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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What the Left Cannot Learn from the Election

In a previous post analyzing the tactics of modern liberals, I wrote:
Since they [the left] take a non-conceptual or non-objective approach, they must rely on faith or belief in the absence of evidence which necessitates appealing to others on the basis of non-cognitive factors such as emotion or mysticism. Consequently, the left must urge others to believe their ideas, not because they can prove that they are right, but because it feels good, or equivalently, because the opposing view scares them. Any rational scientist would be eager to stand up and demonstrate the validity of his theory by reference to the facts and the use of logic. Conversely, the intellectually bankrupt left hides from their opposition and offers nothing but slurs and appraisals of their emotions.
Later in that same post, I wrote:
When an individual rejects the efficacy of his own mind, like an animal, he must turn to a group for guidance, protection, and a sense of pseudo-self worth. The subjectivist left regards people, not as individuals, but as members of collectives whose identities are determined by the attributes of their group. Accordingly, they do not evaluate an idea in terms of truth or falsehood. That is too "simplistic." According to the left, people are conditioned by their circumstances, their "environment", or their race, socio-economic class, or gender. Therefore, it is not necessary to reason or offer a policy that is logically consistent with abstract principles pertaining to individual rights or the laws of economics. One must condition the opposition or "penetrate the message war" by finding some non-cognitive form of appeal, i.e., by offering warm and fuzzy platitudes or demonizing the opposition.

Accordingly, the left must view ideas as the arbitary products of warring mobs.
If I am right in this analysis, what would be the likely reaction by liberals to their blistering electoral defeat? Would the reaction imply some understanding that Americans are rejecting Obama's view of the role and function of government in our lives? Would the reaction imply some sense that their statist policies have not only proved to be economically disastrous but so antithetical to the founding principles of our nation that they have spawned a vast grass roots political movement aimed at restoring limited Constitutional government and removing them from power?

Of course not. To them, principles are irrelevant. There is no right or wrong, black or white. If one side has succeeded, it is only because they have been more effective at "penetrating the message wars,"i.e., psychologically conditioning the masses into accepting their propaganda through appeals to fear and our alleged innate bigotry. The theme of a recent 60 Minutes interview with Obama reveals exactly this approach:
After suffering a “shellacking” in the midterm elections, President Obama acknowledges what many have seen as his chief weakness – failing to sell the importance of several legislative milestones to the American people.

“I think that’s a fair argument. I think that, over the course of two years we were so busy and so focused on getting a bunch of stuff done that, we stopped paying attention to the fact that leadership isn’t just legislation. That it’s a matter of persuading people. And giving them confidence and bringing them together. And setting a tone,” Mr. Obama told 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft in an exclusive interview set to air Sunday.

“Making an argument that people can understand,” Mr. Obama continued, “I think that we haven’t always been successful at that. And I take personal responsibility for that. And it’s something that I’ve got to examine carefully … as I go forward.”
Note that he is NOT taking responsibility for wreaking havoc on the American economy by exploding the size of government, demonizing businessmen, nationalizing major industries, and endangering the lives of all Americans by putting the Department of Motor Vehicles in charge of the nation's health care. Note that he is NOT taking responsibility for pissing away a trillion dollars on "clunkers" and turtle tunnels while debasing the dollar to such an extent that Zimbabwe is getting jealous. Note that he is NOT taking responsibility for traipsing around the world kowtowing to foreign leaders and apologizing for America while our emboldened enemies strengthen their arsenals and American soldiers die in the mountains of nowhere chasing tribal chieftains.

So what exactly is he taking responsibility for?

He IS taking responsibility for not "selling" us, i.e., for not properly conditioning the masses into accepting His goodness. You see, he now realizes that it's not enough to shove a dictatorship down people's throats - what he, in his infinite pragmatism, calls "getting things done" He needs to set a "tone" (appeal to our emotions) and "persuade" us to let Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid manage our businesses and our health. Wait, persuade us by principles, logic, and facts? No, by instilling "confidence" and "bringing people together," i.e., by making people feel good and forging consensus.

