Liberalism is Downstream from a Toxic Spring
One of the reasons why the internet tends to heighten polarization -- not that there's anything wrong with it -- is that it's much easier to say nasty things when the person isn't there before you. It works in reverse as well, since it is easy for people to read hostility into a dispassionate comment or analysis.
Such as this dispassionate analysis of the relationship between modern liberalism and the world-class asshole Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Liberalism isn't just bad economics, but bad philosophy, bad anthropology, bad ethics, and bad aesthetics. It's easy enough to trace the crazy economics back to Marx, but before Marx (1818-83) there was Rousseau (1712-78).
As Breitbart always said, politics is downstream from culture. Thus, since politics (whether we like it or not) subsumes economics, we can say that economics is also downstream from culture.
Which explains a lot, because if the psychic battlefield is first softened by aerial bombardment from the wider culture, you can get people to believe anything, e.g., socialized medicine works, government debt = prosperity, increasing the minimum wage won't increase unemployment, people become wealthy by stealing from the poor, etc.
Conversely, it is very difficult to get a fair hearing for classical liberal economic principles, since they don't appeal to the feelings and sensibilities of the herd.
So, Marx and Keynes and Krugman are all downstream from Rousseau. Now, no one who believes in Rousseauian principles will -- or should -- believe Rousseau was a flaming a-hole, just as no one who promulgates Marxian principles should be ashamed of their patrimony.
Rather, they should be proud to be associated with such an illustrious predecessor. I won't deny my link to Burke, or Adam Smith, or the founding fathers -- or to Moses or even the uber-father of us all, Adam. That is, I know where my errors come from: from being human.
Very much unlike liberals, who must first yield to the temptation of omniscience before presuming to lord it over the rest of us. Anyone with a little epistemological humility would be very hesitant to turn peoples lives upside down because he's just sure that this time a government takeover of the healthcare system will work just fine.
There is a chapter devoted to Rousseau and the French revolution in The Cave and the Light. Over and over in my margin notes I wrote n/c, which is my shorthand for NOTHING has CHANGED with these knuckleheads in almost three centuries. So, who's the "conservative?"
Virtually every one of Rousseau's central principles can be seen in the contemporary left. Let us count the ways.
First, he was very much anti-capitalism, as he thought it simply unleashed avarice and corrupted our innate goodness. Like Marx a century later, he "excoriates capitalism as the source of all man's corruption, greed, and mindless materialism and denounces private property as one of the great tragedies of history."
Just recently, Rolling Stone ran a piece on why Americans should fight for an end to private property. But the economic polices of the left are more generally founded on the principle that your property first belongs to the state, not you. This is why the state takes its cut from our paycheck before we ever see it. We get what is left over after the IRS wets its beak.
Rousseau actually believed that war could be avoided if it weren't for private property. In fact, it is the opposite: war starts wherever private property is insecure. But more subtly, envy is unleashed when private property isn't secure. It also works the other way around, which is why the left always fans the flames of envy in order to legitimize the threat to private property (e.g., "income inequality").
As alluded to above, Raccoons trace our dubious lineage all the way back to weak and corrupt old Adam. That being the case, we know full well that any system, no matter how perfect, will be corrupted by the presence of man.
But liberals don't believe this, because they are naive about what man is. This is why they can believe that a man in charge of a corporation is motivated by greed, whereas a man in charge of the state is motivated by only the highest ideals. But they are both just men, and men cannot be perfected.
For the culpably naive Rousseau, "nothing is more peaceable than man in his natural state." Note that this was based on no empirical evidence. Rather, it is an a priori platonic ideal. Thus, it is inherently true despite the evidence. This is certainly what I learned in college, i.e., all cultures are beautiful except ours.
Only after I left the university echo chamber did I discover that the truth is diametrically opposed to this -- that primitive cultures are generally characterized by savagery, violence, infanticide, oppression, and systematic stupidity, i.e., superstition.
Knowing what man is, we can better understand what to do about him. But if we begin with the wrong principle -- i.e., that man is basically good -- then our whole system will be founded upon a lie.
For Rousseau, the noble savage's "ignorance of vice prevents him from doing evil." Thus, he might have been the first moonbat to say that evil is a consequence of society, and that we are only depraved on accounta' being deprived.
Rousseau was also one of the first environmentalists -- not in the common sense conservative manner, but as in the Church of Global Warming type radicalism. And since it is rooted in primitive and unreflective religious impulses, heretics are not just wrong, but evil nazis.
This goes to the cliche that conservatives just think liberals are wrong (or misinformed or stupid), whereas liberals regard us as evil. Their intentions are always pure, whereas we actually intend our ideas and policies to do harm.
This in itself represents a naive psychology, because very few people consciously want to do evil. There is no liberal of my acquaintance whom I believe has malevolent intentions. Rather, it is the consequences of their policies that are bad, not the intentions.
Rousseau also spoke to the insularity of the left. Since he elevates the collective over the individual, truth revolves around what benefits the group. This is why he idealized Sparta over Athens, since the former ruthlessly eliminated self-love and individuality.
To this day the left insists upon a uniformity of thought, hence political correctness and other coercive mechanisms to keep people in line. Intolerance is fundamental to the left. For example, if you only tolerate deviancy instead of celebrating it, you are intolerant. Thus, tolerance is the new intolerance.
But the ultimate way to keep people in line is via compulsory public education (of which Rousseau was a huge advocate, in order to get to them early). Here again, this is why the left is fundamentally threatened by free (liberal!) education, e.g., homeschooling, vouchers, and school choice.
Yes, there is obviously the crude economic interest of the teachers unions, but upstream from that is the need to induct people into the General Will. Thus, children are taught to recycle (because man is poisoning the planet) or instructed in a human sexuality that aggressively excludes the human element. In other words, infrahuman sexuality, AKA barbarism.
The (classical) liberal view of history regards the emergence of human individualism as the great accomplishment. But the left has always found the individual to be problematic, because individuals don't become good collectivists.
Herman suggests that Rousseau's credo might well have been, I feel, therefore I am. Here again, we can see how this same principle animates the contemporary left, for whom ideas are felt and not thought out.
Interestingly, Herman points out that Rousseau had a huge following of females in particular and young adolts more generally. Thus, we can trace to him the notion of encouraging the least wise among us to become politically active, as well as the more recent idea of a "war on women" -- even though he abandoned his own children and was quite insulting toward females.
Like I said, n/c.