Friday, February 21, 2014

Liberalism is Downstream from a Toxic Spring

As usual, we want to be completely fair and balanced in our treatment of liberals. Ideally, we don't want to write anything we couldn't say in person.

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.


julie said...

Re. global warming heretics, I was just reading this morning someone who pointed out that calling those who disagree "deniers" is in fact a comparison to holocaust denial. He suggests we respond by calling them Climate Change Nazis.

julie said...

Rousseau had a huge following of females in particular and young adolts more generally. Thus, we can trace the loony idea of a "war on women" back to him -- even though in his personal life he was quite cruel and abusive toward women.

Huh. So in topsy-turvy land, those feminists who argue that true feminism must end in lesbianism are actually kind of like demented nuns who have pledged their maidenheads, as it were, to Rousseau. Or Marx. Whether they realize that or not.

Gagdad Bob said...

Rousseau actually insulted women, just as the modern left insults women by suggesting that they are too inept to earn as much as men.

If women really earn 70 cents to the dollar, it only means that men are being overpaid, not that women are being underpaid. Furthermore, no greedy corporation would ever hire a man, because it could cut its payroll by a third merely by hiring women.

julie said...

As Breitbart always said, politics is downstream from culture.

With that in mind, I've been toying with the idea of writing children's books. Not that I have an idea of where to start, exactly, but one of the things that drives me nuts about kids entertainment these days is how sterile and obligatorily PC it all is. And so very heavy-handed.

The key, though, to infiltrating the culture is not to market yourself as explicitly conservative; instead, it's far better to just write a good story that is in-formed by one's first principles. Everything else should follow.

Jack said...


I think what you are saying is exactly right. Living in a uberlefty-upscale-intellectual-ghetto as I do, one learns to make conservative arguments that don't really appear to be conservative.

Besides, your average lefty wouldn't know a conservative argument from anything else because:

1) They've rarely, if ever, have actually heard a conservative argument. They learn to simply react to certain buzzwords and tone in attempting to detect verboten ideas. Remove those two impediments and they get confused as to how they are supposed to react. Sometimes they even listen.

2) They often have trouble understanding logic and evidence because it is rarely, if ever, required of them.

In short: I think you are on to something.

julie said...


I have ideas, sometimes. Trouble is, I don't often have follow-through.

F'rinstance, I once had a very detailed dream about a thermostatic fabric that would adjust its loft depending on the ambient temperature. That was a few years ago; sounds like someone finally got around to making something like it. There should be all sorts of very useful applications for it.

Jack said...

Well, from this distance, it would seem you have the perfect skill set to create children's books.

Just sayin'.

Though, like an Odysseus who forgot to tie himself to the mast, I am certainly no stranger to the supernatural siren song of slack.

Man overboard!

Van Harvey said...

"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)."

Good lord, it's ridiculous how good it is, and how rare it is, to see that said.

Van Harvey said...

"So, Marx and Keynes and Krugman are all downstream from Rousseau. "


Van Harvey said...

"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."

He was exactly that first moonbat. After years of struggling and failing to make his mark, pushing things like his own system of musical notation that would, as much as possible, rid Music of harmonies (seriously), he saw an advertisement for an essay, with a prize, for whoever wrote the most interesting response to the question "Has the restoration of the sciences and arts contributed to the purification of mores?" Rousseau's answer was "No." That the development of society, the rise of order, manners, knowledge, marriage and most of all property, were evils that ruined what would otherwise be a 'noble savage'.

He was the first. And all who've followed have only echoed or refined his message. Kant wrote his tomes that banned knowledge of 'things in themselves', with Rousseau in mind, Marx wrote nothing of import that Rousseau hadn't already said, but he had a genius for marketing and repackaged it and promoted it in a way that would take advantage of the political sewage downstream from Rousseau's culture.

The exaltation of Nature over Man, of our being a stain upon it; determinism; the ability to see yourself as being Good - a martyr even - not because you know or have done good but because you wish you were good; an insanely self centered ego; modern education's outcome based, child centered swill... the whole bit, the modern sewage source of the Nile can be found to have its start with his fouled pen.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"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?""

Indeed. The Rousseauholes wanna conserve purty much every destructive idea known to man and they simply will not learn from past mistakes (which is why the left keeps repeating them ad nauseam, like a dogma to it's own vomit).

