Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Why Doesn’t the Truth Sell?

 

When I was a young high school teacher, I had the privilege of being mentored by some truly great teachers. One profound lesson that I probably would never have learned on my own is that no matter how engaging, clever or entertaining your presentation, students will not really take away something of value unless and until the teacher has managed to inspire them to ask the question the answer for which is what the teacher is trying to convey. The trick is to make them want to know it before you present it. Teaching is less about the quality, truth, and beauty of the subject matter so much as creating an appetite for that truth.

If politics were simply about empirical results and quality of logic, the left would have already dried up and blown away by now. Centrally planned economies, the destruction of institutions such as family, apocalyptic climate myths, and pretty much anything Liz Warren has concocted is utter crapola, analytically speaking. And yet, the market for demonstrably stupid ideas has never been stronger.

We are doing something wrong.

A few years ago, I blew up a friendship over this question. My (former?) friend is a brilliant researcher who has been a major figure in leading conservative think tanks. He built up databases conclusively demonstrating the social and economic benefits of strong family life and the harms that accrue when family breaks down. We used to meet over lunch to discuss politics and he would share news of his latest project. He is a persuasive and engaging fellow. Once when testifying before a Senate Committee he even got Barbara Boxer (kneejerk California lefty who often exhibited a sub-room temp IQ) to wax on as if she were a cultural conservative in response to his testimony and statistics (until her staff got her back under control afterward).

One day in response to his email comments about what seemed to me to be an eternally unfinished project to link together the conservative social scientists still in existence in academia I wrote a stupid email implying that this was all a waste of time. I ranted that conservatives have no idea how to make people want the truths we are trying to share. We have a half-century of data vindicating the Moynihan report and just about everything our grandparents believed about morals, marriage, family, and community but the market for that content is drying up. The clumsiest and most ill-worded two paragraphs I have ever written essentially denigrated a friend’s entire career and killed a friendship the moment I hit send. Dumbest thing I ever did (or at least top five—it’s not as if this is an uncontested designation.)

And I still don’t have any answers to the issue of how to grow the right questions. When we watched the dull Romney campaign crawl to defeat with some dismay, I realized that Mitt was a like bad teacher who could not get his students to ask questions for which “Entrepreneurism!” was the right answer. In contrast, Obama sold visions, sensibilities, and narratives and won despite spectacularly bad policy substance and dismal performance in every policy area,

The left creates appetites for its increasingly stupid narratives. How do they do that? At the present time, tens of millions of Americans believe:

  • The unbroken American journey to racial equality is instead a hopeless racist conspiracy of language and insidious culture.
  • The freest, wealthiest, most empowered women in the history of the planet are oppressed.
  • The free-market economic miracle that continues to lift the entire world out of poverty is really just economic injustice writ large.
  • Contrary even to the science that only a few tears ago was called The Consensus, the climate is changing so rapidly that only central planning can save us.
  • Sex is a social and psychological construct.
  • [Insert your favorite elements of PC dogma here]

Why would anyone want to be the kind of person who believes this nonsense? What is the disposition, the appetite, the need, the cognitive state that makes someone receptive to this garbage?

While the grand journals of the Right debate the philosophical distinctions between the legacies of John Locke and John Stuart Mill or the definition of “nationalism”, there is an entirely different mental experience going on all around us. It is an Orc army not seeking empirical validation or a high quality of discursive thought—just the destruction of everything and everyone else. Why is that? And what should we do about it?

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There are 43 comments.

  1. Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. Coolidge

    The basic problem, I think, is that the progressives don’t believe in facts. I don’t mean that they disbelieve the facts themselves; I mean that they reject the very concept of facts. Truth, they maintain, is subjective; what matters is what you feel, not what you know. If you want something enough, you can make it become true.

    This sounds absurd, but I’m convinced it’s true. All of the leftist fantasies of the late ’60s (all you need is love!) were based on this idea that if enough people wish hard enough to change the world, it will magically happen. Decades of evidence that it doesn’t work that way make no impression on these people because they never learned to look at evidence in the first place.

    As Ricochet shows us, “conservatives” are actually an extremely diverse bunch, and it’s hard to come up with one definition of conservatism that accommodates all of us. But I believe that one fundamental aspect of conservatism is a willingness to accept reality as it is, and to seek realistic solutions that work within those constraints. Progressives, by definition, don’t see the world that way: they believe that humans are perfectible and that reality can be whatever we want it to be.

    The harder problem is how to fix this. I wish I knew.

