February 15th, 2013

The left and the liberals

In yesterday’s thread on Limbaugh’s epiphany, commenter “DNW” asks some interesting questions:

I’m curious as to how many continue to believe the old saw that conservatives and libertarians on the one hand, and modern liberals on the other, “at base” and when left to their own devices, really want the same things out of life? How many continue to believe that they interpret reality, and experience meaning, and find their satisfactions in much the same ways; differing only as to the recommended mechanics involved in most effectively getting the maximum number of their fellows there?

I think that at least some of the confusion on the right comes from the perception of “modern liberals” as a unitary group versus a mix of fairly disparate ones. Those who believe it is a unitary group are, in my opinion, conflating two things: the rank-and-file, not-especially-politically-aware-or-informed liberals who regularly vote Democrat but who are not especially consumed with politics; and the committed leftists who rarely label themselves as such and instead call themselves “liberal” or “progressive,” but who are extremely aware and committed and well-informed about alternative history, PC thought, tactics, and strategy. The former (and larger) group is merely following the latter one, which sets the agenda, calls the shots, and manages the propaganda.

It is the former who fit the description of “basically wanting the same things out of life” as conservatives. It is the former who might switch their thinking if given enough information and time (and if they were interested enough to really pay attention to the right as opposed to paying attention to what the left says about the right).

I know that many people, including some in the comments section of this blog, disagree with the characterization I have just offered and say that everyone left of center, liberals and leftists alike, politically aware and active or not, are either (take your pick of descriptions) evil or at least very fundamentally different from those on the right. I think they are different, but for liberals (as opposed to hard-core leftists) that difference lies in the information they get and where they get it, and in some cases the ways in which they process and understand information. I most especially do not think they are evil, although unfortunately they may end up helping the triumph of evil.

I believe I know that about them because I not only know these people very very well, I basically used to be one of them in many, although not all, ways (I always was a critical thinker, for example—as are a certain small percentage of the liberals I know today). What changed is that I became more interested in politics and in learning in more detail about what’s happening in the world and I immersed myself in that, including an exposure to the arguments of the right. As a result I encountered new sources of information to round out my knowledge base, and ended up setting foot on a path that changed my political affiliation, although not my basic self.

I think that DNW—and others on the right with the even more extreme point of view that all liberals are evil—are motivated at least in part by their sense of outrage at Republicans’ and conservatives’ often wishy-washy reactions in the face of those leftists who are out to destroy the US and what makes it great and distinctive. So they want those “can’t we just all get along?” Republicans to realize how utterly serious this battle is, and how late the hour. And so, in their justified rage at the leftists, they are acting as though the leaders and those who do their bidding without much understanding or knowledge of what they’re up to are identical in terms knowledge and motivation.

I think it’s a distinction that matters, become some liberals can be reached (hey, even some leftists can be reached, as evinced by the life story of someone like David Horowitz, although that’s quite rare). We need to figure out how to reach those people, not to demonize them.

72 Responses to “The left and the liberals”

  1. DirtyJobsGuy Says:

    The key is to start with people who can have normal conversations. That is not even about politics, but can have a normal interesting conversation without pulling in politics. These people have other interests in their lives and enjoy people, thus would not poison the mood in the interests of proving their group identity. Like all liberals they think of themselves as smart/intelligent. We need to gradually pull an anti-NPR on them, by proving ourselves as interesting in a neutral NPR way, then exposing them to new ideas. Show them the values of liberty/individual action in their own terms.

  2. Baklava Says:

    Some liberals CAN be reached.

    I’ve done it and done it so thoroughly that in 1999 I converted an african american who does see things differently due to our conversations and philosphical discussions.

    In my discussions yesterday around the state capitol in Sacramento, CA I said to my walking mates that it really comes down to liberals not believing we care and therefore not giving our ideas any time of day.

    You have to show that our arguments are born of true love and believing 100% that it is better to teach a man to fish than give him fish.

    There are some states that a family 300% above the poverty line would fair SIGNIFICANTLY better with benefits than a family 500% above the poverty line.

    The family who is earning between $70,000 and $140,000 can often times be living a much harder life and lower standard of living than a family earning between $30,000 and $50,000 depending on location.

    The administrative cost of each of these 100′s of programs is 50% – 80%. Don’t believe it because ABCNBCCBSCNN didn’t report that? Sorry.

    It’d be cheaper for the government to just flat our give a check.

    But what we have is similar to the 1966 movie “The Blob”. The government is growing in every nook and cranny. It’s feeding on itself, justifiying itself, growing to enormous size without any votes.

    Without any votes people!!!

    Because CARB (CA air resources Board), EPA, Obamacare, etc are all government entities that have been voted for that without FURTHER votes are growing and growing and growing in the amount of regulations written each year and the number of businesses affected.

    We are past the point of no return because the number of poorly informed, uninformed, Democrat voting idiots who believe conservatives are racist, or uncaring are simply unable to bring a 60% majority Senate which is what is truly needed at this point to truly bring down this monster.

    The government will NEVER be brought down. We all as families simply have to prepare ourselves. That is all I can do for my family and hope to God that each one of you are also.

  3. Baklava Says:

    Let me re-phrase. The government will never be brought down in size.

  4. T Says:

    Baklava,

    . . . it really comes down to liberals not believing we care and therefore not giving our ideas any time of day.

    You have to show that our arguments are born of true love and believing 100% that it is better to teach a man to fish than give him fish.

    I wholeheartedly agree., As I have writen here before, the conservative/traditionalist message will be taken seriously when it is repeatedly presented as the serious message it is. That can never happen with the current leftist-biased media which prima facie treats all things to their right as “evil.”

  5. holmes Says:

    Most liberals I know are not evil, and are as Neo describes them. They want to help people and they think that government is the way to do that because Civil Rights and FDR. And Republicans are probably racist and in the tank for big corporations too. Those thought trains are what keep them in the herd. It’s why it’s important for the media to run stories about dog whistles. It’s why it’s important to show, when Republicans oppose tax increases and such, or regulation, how those things benefit some big corporation. And it’s why every dollar cut when discussed be linked to some program that helps minorities. The narratives need to live.

    But the hard Left is a bunch of evil people, often pathological.

  6. Jack Says:

    I like the description of the so-called “hard” Left versus the “soft” Left.

    The “soft” Left are the sort of people who get their news from the Daily Show and Colbert and consider those as valid news sources, or at least much more valid than Fox. They consider themselves well informed, but they are simply well informed on what the Left’s biggest talking points of the day are. These are the sort of people that will wave a flag at the Olympics and chant U-S-A, or be respectful of the national anthem at sporting events, and consider these acts to be their yearly dose of patriotism.

    The “hard” Left are the ones who study and really learn the Left’s talking points from the web and “hard” Left cable news. They are ready with pre-prepared statements to make on any topic. They speak not out of any real knowledge or insight but by rote, spouting off memorized screeds written by the Left’s policymakers. It’s like they are the non-Arabic speaking Muslims who memorize and recite the Quran in Arabic without really understanding what they are saying, only that they have to say it. You can’t have a normal conversation with these people because they will interject politics into everything, taking swipes at conservative bogeymen or women to see if the person they’re talking to is of like mind, or if they aren’t and take the bait. And then they’re off–spouting their pre-packaged talking points, refusing to listen, and talking over their now-opponent. These are people who under no circumstances would display a flag or root for the US in an international competition because all they know is “USA=evil”.

  7. heliotrope Says:

    Why is it that liberals can not openly lay out an agenda supported with facts and debate the merits?

    Could we, for instance, do health care reform planning in the open, without the demagoguery and with specific targeted goals that would have have a sunset provision in order to reconsider what has worked and what has not?

    I agree with Herman Cain’s assessment of liberal “debate” and style: When pressured, they shift the topic, ignore the facts and end up name calling.

  8. artfldgr Says:

    Nail on the Head…
    nothing to say… now looking at comments..

  9. Mike Says:

    If there is a rank and file democrat and a truly committed progressive or liberal the more dangerous and also hideous is the rank and file Dem voter.

    The “progressive” true believer is a crazed mad man or an evil tyrant (from the classroom to the Oval Office).

    Only the rank and file votes them in as President, or Speaker, or Senator, or Mayor, or Teacher of the Year.

    The only true menace in contemporary America are regular everyday Dem voters. They are willy-nilly destroying civilization before our eyes. And they do it on the way home from Starbucks.

  10. artfldgr Says:

    the only thing i can comment on is the concept of evil

    they are not evil, they are sociopaths and pragmatic, and to those who are not that way, they are evil because normal people see such things and put them in a collective bucket. which is why we cant resolve some of them (don’t kill, kill in war, etc).

    they are beyond evil…

    even evil has limiting doctrines, and they do not have any. power for powers sake, and perversion for its pleasures whatever that can be, and so on.

    they are really embarrassed that their greed had let them lose power, and now are happy to get it back.

    the sad thing is that perhaps i should have been on the other side. knowing what i know, i would have been valuable rather than a target. and what makes it really sad…

    is that i will have died for people who hated my attempts to help them, rather living with monsters helping to eat them up.

    they would not come around until they were sure, and now they are sure, its over. many many of us whose families are not from here, know it, knew it, and we been talking about it for decades.

    but you cant save a person who wants to be killed.
    can you?

    and while the men of the US don’t want to be killed, the women want it so badly they have over a dozen ways they are killing their own…

    regardless, of things…
    those with skills and wide abilities will do ok..
    thats why i have so much, ex soviets taught me so that if something happened i would always have coin with my neighbors.

    but the average neo american dolt, will starve or eat his children. compared to russians that did, and did not want to, these will trade recipes.
    .

