May 30th, 2017

Can leftists change?

A couple of commenters on the Evergreen thread challenged the idea that it’s possible to change minds on the left by offering them new information and knowledge, even questioning whether it’s possible to change them at all.

I know a great many people on the left, of all ages. They are not even remotely a unitary bunch in what they advocate, why they advocate it, the basis of their belief system, what they are willing to do to promote and defend that belief system (particularly regarding violence and/or coercion of other kinds), and how firm and resistant to change their beliefs are.

Some of this difference is also a function of age. The younger the more malleable, as a general rule, although older people can change too—as evidenced by my own story.

In fact, ideological change is not all that unusual and certainly not unheard of on the left. Students are generally quite young and in a state of ideological and personal flux. These students (at Evergreen and elsewhere) have been indoctinated by their previous education, and many of them are profoundly ignorant of history as well as the arguments of the right. Exposure to those things would almost certainly change some minds, and students are a particularly fertile field for this because of their young age and relatively malleable minds.

I have thought long and hard about the process of changing a person’s mind in the political sense. The phenomenon is probably not common in terms of percentages of the whole, but nevertheless it happens every day. It can indeed happen, and if you read my “A mind is a difficult thing to change” series I go into the process in great detail: change can occur as a result of life experience, emotion, and/or also a a result of changes in thinking such as the learning of more history. I myself experienced some political change back in college, long before my more major change experience, as a result of a single course I took (I wrote about the experience here). I am firmly convinced that this is possible today, and I read stories of such things happening on a daily basis. This is not based on any sort of naivete on my part. It is based on careful observation.

Are the principles of people on the left “fundamentally different than ours,” as commenter Frog has stated? Having spoken to many of them, it is clear to me that some actually have principles very like mine, but come to different political conclusions based on them, and yet some are operating under very different premises than I am. The left is not a unitary bunch in terms of principles; just as an example, some of my friends and relatives on the left are very devout and come to their leftism from that point of view, and some are atheists.

This is hardly a new topic on this blog. It’s one of the main subjects here and has been for 12 years. And I have plenty of data to illustrate the fact that such change can occur, and that it is not vanishingly rare. No, I haven’t done a scientific study on the subject, but I have observed a large number of people who have written of their left-to-right conversion experience. Some are famous. Some are people who have written a single op-ed in the newspaper and are heard from no more in the public sense. Some are bloggers like me; there are plenty of them with that experience. Some are commenters here. Some are relatives and friends of commenters here. Some are people who don’t comment here but who email me, both from this country and other places around the world. I have also personally seen some minds changed after lengthy discussions of politics, over time.

It is not an uncommon phenomenon, and it happens often enough that the remark commonly attributed to Churchill about being liberal when young and conservative when old is a famous one in all its guises. Whether Churchill actually said it or not (or was the first to say it) is not especially relevant; what is relevant is that the quote is ubiquitous (see that link I just gave for evidence of its widespread nature), and seems to reflect a commonplace observation in many parts of the world.

Those who deny its possibility, and who lump all liberals and leftists together as completely past “saving” and as impervious to change or argument or reason, are denying the evidence. Yes, it is usually very frustrating to deal with the left. Yes, it is difficult to persuade people; people don’t change all that often, and they certainly don’t do so as a result of a single conversation or being caught in a single error. But to deny the possibility of reaching some people on the left is to deny what appears to be reality, to give up the fight. and to consider the entire bunch an enemy against which any tactic no matter how harsh is acceptable.

[ADDENDUM: Coincidentally, Sarah Hoyt has a good post today on political change, her experience and others. (Hat tip: vanderleun.)]

75 Responses to “Can leftists change?”

  1. Bilwick Says:

    I’ve read of a couple of former leftists (playwright David Mamet comes to mind) who migrated to a more pro-freedom philosophy after reading Hayek’s ROAD TO SERFDOM. But I find that unusual. Mostly leftism, being the latest incarnation of State cultism, is a secular religion; and as the saying goes, there’s no arguing religion. Especially with THESE theocrats:
    https://grrrgraphics.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/shrine_of_the_statists1.jpg

  2. vanderleun Says:

    Interestingly enough, the writer Sarah Hoyt tackles the same subject today with “The Flip” …..

    =====
    “They’re starting to suspect everything they know is a lie, and most of them are embracing it with twice the fervor and also acting more than a little crazy.

    Some of them are already in the advanced stages of this, and landing on the other side with their opinions flipped, but their behavior exactly the same, and just as tiring and annoying to sane people.

    And some think their world is coming apart, don’t want to admit it and propagate myths of prison camps and genocide, just to justify their horrible feelings of anxiety that they can’t admit is based on the shattering of former beliefs.

    This explains why it feels like everyone (including people most of us thought were sensible) seems to have lost their minds.

    It doesn’t help to either get to the other side, or stop the crazy. This thing is a process, and takes its time. Also, the news is never going to be unified again (though many seem to want it) and the trickle will continue. Only believe it or not, that trickle was too rapid for most of them.

    We’re just going to have to let them scream and slam their room door till they come out of it.”

    https://accordingtohoyt.com/2017/05/30/the-flip/

    =========

  3. expat Says:

    If I am talking to someone who espouses a typical lefty viewpoint, about poverty, racism, feminism etc, I don’t take on their whole viewpoint. Instead I give them a yes, but story from my own experience and say that that experience also has to be taken into account if you want to solve the problem. I don’t aim to collapse their system of thinking, I just want to put a crack in it.

  4. neo-neocon Says:

    vanderleun:

    Thanks for the Sarah Hoyt link.

  5. FunkyPhD Says:

    Isn’t leftism–especially the witch-hunting variety that leads people to accuse a professor of racism–increasingly a lifestyle choice rather than a political or intellectual position? A generation or so ago one’s politics were more or less separable from other tastes and avocations: you could be a leftist and still love baseball and football and grilled steaks and drive a big Ford. But as the political swallows up more and more of the political, it becomes more difficult to separate one’s views from the way one lives, and the ways in which outward circumstances are supposed to reflect one’s political convictions: hipster beards, Priuses, tattoos, aggressive piercings, veganism, etc. Though it seems counterintuitive, the more those ideas become materialized as lifestyle choices, the harder they become to change. I agree with Bilwick that it’s a secular religion now, and therefore more prone to being irrationally clung to.

  6. neo-neocon Says:

    FunkyPhD:

    I don’t know. I think what you say is generally true, but not always true. For example, most people who look at me or meet me socially assume I am very much a liberal, and are totally shocked if they find out otherwise. My appearance, my interests in art and literature, everything about me seems to scream “liberal!” or “left!” and yet I’m not.

    I know other people like that. But perhaps they are mostly changers. But not all. I have had people come to me in private and whisper that they’re on the right but are incognito for various reasons. They certainly give the appearance of being on the left but are not.

  7. Frog Says:

    That there exists heterogeneity among Leftists does not much matter. They vote as a bloc, whether for FDR, Obama or Hillary. That some have the same likes in music and art as we do is irrelevant. They will vote for The Progressive du jour, guaranteed. I have seen it among many acquaintances that I thought reasonable and reasoning, but no!
    We have 100 years of Progressive history which we overlook at our continuing peril. Their evolution continues. towards greater militancy and greater totalitarianism, now monstrous in dimension. Those features were not present at the outset; thus, evolution.
    What do you think will happen when (if) the Progs win the next election? A softer, gentler, more considerate country? No. Heightened oppression, guaranteed. Who are you going to believe? Them, or your own lying eyes? See the transition from Clinton to Gore to Obama to Hillary. What features will come next? Good ones? Ha.

  8. parker Says:

    I see the ‘progressives’ as tribal. Many of them just want to be in with what they think is the “in crowd”. They have exiled reality in order to embrace the aggreived cause of the day. And they are young or aging hipsters that can’t let go of their emotional ties to their youthful rage against American exceptionalism. They see evil where I see muddled good. They see 24/7 victims of the white, heterosexual male repression like trained seals waiting for a fish. Where I see the willigness of our society to correct the ugly impulses of the past.

    I will admit that during my lifetime the left has done good things, but what they have become are monsters who have decided that “logic and proportion are soggy dead”.

  9. groundhog Says:

    Some radical Islamists will even change if they live long enough.

    Should we lay off the bombing of them?

    It depends on what stage you find someone and what they’ve done or plan to do.

    Youth is not an excuse once you start being violent, or even make serious plans.