     

    • #1
    • November 19, 2019, at 7:15 AM PST
    • 14 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):
    But I believe that one fundamental aspect of conservatism is a willingness to accept reality as it is, and to seek realistic solutions that work within those constraints. Progressives, by definition, don’t see the world that way: they believe that humans are perfectible and that reality can be whatever we want it to be.

    I think, BXO, that reality, even for Conservatives, is a moving target. I think @oldbathos is closer to what we seek, in pointing to truth. Reality is pretty subjective, but if we share major beliefs and values, the prisms through which we study reality is more similar than not. Your point, though, about Progressives thinking they can make reality whatever they want it to be is spot on.

    But like you, I have no idea how we can change this mindset.

    • #2
    • November 19, 2019, at 7:29 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  3. KentForrester Coolidge

    We can’t even persuade the Left that the economy is humming along. How much more blind can they be?

    Yet again, conservatives have put into place certain economy-boosting measures — fewer regulations, reduction of taxes, promotion of free enterprise — and the economy responds with lower unemployment, better wages, and so on. Yet somehow or another, the Left refuses to believe. 

    Willful ignorance. That’s the only way I can explain it.

     

    • #3
    • November 19, 2019, at 7:30 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  4. I Walton Member

    It’s the history of mankind which we briefly departed from when we created our ground up decentralized society which lasted several centuries. The level of insanity we’re seeing however, is beyond understanding. Clearly it was foisted on us by those who gathered power mostly in Washington but also universities, schools, state government, institutions, and found the narrative personally useful, but why has it deepened and spread so fast? Even those self interested narrow entrenched interests have lost control. Even Washington’s entrenched bureaucracy which is probably the key to the decay, isn’t in charge of anything beyond it’s little piece of self serving turf. If we do not wrest control from them and find ways to return power to the folks, and government to towns, smaller cities at most, in a highly decentralized system similar to what we used to have, we lose.

    • #4
    • November 19, 2019, at 7:31 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  5. David Foster Member

    “Nothing happens until somebody sells something”

     

    • #5
    • November 19, 2019, at 7:53 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  6. James Gawron Thatcher

    Old Bathos: While the grand journals of the Right debate the philosophical distinctions between the legacies of John Locke and John Stuart Mill or the definition of “nationalism”, there is an entirely different mental experience going on all around us. It is an Orc army not seeking empirical validation or a high quality of discursive thought—just the destruction of everything and everyone else. Why is that? And what should we do about it?

    OldB,

    As one of the chief perpetrators of philosophical discussions on Ricochet please allow me to explain. First, I am never directing my philosophical commentary at winning elections. I believe that a large part of our problem lies in a university system that has been taken over by leftist woketards. Locke, Kant, Mill, and Rawls (this should remind you of my most current post) are powerful artillery that the right should use to take back the high ground at the universities.

    Meanwhile, I get your question (see black text above). I think the answer to your question is in your question. How does one fight an Orc army? Obviously, not with Locke, Kant, Mill, and Rawls. I saw the video of Ben Shapiro’s recent speech at Stanford. What impressed me was the audience (Ben was very strong but that is what we expected). When the little cabal of woketards tried to disrupt the speech, the audience erupted in a USA USA chant that drowned out the woketards by a factor of 10 to 1. THAT’S how you fight the Orc army. I will quote one little thing from Kant. “It is Right to coerce a coercer in such a manner as to maximize the Liberty of all.” Meaning when the loonies raise their ugly head with ill intent, you must immediately find the way to properly coerce these coercers and back them down.

    Never give an Orc an even break.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #6
    • November 19, 2019, at 8:02 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  7. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos Post author

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: While the grand journals of the Right debate the philosophical distinctions between the legacies of John Locke and John Stuart Mill or the definition of “nationalism”, there is an entirely different mental experience going on all around us. It is an Orc army not seeking empirical validation or a high quality of discursive thought—just the destruction of everything and everyone else. Why is that? And what should we do about it?

    OldB,

    As one of the chief perpetrators of philosophical discussions on Ricochet please allow me to explain. First, I am never directing my philosophical commentary at winning elections. I believe that a large part of our problem lies in a university system that has been taken over by leftist woketards. Locke, Kant, Mill, and Rawls (this should remind you of my most current post) are powerful artillery that the right should use to take back the high ground at the universities.

