis, which they can use for propaganda.

Instead, nihilists subvert the democratic process by pushing Israeli politicians to act against their electoral promises. Unable to penetrate popular opinion, nihilists took hold of cynical elites. The masses adopted the elites’ view, taking it erroneously to be wise or fashionable. Nihilists thus obtain popular agreement by deceit.

In natural sciences, every theory can be countered with: If? Nihilists press this type of argument. What if the Jews were more forthcoming to Arabs in the pre-independence period? What if we had accepted Arafat’s demands in 1988? What if we unilaterally disengage from the West Bank? There is no need to debate every “if.” The onus of proof is on the nihilists. They have to prove beyond doubt that if we abandon commonsensical, time-honored behavior, the results would actually improve. We go down the road walked by countless generations of humans; if nihilists want a detour, let them prove it would be less bloody than ours. In the absence of empirical observations of their method (which was never practiced for any significant length of time), they cannot bring forward such proof.

Look at deliberations in the court of justice. In the real life, as opposed to movies, attorneys rarely venture a killer argument. Even a most sound alibi can be questioned, even DNA tests might be variously interpreted. Attorneys heap up arguments of varying persuasiveness expecting that, on the total, the sum of their arguments would amount to a plausible explanation – as close to definite proof as possible in social studies.

Whatever argument you muster, nihilists can easily counter it. The religious right to the Land of Israel: how do we know that God exists? The historical right: if God doesn’t exist then the biblical stories are mostly untrue. National right: why should a nation have a state? Most ethnic and religious groups lack statehood. The right of conquest: nihilists declare it expired. So don’t drop a good argument just because malicious nihilists have found a retort. Instead, amass your arguments as circumstantial evidence: every single bit of it can be refuted but the whole of it is plausible. On the contrary, attack the nihilists’ arguments. They have so few arguments—and those are highly theoretical—that they cannot build up a body of plausible circumstantial evidence to support their agenda.

If you feel in a Sophistic mood yourself, try an irrefutable argument. It is considered fallacious in Aristotelian logic because by definition such argument could be never disproved, but it goes well against the Sophists. Consider this: This land is ours because God gave it to us, and the Torah is truth to the last word. This is a statement of belief, closed to nihilist discourse.

Nihilism cannot assail true faith.