  10. AMartel Says:

    There is no set methodology. You must first see each person as an individual (consistent with conservative principles) even if he or she only (outwardly) sees himself or herself as a member of a group (the in-group, of course), and treat them accordingly. Then you must find the crack in their progressive armor, the tiny hole where fresh air occasionally seeps into their tank, the thing or things that they are conservative about, and work your way in from there, slowly slowly and with real compassion and great patience. Often you have to go over old ground again and again until it sinks in. It’s deprogramming from a cult and these things take time. Then one day you will hear “I guess you might be right about that” and that’s a huge victory even though it’s a complete mealy-mouthed, half-assed concession. Or they might switch very quickly. It’s different for different people. Sometimes the more you argue and explain the more entrenched they become; you must think about who you are dealing with and decide upon the most efficient and effective approach or you’re just wasting your time. Sometimes (rarely) one well-aimed truth bomb is sufficient, sometimes continuous light shelling, sometimes it’s enough to ask if they choose to expose themselves to any right of center publications ever and if not, why not. I have found that policy argument is almost never effective with people who have no concept of or care about the opposing view. If you take a position you at the very least be capable of objectively identifying the opposing viewpoint. Many on the left have exempted themselves from this basic requirement, choosing instead to mock and berate and belittle and shut down opposing viewpoints. Arguing policy details with an intentionally closed mind is a waste of time so you have to go on offensive about what they think they do know about their own viewpoint (Hillary = worst feminist ever, grievance mongering ultimately only serves politicians, climate change is an enormous con especially on poor people, everything they are whining about with Trump was already done, over and over and over, for the past 8 years). Keep chipping away.

  11. Griffin Says:

    I get a sense that this generation of young leftists may not have as many changers as, say, the baby boomer generation for the simple reason that they have been totally immersed in left wing thought from grade school onward and have in a lot of cases been able to live a life void of exposure to serious conservative thought.

    What I can see is maybe a moderating with age but the result will still be strong Democratic support at least. Of course there will still be some outright changers but I think the leftist religion has gotten so strict that leaving the church would be socially very dangerous for many.

  12. John Guilfoyle Says:

    Hi y’all

    2 words…just 2…

    Kathy Griffin

    http://www.tmz.com/2017/05/30/kathy-griffin-beheads-donald-trump-photo-tyler-shields/

  13. OlderandWheezier Says:

    I suspect that anger is now the drug of choice of the current generation of young leftists. They feed upon a sense of alienation or outrage, whether warranted or not. It makes them feel alive and vital.

  14. parker Says:

    Minds can change, but courage and a strong spirit is required. I appluade those who make the journey to reality, be they those on the left or squishy (McCain comes to mind) on the right. All too often the squishy on the right are Quislings and will never step into the daylight. They are beneath contempt. I can respect Diane Feinstein far more than I can repet McCain.

  15. charles Says:

    Neo (from a comment response above):

    “My appearance, my interests in art and literature, everything about me seems to scream “liberal!” or “left!” and yet I’m not.”

    This! This is something that really puzzled/bothered me so much in grad school. When fellow students found out that I didn’t have a leftist view of the world they would all ask – “then what are you doing here?”

    As if an interest in higher education, literature, or even anything remotely “artsy” was their domain and I the “knuckle-walker” was out of my territory. I should just crawl back to the swamp!

    Needless to say, my real education in grad school was to find out that so many who considered themselves “liberal” were, in fact, not.

    One classmate even argued with me that she was a liberal because she studied “Liberal Arts.” How’s that for an education!?

  16. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Some people can and do change their political views. I suspect it is proportionally less today than in prior generations, due to the indoctrination in schools and reinforced through the media. But whatever the actual percentages, it is not enough to change the larger political dynamics at play.

  17. Mac Says:

    If any of you could see me in the spring of 1969 at an anti-war rally, yelling moronically, you’d write me off. Hell, I’d write myself off. And yet by the end of the ’70s I was beginning to accept the word “conservative” as a description of my political views. The comment from Griffin above is relevant:

    “I get a sense that this generation of young leftists may not have as many changers as, say, the baby boomer generation for the simple reason that they have been totally immersed in left wing thought from grade school onward”

    That’s a good point. I am a baby boomer (obviously?). And one factor in my change was that somewhere in the back of my mind I always had the words of some good, solid, intelligent, fair-minded, conservative teachers, most especially my high-school civics teacher.

  18. Big Maq Says:

    “But to deny the possibility of reaching some people on the left is to deny what appears to be reality, to give up the fight. and to consider the entire bunch an enemy against which any tactic no matter how harsh is acceptable.” – Neo

    Some great points in your article.

    A few points to add…

    1) Seems that many draw a hard line between who is “left” vs “right”

    That is a mistake, as there are a great many people that are not hardened to one or the other – there is a big soft “middle”.

    2) The left vs right description is not even a clean interpretation of the political spectrum to begin with.

    Most people just don’t fall cleanly into the left or right columns, so talking to or treating them like they do is a mistake.

    3) There has been a drift in the political parties over time, which tends to have a pull on what it means to be left or right.

    The dems were the party of slavery and Jim Crow laws at one time, and now are very much in favor of civil liberties.

    With trump under the GOP lablel, I would suggest we are potentially at such an inflection point now.
    .

    Re: the huge “soft middle”…

    Here is a 2014 snapshot from Pew which attempts to measure this, showing that ONLY 36% of the General Population are partisan
    http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/26/the-political-typology-beyond-red-vs-blue/pp-2014-06-26-typology-0-01/

    We can debate Pew’s categorization , but it probably won’t change the reality that the majority of this country are just not hard set one way or the other, and are probably more motivated, on election days, by issues, than philosophy.
    .

    Re: Political Spectrums…

    A few interesting takes on political spectrums are here, that may help expand our thinking beyond the straight left vs right paradigm, each example adding onto the previous model:

    A modified left vs right, adding a democratic vs non-democratic dimension:
    http://slideplayer.com/slide/3910359/13/images/38/Ideologies+Democratic+Non-Democratic.jpg

    Introducing weightings along both personal and economic freedom dimensions:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nolan_Chart#/media/File:Nolan_chart_normal.png

    Similar to above, but adds a third dimension and focuses on who owns control on those dimensions (social, government, corporate “control”):
    http://gregstevens.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/hyper-nolan-political-chart.jpg

    Something to think about.

    Note: I don’t know about the sites these come from, but have seen these versions before and these links provide a good visual of each.

  19. Big Maq Says:

    @parker – Enlightening! Didn’t know you did pet McCain to begin with.

    😉

  20. Ralph Kinney Bennett Says:

    “…Totally immersed in left-wing thought from grade school onward.” That seems to be true of the fine young cannibal lefties. And, compounding this sad fact, they have not been taught (by word or example) intellectual honesty. I have written before, intellectual honesty is what set Neo apart; it is the hidden current that powers her story of change. The gift of being able to challenge, sift, examine, and go where the facts lead us despite prejudice or predeliction, fondness or feeling, is indeed a rare gift. And I’m afraid that young students today are exposed to nothing which might cause them to even be aware of it , let alone aspire to it. Few of them, it seems, have what Mac refers to: “the words of some good, solid, intelligent, fair-minded, conservative teachers.”

  21. Kyndyll G Says:

    “The gift of being able to challenge, sift, examine, and go where the facts lead us despite prejudice or predeliction, fondness or feeling, is indeed a rare gift. And I’m afraid that young students today are exposed to nothing which might cause them to even be aware of it , let alone aspire to it.”

    This. The current generation, immersed 24/7/365 in what is basically a leftist religious cult, reinforced by relentless judgment and posturing on social media, knows only how to swim mindlessly with the school of fish. It’s the rare individual who even has the ability to understand that one should challenge what they are told, and rarer still the one who would dare to do so.

  22. M J R Says:

    Most of us here manage to get the left/mainstream viewpoint (quite liberally!) because it’s unavoidable in the culture. Are some of us privileged to offer our adversaries a fleeting glimpse of the other side?

    To quote the late William F. Buckley, Jr.,

    “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

  23. Bill Says:

    What I don’t understand: we are in the middle of a very, very Republican moment. Republicans are winning every election, statehouses, federal, etc. The Democratic party is in disarray (who on earth are they going to run in 2020?)

    This is your time, if you don’t screw it up.

    Reading this thread (and many, many others) you would think Republicans are an endangered species.

    In spite of all the indoctrination, etc., you’re winning! It’s one reason leftists are freaking out.

    Now, I am not a fan of the way my old party has been redefined by Trumpism so I’ve got my own reasons for pessimism, but I don’t understand this beleaguered minority act.

  24. Bill Says:

    Regarding the William F Buckley quote a few comments upthread: he wrote at a different time when, as far as the conservative movement was concerned, we had some real giants. And conservatives understood liberal arguments because they were actually exposed to them

    I consider one of the worst things to happen to both parties is the rise of the ideological bubbles we now live in. We get to choose our own propaganda and most conservatives I know listen and read only what confirms their worldview. This is stunting our ability to understand our philosophical opponents, and that’s why we now are led by guys like Donald Trump who appeal to the reptile parts of our brains, and why the hatred and violent rhetoric is increasing on all sides.