    Meanwhile, I get your question (see black text above). I think the answer to your question is in your question. How does one fight an Orc army? Obviously, not with Locke, Kant, Mill, and Rawls. I saw the video of Ben Shapiro’s recent speech at Stanford. What impressed me was the audience (Ben was very strong but that is what we expected). When the little cabal of woketards tried to disrupt the speech, the audience erupted in a USA USA chant that drowned out the woketards by a factor of 10 to 1. THAT’S how you fight the Orc army. I will quote one little thing from Kant. “It is Right to coerce a coercer in such a manner as to maximize the Liberty of all.” Meaning when the loonies raise their ugly head with ill intent, you must immediately find the way to properly coerce these coercers and back them down.

    Never give an Orc an even break.

    Regards,

    Jim

    There is a difference between facing down morons and actually persuading them to change their minds. I endorse punching back but that merely prevents the enemy from taking ground in that moment. It does not win us new ground. I harbor a fear that conservatives will simply morph into tougher versions of RINOs–we still continuously yield ground to the enemy but we are less deferential or nice about it.

    • #7
    • November 19, 2019, at 8:19 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  8. Rodin Member

    Maybe the question is “Do you want to live and love and, if so, how do you stay alive?” You start with desire and move on to strategy. Then through Socratic examination the person finds their inner conservative.

    [Update: Just as I posted the comment I got the notice of @susanquinn ‘s post Why Progressives are Insatiable. Seems like some congruency here.]

    • #8
    • November 19, 2019, at 8:29 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  9. James Gawron Thatcher

    Old Bathos (View Comment):

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: While the grand journals of the Right debate the philosophical distinctions between the legacies of John Locke and John Stuart Mill or the definition of “nationalism”, there is an entirely different mental experience going on all around us. It is an Orc army not seeking empirical validation or a high quality of discursive thought—just the destruction of everything and everyone else. Why is that? And what should we do about it?

    OldB,

    As one of the chief perpetrators of philosophical discussions on Ricochet please allow me to explain. First, I am never directing my philosophical commentary at winning elections. I believe that a large part of our problem lies in a university system that has been taken over by leftist woketards. Locke, Kant, Mill, and Rawls (this should remind you of my most current post) are powerful artillery that the right should use to take back the high ground at the universities.

    Meanwhile, I get your question (see black text above). I think the answer to your question is in your question. How does one fight an Orc army? Obviously, not with Locke, Kant, Mill, and Rawls. I saw the video of Ben Shapiro’s recent speech at Stanford. What impressed me was the audience (Ben was very strong but that is what we expected). When the little cabal of woketards tried to disrupt the speech, the audience erupted in a USA USA chant that drowned out the woketards by a factor of 10 to 1. THAT’S how you fight the Orc army. I will quote one little thing from Kant. “It is Right to coerce a coercer in such a manner as to maximize the Liberty of all.” Meaning when the loonies raise their ugly head with ill intent, you must immediately find the way to properly coerce these coercers and back them down.

    Never give an Orc an even break.

    Regards,

    Jim

    There is a difference between facing down morons and actually persuading them to change their minds. I endorse punching back but that merely prevents the enemy from taking ground in that moment. It does not win us new ground. I harbor a fear that conservatives will simply morph into tougher versions of RINOs–we still continuously yield ground to the enemy but we are less deferential or nice about it.

    OldB,

    Your fears are well-founded but you can’t win the whole war during a single engagement. We need to be able to fight and win in the culture war as Andrew Klavan has said. We need to get another truly conservative Justice (not Roberts) on the Supreme Court. That will probably take Trump winning a second term. VDH has some really good political strategic thinking in his latest NRO article.

    The Impeachment Clock

    I will try to think more about your second more specific question.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #9
    • November 19, 2019, at 8:30 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge

    I believe that the Left and Right can be divided into those that “think” with their feelings and those that “think” with their logic. One likes the short-term gratification and the other seeks a long-term gratification. This is in the DNA.

    I also believe that some people don’t like freedom/choice/uncertainty and want to be told what to do and how to do it. While others prefer freedom/choice and dislike being told what to do and how to do it. This is also in the DNA.

    Given these dispositions, it is very hard to get to someone that “thinks” with their feelings and fears the uncertainty of freedom to be persuaded of anything.

     

    Lastly, your friend seems odd. Your question of how to get people to urn for truth is brilliant. The next thread could be on government policies to improve family cohesion.

     

    • #10
    • November 19, 2019, at 8:34 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  11. The Reticulator Member

    Old Bathos: Why would anyone want to be the kind of person who believes this nonsense? What is the disposition, the appetite, the need, the cognitive state that makes someone receptive to this garbage?

    A related question: Why would anyone want to be the kind of person who doesn’t believe this nonsense? 

