February 07, 2005

Activistists Revisited

My new Tech Central Station column is up: They March for Themselves.

UPDATE: After you read my piece, read Patrick Lasswell. He was standing right next to me during one of the incidents I recall in the article.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at February 7, 2005 09:06 PM
Comments

Michael, that was one hell of a column and a terrific bit of introspection. I too have moved, but from the "far right" of my mid teens to a little leftish voted for the Happy Warrior - you may have to ask someone who that was ;-) back rightward and still a little libertarian. Perhaps all thinking peoples can eventually move back from the extremes.

Again, terrific article.

Posted by: GMRoper at February 7, 2005 09:35 PM

he would still participate in the demonstration and he would do so for one simple reason - because it was, in his words, good for his soul."

Yup. They're emotional. That's who we're debating with.

lunaris batensis. Moonbats.

Posted by: Carlos at February 7, 2005 09:35 PM

Good article MT,

The radical left fringe just doesn't understand that they are a wonderful recruting tool for their opponenets, or maybe they just don't care. But I LOVED seeing those folks on the streets over the last year. Every time they marched, they rang up votes for W.

Thanks guys!

Posted by: spc67 at February 7, 2005 11:21 PM

Michael,

Great article, as usual. This country really needs TRUE "liberals" like you, Marc Cooper, Roger L. Simon, etc. It's really a shame that words like "liberal" and "progressive" have been hijacked by those narcissists.

Posted by: VietPundit at February 8, 2005 01:31 AM

Hee . . . bloggers making fun of activists' self-absorption. It's like a postmodern carnival! I wonder whether my blogging self or my rallying self gets to make fun of which first?

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 8, 2005 01:46 AM

Kimmitt,

At least my new self-absorption bringe me actual benefits - like paid writing work, for example. Activism was never even a loss-leader.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at February 8, 2005 02:07 AM

“The Vietnam War was incalculably more horrific and protest-worthy than the war for Kuwait.”

What in heaven’s name are you talking about? The Vietnam War was not more “protest-worthy.” You were simply conned. In hindsight, the much derided 1968 John Wayne movie, The Green Berets, was right on target. The United States was trying to save the South Vietnamese from the clutches of Communism. Sadly, the Democratic Party and its liberal allies lied to us. They demoralized the country to the point where we abandoned the South Vietnamese. Let’s make sure the same thing doesn’t occur in Iraq! The Viet Cong were just about defeated. The same thing holds true today regarding the Islamic nihilists in Iraq. We can never again allow the Democratic Party to damage those fighting for liberty.

Posted by: David Thomson at February 8, 2005 02:46 AM

David, the choice of protests about Vietnam were these: gov't by US supported democracy, or gov't by N. Viet death squads.

Unfortunately, US supported democracy did NOT include the possibility of an anti-imperialist semi-communist Ho Chi Minh winning -- which he surely would have had there been "free and fair" elections.

The US strategy in Vietnam was correct -- fight evil communism. But even 8 years after the (false) 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, Nixon was failing, miserably, at "Vietnamization" of the anti-communist war.

The protests should have been against the tactics: too many troops Occupation / Control / non-relinquishing of any authority or responsibility to the S. Viet people. No surpise so many top S. Viet folk were corrupt US bootlickers, it's what LBJ & Nixon liked.

Bush's Iraqification is SOOO much better; like, maybe he learned from the US tactical failure in Vietnam? maybe? Liberation, NOT occupation -- if the sh*t hits the fan, it's really mostly an Iraqi problem. We give the Iraqis a hand, but they will have to "win the war" against the Sunni death squads. We DO make sure that "our" side can win each and every big battle.

Another great article Michael -- though you still need another word for activistist; I still like activista (but maybe it's racist? Do you remember the Frito Bandito commercial?)

How the Dems can do better -- focus on results. NOT on how the policy makes them feel, on how the policy changes the target audience, eg black kids learning to read better. Or how personal SS accounts (forced savings) can let folk pass something on to their kids.

Posted by: Tom Grey at February 8, 2005 05:10 AM

Awsome column! This passage struck me as significant:

"It was good for his soul. And it was good for the war he hated, to boot."

Have you ever read any Thomas Sowell? Specifically his books A Conflict of Visions, Vision of the Annointed and Quest for Cosmic Justice? If so, you will see where your friend was coming from.

Keep up the great work!

Posted by: Fred at February 8, 2005 06:57 AM

Huh? I always though the "War Protests" over Vietnam were really about the Draft. Most people I knew were not radicals, they just didn't think it was right to enslave young people to fight a war!

I still think the Draft was wrong, but I also wasn't happy when the people of South Vientnam were conquered by genocidal tyrants. And since today we have an all volunteer army, I think we did some good too.

Posted by: Fred at February 8, 2005 07:02 AM

MJT:

I tried to defend them because I felt then (as I still feel now) that I do owe the labor movement a debt.

One of my grandfathers worked in the coal mines in West Virginia and had to shop at a company store. The other was for many years a sharecropper. The Progressives of the 20s and 30s kick-started a lot of positive societal changes.

What will be the legacy of today's progressives?

(I guess the short form of the feel-good critique would be that making yourself a happier person doesn't necessarily make the world a happier place.)

Posted by: Mark Poling at February 8, 2005 07:04 AM

you know its true

Somebody's reading your mind
Damned if you know who it is
they're digging through all of your files
Stealing back your best ideas
You cover your windows with lead
Even keeping the pets outside
Then you hear a moment too late this sound coming over the phone
This is the spawning of the cage and aquarium
Don't wait a moment too soon
Used to be different, now you're the same
Yawn as your plane goes down in flames

-tmbg

Posted by: Another Ex- at February 8, 2005 07:05 AM

Things have gone form "What if there was a war, and nobody came" to "What if there was a protest, and it wasn't about me."

Posted by: Bill at February 8, 2005 07:53 AM

Michael,

You’ve definitely struck a nerve with me as I am still relatively young; and was only 22 y.o. on 9/11, and 23 y.o. during the build-up to the Operation Iraqi Freedom. When we initiated military action in Afghanistan, and then again in Iraq, I watched my peers chant, disrupt traffic, and cause general mayhem for the purpose of protesting the wars. It felt to me as if it were a completely knee-jerk reaction, and it made me sick.

It seemed that it didn’t matter what we were fighting against, just that it was wrong to fight at all. I felt that these people, who were my same age, were sheep; that they had been virtually brainwashed by MTV, CNN, and the Academia, and had no individual thoughts. I felt that they were incapable of gaining perspective on exactly what was truly happening. I think I felt so strongly because they had something I did not and wanted so badly, the opportunity to earn a higher education, and they were squandering it on collective behavior.

As I slaved day in and day out in a 100 degree warehouse, trying to provide for my daughter, I watched the privileged ones run around in the streets regurgitating the same crap that had been ingrained into their minds, all on someone else’s tab. Not one seemed to challenge the “conventional wisdom” that “war is bad” and accept that some things are worth taking up arms for. Even George Orwell went to war against Franco. The worst part was the irony that as I watched MTV gush over these kids protesting in the streets, I noticed one who wore a shirt with the face of Che Guevara. It was then that I realized for sure that it didn’t matter what they were protesting; but that whatever it was, it was against the values they had been programmed into them by the powers that be since we were children.

I don’t know how or why I escaped the same collectivization; maybe it was because my life diverged abruptly from theirs when I was 19 and found I was going to be a father. Maybe it’s simply genetic. I don’t know, but whatever it was I have ever since not been able to relate to my own generation.