  11. SteddieH Says:

    It seems to me the “soft” left, or “rank-and-file” Neo describes are primarily emotionally accessed…i.e. if you can successfully manipulate their emotions on a subject you can manipulate their vote. I know that can be said generally for everyone but where I see the difference is conservatives can usually think past the initial emotional response and glimpse at the reality behind the propaganda (good or bad). I think this is what Dr. Sowell referred to as phase two thinking…not just seeing the proposal/law/tax/Obamacare initially but then also asking what the short and long term consequences (good and bad) will be and basing their decision on those potential consequences.

    Phase one thinking? War on Drugs. War on Hunger. War on Terror. Obamacare. Benghazi. The list is getting longer every day.

  12. thomass Says:

    “I know that many people, including some in the comments section of this blog, disagree with the characterization I have just offered”

    I agree with him AND this. The liberal left, IMO, had something of a brand breakdown with “the era of big gov is over’ Clinton. Moveon filled the vacuum. A lot of lib democrats are now adopting the leftist line due to partisanship. Their team leaders say XIZ so they say XIZ. Only problem; if you adopt a track long enough eventually it becomes the real you. If you buy / are steeped all the leftist arguments long enough w/o rejecting then….

  13. Richard Aubrey Says:

    wrt the “soft left”: You’ll hear them say, “I just want…[fill in some wonderfulness]” as if it’s a valid objective, a valid, objective reason to support something or other.
    To hear, “I just want to figure out something that will work about….” is to hear a conservative.

  14. expat Says:

    Another problem is that the “soft” left risks social ostracism if they think outside the box created by the intellectuals and higher status celebrity types. It takes a lot of work and integrity to research and form opinions that may cause your whole friendship circle to collapse. One wrong question or statement could take you off the guest list for the next big party. It’s better to just remain part of the superior tribe that knows all about ignorant clingers.

    I tend to avoid confrontations with such people, but when a topic comes up, I do share my personal experiences that contradict the received wisdom and then express my measured concerns about why such and such a program won’t solve the problem. It also helps to identify areas in which these people seem to already have some questions about left positions. For instance, I am noticing some grandmother acquaintances who are having to fill in when their kids’ jobs don’t give them enough time to take care of the grandkids. They know that children need families with mothers and fathers. First you have to scratch the glass, then crack it a bit before it breaks.

    Maybe someone like Benjamin Carson can even do this with blacks. It will be interesting to see what he gezs into when he retires from Hopkins.

  15. southpaw Says:

    Neo I tend to agree with you, and would further breakdown or define your first group to include a large percentage of people who get their political cues from their peers and are choosing sides based on their social circles. That would describe me as a younger person, not very well informed or inclined to be, but confident my friends who expressed opinions and spouted facts knew what they spoke of. I at least knew they were better informed than I, which seemed a reasonable approach to things I was marginally interested in.
    These people can stumble into new circles or change opinions fairly easily, because they haven’t invested much of their own beliefs in the first place. I tend to think there are a lot of these people running around, but I might be way off base too.
    There is another subdivision of liberals I encounter just as frequently, who would insist they are well informed, But have no clue about what they are talking about. some of these are genuinely surprised when you show them something that shatters a long held belief. Most are unwilling to argue a point when the facts say otherwise, and prefer to revert to “I’m entitled to my opinion” if all else fails. Chalk that up to stubbornness.
    And There is definitely a committed left working for hearts and minds at many levels of education, government, media, etc.- which is decidedly not the case with conservatives. Some of them are dishonest, self serving, and will harm as many as it takes to acquire power and control. But they are proving it only takes a few well placed ones to destroy everything .

  16. Artfldgr Says:

    the problem is that in this day and age, the world is a smaller place and distance is less of a wall between externalities

    as Occam has pointed out before, when the world woke up to the truth about the Molotov deal with Germany, the left lost people like an auditorium on fire.

    Bear Bombers Over Guam
    Russian nuclear bombers circle Guam

    Two Russian nuclear-armed bombers circled the western Pacific island of Guam this week in the latest sign of Moscow’s growing strategic assertiveness toward the United States.

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

    “Every day brings new evidence that Obama’s ideological obsession with dismantling our nuclear deterrent is dangerous,” Bolton said. “Our national security is in danger of slipping off the national agenda even as the threats grow.”

    Defense officials said the bombers tracked over Guam were likely equipped with six Kh-55 or Kh-55SM cruise missiles that can hit targets up to 1,800 miles away with either a high-explosive warhead or a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead.

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

    “They were sending a message to Washington during the state of the union speech,” one official said.

    The bomber flights also coincided with growing tensions between China and Japan over the Senkaku islands. A Chinese warship recently increased tensions between Beijing and Tokyo by using targeting radar against a Japanese warship.

    The U.S. military has said it would defend Japan in any military confrontation with China over the Senkakus. The bomber flights appear to signal Russian support for China in the dispute.

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

    there was no mention about whether the same applies to Taiwan, Singapore, or other nations…

  17. DNW Says:

    It’s been a long day and I’m probably suffering from a caffeine hangover, but I should probably offer up a couple of comments which might clarify at least my own position and thrust.

    I guess I could bullet list some points as simple and terse subject predicate statements, but instead I’ll sacrifice comprehensiveness for the sake of, some at least, context.

    My view on progressives is not necessarily that they are evil (this, for purely semantic reasons), nor that they are misled.

    My view is that – and here I am going to sound like I’m aping C.S. Lewis’ prediction which someone mentioned recently – is that they giddily believe have moved beyond the very concepts of objective good and evil.

    I know this from long experience debating progressives over issues of political and economic freedom, and constitutional construction.

    They simply don’t share the same foundational predicates. It’s not just a matter of some religious dogma, it’s a matter of things as basic as whether the law of non-contradiction can be defended, whether there is a coherent self, whether natural kinds exist, or have any importance when it comes to ordering our lives.

    An Orthodox Jew and a Baptist certainly don’t agree on the nature of the person of Jesus Christ. But they both probably imagine that reality “is real”, that life is fundamentally purposive, and that humans have an intrinsic dignity traceable to an objective reality rather than to a mere convention.

    Liberals, on my view, and in my experience don’t. For them reality is the encounter of inexplicable appetite with moderated chaos. Ordering is for the sake of pleasure, and power and knowledge serve in aid of a pleasure which is conceded as ultimately pointless.

    Can progressives actually become a different kind of moral being? Well they certainly seem to believe so. You see very run-of-the-mill progressive types make the claim every day in venues as trivial as Youtube.

    They clearly think, or at least claim to think, that evolution guarantees it; and that they would like to help this redevelopment of what it means to be human along as best they can. By gaining control over the life choices and opportunities of as much of humanity as they can so as to administer the proper reinforcements unhindered, it seems.

    For my purposes then, I am assuming that they can perform this moral metamorphosing act they boast of, wherein they reorder their hierarchy of adjustable appetites and ends according to an outlook which boils down, really, to no more than a kind of hedonic nihilism.

    And because of the way they talk, I assume that many of them have more or less successfully done so.

    To restate: they think that their view – at least so far as their listening public (you and me) is told – is justified on certain negative metaphysical postulates they hold regarding the issue of the intelligibility of reality, the concept of intrinsic meaning, the status of moral statements.

    Even the most casually engaged liberals and progressives will advert to and advance these negative theses when questions of value and life ordering come up.

    The upshot is that I:

    1, am willing to place aside any questions of good and evil and restrict myself to questions concerning the formative implications of holding certain views about reality and human nature.

    2, That I would grant and in fact do grant that whatever core nature might be common to all humans, a very serious part of what we are is the result of choices we make and that these choices can lead to the creation of a being which is radically different in its moral makeup from what we are used to thinking of as a general issue morally edified western man.

  18. parker Says:

    A minority on the left are indeed ‘evil’. They are willing to stack the corpses high to achieve total dominion. The majority on the left are a combination of the following: naive, indoctrinated, overly emotive, stubbornly resistant to the lessons of history, and willfully choose to see-hear-speak no evil when it comes to realizing the dark side of human nature. These character flaws make them very difficult in general, but not necessarily on an individual basis, to engage them in an honest, fact based conversation.

  19. DNW Says:

    Regarding ordinary liberals/Democrat voters as opposed to vanguard progressives, Neo concedes but advises:

    ” I think they [too] are different, but that difference lies in the information they get and where they get it, and in some cases the ways in which they process and understand information. “

    I am very curious about the phrase “the ways in which they process and understand information.” as a difference.

    Can you think of examples that would illustrate the case?

  20. parker Says:

    “Maybe someone like Benjamin Carson can even do this with blacks.”

    Until a few days ago I had no knowledge of Dr. Carson. He is a force for the left to fear if he ever tosses his hat into the rain.