  25. Gringo Says:

    David Horowitz changed.
    I changed. Little by little, I concluded that the progressive catechism didn’t accurately describe the world I saw.

    A big part of the change came from touring and working in Latin America, where I saw that socialism- a.k.a. government-owned means of production- didn’t work for the most part. A landline cost $2000 and took a year to install under a government-owned telecom. (OTOH, I saw that PDVSA was fairly well run- before Chavez took it over.)
    Seeing how the progressive academics were dead wrong on Latin America led to greater skepticism about social “science.”

    Etc.

  26. AesopFan Says:

    Gringo Says:
    May 31st, 2017 at 12:08 am
    David Horowitz changed.
    I changed. Little by little, I concluded that the progressive catechism didn’t accurately describe the world I saw.

    A big part of the change came from touring and working in Latin America, where I saw that socialism- a.k.a. government-owned means of production- didn’t work for the most part. A landline cost $2000 and took a year to install under a government-owned telecom. (OTOH, I saw that PDVSA was fairly well run- before Chavez took it over.)
    Seeing how the progressive academics were dead wrong on Latin America led to greater skepticism about social “science.”

    Etc.
    * * *
    Looking at Venezuela in the news almost daily (Jazz at Hot Air is very good about keeping up) — as he says, very few MSM reports mention the S-word (of course he is correct that “This. Is. How. Socialism. Always. Ends.”) —
    but what amazes me is that there are still people IN Venezuela who do not see the connection (the ones who did earlier and said so are disappeared or under arrest), and the ones who do now (mostly rioters because genteel protests had no effect) took so long to admit it.
    And MOST still don’t connect their problems with Socialism.

  27. AesopFan Says:

    M J R Says:
    May 30th, 2017 at 10:28 pm
    Most of us here manage to get the left/mainstream viewpoint (quite liberally!) because it’s unavoidable in the culture. Are some of us privileged to offer our adversaries a fleeting glimpse of the other side?

    To quote the late William F. Buckley, Jr.,

    “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

    Bill Says:
    May 30th, 2017 at 11:52 pm
    What I don’t understand: we are in the middle of a very, very Republican moment. Republicans are winning every election, statehouses, federal, etc. The Democratic party is in disarray (who on earth are they going to run in 2020?)

    This is your time, if you don’t screw it up.

    Reading this thread (and many, many others) you would think Republicans are an endangered species.

    In spite of all the indoctrination, etc., you’re winning! It’s one reason leftists are freaking out.

    Now, I am not a fan of the way my old party has been redefined by Trumpism so I’ve got my own reasons for pessimism, but I don’t understand this beleaguered minority act.

    Bill Says:
    May 30th, 2017 at 11:59 pm
    Regarding the William F Buckley quote a few comments upthread: he wrote at a different time when, as far as the conservative movement was concerned, we had some real giants. And conservatives understood liberal arguments because they were actually exposed to them

    I consider one of the worst things to happen to both parties is the rise of the ideological bubbles we now live in. We get to choose our own propaganda and most conservatives I know listen and read only what confirms their worldview. This is stunting our ability to understand our philosophical opponents, and that’s why we now are led by guys like Donald Trump who appeal to the reptile parts of our brains, and why the hatred and violent rhetoric is increasing on all sides.
    * * *
    The surge in Republican electoral victories is indeed somewhat paradoxical given the dominance of the Leftist POV culturally, and politically in some places including the judiciary.
    I think one thing that fueled the Trump Train was the disconnect between the “de jure” power of the Right (in electoral office) and the “de facto” power of the Left.
    Electing Trump was somehow viscerally felt as redressing that imbalance.

  28. AesopFan Says:

    Mac Says:
    May 30th, 2017 at 8:32 pm
    If any of you could see me in the spring of 1969 at an anti-war rally, yelling moronically, you’d write me off. Hell, I’d write myself off. And yet by the end of the ’70s I was beginning to accept the word “conservative” as a description of my political views. The comment from Griffin above is relevant:

    “I get a sense that this generation of young leftists may not have as many changers as, say, the baby boomer generation for the simple reason that they have been totally immersed in left wing thought from grade school onward”

    That’s a good point. I am a baby boomer (obviously?). And one factor in my change was that somewhere in the back of my mind I always had the words of some good, solid, intelligent, fair-minded, conservative teachers, most especially my high-school civics teacher.
    * * *
    Even if you don’t take the Bible literally, one does well to take it seriously.
    The story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and per C. S. Lewis some of the Israelite conquests, always raise the question of “why this particular place got the ban hammer, and not others” — my feeling has always been that the judgment falls when the target-location has reached the point that children no longer have the opportunity to learn righteousness — and so cannot make a willed choice between Good and Evil, because they have never known anything but Evil.

    (speaking metaphorically, of course, in the context of political parties, which are not G or E in and of themselves, but may espouse and promote ideologies that encourage one or the other)

  29. AesopFan Says:

    vanderleun Says:
    May 30th, 2017 at 4:16 pm
    Interestingly enough, the writer Sarah Hoyt tackles the same subject today with “The Flip” …..

    https://accordingtohoyt.com/2017/05/30/the-flip/

    =========
    The commentary contains a lot of interesting ruminations and personal experiences, and bears a strong resemblance to the chattery here, only there seems to be a lot more chatting per se.

    Some of the more relevant remarks:
    Joseph Moore | May 30, 2017 at 9:20 pm | Reply
    Also, and this may be related to ‘roll left and die’ just as Hugo Chavez or at least his followers ceased to be communists just as soon as the destruction of Venezuela became undeniable, some people I know went from, for example, Dems to Bernie to Marxists as the problems with each became harder to ignore. Thus, all failures are because those failing aren’t *real* whatevers.

    I suspect there is a cliff at the end of that road
    * * *
    See this in support of that observation:
    https://townhall.com/columnists/johnstossel/2017/05/31/chomskys-venezuela-lesson-n2333521

    So are American celebrities who championed Venezuela’s “people’s revolution” embarrassed? Will they admit they were wrong?

    “No,” says linguist and political writer Noam Chomsky. “I was right.”

  30. AesopFan Says:

    A few more Hoyt-commenters, until I get tired of cutting and pasting.

    Chad Irby | May 30, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Reply
    I’ve actually been having some fun over the last few years by inducing such flips in people, especially the ones who are righteous in their socialism.

    The one that seems to hit home the hardest is to find the guy who thinks socialism is a good idea – and offering to call the labor coordinator for the job to get his $30/hour rate lowered to the same as the $10/hour unskilled workers we bring in to help move stuff around. You know, for “fairness.”

    It’s really hilarious to find a Bernie supporter and ask what he thinks of Bernie owning three homes, one of which he bought immediately after dropping out of the race last year, and all of which are more expensive than the house the supporter is struggling to pay the mortgage on…

    Find a Clinton fan and ask them what they think about the shutdown of the Clinton Foundation this year, after the donations from other countries dropped to near-zero starting in mid-November. Most of them either don’t know about it, or are in denial.

    Zsuzsa | May 30, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Reply
    “It’s really hilarious to find a Bernie supporter and ask what he thinks of Bernie owning three homes, one of which he bought immediately after dropping out of the race last year, and all of which are more expensive than the house the supporter is struggling to pay the mortgage on…”

    The most common reaction I’ve seen is, “Bah, that’s nothing. Bernie’s just a typical middle-class guy. Most people have three homes. What about Trump?”

    (And no, the responses, “No, most people don’t own three homes,” and “Trump may be richer than Bernie, but that doesn’t negate his hypocrisy” don’t seem to get through).

  31. AesopFan Says:

    FlyingMike | May 30, 2017 at 8:19 pm | Reply
    (A richly robed foreign man walks up to a storefront. The sign reads Clinton Family Foundation. The man enters.)

    Foreign Inflence Customer: I wish to register a complaint. This political influence candidate bird you sold me is dead.

    John Podesta: Remarkable bird, id’nit, squire? Lovely plumage!

    F.I.C.: That’s a pantsuit, and not even my eunuch harem guards would think it’s lovely. Besides, it’s dead as a doornail.

    John: No, no, no, she’s pining for the fjords!

    (You can all see where this is going. Brilliant.)

  32. AesopFan Says:

    Uncle Lar | May 30, 2017 at 3:15 pm | Reply
    In the midst of such existential flips people and countries tend to react badly, and being people or run by same will often resort to violence.
    It’s always been a conundrum for me as to how the USSR managed to dissolve so quickly and with so little death and destruction. Though the final verdict on that may still be pending.

    Tom Reynolds (@Beregond) | May 30, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Reply
    I would suggest that a good part of the reason was that there were relatively few people inside the USSR who believed in communism. Most of the True Believers were foreign intellectuals.

    The Other Sean | May 30, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Reply
    Or at least innumerate.

