Omniscience, Contempt, and the Sealed World of the Left
As I have mentioned, I came to my senses in the usual way, initially going off the shallow end through atheism, liberalism, and non-dualism, before eventually recovering my sacred Slack. Indeed, even at the time I completed my book, I certainly didn't think of myself as any kind of "spiritual authority," so not only was I less willing to identify those self-styled gurus whom I now consider to be destructive frauds and con-men, but I probably still had one foot in that world. (I still don't think of myself as an authority, but I do have a clearer vision of the spiritual landscape, so I can better distinguish up from down.)
It's the same way with one's political philosophy. Most former liberals can testify to the difficulty of embracing and identifying with a group that one had previously demonized. In George Nash's excellent Reappraising the Right: The Past & Future of American Conservatism, he has a chapter on the history of neoconservatism. I had been aware of the broad outlines, but not all the details. Perhaps there is a fable in here.
Briefly, for those of you who don't know the whole story, the original neocons were a group of liberals who became increasingly disaffected with the Democrat party as it was gradually taken over by the left, in a process that was more or less complete with the nomination of the radical McGovern in 1972.
Specifically, the liberal neocons were disgusted by the rampant anti-Americanism of the left, along with their dangerously weak and naive foreign policy. Initially they attempted to reform the Democrats from within, by championing such people as Scoop Jackson and especially Daniel Patrick Moynihan. But by 1980, it dawned on them that it was a hopeless case, and that the Democrats were not going to deviate from becoming the regressive and reactionary clowns they are today.
Still, the neocons had a great deal of difficulty identifying with the conservative movement, and jumping in with both feet. One reason for this is that they were what you might call urban intellectual snobs. True, many were Jewish as well, but that doesn't so much go to religion as it does to education. Jews, since they are disproportionately educated, are quite naturally disproportionately indoctrinated in the strange ways of the left -- that is, if they are secular, or merely culturally Jewish. None of this applies to seriously religious Jews, such as Dennis Prager, who are overwhelmingly conservative.
Thus, for these men, there was a kind of double distrust of conservatism, since they were largely Jewish + intellectual, while much of the right is Christian + regular folks who live in the real world, not the abstract fantasy world of the liberal looniversity bin.
Also, the neocons disproportionately came from the world of the social sciences, whereas most conservative intellectuals were more literary men (in the old sense of the term, like a T.S. Eliot, not in the post-literate postmodern sense). As such, they still clung to the idea of the liberal welfare state (which had been given a huge boost by a corrupted sociology and psychology, and their odious Doctrine of the Immaculate Victim), only finally letting go of it when empirical proof came of its destructive nature with the publication of books such as Losing Ground, by Charles Murray. After that, there was no way one could remain a welfare state liberal and still live in reality. (In other words, they still needed scientific proof of the destructiveness of liberalism, as they were alienated from the religious and literary worlds of wisdom, whereby one knows truth intuitively and directly).
In hindsight, I think this is when we really see the Democrats become completely unhinged, to the point that it is no longer possible to have a rational conversation with a liberal. It's not even necessarily that they are dishonest, although many of course are. It's just that they live an a completely insular bubble, and feel superior to anyone who lives outside their secure little feeltank. Their main argument is not even an argument, just an attitude: contempt. It's so transparently childish: if Bush says it, it's contemptible; but if Obama says the same thing, it's brilliant and visionary.
Liberals affect the same attitude toward climate change skeptics, -- really, on most any issue. (While looking for the hockey game the other night, I caught a few minutes of Stephanie Miller on Larry King, cluelessly insisting that AGW was an unquestioned truth, and that anyone who thought otherwise was a contemptible tool of evil oil companies.) And they are able to get away with it because of a compliant media that shares the identical worldview, so they never learn how to argue. This is why they attack Fox and talk radio, because their very existence is an insult (and unconscious threat) to their omniscience. Conservatives routinely go on liberal programs such as Meet the Press, but it is impossible to imagine Obama submitting to an interview with Dennis Prager or Rush Limbaugh. It would truly be a battle of wits with an unarmed twit.
Again, I well remember this attitude, because I once held it. Yesterday I was talking with Mrs. G. about this. How, she asked, is it possible for these people to remain so sealed off from reality? I thought back about what I was like in the 1980s, when I was a Reagan-hating, NPR-listening, Nation-subscribing graduate student. Not only was I completely outside the reach of any conservative influences -- for back then there was only National Review, and that was about it -- but I sealed my fate with the reliable defense mechanism of contempt -- or what is called in the psychoanalytic literature "envy" or "devaluation" -- which is one of the most common means to maintain omnipotence.
Thus, if I had met a conservative, I would have simply had contempt for him, thereby relieving me of the need to take him seriously and actually engage his arguments. I mean, I was in a Ph.D. program! What are you, some kind of corporation-loving businessman? 'Nuff said! I remember one such conversation with a conservative. It occurred one morning on the graveyard shift, when I was still working in the supermarket. It was a 24 hour store, and we'd get two or three customers between midnight and six, at which time you'd have to stop what you were doing and mosey on up to the cash register.
Somehow, the customer and I got into a discussion of politics, and he calmly explained to me the economic miracles that were being unleashed before my very eyes, with Reagan's transformation of the economy -- however many consecutive quarters of extraordinary economic expansion, not to mention record tax revenues, which only failed to reduce the deficit because of a recalcitrant congress that would never have allowed significant government cuts.
But I literally could not hear the argument, and I mean that literally. It just didn't compute, because mine was a faith, not a philosophy. And not the good kind of faith, because it was not open but closed, in the manner of the atheist or Darwinist who reduces reality to his silly little monkey way of knowing it.
Er, remind me. Is there supposed to be some kind of fable here? Yes, well, to continue the story, it took even longer for the neocons to not only come to peace with the religious dimension, but to actually begin exploring and embracing it. Only in so doing can one become a truly deep thinker, so the irony is that these heretofore conventional intellectuals are now moving into the realm of what I call the "meta-intellectual," or perhaps "trans-intellectual," or mind in service to its transcendent source. Perhaps someday they will catch up with the neocoons, for we're nothing special, just people who enjoy living in reality in all its modes and dimensions, which, at the very least, must include mind, body, and Spirit.