    I was thinking the other day about how there are a number of leftish things that I agree with, but I don’t want to be the kind of person who has those opinions. One reason I abandoned my episode of leftish politics and liberal theology back in the early 70s was not so much that I changed my mind, but that I didn’t want to be that kind of person. 

    This is related to something I used to tell folks on the bicycle forum back when there were some bicycle missionaries complaining about all the cars and wanting the world to use more bicycle transportation. I’d tell them that hectoring people about the evils of cars and the virtues of bicycle transportation was not going to work. The only way we’re going to get converts is if we’re having more fun than everyone else. (“Fun” might not be the most accurate word to use, but I’m sticking with it for now.)

     

     

     

    • #11
    • November 19, 2019, at 8:36 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  12. MarciN Member

    It is undeniably true that if a person is born into a two-parent, mom-and-dad family, if he or she then grows up in a healthy social and physical environment, he or she does his homework and stays out of trouble in his or her teenage years, he or she goes on to succeed in a good college or vocational program, gets a good job with a pension and benefits, gets married and has children who carry on successfully as he or she did, then that person will prosper and get to heaven. But what does life look like for the people who fall off that conveyor belt at some point?

    The people who have fallen off the conveyor belt are the ones who reject the Republican Party–the political vessel for conservatism–because we are not connecting to them with solutions to their problems.

    Interestingly, we solve those problems better than Democrats do. We’re great at funding and sustaining community colleges, for example–the schools for the second chances in life. We do everything better than Democrats in terms of creating helpful communities. Without us–and the Democrats who live in blue states would agree, and in fact they do, which is why they continually elect Republicans to the executive offices–the Democrats would be irrevocably bankrupt.

    The question we need to answer politically is this: Okay, things are really screwed up in this country. In 2017, 70,000 people died of drug overdoses (I view most of those as suicides because the decision to take illicit drugs is self-destructive). We cannot redo the childhood of millions of Americans who never had one. What do they do now? They, and the people who love them, need hope and a path to some sort of prosperity. What do we say to them? Because they make up a large part of the electorate.

    • #12
    • November 19, 2019, at 9:11 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  13. Raxxalan Member

    Acting on emotion and passions rather than on facts and logic is the default position of the human race. Think about the tragedies of The Greeks and Shakespeare virtually all of them involve giving over to passion or emotion over principle and logic. Most religion’s have strong admonition about giving over to one’s passions. The central problem for most classical and even many modern philosophers is the constraint of emotion with reason. I conclude from all this that logic is hard, orienting oneself toward the truth is hard, and evaluating evidence is hard. It is a skill that has to be taught and honed. Is it any wonder than that in our society where education has been corrupted and religion is in retreat that logic and the truth fail to sell?

    • #13
    • November 19, 2019, at 9:39 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  14. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    James Gawron (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: While the grand journals of the Right debate the philosophical distinctions between the legacies of John Locke and John Stuart Mill or the definition of “nationalism”, there is an entirely different mental experience going on all around us. It is an Orc army not seeking empirical validation or a high quality of discursive thought—just the destruction of everything and everyone else. Why is that? And what should we do about it?

    OldB,

    As one of the chief perpetrators of philosophical discussions on Ricochet please allow me to explain. First, I am never directing my philosophical commentary at winning elections. I believe that a large part of our problem lies in a university system that has been taken over by leftist woketards. Locke, Kant, Mill, and Rawls (this should remind you of my most current post) are powerful artillery that the right should use to take back the high ground at the universities.

    Meanwhile, I get your question (see black text above). I think the answer to your question is in your question. How does one fight an Orc army? Obviously, not with Locke, Kant, Mill, and Rawls. I saw the video of Ben Shapiro’s recent speech at Stanford. What impressed me was the audience (Ben was very strong but that is what we expected). When the little cabal of woketards tried to disrupt the speech, the audience erupted in a USA USA chant that drowned out the woketards by a factor of 10 to 1. THAT’S how you fight the Orc army. I will quote one little thing from Kant. “It is Right to coerce a coercer in such a manner as to maximize the Liberty of all.” Meaning when the loonies raise their ugly head with ill intent, you must immediately find the way to properly coerce these coercers and back them down.

    Never give an Orc an even break.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Jim, I enjoyed your recent post, where we disagreed (cordially, I think).

