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  • Palin Dumb? History Says, “Nope!”

    Posted by Shannon Love on September 14th, 2010 (All posts by )

    In this previous post, commentator Mauro made this rather typical statement in regard to Palin and Tea Party members.

    Those people in the middle states aren’t “educated elites” (and this is by no means a generalization of *all* people in those middle states), and they have resentment toward those who are more qualified to make rational decisions…And this is *bad*, because it turns out that yes, we college-educated guys *are* so smart, and we don’t go burning Korans or blindly invading Middle Eastern countries when we’re angry.

    Is Mauro correct? Do the “college educated” (by which he clearly means leftist intellectuals) have a track record of making better decisions than the kind of middle-class people who support Palin and join the Tea Party?

    Well, yes and no. It’s pretty safe to say leftists don’t burn Korans. Instead, they burn American flags and drop crucifixes in urine. Plus, its true that they never, ever fight for anyone’s freedom from tyranny, for any reason.

    However, leftists do make their own class of colossally bad decision whose consequences dwarf those made by people like Palin and the Tea Party members.

    Leftists make irrational decisions that arise from their own intellectual hubris. All leftists (and most intellectuals) vastly overestimate their individual and collective understanding of complex, poorly understood and hard to predict phenomena. In every generation leftists have claimed to precisely and accurately understand something that in hindsight they clearly did not. Likewise, in every generation, there were people much like the modern Tea Party or Palin supporters, i.e., religious, supposedly uneducated, dullard bourgeois who told the leftists they were wrong.

    In many major areas, history showed that the supposedly ignorant and unimaginative bourgeois proved correct in the end.

    For reasons of brevity lets look at the two biggest leftwing-intellectual idiocies of the last century: Marxism and Freudianism.

    The great-granddaddy of leftists’ irrational beliefs must be Marxism. Marxism made staggeringly sweeping claims. Marxism claimed not only to explain the entirety of all past human economic, social and political evolution but also the predetermined and inevitable future evolution of all human societies into a single communist utopia. They called this concept “historical inevitability” and their entire argument for political and moral authority rested on the idea.

    The scale of Marxism’s effect cannot be underestimated. Das Kapital ranks only behind the Bible as the most influential book in world history. Outside of North America, most of the political history of the 20th century centers around Marxism one way or the other. Communism was explicit Marxism and fascism was a modified version put forth as an ethnic alternative to communism. When applied to the 3rd world, Marxism often drove war and tyranny in many forms. Even in countries such as India which escaped such extremes, policies justified by Marxism unnecessarily retarded the rise out of poverty of hundreds of millions.

    And it was all nonsense!. All the core ideas of Marxism have been proven conclusively false. There is no such thing as predetermined evolution either in biology or human society. Class struggle is not the primary dynamic of human existence. We cannot predict the future evolution of human society. Marxists understood nothing about reality, and all the hundreds of thousands of books devoted to Marxism added nothing to human knowledge. Any good that Marxists did had only an accidental relationship to the actual theory and would have occurred without it.

    The same type of people who today hate Palin and the Tea Party would have been the same people in the past who were sneering at the middle class for not being Marxist.

    Given Marxism’s bloody and irrational reign and the special antipathy of Marxists towards the middle class, the supposedly “stupid” historical counterparts to today’s Palin and Tea Partiers look like geniuses.

    As did the leftists’ idea that we all wanted to have sex with our parents.

    Like Marxism, it is almost impossible to overstate the central importance of Freudianism to leftist thought in the 20th century.

    Leftists used Freudianism as a multipurpose tool to attack any and all traditions and to portray as “repressed” to the point of insanity anyone who didn’t think leftists were so brilliant. In the Fifties they used it to explain how homosexuality was perversion caused by capitalist culture, and in the ’70s they used it to explain the irrationality of homophobia.

    Virtually every piece of leftwing writing in the period from 1930-1980 was saturated with Freudian references and concepts. Tens of thousands of books were devoted to it and entire academic disciplines and schools of thought in many fields revolved around it (Margaret Mead’s school of anthropology, for example).