I believe in the right to free speech, I value our right to demonstrate, but I abhor when my contemporaries trivialize such rights to protest things which they do not truly understand. They cannot see the “forest through the trees”, that life is full of shades of grey and that there are evils in this world, some greater than others. At times even men like Roosevelt and Truman had to stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Stalin, lest we would have been defeated by Hitler. Such is the way of the world.

Rant over.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 8, 2005 08:05 AM

I was in the first Gulf War, and I can tell you that upon hearing about your protests, my morale as a soldier got a fair beating. I can't tell you just how damaging you protesters are to soldiers.

Yeah, I'm a female and probably a lot more sensitive to these things, but reading this account has raised my blood pressure. I'm so sorry you were "embarrassed." I hope you feel better now. I'm glad your fellow libs helped ease your "fears".

I love your blog and I realize I'm lashing out at you, but did it ever occur to you what you were doing to US??? I was scared to death but at least I had more cajones than you and your fellow libs.

:(((

Posted by: Lydia at February 8, 2005 08:22 AM

The Happy Warrior? That would be Hubert Horatio Humphrey, as I recall.

An interesting article. Your stories of protests also point to one of the frequent dilemmas of politics; sometimes you are faced with deciding whether to agree with people who favor a result you like, but for the wrong reasons. Or vice versa. How much credit or blame should be given to motivations, and in what ways?

Posted by: John Thacker at February 8, 2005 09:10 AM

Interesting article.

This part is what I don't understand with the far-Left (or far-Right for that matter): But our democracy does not need, and has no use for, losers who pointlessly lash out in anger at their own community.

Why is there so much anger and hatred with these people? Just like Amos who posted yesterday - why is it always angry, emotional, and many times personal attacks? Are their beliefs part of a religious-like mythology and anyone against it is "the enemy" and must not be listened to at all? I find it very strange.

Michael - were you angry when you were protesting in 1991? You say you felt alienated - does that equate to anger? Besides 9/11 was there something that triggered you to look at the world differently?

One reason I like your blog is that most of the commenters post reasonable, rational, insightful responses. I guess I'm a hawkish Buddhist and I just don't get angry much about anything. (Even the Dali Lama thinks that the war on terrorism was justified.)

Howard Dean said, "I hate Republicans and everything they stand for" and this statement has been ignored by most everyone, and apparently his position is deemed to be okay - he is almost certainly going to be the head of the DNC. I just don't get the hate and anger.

Posted by: Brian at February 8, 2005 09:17 AM

Brian,

I believe it's self-righteousnes and indignance. These to forces close minds and ears and cloud the thoughts of men and women from all over the political and social spectrum. The terrorists are not the only ones guilty of nihilism. So to are Evangelicals, Feminists and Pacifists alike.

In most every post I've seen on Michael's site, he's tried to shine a spotlight on some of the most egregious of social absurdities, regardless of which ideology produces them. In this way I find him to be very Orwellian in that he too seems to possess a characteristic, isolated by Christopher Hitchens, called "The power of facing".

Posted by: Mike T. at February 8, 2005 09:36 AM

Mike T - funny that you wrote that. I had the same thought about "indignation", which means "a feeling of righteous anger". It occurrred to me that since the typical leftist thinks of themselves as a spokesperson for the oppressed, they may feel that "righteous anger" is quite appropriate. That is also presumably what the anti-abortionist feels - as spokepersons for the innocent, they also show this righteous anger. Maybe some of that anger just gets to be a bit habitual after awhile and then gets expressed when it is not appropriate. Or, is it possible that people with a bit of excess anger are drawn to activisim because it permits them to express and channel their anger in a “righteous” and therefore socially acceptable manner? Neat trick that. You not only get to express anger but you get to view yourself as virtuous while doing so!

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 10:05 AM

Caroline: When you speak of "indignation" it reminds of the "ressentiment" or resentment which Nietzsche talks about in the Genealogy of Morals. Either way, this is a fascinating psychological discussion!

Posted by: Fred at February 8, 2005 10:12 AM

Caroline: When you speak of "indignation" it reminds of the "ressentiment" or resentment which Nietzsche talks about in the Genealogy of Morals. Thanks for the interesting comment!

Posted by: Fred at February 8, 2005 10:13 AM

"Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains."

Marcus Porcius Cato

Posted by: charons_oar at February 8, 2005 10:36 AM

From the TechCentral column:

I'd be a lot less likely to dismiss today's protesters if it were not for the fact that the vast majority of them are organized and promoted by International ANSWER, a collection of socialists and anarchists.

As you sort of point out, they have every right to march and make fools of themselves. And the rest of us have every right to call them on it.

Posted by: MikeZ at February 8, 2005 11:02 AM

Thanks Mike T. - I ordered Hitchen's book and look forward to reading it.

There seems to be more to the anger than just self-righteousness and indignation - there seems to be a strange groupthink dynamic involved. I agree with Jeff Jacoby's assessment below about the Democratic Party. It's not the so much the positions the Democratic Party takes that is pushing moderates away, it's their behavior - with their increasing contempt toward the Right and Center. Where is a moderate to go?

http://www.townhall.com/columnists/jeffjacoby/jj20050204.shtml

All the same, there is a streak of (mostly rhetorical) thuggishness to the Democratic Party's activist core these days -- a tone of bitterness and rage that party leaders should be trying to soften.

Instead they indulge it. Rather than keep the virulent Michael Moore out of the limelight during their convention last summer, they prominently seated him next to Jimmy Carter. Rather than condemn Eminem's coarse anti-Bush anthem, "Mosh" (sample lyric: "Stomp, push, shove, mush, [expletive] Bush"), John Kerry praised it: "I heard the song," he told MTV. "I liked it." Rather than steer clear of the the Democrat who proudly proclaims, "I hate Republicans and everything they stand for," the Democratic National Committee is poised to make him chairman.

There is a reason Dean didn't win a single Democratic presidential primary apart from Vermont's, and it isn't that he wasn't incendiary enough. The last thing his party needs now is what Democrats rejected last year: a short-fused ranter who thrills the die-hards, but sends moderates racing for the exit.

Posted by: Brian at February 8, 2005 11:33 AM

I think that leftist marchers ARE used very effectively by Republicans, as a way of appealing to EMOTIONALLY DRIVEN REPUBLICAN VOTERS (that's right, Carlos), who tend to be highly patriotic people who reflexively tend to equate dissent with treason.

The Left disagrees, and reads their history in a way that has them stopping the Vietnam War with their marches. Maybe so, but they also helped McGovern lose 49 states in '72.

Brian -- the hatred for Republicans that you decry in Dean is absolutely mutual. Most Republicans disrespect anyone who disagrees with them -- not just the ultra-left, but liberals, and even moderate Democrats. And a key Republican strategy is equating mainstream dems (like Kerry or our anti-abortion, pro-gun Mormon minority leader) with the most wild-eyed radicals. (Yes, Dems did the same a bit in the mid-nineties, trying to tie Gingrich to Tim McVeigh. Any use of such tactics is reprehensible.) Read Noemie Emery's The Democrats Week from Hell in this weeks Weekly Standard: any opposition to any part of the Republican agenda is utterly contemptable. And look at the contempt that people like Carlos display for non-conservatives: "Yup. They're emotional. That's who we're debating with."

Caroline -- one other point you might want consider in your speculations upon the psychological motivations for political involvement: I've noticed that many recovering drug addicts and alcoholics take an interest in political activism?