    BobtheRegisterredFool | May 30, 2017 at 5:29 pm | Reply
    I think the True Believers were a cult promoted by the soviet leadership to protect their rule. If every soviet subject were fully of the cult, there would be less need to promote it overseas. They had to make make up the internal balance with force and defeating the will to resist. Folks who have had that stuff done to them may be less likely to develop an abiding faith in cult dogma.

    RES | May 30, 2017 at 7:19 pm | Reply
    It is impossible to believe the ladies don’t crap when it’s your job to empty the chamber pot?

    Confutus | May 30, 2017 at 5:47 pm | Reply
    After some 80 years of pretending that the truth was what the Party said it was, the Party got to where it wasn’t fooling anyone any of the time.
    * * *
    And yet there are people now who are nostalgic about the good ol’ days of the USSR.
    Memories are the first victim of denial.

  33. AesopFan Says:

    Kevin J. Cheek | May 30, 2017 at 5:35 pm | Reply
    I think a more common pattern is clearly seen in things like the Ghost Dance, which was not the only such instance in North America. (Mumble, mumble) who wrote My Sojourn in the Creek Nation told of an incident between traders and the Creeks involving a horse. After the Creek proved the horse was his, he launched into a tirade blaming the evil ways of the whites on, among other things, books. They were reacting by becoming more staunch in the “old ways.” Indian Agent Benjamin Hawkins observed the same thing during the Red Stick War, with some Lower Creek towns abandoning European technology.

    This is what you’ve referred to as roll hard left and die. I don’t think it’s so much embracing the left in a last ditch effort as it is that same reaction of becoming insular. Being leftists at heart, they turn even further leftist for pretty much the same reasons some Lower Creeks abandoned European technology and some Indians later got caught up in the Ghost Dance. Something similar is happening in churches, and just this week I’ve heard a bit of back patting at being the denominational equivalent of orthodox, with calls to be even more so. Why? Declining church attendance and attacks on Christianity as various institutions do the roll hard left thing. Note that this also seems to be happening with Islam, going back to the radical changes beginning in the 1970s and continuing through today.

    This has me thinking it’s a common reaction by groups of humans. Individually I think we’re more open to things like changing technology or economies. Movements, such as what as observed by Benjamin Hawkings, may encourage tossing new technologies for the old, but unless old is demonstrably better, that only happens when it’s tied to some movement. Maybe because the “circling the wagons” reaction only happens when a group feels threatened by the change?

  34. AesopFan Says:

    Neo – sounds like your doppelganger here.

    Joseph Moore | May 30, 2017 at 5:36 pm | Reply
    I think being uninterested in being in any particular group (Odd, right?) preserved me from more than just a few sips of the Cool-Aid. I remember voting against Reagan (1st national election I ever voted in) because, well, everybody was saying how he was going to start WWIII, for starters. But then I did something evidently not too common: I paid attention to what actually happened. Reagan did none of the things we were supposed to panic over. Instead, he did a number of things he said he would do. Most impressively, he stared down the USSR – and they blinked, while everyone from the press to the intelligence community (whateverthehell that means) were twitching in the corner.

    So, that was the beginning of simply looking at what happens and comparing it to what the supposed experts claim will happen. I haven’t trusted the press since about 1982. Gradually, I’ve come from some sympathy to a cold hard hatred of Marxism – liars and murderers and manipulators who prey on the weak just as certainly as any pedophile. That whole non-joiner thing makes party-line voters look like Boston Celtic fans, only maybe even less intelligent, if possible.

    How about looking at what’s happening in front of your eyes, what people do rather than what they say they’ll do, and voting for your interests instead of for the party that got granddad a job as a garbage man?

  35. AesopFan Says:

    RES | May 30, 2017 at 6:39 pm | Reply

    Of course the journalists didn’t investigate charges about the Clinton Foundation. They’d chosen a side and to change sides would mean publicly repudiating everything they’d based their career on reporting. They had long ago forsaken the truth business, you can’t expect them to forsake the narrative business as well.

    A few journalists will reveal themselves as actual journalists and change their reporting (Sheryl Atkinson, e.g.) and when that happens the remaining cultists shun them, lest they be suspect of secretly desiring truth. Some (David Brock) will convert the other way, tired of being excluded from the “cool kids” table in the media lunchroom; what they become is horribly twisted as they must constantly contort themselves to reassure everybody they’re really truly on the right side of history.

    After the Gingrich Revolution I recall Mara Liasson (I believe; it might have been Cokie Roberts — her having been daughter of a politician, Thomas Hale Boggs Sr., who as House Majority Leader had some knowledge of both the sinful within his party and the virtuous amongst the opposition) commenting on the desperate pleas from journalists seeking to learn who, if any, among their fellows “knew” any conservatives. It seems they had never bothered to collect contact information from “those” people because “everybody” knew Congressional Republicans didn’t matter, would never matter and could be safely ignored if not openly disdained.

    For a conduit for press releases journalist it can be a very painful thing to rebuild your rolodex.

  36. AesopFan Says:

    And just to move into a riff on the Evergreen thread discussion.

    Kurt Schlichter |Posted: Apr 05, 2015
    https://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2015/04/05/liberals-may-regret-their-new-rules-n1980933

    “That photo is me about ten years ago, standing in the ruins of a land where people rejected the rule of law in favor of the rule of force. I think a lot about my year-long deployment to Kosovo these days. I think a lot about people today who, for short term political points, cavalierly disregard the rules, laws and norms that made America what it is. I think a lot about how liberals, especially those who boo God, should pray to Him that those rules, laws and norms are restored.
    ..
    That’s a recipe for disaster. You cannot expect to change the status quo for yourself and then expect those you victimize not to play by the new rules you have created. You cannot expect to be able to discard the rule of law in favor of the rule of force and have those you target not respond in kind.

    When you block all normal means of dissent, whether by ignoring the political will of you opponents or using the media to mock and abuse them, you build up the pressure. In 30+ years as an active conservative, I’ve never heard people so angry, so frustrated, so fed up. These emotions are supposed to be dissipated by normal political processes. But liberals are bottling them up. And they will blow. It’s only a matter of how.

    Liberals need to understand the reality that rarely penetrates their bubble. Non-liberal Americans (it’s more than just conservatives who are under the liberal establishment’s heel) are the majority of this country. They hold power in many states and regions in unprecedented majorities. And these attacks focus on what they hold dearest – their religion, their families and their freedom.

    What is the end game, liberals? Do you expect these people you despise to just take it?

    I know the endgame of discarding the rule of law for short-term advantage because I stood in its ruins. Liberals think this free society just sort of happened, that they can poke and tear at its fabric and things will just go on as before. But they won’t. So at the end of the day, if you want a society governed by the rule of force, you better pray that you’re on the side with the guns and those who know how to use them.”

    Allen West |Posted: May 30, 2017

    https://townhall.com/columnists/allenwest/2017/05/30/draft-n2333356

    “The Democrats, actually the party of progressive socialism, wants to distract the President while undermining and sabotaging his policy vision and agenda with their deep state bureaucrats . The gross miscalculation of the liberal progressive left is that they fail to realize that their flanks are exposed, and their hypocrisy is easily seen. They are unknowingly rallying an entire Nation against them and as they continue to lose national elections, perhaps they will ultimately recognize that they have no safe spaces.

    Donald Trump winning the presidential election is not grounds for impeachment…especially after eight years of clearly impeachable actions of Barack Obama. It is a gross miscalculation to believe that we have forgotten.”

  37. Captive minds | Catallaxy Files Says:

    […] hear a dissenting word. The question then is whether such minds can be changed which id discussed here. But I do have to say that if watching the news from Manchester doesn’t make someone on the […]

  38. AesopFan Says:

    Apropos the topic.
    http://libertyunyielding.com/2017/05/28/desperately-seeking-unity-non-unifying-priority-modern-left/

    “Well, that’s one way of looking at it. But why, exactly, do we need to unify our perceptions of reality? That’s actually one of those belief-want factors the left and right don’t have a common perspective on. I have no interest in unifying my perceptions of reality just for the sake of unity. There’s no end to the falsehoods I’d be signing up for, if unity were the priority for me.

    For me, perceptions of reality must first and foremost be based on, well, reality. We don’t always know for sure what reality is. That’s what we have our powers of observation, intellect, analysis, and judgment for.

    It’s a very useful thing to consult with other people in our ponderings on reality. But nothing good has ever come of trying to make people forfeit their right to interpret things differently, and live by judgments that happen to dissent from yours or mine. Consensus is actually the antithesis of empirical science.

    This principle has been consistent for many centuries with overriding priorities like teaching kids not to play with fire, and acknowledging that gravity is always at work, and some things will inevitably kill you. It isn’t a brilliant riposte to bring up such points as objections to freedom of dissent; it’s just sophomoric – a childish assumption that people who disagree with you haven’t thought of the obvious.

