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Thursday, November 19, 2009


"There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why...  I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?" — Robert Kennedy

How is it that people living in the same world see it so differently?  Why is the Liberal-Conservative division so persistent?  Why is it that no argument coming from one side, with no matter how much support and persuasion, ever seems to have a major effect on the other.  Such persistence must have a basis that
goes beyond the obvious.

Years ago I asked myself whether there was some fundamental difference in psychological makeup between people who become liberals and those who become conservatives.  It was
not clear to me that either age or intelligence was a factor. In general, it may be true that the older one gets, the more conservative, but that is not universally true by any means.  I have known people who have gone stark, raving liberal in their later years.

After examining this question about the existence of Liberals and Conservatives, a solution to the problem came to me by way of a college anthropology text.  In that book it was stated that certain native peoples refused to connect sex with pregnancy.  Why, I asked, would anyone refuse to make such an obvious connection?  Does this peculiar denial have some function in human psychology?  Scarcely had these questions formed when I thought of the Liberal approach to the world and politics.  If any one thing characterizes Liberalism, it is the belief in the complete plasticity of human nature.  The individual can be molded to fully accept and practice, for instance, the principles of political correctness.  Gender identification is, for instance, a matter of cultural conditioning and is, in a sense, artificial.  Belief in this utter plasticity leads liberals into entertaining utopian ideas that fly in the face of tradition and good sense.  Reality is there to be denied, and it is good to do so.

Such radical denials of reality—such complete disregard of obvious matters of fact—arise from a deeply spiritual side of human nature that persistently and aggressively fights against our complete absorption into raw physical existence.  This function of spirit points to another state of existence, one in which we may not spend much time; it is the aspect of life that drives us out of a fixed and piggish standstill.  Religion itself stresses the impossible.  Where do we see any evidence of Virgin Births and Resurrections?  Aren’t these stories just pious lies and the vain imaginings of our supposedly superstition-riddled forebears?  Or do these reality-denying beliefs perform a more substantial and eternal function: to point us toward spiritual forms of existence?

This impulse toward the beyond arises in all alike.  The individual disposition creates the liberal, the conservative, the spiritual person, or the cranky misanthrope.  When the spirit arises in a Liberal politician, he projects utopian ideas of a heaven on earth into the most unsuitable places, and tries to carry them out by the most inappropriate means—fully disregarding how human beings really are and, in particular, how much money it will cost to realize his pipe dreams.  The Liberal declares the rule of the Idea.

The spirit is really pointing elsewhere, but the direction is forever mistaken.  Affirmation of spiritual reality is perverted by the modern materialist mind into Workers’ Paradises and Great Societies with their dreamy schemes that can destroy individuals, waste trillions of dollars and, occasionally, whole cultures.  At the very least, individual freedoms are curtailed in favor of the Idea, which is backed by the full power of the State.

Since the common form of Liberalism has, in the background, a spiritual motivation, it is accompanied by a misapplied moral or religious zeal.  For Liberals, a Conservative who objects to Liberal programs is not merely wrong, he is a bad person—and not too much farther to the left one hears that he ought to be “reeducated.”  The Conservative, on the other hand, responds as though the issues were rational ones.  He argues from matters-of-fact, i.e., the way human beings have behaved for centuries.  He recommends the application of practical solutions based on actual experience.  How droll!

If, however, the Conservative completely dominated the way we do things, he would suffocate us all in the “tried-and-true,” and we might still be pounding on logs with the freshly gnawed bones of our neighbors.  These practices would have the status of unalterable and unassailable tradition.

Of course, it is also obviously true that Conservative politicians frequently indulge in hypocritical and reality-denying assertions and behavior, but this is due to conscious manipulation of the public to their own selfish ends, from reasons of a more personal and self-serving nature.  The Liberal denies reality in an ostensibly selfless way, for the benefit of us all, something for which we should be desperately grateful.

The persistent and fundamental opposition between Liberal and Conservative minds, therefore, reflects a regulatory process that oscillates between the hard facts of the real world, and the world of impossible dreams.  (“I dream things that never were and I say, ‘Why not?’”)

So let me sum it all up in one embarrassing sentence: The Liberal is usually quite rightly wrong, and the Conservative is often quite wrongly right.

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Grover Norquist’s book “Leave Us Alone” provides a much clearer explanation of the differences and contrasts between the liberal “Takings” coalition” and the conservative “Leave Us Alone” coalition. It’s a must read and extremely inexpensive now!

Lynn Bergman on November 19, 2009 at 06:30 pm

I heard Mr. Norquist talk about the “leave us alone” coalition before, and it’s exactly how I feel.

I don’t want to tell others how to live their lives.  I just want to be free to live mine.  I’m willing to accept certain basic limitations on my freedoms, recognizing that my rights don’t trump those of others and that we must live with each other, but outside of that I just want to be free.

Rob on November 20, 2009 at 10:19 pm
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