INSTALLMENT THE SIXTH: “Lenny” asserts that Liberalism entails open-mindedness and offers evidence that Jordan B. Peterson can be liberal, too; I agree and resume my post-mortem of Liberalism in America…
Lenny — James Charles O’Donnell III, I agree on many points you make. I love the idea of pillars of liberalism (tolerance, reason, education, idealism) but I’d also put being open minded in there. But as Conservatives have mostly abandoned all of these a long time ago I see the left doing the same thing recently. I mean I see many of my left wing friends (which are the majority) talk with disdain and contempt about working people, saying things like ‘education is a waste of time bc it’s all patriarchal mind control’ or peddling conspiracy theories, or openly expressing hatred for white men. All of these things go against what I would consider liberalism.
So the anti-intellectualism and intolerance that infected the right has now infected the left and this has left the middle wide open for the taking. That’s where JP has stepped in.
I wouldn’t call myself a follower but I have learned quite a bit from him that I think is valuable. I also find it refreshing that an academic has risen to become a mainstream popular figure. A criticism of Al Gore in the 2000 election was that he was boring and too professorial. And the reaction to that gave is GW Bush. In college I learned thing that blew my mind. I had professors who seemed to be trying to find truth. So I believe in education. And To his credit JP has been highly critical of Universities who have replaced tenured Professors with adjunct instructor who , non-tenured, low paid, and easily fired. That doesn’t seem right wing to me to defend teachers. That’s seems very liberal.
Don’t expect any comment section of most places to be anything more than an incoherent shouting match. I don’t waste my time. There are plenty of JP fans out there that have zero ability to think critically and will just defend anything he says. You can’t have a rational, open, intelligent conversation with those people. That’s not how they function. You’ll find the same thing in any mob.
I’m much more interested in specific ideas rather than personalities. Many of these criticisms of JP are about his personality not his ideas. And that to me is how we got to Trump.
I studied Marx and Marxism in graduate school. I don’t hear any discussion of JP’s criticism of Marxism and the idea that Marxists ignore the Pareto Distribution. Let’s talk about that. I find many people have no idea about Marx, have even read one page,of Das Kapital, or understand any of his most important ideas. These are ideas that form the basis of Marxism and JP criticizes them. Where is the left’s rebuttal of that?
James O’Donnell III — As with Doc’s comment, your first response — to my initial (“chiming in”) comment — has a lot that I agree with and some statements I’ll contest. I’ll try to keep my response under 4,000 words… just for kicks.
Conservatives and the “Disgust Factor”
I agree with you that open-mindedness belongs on any list of traditional liberal values. Being liberal-minded usually implies being open-minded — whereas conservative minds, whatever their values (some perfectly respectable), are generally more apt to be closed minds, full of certainty with regard to a great number of things… concerning lifestyle, culture, morality/religion, politics, diet, and more.
I read an interesting article many years ago that’s stayed with me. It described certain differences between conservative-minded and liberal-minded people. According to the study being reported, one of the primary differences between the two groups has to do with the “disgust” factor: Conservatives, apparently, have a much stronger “disgust” response than liberals. I’ve always found that conclusion interesting and reasonable: a closed, conservative mind could be an outgrowth of that mind’s heightened disgust response. As in, “Eiww, I’m not going to try that…” (food, drink, philosophy, book, film, art museum, position in the Kama Sutra — you name it, they’re not trying it!).
Also, I strongly agree with you that “…as Conservatives have mostly abandoned all of these (traditional liberal values) a long time ago I see the left doing the same thing recently.”
Chasing the Overton Window, the Liberal class defenestrates itself…
Today’s liberal class (present company excluded; this group is open-minded, compassionate, etc.) has caught up with yesterday’s raving lunatic conservatives. They chased after that rightward-speeding Overton Window, so hard and so recklessly, they’ve ended up defenestrating themselves, shooting right past the GOP, in many respects (McCarthyism, groupthink, “trade” pact promotion (overlooking slavery), historical amnesia, primary-rigging, warmongering, opposing diplomacy, persecuting journalists and whistleblowers, etc.).
