March 5th, 2014

Being a liberal

I wanted to highlight a discussion from yesterday’s comments section. First, from commenter “DNW”, who is quoting me and then asking a question:

neo-neocon Says:…

“Most of my friends are garden-variety liberals. And most are relatively apolitical, although they vote.

“I do have some friends who are more on the leftist end of things. But they are bleeding-heart leftists and really have very little idea what it actually is they’re supporting, for the most part, and are not particularly activist or even political. They are not of the hard left, although they are helping it without realizing what they’re helping.”

Neo … how could they not? How could it be that they [as liberals] imagine they can grasp the indirect and remote environmental effects of a burning incandescent bulb, yet not grasp the transformation the fascist “individual mandate” has worked on our most fundamental predicates of political association?

What matters to them, and makes their lives worthwhile? Where’s their focus? Brute satisfactions? Dancing in that G’damned circle you mentioned, ecstatically liberated from themselves, until the lights go permanently out?

How can the implications be missed, and the inferences not be drawn?

And, if they are not in fact unapologetic coercive collectivists, mustn’t they be … and I do hesitate to say it … the so-called “good Germans who (supposedly) didn’t know”?

How can they shrug at and be complicit in, the destruction of the only thing that made this country worthwhile in the first place: our freedom of self-direction and responsibility?

The world’s already full to the brim with stinking social hothouses where everyone runs around with their nose up everyone else’s ass; sniffing for traces privilege or advantage. Probably many of them have ancestors who fled from just such cultures.

And now they complacently point to these cultures as moral models to be emulated.

What, in God’s name, is going on …

Here’s my response:

Have you read my “A mind is a difficult thing to change” pieces? Remember: I was a liberal for most of my life. I was raised one, nearly everyone I knew was one, all my media sources were liberal and I didn’t even know it, and although I knew something about history I didn’t know all that much (except for certain topics such as WWI and how it affected the culture). I was interested in all the arts and especially poetry, in people in general (friends, family), psychology, all sorts of things really. Politics seemed like a dirty nasty business, and although I kept up with it in a surface way I really didn’t go all that deep with it.

Most of my friends are some variation on that theme.

You ask, “How can the implications be missed, and the inferences not be drawn?” My answer is EASY. At least, earlier in my life, it was very easy. Obviously, something changed, beginning in 2001. I became interested, and these things seemed more intensely important. I realized there was a lot I had missed and needed to learn. But I have no problem whatsoever understanding how it is that many people still are more or less on automatic pilot. To know what’s happening and why it’s significant, you have to have a knowledge base and a context, or else it’s just blah-blah-blah noise.

And of course, there are some people I know who do know quite a bit about history, etc., and are still liberals. I think, however, that most of them have never been exposed to alternate sources of information. They don’t read conservative media or watch Fox or anything like that, although they hear about Faux News. Since everyone—almost literally everyone—they know agrees with them, and they know smart, educated people, why would they be curious?

And in a later comment on the same thread, I added that most of the liberals I know:

…do not think in terms of the “collective” or anything of the sort. Their politics could be described mainly as the desire to be nice, kind, peaceful, and generous, both at home and abroad. They conceptualize the things they support as leading to those goals, and Republicans as mean, stingy, racist, etc.. It’s really that propaganda has reached them and stuck in their minds, and they think it’s reality, and are focused on their own lives.

I will add that during the 2012 campaign, no sooner did the Democratic meme that Republicans and Romney were waging a “war on women” begin than I heard it thrown around among my friends. The absorption of the meme was quick, and accepted as self-evident truth. I have seen over and over how well propaganda works and how hard it is to challenge it when most people are not reading any more deeply than that. And to read more deeply than that, one would have to have the time and inclination, and be questioning one’s point of view in the first place. Why bother when all the smart and nice people agree with you, and it’s only weird outliers like neo who don’t?

100 Responses to “Being a liberal”

  1. Lizzy Says:

    I agree with NEO in that a lot of these Lefties-by-default manage to remain oblivious (though it must take a lot of energy to do so nowadays) because they have been effectively alienated from any source of truth.

    They may have an inkling that their side is not right on some issues, but they’ll be damned if they agree with an icky white male/crazy female Republican, Rush Limbaugh, or a church. That’s why it’s been so important for the Left to polarize any person or institution that makes a great case for conservative values. It becomes a choice over the lesser of two evils, and hey, at least the Left talks nice about helping people vs. all of the “haters” on the other side.

    That’s what the Rush Limbaugh challenge is all about. After “knowing” for years that he was a stupid, bigoted a$$hole (thanks to every news/entertainment outlet telling me so), I decided to listen to his program just for the heck of it. Wow, was that a paradigm shift.

  2. Ray Says:

    It seems to be an article of faith among liberals that their good intentions mean that they are morally and intellectually superior people. What is amusing is that when challenged their response is to change the subject and attack, start calling you a stupid evil person. It’s as if they have no faith in their ability to defend their views and want to prevent any debate. Liberalism is a very faithless faith.

  3. Soviet of Washington Says:

    What Ray said. And the attack is always in the form of an ad hominim attack.

    Most of them get their news via the soda-straw filter of the alphabet networks and (for the older ones) the local monopoly fish-wrap. And they have no interest in understanding things further. The advantage those of us on the right have is we don’t have to look for the opposing position…it’s in the very air we breath. So we see both positions. They have to actively look for opposing information. And that requires more self-awareness than they possess.

  4. blert Says:

    Affirmations of one’s goodness function as a narcotic.

    We are a pack animal, a social creature.

    Propaganda works against our primal weaknesses — our need to be a member in good standing with the pack.

    This goes double for women.

    There are no social rewards for a ‘wayward’ woman, quite the opposite, in fact.

    ( as in warding away, shying off the beaten path )

    NPR — in a social setting — operates as the black sheep leading the herd ever onward towards the chute. Its bleatings flow as a balm over the psychic injuries of our harsh world. These are injuries that NPR has to bring to our attention so that we may then engage in broadcast therapy.

    ( Wholistic psychiatry — mass therapy? )

    Each broadcast is larded with a variant of the Emmanuel Goldstein hate (Orwell) — with Conservatives replacing EG, that universal enemy of civilization.

    Most broadcasts are ‘a downer’ — a lament about the human condition — and an atheistic ‘call to prayer’ — which has been morphed into pleas for NPR funding, and patronage of ‘doing the right thing’ causes and enterprises.

    (All sermons come at a price. NPR is televangalism that uses Big Government to pass the hat. The laity is urged ever onward towards paying their fair share at tax time, etc. — “Did you know that your contributions to the cause can be deducted?” )

    The meme is ever: don’t wait for Heaven — buckle down and bring Heaven to Earth — be of the crusade, be of the body.

    (Shades of Landrieu/Landru, Return of the Archons, Star Trek, TOS) ( Shi’ite celebrations during Ramadan are riven through Archons.)

    The resulting vibe enhances group think — group emotion — group non-think.

    It’s worked across cultures and across time.

    Like a somnolent riot, the collective is doped into narcosis of the elite, the righteous — an ‘Of the Body’ and out of the body experience. The riot aspect is imbued in feelings of personal non-responsibility… of enforcing the collective will … for a higher purpose.

    In the Archons we have an entire society doped up on group action, group passivity.

    In “The Time Machine” HG Wells split humanity into Eloi and Morlocks.

    In Archons, Gene Roddenberry and Boris Sobelman have scripted a society that alternates between vices. A manic-depressive group-thinking collective that’s staggeringly decadent.

    While my emphasis is on the NPR propaganda apparatus — this spin mill — out of the Deep State — is now pervasive in the West.

    The Red Pill is hard to swallow.

  5. T Says:

    . . .to read more deeply than that, one would have to have the time and inclination, and be questioning one’s point of view in the first place.

    This, IMO is the core of the issue. I have recently noted that IMO Progressives/leftists operate from one basic mother ship of a false premise which is that they are morally and culturally superior to anyone who would disagree with them and they are smugly self-righteous about it (see also Ray above @2:15pm). With that as a point of departure why would anyone have the inclination to question their own point of view? “Of course the sun moves around the earth. Just watch it on a daily basis. How can it be otherwise? The science is settled!”

    Lizzy,

    “. . . a lot of these Lefties-by-default manage to remain oblivious . . . because they have been effectively alienated from any source of truth.”
    I disagree. Ymarsaker (I believe) pointed out in an earlier thread that, especially with the Internet, the truth is never more than a couple of clicks away. Their failure to access it is not isolation by any ouside force, it is a self-imposed ignorance not unlike putting one’s hands over the ears and singing “La! La! La! La! La! I can’t hear you!” As I said in another thread, at least Pauline Kael recognized the rarified nature of her personal surroundings.

  6. gs Says:

    A lefty site is trying out the meme US Conservatives Support Putin. No disagreement is voiced, but it remains to be seen whether the Left goes mainstream with the trial balloon. It would be an unforced error if they try, assuming the Right responds competently.

  7. T Says:

    blert,

    “NPR . . . bleatings flow as a balm over the psychic injuries of our harsh world.”

    Which is precisely why the SNL “Schwetty Balls” sketch is so hilarious.

  8. CV Says:

    Someone once told me, ‘you are what you read,’ and it’s so very true.

    My parents are working class, Irish Catholic Democrats and they have no idea how much their party has changed since the days of JFK.

    Both of them consume a lot of mainstream news, PBS, etc. and they consider themselves very well-informed. My Dad, a voracious reader, wouldn’t turn on FOX News or pick up the WSJ if his life depended on it. He assumes that he’s reading the “unbiased” stuff and wouldn’t dream of reading “right-wing” material for balance. As both of my parents are in their 80s, I don’t envision either of them becoming a changer.

    You first have to see the need to make an effort, then actually MAKE the effort, to read (or watch) outside the MSM. And most don’t.

  9. handworn Says:

    I keep thinking of the quote that Andrew Breitbart kept saying– “Politics is downstream of culture.” A central part of the conservative message is along the lines that life is a long-term thing. Slow and steady wins the race. Human nature is a constant. That kind of thing. That being so, why do conservatives pin their hopes so much on a Hail Mary pass with government? The slow, difficult, sometimes uncomfortable work of entertaining people with what entertains us ought to be easier for conservatives. Or at least as easy.

  10. Don Carlos Says:

    This is a trial balloon thought: do Leftists really recognize Evil? Evil, with a capital E?

    Sure, they use the word, to stigmatize the oppos and worse, to kill them as Kulaks or whatever. But does a Lefty really believe that Evil exists, that it is amazingly seductive and sucks people into its maelstrom, from which they hardly, if ever, emerge? Do they prayerfully heed the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “And deliver us from evil”? with its clear implication that we cannot by ourselves deliver ourselves, but need the help of God.

    Like I said, a trial balloon. I’m going to think about it.

  11. Minta Marie Morze Says:

    It’s tragic that Liberals are so locked into their beliefs about Conservatives. I recently came across an excellent example of the catastrophe of this Liberal penchant for believing lies and clichés about Conservatives.

    I read a blog that has existed from Venzuela for a long time now, written by “Daniel” and called “Venezuela News and Views”. He is now posting about the evils of the rule of Hugo Chavez and those that came to power with Chavez’s death. He has been describing the riots, and he clearly sees the damage that has been done to Venezuela. He is desperate for freedom and change. In the past week or so, he posted on his blog an “Open Letter to Jimmy Carter” condemning Carter for the ex-president’s past actions that helped Chavez and the new offer from Carter to come to Venezuela “to help resolve the crisis”.

    As the “Open Letter” describes in brief the disaster Carter has been for Venezuela, Daniel writes: “Please, desist from your trip: you have absolutely no credibility in Venezuela. Here is why. Your last actions in Venezuela have had disastrous results for the democracy here. When these became obvious you remained strangely silent for years, and only suddenly you wake up again.”

    And Daniel proceeds to rip Carter apart over the betrayal of Carter’s “help” for Venezuela during their “elections” and after, and the dire consequences for Venezuela.

    Throughout his blog posts, for years Daniel has demonstrated that he sees the damage that has been done to Venezuela by Chavez/Maduro and their partnership with Cuba. Okay, this guy gets it. But . . . .

    Among the Comments to Daniel’s post is this exchange:

    “Gustavo Duran 10:18 AM Jimmy Carter is a perfect example of the Democratic Party. Yet, Daniel, yes the same guy who writes this wonderful blog, is a huge fan of the Democrats.”

    “Daniel 11:46 AM I love how some make the wildest assumptions, throwing words like “huge” carelessly. Let me put it this way, as long as the Republican Party does not remove from its agenda creationism, homophobia and pro life commandments there is no way I can consider voting for them. It is that simple. I put my principles ahead of my wallet, sorry.”

    (daniel-venezuela.blogspot.com/2014/02/open-letter-to-jimmy-carter-dont-you.html)

    Daniel thinks this is the principled stand. This is just heartbreaking.

  12. Ymarsakar Says:

    That’s why informants on the Left are valuable. They can tell us what propaganda offense the Left is using before they even use it. Their God commands and the Left obeys.

    Not everyone needs to go marksmanship, sniper, or civil insurgent to participate in the war.

  13. Ymarsakar Says:

    Daniel thinks this is the principled stand. This is just heartbreaking.

    Only if you think he is an equal and not an inferior.

    If you wish to convince Daniel, it is not the Democrats you must attack, but Daniel himself. His personality, his allegiance with the same evil that empowered Chavez. Destroy that veneer and armor, and the soul will free itself. Nothing else will go through the Left’s armor.

  14. Eric Says:

    Liberals are not Leftists (ie, Marxists), but the American liberal establishment has been infected and corrupted by the Left.

    The neocon label arises from the need to re-label – and vilify/’other’ – genuine liberals because the liberal label has been co-opted by the Left.