  21. Baklava Says:

    Parker,

    He’ll be destroyed.

    I linked his video of his speech next to the president on facebook and got a few likers. Usually I get no likers on my political comments about taxes and spending.

  22. DNW Says:

    Neo writes:

    “What changed is that I became more interested in politics and in learning in more detail about what’s happening in the world and I immersed myself in that, including an exposure to the arguments of the right. As a result I encountered new sources of information to round out my knowledge base, and ended up setting foot on a path that changed my political affiliation, although not my basic self.”

    Ok, here’s the rub as I see it. You seem to be saying that your ends remained the same, but that your allegiance to the team changed as political information adjusted your view of which team could best bring about the ends you always valued.

    My question is: how could there ever be any misunderstanding that the progressive project is fundamentally geared to ultimately illiberal (in the classical sense) ends?

    The only possibility I can see for such a misunderstanding would center around this social “caring” business, wherein modern liberalism, because it is geared toward social management through the dispensation of satisfactions could be misconstrued as “caring” for the human person.

    If you bought that line, it would be a long hard slog sorting out where the materialist premises of progressivism began to actually work against human well-being while ostensibly “caring” for the body through the politics of redistribution of wealth.

  23. Baklava Says:

    Exactly DNW.
    Dispensation is seen as caring.
    Non-dispensation is seen as not caring.

    They then tune out to anything else as the YEARS of brainwashing have already got them riled up.

    Hours of conversation is not something the average person is willing to do with an open mind.

    There are people who can see things differently after:
    1) an event has them searching for answers
    2) A person they trust engages them in conversation.

    Generally this simply won’t happen as like minded people will talk amongst themselves and cement that mind shut further.

  24. neo-neocon Says:

    DNW: it’s actually pretty simple.

    My values never changed; still haven’t. I always was upset, for example, by things such as affirmative action, which I considered a “two wrongs make a right” fallacy. I never bought PC thought. And I could go on and on like that, listing the things about the liberal agenda that I didn’t like. The thing is that, when my political identity was formed, these things were not part of the liberal agenda (at least, it was certainly not clear that they were, since they hadn’t really occurred yet). Remember that I grew up during the 50s and 60s (I never bought the radicalism of the 60s, either, but at the time liberalism still had room for a much more moderate view).

    During the 80s I was too busy raising a young child to pay a lot of attention to politics, and then in the 90s I was busy living minute to minute because I had sustained a series of very serious injuries and was in chronic pain of a fairly severe sort (for more than a decade). I’ve written about that on the blog, but in political terms it meant that my attention was very much elsewhere, to say the least.

    I think that perhaps my “conversion” would have occurred sooner had I been paying attention, because as I said when my attention was grabbed by something I often had little warning bells go off that something wasn’t right. But basically, during those years I felt that the liberal agenda was more likely to lead to the greatest good for the greatest number of people, while preserving liberty and equality of opportunity and all the things I still believe in. The turnings points (and here I am summarizing very much) occurred when I realized how much that I’d learned from the media was a lie, in combination with learning how blatantly pernicious much of the liberal means now seemed, plus the fact that even many of the social programs that had been supposed to make things better simply were not doing so. Meanwhile, society (the family, education, etc.) was going downhill fast, as I could not help but notice more and more.

    I’m not sure what you call a “long hard slog” but the whole thing probably took about two years from start to finish. As I said, though, there were already many many warning bells that had gone off for decades; I just didn’t have a framework in which to understand what they meant, and that they were all part of the same process.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    Baklava: by the way, during my change process I never spoke to anyone from the right about it. In fact, I barely spoke about it to anyone at all; just one or two people, and by that time it was pretty much over. Almost everything I went through I went through alone, in front of my computer, or maybe reading a book, and thinking.

    I didn’t even realize something was changing until it had pretty much happened, even though it happened slowly (over a period of about two years). I just thought I was thinking about stuff.

    Which I was.

  26. parker Says:

    “He’ll be destroyed.”

    If he has skeletons in the closet you may be correct but if he’s squeaky clean and never put a dog on top of his car or opened a Cayman account he would be viable.

  27. neo-neocon Says:

    DNW: about “the ways in which they process and understand information”…

    I was referring to logic vs. emotion, and critical thinking. It is my contention that liberals have a tendency to use emotion more, and critical thinking less. However, that’s a huge generalization, because I know quite a few very very logical liberals who are very good at critical thinking, and yet come to very different conclusions than mine (some of which is based on having different sources of information). Some are young and don’t have as much experience in the real world; perhaps that’s part of the difference.

    And I know people on the right (mostly on the internet, because in real life I don’t know many people on the right) who are very emotional and not especially logical or big on critical thinking. So it’s complicated, you see.

    But if I had to generalize, I’d say that liberals in general are more emotional and less likely to be critical thinkers. Yes, and more likely to be women. That’s just a fact.

  28. neo-neocon Says:

    DNW: oh, and by the way, another thing that always raised warning bells with me was moral relativism. I first encountered it in college and it seemed so obviously wrong that it seemed to me it was hardly worth arguing about; only a fool would believe that. Little did I know how big a deal it would become.

    Also, over the years, I’d often get into verbal tussles with people about things, and not realize that we were having political differences. For instance, in the classes I took in preparation to learn how to be a therapist, I was always arguing with teachers and other students about moral issues that seemed very obvious to me, such as, for example, whether the ends justify the means—should you lie to clients in order to manipulate then in certain ways, for example—I always said NO!, but almost no one agreed with me, which was very puzzling. Later on—much later on—I realized we were having a political argument, not one about therapy at all, and I was on the conservative side and they were on the liberal side. I simply had not realized it had any political elements at the time. But when I looked back, I saw that I was always on the conservative side of all of these arguments.

  29. DNW Says:

    “I think that DNW—and others on the right with the even more extreme point of view that all liberals are evil—are motivated at least in part by their sense of outrage at Republicans’ and conservatives’ often wishy-washy reactions in the face of those leftists who are out to destroy the US and what makes it great and distinctive. So they want those “can’t we just all get along?” Republicans to realize how utterly serious this battle is, and how late the hour. And so, in their justified rage at the leftists, they are acting as though the leaders and those who do their bidding without much understanding or knowledge of what they’re up to are identical in terms knowledge and motivation.”

    I won’t dispute your interpretation since you don’t even intend it as a definitive analysis.

    In my case, it might be worse than you imagine. Worse, because I am not even outraged by the left. I am in fact somewhat (albeit grimly ) amused by the outrage of those on the right who sputter uncomprehending questions as to “How could they!?”.

    As for the right itself, I am puzzled. I cannot figure out whether they are stupid, cocooned behind comforting dogmas which obscure their vision, or convinced that they dare not break the china while defending against the bull in the shop.

    (Re. the latter, I once as a little boy and while projecting certain involvements onto him that were not really justified asked my Dad concerning spies, “Why didn’t you guys just kill them when you found out who they were?” He had to explain the rule of law, the importance of formal adherence to due process, and the benefits of waging war with rules)

    But more like Evangelicals trying to argue atheists into a belief in God by poking at passages in a Bible the atheist mocks as a fiction, like the “constitutionalists” quoting Jefferson or Madison to a Marxist who sees them as impeached members of the executive committee of the ruling class, conservatives just don’t seem capable of grasping the core problem.

    Thus, while it is true I am annoyed enough at the wishy-washy can’t we all just get along theme, I am more perplexed at the inference problem. The problem of the clear modus ponens left dangling without the conclusion that defines and aids in recognition.

    I do not want a government that “rules”. However,

    If X knows that he wants a government that “cares”, then X knows that he wants a government that rules and reorders

    X wants a government that cares.

    Therefore …

    Well, we are afraid to say …

  30. Artfldgr Says:

    DNW that first post was great…

    Taken one more step to squeeze a dram out of it. if they like pleasures, then what pleasures are liked best?

    The forbidden ones that only those with absolute power can enjoy. For they are such pleasures, that without absolute power, they would not be free and safe to fully enjoy it, as fear sours the milk and distracts the focus

  31. DNW Says:

    eo-neocon Says:
    February 15th, 2013 at 7:29 pm

    DNW: oh, and by the way, another thing that always raised warning bells with me was moral relativism. I first encountered it in college and it seemed so obviously wrong that it seemed to me it was hardly worth arguing about; only a fool would believe that. Little did I know how big a deal it would become.”

    If you had always been a critical thinker, and the evidence seems to bear it out, it would have dawned on you, even if not with perfect clarity, that descriptive moral relativism (as we are loosely using the term here) ultimately undermines any positive prescriptive case it tries to make.

    Ok, my brain is beginning to cloud over … DNW has left the office!

  32. neo-neocon Says:

    DNW: oh, and also—back then, I was unaware that moral relativism was something liberals espoused. The liberals I knew (my parents, their friends, etc., members of the Greatest Generation) were about as far from moral relativism as possible.

    I learned about it in a philosophy class, or maybe it was an anthropology class. Out of any political context.

    I don’t know how old you are, but you have to understand, this was a REALLY long time ago, and society as a whole was very very different.

  33. lacune Says:

    Baklava, I wonder if the likes you got of Carson’s speech were actually from liberals who liked what he had to say because they assumed that he was a liberal as well.