    And it was all nonsense! While leftists sold Freudianism as a rational and scientific explanation of human behavior, it was neither. Freudianism was just a jumble of imaginary literary symbolism. Everything it claimed was arbitrary. Scientific method — i.e. measurement, prediction, experimentation — played zero role in its development. Of all of the thousands of assertions about human behavior made by Freudian theorists over the decades, only the concept of the Freudian slip has been experimentally verified (and Freud wasn’t even the first person to document the phenomenon and suggest its cause).

    Indeed, historians in the ’80s discovered that Freud appears to have created the theory of infantile sexuality to hide the reality that many of his most disturbed patients had been sexually abused as children. As a result, for nearly fifty years, people who suffered sexual abuse as children were told they had imagined it all because of an innate desire to have sex with their parents.

    Freudianism played a major role in many leftwing policies from the mid-’50s to the early ’70s. It played a huge role in education and was a major rationale for compulsory sex education in the early ’60s. It showed up in everything from social work to criminal rehabilitation to explaining why the military had (according to leftists) a bizarre and irrational fascination with “phallic” rockets. (I’m not kidding about that last, either. It showed up repeatedly in the nuclear freeze movement of the early ’80s.)

    The same class of people who today hate Palin and the Tea Party would have been the same people in the past who were sneering at the middle-class for not acknowledging that, deep down, they wanted to f*ck their parents. Meanwhile the Palins of that era rolled their eyes at the cackling of pseudo-intellectuals mouthing Freudianism. In the end, those Palins proved to have a more accurate understanding of human behavior than did the supposed intellectuals.

    Most of the contemporary political and social theories of today’s left are nothing but rebranded Marxism. Most of today’s leftwing leaders were educated in college by Marxists and Freudians, and 18% of liberal-arts professors, who are major Palin haters, still are dumb enough to self-identify themselves as Marxist. (Universities are often museums of intellectual failure.)

    Therefore, leftists today are just as likely as their immediate ideological ancestors to believe stupid things with great passion. After all, they haven’t changed anything about their methodology, i.e., the way they generate ideas and test them. It is reasonable to presume they will likewise latch onto some fallacious and dangerous idea and treat it as absolute fact. (Global Warming seems like a good suspect. All the signs are there.)

    Tellingly, although few leftists today will strongly defend either Marxism or Freudianism, somehow their contemporary theories and behaviors are every bit as hostile to the middle class as their predecessors were. It is almost as if hostility to the middle class and traditional values is actually the entire point of creating these theories in the first place….

    So, for all you Mauros out there: You are neither as intelligent nor as infallible as you believe. You don’t, as you arrogantly believe, come from a line of ideological dissent noted for getting things right. Instead you come from a long line of ideological idiots who believed incredibly stupid and dangerous things out of sheer arrogance. You decide the validity of ideas the exact same way they did and you will make the same types of mistakes. Just because they got a couple of things right by sheer accident doesn’t mean you are smarter than the middle-class small-business owner down the street. History will judge you to be glaringly and stupidly wrong on some very big questions, just like your Marxist and Freudian predecessors were. Just remember that the next time you begin to sneer.

    And for all you middle-class Palins and Tea Partiers out there: You don’t have to take any guff from any pseudo-intellectuals. Tradition, common sense and real-world experience have proven to generate more accurate ideas than have babbling “intellectuals”. History might eventually judge you wrong about some things (gay marriage, perhaps), but in the end, when it comes to the big concepts, the concepts that keep societies free, prosperous and happy, history will most likely judge you correct.

     

    27 Responses to “Palin Dumb? History Says, “Nope!””

    1. TM Lutas Says:

      Thomas Sowell addresses this in his recent book Intellectuals and Society. It’s a very good read.

      A key point from the book is that intellectuals are proud at knowing 10 times as much as the common man. What they do not recognize is that the common man knows .001% of what is necessary to run a society and the intellectual is proud of his .01% knowledge, thinking that is all that is needed. The common man tends to be more humble about his abilities and much more open to emergent systems like the free market. The intellectual, in his hubris, is much more susceptible to thinking that command and control systems run by omniscient technocrats are better.

      The technocrats are not omniscient. The cake is a lie.

    2. Ritchie The Riveter Says:

      If anger was our motivation, the invasion would have never taken place.

      Iraq and Afghanistan would have been turned to fused glass by remote control, instead.