    Leftist followers fall back like cultists on absolute, quasi-religious themes like catechism even when doing so is dissonant with the discussion at hand.

    It’s a simple deductive ‘ought’ judgement. They deduce from the ultimate value of a fixed utopian state to which we are either progressing or from which we are regressing. So even if the issue is obviously negative in the ‘is’, the ‘ought’ standard controls.

  15. blert Says:

    Well, since creationism and anti-abortion sentiments are not life central …

    One would assume that the show stopper is his sexual orientation, the others thrown is a dunnage.

    Such considerations are but a part of how the collective is assembled — like Frankenstein — out of motley parts.

  16. Eric Says:

    The 2nd comment Minta Marie Morze quoted exemplifies the order of Dems priorities that became clarified in their opposition to Bush over the Iraq mission, despite that Bush followed the course of Clinton’s Iraq enforcement.

    It was as though Democrats had turned on Ike for following through on the course Ike inherited from Truman. Or Democrats turning on Nixon for following through on the course Nixon inherited from LBJ … (yeah)

    Plus, on the other side, when Nader and Greenwald were marginalized or simply ignored by Democrats for their principled criticisms of President Obama that extended from the Democrat criticisms of Bush.

    The Dems have devolved so that their chief orientation, no matter the issue, is partisan. Their partisanship is rigid – the independent variable – whereas their approach on issues is elastic – the dependent variable. Issues – even now foreign affairs – for the Dems, no matter their real-world import or context, are primarily framed as an arena for the domestic partisan contest.

  17. artfldgr Says:

    First of all..
    Liberal is a hijacked name that used to belong to people like adam smith, and so on…

    so discussing this in that term, is giving into the other side and letting them define the language, much like the red queen and the caterpillar…

    just call them what they ARE…

    they are either progressives, or the people USED by them…

    the idea was to give your special idiots a name that had a good connotation, and liberal had that… it also had a grand history with lenin most have no idea of..

    but once again… its the same old collectivist thing… by many names.

    and remember. EBOLA called harriet, will still kill you.. go ahead. try any name you want, it will still kill you as a nam is a symbol attached to a sound that only exists in the heads of people..

    the world has no need of them

    Either we successfully reboot the original operating system of individual freedom, free enterprise, and small government that America’s Framers built into the U.S. Constitution or the Progressives will by manipulation and force continue to impose their failed collectivist ideas on humankind’s future,” writes Smith in the introduction to his book.

    Make no mistake about it, “collective ideas” is another way of describing Communism, often referred to as Socialism.

    “They aim to replace Capitalism, private property, ‘selfish’ individualism and God with a human-made Eden, a utopian humanist society where an all-powerful State would equally redistribute the world’s wealth and power to the working elite.”

    thats the stated aim for consumption… they do NOT claim to make that except for themselves. as they will own the world among them, and give their slaves a bit of it, and call it what they want… utopia, utopos, etc.

    Consider just five ways progressivism has impacted America;

    (1) abortion that has killed more than 55.7 million fetuses since 1973,

    (2) banning prayer to support the development of moral values in schools,

    (3) the spread of same-sex marriage as a legal definition of marriage,

    (4) the movement to legalize marijuana, a known gateway drug, and

    (5) a culture filled with films and television that exploit violence and sex.

    taking them in reverse as the abortion is the most important one…

    5) they even lose money on this!!! its more important to push the propaganda now, than make money. so liam neesons new character is going to save the plane from a family member murdered at 9/11 and he will be helped by the good muslim in full religous regalia… on and on it goes… till movie theaters have a hard time getting people to go… old movies make lots of money as people pay to see them over again, and new ones they avoid…

    4) this one is more complicated as the point was to make the borders porous which allowed caches to be placed and all manner of ill (And help for those making ill)

    3) this has an effect on birth rates of predominately one race who has been exterminated, but wont notice it for a bit

    2) the god of state whall have no other god before it, and will not have its transitory self created values that serve it expediently and can be changed at whim, locked down and anchored to a “higher authority”, not to mention – see screwtape letters for more abstract reasons

    1) this is important… because between feminism, anti white male ideology, college, STDs, and the 57 million aborted… what they have done is exterminate the people who later on would have had numbers to oppose them

    who makes up that 57 million?
    hindu? bhuddists? mexicans?

    nope… its mostly blacks and whites..
    smart blacks self exterminate with whites who have their money taken to fund not so smart blacks… over time, this is like selecting dumb puppies… it doesnt take but a few generations before you have poisoned the well so bad…

    dont belive this works? then where did the white race come from? chinese? etc they were selected in some way… either by reality, or by the people of their own population..

    how did we get all those show breeds of dogs, pidgeons and other animals? some who cant live withotu humans feeding them as their adaptations to selection make them so frail.

    but take the 57 million… those are the men, women, and children who would have voted… they would ahve voted differently, as the society is missing their opposition and opinions, which were replaced by south americns who love despotism they voted in lots of it wanting it.

    would the men women and children grown up of those 57 million changed the outcome of votes? sure they would… as they would have changed the academic ratings, and other things

    by pushing abortion in the 70s, and feminism, they murdered the people who would have been voting against them, and broke up the families and their ability to pass down knowlege to the survivors.

    think state funded momma has time to teach? she is too busy playing martyr for social gain to do that

    but all one has to do is compare….
    before feminism… you had families, traditions, culture, arts, low taxes, high competency, freedom, and on and on

    after feminsm and progressives, broken families, traditions dying out, no history of the past, low brow culture, arts, high taxes, lower and lower freedom

    just remember. envy is the one sin that isnt any fun…

  18. DNW Says:

    Don Carlos Says:
    March 5th, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    This is a trial balloon thought: do Leftists really recognize Evil? Evil, with a capital E?

    Sure, they use the word, to stigmatize the oppos and worse, to kill them as Kulaks or whatever. But does a Lefty really believe that Evil exists, that it is amazingly seductive and sucks people into its maelstrom, from which they hardly, if ever, emerge? Do they prayerfully heed the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “And deliver us from evil”? with its clear implication that we cannot by ourselves deliver ourselves, but need the help of God.

    Like I said, a trial balloon. I’m going to think about it.”

    Assuming you are not being facetious or ironical which you quite possibly are … Then alarm bells should go off because the million dollar question has been explicitly posed. The question which once answered will separate the Marxist/postmodernist wheat from the go-along without understanding chaff.

    And the answer, apart from Neo’s go-along to get along acquaintances, is: for the ideologically committed, obviously “No.”

    Which is why I keep obsessively puzzling over how progressives themselves reconcile their common rhetorical uses of the word “evil” with an underlying worldview which denies the possibility of assigning intrinsic value to any phenomenon whatsoever.

    Leftists do not believe in “Evil” with a “capital E”. That is why they are legitimately described as (values) nihilists.

    So the next question is: Assuming that they reject any notion of intrinsic value and meaning or objective evil, then what principle arbitrates whether they call some phenomenon “good” or “bad”.

    Keep in mind while trying to answer this question, that human life or existence per se cannot itself per stipulation – i.e., per their framework of assumptions – be referred to as an objective “good” or value bearing end.

    So, what decision principle is employed instead? What is the sovereign sorting principle according to these descendants of hedonic utilitarians (… hint hint …)

    Having supplied the dogmatic answer to that, then the next question is: What sense does the utilitarian’s answer really make on close inspection, once the arbitrating principle (pleasure) is divorced from any conception of the existence of its actual carrier, being itself an intrinsic good?

    If the life of the man is not conceived of as a good per se, then what ontological status has a subjective experience within the man as an arbitrator of “good”?

    So, it keeps the experiencing subject in existence for a while longer? So what? Per liberal theory, that existence does not qualify as a good and its end is not an evil.

    In what possible sense then, other than as an empty equivocation functioning at best as a tautological placekeeper, could the term “good” be assigned to the term “pleasure”?

    In no legitimate sense.

    The move is just a relabeling of the term “pleasure” with the term “good”, even though there is no admission of any teleological framework of natural moral ends which then imparts to the term “good” any substantive much less additive meaning.

    No. Good, and evil, as well as meaning, intentions, and even mind and the coherent self, must, and do, go overboard.

    What’s left? What’s the conceptual residuum when you look at what once was a person, through this new lens?

    Well, that’s what I have been obsessively wondering for some time now.

  19. Eric Says:

    artfldgr,

    Indeed, our social political fracturing does trace back to the fact our nation was founded by methodological individualists in the English philosophical tradition (Hobbes, Locke, Adam Smith, JS Mill), but American social politics have been incrementally transformed to methodological collectivist in the European philosophical tradition (Montesquieu, Rousseau, Marx).

    Foundational concepts like social contract, freedom, equality, and rights have a different meaning in the Engish methodological individualist frame than they have in the European methodological collectivist frame. Much of the rhetorical dissonance in our social political language is due to the clash of the two competing, disparate orientations in our social politics.

    When I use terms like collective consciousness and general will (of We the People), and advocate that the Right take up the methodological (note: not ideological) Marxist approach, I do so from the recognition that American social politics are now firmly methodological collectivist. And the Marxist-method activist game is now the only social political game there is.

    Restoring methodological individualism to our basic social political algorithm requires winning the Marxist-method activist game and acquiring the required social dominance – not just in government, but more necessarily in the cultural zeitgeist – to reboot America’s social political norms.

  20. Eric Says:

    DNW,

    I disagree. ‘Hedonic utilitarian’ actually is a closer approximation of America’s founding political principles than a description of the Left.

    The Protestant social culture that you advocate pre-dated and then existed with American social political founding principles, but they’re not the same thing. That said, a highly compelling argument can be made that America needs *both legs* of Protestant social culture and individualist social politics to stand strong as the nation that the founders intended.

    The Left does believe in ‘big-E’ evil. The difference is orientation. The Left is collectivist and subscribes to the belief that questions of good and evil are answered as a social abstraction for a greater good that is distinct from a greater good characterized by the Millian protection of (petit bourgeoise) ‘hedonic’ individual freedoms and the Benthamian ‘utilitarian’ accounting of more good for more individuals balanced against less harm to fewer individuals.

    The Left is like a proselytizing, converting religion in that regard.

    Rather, the Left believes in the creation of civic greater goods through the reification of abstract ultimate social values that trump the cost-of-business tangible harms caused enroute. That’s fine when the civic greater good means orderly, secure society, and reliable market and services, but crosses over with political corrections like the Cultural Revolution and the Holocaust.

  21. T Says:

    “Daniel thinks this is the principled stand.”

    Once again, based upon THE false premise of the moral and cultural superiority of Daniel’s beliefs v. those who would disagree with him.

    A false because the premise is unproven. Neither creationism nor the theory of evolution is a hard fact; that’s why it is a theory, i.e., presumptive. Is opposition to gay marriage inferior to Daniel’s assumed support of it? Is pro-life an inferior position to pro-death?

    I would bet good money that “blert” nailed it above: “One would assume that the show stopper is his sexual orientation, the others thrown is a dunnage.”

    Daniel should check out http://www.gaypatriot.net.

  22. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “And in a later comment on the same thread, I added that most of the liberals I know:

    …do not think in terms of the “collective” or anything of the sort. Their politics could be described mainly as the desire to be nice, kind, peaceful, and generous, both at home and abroad. They conceptualize the things they support as leading to those goals, and Republicans as mean, stingy, racist, etc.. It’s really that propaganda has reached them and stuck in their minds, and they think it’s reality, and are focused on their own lives.” neo

    That is exactly my experience as well. And, these are in my experience, intelligent people as well.

    But for many of the reasons given above, they are either unable or unwilling to see the bars of their prison.

    The conclusion I have reached is that liberals don’t want to know the truth, the progressive intelligentsia’s egos won’t allow them to face the truth and, Marxist leftists know the truth but as they’re in it for the power, the truth is irrelevant.

    As no one has yet disabused me of the notion, I continue to insist that,

    All isms of the left, to one degree or another, reject critical aspects of reality. All those drawn to the left suffer from the cognitive dysfunction that arises from that rejection of these aspects of reality. This allows many to believe in mutually contradictory premises. And all rejection springs from an impaired ability to mature into fully functional adults. That impaired ability is also why liberals return to their originating premises, regardless of how often they are disproven.

    And that impaired ability, at base springs from the juvenile protest, “that’s not fair!” From that premise springs the rejection of God, faith, the unequal blessings of circumstance and all that follows, such as a belief in objective reality…

    And from the premise that life is ‘unjustly’ unfair, springs all of the ‘solutions’ of the left. For once you have rejected God and a belief in a better afterlife, all that is left is to either try to create a ‘more perfect’, socially just world (utopia) or… to seize all for oneself that one can (looking out for #1).

  23. Eric Says:

    Geoffrey Britain,

    Yep, alienation theory, which comprised Marx’s original work on which he based his lpraxis-oriented writings, starting with the Theses of Feuerbach, and deduction from ultimate social value.

    Religions do the same thing.

    In fact, the original premise of alienation theory from which Marxism sprang is man’s separation from God and the project of reunifying man’s Godly spirit with man’s earthly vessel.

  24. Eric Says:

    Oops. Correction: praxis-oriented, not lpraxis-oriented.

  25. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    I agree with some of what you wrote. I disagree with some, however.

    For example, some liberals do want to know the truth. I certainly did. I wasn’t exactly typical to begin with, because I always took exception to some of the party line. But some of my friends reject the total party line too, and think for themselves quite a bit, and just really don’t think they’re wrong and haven’t the time and intense interest it would take to pursue another way of thinking.

    Because believe me, for most people it takes a lot to change their minds. A lot of work and reading and thinking, and a drive to find stuff out, a really intense interest rather than a mild or medium one.