    As we know, liberals avoid listening to conservatives at all costs. Those that revile Rush Limbaugh and Fox News the loudest have never tuned in. The only way they would listen to a conservative speaker is if they didn’t know their political leanings. My guess is liberals saw a black speaker with Obama in the audience and tuned in to hear a speaker that was on their side.

    And we know the usual harsh criticism made blindly against videos of conservatives by lefties would be exponentially more venomous if they knew the speaker was a black conservative.

  34. carl in atlanta Says:

    DNW at 7:29 pm:

    “But more like Evangelicals trying to argue atheists into a belief in God by poking at passages in a Bible the atheist mocks as a fiction, like the “constitutionalists” quoting Jefferson or Madison to a Marxist who sees them as impeached members of the executive committee of the ruling class, conservatives just don’t seem capable of grasping the core problem.”

    I think you’re on to something there. but the challenge is to clearly and directly describe THE CORE PROBLEM, no?

    And that’s easier said than done, though I believe that several folks here are getting very warm…

    Keep trying!

  35. expat Says:

    Re: Carson. Check him out on Amazon. He already has a following, but his message wasn’t seen as political until now.

  36. Artfldgr Says:

    DNWI am very curious about the phrase “the ways in which they process and understand information.” as a difference.

    Can you think of examples that would illustrate the case?

    I can take a stab at this, but its probably not the same thing that neo would say, or even be the same answer.

    we all think we all think alike, and we somehow manage not to pay attention to ‘crazy’ people enough to notice that we dont all think alike.

    but lets, for the sake of argument, imagine that we are all twins, and not genetic combinations. that we are in some horrific world where millions are as exactly the same as can be.

    the arrow of time, and the concepts of thermodynamics (which also apply to information), and all the stuff as to ‘reality’ you want to refer to – mean they all experience the world from a different point, and in no way will have the same collection of experiences as inputs nor even if they did, would they necessarily happen in the same order and time base.

    invariably this causes even perfect copies to live a causation life, in which the collection of experiences are part of their pool of knowing which in a synergistic way, influences their thinking in a way different than another pool would

    however, this doesn’t make them blank slates as the progressive tabula rasa claims. because in the real world, no two are alike, not even twins (as a recent twin rapist is about to find out as they look deeper into the code to divine which is the one that did what was done).

    the full mathematical potential of genetic code of humans is much much larger than the local pool of variations that they reside in, which is actually within a local space for all life. you can think of plants, animals, etc, as occupying different local spaces not too far from each other.

    what is the range of numbers from zero to what that the genome can hold?
    being 3.5 billion bases long (give or take), and there are 4 possible values for each position (actually more, but lets keep it simple, and also ignore dna in humans that is made from four rather than two lines of bases).

    4 raised to the 3.5 billionth power

    don’t bother to even put it in a calculator… it would take your computer years (i don’t know how many) to just flash it on the screen.

    now on top of this are things like methelations, and some incredibly complicated machinery that generally puts those that really can comprehend it in awe. I am not going to say what these are for in the abstract as that is a paper idea me and someone may write in he near future (if there is time). but they raise the permutative size of the solution space.

    given that the machinery that copies us is not perfect, and there are slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in space and time,and causation, no two entities are ever the same, no matter how close they appear.

    so now, you can make the whole of the world the same, put them into it, and run them through a scripted life and you will find that at every fork of a decision some will go one way, some will go the other, as predictable anything dont live long (or rather… if a higher intelligence can predict a lower intelligence then the lower one is at the mercy of the higher one. for those that dont believe, do note our animal farming and reaping the oceans, fish lures, and scents, and so on).

    since the reality is not scripted, and they are not the same, then the two concepts are now variable… what is the same in reality can be exploited and as creatures change different things become available, and so on. (too much to get into and its hard for me to not diverge).

    you always have degrees of similarity and leaps of difference. nature is plumbing a solution space and averaging out what we are in our life spans in terms of which is best. so the span of humans can vary a lot, and we see this wide range because we are human and are sensitive to it. we look at other animals and cant see the wide range because we are outside and not made to amplify the right things.

    now, what is our brain for? what are we for? well, a sterile answer that i think the progressives would like, and is valid, is that we exist for the good of our genetic existence in terms of fertility (and influencing it if not fertile). 99.999999% of what we are is infertile in the sense of not procreating, and becoming a freaky jelly mass. its the small fertile part surrounded by a complicated body that keeps extending itself and trying to keep from changing as much as possible (if it finds a sweet spot to live in. like sharks for example).

    the universe is constantly changing. there is no such thing as permanents, even the pyramids will be gone, even the planet will be gone, even the solar system and the galaxy… will one day be gone. we are never ever in the same location twice, even if location loses its meaning once you get large enough.

    our brain is an invention by our gonads to serve its purposes. the cells of our bodies can not serve their own, so they serve the fertile cells. those that are better at it, and better being so loosely defined as anything that works, get to keep going. bacterias genes live for hours, and are so loosely defined given plasmids and such, that they dont go far from where they are without some profound pressure. but as you go up the chain… beings life longer, which extends the life of the particular sequence of genes, and so slows down the whole chain of them the more successful that chain is.

    so if you look at humans generations in time (meaning rate of change, and so not being the same being) compared to bacteria generations, the best genes are changing slowest. :)

    now the brains job (not in terms of fertility but at its most basic), is to make a model of the world, and put a consciousness in it, and link up that model with the real world so that what happens in the real world, also happens in the model.

    i have a HUGE complicated paper on this, but i do not have the kind of people around who would read it, or even understand it given its references.

    anyway… by doing it this way, life creates an interface between the real world and the brains functions/structure, and its learning, and so on.

    we do not perceive the real world, we perceive the model of the real world that is aligned with the real world. this is the only explanation that will satisfy all the strange symptoms and ranges of perception that humans have from sanity and functional, to schizo, or depressed… while matching language descriptions of feelings in terms of poetry, or colors. we even intuitively know it putting the perception of it into our literature.

    so we are born with a kind of chaotic model machine that takes in information and cycles it… as it does it builds up this model more and more and more. the model is skewed.. its not like a movie camera. it is not faithful to the reproduction, its functional to it (and can be faithful because information can be fed into it and be self referencing).

    this model has to do a lot of things. one thing it has to do is project your existence into the immediate future and call that ‘now’… the reason is that there is a delay between perception and processing. but you don’t perceive it, and not only that, this illusion is constantly supported by the fact you don’t miss catching things or predicting where something will fall, and so on.

    if you actually lived in the now rather than a short projection in the future, you would always be late, and the faster something was the worse you would do, and that would not have to do with muscle speed as limitation. it would be like trying to drive a car with a loose linkage with a 4 second delay on a winding road. (and some peoples minds are like that)

    the side effects of this machine once it gets to a certain point, and lots of information is fed into it, is that we can do a lot of amazing things, that we are amazed at and have no idea how we do it at all (yet). being we are in this model, our model can be solid, or it can be loose. it can be based on a lot of information which is not filtered, it can be based on a lot that is filtered. there is all kinds of mixes and its all synergistic.

    this is why a color blind person doesnt know they are color blind till they start adding up the clues and so on. but that would have to be after there is speech, and on and on. the more ‘good’ information you put in the model and don’t muddy it, the more that model can project and discover things about reality by running gedankens and mini simulations. but the less we put in, we still function, and we still function well, because the model is made to function in the local world and the local world informs it, even if the model doesnt think about that world but just is in it. so a person who is less intelligent in knowlege, has a less rich model basis, and has less ability to project that model, and their predictions in that model are not as good. same with erroneous information. the model machine dont care, it thinks everything is true, even if its not, and it has its quirks as to how persistent things are.

    i can go on… obviously.. (and everyone will yell)

    but we can turn this quickly back to politics and what we are looking at in that by controlling what goes into the model, you control the functional world the model makes to put the consciousness in.

    you do not get to define the consciousness, you get to define the model.

    this is why the same education wont elicit the same outcomes.

    there really is a you in there…

    but aside from that, your brain is functional and its meant to serve that you, and so its trying its best to make a cohesive model. if the information it gets is not cohesive, it will try to plaster over it, or come up with some way to deal with it so that the person is functional in the world that is also making the model (and homogenizing it to reality that they bother to experience and see or learn about)

    so a young person, can be fooled.. their model is not as well formed. their consciousness in the model wants what most want… but the model has not gotten to that point yet. we intuitively know this and we don’t give 5 year olds a chainsaw… usually… but can if we were teaching this machine enough before then, and then taught it then, and so on.

    models that are less formed are also the same as childs models… so if a person does not take in as much as others, he or she can stay in an adolescence longer because their model hasn’t yet reached critical.

    being smart, this might just give you a bit of explanation of why the distractions, and toys and dream movies over more real fair.
    watch too much before your model has formed its foundation, and your model will be off until you do get enough to correct it if you ever do.

    as a person gets older, they take in information. most of it is hidden from the consciousness… (except in some people with certain conditions). but while its not there in terms of seeing it or feeling it, it does inform us and it does cause the consciousness to make the choices it does… and it believes its not being influenced. but the more it knows, and the more it knows how it itself functions, the more it adapts to that and corrects that too.