Posted by: markus rose at February 8, 2005 11:41 AM

Caroline: Maybe some of that anger just gets to be a bit habitual after awhile and then gets expressed when it is not appropriate. Or, is it possible that people with a bit of excess anger are drawn to activisim because it permits them to express and channel their anger in a “righteous” and therefore socially acceptable manner?

These are excellent hypotheses to consider. I think depending on the individual both could be true. However we should never overlook the value of such people. As MJT expressed that he felt he, and we, owed something to the Labor movement, these events would never have been able to take place without them. Unfortunately the same could be said of the Spanish Inquisition...

People can use their emotional power for both good and bad, but it takes people like Michael and us to introduce rationalization in order to balance the scales and provide for the best possible outcome.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 8, 2005 11:46 AM

Charons_Oar: "Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains."

I'm aware of that quote and I don't know if you stated referring to me since I indicated my age earlier in this thread. If so, when taken lightly it has a certain degree of truism, however if taken seriously it can be offensive to people like myself.

If not, well then I'm a self-absorbed imbecile. : )

Posted by: Mike T. at February 8, 2005 11:53 AM

It is easy to romantize the Labor movement, but don't forget many early labor leaders were thugs who affiliated with criminal gangs and used violence against rival workers. Later labor leaders were affiliated with the mafia and ripped off the pension plans of their own members. The history of most any mass movement is hardly pretty. Which is I am glad to live in the relatively individualistic USA.

Posted by: Fred at February 8, 2005 11:55 AM

And look at the contempt that people like Carlos display for non-conservatives: "Yup. They're emotional. That's who we're debating with."

Markus,

I don't have contempt for Liberals, only their views. I happen to think Liberals are nice people, such as yourself (most of the time). Liberal's fault is that you're capable of being too nice. You're in your gut, instead of your head. Which means that you do indeed serve a valuable societal purpose, but not in leadership or policy-making. It's a rough world out there. The jihadists will eat you alive (ps., the Leftist italian journalist has just been reported murdered, by the way). Our leaders have to be cold and impartial.

I think that leftist marchers ARE used very effectively by Republicans, as a way of appealing to EMOTIONALLY DRIVEN REPUBLICAN VOTERS (that's right, Carlos),

Yes, we have some emotionally-driven Republicans. And we value them highly for their votes. But we don't put them in charge and on display. They generally stay out of sight and don't do any damage. That's the difference.

Posted by: Carlos at February 8, 2005 11:55 AM

Markus: Most Republicans disrespect anyone who disagrees with them

This is an unfair statement. I don't disrespect those who disagree with me, I'm actually thankful for them. The reason being is that I've been wrong before. I've made mistakes and misjudgements. So, by having a a loyal opposition to my own beliefs, ideas and positions there is always a healthy counter in the event that I miscalculated. Besides, how interesting is it to always surround yourself with, and listen to those who share your same opinions? If you ask me, not very.

I do agree with you that both sides manipulate the other for their own gain, with varying degrees of success. Aside from my principled reasons for voting for George Bush, I also felt a kind of spite. A reaction to all the self-righteousness I interpreted coming from the other side. Probably more so than anything else it was directed against Hollywood, for behaving in the manner in which they did. I guess if you mix powerful political beliefs with people who are by the very definition of their career "over the top", then that's what should expect.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 8, 2005 12:08 PM

Brian,

This may give away how smart I'm really not, but as a tip for when you're reading Hitchens, have your dictionary nearby. If I didn't take the time to look up some of his vocabulary, a great deal of what he writes would be lost on me.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 8, 2005 12:16 PM

I don't have contempt for Liberals, only their views. ... Liberal's fault is that you're capable of being too nice. ...

This is impressive -- not only do you manage to contradict yourself within two sentences of your thesis paragraph, you create a bizarre sentence fragment as part of your argument that liberals are unthinking. The next step is to expand this sentence to a book length screed with no actual statistics but lots of dubious anecdotes.

At least my new self-absorption bringe me actual benefits - like paid writing work, for example.

Man, you really are turning into a conservative, measuring the utility of things in terms of how much money they brings to you. I feel terribly sorry for the Little League coaches you're implicitly showing contempt for.

Seriously, why does anyone do any volunteer work? Because it feeds their souls. You're spitting on altruism. It's beyond bizarre.

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 8, 2005 12:30 PM

Most Republicans disrespect anyone who disagrees with them

Markus - this is meaningless - do you know most Republicans?

My dad is a Republican and he is one of the nicest, most respectful men around. :-)

Relating to this article, it seems that the Left is far, far more involved in angry, public, traffic-snarling protests than the Right. Why is that?

I just think it's suicidal for the Democratic Party leadership to embrace and encourage hatred toward all Republicans, regardless of what the GOP does.

Posted by: Brian at February 8, 2005 12:32 PM

Kimmitt makes me laugh. First he shows how little he knows about money and subjective value. What's wrong with making money selling your ideas? Did you bitch about Michael Moore making millions?

Then he pretends the sign-people who flip off drivers with Bush bumper-stickers are actually doing charity ("volunteer work") on the level of Little Legue coaches.

Why feed the homeless when you can save the world by putting on your Che T-shirt and disrupting traffic? Talk about illustrating Michael's points! Did he pay YOU do make that post?

Posted by: Fred at February 8, 2005 12:48 PM

Seriously, why does anyone do any volunteer work? Because it feeds their souls. You're spitting on altruism. It's beyond bizarre.

Kimmit:

YOU may do altuism to feed your soul, but most people do it to make a difference. The soul-feeding part is an incidental benefit only.

If Lefty activista isn't concerned with the results, but in merely "feeding his soul," then he has it as ass-backwards as you do.

and ps., And what part is contradictory about thinking you're a nice guy but disagreeing with you views? You obviously didn't like my statement, but you've not given any logical reason why.

Posted by: Carlos at February 8, 2005 12:51 PM

YOU may do altuism to feed your soul, but most people do it to make a difference.

Okay, work with me here. Why do people want to make a difference? Because making a difference feeds their souls. Why do people choose a particular form of volunteer work over the others? Because it speaks to them; it nourishes them so that it's worth the time and energy that they put in.

And what part is contradictory about thinking you're a nice guy but disagreeing with you views?

Statement A: I don't have a problem with liberals, I have a problem with their views.
Statement B: The problem with liberals is...

These are contradictory.

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 8, 2005 01:01 PM

Liberalism is a view, it says nothing about one's personality (i.e nice or not nice).

When he says "liberals" he obviously means "those who hold liberal views."

So Carlos said nothing contradictory.

Posted by: Fred at February 8, 2005 01:06 PM

Type alert in the Tech Central article:

died-in-the-wool

should be

dyed-in-the-wool

Posted by: Miles at February 8, 2005 01:08 PM

Why do people want to make a difference? Because making a difference feeds their souls.

Kimmit:

I tried working with you, but you have failed on both counts. All you did was repeat yourself, so consider my last post the response to your latest post.

AND, I have great affection for my Liberal brother, but his politics aren't worth a dime. I stand by that too.

Posted by: Carlos at February 8, 2005 01:09 PM

I mean he is talking about their views, not their personalities.

Posted by: Fred at February 8, 2005 01:10 PM

I think Kimmet makes a good point, but it's stupid to argue over semantics. Who cares if his verbage was contradictory, we understand his point.