    Another point on which I disagree: the assumption that liberals are never religious. Some are not, of course, but a sizable percentage of liberals are religious (see this, for example). I certainly know quite a few who are among the most religious people I know, and quite active in their respective churches. Not the Unitarian Church, either—mostly the Catholic Church. That may seem odd to you, but it is the case. Are these people “leftist” rather than merely “liberal”? A couple of them are, although not especially activist. And those couple are among the most religious of all. At least for them, it is not true that:

    For once you have rejected God and a belief in a better afterlife, all that is left is to either try to create a ‘more perfect’, socially just world (utopia) or… to seize all for oneself that one can (looking out for #1).

    There’s no question in my mind that there are more people on the left who fit your description. But most definitely not all. There is a large minority of the type I’m describing, because (as I already said) I personally know a few. So I think that leftism is a far more complex phenomenon than one might think, in terms of people’s motivations to get with the program.

  26. Eric Says:

    Geoffrey Britain, quoting Neo: “…do not think in terms of the “collective” or anything of the sort. Their politics could be described mainly as the desire to be nice, kind, peaceful, and generous, both at home and abroad. They conceptualize the things they support as leading to those goals, and Republicans as mean, stingy, racist, etc.. It’s really that propaganda has reached them and stuck in their minds, and they think it’s reality, and are focused on their own lives.”

    Individuals and classes internalizing the subjugating values of an oppressive society and/or oppressor class is a cornerstone premise for Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.

  27. Nick Says:

    We’re sort of getting to the key issue here – what makes a lot of liberals (and some conservatives) impervious to the other side’s arguments is the belief that they’re The Enemy. An enemy’s positions don’t have to be analyzed. The enemy can sometimes even be right – but that doesn’t mean you have to respect them. I just finished the “a mind is a difficult thing to change” postings, and clearly Neo didn’t think of conservatives as the enemy; just really didn’t think about them at all. That’s how it was possible for her to consider the foreign policy issues after 9/11 with an open mind. But a lot of liberals wouldn’t do that.

    A few people here have noted the “attack first” approach. That’s the behaviour of a certain kind of liberal, but what’s more interesting is the thinking that underlies the behaviour. It’s unreasoning, but it doesn’t think of itself as unreasoning. It’s standing up for what’s (perceived) right. It’s not animosity; it’s not blocking one’s ears on purpose. It’s shouting down what should be shouted down – because the liberal knows that the conservative is coming from a place of hate. He’s gotta be. Every article the liberal’s ever read says that. So it’s not a sense of superiority as much as a sense of decency that motivates that shoot-first reaction.

    Would you listen to someone who is trying to do you harm? Of course not, not even when they happen to be right about some particular. Even if they’re right about some issue – see David Weigel’s admission. That doesn’t mean he’s going to rethink Romney. Romney was The Enemy. Obama may be wrong about this or that (or everything), but Romney is The Enemy.

  28. DNW Says:

    Eric Says:
    March 5th, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    DNW,

    I disagree. ‘Hedonic utilitarian’ actually is a closer approximation of America’s founding political principles than a description of the Left.

    I understand the terms you are using, but I am not sure how you draw that conclusion.

    It does not seem to be in dispute among historians that along with the allied idea of the ancient customs and rights of Englishmen, there is a strong and rather explicit current of natural law thinking that forms our first official document concerning the legitimacy of governing principles. Whether these ideas in detail were derived from Aquinas via Hooker, Blackstone, or directly from Aristotle or Cicero, or from the texts of the Glorious Revolution is a matter I’ll leave to textual critics; but the consensus seems clear enough to me.

    And it would have been impossible by my timeline for Jefferson or any other of the revolutionists to have been influenced by Bentham’s ethical calculus or reduction of moral values to his sovereign principles; as his work on morals and legislation was not published until years after the Declaration; and when the new Constitution had already been proposed for ratification.

    In any event, when I use the term hedonic utilitarian I am referring to a system of “moral evaluation” or “good” which discards, and rules out of court any reference to natural ends or intrinsic rights in order to focus on the felt pleasure derived by a subject as the genuine arbiter of the rightness or wrongness of a course of action. Calculations are of course multiplied and traded off, but there is only one metric, as people are now fond of saying. “Is it good?”, most crudely, resolves to “is it pleasurable or does it – in the view of the left – produce social bliss or de-alienization?” ; and not, “does it enhance personal virtue or encourage behavior in accordance with right reason.?”

    The run of the mill liberal-left then, whatever elaborations they wish to make on this anti-teleological framework, implicitly subscribe to it since there are believed to be no deeper phenomena by which to judge good or bad aside from some more or less arbitrary program which they expect will deliver fulfillment in the form of bliss. Unless you figure that the is of evolving forms of production imply some ought.

    The Protestant social culture that you advocate pre-dated and then existed with American social political founding principles, but they’re not the same thing.

    Again, I am unclear on the exact points of reference upon which you are hanging your argument. I would suppose that some of the implications you seem to make might be perfectly legitimately applied to the formulations embodied in the Constitution of 1787-9, but then I would suppose that the reference points would be the usual: Locke, Montesquieu, etc, and possibly Hobbes in some manner or another.

    That said, a highly compelling argument can be made that America needs *both legs* of Protestant social culture and individualist social politics to stand strong as the nation that the founders intended.

    The Left does believe in ‘big-E’ evil. The difference is orientation. The Left is collectivist and subscribes to the belief that questions of good and evil are answered as a social abstraction for a greater good that is distinct from a greater good characterized by the Millian protection of (petit bourgeoise) ‘hedonic’ individual freedoms and the Benthamian ‘utilitarian’ accounting of more good for more individuals balanced against less harm to fewer individuals.

    The Left is like a proselytizing, converting religion in that regard.

    Rather, the Left believes in the creation of civic greater goods through the reification of abstract ultimate social values that trump the cost-of-business tangible harms caused enroute. That’s fine when the civic greater good means orderly, secure society, and reliable market and services, but crosses over with political corrections like the Cultural Revolution and the Holocaust.

    I think we are talking about two distinct issues here. Your last paragraph seems to concede that the establishment liberal-left proclaims a Benthamite calculus in assessing permissible harm when making their omelet, and that their program is the concrete implementation of abstract ideals in the service of an agenda.

    Now what, if anything legitimates or validates these wished for ideals other than the will of some number of people to universalize their preferences, I cannot say; since as far as I can see the utilitarian strategist post Bentham, while full of provisos regarding the wise implementation of pleasure generating schemes, has no real yardstick for evaluating any given pleasure or satisfaction itself.

    Maximizing hierarchies like those attempted by Burtt suffer from the original problem – they cannot be justified by the predicates of the system itself – and they by their very construction or conceptualization, refer to no system of arbitration outside of it.

    And this is the precise situation the Marxist finds itself in. Their metaphysics are really much the same anti-metaphysics.

    My reading of Marx and his commentators does not seem to indicate that he viewed morals or moral principles as much different from the way he viewed any other laws, in terms of base and superstructure.

    Do you see the parallel am driving at here and the distinction between these two systems on the one hand, and systems based on supposed deductions derived from intelligible and enduring natures on the other?

    The rejection of natural kinds analysis in relation to legal propriety, and a resort to anti-metaphysical brute fact predicates in justifying the form and object of the law, is common to both; and they intermingle in current liberalism.

  29. neo-neocon Says:

    Nick:

    Another thing is that not only did I not see conservatives as the enemy (perhaps wrong or misguided, but not evil or the enemy), but I knew leftists (actually, Communists) much better when I was growing up. By “know,” I mean family members (although not my nuclear family), people we got together with with some regularity. I heard them argue, I heard what they said they thought about the events of the 50s and 60s, and I saw their fanaticism and what I considered their inability to face reality. I was therefore somewhat immune to the enticements of the far left.

    What’s more, when I was in college, I went to a couple of SDS meetings and was absolutely repelled. I wrote about the experience here.

  30. DNW Says:

    Eric says,

    “Individuals and classes internalizing the subjugating values of an oppressive society and/or oppressor class is a cornerstone premise for Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.”

    That certainly seems to be true but does it follow that a class constitutes a collective in the sense that was being used by the others?

    You mention the concept of alienation found in the young Marx; alienation of man from man, from his species being, from his productive life through commodification, but even in that Marx warns against the reification of ‘society” and seems to imagine that his program of criticism is destined to unleash real historical man, real living man’s forces propres.

    At that stage it’s then a curious kind of collectivism it seems to me, a kind of monism mostly … which fits in well enough with the theme of alienation; and a quasi if materialist revisiting of the myth of the fall

    It’s interesting that even as he consciously rejects the more egregious conceptual blunders of the average collectivist, in favor of a presumed liberation to the social selfhood (of whatever kind) you mention, the trend is nonetheless inexorably collectivist. The monist first step seems to preclude any lasting subsequent deviation.

  31. Mike Says:

    Boy, the excuses that are made for these people….unreal.

    They are not the “good” Germans. They are the “bad” ones. They know and they still support because they get something from it.

    Treat them like the grown ups they are. They made their choice and that conscious choice is to harm people. They’ve made a calculus: “I will harm A in order to make myself feel good about helping B”, even though they know B is not helped but is also harmed.

    They know. They know. They know.

  32. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Eric, I cannot agree that revelation, upon which all major religions are based and alienation theory are one and the same. Perhaps I misunderstand but if not, they are not the same.

    neo,
    My path from liberal to conservative, while completely independently, nearly exactly mirrored yours. So I’m intimately familiar with the process.

    I have yet to meet a liberal who demonstrated that they want to know the truth. I base that upon an obvious unwillingness to really listen past kneejerk reactions and then explore the issues, not only with an open mind but with giving appropriate weight to the introduced facts that challenge their preconceptions.

    Have any of your liberal relatives, friends and acquaintances followed your path? None of mine have, though perhaps the fault lies with my inability to persuade.

    Is it that they “just really don’t think they’re wrong” or that they “can’t handle the truth”?

    Forgive my typecasting, there are many liberals who are religious. I was speaking of those liberals who have basically rejected religion.

    In my early youth I was raised Catholic (one year in a Catholic school) so I’m familiar with the religion. My perception is that Catholicism is particularly susceptible to leftist dogma.

    Leftism is indeed a far more complex phenomenon than one might think, though I still maintain that its motivational roots are simple and ubiquitous. And, for those who have “rejected God and a belief in a better afterlife, all that is left is to either try to create a ‘more perfect’, socially just world (utopia) or… to seize all for oneself that one can (looking out for #1)”…I remain convinced that logically, there is nowhere else for them to go.

  33. Eric Says:

    DNW,

    My point is drawing the line between individualist versus collectivist, not that Mill or Bentham were authorities cited in drafting our founding documents.

    I used Mill and Bentham to stand in for hedonic and utilitarian, the label you applied to the Left. Actually, both are individualist concepts that fall in the English individualist tradition with which our nation was founded. Even Bentham’s calculus, which seems collectivist because it deals in groups, is based on aggregating individuals who exercise free will rather than a collectivist general will.

    I agree the English concept of individual rights is based on a philosophical interpretation of God’s relationship with man.

    In contrast, Marxism, following alienation theory, anchors in disparate value sets by (originally) economic class rather than an ultimate value set common to individual men or even common to all men collectively.

    However, Marx was not hedonic nor utilitarian.

    His original intent was to bring man closer to God by subjectifying what he held to be the most alienated class, the proletariat.

    The greater good under Marxism is deduced from a prescribed moral value set, not pleasures and benefits, and regardless of aggregated material harm – not induced from the greatest amount of aggregated benefit for least amount of aggregated harm, a la Bentham.

    Since Marx, methodological Marxism has been unmoored from Marx’s original economic historical theory so that the oppressed class has morphed from Marx’s original ultimate-alienated proletariat into a fill-in-the-blank victim class.

    Rather than Marx’s original project to reunite alienated man with God in one fell swoop, methodological Marxism has become an awesomely effective, enduring, and resilient tribal conflict model

    The Left looks hedonic and utilitarian, but it’s not, and thinking they are merely that underestimates their ambition and danger.

    I’ll put it this way: Islamic terrorists are methodologically Marxist. Textbook. The differences in practice are a matter of veneer, degree, and type, not philosophical kind.

  34. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    Have I ever met a liberal who wanted to know the truth?

    Absolutely: me, and every other changer, of which I know many.

    I have personally spearheaded the “change” of various liberals I know. Not many, but at least one in particular.

    Now, you might say “oh, they were never really liberals.” But that’s a circular argument. They were, and I was—at least, I was under that impression for many many decades.

    I was hardly alone. There is a subset of liberals very much like me who are still liberals. I know them; I talk to them. How large a group is it in terms of the entire liberal population? I freely admit I don’t know. But it is substantial, because I know some of these people, and it’s not as though I know all THAT many people.

  35. neo-neocon Says:

    Mike:

    I could not disagree more.

    What you write is true of some liberals, but not even the majority. I have written at length in this thread and others about why I say so, so I won’t keep going on and on about it.

    But you are wrong. I believe I am the proof of that. I did not know any of what you say I must have known. Au contraire.

  36. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “They know. They know. They know.” Mike

    No, they do not know. Thus, “father forgive them, for they do not know what they do”

    If they knew they would be evil and my father and daughter both staunch liberals are NOT evil by ANY measure. But they are deluded and thoroughly indoctrinated. And the road to hell is indeed paved with the best of intentions.

    There is a difference between the guard who operates the ovens and the baker who does nothing. One facilitates (to make easier) evil and the other participates (joins in) in evil. They both bear responsibility but there is a difference between willing participation and fearful avoidance of consequence.

  37. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    neo,

    I stand corrected. The irony, that I myself am one of those former firm liberals who changed, of whom you speak has hoisted me upon my own ‘petard’.

    And that change came upon me before I ever knew of this blog. Rush Limbaugh pilloried me and Dennis Prager seduced me with reason and logic.

  38. Mike Says:

    You are so wrong – and so insulting to them.