    eventually a person gets old enough, and if they have chosen to be in the real world and not tinted it over and skewed it.. the games that were played on them in their youth start to fall apart… that is unless they can keep you in the bubble. ergo women’s magazines always talk in intimate mode and tell them what men thing. god forbid they would go ask them, believe them, and tell the wackos that are skewing their world to take a leap. (yes we can skew each others models. and the way they work, we also treat models closer to our genes better, so leaving distant strangers with your kids… bad idea)

    once that person gets there, they start to then look to other things. dissonance is our machine getting that consciousness to move the input device to a location to get information to make the model better. when young it was school, when older its curiosity and persistence. either way, the model is making its reality better if it can… (but if it drinks poison, it will not know it, and wont know why its model is failing either, it may lash out at other models since models can poison other models)

    when it does this, then it starts to have a revelation. this is the model reforming the reality around the consciousness. if its more in line with reality, it will be like waking up, and seeing things they never saw before. a rebirth. if not, then the model has to play games to make it all fit, and we tend to try to avoid things that will get our models to shift that way. and yes, you can have false shifting, ergo religions that are more real, and religions that are less real, and the arguments between them… (don’t get me started on god… :) you wont like what i will say as it wont be what you want it to be. lets just say that various theists of many stripes like me)

    and so, when you read the stories of conversion, you are really not reading a conversion, so much as a realignment with reality, which makes people more functional. (which is why they don’t usually go back – once you get smarter, getting dumber is hard – and so the game is to try to stop the procession)

    so we all do not perceive the world the same ever
    and yet, we do, because its the same world

    like the world… every day is mostly the same with days changing so slowly in terms of how every day is, that it seems permanent…

    given you like CS Lewis (i think you said so. i may be wrong), i will end with him, and say that they are not nihilists… nihilists want nihilism. they are materialists, and so nihilism is their only not wanted conclusion. of course they are wrong, but they have really built their box tight. mostly because they pay more attention to their own thoughts than what they are supposed to use those thoughts on… reality… this is why their ideas of reality are so far off. they go to pre school, then kindergarten, then grade school, then high school, then college, some more college, some more college, graduate school, and so on.

    now… when did they ever get to build up the model of the real world and its real world principals? their models are majority constructed by what they read and then built by the descriptions. then at some point they become philosophers, and cant think their way out of a paper bag… because the bag is real, and the bag in their head is not, and they operate on the bag in their head, that does nothing. their desire is to be right more than to have the right answer (which would lead to being right more, not the art of lying)

    anyway…
    “You say the materialist universe is ‘ugly,’” wrote C. S. Lewis to a young skeptic in 1950. “…If you are really a product of the materialistic universe, how is it you don’t feel at home there?”

    there is more to life and thought than to conclude there is no more than nothing… what is the purpose of mind that is larger than the purpose of nature creating the mind? why are we artistic and not robotic? why feel pleasure, just for bait? once your mind can make the choice of whether to take the bait, or to arrange it on a platter, or add music, and so on. its no longer a survival thing, and its more than what just a survival thing needs, as evidenced by all other life.

    What if the material is not whats real since none of it is permanent in any real way – none of it. and our tests show, that it may not even be there when we are not looking. which makes it odder… doesn’t it?

    :)

  37. expat Says:

    Here is Juan Williams on Carson:

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/02/15/why-dr-ben-carson-is-my-hero-it-not-what-think/?intcmp=HPBucket

  38. Artfldgr Says:

    by the way, sorry for the length.. but i put a lot of information there in a tight space and you can derive a lot from inference from it.

    for instance, in the section i talk about the model projecting forwards in time, so that you can meet reality which is ahead of the processing delay.

    you can explain clumsiness as the model predicting wrong, so that your in the wrong place when the model and reality meet. athletes in sports of timing, have much better models in this area. (i am avoiding the way its made and trying to link up everything into one cohesive concept that then becomes a good basis)

    anyway.. sorry for the length again…

  39. Highlander Says:

    I know a lot of traditional Democrat voters who espouse what can only be described as conservative values when talking about things other than politics. They seem to be unaware of the leftist turn of the Democrat party over the last twenty years. I am convinced they go to the polls and vote for a party that no longer exists.

  40. neo-neocon Says:

    Highlander: That last sentence is very well and succinctly put.

    I agree with you. That’s what I would have been doing, had all of this not happened to me.

  41. neo-neocon Says:

    Artfldgr:

    Actually, that’s exactly how I would have put it :-).

    (Obviously I’m joking there.)

    But I’ll desist from shortening that particular comment of yours. It is quite beautifully expressed, deeply thoughtful, and also in your own words rather than a series of cut-and-paste quotes.

  42. Bob From Virginia Says:

    Out here on the prairie the Lakota tell a story about two buffalo, Godfrey and Millard. One day they were stampeding with the rest of the herd when Godfrey turns to Millard and says, “y’know, this head buffalo that is leading the stampede, I am sure he does not care about anything but feeding his own vanity, he does not understand or care to understand anything about the dangers the herd faces and the only reason anyone is following him is because he is an albino. And by the way he is leading us to a cliff where we will all certainly be killed”.
    And Millard answered:
    “Shhhh, be quiet, you’ll be overheard and we will be ostracized from the herd”.

    Therefore, forget about trying to reason anyone into commonsense, reason is not going to take out of a person’s head what reason did not put there. There are two ways in which Obamism will be rejected by the herd: one it causes a major cataclysm that cannot be blamed on someone else. The MSM is going to make sure that this does not happen. The second is that a young sexy, as in hot, representatives will be found to endorse conservative values. In a society where the superficial is all that is important and where the masses are immature only the sexiest message, the message that makes one feel about oneself, will be listened to.

    Frankly I see absolutely no possibility that the traditional American value of limited government and support for democracy aboard will ever return. I see amnesty for the millions of illegals who become Democratic voters effectively ending the two party system and I see Peronist type politicians religifying (that is a word I invented meaning to turn anything into a religion) their campaigns to assure a power base of mindless, devoted true believers. In short a North American Argentina, a nice country, but one stands for nothing.

  43. ErisGuy Says:

    How did Woody Allen put it (in “Manhatten”): “No, physical force is always better with Nazis. “

  44. carl in atlanta Says:

    Artfldgr at 8:53PM last night:

    Jeez, now you’re scaring me because (1) I was able to read it all and (2) I was able to understand at least some of it.

    Note for future reference (and I do mean this kindly and constructively): I wouldn’t say this applies to most folks but in your case the liberal use of the phrase, “and so on” actually makes your writing MORE readable. I guess it helps you stay away from those unreasonably long (and sometimes strange?) digressions that sometimes characterize your comments.

    Anyway, if I was a younger man I’d pass you my joint and say, “Far out man!” LOL!
    Have a nice weekend.

  45. sergey Says:

    I have seen a tremendous shift in mass conscience in Russia when so-called “perestroika” opened sources of information that was suppressed by communist censorship before. In just few years almost nothing left from 18 million strong Communist Party. It disappeared as snow in spring, only a few orthodox true believers continued to follow these discredited views. It turned out, that this ideology was a walking dead incapable to survive censorship-free information landscape.

  46. Sharon W Says:

    DSW’s first post nailed it for me. The good and evil question combined with reality and one’s own choices. I believe it is a small number that actually knowingly embraces evil, but Hitler, et al could not have carried out his program without the assistance of the people loading up the trains. I will give them all the benefit of the doubt…they didn’t know they were serving evil. But does their “innocent” beliefs absolve them from culpability? I’ll leave that to God. But we are surrounded by citizens that are believing pernicious lies and tearing down the structures of our nation with both hands. Yes, probably most thinking they are doing good, but of course the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Knowingly or unknowingly, the results are with us. The wisdom of the 10 commandments has been substituted with PC doctrine. The lies people believe inform their decisions, from the politically engaged to the occupier.

  47. Sharon W Says:

    DNW not DSW.

  48. Richard Aubrey Says:

    We wouldn’t have to worry about the dems/left/libs except that they keep getting elected. Were it not for that, they’d be as much of a concern as the Byzantine Anarchist Party.
    Very few of the voters share many of the characteristics described above.
    My impulse is to refer to them as mouth-breathing DTWS fans. And worse.
    Can’t be so mean about my relations, but I’d leave out “mouth-breathing”.
    I go with “emotive”, except I’d have to look that up. My experience is that, when faced with a logical problem to one of their ideas, they revert to “I just want….”. Either that’s their idea of ratiocination, or it’s a put-off.
    They do no recognize logical, objective, factual issues when such get between them and the “I just want….”
    As to what and why they just want, I’ve come reluctantly to the conclusion that they pick those just-wants by what makes them feel good.
    Expanding welfare is being good to the poor people. That it creates dependency–getting off welfare is frequently taking on a 100% income tax–means nothing to them, except that it provides them with an opportunity to revile the person who says it as being mean.
    Then there’s DWTS.

  49. expat Says:

    Sharon,

    I think that while many of the people who loaded the trains may not have subscribed fully to Hitler’s evil, most were giving in to their own evils: greed, power, status, order, the need for a scapegoat that would protect them from reality, etc. Today we have mediocre minds unable to face their own mediocracy and welcoming the scapegoat clingers. It is so much easier to call others racist than to admit that you would never associate with an illiterate black who lived in public housing.

