Left-Wing Paranoia Squared
Psychological defenses become heightened in times of stress. In fact, that is their primary purpose: to help the psyche cope with stress, pain, and frustration.
Stress results from the mind's need to adapt to change. The past two and a-half decades have been extremely stressful for liberals. Prior to that, they had control over most everything: the presidency, the congress, the judiciary, the media, academia, entertainment, virtually all professional societies, talk radio, ecomomic theory, etc. But gradually they have seen their power erode in all these areas, with no prospect of ever regaining it to the previous extent. Loss of control is profoundly stressful in itself, but what is even more stressful is the alienation that comes from seeing one's internal world no longer reflected in the external world. Just look at how intolerant the left is of a single non-leftist source of TV news, FNC. It drives them crazy.
We all carry an unconscious image of how the world should be, and when the world conforms to that image, we feel at peace. But to live in a world that clashes with that template is extremely jarring, and causes an irruption of anger or depression, depending upon the person. One must either grow and adapt to the real world, or, in the case of so many liberals, regress into paranoia about it.
This is why leftist arguments are always so emotional and persecutory: on the ground floor level of their psyche, they are angry, frightened, and frustrated about the loss of their beautiful group fantasy, and then project those feelings into the right, in a vicious circle. It's the same thing a baby would feel toward its mother if, say, they were abruptly weaned before they were ready... not that the welfare state is like a giant teat or anything. Obviously, it's the same thing Islamists do in response to modernity. You'd be paranoid too if you woke up one day to find your watch running about 700 years slow.
I remember a histrionic speech (is there any other kind?) given a few years back by Al Gore that typifies the mental process we're discussing here, about how President Bush supposedly betrayed our trust! He played on our fears!
On another occasion he bellowed, "I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse. I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America’s fabled 'marketplace of ideas' now functions."
"I trusted daddy and he let me down! I hate him! The more I hate him, the more he frightens me, and the more he frightens me, the more I hate him! He's a big monster! The anxiety I am feeling is a grave danger to my emotional stability. I can't ignore the strangeness of a world that no longer mirrors my deepest infantile needs. I know that I am not the only left-wing paranoiac who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in our fantasy world of liberal utopia, which has been stolen from us by a tyrannical father who wants to keep mommy all to himself and ravage her with his big c-carbon footprint. Together, let's steal mother earth back from the bad father, merge with her, and heal together in blissful union."
One of the most important elements of paranoia is how it affects cognition. In other words, it is not just the content of the paranoid mind, but its process, which is troublesome.
That is, the paranoid person engages in a caricature of thought, in which they carefully scan the environment for confirmation of the paranoid thought or idea. This has nothing whatsoever to do with intelligence. For example, Noam Chomsky might well possess a genius IQ, and yet, if you read his works, you can see that he is helpless in the face of his dark paranoia. All of his considerable intelligence is marshalled in the effort to confirm his preordained paranoid beliefs about how sinister America and Israel are, in an absolutely closed loop. In turn, Chomsky becomes the intellectual axis around which other, far less intelligent paranoids of the Daily Kos variety, orient themselves through the magic of his authority.
Every clinician knows that you cannot argue with a paranoid. Doing so immediately raises their paranoid defenses, and they will simply incorporate you into their delusions. Rather, you must lay back, remain non-commital, and almost use a Socratic, "rope-a-dupe" method in dealing with them. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to do this on a national level. In other words, you can do it with an individual, but how do you deal with mass paranoia?
Ironically -- but then again, I suppose not -- even though there is now more information available than ever before, there is also more opportunity than ever before for a paranoid community to enclose itself in a hermetically sealed cognitive loop that prevents contact with reality. Therefore, increased freedom of speech can just as easily lead to a contraction of one's psycho-spiritual worldspace. How can this be?
The philosopher Michael Polanyi drew a sharp distinction between what he called a "free society" and an "open society," using the practice of science to illustrate his point. A truly free society doesn't merely consist of everyone believing whatever they want. Science, for example, is a free and spontaneous intellectual order that is nevertheless based on a distinctive set of beliefs about the world, through which the diverse actions of individual scientists are coordinated. Like the cells in your body, individual scientists independently go about their business, and yet, progress is made because their activities are channelled by the pursuit of real truth.
In contrast, in a merely "open" society, there is no such thing as transcendent truth: perception is reality, and everyone is free to think and do as he pleases, with no objective standard by which to to judge it. This kind of "bad freedom" eventually ramifies into the cognitively pathological situation we now see on the left, especially as it manifests in its pure form in academia (the liberal arts, not the sciences). This is one reason it mystifies me that George Soros could think himself an acolyte of Polanyi, since their beliefs are 180 degrees apart (appropriately enough, Soros' fascistic political foundation is called "The Open Society Institute").
The deep structure of the left-right divide in this country goes well beyond secular vs. religious worldviews. A purely secular society is an open society, where all points of view, no matter how stupid or dysfunctional, are equally valued (eg, multi-culturalism and moral relativism), whereas a truly free society must be anchored in what is permanent and transcendent. It doesn't necessarily have to come from religion, although it inevitably leads in that direction.
Mainly, in order to truly be free, one must acknowledge a source of truth that is independent of man, an antecedent reality that is perceived by the intellect, not the senses. Miraculously, our founders knew that the self-evident truths which constrain us actually set us free. In contrast, left-wing ACLU types think that mere freedom sets us free, which is preposterous. This is to confuse being lost with being free.
In the real world (i.e., the archetypal vertical world), responsibilities are antecedent to rights, for a right has no meaning in the absence of its virtuous end, just as intelligence has no purpose in the absence of truth. Thus, the most proudmouthed advocates of "intellectual freedom" unwittingly argue for intellectual tyranny, or mandatory error.