    You have just said, literally, that they are children.

    I am here to tell you that they are not children. I am here to say that to say that they are children is a lie.

    They are grown up. They made and make their own moral choices and decisions. They have access to more information than anyone in history.

    It is simply an insult and a travesty to excuse these people. It is exactly how they continue to thrive.

  39. Eric Says:

    Neo: “What’s more, when I was in college, I went to a couple of SDS meetings and was absolutely repelled.”

    The week after 9/11, I attended a radical left campus meeting of an organization that’s a successor of SDS. The theme of the meeting was 9/11 was a golden opportunity to revitalize their social revolution.

    They were eager and pleased by the turn of events. They had plans – oh yes – and they were ready to deploy them immediately.

    The things they said they would do, the week after 9/11? They’ve done.

  40. Mike Says:

    In case you are wondering what one looks and sounds like, here is an actual grown up doing what actually decent people do when they know the evil they are caught up in.

    http://therightscoop.com/boom-russia-today-reporter-quits-on-air-because-russia-funded-network-whitewashes-the-actions-of-putin/

    You could almost say that the definition of a liberal is the person who would never do such a thing as this woman did, whether she is a liberal or not.

  41. neo-neocon Says:

    Mike:

    What are you talking about, them? I am saying that I was a liberal for most of my life. I know plenty of liberals like me. Not all, not even most, but some. I have made that very clear.

    You seem to be pointedly ignoring that fact, among others.

  42. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    No Mike we are NOT saying they are chilren. What we are saying is that they are fallible human beings. Which ironically you are demonstrating with your black or white categorization.

    As adults, they are indeed responsible for the decisions they make but decisions made with the best of intentions are not the same as decisions made, when based in knowing them to be untrue. Nor is that an excuse, rather it is understanding why people behave as they do and thus extending mercy, realizing that for there but for the grace of God, go you and I…

    As for the lady whose story you link to, I saw that too and after a moment of admiration, caught where she said she’d thought of this move a long time, even knowing going in and that led me to consider her timing…any bets that this ‘move of conscience’ will be of personal benefit in her career?

  43. Eric Says:

    Mike’s description is apt for the creative activists on the Left. They can be countered, but doing so requires creative activists.

  44. neo-neocon Says:

    Eric:

    You might be interested in this interview.

  45. Gringo Says:

    Minta Marie Morze

    “Daniel of Venezuela News & Views: 11:46 AM I love how some make the wildest assumptions, throwing words like “huge” carelessly. Let me put it this way, as long as the Republican Party does not remove from its agenda creationism, homophobia and pro life commandments there is no way I can consider voting for them. It is that simple. I put my principles ahead of my wallet, sorry.”

    Daniel thinks this is the principled stand. This is just heartbreaking.

    Daniel, who has a Ph.D. in biology from a US university, is fairly typical of many Venezuelan oppos, who despise Pubs and love Demos. This is in spite of Jimmah Carter’s disastrous incursion into Venezuelan politics in the 2004 Recall Referendum. This is in spite of former Democrat Congressman Joe Kennedy, as the very well paid executive of his heating oil firm in Boston, praising Chavismo to the hilt for supplying his company with cheapo oil. Do PSF [Pendejos Sin Fronteras] like Oliver Stone, Danny Glover and Sean Penn, all ardent Chavez supporters, ever vote Republican?

    In Daniel’s favor, he has greatly cut down on his commentary about US politics in the last year or so. I suspect the message that in spite of his having gone to school in the US some years ago, he is sadly out of touch with the US de jour, has finally hit home to him. He also realizes there is no point in alienating some of his readers.

  46. Eric Says:

    Geoffrey Britain: “As adults, they are indeed responsible for the decisions they make but decisions made with the best of intentions are not the same as decisions made, when based in knowing them to be untrue.”

    This is where Mike is part right and you’re part right.

    You’re part right:

    Granted, your friends and loved ones are not radicals of the kind that repelled Neo at the SDS meetings. And if they don’t know better, then they don’t know better.

    Where Mike is part right:

    What if they do know better, and you know they know better because you’ve told them, but they choose not to change?

    If they’re not SDS radicals, then what are they after they’ve announced “decisions made with the best of intentions”, you’ve explained their errors and the truth, yet they continue on course with the false premises, “knowing them to be untrue”?

    A common experience shared by Neo and her readers is of explaining – exhaustively so – the truth to counter false narratives, yet having the corrective dismissed and the false narrative continue in place.

    What are they then? The innocents who internalize the radical’s message and do the radical’s bidding – voluntarily after corrective efforts, no less – may not share the same moral culpability as the radical but certainly commit damage by the radical’s design. At least, they are no longer innocent.

    My take: Personal explanation is insufficient in the context of collective consciousness. That requires change of the cultural zeitgeist. The only thing that can counter an effective Marxist-method activist popular-political movement in that context is an effective Marxist-method activist popular-political movement.

  47. neo-neocon Says:

    Eric:

    You ask, “What if they do know better, and you know they know better because you’ve told them, but they choose not to change?”

    My answer: telling them so is not nearly enough for most people to change. I would not have changed, either, if someone had merely “told me so.”

    I would have also had to believe them well enough that it sparked a long process of exploration and independent reading on my part to corroborate whatever they were saying, and much more. To do that I’d have to have a very strong motivation (not a weak or moderate one) and plenty of time for the process. Otherwise it’s just the argument from authority, which should not be enough to convince any thinking person.

    The motivation and impetus is usually internal and from something that person has experienced him/herself, unless a person has an extraordinary amount of respect for the “teller,” and an extraordinary amount of patience and time. I have often said to my friends that I wish I could take them, step by step, though every article I read over the couple of years I was undergoing the process of change. But of course I can’t.

    The person I managed to help “change” had a lot of patience and listening power, and I talked to that person a lot about this over a period of several years before any change occurred in the listener. It is highly unusual that a person would be that patient over time, listening to something with which they disagree, and arguing with the person, and then ultimately coming to substantially agree.

  48. DaveindeSwamp Says:

    I have always been conservative, even while in my loser period . Yeah, I had one .
    I despise the LEFT, I despise their smug pomposity and their laughing off murder as omelettes.

    These are people that thought killing kids for the revolution was a good thing. No wonder they kiss up to the islamist monsters .

    No,I’m not nice .

  49. Eric Says:

    Neo,

    I wish Steve Beren and I had found each other after 9/11. We’re like-minded. I would have provided him the campus vehicle he desired and he could have helped me expand the campus vehicle I was trying to build. Together, we may have made the larger social difference I intended by way of my alma mater, but I fell short of making by my own devices.

    Regarding Beren’s prognostication of an immediate campus anti-war movement after 9/11, the date he gave, Oct 31, was late. Here are dated excerpts from my column in my school paper:

    01Oct01: “The country as a whole has rallied admirably since the attacks. Many college students, however, have made a disturbing choice to respond with rhetoric recalling the Vietnam War protests.”

    10Oct01: “Hurt and in grave danger, America has called for strength, clarity of purpose, and unity from its people. Instead of using their zeal to unite Americans, however, frightened college students in the anti-war movement, directed by a radical core, have sought to divide the country by manipulating the fears and doubts of other Americans. … Using the shock and confusion that followed the terrorist attacks, the anti-war movement has worked diligently to shift the blame for the attacks from the terrorists onto America itself.”

    19Oct01: “Since Sept. 11, reputably intelligent college students have reshaped their memories of the terrorist attacks in order to methodically separate the attacks from the perpetrators responsible for them. By listening to their arguments against the American military response, one might almost believe the horrifying events of Sept. 11 were natural disasters or terribly unfortunate accidents. My favorite theory is that the thought of actually confronting Osama bin Laden’s terrorism scares them so badly that they have decided to project their fear and anger onto a much safer target of abuse: the victim of the attacks, the United States.”

  50. Gringo Says:

    Neo on liberals:
    Their politics could be described mainly as the desire to be nice, kind, peaceful, and generous, both at home and abroad. They conceptualize the things they support as leading to those goals, and Republicans as mean, stingy, racist, etc..

    I grew up in deepest bluest lib-land, but with a twist. I lived in a small town which funneled its high school students into an adjacent, larger town, which was also better educated and more affluent than my home town. The larger town was quite liberal- we detest racism and the Vietnam War, you know the drill; this was reflected in the high school students.

    We students from the smaller, less affluent, town found that in high school, the students from the larger, better educated, more affluent town often considered us hicks, dumb farmers. The prejudice didn’t override everything- even though I and several classmates were from the “dumb farmer” town, we got elected to Student Council. But the “hick.. dumb farmer” attitude was there.

    That taught me at an early age that some of those in the North who abhorred racial prejudice in the South, also had their own form of prejudice. Everyone, to a certain degree, defines themselves in terms of “our group” and “not our group.” Which means that those who believe that they are NOT racist and that certain other people ARE racist are simply deluding themselves- as the saying goes, they think THEIR Sh@@ doesn’t stink.

    I also saw that political beliefs could also connected with wanting to belong to a certain group- they weren’t necessarily only about principles and beliefs.

    Several years after I graduated from high school, I had a short conversation with a high school student from the larger, more affluent town. [He didn't realize I was a graduate of that high school.] He told me how he and some fellow students had gone to my hometown to campaign for a liberal candidate for the US Senate Democrat primary election. “Even though it was a CONSERVATIVE town, our campaigning resulted in our liberal candidate winning there.” What I found amusing about my hometown being labeled as “conservative” was that the only black and chinese students in my high school class were from my “conservative” hometown. Moreover, in my “conservative” hometown, before the Civil Rights Bill was passed, I had two black teachers. Which the more liberal town didn’t have. My group, your group.

    Actually, that guy was right. My hometown was more conservative. The widow of a Republican governor lived in town. The old Yankee who had been in town government for 40 years, who succeeded his father, was a penny pinching Republican. But it also showed me that conservative wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It certainly showed that conservative didn’t equate with racist.

  51. Eric Says:

    Neo: “Otherwise it’s just the argument from authority”

    Argument from authority applies to interpretations, values, principles, and theories, and perhaps information that is esoteric and contextual.

    What do you make, though, of people clinging to a false narrative that requires a willful denial of open-source, easily verified information?

    That’s beyond skepticism of argument from authority.

  52. T Says:

    If I may, belatedly, add my two cents:

    Not to make light of this very serious discussion, it reminds me of the old joke about how many psychologists it takes to change a light bulb; none, the light bulb must change itself.

    Neo writes “I would not have changed, either, if someone had merely ‘told me so’,” perhaps this is, in part, because to change as the result of someone else’s forced input is to implicitly say the three most difficult words in the English language: “I was wrong.” Both Geoffrey Britain and Neo admit that their change was a personal voyage of discovery motivated by their own recognition of a deficit in their (then) current belief system. Their belief system; it doesn’t get any more personal and fundamental than that. Not even sex is that intimate. Can anyone accept being told that their belief system is built on an error (think the Platonic v. the Copernican universe).

    I have reached the point in my life where I believe that it is not possible to change anyone’s mind in any debate. Has anyone ever seen their adversary say “Oh my God! You’re right! I never realized that before!” The function of an argument/discussion/debate, much like this one is to get the information out there in the hopes that people to whom it is meaningful find it. Horse. Water. Drink.

  53. Eric Says:

    DNW,

    Marx’s basic unit wasn’t the self, though. Marx believed we are created social in the state of nature, so that personal change is necessarily by social change. Self vs society is the province of Nietzsche and Freud.

    The Monist characterization is apt. A large part of Marx’s original work was based on his critique of Hegel.

    In the activist phase of his career, Marx was materialist in posture, but it always struck me as rhetorical cover for his idealism. He switched language, but kept the concept. That’s how I explain his flawed historical theory that shouldn’t have passed muster with a critical thinker of his caliber. He claimed his historical theory was inductive, but it was deductive all along.

  54. T Says:

    Two serendipitous quotes regarding my 12:14am post provided by Maetenloch over at Ace of Spades (3/5/2014 @10:07 pm)

    When it comes to Iran, Obama shows an attitude that can only be described as solipsistic: what’s in his mind is reality. And any other reality is just plain silly. [Elliot Abrams]

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/if-he-believes-it-it-must-be-so_783721.html?nopager=1

    the fact that reality does not match the preconceptions of the intelligentsia shows that there is something wrong with reality, for which somebody must be blamed. Apparently their preconceptions cannot be wrong. [Thomas Sowell]

    http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2014/02/25/the-fairness-fraud-n1799865/page/full

  55. Eric Says:

    T,

    My experience is the social environment needs to be changed in order for people to change their minds. Which makes sense, because these ideas are less personal beliefs than they are social beliefs.

    See Emile Durkheim’s individual consciousness vs collective consciousness.

    To change social beliefs, change the social environment, so social environmental change is the organizing principle of activists.

    Activists aren’t focused on changing minds by reasoning with each person and arriving at inquisitorial, critical truth. They do more than just place info out there. They change minds as a product of actively normalizing their preferred value set and methodically stigmatizing and marginalizing the ‘other’ value set in the zeitgeist of the social environment.

  56. T Says:

    Eric,

    So you are saying that Andrew Breitbart was correct, that politics is downstream of (popular) culture.

  57. Beverly Says:

    Well, like Dorothy Parker quipped, “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.”

    I think human beans have excellent deflector shields. Whenever we detect incoming Scary/Unpleasant/Debunking information, it seems to be second nature to just get Scotty to raise the shields.

    Case in point: my friend Vinnie, lifelong Italian-American blue collar Democrat, has been alarmed that our country is “going Communist!” (She’s 65, and even NYC used to teach the kids Some Americana, apparently.)

    But, but, but: when I asked her why she still voted for BO, she replied, her face contorted with revulsion, “Who was I gonna vote for — the Other One???” She couldn’t even bring herself to say Romney’s name.

