Monday, July 10, 2006

Worst Post Ever!

Unfortunately, I have very little timelessness to post this morning--only 54 minutes and counting. I have to be in a godforsaken place called Lancaster at 9:30. It’s got to be one of the uglier locales in all of California. They must have a full-time staff of anti-aestheticians working for the city in order to ensure that no natural or manmade beauty interferes with the unified theme.

I still wanted to say something about ancient child-rearing practices, but that will take too long. Therefore I will select what looks like a fairly straightforward question from the cosmic hopper.... Let’s see.... Here’s one from a reader known as The Bunnies:

“I'm curious as to your thoughts on some of our ideological allies in the war on terror who seem also hostile to some of your other beliefs. Objectivists are right on the money when it comes to the war and most economic issues, but they loathe religion and think that it's all horizontal (although I think they think differently than they think they do, but that's another issue). Or, what about Christian fundamentalists who see the need to pursue the war on terror but would damn your religious views as heresy and gladly surrender on every issue if only abortion could be illegal (they exist).”

Hmmm....

(Still waiting for coffee to work.)

Hmmm....

This is an excellent question, and I suppose it goes to the heart of the genius of our two-party political system. When I was a young idiot, I used to believe the nonsense that we should have many political parties, like Israel or Europe. I thought it was antidemocratic to have just two.

But the whole point of having two parties is like.... it’s sort of like marriage.... no, not really. Well, maybe. I know that in Europe, they also don’t take the two-party marriage seriously, and men are almost expected to have mistresses.

Obviously, having a two-party system works counter to the extreme factionalism we see in Europe. If America were like Germany, we would have dozens of parties--a Randian Objectivist Party, A Pro-Life Party, an Anti-gun Party, and a party of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer, Questioning, Intersexed, and Curious, all having proportionate representation in the government.

So the two-party system makes for some strange bedfellows. But when you think about it, there does seem to be some kind of deep psychological structure that determines one’s surface political attitudes. In other words, it’s probably only half-correct to say that the major parties artificially lump all of these disparate political viewpoints together. Rather, it is clear to me that there is a strong element of personality style, temperament, or “inclination” involved. It’s not a coincidence that the Democratic party is the party of weirdos, because weird people need other weird people around them in order to not feel weird--to convince themselves that they are “normal.” Moral weirdness, economic weirdness, spiritual weirdness, sexual weirdness, artistic weirdness.... All of these people can find a home in the Democratic party.

Likewise, there are many inadequate definitions of what it means to be a “conservative,” some of which are mutually exclusive, such as libertarians and traditionalists or free marketeers and anti-globalists. And yet, these different attitudes may share an underlying personality style or “attitude” toward the world.

For me, for example, the majority of leftists just seem frankly ignorant or emotionally immature. It is very easy for me to see the Democratic party as the party of the children and the Republican Party as the party of the adults. Of course, this is a huge generalization and obviously doesn’t apply to all Democrats. But as a party or ideology, I don’t see how contemporary liberalism can have any appeal to an emotionally, cognitively, or spiritually grown-up person, whatever the obvious and very real drawbacks of "Republicanism."

While there are obviously some grown ups on the left, they seem to be motivated more by their fear or hatred of the right. I know many such people. In fact, I was once one myself. I may not have known what I was, but one thing I wasn’t was a tight-assed, greedy, moralistic, war-mongering conservative.

Of course, I was engaging in pure projection then. But you can see how powerful that mechanism is. What most strikes me about dailykos or huffington post--aside from the adolescent anger and sheer stupidity--is their truly invincible projection. The way they characterize conservatives is a hoot. It’s so over-the-top, so Austin Powers Dr. Evil, that you have to just laugh. I have never seen them accurately characterize what conservatives believe or why they believe it. Normally you would mark this down to intellectual dishonesty, but I don’t think it's that at all. Rather, they truly believe these things about conservatives because they truly feel them. So that is the real source of their faux unity--the infantile projection into conservatives. It's not a real unity at all, merely an emotional reaction--which is why they really can't get organized around any coherent intellectual core, as can conservatives. The fact of the matter is that moderate Democrats are just as creeped out by their own base (in both senses of the word) as you and I are. Just ask Joe Lieberman or the editors of The New Republic.

Well, this post is sort of hopeless.... 12 minutes to go.... I think I’ll just spell check and get out of here.

12 Comments:

Blogger The Bunnies said...

Thanks for confronting the hopelessness, Bob.

Anyhow, I thought that question through after writing it, and came up with a different, but related one that you might have an easier time with.

You've spent much time elaborating on the fanaticism of the Left, and I agree wholeheartedly. However, I've found that while debating some on the right (extreme libertarians, theocrats, etc.) that they use many of the same evasive debating techniques that lefties use.

However, although the Left is wrong on just about everything, there's usually at least a grain of truth to those who want to abolish the IRS or end abortion (after all, the income tax is pretty bad, and even if it should be legal, few would argue that abortion is a good thing).

So, do you believe that fanaticism for the "right" thing is a variation of fanaticsm for the "wrong" thing, or is a fanatical belief in something good simply an immature impulse that needs to be refined and cultivate (as opposed to those who just plain old hate Bush).