However I think it's a gross generalization to classify one whole political ideology as being overly-emotional. You could apply that description to several segments of both the right and the left. I think it's more fair to say that the younger, more emotionally transparent liberals are the most visible, and have a greater presence, therefore lending themselves to the generalization of being more emotional.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 8, 2005 01:37 PM

However I think it's a gross generalization to classify one whole political ideology as being overly-emotional.

on that I agree with you. I only make that point about emotional Lefties with hesitation. It's a theory I'm still really just working on right now.

But you know what, their response to it hasn't exactly dissuaded me as of yet.

Posted by: Carlos at February 8, 2005 01:45 PM

Hi Mike: What is wrong with generalizations? Are you saying differences between liberalism and conservativsm are a taboo topic? Or that no difference exists between them? How else can one talk about such beliefs without generalizing and disucssing the key values which unite each set of beliefs?

Posted by: Fred at February 8, 2005 01:49 PM

Mike T.,

I wasn't referring to you specifically but to MJT's post/topic in general. It was not my intention to offend you or anyone.

It is natural, healthy and admirable for youth to imagine utopian worlds . The striving for utopian bliss that is so emblematic of youth is the engine that keeps society vibrant and growing. It can be an engine for positive change. The natural distrust of the establishment that comes with these utopian ideals is also, imho, natural and healthy.

However, with experience (not necessarily age) comes the realization that tyranny does exist, and that it must be fought if human rights and individual freedom's are to be preserved.

I believe that anyone who didn't go through a "liberal" stage in life lacks the ability to imagine alternative futures. Likewise, I believe that those who do not at least appreciate the conservative point of view have failed to grasp the way the world works.

Posted by: charons_oar at February 8, 2005 01:57 PM

I have no desire to sign up for a blogger account, but I wanted to say that the Patrick Lasswell post was very incisive. Thanks.

Posted by: Mark Poling at February 8, 2005 02:03 PM

"Brian -- the hatred for Republicans that you decry in Dean is absolutely mutual. Most Republicans disrespect anyone who disagrees with them -- not just the ultra-left, but liberals, and even moderate Democrats. And a key Republican strategy is equating mainstream dems (like Kerry or our anti-abortion, pro-gun Mormon minority leader) with the most wild-eyed radicals.

Categorically incorrect.

First, you can't point to a single mass demonstration of Republicans carrying puppet heads through major U.S. urban areas.

Second, my personal lack of respect toward what is left of the Democrat party and their road show approach to politics is that they have been proven incompetent to handle public trust; to compound their problem they got mad about being called on that point in the course of thirty years' worth of elections and resolved to employ anger and obstruction as their primary political tools.

Third, I believe I am fairly representative of "most" Republicans - spiritual if not outright religous, cognizant of how forutunate I am for being born here, and aware that my good fortune is not a cosmic accident but rather the end product of a two hundred twenty eight year conscious effort to keep individuals free from government tyranny. Government is necessary; tyranny is always lurking where government exists precisely because government always exercises power.

There are things that must be done. There are things that would be nice if they were done. And then there are things that some people would like to see happen.

In a representative democracy with clearly defined limits on the powers of governemnt and a robust, informed electorate aligned with the common goals of the constitution, backstopped by a seperation of powers system at the federal level, the individual should reasonably expect that the system will work.

It's not working as well as it should right now. My priority is to see my family continue breathing. Second comes protecting the freedoms that we cherish. The same source threatens both of those priorities, and the minority has seen fit to go the extra mile to exploit any shortcoming or mistakes made by the current administration as it goes about doing the heavy lifting

THAT THE MINORITY DECLINES TO EVEN RECOGNISE AS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THEIR OWN FALL FROM POWER.

I don't hate the Democrats. I don't particularly care if they hate me.

I don't respect them. And as far as I can see that's the operative meme of decision driving most of the conservatives/republicans I do know or correspond with who are active in politics. No, not a statistical proof of anything, but it is what I know to be the case personally.

If my opinion is correct, the decline of the Democrats isn't the result of a bilateral pissing contest - it's that the Dems have taken their marbles and gone home. The rest of us are intent on facing the challenges, independent of just getting our way.

I liked the article, Michael; it seemed a little rougher than your usual work. Still, a good read, and your honest take. Keep 'em coming.

Posted by: TmjUtah at February 8, 2005 02:11 PM

There's nothing wrong wth basic generalizations such as 'group a tends to favor this while group b prefers this for the most part' etc. The problem is that because the current political conversation is reduced to the ridiculous and fully insufficient Red State vs Blue State, some generalizations become ridiculous and many of them offensive and without merit. I've seen some pretty avid, fanatical conduct from both sides and I have my own opinion about which people re more emotional but any accusation I would ever levy about 'Liberals' or 'Conservatives' being 'overly-emotional' would be wholly without merit and pointless anyway.

Political discussion should stick to debating the issues and ignore too many generalizations, especially pointless ones like which side is more 'emotional' which is nothing but tribal bickering. Politics should not be a Black Comedy special (Blue staters drive like this, while Red Staters drive like this)

Posted by: Epitome at February 8, 2005 02:14 PM

If we're doing typo-alerts I noticed this on 1st reading but hesitated to point it out, figuring it would just get on your nerves and you probably couldn't do anything about it anyway:

2nd to last sentence: "every right go to door to door"

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 02:17 PM

Carlos,

This forum is a very subjective medium within which to postulate such a theory. Having said that, from a broader perspective I see some of the same trends that you identified. My earlier hypothesis was just one guess at why that might be.

Fred,

Actually I have no problem with generalizations when used in proper context; however when not, they can be highly disingenuous and cause false conclusions to be drawn.

charons_oar,

I didn't really take offense because I knew you didn't mean it as a malicious statement, and it is in some sense a very poignant quote. I said that it could be taken with offense because, as someone well under 30, I lean right of center and in many respects would most definitely not be considered liberal. Therefore, according to Mr. Cato, I have no heart; which is an untrue statement. By the way, I do happen to have a great amount of respect for Marcus Cato.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 8, 2005 02:25 PM

Please stop with all of the:

"We Democrats really understand..."

"Nuh uh, its we Spiritual Republicans that get it"

"I like democrats but they're all communist pigs that need to be slaughtered like last years Mad Cows"

"No Blood For Oil"

It is making it very hard for me to find some way to lampoon ya'll. I mean, I'm fine with you all making fools of yourselves over who's got the biggest... er, platform, but if you keep up this parody of partisinship you're gonna put me out of a job.

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord
Muncher of The ChaoAcorn
Chatterer of The Words of Eris
POEE of The Great Googlie Mooglie Cabal

Posted by: Another Ex- at February 8, 2005 02:31 PM

Now that's over my head...

Posted by: Mike T. at February 8, 2005 02:34 PM

Political discussion should stick to debating the issues and ignore too many generalizations, especially pointless ones like which side is more 'emotional' which is nothing but tribal bickering.

Epitome,

yes of course. But in a post about moonbat activistas, it's the proverbial elephant in the room. So I merely make an observation, and then extrapolate a little bit. It may or may not fit. But the reaction to it has been quite emotional indeed. It could be helpful in understanding our Liberal opponents, but by no means do I believe it will dissuade them of their intensely held belief. It's not a topic worth spending too much time on obviously.

Posted by: Carlos at February 8, 2005 02:34 PM

"I like democrats but they're all communist pigs that need to be slaughtered like last years Mad Cows"

Of course they should be slaughtered. But I would only do so figuratively, and then I would have a beer with him. It's just business.

Posted by: Carlos at February 8, 2005 02:36 PM

...horse beaten to death...