    Art, I too found your post very enlightening. Good work.

  50. stu Says:

    Speaking of mindsets, I have found that all of my liberal friends actually live their lives like conservatives, except when discussing their political opinions or when entering the voting booth. How they reconcile a successful career based on meritocracy and a stable family life, with their trendy views is beyond me.

  51. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    Hannity did an hour special with Dr. Ben Carson last night. The man is very impresssive. He’s not the least bit slick. Some of his solutions to our problems are wonky and would be a hard sell to moderates or low info voters. However, he is so engaged, so earnest, that people get what he is saying when they didn’t seem to get the same messages from Romney/Ryan. Brilliant as he is, he is a man with the common touch. Is this the man consevatives have been waiting for to carry our banner? I pray that he might be.

  52. SGT Caz Says:

    I’m not convinced that there aren’t some differences psychologically between leftists and rightists. http://praxamericana.blogspot.com/2013/01/risk-and-reliability.html
    But I am sure that the left has been a coalition party for most of its existence, and what unifies them is a loathing for the “dominant” culture of business, Christianity, and various forms of prejudice. This is garbage, of course, but perceptions of the broader world are reality and people get them from the media.

    I was somewhat firmly on the left until a couple of years ago, because I considered it the rational party versus the mindless traditionalism of the right. I learned, and I’m obviously not the only one. But I’m not holding my breath for others to simply come around; I really learned when I went back to school, and found myself beleaguered by people who hold their opinions for thoroughly non-rational reasons. Besides, more than ever, being older does not directly translate into being conservative, and this generation seems like it will view “conservatism” as a distasteful word throughout their lives, as is somewhat the case among many people already. What neo describes as rank-and-file liberals are extremely vulnerable to such trends in thought and discourse, and they are also the kind of people that are most easily brought in by gimmicky notions of economic stimulus, constant underdog boosting, and justice through empathy. The right is at a disadvantage here.

  53. DNW Says:

    There are so many comments here that deserve follow-up that it would probably take a book to register them and the replies. Since that’s not feasible, I’ll try to direct my attention to what I think are some significant ideas in and of themselves.

    In the matter of emotion and evaluation.

    Neo-neocon Says:
    February 15th, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    “ DNW: about “the ways in which they process and understand information”…

    I was referring to logic vs. emotion, and critical thinking. It is my contention that liberals have a tendency to use emotion more, and critical thinking less. … a huge generalization, because I know quite a few very very logical liberals who are very good at critical thinking …
    And I know people on the right (mostly on the internet, because in real life I don’t know many people on the right) who are very emotional and not especially logical or big on critical thinking. …

    But if I had to generalize, I’d say that liberals in general are more emotional and less likely to be critical thinkers. Yes, and more likely to be women. That’s just a fact. ”

    There are two things we can infer as going on here within your description: a description of how you see 1, the phenomenon of emotion based judgement as empirically or anecdotally weighing out among conservatives versus liberals, and 2, the logical implications regarding any disparity when it comes to the evaluation of the role of emotion or affect in arbitrating or resolving individual responses to political questions.

    In other words, who does it more, and what does doing it mean?

    The second aspect presents a more difficult question.

    Liberals in fact are often pleased to charge as per consideration 1, “Who does it more?” , that the run of the mill conservative is the emotional one. His preference for the status quo, or for a carefully evaluated approach to mandated action, is portrayed as a kind of emotion-based impulsion itself, rooted in a supposed “fear of change”, in a selfish wish for self-preservation and enhancement, or in the sentimental attachment to an idyllically conceived past which is asserted as having in fact rested on the pillars of social oppression, exploitation, and human pain.

    Thus with 2, we confront the issue of the significance of a, reacting emotionally per se, as well as the matter of b, the significance of evaluating a course of action (perhaps calculatedly) from a position of an emotional attachment.

    Then in addition under issue 2, and here is the real differentiator in my opinion, is c, the matter as to whether reason, and reasonableness, and intelligibility, are taken as intrinsic, or morally significant and objective and conditioning features, of reality itself.

    1.Who is more emotional?
    2. What are the significance and implications of
    a. judging emotionally reflexively
    b. judging “biasedly” based on historic emotional attachments and perceived self-interest.
    c. judging on urges held to be impervious to reasoned and objective evaluation

    Now, back to “a”, I’ll grant your point that women are on average apparently more emotional than men. If then, women make up a greater relative proportion of liberals than do men, and if the converse is true of conservatives, it follows that the class of liberals is on average more emotional in that “a” sense than are conservatives. And if as some studies indicate, liberal males are less sexually dimorphic and testosterone suffused than conservative males, and tend as liberals more morphologically and mentally toward the female pole than do conservative males, then the conclusion regarding the entire liberal category would seem to be reinforced. At least as regards “a”, or “emotional” conceived of as a pure and virtually unmitigated emotional reaction.

    It is as regards “b” however, i.e., the emotional commitment to what has gone before, the valuing of past positive experiences and the wish to repeat them, and the skepticism or dislike of being herded along new self-sacrificial paths in the name of an abstract progress, that liberals think that they can score their points against conservatives. And to some degree, they are correct.

    Whether the conservative can effectively rejoin that the liberal does not appreciate the past because the liberal is on average so organically dysfunctional as to be a misfit under virtually any circumstances demanding self-management, and therefore must always be fleeing toward a new more comprehensive order and support, is something to be debated.

    Point “c” however is where as I see it, the clearest and least contestable gap exists. It concerns the question as to the status of reason, and therefore in complement, the status of emotion, as the arbiter of human questions of evaluation.

    The modern liberal, in general, acknowledges the human ability to proportion, weigh, calculate, project and foresee, and all the other facets of the process we call reason, but denies both 1. a special ontological status to the process; and 2. denies that it has a distinctive, or even morally imperative role to play in the shaping of man’s life.

    Calculation for the progressive or modern liberal exists simply as the instrumental expression of a particular organic faculty and merely serves in aid of the realization, rather than sits in judgement upon, any particular felt urge or satisfaction.

    It is here in the celebratory dethroning of formerly “holy reason”, in the mockery of man as ideally defined as a “rational animal”, and the defenestration of consciousness from the pilot house of the mind, that the core of the modern liberal project is found.

    The progressives then, does express the wish to rationally, that is to say calculatedly or at least directively, manage man’s life. But for what? So that “man”, may experience centrally distributed emotional fulfillment, i.e. “justly”. These being experiences which on the progressive’s own interpretation, have no teleological or ultimate point in being realized in the first place, other than the fact that the urge exists as, and “within”, an evolutionarily mutating phenomenon.

    Yet on the progressive view, to object to this utilitarian“rational ordering” in pursuit of what are admittedly conceived of as essentially and ultimately pointless satisfactions, is to react “emotionally”, to fear change, to be selfish.

    Now couple this emotionally motivated impulsion of the progressive to the progressive project of the deconstruction of the self itself, and you are left asking: What then, given the dissolved self, is the progressive project really in aid of? Apparently it is in aid of an urge which is taken to be both self-justifying and reductionistically real, but which in accordance with the progressive’s definitional scheme, cannot even be much more than characterized as an urge located among a constellation of shifting processes that sometimes seems to speak with one, monitoring, conventionally human, but ultimately illusory voice. There being, no there, there.

    If that project is not fundamentally irrational and nihilistic, I can’t imagine what else would be.

    A note on Lewis. Several others have mentioned Lewis here, and I recognize that we are 70 years later living the themes he projected.

    Where I differ from him, as best I remember his point, is that he saw “men without chests” becoming something else than man entirely. He though that evolutionary emergent philosophies of value argued in just as circular and self-referencing a fashion as the Tao style theories. And he accepted the fact value dichotomy, at least for the sake of argument, as I recall.

    What I doubt even he could have foreseen, though I am open to correction on this, is that moderns would embrace moral nihilism the way they have and would migrate by the underlying force of their own logic whether admitted or not, toward something much more ontologically bizarre in principle, than the mere totalitarian state or termite heap: the status of nothings.

  54. DNW Says:

    I see that with the phrase,

    “Now, back to “a”, I’ll grant your point that women are on average apparently more emotional than men. ”

    I actually seem to be addressing “1″ who does it more, than the significance of any particular style “a”, “b” or “c”, of emotion influenced judgement.

    My concession is not merely that liberals do it more, but the implication that women when liberals may do it more. But I acknowledge that I have not presented the social or political implications, such as long term political irrationality and the perseverance of the nanny state, in acknowledging Neo’s point.

    I’m much more preoccupied with the relatively recent phenomenon of the open moral nihilism advanced by some philosophers, and the peculiar result that comes from applying the very kind of reductionist analysis the left practices on traditional schema to the utilitarian framework which they generally take for granted as established.

  55. DNW Says:

    Art,

    Are you advancing an objective idealist perspective?

  56. Tim W Says:

    Neo: Been reading since close to the start of your blog. Just another commenter who’s been thinking about liberalism for decades, trying to understand. First comment.