      It was not anger … it was PRUDENCE in a 21st-world where it only takes nineteen angry men, a few $100K, and some box cutters, to kill as many people as the aircraft from six carriers did at Pearl Harbor. You can no longer count on seeing the storm clouds of war, before war comes to you as a bolt from the blue.

      We, in our naivette fueled by Re-, er, Progressive conventional wisdom that was accepted as the way to peace by leaders of all stripes, allowed Afghanistan 1.0 to continue until those nineteen angry men pulled off what they did … fortunately, we had leaders who were sufficiently prudent to nip Afghanistan 2.0 in the bud in Iraq, before it built on that precedent.

      I challenge the Mauros of the world to name me ONE tyrant in history who, ON HIS OWN AND WITHOUT BEING CONFRONTED BY FORCE OR THE EFFECTIVE DENIAL OF RESOURCES, turned from tyranny and its expansion to cede power to a rights-respecting governance Since they are so “smart”, they should come up with a name, now, shouldn’t they?

      They haven’t yet.

    3. J. Scott Says:

      TM, Sowell’s Vision of the Anointed is also very good. Will come back to this tomorrow. There was a point in our history where the “elites” had the the Republics best interest at heart—those days passed somewhere in the late 40’s/early 50’s. I’d rather trust my future to someone with common sense, who had built/created/achieved something tangible than the ntiwits who continue to get elected, make things worse, and expect a pension.

    4. Shannon Love Says:

      Ritchie The Riveter,

      If anger was our motivation, the invasion would have never taken place.

      Yes but elitist must believe things like that to reinforce their own sense of superiority.

      They can’t acknowledge it was preemptive war intended to remove a threat that had seriously worried the US intelligence and military services for over a decade. Deciding whether a preemptive war is justified is a complex subject that comes down judgment. This would make the debate of one between equals with a great deal of ambiguity.

      That is not emotionally satisfying enough for leftists. They don’t want to be equals and they don’t want any ambiguity. They want to be seen by themselves and others as clearly superior people. So, instead of accepting the actual arguments about the war, they invent explanation specifically designed to make people who supported democracy in Iraq as being widely irrational. So, they claim we invaded because we were angry, that we thought Saddam was behind 911, we didn’t want to cut the military or Bush wanted to pay off his oil cronies etc

      The invented explanations are actually mostly random nonsense that has been recycled from conflict to conflict over the last century. It doesn’t matter what the explaination is it just matters that the leftists can say some varient of “I so much better than because you invaded some country because __fill_in_blank!”

      That’s all it is.

    5. Anonymous Says:

      People often speak of Wm F Buckley’s gentility – such as Horowitz who met him when Horowitz was a lefty. Palin, too, may be aggressive but she isn’t nasty.

      I think that is not unrelated to what you are describing – these are people who are comfortable in their skins because there is little dissonance between their experience and their theories, what they feel and how they analyze it.

      They can be tolerant, even warm, because of a certain kind of confidence and intellectual curiosity. And that confidence is what underlies the great idea of the open marketplace of ideas – if you are comfortable in your own skin, then you want to listen to others. If they are wrong, you can reason with them. If they are right, you can have a eureka moment – and that’s pretty great too.

      But if you suspect you are wrong and if you suspect that your status is likely to be shaken and if you keep noticing but pushing aside the thought that the world can’t be best explained by your theories, it is easy to get defensive and the temptation of nastiness and ad hominem argument increases.

      And that is why they repeat that Palin has no ideas – they aren’t ideas they want to acknowledge exist. The farmers in Kansas either knew intellectually or instinctively that the ideas such as Franks had seldom turned out good for people like them – the Ukraine is hardly the only twentieth century example and now we see some in the 21st. But rather than acknowledging that others might take other lessons from history than he did, Franks insisted they were idiots. That isn’t intellectual curiosity – I don’t even think it is stupidity – it’s insecurity.

    6. Snorri Godhi Says:

      It is a pity that this post focuses on “leftists”, because that leaves off the hook the many members of American academia who openly supported the nazis in the 1930s — as long as it was safe for them to do so. After ww2, there was verbal (and by then futile) condemnation of nazism in acaademia; but at the same time Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, and Paul de Man became quite popular. Then there was Chomsky claiming that there is nothing antisemitic in Holocaust denial: I may perhaps be forgiven for thinking that, just maybe, there is a pattern here.