Here is another fascinating example by way of this article that discusses Bobby Jindahl's new book and cites details related to his dealings with Obama during the oil spill:
[A]fter Obama instituted a moratorium on offshore drilling, Jindal recounts that the president dismissed his concerns about the economic impact of the ban.

“I understand you need to say all of this, I know you need to say this, that you are facing political pressure,” Jindal quotes Obama telling him. When the governor said he was concerned about people losing their jobs, he said the president cited national polls showing that people supported the ban.
Note that Obama's fundamental orientation is not to reality, i.e., the real economic impact of the ban. Rather, he dismisses Jindahl's concerns as if there could be no real economic impact and Jindahl is merely reciting these concerns as a form of political posturing. Obama cannot even imagine that his policy is actually wrong. Anyone who disagrees or expresses concern, like the Tea Party protesters in another context, can only be an uninformed ignoramus conditioned by Fox News. After all, a poll shows people support his plan, therefore, there can not be any real negative impacts.

And what about Pelosi? To what does she attribute the losses? According to this article "the California Democrat attributes the loss of at least 60 seats to high unemployment and '$100 million of outside, unidentified funding.'" Oh that darn unemployment. Wonder where that came from - can't be policies that discourage businessmen from operating businesses! And, of course, "unidentified funding." You see, all you have to do is raise the money to condition the masses, and you win. She literally cannot imagine that she is wrong or responsible. Next time, she will just try and raise more money and hope that pesky unemployment thing isn't a problem.

What the left cannot learn from this election is that their statist ideology is thoroughly understood by most Americans, even better than they understand it, and that is precisely why it has been rejected. Americans understand that socialism leads to tyranny, stagnation, and misery while capitalism leads to freedom, prosperity, and happiness. Americans are demanding freedom, individual rights, and a limited Constitutional government whose function is to secure our rights to person and property and otherwise leave us alone. Unfortunately, given their philosophical premises, this is a principle that the left literally cannot learn.


Cato said...

excellent analysis of the left, but is the mysticism of the right going to leave us better off?

The Rat Cap said...


Thank you for your comment.

The mysticism of the religious right is just as problematic for the same reasons. It is actually worse. Since the right is associated with freedom and capitalism, a mystical argument concedes that there is no rational basis for freedom and individual rights.

This is partly why there is a battle going on within the right between so-called "social" conservatives which is the traditional religious right and the more libertarian right which has tended to focus on economic freedom. I see the Tea Party movement as welcome in this regard since it is more about limited constitutional government as opposed to the religious inspired agenda of the religious conservatives.

To the extent the right begins to accept a rational, secular argument for freedom and capitalism, it will succeed. From a philosophical perspective, the religious right is antithetical to the movement for individual rights.

Michael said...

i think a topic like abortion can easily split the tea party in half and i think that sooner or later they must address the moral issues as well. they can't ignore them and pretend they don't exist. I think social conservatives should be thrown out persoanlly.

excellent analysis of the subjectivist left and i can't help but noticed that this is exactly what goes on with Gay Pride parades.

garret seinen said...

Doug, while I agree with your post and the message of your comment, I see the weakness of the right to be substantially different from the left. Here's my opinion.

The mysticism of the religious right is just as problematic for a different reason. The right is associated with freedom and capitalism, but their mystical argument disarms them. They lost the battle at the turn of the last century when the progressive movement was able to discount religion. Only a rational basis for freedom and individual rights will end our decent from affluence. In other words, we need independent thinkers.

In essence Charles Darwin broke the leg of the religious pony in 1844 but, since human belief only change one mind at a time, he was only able to sway the progressives. Of course the discovery of DNA lobed another leg off that pony and Objectivism is finally, slowly firing the merciful bullet into that crippled wreck..

While the progressive, blinded by a Marxist ideology, refuse to see captalism for what it is, the greatest force ever discovered for freeing mankind, the religious followers blind themselves to any word that questions the bible. Yes, both sides tragically use the altruist ethics to support their arguments and they may join hands against reason. Neither can win but they can surely wreck havoc.

A blind follower who loses his cause more easy becomes a blind follower of something else, rather than an independent thinker.