    She knows I’m an apostate, but I haven’t really lowered the boom on her. I am using the drip-drip method, but it’s tough: the network propaganda is her only “news” source. She doesn’t read any papers.

    Nick is right. The Leftists have been frighteningly effective at “evil-izing” all opponents, even as they bleat that they don’t believe in Evil and being all judgey and stuff.

    Man is the Rationalizing Animal.

    Footnote: the most infuriating thing, for me, is when a liberal birdbrain who knows and loves you listens to you with the patience they would bestow on an idiot child, pretending to engage you in discussion and debate, only to reveal as they get up to leave that they never entertained one single idea of yours, never admitted one point into their alleged minds. And leave you with a patronizing smile.

    Maddening.

  58. neo-neocon Says:

    Eric:

    I think that there’s less excuse for not knowing “open-source, easily verified information” than there was before the internet.

    On the other hand, maybe not. For every piece of “easily-verified information” there’s a leftist source that debunks it. So, who do you trust becomes part of the equation.

    A person also has to know that the “open-source, easily verified information” exists, and that it’s credible. If they’re used to thinking the NY Times is the root of all truth (or The New Yorker, or NPR), then if you show them a source on the right they debunk it, or at the very least distrust it.

    Remember, if you’ve read my “change” saga, that what happened to me was rather special and depended on my naivete about the source of my sources. In other words, for at least a year after 9/11, when I was doing a lot of online reading about this and that, both history and current events, I was mostly innocent of which sources were from the right and which from the left. Just to take an example, I didn’t know that the British paper the Guardian was on the left and the Telegraph to the right of it. I was just reading a lot of articles in both (for the first time, because of the internet), and discovered the Telegraph was much more reliable and made more sense. I only discovered their political bent afterward. That sort of thing happened over and over, and was quite a shock to me. Sort of like a double-blind experiment.

    That was very instrumental in my change, but somewhat unusual, I think.

  59. Beverly Says:

    I still cling like a limpet to my theory of the Entering Wedge: Don’t try to attack their whole edifice. Anyone would resist that. Don’t come at them aggressively, either.

    Identify with them as far as possible. Then say (e.g.), Well, there’s one thing that Does bother me: I’m a feminist, and I must say that our policies on the Muslims make me uncomfortable. Did you know they are doing female genital mutilation in New York and New Jersey? [true, by the way] And the city and state governments have refused to do anything about it. [Follow with a graphic description of pharoanic "circumcision."]

    The thing is, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Our enemies know that. But we can drive a thousand cracks into their wall of lies, until one day, the structure will reach critical failure and collapse.

    One crack at a time.

  60. Beverly Says:

    Or, better yet, “de Blasio won’t do anything about it.” (Substitute with local Reds as appropriate.) It’s also crucial to stick to verifiable facts, and as much as possible, use “their” sources.

    One crack at a time.

  61. T Says:

    “Footnote: the most infuriating thing, for me . . .”

    Beverly,

    Because of that mother ship of false premise. They know that their belief system is so much culturally and morally superior to the addlepated beliefs of any who would disagree with them.

  62. Eric Says:

    Neo,

    It’s a wider phenomenon, but I’m thinking particularly of my case for ‘Why Iraq’ where I cite to source materials: Bush speeches, Clinton presidential speeches and contemporary endorsing statements, UNSC resolutions, US laws, UNMOVIC records, etc., even an Obama presidential statement.

    So it’s not just WSJ Opinion vs NY Times Opinion.

    The incredible thing about the false narrative of the Iraq enforcement is how obviously flimsy it is compared to the historical record. Yet they’ll cling to the false narrative.

  63. Minta Marie Morze Says:

    The Venezuela protests fit into the explicatory discussion in the post and comments here at Neo’s. Daniel’s Venezuela blog is a chance to read about tumultuous events from someone living through an attempted rebellion against a prime example of the Progressive ethos mapped over a real Leftist regime.

    (Thanks, Gringo, for filling me in about Daniel. I haven’t visited his blog for long enough for a good grasp of his politics. I want to say right away that I have nothing but contempt and loathing for the Danny Glover, Sean Penn, Jimmy Carter type creatures, and the damage they do. By long-thought-out choices, I’m a believing Christian and a Conservative.)

    Daniel explicitly recognizes the evil done to Venezuela by Chavez, his followers, and the Cuban thugs that the Castro brothers have maneuvered into power as a sort of “eminence grise” contingent. In Daniel’s blog posts and the comments, I’m looking through the eyes of real people who are experiencing events that frighten, exhilarate, and agonize them. Both clichés and original thoughts are percolating in their minds. Because he writes so often, you can see things as they occur and without knowing their outcome. Normal activities become difficult, even grotesque. The description Daniel gives of the machinations he has to go through to keep his business going during this societal collapse is really interesting.

    Consider Daniel, who espouses decency, compassion, honor, generosity of spirit and of charity, and so on, in his writing; who recognizes that people such as Hugo Chavez do and have done great evil; and yet, at the same time, who clearly believes that the evil done by such people is because they are evil people, and not because of their ideology. Daniel wrote a denunciation about all the frauds of which Chavez had been guilty. He is stunned by the list, by the lies.

    http://daniel-venezuela.blogspot.com/2014/03/chavez-fraud-that-keeps-giving.html

    Yet the evil of the events was predictable from the very beginning of Chavez’s grim odyssey through Venezuelan politics, because of his ideology, revealed in part by his choice of vocabulary. It took quite a while for Daniel to recognize the “frauds”, because he uses the same kind of vocabulary, and he measures at first the attributed “intent”, not actual behavior. He doesn’t realize that a lot of his political views march alongside those that Chavez actually carried into reality.

    And in this regard I would like to recommend a post on another Venezuela blog even more revealing of what happens when the Leftist “glowing” beliefs are reified in all their ruthless glory and guise of paradox.

    http://devilsexcrement.com/2014/03/01/the-venezuela-paradox/

    (The “devil’s excrement” of his blog title is a term for oil.) The post, “The Venezuela Paradox,” is really interesting, the comments even more so, and a link at one of the most compelling of the comments leads to an article written in 1972 by V. S. Naipaul, about another South American revolution, which speaks directly to the discussion here are Neo’s:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1972/aug/10/the-corpse-at-the-iron-gate/

    The ever-prescient Yeats saw it:

    “Hurrah for revolution and more cannon-shot!

    A beggar upon horseback lashes a beggar on foot,

    Hurrah for revolution and cannon come again!

    The beggars have changed places but the lash goes on.”

    These countries keep going through the same cycle of the Progressive transformation: protest into promise into pestilence.

  64. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Eric @ 11:02,
    My response would essentially be neos. Imparting the information is not nearly enough. I GREATLY resisted Rush’s contribution of information contrary to my liberal beliefs and changed the station in disgust many, many times. Dennis Prager is almost Rush’s antithesis, in that he’s not bombastic, egotized nor a ‘showman’. Without Prager’s calm reasoning and logic Rush alone would not have opened my eyes. Nor conversely would Prager’s approach alone have worked.

    Rush battered down my liberal defenses and Prager prevented me from restoring the defenses Rush had battered down. Even then, it took much reading on the internet before my views started to coalesce into a conservative/libertarian mold. And like neo, especially in the beginning, I often did not know the ‘bias’ of the news outlet I was reading.

    T,

    Thanks, I for one find your ‘belated 2 cents’ of real value.

    I certainly have myself and have known others who have said, “Oh my God! You’re right!” but…not in response to a challenge to an entire belief system, nor even to fundamental aspects of that belief system. So with that caveat, I think your point stands.

    Eric,

    “Activists aren’t focused on changing minds by reasoning with each person and arriving at inquisitorial, critical truth. They do more than just place info out there. They change minds as a product of actively normalizing their preferred value set and methodically stigmatizing and marginalizing the ‘other’ value set in the zeitgeist of the social environment.”

    That is the first formulation you’ve made that provides needed insight into your assertion that we must fight fire with fire. However, the activists of the left’s basic dishonesty in ‘normalizing’ their memes and narrative… while methodically stigmatizing and marginalizing our ‘value set’ and demonize all who promote it is not a viable long term strategy. So how is our engaging in the same tactics going to bring about a different result?

    I know you can’t win by bringing a knife to a gunfight but in the long run you can’t win a battle of ideas by lying either. You can trick your way to apparent triumph, such as Lenin did but lies do not provide a sustainable foundation, as the Soviet Union discovered.

  65. DNW Says:

    Mike Says:
    March 5th, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Boy, the excuses that are made for these people….unreal.

    They are not the “good” Germans. They are the “bad” ones. They know and they still support because they get something from it.”

    The “good Germans” is ironic usage … knowing, profiting, pretending not to understand …

  66. DNW Says:

    Eric Says:
    March 6th, 2014 at 12:34 am

    DNW,

    … The Monist characterization is apt. A large part of Marx’s original work was based on his critique of Hegel.

    In the activist phase of his career, Marx was materialist in posture, but it always struck me as rhetorical cover for his idealism. He switched language, but kept the concept. That’s how I explain his flawed historical theory that shouldn’t have passed muster with a critical thinker of his caliber.

    I’ve had some extended exchanges with Marxists or in their own terminology, “Hermenuticists”, on just this point. And they have denied as well that Marx was a materialist in the sense we think of 19th century mechanistic billiard ball materialism.

    They blame it on Engels. That may be.

    I would not go so far as to say that Marx was an idealist in any common use of the term as it applies to objective idealists, or subjective idealists, though.

    He claimed his historical theory was inductive, but it was deductive all along.

    I completely agree on that point, and have written in those exact terms myself myself. A read through of his doctoral thesis shows the trend-line of his mind. He arrived at a worldview first, “discoveries” second.

    Marxists would have you believe the myth of his sideways entry (historically contextual but ideologically presuppositionless) into his researches.

  67. DNW Says:

    “Eric Says:
    March 5th, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    DNW,

    My point is drawing the line between individualist versus collectivist, not that Mill or Bentham were authorities cited in drafting our founding documents.

    I used Mill and Bentham to stand in for hedonic and utilitarian, the label you applied to the Left. Actually, both are individualist concepts that fall in the English individualist tradition with which our nation was founded. Even Bentham’s calculus, which seems collectivist because it deals in groups, is based on aggregating individuals who exercise free will rather than a collectivist general will. …”

    Ok I see the problem. We are addressing different issues by and large. Part of it is subject matter: logical implication and historical tendencies versus conscious intent; and part is due to the multitude of kinds of left-liberals and progressives and so forth.

    Your point is that Mill certainly, and perhaps Bentham, through back-projection or deep reading (I don’t know which), stand in the general classical liberal tradition as opposed to radicals like Rousseau or Comte whose anthropology and analysis of human existence makes them overt collectivists.

    Thus you have the former pegged as within the individualist camp.

    My view, and I don’t bother with Mill except to nod toward his recognition of the problems with the pleasure/pain paradigm, is that Bentham’s scheme is intellectually incoherent on its premisses, and that in seeking some non-teleological principle in which to ground the concepts of good and evil, it merely sets the table for an eventual overthrow of whatever liberal sensibilities it accidentally imports into the system; sensibilities which in contrast to its foundational premisses must be considered as largely irrelevant to the operation of the system: for there is no substantive inclusion of the notion of rights such as a man with a specific nature, and a knowable “good” defined in terms other than sensual satisfactions, would have.

    Now, the supposedly non-marxist but aggressively secular liberals currently operating in the United States, that dwindling class of supposedly non-marxist government activist Democrat types, recognize two governing principles: the greatest “good” for the greatest number, and a non-teleological, pleasure centered, definition of “good”. They will leverage or abandon the text of the Constitution as seems most polemically effective. There is no need to take “inclusion” and “expansion” as formal principles in reference to the Constitution any more seriously than when they use the term “fairness” in opposition to it.

    These utilitarian derived principles may well have been held by people who, at least in the case of Mill are considered as real liberals, but they, as principles, do in themselves nothing to establish any coherent foundation for individual rights. Which is why I ignore Mill. I am only interested in the bare logical implications of Bentham’s principles, not the epicycles and regressions fashioned by those who with all the best interests, well possibly, tried to save the valuation scheme from its own natural trajectory.

    Yet it is these principles that inform the public rationale behind the interventionist arguments of Great Society type “liberals” and the rhetorical fulcrums they employ in argument.

    No, I acknowledge that the unqualified operating principle of “the greatest good for the greatest number” (pretending for a moment that it is a coherent idea) is not precisely the same concept as the dictatorship and moral sovereignty of the general will, and that it has usually been advanced by men with differing assumptions and social perspectives from radical collectivists.

    Indeed, outright positive collectivists are a different matter from those whose systems of arbitration know no real values collective or otherwise, no substantive intrinsic rights or limits individual or otherwise; just supposed rules of social operation.

    But I see they tend inexorably in the same direction. And the long and established history of American progressives/liberals using these utilitarian “justifications” rhetorically to trample down “old fashioned” natural law emanating constitutional restraints, well exemplifies it.

    Utilitarianism has been impregnated with the genes of collectivism; and its design made it inevitable.

  68. neo-neocon Says:

    Minta Marie Morze:

    Have you ever thought of emailing Daniel and conveying some of the thoughts you’ve written here? It could be interesting.

  69. kolnai Says:

    I’ll break this up into sections, as it’s somewhat lengthy.

    1) In my experience with teaching young lefty college students (all of them), the vast majority are, if I may say, not cognizant enough to be ideological. In a class of 80 I’ll have maybe 5-10 hardcore ideologues (usually ethnic studies people, FWIW). Otherwise they are just kids who, as neo put it, want to think of themselves as nice, good, benevolent people. Beyond those borders, thought dies.

    I want to add something more to that. One of the universities I taught at served a lot of poor and minority kids, many of whom worked their tails off to get through community college and go to the school. Hard workers. Scrappy. I respected many of them, and genuinely enjoyed teaching them.