Posted by: Mike T. at February 8, 2005 02:37 PM

Disgruntled Bush-haters have every right go to door to door in their neighborhoods and tell everyone to piss off. But they really ought not.--MJT

Well I guess it depends greatly on the results one both expects and desires.
On a tactical level you are clearly correct as these inane 'protests' simply cause the 'protesters'to appear ludicrous.On the stategic level,however,the sooner this decadent strain of'progressivism'is truly expunged from civic discourse the better for all(perhaps even including 'progressives').
So being the public spirited guy I am,I say to those who might be having some doubts on their tactics.Please do not give in to fear and hesitation.It is important that you show the 'man'how you feel(as often and as obnoxiously as possible).
Don't listen to guys like MJT,he has just sold out to the forces of darkness,and possibly even knows Karl Rove himself-----

Bring It On

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Posted by: clonazepam at February 8, 2005 03:00 PM

Carlos - can you imagine a scenario in which the government takes away our guns (although I don't actually own one) and its the red-staters ranting in the streets with their signs? Or the mosques start cropping up in even the smallest midwestern towns? Might we see a little more "emotion" from the right? It is interesting that one of the few examples we can point to of emotion on the right - is the anti-abortionists. But maybe that's just because there's been a fairly lengthy history of republican/conservative control in the past few decades (Clinton being republican-lite, but the anti-globalization forces were out in the streets during his terms). Maybe a good deal of that lefty emotion is just sheer frustration?

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 03:12 PM

Caroline,

your explanation is a tempting one. And I almost agree with you. But if Libs are frustrated it's not because things haven't gone their way. It's because things have gone their way and Bush gets to claim credit for it. Democracy and human rights has a new champion, and Libs had nothing to do with it. That's their source of frustration. I call that emotional.

Posted by: Carlos at February 8, 2005 03:23 PM

Also - re Charons_oar's (odd handle) response to Mike T:

I had started to reply myself - first to point out that it is obvious that any guy that takes his responsibility at age 19 to raise his daughter (whether she was planned or not)- obviously has a heart :) and so I was hoping he wasn't offended by that quote, which I actually quite like. But then in my (deleted) response I got hung up on something, which I don't think Mr. Oar even addressed, namely that the quote seems to be referring to the idealism of youth vs. the realism of maturity (which presumably comes with actual responsibility). The problem is that "idealism" IS a function of the head (or the brain)- not of emotion. And in fact, idealism has been associated with a long history of cold, heartless slaughter of human beings. So while I understand the connection between liberalism and idealism I am having a difficult time interpreting that quote in the context of liberal=emotional.

Yuk - I didn't make that clear at all. I'll have to keep mulling it over...

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 03:31 PM

Carlos - interesting - but before Bush's supporters are too quick to assume that things have gone the libs way - we should perhaps wait and see whether Iraq turns into a democracy or a theocracy. Of course if the latter turns out to be the case, it'll be even-Steven: Carter-Bush. That ought to make for some fun finger-pointing in the future!

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 03:36 PM

Wait - coming back to the Cato quote - let me correct myself. I meant leftism, not liberalism. Otherwise - I disagree with the basic premise of the quote. In other words, it is quite possible to be over 30, be liberal, and still have a brain!

I hate all this confusion re left and liberalism. Will someone please straighten it out? It is seriously impeding fluent discourse!

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 03:42 PM

I meant leftism, not liberalism. Otherwise - I disagree with the basic premise of the quote.

Caroline,

the only difference I see is in degrees. Where am I wrong?

Posted by: Carlos at February 8, 2005 03:49 PM

Carlos - is what Bush is doing in the ME liberal or conservative?

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 03:53 PM

Caroline,

it's both. It satisfies the traditional demands of both sides. But one side refuses to see that.

Posted by: Carlos at February 8, 2005 04:04 PM

Carlos -- what you call emotion, being in your gut rather than your head, is really THE PASSION FOR JUSTICE, something shared by both liberals and conservatives. However, justice is defined differently by both sides. Conservatives see it having to do more with liberty and the protection of private property; liberals see it as having to do with with some notion of equality. Both sides are probably quite guilty of exaggerating the threat posed by both sides to their conception of justice. Just as it is true that George Bush's SS plan, if it goes throug, will probably not make as many low-income seniors suffer as Democrats are warning, so it is also true that people in Sweden or Canada are a helll of a lot more free -- about 5000 times more free than people in the Soviet Union were -- than conservatives like to admit.

On "social" issues, things are reversed, and liberals (and libertarians) are the champions of "laissez-faire" attitudes, while conservatives are the champions of government coercion to preserve a moral order.

Hawks and doves can be either liberal or conservative (Scoop Jackson was a liberal, Republican Mark Hatfield was both a conservative and a near-pacifist.)

I appreciate a lot of points made by conservatives and I adapt my views to account for some of their criticism. So did Clinton -- see welfare reform. I really don't see the same attitude and soul-searching among conservatives. You guys are much more sure of yourselves, and your attitude toward liberals remind me of the attitude of M.D.'s toward chiropractors.

I also understand the conservative aversion to liberal self-righteous. I really do. But I wonder if conservatives have the same awareness about what liberals perceive as conservative arrogance. My impression is that most of them don't, and most don't care to. After all, you guys have got the votes these days.

Posted by: markus rose at February 8, 2005 04:07 PM

Carlos - that was a bit of a trick question. Actually - I think his policies are quite liberal - but then by your own formulation - as someone who supports his policies - you are emotional! Correct me if I'm wrong but haven't you been consistently making the case that liberals are "emotional"?

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 04:10 PM

THE PASSION FOR JUSTICE

Markus,

that's great. I respect that. But why can't you recognize justice when it's sitting there right in front of you? Why don't you join us when we have a common cause to celebrate instead of raining on everybody's parade.

You guys are much more sure of yourselves, and your attitude toward liberals remind me of the attitude of M.D.'s toward chiropractors.

hahaha! how true! You're political hacks to us. But there's a market for it obviously.

Posted by: Carlos at February 8, 2005 04:12 PM

I think his policies are quite liberal - but then by your own formulation - as someone who supports his policies - you are emotional!

Caroline,

I support a number of Liberal policies. But I don't count myself Liberal because there are conservative policies which are more important to me.

Also, I don't think all Liberals are "emotional", or that supporting Liberal policies means ergo you're "emotional." It's more broad than that. It's a generalization. I see very broad patterns. I'm sure Libs can spot patterns in conservatives too.

Posted by: Carlos at February 8, 2005 04:17 PM

THE PASSION FOR JUSTICE (Markus)

Of course "passion" is emotional and "justice" is an intellectual concept. To complicate matters further you should have thrown "freedom" into the mix. But your point about the way the left and the right tend to reverse themselves on these issues in the 'economic' vs the 'social' spheres just goes to show how impossibly complex it is to make left-right distinctions about any of these value-laden terms - justice, freedom and so on.

I do think that Carlos is talking about the political "left" in this country. And to even talk about them in any coherent way we should perhaps narrow the dialogue down to a particular "sort" of American - usually a fairly affluent, well-educated, often caucasian person who has taken on the righteous mantle of "spokesperson for the world's oppressed". They are the folks who are blocking the traffic in Portland. Maybe we should realistically focus our attention on this very narrow but admittedly rather powerful American constituency!

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 04:27 PM

Carlos - let me make an attempt at clarification here. In my mind the term "liberal" could reasonably represent a blend of heart and mind. A fully HUMAN response perhaps SHOULD represent a blend of the two. Going into Iraq - inasmuch as it combines both logic and empathy - is essentially "liberal" in that sense.