    I am very confused by your inclusion of Rawls on this list. I find Rawls to be among the chief proponents of Leftist nonsense, though more on the economic front than the social front. I suspect that you know far more about Rawls than I, as I have dismissed his ideas based on my understanding of a few of his basic assumptions, which seem to be so obviously wrong that I had no reason to investigate further. (Two obvious errors are: (1) a mechanistic view of the universe, and (2) a “minimax” decision rule that seems tailor-made to drive the analysis to the conclusion that North Korea is a better place than America.)

    • #14
    • November 19, 2019, at 9:41 AM PST
    • 1 like
  15. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    I think that the truth is unpopular for a couple of reasons.

    The first reason is our desires, which I would call our fallen nature. You don’t have to be religious to adopt this view (though it helps). People want what they want, often in an impulsive way, and often even if what they want in the moment will have bad consequences for them, or for others, in the long run.

    I do not apply this idea only to other people. This is what I observe in myself.

    For this reason, people don’t like constraint on their behavior, either internal or external. They don’t like the fact that certain behaviors will lead to bad consequences, and generally want to engage in the bad behaviors and evade the consequences, or even blame others for the consequences.

    The second reason is our irrationality. I find Jonathan Haidt’s work to be particularly instructive on this issue, along with Jordan Peterson. Haidt contends that our reason is not a dispassionate, neutral arbiter of the good. Rather, our reason is more like a press secretary or a lawyer, seeking clever justifications to allow us to follow our urges. This leads to confirmation bias, as well, a perceptual problem that leads us to see what we wish to see. 

    So, for example, a BLM activist will focus on the extremely rare instances of unjustified police shootings of black people (usually men), while ignoring statistics about the low likelihood of such events, ignoring potential justifications for such shootings, ignoring police shootings of people of other races, and ignoring the overall murder rate. There are similar examples on the right.

    For many, I think that Jack Nicholson’s character in A Few Good Men got it right — “You can’t handle the truth.”

    • #15
    • November 19, 2019, at 9:53 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  16. The Reticulator Member

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    I believe that the Left and Right can be divided into those that “think” with their feelings and those that “think” with their logic. One likes the short-term gratification and the other seeks a long-term gratification. This is in the DNA.

    I think this first sentence is an emotion-based conclusion, not backed up by data. :-) On certain important political topics it seems to be true, but you ought to see who gets all emotional about certain cultural indicator such as the wearing of tattoos, for example. And I would have to see the data about it being a matter of DNA. I doubt it, but would be willing for tax dollars to be spent on researching the topic.

    I also believe that some people don’t like freedom/choice/uncertainty and want to be told what to do and how to do it. While others prefer freedom/choice and dislike being told what to do and how to do it. This is also in the DNA.

    I agree that this is an important distinction, but I’m not aware of any data showing it’s a matter of DNA. 

    • #16
    • November 19, 2019, at 1:37 PM PST
    • 1 like
  17. The Reticulator Member

    Raxxalan (View Comment):
    Most religion’s have strong admonition about giving over to one’s passions.

    Um, I don’t think this is a factual statement. The Christian New Testament has warnings about giving over to sinful passions, but our leader set an example of acting on the basis of compassion. 

    • #17
    • November 19, 2019, at 1:38 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. Raxxalan Member

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Raxxalan (View Comment):
    Most religion’s have strong admonition about giving over to one’s passions.

    Um, I don’t think this is a factual statement. The Christian New Testament has warnings about giving over to sinful passions, but our leader set an example of acting on the basis of compassion.

    Compassion yes, however Christianity more than most values truth and logic, so I am not sure that passion and emotion are the basis of that message. Love of god and of the truth is but the is also stated as the divine logos of the universe. I definitely believe Christianity counsels containing one’s passions rather than surrendering too them; however, mine is an outsider’s perspective.

    • #18
    • November 19, 2019, at 2:03 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  19. HeavyWater Coolidge

    Quite often “the experts” are familiar with the truth but the larger population isn’t.

    Most economists believe that raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars per hour will reduce job growth. These economists realize that when you raise the cost of a commodity, including labor, the demand for that commodity is likely to be reduced. But the average man on the street might not be thinking in those terms, instead viewing the minimum wage hike as a “pay raise for the lowest paid.”

    And some people earning the minimum wage would enjoy a wage increase if the minimum wage were increased to 15 dollars per hour, just not all of them and this would not help people entering or re-entering the work force with few skills.

    The complexity of the world works against us.

    How many people know that Denmark, Bernie Sanders’ favorite example of the success of socialism, is actually a country that has a strong free market but also taxes its middle class much more than the United States does in order to pay for its larger social safety net? 

    Or that many European nations don’t have a minimum wage law?

    People aren’t born with all of this information in their heads. 