    And yet – liberals and lefties all. After prolonged discussion with them, it became clear to me that among the poorer set of liberals the sustaining feelings are threefold: a) a sense that social programs have been essential to their own, their family’s, and their friends’ “staying above water” in life; b) a near-paranoid distrust of people with money; and c) an association of people with money with white Republicans.

    That’s really all it takes, almost all of it rooted in “anecdotal” life experience. A welfare check helped mom put food on the table. A wealthy guy got acquitted for the same or similar crimes a friend was convicted for. All it takes is a few of these moments, and a political alignment is cemented which no contrary argument can crack.

    On many, many matters these students – particularly, I would note, the black students – were filled with common sense and even patriotism. I’d say a third of them were religious too. What I’m getting at is that these were not the ideological Marxoid America-hating radicals we all justifiably hold in contempt. They were mostly poor minority kids trying to make it in life who basically couldn’t overcome their direct life experience with free market considerations. The morality associated with the free market side is discredited by association.

    In effect, they hear “Let me and my family die in the gutter” when they hear “free market.” They hear “Shut up and die” when they hear “individual responsibility.” They hear “We the wealthy will indulge ourselves and buy acquittals and mulligans when we mess up” when they hear “Discipline and self-control.” Distrust, cynicism, and – big one – resentment, a huge chip on the shoulder, are the result.

    What happens next is that they take that given association with the left into college like a sponge, and then suck up various ideological tidbits sprayed onto them throughout their course of study. They then emerge not really ideological in the full sense, but well-trained in the Acceptable Positions.

    2) That being said, there are further folds, and I agree with pretty much everything DNW says on that score (no surprise, as we both orbit around the Feserite classical A-T approach). One doesn’t have to deny that the vast majority of liberals are passive and (to quote Nietzsche) “not even shallow” in their moral-political thinking to acknowledge that a quite specific metaphysical backdrop is needed for such a comportment toward the world to become an option.

    The legal scholar Steven D. Smith has written a loose trilogy of books (Law’s Quandary; The Constitution and the Pride of Reason; The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse) which amount a prolonged argument that the tense philosophical mixture of the Founding – half-classical Reason, half-modern Reason – has progressively (if you will) been diluted into a homogeneous modern monolith.

    Mill, Bentham, Marx, Rousseau – whatever. I’d add Francis Bacon and Spinoza for good measure. The particular modern thinker and his particular quantum of influence are side issues. The crucial point, which DNW highlights so appropriately, is the root-and-branch rejection of classical/medieval metaphysics: substance, form, teleology, the scala naturae, natural law – and thus, we A-T folks would maintain, intelligibility as such.

    One sees, then, how the Big issue segues into the Smaller issues I began with. Abandoning intelligibility crushes the throne of reason and allows feelings and anecdotes to claim majesty. There’s no mental or spiritual barrier, as it were, against the tyranny of “lived-experience” (in the most banal sense).

    3) I’ve come to picture the American project as a kind of Parthenon, with a classical/medieval foundation, modern columns, and a roof fashioned of a hybrid God (somewhat classical and substantive, somewhat modern and deistic). The sheer ballsiness of such a project produces a slack jaw in anyone who perceives it with tolerable clarity.

    But in any case, the ground of its ultimate intelligibility rested on its never abandoned classical foundation. It is no accident – I would argue – that liberalism as we know it emerged at just the moment that foundation was being demolished.

    Liberals – the passive majority of them – are thus not immoral in their day to day lives, by and large. But they are nihilists for all that. Proclaiming to believe in The Good is not the same as having any basis for that belief beyond current whims and group fealty. I acknowledge that they are passionate about whatever they feel pleased to call The Good at any moment. I deny that this means they have any coherent moral philosophy.

    This means that moral as they may be in their personal lives, they serve as petrie dishes for the dissemination of nihilistic thought, and so the policies that count on it. An old-timey Marxist-Leninist might call them “objectively immoral.”

    4) To the question of the “good German,” then – which I take to be one of culpability – I’d say the following, along the lines of Karl Jaspers.

    An individual’s degree of guilt is proportionate to the degree one participates in the bad deed in question. Does the average liberal actually commit the offenses which our liberal overlords commit? No. Does the average liberal acquiesce in or approve of them? To the extent that they know, it’s hard to say. My sense is that, at bottom, they do. But at the same time, they tend to weasel out of an acknowledgment of an uncomfortable fact by going rhetorical (tu quoque, everyone-does-it, etc.), thus manifesting some recognition that what they’re justifying is not entirely kosher. I’d say acquiescence is the best term here.

    Finally, do they feel pangs of conscience about it? On the whole, no. Once again, though, the weaselly behavior when confronted evinces a rudimentary response of conscience. This is further complicated because culpability here goes to the active denial of information that would increase feelings of guilt.

    In terms of Jaspers’ scheme for German guilt, then, the average liberal is not criminally guilty, but is to some degree politically and morally guilty. (I omit metaphysical guilt because it’s universal.) This doesn’t make them bad people. It makes them complicit, to a degree, in bad deeds. This is a stain of course, and a stain we all share somewhat, fallible humans that we are. For the liberal, however, it is systematic acquiescence to leftist rule, and so carries greater weight.

    There is clearly some non-zero degree to which the average liberal is culpable, for if there are no “average liberals” there are no leftist overlords, not in this country. Just how culpable they are is another matter. My opinion is that they are, individually, minimally culpable (meaning I don’t think of them in the same way I think of leftist activists). Much of their liberalism comes from indoctrination, family tradition, and “life experience” under the aegis of nihilism. It may be right and good to rise above all of that, but I’m not confident most people are capable of it (hence the importance of education – to set people on the right path without them having to heroically think their way to it).

  70. neo-neocon Says:

    kolnai:

    Wonderful comment, with much food for thought.

    It ties in, also, with much of the thought of Allan Bloom and also some of Robert Frost’s writings on how “progressive” education was abandoning the teaching of traditional values (Frost wrote the latter in the 1910s and 1920s, by the way, which gives you a rough idea of how long ago this was all going on).

  71. Eric Says:

    Geoffrey Britain,

    It’s a method. Anyone can use it – that’s the point. If you don’t want to be Soviet, then don’t be Soviet.

    It’s a means, not an end. It doesn’t change your value set. It doesn’t change your preferred policies and, just as importantly, your preferred culture. Activism does change your effectiveness at reifying your preferences in a competitive activist environment.

    A game of chess is won by playing chess. But as with any game, you can customize your gameplay within the parameters of the game.

    I’ve cited this example before: Ivy League schools recently acted to re-normalize relationships with the military, ie, ROTC. The reversal of the 40+ year trend didn’t happen from a spontaneous spasm of conscience by Ivy League university leaders. It happened from an insurgent (student-led) activist movement that defeated the campus Left.

    As far as I know, at least, the Ivy ROTC advocates neither tricked nor lied their way to victory.

    Citing Soviets when activism has a long, effective history transforming America that includes our nation’s founding reminds me of this: don’t ape or cargo-cult activism. It’s a bad idea to jump into the arena and compete against the Left’s real activists with a brittle, superficial imitation of activism.

  72. kolnai Says:

    neo -

    Not accidentally tied in with Bloom ;)

    I have to thank you for getting me interested in Frost. I have to confess my total ignorance of him before you started writing about him, and I had no intention of ever learning more (once can’t get to everyone). But you’ve sold me.

  73. Ymarsakar Says:

    “You have just said, literally, that they are children.”

    It’s about how you choose to view them. If you view them as tools, you can destroy them and the evil for which they are used, but don’t need to hate them for they are not humans.

    If you treat them as humans, then you get emotionally involved as you consider them as what you may have become, peers of a different mold. Free will is also involved.

    I treat most of the cannonfodder on the LEft as humans that once were free with free will, but chose to abdicate their soul and will in favor of the Left’s religion and Utopian promises.

    In so far as other humans do it too, it’s not a new thing in and of itself. Many Americans made the same strategic calculus about killing Japanese civilians, women, and children in return for saving Americans. That was a zero sum point of view, and they can’t say they wanted to save the Japanese because that’s a post facto absolution via arm chair. Did the American patriots that fought WWII agree with or know about the firebombing and nuking of Japanese cities? Probably not. That doesn’t really mean much though when it comes to picking a side.

    The point is, the Left has chosen a side and their enemies have chosen the other one. There’s no point in having regrets or shame over that. Not for them, not for us. Humans will be treated as lawful prisoners of war. Those others who obeyed… well, they will have different issues like Nuremberg.

    No matter what a person’s intentions are, the evil they commit ends up the same to the targets too weak to resist. No matter what a person’s desires and social status are, the consequences for ignorance will be the same: death. Death is the only fair judgment, sooner or later. Delayed Absolute Justice is better than immediate swift Leftist corruption.

    The idea that people can say, “but I didn’t know what they were doing to humans, I was just following orders” is not… really effective even when a nation like the US wins a war. When the Germans and Japanese said that… did Americans listen? Did Americans here listen and feel sympathy? Do people think their family members will get sympathy when they claim ignorance… sympathy from WHOM exactly?

  74. T Says:

    Geoffrey Britain,

    (@10:09)
    “So how is our engaging in the same tactics going to bring about a different result?”

    Perhaps it’s not using the same tactics, but fighting the same war. The right need not respond with dishonesty, but it must respond by changing the cultural milieu in which belief systems are formed and maintained (I think that this is Eric’s point).

    Infuse the media, infuse academia and, if possible, infuse the govt with proponents of the conservative/traditionalist world view. On an individual basis do not allow leftist misrepresentations to at least go unchallenged. One won’t change their mind, but with each adverserial retort (“You don’t really believe that, do you?”) one erects a small obstacle to the next false dictum. After a while those add up and it becomes implicit that such a view is unacceptable. Think of how that developed with racial prejudice against blacks, social prejudice toward pregnant single females and now we see the same evolution with regard to gay activity and gay marriage.

    This is a long uphill battle, but it’s the same battle which progressives used to bring us to this place we’re in today. As I’ve written before, it makes no sense to argue facts with someone who dismisses the facts you proffer and contradicts themselves while denying the contradiction. In other words, don’t send your army to fight a battle at sea.

    Kolnai,

    I second Neo; insightful comment. Welcome back! Such defenders on the wall are sorely needed.

  75. Eric Says:

    Thinking about DNW’s hedonic utilitarian vs my methodological Marxist, kolnai’s students, Neo, Geoffrey Britain, and others’ liberal loved ones and friends, the SDS that repelled Neo and the SDS successors that catalyzed my student activism, and other commentators grouping liberals in a uniform mass – a key point made by this post and comment thread is the need for a taxonomy of liberals that can go towards breaking down a daunting social cultural/political challenge to component parts and forming a gameplan that’s variously tailored to the various parts.

    Like learning how to do a symphony.

    T,

    That’s it. I think we all agree on the things that need to be done, as you described them. Okay. So how do we bridge the gap between ends and means? Saying and doing? What and how?

    It’s no good to lament the things that need to be done while rejecting the ways that are necessary to do them.

    I would modify “Perhaps it’s not using the same tactics …” to ‘Perhaps it’s not using all the same tactics’ and ‘Perhaps it’s not using the same tactics the same way‘.

    In any sport, the basics of the sport, arenas, and goals are common to all teams. But variation and innovation are used to suit different players and, moreso for challengers, seek competitive advantages.

    Further, in line with your metaphor, fighting WW2 against the Axis made us neither Nazis nor Imperial Japanese. But fighting the war did allow us to stop their historical march and on our terms.

    I hope Geoffrey Britain moves off the objection that:
    The Right is activist. The Left is activist. The Right is the Left.
    ::
    The Red Sox play baseball. The Yankees play baseball. The Red Sox are the Yankees.

  76. T Says:

    Eric,

    “I would modify ‘Perhaps it’s not using the same tactics …’ to ‘Perhaps it’s not using all the same tactics’ and ‘Perhaps it’s not using the same tactics the same way‘.”

    I wouldn’t disagree with those modifications. Alinsky tactics are not the field of play, but the rules of engagement. To use such tactics against the left (without delving into lies and dishonesty) is actually using the rules of engagement to draw the adversary onto our playing field. This goes back to my thesis about responding to fact deniers with facts — save your breath. Ridicule them, forces them to live by their own rules, personalize their opposition (all Alinksy tactics) and in that way you draw the left onto the Traditionalist field of battle.

    An Aside. I saw a great retort to the controversy regarding the recently vetoed Arizona Bill: “You mean there’s only one cake supplier in the entire state?” This is one example of how the battle must be engaged.

  77. Eric Says:

    T,

    I recommend the 2001 activist guidebook, Doing Democracy, by the late Billy Moyer.

    There’s useful info at the book’s companion website:
    http://doingdemocracy.com/

    The lack of frills on an older website is refreshing.

  78. Eric Says:

    T: “This goes back to my thesis about responding to fact deniers with facts — save your breath.”

    It is necessary to advance a polished affirmative proposition to reify, but I agree that countering tactics need to be improved drastically.

    I wish responding with critical reasoning and facts did the job. It doesn’t. It can still be in the playbook. It just can’t be the only tactic and probably not the main tactic. Perhaps, it can be revitalized as a supporting or follow-on tactic.

    This also goes to knowing the audience, eg, ‘fact deniers’, in front of you and your strategic goals for that audience, which may be the theatric effect on other audiences.

  79. DNW Says:

    Eric Says:
    March 6th, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Thinking about DNW’s hedonic utilitarian vs my methodological Marxist, kolnai’s students, Neo, Geoffrey Britain, and others’ liberal loved ones and friends, the SDS that repelled Neo and the SDS successors that catalyzed my student activism, and other commentators grouping liberals in a uniform mass – a key point made by this post and comment thread is the need for a taxonomy of liberals that can go towards breaking down a daunting social cultural/political challenge to component parts and forming a gameplan that’s variously tailored to the various parts.

