Friday, November 25, 2005

Psychologizing the Left

You see it everywhere on the right wing of the blogosphere: the acronym "BDS." It stands for Bush Derangement Syndrome and it was coined by Charles Krauthammer. It is an attempt to give a psychological explanation for the left's irrational, sometimes hysterical hatred of President Bush.

Dr. Sanity takes the trend even farther:

Rather than blame the terrorists; rather than admiting they have to take action against them; their fear is transformed to anger and displaced onto President Bush. If everything is his fault, then the reality of what happened does not have to be faced (this also explains the intense psychological denial that these same individuals tend to have about 9/11).

It's an attractive theory. The left certainly does seem deranged, or Unhinged, as Michelle Malkin puts it. I've used the term BDS myself, although I now think that was a mistake.

All this is an attempt by conservatives who do not understand the role of philosophy in life to make sense of the left. They remind me of the Birchers, who used to blame everything the left did on conspiracies. The John Birch Society did not understand that people who hold the same fundamental philosophical ideas will tend to agree on specific political policies. If people believe in collectivism, statism and moral relativism, then policies such as government controlled education and the UN tend to follow.

The left's hatred of Bush comes from the left's ideas, not from neurotic defense mechanisms.

Dennis Prager gets closer to the truth on this issue:

...Democrats believe that conservatives by definition are bad people. As Howard Dean, the head of the Democratic National Committee recently said, "in contradistinction" to Republicans, Democrats care if children go to bed hungry at night. In most Democrats' minds, conservatives/Republicans do not care if children go to bed hungry, and they are racist, intolerant, regard women as inferior, are stingy and mean spirited, and prefer war to peace.

The reason they see conservatives this way is that most people on the Left are certain that they mean well; therefore their opponents do not mean well. Moreover, liberals tend to assess policy positions on that basis -- are the motives good? -- rather than on the basis of what actually does good.

Liberals think their motives are good and conservative motives are bad. No question. That's why liberal welfare state policies can fail again and again over the course of decades, but their impracticality is meaningless to liberals; their policies are moral (in their thinking), and morality is more important than practicality.

But I think there's something deeper going on here. The left -- and modern philosophy in general -- does not have confidence in reason. Instead, they are subjectivists. What's true for you might not be true for me.

The old left was Marxist. They believed that different classes had different logics or ways of thinking. The New Left, less abstract in its thinking, puts different ways of thinking in ethnic groups, male and female sexes, sexual preference, and who knows what else.

With the fall of the Old Left and socialism, which was reputed to be "scientific," the New Left has lost confidence in reason. When you throw out reason, anything goes. If rational argumentation is powerless, then force fills the void. And one form of force is character assassination. The politics of personal destruction. "Borking" would have been unthinkable 50 years ago; now it is SOP for Democrats.

The left's certainty that it is morally right combines with its irrationalism to give it a distinctly emotional style that falls all too easily into ad hominem attacks. This is the root cause of its hysterical, irrational attacks on President Bush. It's not neuroses, it's philosophy.

1 comment:

Tim Peck said...

Name calling, character assassination, ad hominem, manipulation of facts, lying by omission. What do they have in common? They reflect attempts by the Left to use force against opposing viewpoints and the people to give them voice. It is a bully's attempt to steamroller the intellect and change a person's mind in a way that would not otherwise be possible by relying on solely rational argumentation based on facts and logic.

And this they call progressive.