    And given all of the time people spend on regular daily activities, like going to work, putting the kids to bed, cooking the meals, people don’t necessarily devote the time to figure out that prior to the 2017 tax cut passed by Ryan and McConnell and signed by Trump, the United States had the highest corporate tax rate in the industrialized world.

    Soundbites don’t always convey enough information.

    • #19
    • November 19, 2019, at 4:19 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  20. HeavyWater Coolidge

    Raxxalan (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Raxxalan (View Comment):
    Most religion’s have strong admonition about giving over to one’s passions.

    Um, I don’t think this is a factual statement. The Christian New Testament has warnings about giving over to sinful passions, but our leader set an example of acting on the basis of compassion.

    Compassion yes, however Christianity more than most values truth and logic, so I am not sure that passion and emotion are the basis of that message. Love of god and of the truth is but the is also stated as the divine logos of the universe. I definitely believe Christianity counsels containing one’s passions rather than surrendering too them; however, mine is an outsider’s perspective.

    Actually, Christianity does not value truth and logic.

    Proverbs 3:5 says

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.

    [I used the New Revised Standard Version]

    Christianity relies on revelation as a source of knowledge. So, if someone says to you, “The tax rate should be 99 percent. Thus sayeth the Lord!!”

    One could accept this revelation as actually coming from God. Or one could respond, “Ah, but if you raise the tax rate to 99 percent, people won’t work and tax revenue will dry up and the economy will tank.”

    Reason is superior to revelation, but Christianity puts the emphasis on revelation and it’s not even your own revelation; it’s a revelation supposedly given to some dude who lived thousands of years ago.

    I guarantee you that you won’t persuade people to support the free enterprise system via the Bible. The Bible doesn’t have much to say about socialism versus capitalism, the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.

    The stuff of modern life that we like is reason based, not revelation based.

     

    • #20
    • November 19, 2019, at 4:25 PM PST
    • Like
  21. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr. (View Comment):

    The basic problem, I think, is that the progressives don’t believe in facts. I don’t mean that they disbelieve the facts themselves; I mean that they reject the very concept of facts. Truth, they maintain, is subjective; what matters is what you feel, not what you know. If you want something enough, you can make it become true.

    This sounds absurd, but I’m convinced it’s true. All of the leftist fantasies of the late ’60s (all you need is love!) were based on this idea that if enough people wish hard enough to change the world, it will magically happen. Decades of evidence that it doesn’t work that way make no impression on these people because they never learned to look at evidence in the first place.

    As Ricochet shows us, “conservatives” are actually an extremely diverse bunch, and it’s hard to come up with one definition of conservatism that accommodates all of us. But I believe that one fundamental aspect of conservatism is a willingness to accept reality as it is, and to seek realistic solutions that work within those constraints. Progressives, by definition, don’t see the world that way: they believe that humans are perfectible and that reality can be whatever we want it to be.

    The harder problem is how to fix this. I wish I knew.

    Well stated.

    Many of the ideals the Left professes are magnificent. Who wouldn’t want Love professed by multitudes to have the power to change the world? Who among us is not for liberty, fraternity and equality?

    And of course, humans should strive for perfection.

    But when that perfection is deemed to be achieved only by some Uber committee that also details and records who among us is perfect, who among us is diverse and non-racist, who among us has achieved exactly the personality dimensions and mind set the Party Committee requires, individualism is lost, and then the world of the Gulag and re-education camp will overtake this rather imperfect but also rather satisfactory world we have now.

    • #21
    • November 19, 2019, at 4:55 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  22. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos Post author

    Friends:

    I think there is too much reliance in the comment thread on a reason versus emotion model to explain right and left political dispositions.  

    At the risk of generating another thread of endless philosophical exchange, I bring up the Thomistic model in which reason should rule over the will which in turn should constrain and direct emotion. Beginning with the Reformation and percolating in German philosophies and certainly through Hegel and his heirs, the will takes the top spot ahead of reason such that reason and emotion then compete to influence the new boss. Much of the modern ideological disorders can be traced to byproducts of this line of thinking.

    Under a distorted model of personhood, I get to choose “my truth” and what’s right for me, which act of will can draw upon feelings, rationalization and/or and selective use of logic to assemble this construct. The whole (contrary) notion of an objective natural order (to which my reason should conform, my will affirm and my emotions be reconciled) is an affront to the illusory scope of freedom I have concocted. 

    So it is not so much about the absence of reason but placing it in service to ends not selected by reason subject to an attachment to natural order.