    7. Shannon Love Says:

      TM Lutas,

      Thomas Sowell addresses this in his recent book Intellectuals and Society. It’s a very good read.

      I haven’t read that one yet but Sowell has been a powerful influence on me. His “A Conflict of Visions” started me down this intellectual path about 15 years ago.

      I recommend him to everyone.

    8. Shannon Love Says:

      Snorri Godhi,

      It is a pity that this post focuses on “leftists”, because that leaves off the hook the many members of American academia who openly supported the nazis in the 1930s — as long as it was safe for them to do so.

      Fascism i.e. National Socialism or “socialism for one country”, is a form socialism whether either the Marxist or the Fascist wanted to admit it. Really the only difference between Stalin’s Soviet Union and Hitler’s Nazi Germany was that Stalin had pretensions of internationalism (which he dropped when “The Great Patriotic War” rolled around.) Nazi in particular had all the elements of a leftwing revolution e.g. youth movement, notional veneration of the working class, hostility to capitalism, redistributionist policies etc.

      But your main point is true because academics have a long history of going off the rails ideologically and falling for various form of authoritarianism. Eugenic was huge in intellectual circles from 1900-1935. In some part, this is the result of the academics research mission. In theory, they are supposed to explore such thing. However, clearly their egos and arrogance cause them to be overly likely to embrace ideas that can be used to justify people like academics having more status and power in society and this inevitably leads them to authoritarian ideas.

    9. M. Simon Says:

      I challenge the Mauros of the world to name me ONE tyrant in history who, ON HIS OWN AND WITHOUT BEING CONFRONTED BY FORCE OR THE EFFECTIVE DENIAL OF RESOURCES, turned from tyranny and its expansion to cede power to a rights-respecting governance

      Pinocet might qualify. But he was on the right.

    10. bgates Says:

      It’s worth remembering that as long as it was safe for them to do so was a very long time indeed.

      Princeton’s freshman class named Adolf Hitler “the greatest living person” two years in a row.

      The second time was November 1939. That’s not just (just!) after the Anschluss and Kristallnacht, that’s after the invasion of Poland.

      yes, we college-educated guys *are* so smart.

    11. David Foster Says:

      It should also be noted in connection with Naziism that Germany had a very strong university system and intellectual tradition; this did not protect them from falling under the Nazi spell. As someone observed at the time, the land of “denker und dichter” (thinkers and poets) became the land of “henker und richter” (hangmen and judges)

      As anon 10:33 says, there is a great deal of status anxiety driving the vitriolic behavior of today’s “progressives.”

    12. Snorri Godhi Says:

      Fascism i.e. National Socialism or “socialism for one country”, is a form socialism whether either the Marxist or the Fascist wanted to admit it.

      I did not deny this, but the original post concentrated on Marxism which is only one tradition of socialism, and not necessarily the most influential on Mussolini and Hitler (though this seems to be controversial). So I thought I’d expand a bit.

      Nazi in particular had all the elements of a leftwing revolution e.g. youth movement, notional veneration of the working class, hostility to capitalism, redistributionist policies etc.

      I used to think so, but now I have come around to the view of Tocqueville, Hayek (who was a bit cryptic on this), and others (mostly before ww2): all socialism, including fascism and American progressivism, is a false-flag operation, a movement of the Right masquerading as movement of the “left”, replacing liberty and equality in liberty with “true liberty” and equality in serfdom. (I am partly paraphrasing Tocqueville here.)

      That of course means that American conservatism, properly understood, is a movement of the Left. This looks to me like a good description of the Tea Party.

      Eugenic was huge in intellectual circles from 1900-1935.

      Yes, I was going to mention that but I decided to keep it short.

    13. Snorri Godhi Says:

      It should also be noted in connection with Naziism that Germany had a very strong university system and intellectual tradition; this did not protect them from falling under the Nazi spell.

      Actually, my understanding is that German academia had a large share of the responsibility for the rise of a nationalist/conservative/socialist climate of opinion that was ultimately crystallized in the National Socialist German Workers’ Party; and when the Party came into being, academia gave it disproportionately large support.