    Following up on STG Caz…

    I think, at the end of the day, people fall into two camps: those for whom truth is a higher value (perhaps not highest, but at least high-er), and those for whom “ego” (more precisely, preservation of their view of themselves as a “good” person) is the highest value. This doesn’t automatically sort left/right, but trends that way — many/most of the former are, or will probably end up on the right, most of the latter will eventually end up on the left.

    This is distinct from the “hard/soft” designation: Thomas Sowell was a Marxist, even — but an open-minded one. Same with Horowitz: he’d been raised in a certain milieu, but when sufficiently ugly facts reared their head, he adjusted (now he’d be considered “hard right”). Conversely, a guy like Florida’s Charlie Christ is ultimately swayed by the need for adulation, and to be seen as “with it”.

    Being open-minded, you were an easy target for conservative thought, once you were exposed to new information, and a few key myths were shattered. But I don’t believe most on the left — hard or soft — work that way. (Odds decrease with every year of age.)

    I could tell my own conversion story, but we all know it: the most important feature is that when I tried to share my newfound facts with my other center-left loved ones, instead of “Gee, that’s important!”, or even “I disagree, and here’s why…” I met (and still receive)… well, you all know, the standard gammut of bizarre behavior: conversational bulllying, lies, topic changes, demonization, blatant hypocrisy, twisty logic, scapegoating, and so on. Everything except rational thought.

    It isn’t that Democrats are those tend to think emotionally. Not at all. Many are completely rational on other subjects. It’s that their “ego” is attached *to this subject*, so being wrong is literally unthinkable, and the bizarre behavior is simply the only way out. Better to cut off your former lifelong best friend than hear more facts which undermine your ego/religion.

    Did I mention scapegoating? That’s huge. Part of the liberal/left described above aren’t merely content to *disagree* with conservatives — rather, they need a group of people to look down on. Mitt Romney isn’t merely wrong, he’s a target of derision. Paul Ryan isn’t merely mistaken, he’s the kind of person who’s push granny off a cliff.

    (This is why leftism in the past was so frequently found with racism. And why, having sworn off (open) racism, they’re now more virulently partisan. The condescension Democrats channeled towards blacks & Asians are now directed at conservatives, Christians, and Israelis. I’m grateful to Renee Girard for making this point clear.)

    The scapegoating makes it *far* more difficult to admit error: conservatives weren’t simply wrong (on some minor issue), they were evil or otherwise morally inferior on the most import thing *evah*… and to agree with them suddenly would make one’s self everything one had formerly demonized… a bit like expecting David Duke to become black, or Yassir Arafat to become a Jew.

    Again, this isn’t related to being hard/soft. Many who are truly “unreachable” are also so “soft” (at least in their own eyes) that they don’t even think of themselves as “Democrats” and don’t like the term “liberal” or “progressive”. And yet, unfailingly, they follow the script they’re given, despite whatever protests they emit.

    I honestly can’t say I’m very hopeful. Sure, we need to do what we can to make our case — and the information is out there for anyone who wants to read it, just as you did. Thomas Sowell. National Review. Instapundit. Dennis Prager. Charts and graphs galore. Even Rush. (Who converted Brietbart.) (Not a Rush fan, personally.) We’ll always scrape off a few. Your own blog, even.

    The right isn’t failing for lack of making its case.

    But the typical leftist – hard or soft – is not swayed by accurate information. They want group membership, promises of security, ego stroking — not freedom. And I’ve concluded many would rather (I mean this literally) die than admit they’ve been horribly wrong. (This mechanism is why all failures in Middle Eastern countries are attributed to “the Jews”, whose influence is clearly nonexistent in their region… cf Gold Meir’s famous quote about children.)

    I can get into structural reasons for this sea change in the US, much of it having to do with mass media’s ability to construct and maintain a fantasy. But I believe our role is simply to appeal to those we can, but, ultimately, go down as a witness to our culture.

    I’d sure like to be wrong, of course.

    But, either way, this life isn’t all there is; it’s rather temporary.

    Best to you, and thanks for all your writing.

  57. Ymarsakar Says:

    “I know that many people, including some in the comments section of this blog, disagree with the characterization I have just offered and say that everyone left of center, liberals and leftists alike, politically aware and active or not, are either (take your pick of descriptions) evil or at least very fundamentally different from those on the right.”

    A good general knows how to use even horrible soldiers to win a war, whether the soldiers lack intellect, motivation, skill, or health.

    A bad general just throws good men after bad, until the bodies pile up, then retreat and declare political victory back at the assembly party hall.

    In so far as one is fighting a war, it’s neither necessary nor efficient to attempt to annihilate the entire enemy, when one can capture and subvert or convert a portion of the enemy’s force. The highest battle skill is not winning through fighting, but finding ways to win without fighting. Which is to say, getting enemies to kill themselves, while the strategist sits and watches from above.

    We will certainly need to purge 50% of the enemy alliance, whether due to irredeemable evil or sheer obstinance, but there are plenty who will get the message and desert or merely defect.

    “We need to figure out how to reach those people, not to demonize them.”

    Almost all the methods, the successes and failures, have been exemplified in previous conflicts. COIN, Vietnam, Vietcong, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

    Applying them to fellow Americans, doesn’t seem to sit well with many people, however. They lack the will, and when there is no will, there’s no way for them to get it done either.

    Besides, it’s not necessary to demonize cannonfodder on the LEft. The Left, as a cult, will do far more horrible things to their own heretical members than we can ever think of. All it takes is to suggest to the leadership and power mad brokers of the Left, that “this” particular individual is beginning to think about defecting to us. They will take care of the rest all on their own, from then.

    In much the same way as Mao used to launch raids from within neutral villages, in order to wait for the counter insurgency devastation to be applied to those villages, giving him new recruits, so the same can be said about any other conflict with unequal power ratios. The occupation forces must respond, but if they end up killing people who are neutral, they merely force factions to join Mao. It all depends on the perception of the people as to who is really to blame, plus what their options are. The Leftist alliance cannot afford to be ripped apart by their political contradictions, so they will discipline their own members. They have no better option. By that, I don’t mean they will call for corrupt Leftists to resign, but that they will discipline members in much the same way as cults that use brainwashing and torture discipline their members.

    The more the LEft shows their true colors, the easier it is to convince people of what they don’t want to believe. The totalitarian tyranny, does most of the work for you. If you wish for emotions, then why don’t you check out how many Americans the LEft has killed, tortured, imprisoned, destroyed, and stomped on for the last 12 years? It’s not hard. Wouldn’t people who are oppressed by the Left, be the easiest members to convert.

    The more the Left tightens their grip, the easier it is to convince people of the truth. But the harder it is to actually survive against evil.

  58. Ymarsakar Says:

    P.S. Much as one does with criminals and evil doers, there’s this inclination to understand them. As humans, at least adults, think in terms of problems and solutions.

    What I’ve found is that I went about it in the reverse. First I learned how to kill criminals, then I learned how to deal with them diplomatically and socially, and then I came to understand them, rather than fear them or attempt to get rid of them. The order in which that is done, isn’t a coincidence or a result of luck. It is the natural order in which humans comprehend foreign or alien forces and thoughts. Because until one has committed oneself to the battle and war, comprehension of one’s enemy, doesn’t arrive.

  59. Richard Aubrey Says:

    If the elephant in the living room is inconvenient to a soft liberal’s view, the animal will be a labradoodle of mellow disposition. Attempts to point out the difference will be met with accusations of caninephobia, hating, and various forms of illogic. Accusations of watching Fox News.
    Problem is deciding whether the person knows it’s an elephant and is lying to you, or really sees a labradoodle.
    In the first case, there isn’t much to say.
    In the second case, there isn’t much to say.
    In either case, maintaining some kind of civil feeling toward the person is difficult.
    And, when it craps like an elephant and debate is no longer possible, it will be the Koch brothers’ fault for killing the nice labradoodle and substituting a disguised elephant.

  60. Artfldgr Says:

    Are you advancing an objective idealist perspective?

    i wouldnt know…

    all i know is what i have in combining didactic education, lots of deep thinking, a freaky memory, lots of reading and lots of time out and about….

    it would be strange to think of me as an idealist. perhaps what we could be isn’t so much an ideal in as much its potential and choice.

    there is no way to compel an ideal that would be ideal. and even if you could find the one person who could pull it off, they would die and some other jackass will have their hands on the steering wheel.

    i am quite the realist, but more in the sense of lao tsu. the world and reality are what they are, dont fight that so much, and get along with it. which is my brand of realism. it also tends to have lots of difference answers as i mostly look beyond what people are doing or trying to accomplish.

    take the idea of saving creatures from extinction.

    its silly as they are no more permanent than anything else. you cant hold back the impermanence, and create perpetuity. so you cant really save them, just extend their existence a little while longer at mostly great expense.

    things like garbage are only relevent in one time band than others. and the deeper we dig, the more complicated and amazing things are, which is something the public generally misses out. after all, such kind of gets people in a theological frame.

    i guess i am not really answering…
    its not the kind of question i excel at
    (part of is that a lot of those categories dont make sense other than as termporary labels for telling one thing apart from another. they seldom today capture essences or even any real definition as often the entities that their assigned to switch places and the person using the terms nary cares)

  61. Artfldgr Says:

    given the way i learned, you will find profound holes here and there… when i find them i try to fill them… :)

    i just looked it up… and no. i still dont think so.

    i am just describing what i have figured out… a model that works quite well, in that you can describe what varies in it fulfills what symptoms or actions…

    things mostly are what they are and we act and most of our lives are accidents we try to navigate as if we knew were we were going even tough there is no direction to head towards

    a lot in what i say, if i had more space, could be referenced across a wide landscape of various disciplines, with physics, and that kind of thing being the most dominant… if those things end up creating a model that works that fits the idealist objectivenist thing… then maybe thats what we got… no intent on my part, just models that work to explain and so give insight.

