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