    Yes, it makes sense to step back and make certain of what it is, and about what, we are arguing [in the technical sense of argue]

    My focus and the deployment of my terminology basically applies to the substance and structure of the “left’s” (see I’m already using bracketing/provisional quotes) justifications in issuing their declarations “in the imperative mood”, as the philosophers of language used to say.

    Justifications obviously do differ between the New Deal and Great Society liberals on the one hand, and full blown Marxists (insofar as these latter really bother to morally “justify”) on the other.

    Now as we all know, Blackstone is credited with the saying (though I cannot locate the phrase in his works) that “Law is the embodiment of the moral sentiment of the people”

    And my point is that the moral sentiment of the Great Society left-liberals has been, at least for public consumption in serious debate, utilitarian.

    Natural Law is seen by them, I think most of us would agree, as a thinly veiled form of Judeo-Christianity presented as metaphysics.

    Utilitarianism, seems on the surface to provide a neutral secular alternative untainted by theistic overtones or questions of ultimate meaning; but which still can be analyzed or understood through the lens of universal (instrumental, if not right) reason; rather than class membership or consciousness.

    It reduces in my view then to a system that purports to do two main things:

    1. Provide a supposedly objective theory or understanding of “the good”.

    2. Proposes a system or calculus for arbitrating the social distribution and enjoyment of the good.

    Is there a kind of wan teleology, implied while being denied, there? Meaning, is it assumed that man is entitled for some “reason” to the good proposed? Certainly. And how is this demonstrated? Through a reference to alignment with inherent purposes or the ends of natural kinds? No. By accusing doubters of misanthropy – end of that argument. (Someone more sympathetic to Utilitarianism than I am should do an essay on the relation of contract theory to Bentham’s view of the nature of society.)

    In modern parlance and as re-presented and seen in the blogosphere then: “You don’t want someone to experience pleasure? What are you, a hater?”

    This modern formulation may be a juvenile or even “piggish” interpretation of the form of the utilitarian distribution calculus and idea of happiness or pleasure as the good, but we have all seen it. And what else other than this devolving notion of “the good” and this idea of distribution, do values nihilists really have to resort to if they wish to appeal to anything other than class war or brute force?

    As Rorty admits, nothing but propaganda on behalf of sentiment.

    This has been a pretty good exchange. People have taken the ideas seriously and tried to work through them in the same way.

    And like everyone else, I enjoyed the clarity and comprehensiveness of Kolnai’s comments.

    Speaking of which, I wish Kolnai would tell his Rorty story again.

  80. Eric Says:

    DNW,

    It occurred me that you’re right.

    The difference, I think, is that as a former activist, I tend to narrowly focus on the methodological Marxists I competed against, whose method I adapted, the kind described by Steve Beren in the interview Neo recommended. They weren’t hedonic utilitarian, at least how I understood the terms.

  81. Eric Says:

    * occurred to me

  82. Minta Marie Morze Says:

    Neo, thank you for your post, which has led to so many truly amazing comments—I have had so much fun reading and thinking about all this, and I’ve learned so much!!!!! YAY, NEO!!!!

    It’s probable that no one will read this—or care—but what the heck. . . .

    I put in a link above for a blog called the “devil’s excrement”, where the term is a pejorative for oil, but I assumed when I first visited the blog that the “devil’s excrement” was an allusion to Prof. Teufelsdrockh, from Carlyle’s “Sartor Resartus”, an inquiry into the nature of “Truth”, “Evil”, and the search for meaning. It was a parody of Hegelian philosophy, and, oddly enough, it also fits into what we have been talking about. These questions, “Reality”, “Truth”, “Evil”, the difference between the collective and the individual, all dealing with mankind and its place in the universe, have been with us throughout time—and we are still trying to work our way through them. I read “Sartor Resartus” during a time when I was reading a lot of English works, Carlyle, Ruskin, Adam Smith, Wilde, the great poets, and all the philosophers and biographies I could find. It was just curiosity—I majored in Math/Physics at UCLA in the 1970s, and I took no literature classes. (Well, I did take or sit in on classes in the History and Philosophy of Science and Math, and Greek Philosophy, and Western Philosophy and History, and so on, and I wrote papers. But not in what is known as a “Literature” class.)

    “Sartor Resartus” deals with the ideas of the chosen “attire” in which we clothe ourselves (our ideas), how meaning is tailored, a play on words including German Terms, self-referential passages, the question of free will, and other totally cool threads that weave their way through the fabric of the book. When I think of how little of the past is offered to students nowadays, I am sickened. The Left has deliberately sucked so much of the richness and depth out of the life of the mind, it’s obscene. Anyway, Sartor’s importance is mentioned in the second paragraph below from WIKI.

    As the WIKI page on “Sartor Resartus” says in part:

    “Sartor Resartus was intended to be a new kind of book: simultaneously factual and fictional, serious and satirical, speculative and historical. It ironically commented on its own formal structure, while forcing the reader to confront the problem of where “truth” is to be found. . . . . The imaginary “Philosophy of Clothes” holds that meaning is to be derived from phenomena, continually shifting over history, as cultures reconstruct themselves in changing fashions, power-structures, and faith-systems. The book contains a very Fichtean conception of religious conversion: based not on the acceptance of God but on the absolute freedom of the will to reject evil, and to construct meaning. This has led some writers to see Sartor Resartus as an early existentialist text.

    “[Snip]

    “According to Rodger L. Tarr, “The influence of Sartor Resartus upon American Literature is so vast, so pervasive, that it is difficult to overstate.” Upon learning of Carlyle’s death in 1881 Walt Whitman remarked: ‘The way to test how much he has left us all were to consider, or try to consider, for the moment the array of British thought, the resultant and ensemble of the last fifty years, as existing to-day, but with Carlyle left out. It would be like an army with no artillery.’”[18] Tarr suggests the influence of Sartor Resartus on American writers including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, Herman Melville, Margaret Fuller, Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain. Both Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe, however, read and objected to the book.[19] Borges greatly admired the book, recounting that in 1916 at age 17 “[I] discovered, and was overwhelmed by, Thomas Carlyle. I read Sartor Resartus, and I can recall many of its pages; I know them by heart.”[20]”

  83. Minta Marie Morze Says:

    I forgot the link to the WIKI page:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sartor_Resartus

  84. Ymarsakar Says:

    My interpretation of Eric’s social movement is that it replaces the social, political, and religious authority of the Left. Most of the Left’s beliefs are based around appeal to authority, thus they won’t believe Neo because she lacks the authority. If she was a black feminist, then her authority would go up. If she was a black feminist with the power of politics and wealth behind her, then it would go up even further and members of the Left (the Left decides whether you are a member, not vice a versa) will obey authority.

    By changing who is the authority in the socio political sphere, one can replace whole sale the rank and chain of command of the Leftist armada and zombie horde. Although it’s not immediate or easy.

    However, for the 3%, individuals that have unsloted from normal social authority and parameters, they usually won’t go back into the slot, trading one master for another.

    For at least 68% of humanity, they need leadership and someone to tell them what to do. It’s weakness personified but that’s the way human hierarchy is constructed, it necessitates someone above and someone below. The 3% of enlightened or awakened individual warriors and philosophers, aren’t even a minority. They neither follow the orders of the king nor are they the king. America used to have a middle class that promoted these values of behavior, if not thought. That’s going out the way as the rest of parade.

    A person can change themselves via internal pain and motivation.

    A person can be changed via an extreme amount of external influence and force (not trickle down pin pricks).

    A person with free will can choose either, both, or neither.

    A person without free will, can no longer choose anything at all. He can only be externally controlled.

  85. Eric Says:

    Ymarsakar: “My interpretation of Eric’s social movement is that it replaces the social, political, and religious authority of the Left. … they need leadership and someone to tell them what to do.”

    That works, but I have a softer version: Social political cues.

    As an activist, when I made the original decision that our social movement would adapt the activist method, my hypothesis was that the community had been prior-prepped to respond positively to the activist method by the Vietnam War-era radicals who had succeeded in altering the social-political DNA and the cultural zeitgeist of the community.

    In other words, my generation had inherited a community that was sensitized, trained, programmed – whatever you want to call it – by the activists of Neo’s generation to respond in predictable ways to the social political cues generated by the activist method – distinctly from the particular cause.

    Note: Activism isn’t just one thing. It’s a toolbox. Heck, it’s a workshop of tools for different settings.

    Moreover, in the years since the Vietnam War protests, the Left had continually used the activist method to create changes to the community, thus refreshing and reinforcing the effectiveness of the activist method.

    To wit, T’s comment at March 6th, 2014 at 2:05 pm gets at my take: “Think of how that developed with racial prejudice against blacks, social prejudice toward pregnant single females and now we see the same evolution with regard to gay activity and gay marriage.”

    My only question at the outset of our movement was whether the activist method would trigger the same social political cues in the community when the cause was opposed by Leftist activists.

    The answer: Yes.

    The contest was highly competitive, leftists take you down into the mud, and we had our ups and downs typical of any serious social movement. But yes, it works.

    When we triggered the social political cues and achieved our goal, I confirmed that the effectiveness of the activist method is not exclusive to the Left.

    The activist method is mercenary: it’ll work for the group that is persistent, patient, tough, smart, capable, and swashbuckling enough to use it effectively.

    Now, the question for the would-be activists of the Right is, is greater American society programmed to respond positively, in predictable ways, to the social political cues generated by the activist method?

    Given our revolutionary founding, abolition, workers rights, the environment, womens rights, childrens rights, civil rights, gay rights, anti-war, a 100, 1000, 10,000 other successful social movements at every level of American politics – including Obama’s presidency – yes, I think it’s safe to conclude that greater American society is programmed to respond positively, in predictable ways, to the social political cues generated by the activist method.

    Why the Right has such a hard time adapting the activist method that obviously is effective in American social political culture is a wonder to me.

  86. T Says:

    “Why the Right has such a hard time adapting the activist method that obviously is effective in American social political culture is a wonder to me.” [Eric @ 11:43pm]

    Eric,

    Let me offer a thought. When I see the left in activist mode, I think of adolescents spouting a tantrum for not getting their own way. I have also seen this comment voiced by others, even commenters on this site.

    Unlike the left conservatism is a thought process and a thought -out process. The left (at least from my perspective) seems to operate more from the “feel” side;

  87. T Says:

    “Why the Right has such a hard time adapting the activist method that obviously is effective in American social political culture is a wonder to me.” [Eric @ 11:43pm]

    Eric,

    Let me offer a thought. When I see the left in activist mode, I think of adolescents spouting a tantrum for not getting their own way. I have also seen this comment voiced by others, even commenters on this site.

    Unlike the left, IMO conservatism is a thought process and a thought-out process. The left (at least from my perspective) seems to operate more from the “feel” side; it feels good, it makes me feel good it feels right. This, I think, is one reason that facts are less relevant to the left in an argument of discussion and also why contradicting themselves seems meaningless (how do they feel at a given moment, not how did they feel about it yesterday). Again, I offer that this seems especially like adolescent behavior to me.

    If the right sees itself (correctly or not) as intellectual and mature, there would be a strong antipathy to acting like a spoiled brat who hasn’t gotten his own way; i.e., a strong antipathy to acting like a leftist.

    Furthermore, when we do, we are tagged as irrational frothing-at-the-mouth reactionaries. Of course the left acts this way often, but with the media mostly in leftist control, it becomes a spiked story when they do it but above the fold news when done by someone on the right. I think that the leftist media sympathy contributes a great deal more than we realize to the idea you present of programming the community. After all, it’s no coincidence that the TV stations and radio studios are usually one of the first targets in any revolution. Ours has just been Gramscian, not sudden.

    Sorry for playing armchair psychologist; that’s just the way I see it with my limited knowledge.

  88. T Says:

    Once again, a serendipitous blog post. To my post above @1:23am (if anyone’s still here):

    It’s Hard to be a Republican
    Posted by V the K at 11:39 am – March 7, 2014.

    Registered Republicans often rate character, principle and values above politics. … This often makes a Republican less attuned to doing what needs to be done to win because they’re too busy managing their own lives to worry about politics.

    Republicans kicked Mark Foley to the curb for sending creepy text messages to interns. Democrats re-elected Gerry Studds 9 times after he molested an undererage intern. Sometimes, having standards is a big political disadvantage. [emphasis mine]

    http://www.gaypatriot.net/

  89. Eric Says:

    T,

    Emotional appeals are one of Aristotle’s means of persuasion, pathos (emotional), logos, and ethos.

    “I think that the leftist media sympathy contributes a great deal more than we realize to the idea you present of programming the community.”

    The activist method covers that.

    The media does have a key role supplying social political cues to the community. Therefore, activists generate cues for the media, plus direct ways that activists work with the media.

    Like I said, activism isn’t just one thing. It’s a toolbox; a workshop of tools for different settings.

    In my case, that the community’s liberal media came out on our side surprised everyone except those of us who had made it happen by applying the activist method.

    “When I see the left in activist mode, I think of adolescents spouting a tantrum for not getting their own way. I have also seen this comment voiced by others, even commenters on this site.”

    Yeah, I started off by thinking that way, too. Moreover, in the community at large, the radical leftists were not respected and their input was abrasive in the normal stream of discourse.

    But I saw what you see. In spite of their seemingly marginal standing, they were dominant where it counted, ie, the Left’s social agenda regularly manifested in the community and their premises were internalized.

    What to make of the contradiction?

    And more pragmatically as an advocate, what was more important to me: Be liked as an inoffensive impotent who admirably gave it the ol’ college try? Or make a difference with a method that tarnished my image and alienated people?