The left is full of tools following repeat offendfools.
Nary a new idea among the lot of them...for centuries.
The left doesn't even reinvent the wheel.
Rather they reinvent all the mistakes that led to the wheel, without ever discovering it, then they blame their failures on everyone else.

The consequence of leftism is to become savages without a shred of nobility.
That is the legacy of infrahumans like Rousseau and their ack!ewlites.

Gagdad Bob said...

Sounds about right: "Used to spend some time at a blog called One Cosmos. It was the weirdest combination of lucidly expostulated metaphysics and bog standard neo-conservatism. The mystical stuff was really interesting, but the lack of self-awareness finally drove me away. Gave some good homework assignments though."

Gagdad Bob said...

I'll have to change his grade from an F to a gentleman's incomplete.

Gagdad Bob said...

Can't say I didn't try.

julie said...

Ah, Gabe Ruth. I find his accusation of a lack of self-awareness to be amusing. That, and his impression that conservatism and mysticism should somehow be incompatible.

Was that the last time he commented here?

Gagdad Bob said...

In rereading that old post, it is interesting that each of us essentially charges the other with a lack of insight. "Neoconservative" is the name given to former liberals who have rejected liberalism after gaining insight into it, e.g., Krauthammer, Prager, Podhoretz, et al. Having once been a liberal myself, I guess that makes me a neocon. But since (according to the reader) I didn't have actually have insight into liberalism, I wonder why I changed? I would be curious to know the reader's theory on that.

For example, Krauthammer's Things That Matter is one of the most concise and tightly argued books one could imagine. He's obviously intelligent. He seems to be both factual and intellectually honest. He has definitely suffered, so one cannot say he is detached from human suffering. Does he just lack insight, like me? And I wonder if this term is just a synonym for the gnosis that is at the heart of leftism, i.e., their special insight into reality? Thus, if one is not on the left, one is by definition lacking in insight.

Gagdad Bob said...

I wonder if there are any recovered liberals who have had a relapse back into liberalism? Can't think of any. Charles Johnson, I guess. But that's assuming intellectual honesty, which is an unwarranted assumption in his case.

julie said...

Re. the self awareness, it's as though your mention of insight back then has been twisted around in his mind, so that the lack of awareness could not possibly be his, but only yours. Only, not, of course, and it still bothers him enough to mention it three years later.

I'm suddenly reminded of the guy who popped in here a few weeks back to demand an apology for something that stuck in his craw - what was it, a couple of years ago?

As to liberals who've gone back, I can't think of any; I'd have to guess that someone making such an apparent reversion probably never really understood or believed in conservative values in the first place.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, to "understand" is an interesting term. I think I understand liberalism, but it is rare to meet the liberal who has an honest understanding of conservatism.

Gagdad Bob said...

Speaking of places where I no longer comment, Little Green Footballs. From which I was banned. Which confirms my insight into the left's troubled relationship to free speech. I don't see how leftism can function in the absence of thought and speech control.

ted said...

Most leftists (past me included) don't understand themselves. As someone once said, they feel their ideas and think their emotions. Once I switched that orientation, things started to become more coherent.

ted said...

Isn't "Little Green Footballs" a conservative blog?

ted said...

I know how liberals react when someone switches teams. They just see it as a result of the curmudgeonly ornery aging process for angry white men. It has nothing to do with getting any wiser apparently. :)

Gagdad Bob said...

Little Green Footballs used to be a conservative blog, but now it's as far left into the loonosphere as one could imagine. Before I began blogging, I used to comment there as Gagdad Bob. I must have dropped a thousand little bon mots over there. But what were once gags are now Hate Speech.

julie said...

As far as switching from left to right goes, from what I've seen, for a lot of people their friends take it as a personal betrayal, and the fallout can be bad. Neo's story is a good example, but I've seen many like hers.

ted said...

Yes Julie, I still can't completely come out because of that. But I do challenge my friends more on their assumptions. They think I am just confused.

BTW, watched the Mitt documentary this weekend. Worth seeing!

Gagdad Bob said...