    14. David Foster Says:

      Snorri…interesting if anecdotal data from the author of a memoir called “Diary of a man in despair,” who was there throughout the Nazi period. His observation was that the most enthusiastic supporters of Naziism tended to be (a)schoolteachers, (b)lower-level civil servants, (c)women.

      Don’t know if this is accurate on a country-wide basis or merely reflected his individual experience, but quite a bit different from what I would guess the average American would have predicted.

    15. Ric Locke Says:

      Snorri,

      You make the common mistake of accepting leftoid definitions and trying to work from there. In this case, it is “right == authoritarian”. There may have been some justification for the concept when Leftism was new, although it wasn’t nearly as strong as it’s often made out. In the modern age it’s simply a foolish notion that cedes the argument to the Left.

      In fact, libertarian vs. authoritarian is an axis perpendicular to left vs. right — and it’s the upper left hand corner of that graph that’s empty. Redistribution on the grounds of “fairness” cannot be carried out without authoritarian means, regardless of rhetoric on the subject. The fact that there are authoritarians on the right (the War on Drugs is the currently-definitional example) doesn’t change the fact that there are no libertarian Leftists, whatever they may say.

      More and more of the right is moving up, toward libertarian concepts, as time goes by. Leftoids cannot move in that direction because their philosophy absolutely requires control. That’s not what their rhetoric says (“empowerment”, e.g.) but that’s where they live. Attributing authoritarianism to the right as a natural consequence of rightist philosophy is a tactic of the Left designed to justify their own reach for control.

      Regards,
      Ric

    16. Lexington Green Says:

      “(a)schoolteachers, (b)lower-level civil servants, (c)women.”

      Add senior business executives, which was also true, and you have the Obama coalition.

      [Twilight Zone noise.]

    17. Snorri Godhi Says:

      David: my main reason for blaming the German intelligentsia of the early 1930s for nazism is Eric Kandel’s autobiographical sketch when he won the Nobel Prize:
      http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2000/kandel.html

      Relevant quote:
      I came to the rather depressing conclusion that many German artists, intellectuals, and academics succumbed all too eagerly and opportunistically to the nationalistic fervor and racist propaganda of National Socialism. Historical studies have found that Hitler did not have widespread popular support in his first year in office. Had intellectuals mobilized effectively and brought along segments of the general population, Hitler’s government might well have been toppled.

      I am skeptical that “opportunistically” is the correct word for all of them, though no doubt it was correct for some.

      Lexington Green:
      “(a)schoolteachers, (b)lower-level civil servants, (c)women.”

      Add senior business executives, which was also true, and you have the Obama coalition.

      Yes, I am impressed by the chutzpah of Democrats who say that Hitler was not a socialist because he got support from big business.

    18. Snorri Godhi Says:

      Ric: as I understand, you do not realize that I made a distinction between Left/Right and “left/right”. Left/Right is what Tocqueville, Hayek, and their fellow travelers called Left or Right; “left/right” is what is called “left” or “right” in a specific time and place, e.g. the Anglosphere today. (Basically, what I was saying is that you make the common mistake of accepting the conceptual framework of the “left”.)

      To be clear:
      A good definition of Left is Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. That is how most people before ww2 seem to have understood the concept. To place themselves on the “left”, socialists had to pretend that they stood for “liberty”, and American progressives relabeled themselves “liberals”.
      A good definition of Right is the one given by Mussolini: Authority, the Collective, and the State. For Mussolini those were good things, so he placed himself on the “right”. He placed socialism on the “left” because the class struggle is divisive. Socialism was not collectivist enough for Mussolini: he was a uniter, not a divider.

      Actually, the best explanation of this view is George Watson’s Lost Literature of Socialism.

    19. Mike Cunningham Says:

      We have the same syndrome over this side of the pond, best pictured in the recent article by a Sunday Times columnist, Rod Liddle.

      He had been speaking to a former boss of his when working at the BBC, and had been discussing the beliefs of people who did not espouse the Liberal, Left-Wing, Progressive ways of the BBC and the ruling elite. The journalist’s ex-boss stated, quite categorically, “These people are all mad!”