  62. Ymarsakar Says:

    People have levers that can be used to manipulate them. In 2005, I had a hard time thinking of what could possibly sway the Sunni tribes from their insurgency to our side. Eventually, it seemed they found a common enemy, Al Qaeda, and by engaging AQ with US help, trust and communication were forged. AQ had shown their true colors and their allies couldn’t stomach em any more.

    Every group of people has something that will sway them, even if they consider you heathens and enemies right now.

    Just got to find the lever and crank it all the way. No matter how many die in the process.

  63. parker Says:

    “It turned out, that this ideology was a walking dead incapable to survive censorship-free information landscape.”

    “I think that while many of the people who loaded the trains may not have subscribed fully to Hitler’s evil, most were giving in to their own evils: greed, power, status, order, the need for a scapegoat that would protect them from reality, etc. Today we have mediocre minds unable to face their own mediocracy and welcoming the scapegoat clingers. ”

    “Problem is deciding whether the person knows it’s an elephant and is lying to you, or really sees a labradoodle. In the first case, there isn’t much to say. In the second case, there isn’t much to say.
    In either case, maintaining some kind of civil feeling toward the person is difficult.”

    Today, the walking dead lead the elephant doodle to train and have not the least concept of a scape goat. Scape goats are not scape goats when you know in you heart of hearts that anything that differs from the conventional MSM wisdom is evil.

    One does not have to subscribe “fully” to be a handmaiden to absolute evil. All it takes is reading the NYT or staring at MSNBC or listening with slack jaw drool to the inane utterances of the messiah.

    It is sad to contemplate that one day they will be targets of opportunity, against our best wishes. They keep pushing but know not what they push against beyond the cliches. Unfortunately Pelosi and Reid will not be on the front line. We’ll have to travel thousands of miles.

  64. NeoConScum Says:

    Rush’s newly coined—and perfectly spot-on—term,”Low Information Voters”, is a wake-up call for all of us concerned(or terrified)about our country. I agree with our Landlord’s post that patience & tolerance and MORE patience will be required from us. Because, as Rush’s over-the-head light bulb states:”They DON’T Know!!”

    Among other major contributing reasons: Einstein’s prediction of the possible cost to mankind of technology leaving regular thinking behind. NEVER, EVER have I seen more sloth, loutishness, absence of common courtesy, vacuous hero worship, NEEDINESS for even a moment of celebrity(Hello Facebook, Instagram, etc, etc), Set Assumptions based on NOTHING of Substance, etc, etc. Young men have morphed into a spikey haired, scrawny, skinny jeaned, palid bunch(Legions) of laughable wimps. And, Feminazization of American Everything is utterly rampant.

    SHIT…This is too despairing. Think I’ll go to work and at least some diversion, denial, focus elsewhere!!

  65. Ymarsakar Says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily consider serfs and slaves voters, whether low information or not.

  66. parker Says:

    DNW is an infiltrator, he/she/it even has arfldgr typing praises and others, un-numanded enthralled. Sheesh.

  67. Ymarsakar Says:

    Logic is not good and emotion is not evil. Both are merely tools that can be used by either side.

    Whether someone is evil or good can also change in time. As those who were once good can turn to evil, just as those who once served evil can find redemption by fighting for justice.

  68. DonS Says:

    I’ve heard “low information voter” for awhile.

    The Democrats are a coalition of different groups. These groups don’t always see eye to eye.

    For example, the hispanics I know tend to be Democrats because they think they are the “nice people”. It is a combination of the Dems pushing “programs designed to help people” and also their percieved openess to other ethnic groups.

  69. Tom the Redhunter Says:

    I think your analysis is pretty much spot on, Neo. The truth is that there are very few people on either side whom we an truly label as evil. A few, but not many.

    But as you say name calling is prevalent in our discourse today. I will offer a few reasons why I think this is so

    1) It’s easier to name call and/or label your opponent as evil than take down their arguments using facts and logic

    2) When you do address your opponent using facts and logic and they still disagree, it’s easier to just label them as evil than admit that others just have a different opinion.

    3) The anonymity of the Internet encourages such behavior. It’s like flipping someone off from the safety of inside your car. It’s easy to say nasty things from behind one’s keyboard. We’ve all met lots of people who are meek and mild face to face but are terrors behind a keyboard of the wheel of their car.

    4 Republicans are more conservative than ever before and Democrats more liberal. The true liberal Republican and conservative Democrat are things of the past. There are lots of reasons for this, but it encourages harsh behavior on each side.

  70. Rob Crawford Says:

    If he has skeletons in the closet you may be correct but if he’s squeaky clean and never put a dog on top of his car or opened a Cayman account he would be viable.

    Carson’s a surgeon, right? Want to bet he has a disgruntled patient or parent of a patient somewhere out there? Doesn’t mean he did anything wrong; they just have to hate him.

  71. DNW Says:

    parker Says:
    February 18th, 2013 at 1:13 am

    “DNW is an infiltrator, he/she/it even has arfldgr typing praises and others, un-numanded enthralled. Sheesh.”

    LOL. Yeah I am a secret leftist trying to depress conservatives into inaction by arguing that their real power to shape their society and secure their futures comes through their willingness to have offspring, not in pleading with others that conservatives have intrinsic rights that should be respected, so please don’t take my house away from me.

    Artfldgr Says:
    February 16th, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    given the way i learned, you will find profound holes here and there… when i find them i try to fill them… :)

    i just looked it up… and no. i still dont think so. … if those things end up creating a model that works that fits the idealist objectivenist thing… then maybe thats what we got… no intent on my part, just models that work to explain and so give insight.”

    Well, I initially took it that you were aligned with the general science oriented pragmatism attitude most of us unconsciously adopt; but that you had developed your own twist to it. A version of, for lack of a better term, a kind of an a posteriori kantianism, wherein the notion of modelling and the built-in limits of the organic aptitude, served as a kind of parallel to the notion of transcendental categories.
    [The Categories of Perception http://philosophycourse.info/lecsite/lec-kant.html

    [http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-transcendental/]

    The idea that we are organic beings with specifically evolved capacities which limit as well as enable us, and that therefore our grasp of reality is thereby preconditioned by certain mental structures is not an outrageous idea. Though some on the materialist left have assumed that this implies that the Universe, or better reality, is fundamentally unintelligible when taken as a hypothesized whole much of which we must be in principle unable to conceive of, and which may not even exhibit the same regularities as it is manifest.

    The next idea, your idea, that we transcend the brute through satiety, and that it is at that level, wherein the “bait” as you would have it, has been consumed and the organism is freed to achieve a temporary period of mental clarity and an opportunity to exercise the supposed epiphenomenon of consciousness in order to explore and grow in knowledge, is not outrageous either. Just as the earlier parallel I drew is not perfect, neither is this following one, but even Aristotle remarked that leisure, and the preconditions it assumes, was necessary for the full realization of man’s potential for growth. http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/nethics.htm

    But then, you said this:

    “there is more to life and thought than to conclude there is no more than nothing… what is the purpose of mind that is larger than the purpose of nature creating the mind? why are we artistic and not robotic? why feel pleasure, just for bait? once your mind can make the choice of whether to take the bait, or to arrange it on a platter, or add music, and so on. its no longer a survival thing, and its more than what just a survival thing needs, as evidenced by all other life.

    What if the material is not whats real since none of it is permanent in any real way – none of it. and our tests show, that it may not even be there when we are not looking. which makes it odder… doesn’t it”

    So, while I’m not sure what tests have shown that the material world may not even be there when we are not looking at it, I am assuming that you are not there referring to quantum supperposition, the interpretation of which I think is still, though many deny it, philosophically problematical.

    But in any event, I take it that rendering reality as state-determinate through testing or observation was not the process you had in mind when you referred to “it” not being there when we are not looking.

    So, if you are indeed referring to something else, and asserting that the material is not conventionally “real” because of its being mentally contingent, that is to say not independent in its existence of apprehension; and, if you are also saying that the mental is not wholly contingent on the material; then, it appears that you intend that we should assume that the extra-mental is implied as contingent on the mental.

    Whether there are many minds creating realities all their own, or one mind creating the rules for all is what I was not clear on.

    But in any event, you seemed to be ascribing a higher level of reality to mind than to the material.

    Of course these distinctions may collapse as the notion of what constitutes “the material” becomes more and more problematical. Perhaps that’s what you were getting at.

  72. Thomass Says:

    Tom the Redhunter Says:

    “4 Republicans are more conservative than ever before and Democrats more liberal.”

    Just not correct… republicans have become more libertarian over the last 30 years.

    On the other hand; I think we are hitting the point of not wanted to be played by the left anymore.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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