When I become friendly with someone, I'm always afraid it's going to come out that I'm conservative. Interestingly, awhile back I was informed by a professor that he was using my book as a text, and he wanted to know if the class could ask me questions. Sure, I said, but I should probably tell you about the blog, which has been an extended commentary on the book. Since most integral types are on the left, they're probably going to be shocked to discover I'm conservative. Never got back to me. Which is unfortunate, because I was looking forward to the challenge.

julie said...

That would have been really interesting. It's really sad that they couldn't get past the conservatism.

Re. the Mitt documentary, I haven't seen it yet. Too bad it didn't come out before the last election. As it was, certain family members of mine watched the Mitt documentary that apparently made him out to be a racist Mormon crusader bent on bringing about some kind of Mormon fundamentalist utopia. And they bought every word, because they hate Mormons with a white hot passion.

julie said...

Re. new acquaintances, we were at a business dinner last night. On hearing that we used to live in AZ, another couple both said, "Oh, we love Arizona! Well, not the government, but it's pretty there!"

It's like they have to fork the sign of the evil eye, just to make sure they won't be tainted by the wrong sort of politics. But hey, they are super open-minded because they can admit they like the state anyway.

ted said...

Before AC's community blew up, I know there was folks there that loved your book but had some mixed feelings about you. They chalked it up to you having some integral ideas, but was personally stuck in a traditional (hence lower) structure of consciousness. :)

Van Harvey said...

I do kind of remember that Gabe Ruth character, didn't he come in like a thundering troll, and leave like a troll lamb who'd seen his reflection? But still liked it?

Coinkydink in the comments from that post, we had a party last night for Jim Hoft aka The Gateway Pundit, who's pretty much recovered after very nearly dying last year, and I got to hang out with friends I mentioned there, but haven't seen in the flesh in awhile. Also got to meet Michelle Malkin, a very nice, and very tiny lady, for someone sooo large. Andrew Breitbart came up. A lot. And there were a lot of those stories of leftist scales sliding from the eyes, and the reaction of 'friends' trying to push them back in place.

Oddly enough, they involved experiencing more self awareness, not less. Go figure.

Leslie said...

Julie, I cannot believe the amount of hate that has been unleashed by the left over the Arizona vote. Preserving religious liberty is now a hate crime. From what I understand, a photographer was afraid her artwork would be used to promote something she didn't condone. Arizona is trying to make sure that businesses have a right to refuse service. Seems to me, the market should be left to decide. Those on the left cannot allow may not always follow the narrative.

Leslie said...

Oh, I was wrong. It is even more narrow than that. Here is a comment I found that explains it. Arizona is just playing defense. Activist judges have wrought this.

Richard Chappell said," Actually, the statement posted is a complete falsehood. Not the sign, but the law. The law has nothing to do with gays, and doesn't even affect gay people (or any of the LGBT community) in any way shape or form. The law is only to protect religious people and organizations from having to participate (or not participate) in an act that violates their religious belief. It has a litmus test to ensure the act specifically violates religious belief. A store owner can't refuse to sell someone in a protected class due to religious reasons because the sale is not a religious act - as evidenced by the fact the person is in business with the public. Likewise, a restaurant owner can not refuse to serve someone because serving a meal is not a religious act. It does, however, provide protection from a Church being sued for not allowing a ceremony on it's property that violates its beliefs. It also allows someone, like a photographer, that would have to be a participant, from being forced to work a ceremony that violates his or her beliefs (such as the NE Elaine Huguenin case). The LGBT activist community are misleading people about this because they obviously want to be able to force people to violate their religious beliefs.
The funny thing is that AZ has not included sexual orientation to it's protected class list, so it's completely legal to discriminate on that basis now. The law doesn't even have anything to do with homosexuality."

julie said...

Figures. The whole thing is a big kabuki show, but with a goal of designating professions of Christianity as hate speech. Much like they've managed to accomplish across the pond.

I hope they fail miserably. And if they don't, I hope that anybody forced to participate in an activity that violates their conscience makes sure to screw it up in such a way that they can't be sued, but won't be asked to return.

Christina M said...

I remember Gabe Ruth. I asked him about his "battle Chihuahua" avatar once. That he praises John Medaille tells me a lot and none of it good. John Medaille is a neo-monarchist and the biggest promoter of Distributivism I have ever run across. I loathe Distributivism because it is a sanctimonious and self-righteous Catholic Socialism and very much concerned with re-establishing an economic system based on feudal guilds.