I think that what you have been calling "emotion" could perhaps be better termed "irrationality" - which to me implies something which is driven by neither "heart" nor "mind" nor their combination but rather by EGO. (Perhaps Freud would invoke the Id but I see it all as basically a pathology of the EGO). That explains why it is that we see people claiming to believe in one thing but then due to ego needs, being totally inconsistent with their stated beliefs (eg irrationally opposing Bush because he is a Republican, even though they would have otherwise supported the war). Perhaps if we said "lefties are irrational", that would address the hypocrisy you see and I think are rightfully addressing in your many posts on this topic.

So I'll say it. Lefties are irrational! :)

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 04:51 PM

Caroline:

EGO works. I like it. Does ego have anything to do with self-esteem? Are the battered and the bruised more likely to gravitate towards one side of the political spectrum? I think so.

Is Leftist/Liberal "empathy" a function of their having been beaten by the jocks when they were young? Not that it's a crime to battered and bruised, but it does have it's consequences.

Posted by: Carlos at February 8, 2005 04:57 PM

Carlos -- "hahaha! how true! You're political hacks to us. But there's a market for it obviously."

Yes, if in TRUTH you're the doctors and we're the witch doctors when it comes to healing, then that seems to be a strong indication that you guys, not us liberals, are the ones doing a TERRIBLE JOB selling yourselves. Not too many people go to see chiropractors, especially for serious illnesses. But 59 million voted for John Kerry. And, worldwide, 95% of folks with any opinion on the matter think that GWB is a god damn SOB. So much for the wisdom of the democratic majority.

Posted by: markus rose at February 8, 2005 05:03 PM

Catherine -- "And to even talk about them in any coherent way we should perhaps narrow the dialogue down to a particular "sort" of American - usually a fairly affluent, well-educated, often caucasian person who has taken on the righteous mantle of "spokesperson for the world's oppressed". They are the folks who are blocking the traffic in Portland. Maybe we should realistically focus our attention on this very narrow but admittedly rather powerful American constituency!"

Not powerful at all, Caroline. Utterly marginalized. Only useful for their own self-aggrandizment, and as dupes for Republicans, who strive to associate them in the public mind with liberal, moderate and even conservative Democrats (such as Max Sandlin).

Posted by: markus rose at February 8, 2005 05:12 PM

Caroline, caroline, caroline -- sorry I can't seem to get your name straight!

Posted by: markus rose at February 8, 2005 05:13 PM

Carlos: EGO works. I like it. Does ego have anything to do with self-esteem? Are the battered and the bruised more likely to gravitate towards one side of the political spectrum? I think so.
Is Leftist/Liberal "empathy" a function of their having been beaten by the jocks when they were young? Not that it's a crime to battered and bruised, but it does have it's consequences."

Oh my - where to start? EGO is often falsely equated with self-esteem but actually there are many people in the world who have adopted a "victim-Ego". They think they aren't driven by "Ego" because of their "poor-me" mentality but its still Ego. The poor-me is essential to their identity and they cling to that! That would pretty much sum up alot of the average ME-ern mentality as I see it.

Yes - perhaps the battered and bruised who have taken on the "poor-me" Ego are perhaps more likely to gravitate to the left. I do not want to conflate that sort of distorted ego, however, with people who are truly oppressed! Learn to see the difference! (Note - that requires the use of your head as much as the use of your heart). Useless empathy for the "poor-me" ego is the source of much wrong-headed action by the well-meaning left - that would be the "virtuous-ego" folks :))

Re being beaten by the jocks - I doubt it. I suspect that for the kind of affluent, white protester blocking the streets - it's more a function of having been beaten up by their father. Just a guess. Don't want to overanalyze here!

All I'm saying is that once you understand how the Ego works - alot of it makes sense. Not quite the Freudian concept of the Ego though (although I think he gives an excellent description of the basic defense mechanisms). Hands down I think the best text on this is Jiddu Krishnamurti's "The First and Last Freedom". Noone will read the darn thing though when I give it to them!

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 05:18 PM

Carlos -- "Are the battered and the bruised more likely to gravitate towards one side of the political spectrum? I think so."

I'd agree. I always identified with Piggy in Lord of the Flies, and his little band of good guys. The Ralphs of the world always struck me as Republicans. Bullys.

And the fact is, a lot more people have memories of being bullied, rather than bullying others. Maybe that does have something to do with the appeal of a more commpassionate government.

Posted by: markus rose at February 8, 2005 05:18 PM

Markus - No problem in coming to the defense of the real battered and bruised. The problem arises when one either falls prey to those with the "victim-ego" or when when's own "virtuous-ego" takes center stage to the point where it becomes essentially irrational. It is perhaps plausible to suggest that this is what has happened to the affluent American left.

I should rephrase that. The EGO that I am talking about is ALWAYS irrational. It is only when the EGO is completely set aside that one can undertake the "right" action. In other words, the "right" action - lies outside EGO - but it still combines both head and heart. It just doesn't involve the "Self". This is what both Jesus and the Buddha were talking about as far as I can tell. Darnit - would someone else in the world (besides Ali Sina - whom I adore) please read Krishnamurti? If there were ever a time when his writings were relevant it is now.

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 05:36 PM

And the fact is, a lot more people have memories of being bullied, rather than bullying others. Maybe that does have something to do with the appeal of a more commpassionate government.

Markus,

Like I said, it's not a crime to be a victim, and compassionate government is great. I've been bullied. I Had my arm broken by two 9th graders when I was in the 7th grade.

But here's what I think. The compassionate should be making policy, not the victims. And there are way too mancy victims on the Left trying to make policy. It's unhealthy.

Posted by: Carlos at February 8, 2005 05:45 PM

Good lord - Markus identifies with Piggy from Lord of the Flies, poor Carlos had his arm broken by 2 bullies when he was in the 7th grade, and I was the "little red-headed step-child" (talk about a minority - although we redheads often grow up OK and get our revenge:-)) But I see a pattern here! Michael has frequently stated - this isn't high school! Oh yes - Michael - perhaps it is! And so I must ask our host - so what the hell happened to you to turn you into a liberal? :-)

Does anyone really think he'll answer? :-)))

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 06:45 PM

oops - maybe I went too far and shall now be banned. If so - it was very nice knowing you all..:-)

Posted by: Caroline at February 8, 2005 06:48 PM

Mark,

Thanks for your kind words, buried somewhere up there in the brawl. I've been thinking about this a while.

Posted by: Patrick Lasswell at February 8, 2005 07:14 PM

Caroline,
I am reminded of that old description of Hollywood culture as, "High School with money."
Perhaps the blogosphere would be..."High School with...?

Posted by: Citizen Dave at February 8, 2005 07:25 PM

The Ralphs of the world always struck me as Republicans. Bullys.

Yeah, and now that I am on that side, I gotta admit it feels good. Course, bullying the heirs of a violent tradition that prided itself on its brutality and lack of bourgeois sentimentality makes me suppose that this time I've got it right.

Posted by: chuck at February 8, 2005 08:09 PM

Carlos amuses me. "I keep telling people that they're excessively emotional and incapable of rational thought, and they get all angry with me! So it must be true!"

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 9, 2005 12:02 AM

Citizen Dave: "I am reminded of that old description of Hollywood culture as, "High School with money."
Perhaps the blogosphere would be..."High School with...?"

....computers?

But more generally it seems that the beautiful people run off to Hollywood, the student council goes to Washington, the do-gooders head to the protests, and the debate team (or is it the A students - raise your hand if you have an advanced degree) heads to the blogosphere! But it seems that everyone takes those same old emotions with them.