    20. JohnK Says:

      I saw it myself. Liberals I knew personally — the previous day they hadn’t even heard of Sarah Palin, and the very next day, they were expressing an immediate, visceral hatred of her. They were, instantly, physically repulsed by even the thought of her. Astonishing.

      And yet.

      Laura Wood, who writes at thinkinghousewife.com, is a ‘traditionalist’ woman; that is, she sees feminism as intrinsically of the Left. Mrs. Wood gave me something to think about.

      After forming a favorable first impression of Sarah Palin, Mrs. Wood has concluded that Sarah Palin is no conservative:

      “Sarah Palin isn’t against big government. She isn’t anti-abortion in any politically meaningful sense. She isn’t a foe of feminist entitlement.”

      Then Mrs. Wood quotes Elizabeth Wright at Issues and Views:

      “It’s been repeated so many times and it appears to be true. That is, conservatives take longer to internalize and promote the politically correct dictates that liberals concoct. In other words, liberals invent some platitude or piece of dogma that becomes standardized in the public mind. Conservatives initially fight the new mandate, but then, before you know it, they have joined the liberal bandwagon. They then set about denouncing others for a lack of enlightenment, as they help to disseminate the very terminology or social trend they once sensibly scorned and ridiculed.”

      And Mrs. Wood thinks Sarah Palin’s thoughts, stances, and worldview is the product of exactly that sort of process.

      Sarah Palin is not ‘dumb’, not sneer-worthy. Would that more of us would be as admirable as she. But Mrs. Wood certainly gave me something to think about, in terms of Mrs. Palin’s actual place and role in politics.

    21. bgates Says:

      John, Mrs. Wood doesn’t defend the proposition “Sarah Palin isn’t against big government”. She just makes the assertion. I’m unconvinced.

    22. Shannon Love Says:

      Snorri Godhi,

      You are engaging in a dangerous game of political taxonomy because the terms and players are continuously shifting.

      The original terms of left and right came from the French estates with the right representing the aristocracy and clergy while the left representing everyone else. The original right, therefore is completely extinct in the modern world. No remaining ideology advocate an inegalitarian society in which aristocrats live under a different law than commoners. Taxonomically, all modern European political ideologies and divisions descend from the original left.

      As the 1800s progressed in Europe, the term “liberal” began being applied to the politics of the emerging capitalist/middle-class which advocated for democracy, rule-of-law, equality-before-the-law etc. These are what we call “Classic Liberals”.

      The political history of Europe actually has little reverence to understanding America. Our histories and influence are simply to divergent. America had been founded and our political fault lines laid down before the French Revolution even occurred. By the standards of left and right in early 19th century Europe all Americans were leftists but that makes the left/right dichotomy meaningless within the context of America itself. The major fault lines in America were the agricultural and rural verses the urban, mercantile and industrial. Since all Americans believed in the principle of espoused by the emerging European “liberals” by the standards of Europe, all Americans were extreme liberals.

      We’ve tried to shoehorn American political structure into the European nomenclature but it really doesn’t fit. Even though they’re both notional “right” studying Franco’s Spain teaches you nothing about the behavior of a libertarian from Texas. Supposedly, JFK was left even though he obtained office by declaring that the Republicans were soft on Communism and by advocating a massive military buildup. (In fact, most of JFK and Reagan’s military, foreign and economic policies were virtually identical.)

      If you abandon historical taxonomy, it is pretty clear that most common use of left and right today is that anything that socialist intellectuals favor is left and anything they don’t favor is right. You can see this quite clearly in the way they categorize Communist as “really being rightwing” and the way they put libertarians on the right just because libertarians oppose leftists on economic freedom even though they support leftists on matters of the so called “social issues”.

    23. Shannon Love Says:

      JohnK,

      That is, conservatives take longer to internalize and promote the politically correct dictates that liberals concoct. In other words, liberals invent some platitude or piece of dogma that becomes standardized in the public mind. Conservatives initially fight the new mandate, but then, before you know it, they have joined the liberal bandwagon. They then set about denouncing others for a lack of enlightenment, as they help to disseminate the very terminology or social trend they once sensibly scorned and ridiculed.”