Thanks for the incredible blog.

7/10/2006 09:05:00 AM  
Anonymous dilys said...

In the meantime, nailing this frequent phenomenon, including a lot of clothing fashion -- "a full-time staff of anti-aestheticians working ... in order to ensure that no natural or manmade beauty interferes with the unified theme." Here's a vista. We could pretend you've sent us a postcard from a deserted coffee shop before your appointment. :-)

On the other hand I think we should say a prayer. People live there!

7/10/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Lancaster- high desert- not a place of beauty, either natural or manmade. But once you make the transition from the northbound I15 to I40 east, and get outside of Barstow the scenery changes. That long hot plunge onto the floor of the Mojave. Stark desert. Fine if you like that sort of thing. I remember when that stretch of road was quite dangerous. Nothing but a gas station at Ludlow between Barstow and Needles. Bring water! But then Kingman. And soon enough Williams, and then Flagstaff. On to Winslow. (Stop at Meteor Crater if you know what's good for you!) And then Gallup- (jewlery, stone, art). Head north up 666 to Shiprock, and then 64 east to Chama, Dulce, Farmington, Taos, and then... Bah- gotta' go water the lawn.

JWM

7/10/2006 10:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Hoarhey said...

>>“This is an excellent question, and I suppose it goes to the heart of the genius of our two-party political system.
When I was a young idiot, I used to believe the nonsense that we should have many political parties, like Israel or Europe. I thought it was antidemocratic to have just two.
Obviously, having a two-party system works counter to the extreme factionalism we see in Europe. If America were like Germany, we would have dozens of parties.”<<

I had an epiphany on this same issue while driving through western Canada during their national political season. Most of the radio stations in that part of the country are state run. (imagine your only listening choice being NPR) They have a parliamentary system there so in order to be legal and “fair” they have to run the message of every political party in the nation. Imagine sitting through about a half hour of short, superficial political soundbytes from the Greens, the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives , the Communists, the Libertarians, the Unionist Labor Party and on and on. All giving their little version of what a nirvana Canada would be if it were given to them to lead. My head was spinning by the end of it and I came to appreciate the two party system of the U.S. where a coherent, do-able agenda could be laid out by both parties (well, at least one party anyway) and given to the people to choose which they deemed the best.

7/10/2006 10:39:00 AM  
Anonymous jwm said...

A further note for those outside of So. Cal:
Lancaster isn't on I15. It's midway between I15 and I5. Still...

7/10/2006 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger Mr Bob said...

just came across your blog today and you have my vote as the best by-line on the internet, it is priceless.

And speaking of misrepresenting the right, I loved this part of the initial question; "Or, what about Christian fundamentalists who see the need to pursue the war on terror but would damn your religious views as heresy and gladly surrender on every issue if only abortion could be illegal (they exist).”

I happen to be a Christian Fundamentalist by definition and have been for 22 years...I don't know anyone personally who thinks like this, I am sure they are out there, but it was a perfect example of what you talked about.

Great blog

7/10/2006 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, even if Christian fundamentalists were to damn my views as heretical, it's just their theology. It would be out of concern for my soul. It's not as if they want to kill me, like Islamists. It blows me away that the left does not get this distinction, and refers to the "right wing Christian Taliban." It's crazy.

7/10/2006 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Sailorette said...

JWM- High desert isn't a place of beauty?

You need to look closer... there are thousands of flowers the size of a pencil eraser, the sky has an powdery blue to eye-burning pure color, the mountains shade from a soft brown to a violet blue in the distance, and then there's the explosion of larger flowers after a (rare) rain....

It's not as big of a beauty as, say, Washington state, but the beauty is there....

7/10/2006 04:58:00 PM  
Anonymous jwm said...

Sailorette:
You are right, of course. There really isn't anything in nature that isn't beautiful in its own way. I've just never been much of a desert fan.

JWM

7/10/2006 05:44:00 PM  
Blogger wildiris said...

Bob, regarding the question of two-party systems, you should take a look at Arrow's Theorem, which is also known as "The Dictator Theorem. It's from an area of mathematics called choice theory. You can prove mathematically that in a party system with more than two parties, it is possible for a dictator to emerge. That is, there will be an individual or small minority of voters that are capable of swinging the outcome by their particular choice, such that the candidate with the least overall approval rate could end up being the winner.

7/10/2006 06:02:00 PM  
Anonymous dicentra said...

For me, for example, the majority of leftists just seem frankly ignorant or emotionally immature.

Exhibit A is the recent dust-up over at Protein Wisdom. Southwestpaw, aka Deb Frisch, may be more extreme than most (I suspect an episode of unmedicated mania coupled with a personality disorder), but her ideas surely fit in with the "moonbat" left.

7/11/2006 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous digdug said...

When I was a young idiot, I used to believe the nonsense that we should have many political parties, like Israel or Europe. I thought it was antidemocratic to have just two.

Self loathing. Disturbing, anyone?

7/12/2006 01:10:00 AM  

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