    Related to DNW’s and my exchange in this thread, I believe the difference in understanding activism is due to viewing social politics through an individualist lens versus a collectivist lens.

    DNW’s hedonic utilitarian characterization is accurate as a description of individuals, but his explanation falls short of explaining activism.

    I think the answer lies in Emile Durkheim’s formulation of individual consciousness versus collective consciousness.

    Durkheim’s theory of collective consciousness supposes that people think in a social context in a different way than they think in a personal context.

    Conservatives as individualists tend to think of social politics in terms of an aggregate of individuals, ie, convince enough individuals and you win an election.

    Activists as collectivists think of social politics in terms of a general will (Rousseau) that is of the people, but not an aggregated sum of the people. The notion ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ implies the whole has a different character than its individual parts.

    Therefore, activists prioritize mechanisms that work on the collective level – ie, social political cues – ahead of mechanisms designed for the individual level.

    I’m not sociologist enough to magnify the nuts and bolts of activism under a microscope more than that, except to observe the activist method’s effectiveness has been field-tested many times over in American social politics, including by me.

    I think Durkheim’s modes of consciousness explains why activists can be disrespected as you described individually, yet consistently shape our society collectively.

    So, the people of the Right have a choice. It remains to be seen whether they will be able to adjust their thinking to social political reality.

    For a while there, it looked like the Tea Party was on the right track and I was hopeful the Right had learned the activist method, but they lost focus and fell back on the default conservative algorithm.

  90. Eric Says:

    T (post handworn): “So you are saying that Andrew Breitbart was correct, that politics is downstream of (popular) culture.”

    Yes, culture falls in the milieu of collective consciousness, social context, and social political cues.

    Like I said to DNW, a highly compelling argument can be made that the founders’ social culture was as necessary, implicitly, for the nation that the founders intended as the explicit social political formula. The explicit social political formula was enshrined, which afforded it some long-term protection. The implicit social culture, however, was not similarly protected.

    Replacing a nation’s culture is akin to knocking out a weight-bearing leg of its essential identity.

    Thus, cultural (methodological) Marxism.

    The activist method has been used by the Left to alter American culture in order to alter America. The Right could use Marxist-method activism to counter the Left on culture. As is, there’s no significant competition.

  91. T Says:

    Eric,

    Quite a bit of information to process in these last two posts.

  92. T Says:

    Eric,

    Quite a bit of information to process in these last two posts. I’ll be re-reading these several times.

    Thanks.

  93. T Says:

    And further (for the archives), a related essay by Jonah Goldberg regarding “hidden law” which is what Eric and I are discussing in this most recent portion of this thread:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/node/372201/print

  94. Eric Says:

    Goldberg’s essay is descriptive, but stops short of prescription.

    I’m impatient with it because the prescription is obvious. Once you see it, you should be able to think it. Once you think it, you should be able to learn it. Once you learn it, you should be able to do it.

    People of the Right aren’t stupid. They aren’t powerless. They can see it. Yet they seem paralyzed taking the next obvious step.

    I’ve done it. It works. Applying the activist method isn’t easy; contests with capable, dedicated competitors who have a head-start aren’t supposed to be easy. But neither is it magic to be viewed fearfully with cargo-cult awe. It’s just a method. Anyone can use it to compete in the only social-political game there is. And win.

    Goldberg’s essay is a step in the right direction, and I hope it shows signs of his orientation changing, ie, noting the difference between how he would have compromised on the gay marriage issue with individualist consent and the market versus how the gay marriage issue is actually being resolved with collectivist codified authority cued by the activist normalize/stigmatize (cultural sacred/taboo) device. More likely, though, it’s just more complaining about ‘is’ while pining for ‘ought’.

    Perhaps these are not the social politics the founders wanted for us. Or perhaps what our activist founders said they wanted for us ideally wasn’t pragmatically, actually how they played the game and won.

    Either way, the reality is the Marxist-method activist game is the only social-political game there is. Competing in it requires a proper Marxist-method activist popular-political movement. That falls on the people to create, not on a fantasy messianic savior candidate, not on the political party.

    I’m impatient with people of the Right who complain about GOP politicians acting apart from their interests when the main fault lies with the complaining people of the Right who neglect to arm the GOP with an effective movement to counter the movement that empowers (and sets agenda for) the Dems.

    Folks like Goldberg can continue watching football and wish for golf, or they can learn to play football, get their team together, and play the game to win.

  95. Ymarsakar Says:

    This is old information in a new application.

    Look up mind control, brainwashing, psychological torture, and interrogation techniques. Same concept.

  96. DNW Says:

    In re,

    Eric Says:
    March 7th, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    T, …”

    I think that Eric has usefully reviewed and clarified a number of issues, including the differing frameworks of reference we were operating out of.

    The aggregate of individuals versus the collective consciousness paradigm is also one that is worth carefully considering.

    Although my brief refresher on Durkheim has not led me to believe that the term “collective consciousness” is the equivalent for the notion of some mysteriously subsistent, quasi-independent epiphenomenon which is or becomes an entity in itself, it does allude to the complex of assumed and internalized values shared by real persons.

    And this we can all agree, constitutes a major part of the battlefield upon which the – Gramscian – left, as Neo would say, has chose to wage their war.

    Now, I think we can all also agree that there has been a conservative awareness of this process of institutional and cultural “subversion” – as they called it in the old days – for many years. The current admission of a Kulturkampf is a result of it.

    We have seen the conservative response has been to try and establish alternative media, and supplemental civil institutions free of the domination of the left.

    We have also seen how the left has increasingly pushed for totalitarian-like or fascistically premised laws in order to maintain a societal dominance, and prevent any effective counter moves or escape.

    So, given that, we might ask just how, specifically, a principle of methodological Marxism can be turned around and the muzzle made to bear on the leftists themselves.

    Obviously they are alarmed enough as it is by Charter Schools, Fox News Corp and the Republican Party (such as it is), and the like to try and use the legal system insofar as they can influence it, to destroy or neutralize them.

    What would methodological Marxism have to offer that the construction of alternate civil institutions, doesn’t?

    It’s not clear to me what that would be.

    However, and just as an aside, what the Republican Party and many conservatives have obviously failed to do , and it irks me no end, is to boldly put label to personal name in those instances where a fascistic premise or totalitarian gambit has been employed. It may seem like bomb throwing, but the fact is that if you listen closely to the rally-the-troops speeches of the younger Republican “stars” it is clear that they know perfectly well the stakes involved, and have a depth of ideological sophistication, historical knowledge, and most especially verbal facility, that many of their predecessors a generation ago did not have.

    Why they refuse to call a spade a spade and not a bloody shovel is a mystery to me. They seem to be committed to the tatters of the notion of collegiality.

    Someone look Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the eye and state unequivocally the the individual mandate is fascist and anyone supporting it is too, should spark a nice conflagration …

    Make the label stick, and that person would have accomplished something with the public vis-a-vis consciousness raising.

  97. Eric Says:

    DNW: “notion of some mysteriously subsistent, quasi-independent epiphenomenon … [versus] … the complex of assumed and internalized values shared by real persons.”

    Norms and culture are epiphenomena. When they’re received, learned, and cued, especially in modern society, they’re quasi-independent of the recipients, too.

    The point is the social manufacturing process is not mysterious to activists. The zone of sharing is where activists weaponize sociology and go to work, creating tomorrow’s PC norms. They may not fully understand ‘why’ (I didn’t), but they know ‘how’ and ‘what’.

    My point is the ‘how’ is adaptable enough for the ‘what’ to be exchanged. Marx’s historical theory lost exclusive rights to methodological Marxism a long time ago; neither does the hydra-headed Left own a copyright on the activist method.

    “We have also seen how the left has increasingly pushed for totalitarian-like or fascistically premised laws in order to maintain a societal dominance, and prevent any effective counter moves or escape.”

    Yep. Lawfare and its institutional equivalent, policy-fare, I guess. Law and policy are a key activist battleground. There’s a reason that collectivist philosophers held law to be a form of the general will.

    For the Left, tolerance is a tactic, not a principle. They’re not about debating to convince your consent. They’re about imposing their norms with authority, and not just government force.

    I employed the policy-fare tactic as an activist. It worked, and more, the domino effect was greater than the policy change itself. One, the leftists were stunned because they understood the implications of an effective, familiar tactic. Two, the domino effect was as though the tactic triggered a set of programmed institutional responses. I credit the Left training the institution.

    The “alternative media, and supplemental civil institutions” – such as Neo’s blog – are necessary, but they haven’t been sufficient by themselves to be normative forces. I had hoped they’d be enough, too, but the competition, not my preferences, dictate what’s sufficient.

    Same goes for the younger Republicans who indeed may be rising stars and savvy. They’re not enough by themselves. Don’t count on them to be messianic saviors. Neither they nor the GOP will defeat the Dems-Left alliance on their own. They, as much as older Republicans, need a first, non-stop, and always activist movement – or better yet, several congruent movements – to counter the Left’s activism. The advantage of the younger Republicans is they should be able to work better with activist movements.

    I would suggest:

    Learn the activist method for offense, not just defend against. If the Maginot Line was doing the job, then great. But it’s not. As it stands, the best defense is a good offense.

    Dynamic, expert activists (aka community organizers) from the Right, most likely changers like David Horowitz and Steve Beren, whom Neo cited upthread, should be running operations. Think Lawrence of Arabia, but activist, not armed. Seek out dissidents, foment, organize, and train local activist uprisings throughout the nation. Not built around election campaigns. Not branded GOP. Not centralized. But rather, genuine grassroots, street-corner movements reifying causes on the level of narrative, zeitgeist, culture, values; the normative course of America. More than show, more than tell, because that relies on the MSM to do the showing and telling. Rather, do and create – first, non-stop, and always – growing and spreading tangibly throughout the nation.

    The movements should be people’s campaigns. The GOP should take advantage, not try to take over.

    The GOP should be beholden to the movements, not the other way around.

    In terms of social political cues, look like the American narrative of viral progressive history in the making, like the 60s except modernized with a different protagonist.

    Give special attention to the cities.

    The movements should be driven by vision and activist passion. While professional community organizers need to eat, too, dollar payment as a general policy is counter-productive, distracting, and corrupting. Logistically, local and crowd-sourced resources should be sufficient.

    Media-savvy student movements on university and law school campuses, especially famous elite campuses, provide a bigger activist pay-off on a small-bite scale.

    The Tea Party is still a brand with some cachet. They ought to return to their roots, be activists and a grassroots movement again, and this time, stay on track as a loud and proud, proselytizing movement. The point is not just to be heard or get people elected who’ll throw sand into the cogs of government. The point is the first, always, and non-stop popular-political movement.

    Elected office can be a lesser included goal, but not the priority.

    If, indeed, younger Republicans and others of the Right are in a better mental state for an activist evolution now, then this strategy should be feasible with leaders who know what they’re doing. Once spawned, the people’s insurgency should grow with independent momentum.

    It doesn’t need to be all Americans, nor even necessarily a majority. It just needs a critical mass, to look and sound right, and trigger the right cues.

    If the Right goes full activist, will the Left mount a counter-revolution with all their activist skills, passion, and advantages from their head-start? Well, yeah, of course. They’re not just going to hold the door open passively while you take away all the progressive history they and their forebears worked so hard to earn.

    Will the Right suffer discouraging defeats and setbacks, including self-inflicted ones? I expect so; I did. That’s the nature of competition and risk. You can’t win the game until you join the game, though, and it doesn’t get easier, the longer you delay while the opponent is racking up points and arranging the arena.

  98. DNW Says:

    Eric Says:
    March 11th, 2014 at 3:16 am

    If the Right goes full activist, will the Left mount a counter-revolution with all their activist skills, passion, and advantages from their head-start? Well, yeah, of course.

    … it doesn’t get easier, the longer you delay while the opponent is racking up points and arranging the arena.

    ” it doesn’t get easier … while the opponent is racking up points and arranging the arena.”

    Apparently not, as some student aged anti-abortion activists found out while promoting their cause in a campus free speech zone. From a link on the Drudge Report:

    http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/16673/

  99. Eric Says:

    DNW,

    Harvard Crimson columnist, radical leftist Sandra Korn wasn’t speaking out of school in her recent call for academic (social) ‘justice’ replacing academic freedom.

    The need for first, non-stop, and always social movements from the Right isn’t only about winning elections. It’s about fighting for and guarding essential American social political culture.

    Setting about to convince people on the merits isn’t enough. The Left approaches discourse as the propaganda aspect of guerilla warfare. The contest for America’s soul is one of maneuver in the military sense, and that requires movement.

  100. Eric Says:

    * … and that requires activist movement.

    Example of activist-countering a campus leftist shut-down action:
    http://columbiamilvets2005-2006library.blogspot.com/2006/02/press-release-anti-military.html

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About Me

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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AmericanDigest (writer’s digest)
AmericanThinker (thought full)
Anchoress (first things first)
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Baldilocks (outspoken)
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Beldar (Texas lawman)
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Donklephant (political chimera)
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HadEnoughTherapy? (yep)
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InFromTheCold (once a spook)
InstaPundit (the hub)
JawaReport (the doctor is Rusty)
LegalInsurrection (law prof)
RedState (conservative)
Maggie’sFarm (centrist commune)
MelaniePhillips (formidable)
MerylYourish (centrist)
MichaelTotten (globetrotter)
MichaelYon (War Zones)
Michelle Malkin (clarion pen)
Michelle Obama's Mirror (reflections)
MudvilleGazette (milblog central)
NoPasaran! (behind French facade)
NormanGeras (principled leftist)
OneCosmos (Gagdad Bob’s blog)
PJMedia (comprehensive)
PointOfNoReturn (Jewish refugees)
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ProteinWisdom (wiseguy)
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Spengler (Goldman)
TheDoctorIsIn (indeed)
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