    But the post is not about defective ideology but about the desire, the disposition to latch onto defective ideology and how to change that disposition. Is it an issue of psychology? Spirituality? Salesmanship? 

    • #22
    • November 19, 2019, at 6:09 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  23. Henry Castaigne Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    But the post is not about defective ideology but about the desire, the disposition to latch onto defective ideology and how to change that disposition. Is it an issue of psychology? Spirituality? Salesmanship? 

    Man needs religion. Read Witness if you don’t believe me. Psychologically we aren’t designed for capitalism. We spent most of our lives living in small groups with people we really liked as hunter gathers. We are also genetically designed to find policy boring because policy didn’t help us survive in Mother Africa. 

    As for salesmanship, salesmanship appeals to emotions and not facts. 

    Also people have a short memory. 

    If our ideas weren’t better, we would never have a chance. 

     

    • #23
    • November 19, 2019, at 11:08 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  24. Ralphie Member

    Old Bathos: Why would anyone want to be the kind of person who believes this nonsense? What is the disposition, the appetite, the need, the cognitive state that makes someone receptive to this garbage?

    I guess the question is “do you want to be ruled?” because that is what the left is offering. And it is attractive to those who find life’s challenges to be overwhelming. The single mom, the struggling worker, the young who seem afraid of autonomy, etc. are to a degree all seeking relief in coping with life. It is much harder to solve problems when you don’t have support in the way of close social circles, of which there is none closer than family. Married women are generally more conservative than single women. Married women have someone to get up and see what that noise was in the night. 

    • #24
    • November 20, 2019, at 3:21 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  25. Ralphie Member

    Old Bathos (View Comment):
    But the post is not about defective ideology but about the desire, the disposition to latch onto defective ideology and how to change that disposition. Is it an issue of psychology? Spirituality? Salesmanship? 

    If an adult has missed the lessons that should have been learned while growing up that life is unfair, can be brutal, and the best you can do is what is expected; how does another adult really correct a spoiled worldview? How does the right get back into the business of helping shape the next generation, which is what the left figured out decades ago. 

     

    • #25
    • November 20, 2019, at 4:04 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  26. I Walton Member

    Everybody here makes valid points, even those directly opposing each other. I want to make one point. Size really matters. We’re organized politically by folks whose span of control is way beyond their understanding. There are too many people and too many variables for any degree of understanding, at any Federal level or large cities and states, but they all have to behave as if they understood and to carry out tasks as if they knew what they were doing. Operational control is about the size of a good tribe as was pointed out, enhanced by new technologies, and we behave as a good tribe but are organized at the top not at the bottom. Business, like pre 20th century politics, in contrast, no matter how large was ground up and specialized so the tribe that runs it can grasp what it’s doing. As soon as they get too big or too diverse they either fail or have to organize protections in Washington. Even big towns are too big to exercise effective knowledgable control. We’re capable of rationalism but it doesn’t spring fresh out of our brains, we have to fail, sort things out, interact, observe and gradually move in the right direction. This happens from the ground up, not the top down, or rather the top down eventually figures out what serves it’s collective interest but that’s not what it’s about, or what actually eventually serves the interests of folks on the ground, which we, in part by accident, figured out.

    • #26
    • November 20, 2019, at 4:52 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  27. GrannyDude Member

    I can offer my son’s fairly recent conversion (yes, I had something to do with it—thanks, Ricochet!) as an example? I’d like to think it was brilliant mothering combined with persuasive arguments (but I repeat myself). It probably had a lot to do with the left’s insult to law enforcement which, for my son, means Dad.

    But I think @Reticulator is right about one thing: in the end, it came down to “who seems to be having more fun?”

    Which, if you’re an energetic young rock-n-roll drummer, also means “who is being more bada55” challenging the status quo, shaking things up…versus those who increasingly behave like old-school librarians with their finger to their lips? 

    It isn’t really facts vs. feelings, but feelings vs. feelings. The left, once claiming to be the side of liberation, having become the establishment, has now taken on the role of the town scold who won’t let the high school kids cut loose and dance.

    The Republican party could actually have some fun making ads depicting the Obama/Warren/Hillary crowd quite accurately as the ones intent on sucking the creativity, joy and life out of everything. 

    • #27
    • November 20, 2019, at 5:22 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor

    GrannyDude (View Comment):
    The Republican party could actually have some fun making ads depicting the Obama/Warren/Hillary crowd quite accurately as the ones intent on sucking the creativity, joy and life out of everything. 

    Now this is a creative idea!! Seriously!