Posted by: Caroline at February 9, 2005 04:37 AM

Caroline,

Ummm, so given what you know about me from my previous post, where do I fit into the blogosphere then?

Posted by: Mike T. at February 9, 2005 05:27 AM

Kimmit,

where did I call YOU emotional? If you, Kimmit, choose to identify personally with a generalization I make about a population at large, and then take it personally, then your ARE emotional. YOU, Kimmit. And if you know becoming emotional plays into my generalization, and yet knowing this, still choose to become emotional anywyay, that shows a lack of self-restraint and control. And, that is exactly to what I'm referring. You're in your gut, not your head.

Posted by: Carlos at February 9, 2005 05:56 AM

Mike T - of course I am just engaging in rather laughable caricatures. There is perhaps some grain of truth though to the idea that people whose egos are invested in their looks (and popularity) go to Hollywood while people whose egos are invested in power and control go to Washington, while people whose egos are invested in being the "rebel" (against authority) or in "doing good/saving the world" - go to the protests. Maybe people who enjoy coming to the blogs to argue are people whose egos are invested in their opinions. You'd certainly get that impression from time to time. That's why I suggested the "debate team". Or maybe the better analogy is simply the classroom itself. We're the intellectually engaged students invested in being "smart" or being "right"(this was supposed to be a high school analogy remember?) The point is simply that egos are always in play in the adult world and that it isn't only Hollywood that resembles high school. High school is essentially just a little microcosm of the larger adult world.

As for you personally Mike? In an earlier era I would have predicted you'd end up going back to school one day but now that we have the internet, who needs school? I for one am getting a great education on the blogs!

Posted by: Caroline at February 9, 2005 07:13 AM

The passion for justice is extremely important.

Most folk understand it implicitly -- every justice system requires the FORCE to impose the "justice" against the will of those who are unjust.

As a general recently stated -- using force is FUN! So, just find the injustice of your choice, and advocate using force, usually gov't power, to create justice instead.

Even Zarqawi's anti-democracy junk is phrased in his own "Islamic justice" sort of ... justifications.

While we're generalizing, the personality types are again important. NF and NT folk, those comfy with abstract notions, split between those making decisions based on Feelings vs. Thinking (cost/benefit). Lefties are more NFs, who also display more emotion more often.

Reduce poverty -- hire somebody in a new job.

Posted by: Tom Grey at February 9, 2005 10:52 AM

Caroline,

I agree that there is something to that analogy, I've often thought it to myself. I asked about your opinion on me mostly because I have a hard damn time figuring out where I fit in anywhere. Allow me to explain.

I was a jock in High School, failed miserably in Community College for 2 semesters, have a young child out of wedlock, experimented heavily with drugs for a while, and I love to play video games. (spells winner right?)

However at the same time I read tons of Hitchens and Orwell, can't get enough books about American foreign policy, have a vocabulary I have to dumb down even for my boss and I can't listen to anything else on the radio but conservative talk and NPR. Aside from that none of my friends, or my fiance for that matter, understand what the hell I'm talking about most of the time.

I think it's safe to say I'm having a bit of an identity problem. : )

Posted by: Mike T. at February 9, 2005 01:41 PM

Mike T:
>Aside from that none of my friends, or my fiance for that matter, understand what the hell I'm talking about most of the time.

Posted by: Gene at February 9, 2005 02:04 PM

Mike T.

You sound like the new generation of America to me.

Welcome to the Club, 30 years from now, you and I and our classmates get to run this country.

We are SOOO screwed.

Posted by: Ratatosk at February 9, 2005 02:05 PM

Mike T.:
>Aside from that none of my friends, or my fiance for that matter, understand what the hell I'm talking about most of the time.<

Perhaps, but among this week's commenters, you've been among the most cogent and least hysterical. No small thing. Keep writing.

Posted by: Gene at February 9, 2005 02:06 PM

Mike T - yeah I figured the child was out of wedlock (that's why I said you had a heart :)) but obviously you're mighty smart too. I would have assumed from reading your comments that you do have an advanced degree.

Re figuring out your identity? Why do you want to do that? The secret of life is not to have one. Then you have nothing to defend. :-)

Don't forget to throw a little eastern philosophy in with all that reading. I think you'll love it ....

Posted by: Caroline at February 9, 2005 02:20 PM

From Roger Simons' blog - interesting links related to Michael's thoughts:

Did I abandon a sinking ship? These days it increasingly feels as if I did. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Nelson says all the left has left is "revenge," but Belmont Club says he overlooked "conceit." With all due respect to Wretchard, I think he overestimates conceit as an emotion. It's often decimated by some good ridicule, which is going on all around us now. Revenge can simmer on for a long time and is best tasted cold, as the Don Corleones of the world remind us.

Posted by: Brian at February 9, 2005 02:22 PM

that should probably be "is to not have one" (an identity)

sheesh - so much for the advanced degree. Real useful...

Posted by: Caroline at February 9, 2005 02:24 PM

Belmont Club link:
http://belmontclub.blogspot.com/2005/02/last-throw.html

Sorry about the bad link.

Posted by: Brian at February 9, 2005 02:25 PM

I remember as a child both being bullied and, I'm ashamed to say, bullying (albeit only once). I also remember that, whichever side of the equation I personally was on, the victims were always alone, and the bullies never were. There's a mob mentality at work there, and mobs are the very definition of irrationality. Two heads may be better than one, but two hundred are significantly worse. Take the largest protest, with its members brandishing signs and screaming slogans at the unconverted. If every single participant showed up and found himself alone, how many do you think would march anyway?

As far as the 'liberal < 30 > conservative' equation goes, I would write it 'reactionary < 30 > conservative,' with 'conservative' in the less-politically-fraught sense of 'one who conserves.'
People have a perfectly normal desire-for-significance (no doubt there's an official psychological term, but that's what this layman calls it). Insignificance is anathema, a person has to feel important even if in just some small way. It may be expertise in some subject, hobby, or job, or power conferred by money, charisma, destructive capacity, social authority, etc. Older people, in general, have built up more of one or more of those than younger, thanks to simply having more time in which to do so. They have less to prove. On the other hand, as anyone who's dealt with them can attest, young people are sure in their heart of hearts that They Know Better, that they know how Things Should Be. It's a 'passion for justice,' and that's a good thing (much better than a passion for injustice). The problem comes when it's not coupled with a reasoned assessment of A) what justice is, and B) how to get there. Too often, it's just blind reacting, like the ABB crowd, suicide bombers, the Deaniacs, etc. It's not specific to liberals (which I distinguish from leftists) -- there are plenty of young rightwing militias running around. It's just the ones currently making the most noise the ones advocating ideas which are associated, rightly or wrongly, with the Democratic party.

Posted by: Achillea at February 9, 2005 03:26 PM

Now that I’m not running for a bus I have a moment to explain what I was thinking in my response to Mike T:

When I said – the secret is in not having an identity because then there’s nothing to defend – I should have added, and nothing to lose and therefore nothing to fear. Take the “high school” example. The beautiful Hollywood folks who have identified themselves with their looks and popularity have a great deal to lose (which means they live with a lot of fear). They defend against that loss to their self-identification through plastic surgery and so on. Ditto for those who have their identities wrapped up in power. We all know to what lengths they will go to hang on to it. Saddam Hussein is an extreme example. Even on the blogosphere we see the consequences of people being so identified with themselves as “liberal” or conservative” – clinging to their beliefs and their opinions and the need to be right. It’s all EGO. Applied to the “irrational” lefty protesters – these appear to be people who have their identities wrapped up in an image of themselves – a particular identification – which they just can’t seem to shake – to the point that it becomes irrational - as Michael points out – blocking streets to make THEMSELVES feel good, even as those actions directly defeat their stated goals. That kind of irrationality is a sure sign that EGO is in play . I’m not sure whether the identity they are clinging to is the “rebel”, the “nonconformist”, the “savior” of the oppressed, the “virtuous-me”. But we can all surely recognize the essential irrationality of it. That's why we're all scratching our heads and why Michael is bothering to write an article about it.