      I think that is a feature, not a bug. Conservatives are not mindlessly resistant to change. After all, all of todays “conservative” ideas were once radical new ideas. The difference between conservatives and leftists isn’t that one fights change while the other embraces it. The difference is how they select ideas as sufficiently proven to be enacted into public and private life.

      Leftists accept ideas solely on the basis that they are new. They assume that any new idea is immediately superior to any old idea. They validate idea by articulate rationalization i.e. “it looks/sounds good on paper.” That is why leftists fall for ideas like Marxism and Freudianism.They were once new and they sound good (why they sounded good is an entirely different discussion.) That is why even though three generations of leftist argued that Freudianism was absolutely true, the left dropped it like a hot potato in the mid-80s. They had something new to claim was absolutely true.

      As a result leftists generate, embrace and dispose of a vast number ideas in rapid succession. The vast majority of leftist ideas end up on the garbage heap of history.

      Conservatives by contrast accept ideas that have been time tested. Whereas Leftists merely ask if an idea sounds good, conservatism simply ask if it has been proven to work. Leftists require complex and detailed rationalization for ideas. Conservative simply look at the utility without worrying about if anybody actually understands how it works. Conservatives will eventually adopt any idea regardless of the source, once it has proven itself.

      This means that sometimes conservatives adopt idea that had their origins in the articulated and rationalized arguments of the left. However, most conservative ideas arise out of a distributed and unarticulated evolutionary process. Large numbers of people experiment on a small scale with many different solutions and eventually the population settles on one that works.

    24. Ritchie The Riveter Says:

      M. Simon … you’re the first, in YEARS of asking the question, to give me an answer that even comes close.

      In his earlier years as President of Chile, Pinochet was certainly repressive to the point of tyranny. But to my knowledge he never sought to expand his rule beyond Chile’s borders, which IMO puts him in a lesser class than Saddam or bin Laden when it comes to tyrant status.

    25. foxmarks Says:

      A single mind may be impossible to describe in “hard” scientific measures. Working with a psyche admits an element of art. Freud’s theories still have some value in explaining and understanding the operation of personality. Freud made worthwhile contributions to his field.

      Marx’s theories have no value in optimizing the allocation of resources. If Marx was a political economist, he gave us nothing.

    26. Shannon Love Says:

      Foxmark,

      Freud’s theories still have some value in explaining and understanding the operation of personality. Freud made worthwhile contributions to his field.

      Nope, not a single worthwhile contribution. Nothing that Freud put forth had any merit save the Freudian slip. He didn’t even invent the concept of the unconscious.

      Worse, he did a lot of damage. He hid sexual abuse. His theories on the treatment of depression were the exact opposite of modern therapies and indeed, anyone who today followed his tenets would be sued for malpractice.

      A single mind may be impossible to describe in “hard” scientific measures.

      That’s why you say “I don’t know” instead of filling in the gap with gibberish.

      I’d be willing to entertain what you think was so valuable in Freud.

    27. Snorri Godhi Says:

      You are engaging in a dangerous game of political taxonomy …

      Woah! trying to make sense of Tocqueville and Hayek is dangerous?
      (I insist on Tocqueville and Hayek because I have read their own words, and their names have a cachet; but Watson mentions many more, both “left” and “right”, who shared this view; G.B. Shaw is a name that comes to mind.)

      … because the terms and players are continuously shifting.

      As I wrote in a previous comment:
      “left/right” is what is called “left” or “right” in a specific time and place, e.g. the Anglosphere today.

      Taxonomically, all modern European political ideologies and divisions descend from the original left.

      Again, that is not the opinion of Tocqueville, Hayek, and Watson; and Tocqueville was there when socialism was born.

      If you abandon historical taxonomy, it is pretty clear that most common use of left and right today is that anything that socialist intellectuals favor is left and anything they don’t favor is right.

      So we have to adopt the conceptual framework of our opponents? is that what you are proposing?

      You can see this quite clearly in the way they categorize Communist as “really being rightwing”

      Communists were clearly “left”-wing, i.e. they were accepted as part of the “left” by the kind of people you refer to: the kind of people who repudiated fascism only when it offered no more hope to them.

      But communists were also Right-wing. If Tocqueville, or in fact anybody of his time, knew that we’d call “far-left” the regimes that did the most to oppress the working class in the xx century, they’d think we have gone insane.