    The cost of disunity, and the importance of the disagreement, must always be considered. But people are actually doing that all the time. It’s what human social life consists of. Unity, for its own sake, is rarely the highest priority. And that’s a good thing. If unity mattered above all else, we’d still believe – against all reason – a lot of patently false things about our physical universe.

    People would know they were false, too; it would be obvious. What we would have missed is the indispensable opportunity to figure out – through dissent and processes of proof – what is true.

    Unity has to have contextual meaning and purpose. And in some contexts, and for some purposes, the price of it is too high.

    The difference between the right and the left on this is a deep one, and frankly, it is probably unbridgeable. Ultimately, the deal is exactly what the British researchers are surprised and uncomfortable about uncovering. People do want different things. Their wants and beliefs are organized according to different ideas of desirability and motivation.

    The deepest difference we have between us is the one that has produced the left-right divide of today. The right cannot bear the demand of the left to control everyone’s options; the left cannot bear the demand of the right to be free of such control.”

    * *
    That final line is very evocative of Heinlein’s formulation:
    “Political tags — such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth — are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.”

    Can anyone committed to either of these positions be converted to the other?
    It seems to me (having read Neo’s and others’ conversion stories) that the “changers” have come from the middle ground, where only some control over some options is acceptable – and they have only changed their views on what the “somes” cover.
    After all, politics as usually practiced is just the art of moving the set-markers around a bit.

    The all-or-none game is totally different, and that is what we are being pushed into by the hard Left and its antithesis on the Right (for lack of better terms).

  39. Vox Australis Says:

    An interesting article. I observe that there are many examples of intellectuals moving from the Left to the Right, but I cannot think of any that move the opposite way. Possibly moving from Left to Right is due to gathering wisdom as we grow older, when you are young you are idealistic, it is only with experience that you learn that it is not easy to change the world.
    I notice that many inhabitants of Academe don’t change, and never reconsider their views.

  40. yumyum Says:

    The left is its own worst enemy. When I flipped, it all started with me having one (1!) wrong opinion. I was still a denizen of the Hivington Mind comment section when the whole minimum wage stupidity started gathering speed. I mentioned in the comments that as a self-supporting teen-ager I’d have had no recourse but prostitution if there had been a 15 dollar minwage. Nobody in their right mind would have hired me at that rate! The pile on was immense. I was accused of being a fauxbot, a shill, a troll, and lots of other stuff. That’s how my re-education began.

  41. Richard Aubrey Says:

    “lifestyle choice” is a good point. One’s self-image is based on being “good”, “moral” “caring”. Got a relation who makes various lefty claims but, when challenged, can think of no actual instance to support them. That is no problem for her. Right wing mobs shout down liberal speakers. Name one. …………….
    We’re running out of oil. Bakken Fields. Permian Basis. : “not enough”.
    She works hard in the area of the homeless. Good for her. But that’s not a policy prescription. I did civil rights work in MS in the Sixties, but that doesn’t make me a liberal or a reparations supporter, or someone who finds racism everywhere as a virtue signaling device.

  42. Bruce Moon Says:

    AS a bookish, artistic young teen I would have been easy bait for the Leftist Hive Mind Monster, but was innoculatd against it at 13 when I read “The Fountainhead”. But I can add two stories to the compliation here to help the conversation. Both transition stories have to do with liberal Jewish people. The first case is a well-known photographer in Miamai. I met her in a politcal discussion group led by an older Jewish conservative. Her transition was baby-step. It was nonetheless shocking to her circle of liberal entertainment business elites of Miami.

    The other is a Jewish couple from WI who now live in Texas. My daughter works for the (he is a politcal consultant and she had a news-variety show on a Dallas TV station.) At my dau’s wedding, I asked him about his conversion. He said he had been doing door-to-door cnavassing for leftwing groups during his college years. After interviewing and meeting hundreeds of everyday, middle-class families, he realized that literally every policy that his liberal ideology advocated hurt these people. Then he started reading conservative books, which he never had done before and realized that their arguments matched with reality much more. He then converted his wife and both families.

  43. Greg Says:

    The left act like they belong in wolf packs. Each pack has its favourite food, whether it’s race, gender or the environment. When a pack sees someone outside their pack endangering their food supply they attack without mercy until the intruder is annihilated.

    But if a member of the pack becomes disgusted about pack behaviour and expresses an opinion out loud that is not in total compliance with pack code, the pack will turn on them. This attack will be be far more vicious as apostasy can’t be tolerated.

    That’s why leftists find it so difficult to change. They know what the pack will do to them, because they have done it themselves to others. Basically they are cowards.

  44. Reformed Trombonist Says:

    > The left is not a unitary bunch in terms of principles

    I’m not convinced the Left has any principles at all, not in the sense that we mean when we use that word.

    John Rawls talks a lot about fairness. But fairness is not a principle. It only sounds like a principle. Why? Because. unlike justice, fairness is pretty much only in the eye of the beholder — which makes it way too arbitrary to be a principle of any sort.

    Whereas, justice is comparatively simple: treat everyone the same. Simple, but not easy. At least there’s a measure.

    Why, that’s not fair, Rawls might say. Treat everyone the same??!! These people over here were disadvantaged from birth — you can’t just treat them the same as more successful people, because, through no fault of their own, fate has set them up to fail. They need help, and you need to give it.

    And if you refuse, we’ll make you.

    Fairness is left-wing tyranny’s foot in the door precisely because it’s a blank check. There is literally no end to its demands; fairness can never be achieved, and can never be satisfied. It requires a dedicated fairness policeman to stand over every process, every transaction, every situation, and enforce fairness — as he sees it.

    As to people? People can change. Reflexive idiots can grow a brain and stop being reflexive idiots. But don’t worry — they’ll make more.

  45. Reformed Trombonist Says:

    > The left act like they belong in wolf packs.

    And conservatives act like wild pigs. One on one, they can handle a wolf. But the wolves hunt as a team, whereas the wild pigs will not group together for a common self-defense. When the wolf pack has picked the most vulnerable pig, he’s on his own.

  46. Reformed Trombonist Says:

    > I observe that there are many examples of intellectuals moving from the Left to the Right, but I cannot think of any that move the opposite way.

    Whereas, politicians move from the Right to the Left all the time. As they get older, they grow in avarice.

  47. nofreelunch Says:

    Liberalism is a con game, and like all con games it is based on lies. The con men are the elites, who desire POWER and lie to get it. Those who believe those lies are the dupes.
    Over time, those dupes who have an open mind that seeks truth, will begin to see through the lies, as they gain life experience. Those dupes with closed minds will remain fools all of their lives.
    Proof of this is that conversion is a one way street. Conservatives seldom, if ever, become liberals.

  48. Gringo Says:

    AesopFan
    Looking at Venezuela in the news almost daily (Jazz at Hot Air is very good about keeping up) — as he says, very few MSM reports mention the S-word (of course he is correct that “This. Is. How. Socialism. Always. Ends.”) —
    but what amazes me is that there are still people IN Venezuela who do not see the connection..

    For the last century, Venezuela has been set up as a petrostate, where the government is in charge of distributing the petroleum windfall to the populace. See The petrostate that was and the petrostate that is.

    In the interest of “sowing the oil” revenue, the government began such industries as steel and aluminum, which only increased government involvement. Low oil revenue in the 1990s prompted selling off government-owned telecom, with predictable results in efficiency gains.

    For the first two decades of its existence, PDVSA was one of the few well-run Third World government-owned oil companies, courtesy of the foreign oil companies gradually replacing foreign engineers with Venezuelan engineers. That meant that when PDVSA came in to existence in 1976, there was already a core of Venezuelan technical and managerial expertise ready to assume control. In addition, PDVSA didn’t hesitate to hire out to foreign companies, such as those involved in oil services. Again, the oil service companies had a strong core of Venezuelan expertise.

    Unfortunately, when a demagogue like Chavez got control, PDVSA got destroyed.

    The basic problem in Venezuela is that most Venezuelans have the idea that they are sitting on a reservoir of incredible wealth, and that they should all be wealthy collecting the equivalent of royalty checks. The realities of demographics and oil production no longer fit that, as the population has nearly quintupled in the last 60 years.

    Juan Bimbo, the Venezuelan equivalent to John Doe or to John Smith, has tended to judge his government on the amount of petroleum income it distributes From that point of view, Juan Bimbo had a high opinion of the GOV in the 1970s and early 1980s, when the price of oil jumped from $3/BBL in 1973 to over $10/BBL in 1974 and close to $40/BBL in 1981. From 1981, the price of oil fell, down to ~$10/BBL in 1986, then back up in the $20s, and down to ~$11/BBL in 1998. It was no accident that Chavez was elected in a year where the price of oil was so low. The year he assumed office, the price of oil began rebounded into the $20s, and kept rising.