That’s why I say to Mike T – don’t label yourself. Don’t try to be anything. Don’t form an image of yourself. Don’t adopt an “identity” because once you do – you will in a sense, live in fear of losing it. That fear sets up defense. Defense of the ego is what makes people irrational. Just be nobody in particular. Why not let other people try to label you (they’ll do it anyway). Why do you have to label yourself? If you have no particular image of yourself – no particular identification, then you have nothing to defend. The opposite of being defensive is being “open”. Open to life. One with the Tao and all that. :)

Bad me - long post :)

Posted by: Caroline at February 9, 2005 04:44 PM

Ego, self-righteousness, indignation, persecution; these are all things which we each must fight every day to eliminate within ourselves. I think that's why I personally find Orwell so refreshing even after 70 years. He, as Hitchens put it, was constantly "checking his own temperature". He always checked himself as much as he did others, both right and left.

Caroline you make a good point in that we shouldn't force ourselves into a mold, let the mold be formed around us. The minute we begin to limit ourselves due to a specific label assigned to an ideology with which we hold similar beliefs, we then do so at the expense of our individuality. Do we not glorify, if not deify, others because of their individuality? Those who were bold enough to be different are among some of the most celebrated people in history, and Caroline is right that we should not take such a thing for granted. Stand up for your beliefs, hold true to your convictions, and if others think alike then join them; but never be afraid to separate and follow your own path because being true to one's self is more important than being true to "the cause".
-----------------------------------------------
On a side note, thanks for the kind words because I don't often lay bare some of my weaknesses, and it was nice not to be judged. It's unfortunate that this forum is so anonymous because I'd prefer to be debating each of you across a table with a glass of Tuscan Sangiovese in hand. : )

Posted by: Mike at February 9, 2005 05:13 PM

Mike T: "because being true to one's self is more important than being true to "the cause""

Just don't make the error of boxing yourself into an identification with that "self" - no matter how individualistic it may seen. Otherwise you just might wind up being the "rebel" - and boxed into that - despite your best intentions.

"I'd prefer to be debating each of you across a table with a glass of Tuscan Sangiovese in hand."

How do you know I don't have a glass in hand? Ain't that the great thing about the blogosphere? No arrests for PUI - "posting under the influence". But hey - some of the best conversations take place over dinner with a glass of wine. Ask Michael about his recent dinner with Hitchens :)

Posted by: Caroline at February 9, 2005 05:39 PM

P.S. Mike - the "self" is like the house of many mirrors. It'll drive you mad....,

Posted by: Caroline at February 9, 2005 05:42 PM

Caroline: No arrests for PUI - "posting under the influence".

Maybe there should be, check out some of my last posts under "Reality check time". : )

Posted by: Mike T. at February 9, 2005 05:53 PM

Mike - waking up in the morning after PUI and reading your previous posts is rather like waking up in the morning after a one night stand and seeing the person still lying there in bed next to you :-)

Posted by: Caroline at February 9, 2005 06:12 PM

"Achillea: There's a mob mentality at work there, and mobs are the very definition of irrationality"

I couldn't agree more. I always avoid mobs - whther at malls or concerts or sporting events or political rallies. I'd say - trust your instincts there.

"People have a perfectly normal desire-for-significance "

That's EGO. Very normal but no less "irrational".

"a person has to feel important even if in just some small way"

true - but still ego - and still irrational.

"Older people, in general, have built up more of one or more of those than younger, thanks to simply having more time in which to do so. They have less to prove"

I disagree - it's not so much that they have "less to prove" - they actually have "more to lose" - having based their entire lifetime on that ego identification. If you spend an entire lifetime building that image up - you have a whole lot to lose. It's just that they don't have any choice. It's utterly humiliating but everyone has to face the fact that "{however that goes} ..and to dust you shall return."

All those passionate youngsters you refer to - just still haven't figured it out. They make the same mistakes as the previous generation. Building up an ego. Thinking they will go on forever. And forgetting that to dust they will return. Meanwhile, they wreak a whole lot of havoc, n'est pas? Mais, c'est la vie!

Posted by: Caroline at February 9, 2005 06:56 PM

Markus: "Not powerful at all, Caroline. Utterly marginalized. Only useful for their own self-aggrandizment, and as dupes for Republicans, who strive to associate them in the public mind with liberal, moderate and even conservative Democrats (such as Max Sandlin)."

Markus - actually I think you have a very good point there. But you have to look at what those lefties fundamentally represent, which perhaps does tap into (and has been exploited by the republicans) - a rational instinct for survival - of the biological kind - and not the ego-kind, which I have otherwise been posting about. Noone rational wants those folks anywhere near the levers of power. We don't really care about their personal ego-problems. We don't care to put in the time to figure out what they're really "about" - from a psychological perspective (well - OK - I do - but consider me an exception :)). It's about biological survival. But to be concerned about biological survival IS rational. It has nothing to do with EGO. If those protesters don't represent the Democratic party, then why is Michael Moore sitting in a place of honor at the Democratic convention? Why is John Kerry ( with his history of quasi-subversive anti-american activity) the Democratic candidate? As far as I am concerned - the onus is on the Dems to prove to "rational" Americans that they actually care about our "biological" survival.

Posted by: Caroline at February 9, 2005 07:45 PM

On the other hand, I have recently talked to committed democrats who feel exactly the opposite. They feel that Bush is a "loose cannon", literally playing russian roulette with people's lives. I guess I can see where they're coming from on that. I guess my answer to that conundrum is that we're at war. There's lots of loose cannons running around. We're all in the firing zone whether we like it or not. At least I know that Bush is on "our" side, whatever happens that may be outside of our control. Maybe the same couldn't in the end be said about Kerry. We were probably just as much in the 'firing zone" - and thereby powerless - with Kerry at the healm - the only difference being that we couldn't be exactly sure that he was on our side when we die. Sure - it's irrational. But not in the EGO way. Just in the insane, biological-reality way. (And anyone who has ever watched a cheetah chase down a gazelle on the Discovery Channel has to admit that even biological reality - ouside of Ego - is on some level-utterly insane).

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Posted by: dog apparel at February 9, 2005 09:47 PM

If you, Kimmit, choose to identify personally with a generalization I make about a population at large, and then take it personally, then your ARE emotional.

Carlos, I don't take you personally. I laugh at you. These are different things.

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 9, 2005 10:32 PM

Caroline: waking up in the morning after PUI and reading your previous posts is rather like waking up in the morning after a one night stand and seeing the person still lying there in bed next to you

Uh, yep; that definitely seems to be correct. Now excuse me while I take in my breakfast of black coffee and acetaminophen.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 10, 2005 05:29 AM

I know, you're "laughing." And a few threads down it's "funny."

You're trying too hard Kimmit. It gives you away.

;-)

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Yes, yes, I'm rubber and you're glue. I get it, I really do.

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