    • #28
    • November 20, 2019, at 6:07 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  29. Old Bathos Member
    Old Bathos Post author

    Ralphie (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: Why would anyone want to be the kind of person who believes this nonsense? What is the disposition, the appetite, the need, the cognitive state that makes someone receptive to this garbage?

    I guess the question is “do you want to be ruled?” because that is what the left is offering. And it is attractive to those who find life’s challenges to be overwhelming. The single mom, the struggling worker, the young who seem afraid of autonomy, etc. are to a degree all seeking relief in coping with life. It is much harder to solve problems when you don’t have support in the way of close social circles, of which there is none closer than family. Married women are generally more conservative than single women. Married women have someone to get up and see what that noise was in the night.

    I am afraid you are spot on.

    • #29
    • November 20, 2019, at 6:36 AM PST
    • 1 like
  30. James Gawron Thatcher

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Jim, I enjoyed your recent post, where we disagreed (cordially, I think).

    I am very confused by your inclusion of Rawls on this list. I find Rawls to be among the chief proponents of Leftist nonsense, though more on the economic front than the social front. I suspect that you know far more about Rawls than I, as I have dismissed his ideas based on my understanding of a few of his basic assumptions, which seem to be so obviously wrong that I had no reason to investigate further. (Two obvious errors are: (1) a mechanistic view of the universe, and (2) a “minimax” decision rule that seems tailor-made to drive the analysis to the conclusion that North Korea is a better place than America.)

    Jerry,

    I explained to you that I know a great deal about Kant. However, let me be frank (and I thought I was only Jim), I know next to nothing about Rawls. So your question really got me going. I had to mull for a day or two before responding and I am still claiming ignorance when it comes to Rawls.

    Something you should keep in mind when dealing with minds as powerful as the ones we are talking about. Many critics are motivated by the fact that they realize that these powerful philosophical positions won’t work out well for their pet opinions. Thus they are searching for a quick out or put down. Now that I’ve thought about it, attacks on Rawls might be from those on the left who don’t want to accept the results of the real Rawlsian analysis. Let me show you what I’m thinking about. (with a disclaimer that I am still pretty dumb about Rawls).

    Here is Rawls’ Veil of Ignorance concept.

    The “veil of ignorance” is a method of determining the morality of issues. It asks a decision-maker to make a choice about a social or moral issue and assumes that they have enough information to know the consequences of their possible decisions for everyone but would not know, or would not take into account, which person they are. The theory contends that not knowing one’s ultimate position in society would lead to the creation of a just system, as the decision-maker would not want to make decisions which benefit a certain group at the expense of another, because the decision-maker could theoretically end up in either group. The idea has been present in moral philosophy at least since the eighteenth century.

    Now let’s put this in the historical context that Rawls is very much a part of. In 1964 the Civil Rights Act is passed. This provides a neutral standard of behavior that citizens should follow to avoid prejudice by race, sex, national origin, or religion. I would think that Rawls, writing his veil of ignorance principle in 1971, would have this very much in mind. I would think that Rawls would endorse the 1964 Civil Rights Act wholeheartedly. However, in 1973 the first quota-based affirmative action rulings come down from the Supreme Court. This literally rips the veil of ignorance off everyone’s face. By force of law, you are required to behave in a prejudicial manner by race, sex, national origin, or religion. I would assume that Rawls would object strongly to this. Of course, I don’t know what Rawls’s actual opinions were. This would be interesting to find out and to grasp his reasoning in both cases.

    As a point of interest, Justice Thomas at his confirmation hearing endorsed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and basic Affirmative Action Law. However, he sharply criticized the quota-based affirmative action rulings. He didn’t think that the reasoning was in harmony with justice.

    Regards,

    Jim

    Extra Afterthought:

    Rawls’s veil of ignorance is totally antithetical to the new intersectional identity politics. Nothing could be less harmonious to the veil of ignorance than making every law, every art form, every conversation, subject to an enforced conscious effort in favor of certain groups and demanding of criticism of other groups. The veil of ignorance position itself would be criticized as “racist”, “sexist”, “homophobic”, etc.. because it failed to take the victim group analysis into account.

    Rawls would be poison to the woke.

    Symbolic depiction of Rawls’s veil of ignorance. The citizens making the choices about their society make them from an “original position” of equality and ignorance (left), without knowing what gender, race, abilities, tastes, wealth, or position in society they will have (right). Rawls claims this ensures they will choose a just society.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #30
    • November 20, 2019, at 7:13 AM PST
    • 3 likes