    Similarly, today one hears from some Chavistas that Chavez was good while Maduro is bad. The main difference between Chavez and Maduro is that when Chavez died, the price of oil was `~$100/BBL, while now it is ~$40-$50 /BBL.

    As an anecdotal indication of the lefty tendencies of the Venezuelan populace, where the argument often tends towards fine-tuning the petrostate, consider the number of Venezuelans named for Lenin. I was really amazed to meet people named Lenin in Venzuela. It is not all that uncommon. It is safe to assume that in most cases of Lenin-naming, Red-leaning parents named their son after their idol. Lenin Gonzales was a student oppo leader back in the day. Consider Ilyich Ramírez Sánchez, a.k.a. Carlos the Jackal. The head of the Venezuelan armed forces is one Vladimir Padrino Lopez.

    As further indication of the lefty tendencies of Venezuela, it is of note that many Venezuelan oppos responded to the ascendancy of Donald Trump by positing the argument, “Is Trump like Chavez, or is Trump like Maduro ?”

    What I find ironic about the lefty trend in the Venezuelan oppo is that a book I purchased in Venezuela, Carlos Rangel’s Del Buen Salvaje al Buen Revolucionario (From the Good Savage to the Good Revolutionary) was a prime mover in my leaving the left. It gave intellectual underpinnings to my on-the-ground observations of Latin America.

    Rangel’s book is available at Google Books: https://tinyurl.com/The-Latin-Americans (Their Love-Hate Relationship with the United States.) Books, like movies, often lose their titles in translation.

  49. Gringo Says:

    AesopFan
    Looking at Venezuela in the news almost daily (Jazz at Hot Air is very good about keeping up)

    Unfortunately, Jazz Shaw at Hot Air doesn’t always get the facts right.
    With all that farmland, why are Venezuelans starving?

    With all of the unrest, riots and murders in Venezuela these days, it’s easy to overlook one very basic question about the abysmal conditions its citizens are enduring. Venezuela has some of the richest farmland in the western hemisphere and was a net exporter of agricultural products until very recently.

    As a petrostate, Venezuela has long been a NET IMPORTER of food and agricultural products. PERIOD. No ifs, ands or buts: NET IMPORTER. PERIOD.

    Consider World Bank data from 1998, the year of $11 oil and also the year Chavez was elected.

    World Bank data for Venezuela, 1998
    Food exports (% of merchandise exports) 3.85%
    Food imports (% of merchandise imports) 12.18%
    Agricultural raw materials exports (% of merchandise exports) 0.26%
    Agricultural raw materials imports (% of merchandise exports) 1.53%
    Merchandise exports (current US$) $17.7 billion
    Merchandise imports (current US$) $15.8 billion.

    While Venezuela was a net food and agricultural importer before Chavez- not surprising for a petrostate- food exports of $682 million in 1998 were about a third of food imports of $1.93 billion. Venezuelan cocoa and coffee have long had reputations for high quality. Since Chavismo took over in 1999, food imports have skyrocketed and food exports have collapsed.

    Some of the increase in food imports came from increasing the food supply. Calorie and protein consumption went up from 1998 to 2013. Today, food supply is much worse than it was in 1998.

    World Bank data for Venezuela, 2013
    Food exports (% of merchandise exports) 0.04%
    Food imports (% of merchandise imports) 18.41%

    http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development-indicators

  50. Cornflour Says:

    Parts of Neo’s post on Evergreen State University’s students also struck a nerve with me. What follows is based on my experience. I don’t want to get into a fruitless (inadvertent green apple reference) argument with Neo.

    As a teenager, I attended a small, far-left liberal arts school. This was during the war in Vietnam, so the political climate was hot. Even so, people listened to conservative arguments, and took them more seriously than those of Maoists or Stalinists. Sadly, on university campuses, this is no longer so.

    I’m now sixty-five and recently retired. I spent the last twenty-five years working at six different universities. During the last ten years or so, things really have changed. Currently, there is absolutely no tolerance for conservative opinions. For faculty, even tenure offers little protection. Students have become a vicious wailing mob encouraged by complicit administrators. Several people here have speculated that current students’ attitudes are the expression of a life-long left-wing indoctrination by state schools, and I’m convinced that’s a good part of the explanation. I also think that Obama and the media bear much of the blame.

    Of course, nothing stays the same, and this too will pass, but this is different from the leftism that plagued universities in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. That was more violent than today’s version, but now there is far more uniformity of thought, and the doctrine of the moment is ferociously enforced. I’ve seen careers and lives ruined. Under these conditions, could a course in conservative political thought effect a serious intellectual exchange, maybe even a conversion or two? I’m afraid you’ll have to count me among the skeptics.

  51. Richard Aubrey Says:

    AesopFan.
    “Ghost Dance” by Weston Labarre is interesting. He makes the case that, from cargo cults in the far pacific to the real Ghost Dance–and see Mowat’s “The Desperate People”–the millenarian–not current usage–impulse occurs when your culture is falling out from under you.
    The really tough part is when it becomes an article of faith that you will not be saved unless you believe so strongly that you eat your seed corn, figuratively or literally.

  52. Big Maq Says:

    “In spite of all the indoctrination, etc., you’re winning! It’s one reason leftists are freaking out…

    I don’t understand this beleaguered minority act….

    I consider one of the worst things to happen to both parties is the rise of the ideological bubbles we now live in. We get to choose our own propaganda and most conservatives I know listen and read only what confirms their worldview. This is stunting our ability to understand our philosophical opponents, and that’s … why the hatred and violent rhetoric is increasing on all sides.” – Bill

    Well said, we are now in a world where we select our own “truth”.

    Probably more true the more partisan one is.
    .

    Yes, there is this dissonant frantic panic in the face of electoral wins.

    That panic seems to have arisen, anecdotally, paralleling the rise in heated rhetoric from “conservative” media, with increasingly conspiratorial views, wrapped in hype and sensationalism.

    Few take a step back and ask themselves about the motivation behind these talking heads – is it to advance our conservative viewpoint and cause? or is it to build an audience?
    .

    Sometimes, it hits close to home before these heads admit it…
    “Infowars’ Alex Jones has lost a custody over his three kids with ex-wife Kelly Jones in a case where the fiery conspiracy theorist’s attorney argued that he is only “playing a character” on his show.”
    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/infowars-alex-jones-loses-child-custody-battle/article/2621547

    Even Dan Rather lost his job for putting out less than what Sean Hannity is spewing lately…
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2017/05/24/what-does-it-take-for-sean-hannity-to-abandon-a-conspiracy/
    .

    Yet, we insist that we must only consume or unquestioningly believe our selected sources of “news”?

    If they are not looking out for us, who is?

    How far is too far, before they lose any credibility and trust?

  53. arfldgr Says:

    They dont chang,e they just figure out the leaders are lying about delivering what they want and all the other higher moral stuff… ie. the devil can quote scripture better than most if it serves her, so maybe belief is strong in the stupid.

    same old willi stuff… fightinfor something on the behalf of somethign you know nothing about or have a mental idea that is not valid.

    i have put up tons of changer story references
    neo doesnt like them as they are old, and they are extreme changers… you know, fellow travelers deep in the machine changing sides cause of the same reasons over and over.

    which is uselss to point out those reasons as we cherry pick modern idiots that change cause they are spiteful and selfish, which is very different than changing sides when you finally see the monster you are a part of.

    the latter is serous and so ignored
    the former more modern are at least entertaining in their bewelderment and ability to invent reasons from whole cloth out of ignorance making good excuses that are not valid but sound better and less scary than the alternative

    right now
    no one wants to save west civ

    the women dont

    the race groups dont as they want to pick over the carcass much like when a person died in the 1400s.
    and the men dont, they still think they can have a life

    with people who hate them, clean them out, emascualte them, and more..

    bout the only people that might want to save it are old people dying out who dont matter and dont act and just sit around complaining (in an entertianing way), making stuff up and killing time till time kills them

    whie they sit and watch the termites taking it all apart denying the termites are termites.

    at least i have another country to go to…

  54. Big Maq Says:

    Interesting how some things pop up that fit a discussion, or recent point made…

    When both sides play the distraction game, all we have are distractions. There are no facts, merely alternative facts. There can be no crystallizing events from which we emerge more unified — there can only be dueling narratives. There can be no common facts for us to agree on — there can only be a series of faux scandals, building on one another like a game of Jenga, until the entire edifice comes crashing down.

    But will we respond to the ouroboros of untruth by rejecting untruth, or by doubling down on it? Instead of recognizing that two things can be true at once — that there can be facts that cut both ways — will we continue to embrace the strategy of ignoring evidence for opposing viewpoints by presenting sketchy evidence for our own viewpoint? If we do that, politics is bound to come to a crashing halt.” – Ben Shapiro – “Whataboutism and Misdirection”
    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448124/political-left-right-misdirection-bad-arguments-ignoring-evidence-facts

  55. Jablonski Says:

    I’ve known some leftists to change their mind but generally it’s an emotional choice made after yet another bitter disappointment. How they got to their views seems to be a combination of intuition – “to each according to their needs sure sounds nice” and wanting to go along with the manufactured, artificial consensus – “I won’t be popular with my friends and the media says I’ll be an outcast if I don’t believe X, Y and disapprove strongly of Z.” There are elements of religion in this and social psychology, and a narcissistic laziness, as those above have pointed out.