I have a few theories that might begin to explain this phenomenon, but whatever the causes, I’ve seen the majority of liberals (especially in the post-Bush years) become as dogmatic, hypocritical, and imperious as the average 1990s-early 2000s conservative.
Many are every bit as inclined as their conservative forerunners to idolize politicians and censor, shut-down, and disparage anyone espousing a different political philosophy.
Sadly, millions of post-Obama liberals appear to be thoroughly propagandized, unable to distinguish facts from “white propaganda” (which was illegal before Obama repealed the Smith-Mundt Act). The vast majority appear to swallow virtually every drop of the “Kool-Aid” …in every flavor of “Kool-Aid” being peddled — by the same individuals and institutions that have lied to the public countless times and been caught doing it!
(Between ultra-conservative conservatives, then, and ultra-conservative “liberals,” today, I feel that I’ve been grappling with the same people for over three decades, now. They’re more alike than either side would care to admit. Neither group appears to object to the destruction of the rule of law, the neoliberal assault on our society, or the holocaust our last several presidents have unleashed upon tens of millions of Muslims.)
I’ve posted several blogs commenting on the frightening transformation of the liberal class. Here are two: https://invitation2artivism.org/?p=2692 and… https://invitation2artivism.org/?p=2580
The conservative “disgust factor” infects liberals
Another eerie parallel: Like yesterday’s “Moral Majority,” today’s more ideological liberals seem all but incapable of sympathizing with those who have been vilified — or disappeared — by the MSM, which routinely traffics in stereotypes. As a result of such divisive stereotypes, liberals hold millions of their neighbors in unmitigated contempt, calling them “deplorables” — IMO a pretty shameful term to apply to any group of human beings, let alone one’s fellow citizens.
And while I also agree with you that comment sections often bring out the worst in people, I’m not so sure that undermines my argument that our society has devolved considerably on both sides of the exaggerated political divide. And such behavior is hardly limited to anonymous internet exchanges. Politicians and professional journalists, with the cameras running, don’t conduct debates so much as shouting matches…
Here are some representative/typical sentiments I’ve heard from self-described liberals:
“We should just let (Hurricane ____) swamp Florida, the bunch of idiots, re-electing Rick Scott…” (The same sort of sentiments are routinely directed at residents of Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, etc., when natural disasters strike in those “Red” states.)
“Why not just let (any “Red” state, particularly in the South) secede and self-destruct without our ‘Blue’ state revenue?”
The common theme is, “To hell with those racist ‘Red’ state scuzz-buckets!”
(As if the populations of “Red” states aren’t victims, too. As if their economies haven’t been plundered, too. And they disproportionately serve in the military, many coming back traumatized and broken, suicidal, addicted… and racist. In short, these people, their economies, their children, their futures… are at least as pitiable as they are deplorable.)
Two Minutes Hate
Then there’s the endless flow of bile directed at a whole range of individuals, people who’ve essentially been designated enemies of the state — some, admittedly terrible; others, among the greatest heroes of our time. In either case, the rule is simple: every individual who exposes or publicly defies the Corporatocracy is subjected to hate (of the “Two Minutes” variety) in the “news.”
All detractors of the establishment — not the imaginary “despotic liberal” establishment, but the real, ultra-conservative one — are systematically demonized by the politicians and media of the .001%. And the lies repeated, ad infinitum, by Fox and CNN and NBC and PBS and Vox and The Young Turks… are identical — the same exact lies and narratives. Because they’re all taking dictation from the same government sources, whose identities they generously protect.
“Official sources say…” journalism.
END PART VI
NEXT: “Can’t we just drone this guy” liberals, the new McCarthyites, and Jordan B. Peterson revealed (desiccated right-wing claptrap in a brand new suit)