    For my part, I don’t bother trying to convince them to change their views any more, as in my experience, you can’t reason people out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into in the first place. That’s the higher order reasoning. The practical reasoning is that I am exhausted by being around screechy, overly emotional people whose core beliefs appear to change based on what the leaders of their team think today. They may be all friends with Russia one day while their guy buddies up with Medvedev, and Russia may be an apocalyptic threat the next day when it appears Trump is buddying up with Russia. I could handle the switch in position but the switches are generally coupled to a level of tolerance for other beliefs that would rival the leadership of the Salem Witch Trials. Just don’t have room for that sort of garbage behavior in my life.

  56. neo-neocon Says:

    Cornhead:

    Oh, I know that the atmosphere in education has changed very much in the last decades. However, what you see on campus is usually the most vocal, rabid group. And even some of them could change if the conditions are right. Not easily, of course.

    I have a friend who is a professor on a well-known college campus today who reports on some political changes in students as a result of courses this professor gives. It does happen.

  57. TBlakely Says:

    Leftists are far less likely to have children than conservatives. So theoretically they’d die out in a couple of generations or so.
    However consciously or unconsciously, the left has realized the trap they are in so they’ve infested academia and the media in order to fill their ranks by indoctrinating the young and gullible…. kinda like zombies.

  58. John Guilfoyle Says:

    http://www.veritas.org/oxford-atheism-to-jesus/

    https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Thoughts-Unlikely-Convert-Professors/dp/1610458206

    This seems to me to be how some folks change…not all but some.

  59. Cornflour Says:

    neo-neocon Says:
    May 31st, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    “Cornhead:”

    That’s a different guy.

    “Oh, I know that the atmosphere in education has changed very much in the last decades.”

    I said about ten years, not decades. It’s much different now than it was twenty or thirty years ago. Those were comparatively rational times.

    Of course, I don’t know your professor friend or his circumstances, but I think the risk/reward ratio for a course in conservative politics would be very high. You know of one supposed success, but there are many examples of people being ruined, and I’ve seen a few up close.

    I’d never ask a professor to teach such a course, unless he was tenured, close to retirement, and had another source of income. Even at that, if such a course were taught, all conservative students such be warned to keep their mouths shut, to meet only off-campus and secretly. They should also be warned that many students, faculty, and administrators wish to do them harm, to destroy their careers, ruin their lives, even harm them physically. There’s abundant evidence for this. It’s not paranoia. Of course, some colleges and universities are far worse than others, and there are a few places that are still not too dangerous for conservatives. Still, as a general rule, I’m very skeptical that courses in conservative politics would have, on balance, a good effect. Despite the rumor of your friend’s achievement, I’ve seen or heard almost nothing else of the sort, so I find your argument unconvincing.

  60. Subotai Bahadur Says:

    The problem is that most of the Left has been totally shielded from any of the consequences of Leftist theory and practice. To them, it is utopia. So when faced with opposing thought or acts, they rally around each other. As they say, there are no enemies to the Left, even if they disagree. And to be honest, in reality if their allies will kill them for ideological impurity the moment they get a chance.

    The tendency to rally is far less on the Right, if only because many of the so called right are really covert Leftists. And there is very little time remaining.

    Unless those consequences can be imposed and the Leftists cannot avoid reality any more; they will not even consider conversion.

    The only consequences we have time for are if the GOPe suddenly decides not to be allies with the Left, or if we have real, physical, and deadly consequences up to and including a hot civil war. There is no chance that the GOPe will turn on their friends and allies the Left, right up until the moment that the Left is standing them against a wall.

    It is what it is. We have run out of time and alternatives.

    Subotai Bahadur

  61. Big Maq Says:

    “The problem is that most of the Left has been totally shielded from any of the consequences of Leftist theory and practice. To them, it is utopia.” – SB

    Maybe we should ask Gringo about how true that is in Venezuela.

    “today one hears from some Chavistas that Chavez was good while Maduro is bad.” – Gringo

    If folks there are still thinking Chavez was “good”, despite the consequences they live, then how bad does it have to get?

    If given the choice today on a free election, would folks break free of socialism, or would they still vote in a socialist candidate, but maybe not one that goes as far as chavez did, or maduro does?

    IDK.

  62. AesopFan Says:

    Cornflour Says:
    May 31st, 2017 at 3:37 pm
    neo-neocon Says:
    May 31st, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Of course, I don’t know your professor friend or his circumstances, but I think the risk/reward ratio for a course in conservative politics would be very high. You know of one supposed success, but there are many examples of people being ruined, and I’ve seen a few up close.
    * * *
    Steven Hayward of PowerLine taught a course at The Univ of Colorado in Boulder a few years back, specifically as a “token conservative” and seems to have survived the experience; don’t remember if he had any conversions. BUT he was a guest, not a permanent faculty member, and is a known professional conservative, so there was no “outing” of a clandestine righty trying to avoid the mobs, which makes a difference, I suppose.

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2014/04/the-hayward-poll.php

  63. Cornflour Says:

    AesopFan:

    “Steven Hayward has been named the first ‘visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy’ at the University of Colorado at Boulder, a position created with the intent of broadening intellectual diversity among the flagship campus’s left-leaning faculty.

    Mr. Hayward, a fellow at the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, in Ohio, will begin his one-year appointment this fall. It is part of a three-year, $1-million pilot program financed entirely by private donations.”

    That’s from “The Chronicle of Higher Education.” I’ve never heard of a similar arrangement at another university, but I guess if you bribe them with a million dollars, they might let a conservative teach a few classes for one year. Obviously, this isn’t the kind of thing I was talking about. If conservatives want to put up the cash, the approach might be replicable. Nevertheless, as soon as the left figured out what was happening, I’m sure there’d be protests and vigorous attempts to shut down the programs. Maybe the usual threats of violence and so on, but without the ability to ruin a professor’s career. Not sure I’d wish it on anybody, but I think that Steven Hayward survived unscathed. So far, so good, I guess.

  64. AesopFan Says:

    John Guilfoyle Says:
    May 31st, 2017 at 2:59 pm
    http://www.veritas.org/oxford-atheism-to-jesus/

    https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Thoughts-Unlikely-Convert-Professors/dp/1610458206

    This seems to me to be how some folks change…not all but some.
    * * *
    C. S. Lewis, the great Christian apologist, was converted as a mature scholar – rather to his dismay.
    Some of the “left to right” conversion stories I know about have much the same character of reluctance, rather than enthusiastic embrace of the change.

    “You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

    ― C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/681434-you-must-picture-me-alone-in-that-room-in-magdalen

  65. AesopFan Says:

    Richard Aubrey Says:
    May 31st, 2017 at 12:02 pm
    AesopFan.

    The really tough part is when it becomes an article of faith that you will not be saved unless you believe so strongly that you eat your seed corn, figuratively or literally.
    * * *
    Akin to burning the boats on the beach: be victorious, or die – retreat is not an option.
    Sometimes it works…we don’t hear much about the times it doesn’t.

  66. AesopFan Says:

    Gringo Says:
    May 31st, 2017 at 9:25 am
    * *
    Thanks for the reports on Venezuela.

    I wasn’t actually vouching for Jazz’s scholarship, only noting that he posted frequently on the subject, as an antidote to the MSM’s failure to mention socialism as the cause of the disaster.

  67. AesopFan Says:

    Reformed Trombonist Says:
    May 31st, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Whereas, politicians move from the Right to the Left all the time. As they get older, they grow in avarice.
    * * *
    One wonders, of course, if they were ever anything but masqueraders in the first place, and simply threw off the disguise.
    But, Leftism certainly pays better these days (another interesting paradox considering the public ideology of the Left, as opposed to the hidden agendas of its leadership).

  68. AesopFan Says:

    Reformed Trombonist Says:
    May 31st, 2017 at 8:25 am
    > The left is not a unitary bunch in terms of principles

    I’m not convinced the Left has any principles at all, not in the sense that we mean when we use that word.

    John Rawls talks a lot about fairness. But fairness is not a principle. It only sounds like a principle. Why? Because. unlike justice, fairness is pretty much only in the eye of the beholder — which makes it way too arbitrary to be a principle of any sort.

    Fairness is left-wing tyranny’s foot in the door precisely because it’s a blank check. There is literally no end to its demands; fairness can never be achieved, and can never be satisfied. It requires a dedicated fairness policeman to stand over every process, every transaction, every situation, and enforce fairness — as he sees it.

    * * *
    Socialism’s primary selling point is “fairness” is it not?
    And, per Hayek et al., it never ends well.
    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

    ― C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/526469-of-all-tyrannies-a-tyranny-sincerely-exercised-for-the-good

    [There is a high probability that everything I know I learned from Lewis, Heinlein, and Dorothy Dunnett.
    Or maybe I like them because we all know the same things.]

  69. AesopFan Says:

    And of course there’s this venerable fable (it doesn’t matter if it isn’t “true” just as it doesn’t matter that foxes and crows don’t actually talk to each other).

    http://www.snopes.com/college/exam/socialism.asp

    “An economics professor at Texas Tech said he had never failed a single student before but had, once, failed an entire class. The class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said ok, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism. All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

    After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too; so they studied little …

    The second Test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F. The scores never increased as bickering, blame, name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for anyone else. All failed to their great surprise and the professor told them that socialism would ultimately fail because the harder to succeed the greater the reward but when a government takes all the reward away; no one will try or succeed.”

    Everybody wants everything to be fair for everyone else, so long as they get to keep what’s rightfully theirs.

    The real-life example, of course, is Jamestown.
    https://www.cato.org/blog/socialism-jamestown

    And to show that we’re not in an echo chamber here’s the take from Slate, which mostly proves that they are taking the Thanksgiving part of the story literally but not seriously.
    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/holidays/2014/11/thanksgiving_socialism_the_strange_and_persistent_right_wing_myth_that_thanksgiving.html

  70. AesopFan Says:

    Greg Says:
    May 31st, 2017 at 7:50 am
    ..

    That’s why leftists find it so difficult to change. They know what the pack will do to them, because they have done it themselves to others. Basically they are cowards.
    * * *
    Not a monopoly of the Left, but they are the most obviously hypocritical presenters of the syndrome today.

  71. AesopFan Says:

    Bruce Moon Says:
    May 31st, 2017 at 7:05 am
    ..He said he had been doing door-to-door canvassing for leftwing groups during his college years. After interviewing and meeting hundreds of everyday, middle-class families, he realized that literally every policy that his liberal ideology advocated hurt these people.
    * * *
    There might be some small value in the leftist agenda (it’s not at all a “liberal ideology” of course, it just plays one on television) if it actually did help the people it purported to, as that would be a rational trade-off of some kind and Americans are fond of helping the underdogs, but the Leftist policies don’t really help anyone in the long run.

  72. AesopFan Says:

    yumyum Says:
    May 31st, 2017 at 6:32 am
    The left is its own worst enemy. When I flipped, it all started with me having one (1!) wrong opinion.
    * * *
    You were able to use that as an escape hatch, apparently. Professor Weinstein does not appear to be taking that route yet, but he may – if the Jewish canvasser’s lesson reaches him as well.
    The reason the Left reacts so viciously (and this applies to all closed-tribal groups) of course, is precisely because they know they can’t afford to open any hatches at all, or the game is over.

  73. yumyum Says:

    It’s true, they’re frantically running around looking for hatches to batten. Statistics are patriarchal! Intersectional quantum physics! It’s all very Russian.

  74. AesopFan Says:

    Cornflour Says:
    May 31st, 2017 at 10:09 pm
    “I’ve never heard of a similar arrangement at another university, but I guess if you bribe them with a million dollars, they might let a conservative teach a few classes for one year. Obviously, this isn’t the kind of thing I was talking about. If conservatives want to put up the cash, the approach might be replicable. Nevertheless, as soon as the left figured out what was happening, I’m sure there’d be protests and vigorous attempts to shut down the programs. Maybe the usual threats of violence and so on, but without the ability to ruin a professor’s career. Not sure I’d wish it on anybody, but I think that Steven Hayward survived unscathed. So far, so good, I guess.”

    Just saw a post from a successor to Hayward in the same faculty position, that was quite positive; maybe there is hope for even the Republic of Boulder after all.

    https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2017/05/let-light-shine-year-visiting-scholar-conservative-thought-university-colorado/

    “A little over four years ago the University of Colorado, Boulder began a three-year pilot program that I believe has no precedent in American higher education. With the help of private donors, and the support of the university’s board, president, and chancellor, the school created the position of Visiting Scholar of Conservative Thought and Policy.

    According to its supporters, the chair’s purpose is to advance that type of diversity—political and ideological diversity—that seems a natural fit for a public academic institution that has the motto, “Let Your Light Shine.”

    With its fifth year beginning in the fall of 2017, it is safe to say that this is no longer a pilot program, but a permanent fixture of the university. I was honored to have served as the 2016-17 occupant of the chair, which is a full-time faculty appointment with a regular 2-2 course load.

    With all my grades now turned in, I’d like to offer some reflections on my time in Boulder.

    In the fall, I team-taught the course “Thomas Aquinas” with philosophy professor Robert Pasnau, one of the world’s leading Aquinas scholars. As I told Bob when he invited me to team-teach with him, “You know, you’re the Aquinas scholar; I’m just the Thomist.” He responded, “But you have skin in the game.”

    The class went marvelously. I lectured on the aspects of Aquinas’ philosophy I knew best and that I’ve taught before—on God and the nature of law—while Bob focused on Aquinas’ views on human nature, free will, and right and wrong action.

    Three days after the final exam, [in a different class] I was so pleased to receive this message from one of the students in that class: “I have never seen a class in which the students spoke more freely. They (we) truly felt their ideas were welcomed and matter.”

    In addition to teaching, the visiting scholar’s position comes with other responsibilities: (1) inviting guest speakers to campus, and (2) accepting as many invitations as possible to speak to local civic, political, and religious groups.

    Concerning the first, I decided to invite speakers who touched on cultural themes that are rarely entertained in a serious fashion by the popular conservative television-radio media complex (which, for most people, especially in the academy, represents the essence of conservatism).

    So, in the fall I brought George Yancey (University of North Texas) and Patrick Deneen (University of Notre Dame) to campus. Yancey spoke on “Conservatives in Academia: Is There Bias Against Them?,” while Deneen gave a talk on “The End of Liberalism: Why the World is Falling Apart.”

    In the spring, the university hosted lectures by Elizabeth Corey (Baylor University), who spoke on “Can Conservatives Support Diversity?,” and author Rod Dreher, who discussed his New York Times bestseller, The Benedict Option.

    I am happy to report that the lectures were well-attended and that there were none of the disturbances or protests that we’ve seen on other campuses throughout the U.S. over the past few years. Audience members asked probing questions, but they were clearly offered in a spirit of inquiry and truth-seeking, even when it was obvious that the questioner strongly disagreed with the speaker. That’s the sort of critical dialogue that many of us—regardless of our political views—believe to be integral to university life.

    As for local talks, I gave plenty of them, most often about our fundamental freedoms and why everyone should defend them.

    What became my standard “stump speech” focused on the growing indifference to the attacks on freedom of speech, association, and religion in the wider culture, but especially on our college campuses. As far as I could tell, my message was well received, even by many listeners who do not identify as conservative or libertarian.

    I believe the main reason for this is that I framed this talk as a defense of what I like to call “rock-ribbed liberalism,” about which I have written elsewhere: “I miss liberalism. Real liberalism. Not this namby-pamby, afraid-of-your-own-shadow faint-hearted liberalism. What I miss is the rock-ribbed, truth-seeking, justice-pursuing, rights-defending, I-don’t-agree-with-you-but-I’ll-defend-your-right-to-say-it liberalism. It was the liberalism that defeated Nazism and Communism. It was your daddy’s liberalism….”

    This approach resonated with a lot of people.

    From what I could gather, and from my numerous conversations on campus, the administration, faculty, and staff are generally supportive of the visiting scholar program. Although there is no doubt that CU, like virtually all public universities, is overwhelmingly liberal in its political composition, I never felt unwelcome or out of place. For me, it was almost as if the campus was whispering in my ear, “Let your light shine.” ”

    To make the obvious points: this visiting professorship is not protested because it’s a “tame lion” – it doesn’t threaten the overwhelming Left (not liberal) consensus as do the professors who “go off the reservation” or the one-time speakers who challenge the orthodoxy of the Left over current affairs (not Thomas Aquinas).
    Also, his “rock-ribbed v. namby-pamby liberalism” (I read the linked piece) is really directed to conservatives (the only remaining proponents of any classical liberal principles) who aren’t willing to stand up for those principles against the Left (you will note that Prof. Weinstein only objected to the SJWs when his own ox was gored).

  75. Cornflour Says:

    AesopFan:

    Thanks for the news on the second visiting scholar at Colorado. Maybe it could serve as a template for programs at other schools unable to resist million-dollar gifts.

    I know it’s wrong, but there’s a part of me that would have liked to have seen “Black Lives Matter” protests against Thomas Aquinas.

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