Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Liberal Blind Spot

Finally, confirmation of something I've always suspected.  Conservatives are better able to understand liberal positions than liberals are able to honestly entertain conservative ideas.  I would chime in here that the ability to entertain other points of view that one does not agree with is a mark of intelligence, but I won't...
We tested how well liberals and con­servatives could understand each other. We asked more than 2,000 American visitors to fill out the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. One-third of the time they were asked to fill it out normally, answering as themselves. One-third of the time they were asked to fill it out as they think a “typical liberal” would respond. One-third of the time they were asked to fill it out as a “typical conservative” would respond. This design allowed us to examine the stereotypes that each side held about the other.

Moderates and conservatives were most accurate in their predictions, whether they were pretending to be liberals or conservatives. Liberals were the least accurate, especially those who described themselves as “very liberal.” (Born This Way?)
Most of us shelter ourselves in comfy ideological cocoons, but to my biased eyes, the liberal or progressive cocoon seems stubbornly impenetrable.

Look at how each side approaches the ideas of the other…

Liberals will point at some egregious conservative action or idea, disparage it, and leave it at that, not pausing to explain why it is bad or attempting to at least give a hearing to the other side of the story. Their hysterics over Paul Ryan’s budget, portraying him as an ax murderer when the truth is his budget merely slows the rate of government growth is but one example.

Liberals tend to employ emotion-laden invective, while conservatives analyze a liberal idea and attempt to logically pick it apart. It’s a generality, with exceptions on both sides. Ezra Klein is one of the left’s best analysts and critic of conservative ideas.

How to do it right...

Lee Harris shows how conservatives engage opposing ideas in an intellectually honest way. He gives props to OWS “anti-leader” David Graeber, treats him as the intelligent human being that he is, and seriously considers his intellectual ideas, the most provocative among them, that we are all naturally communists.
One of the central ideas in Graeber’s book is his claim that communism should not be seen as an alternative system to capitalism, or feudalism, or state socialism, but rather as a mode of social life that has always been present and that is a fact of life even in the most advanced capitalist nations, such as the United States. Or, to put it as Graeber likes to: We are all communists already.
When Graeber says that we are already communists, he is referring to those quite familiar situations in which we really do operate by the maxim “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
People of all cultures, including our own, invariably practice the communism of everyday life when dealing with their family and close friends. A mother does not expect her child to pay her for her baby-sitting services. A brother does not rent out his baseball glove to his brother on an hourly basis. If a friend is sick and needs something from the store, we pick it up for her and would never think of asking for gas money in return. (Communism of Everyday Life)
Lee Harris concedes that given this definition, yes, we are social communists. From there, he explores how freeloaders wreck the whole scheme…
Indeed, anyone who has tried living in a genuine commune has probably come across at least one example of the phenomenon in question. While everyone else is giving to the commune to the best of his ability, the freeloader gives as little as possible, and almost invariably ends up taking a lot more than he needs.
Because freeloaders are unusually shameless, it is pointless to try to shame them into observing the principles underlying the communism of everyday life. Because, by definition, the communism of everyday life is an informal system, freeloaders cannot be sanctioned by law.   (Communism of Everyday Life
Conservatives have grown...

I get Graeber's point, and its a good one as far as it goes.  I also enjoyed Harris's examination of it:  Voluntary "communism" can be good until it is wrecked by shameless freeloaders.  Are there any examples of liberals seriously entertaining conservative ideas without the inevitable denigration?

Ordinary conservatives have largely abandoned George Bush's governmental adventurism and regret his ambitious projects, and have completely thrown over "big government conservatism" as an oxymoron.  Many of us have learned our lessons about war, and don't want to start any more.  We are also waking up on civil liberties, which used to be the exclusive domain of liberals and libertarians.

Can anyone point out similar growth by those on the left?

See Also:
Conservatives understand Liberals...
Why Liberals Can't Understand Conservatives
Chronicle of Higher Education


Ducky's here said...

Are there any examples of liberals seriously entertaining conservative ideas without the inevitable denigration?

Get off your pedestal.

First you talk about the left's misunderstanding of Ryan but you fail to mention that the Progressive caucus submitted it's own budget which was completely ignored by the stooges in the media.

I will agree with your premise that it's difficult to understand the right wing but maybe we should each be more circumspect about our positions.

The problem occurs when the fringe right assume the left doesn't understand that all political and economic positions have flaws. Assume the left doesn't understand history etc.

Let's face it Silverfiddle, you have mouth breathers who post here that Obama is a Communist and rig the game by assuming the outcomes of the free market (LMFAO) are optimal by definition. You can't reason with people who have been through that level of indoctrination.

Hack said...

It couldn't be more true. On a personal note relating to this, every time I debate with a liberal, even some of my "liberal" friends, they consistently misunderstand the conservative viewpoint entirely, usually resorting to some tactic like, "You hate gays" or "You want a theocracy" or "You want more wars." That's just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the time, the majority of the time spent debating with liberals is spent helping them understand what conservatism even is.

MathewK said...

Conservatives, at least western ones want to learn from others mistakes, if not from their own. They want to preserve that which works and results in success. We are open to learning from others, even from liberals if they have good ideas.

Meanwhile most liberals seem most unwilling to learn, if the idea is from a Conservative they're doubly unwilling to learn from it.

Anonymous said...

Religious fundamentalists have been persuaded to believe there is no view either tenable or permissible other than a literal interpretation of whatever "Holy Book" they embrace.

Such people -- if true devotees of their faith -- whatever that faith may be -- are convinced they must be intolerant of any worldview incongruent with their own.

Naturally this makes for tension, aggravation and inevitable conflict that too often leads to bloodshed.

~ FreeThinke

PS: Sometimes intolerance can be a good thing. Capitalism is incompatible with Marxism. One or the other must die. I might be able to understand the quasi-humanistic motives behind Marxist thinking, but I could never support one iota of their agenda for the world, for I know positively it would turn us all into the moral equivalent of galley slaves. - FT

Ducky's here said...

For class discussion

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: The wonderfully-honestly-named People's Budget set an unrealistic and historically unprecedented level of revenue collection, which even some on the left admitted was untenable.

The rich are not a captive audience like they were post-WWII.

The People's Budget was an unrealistic pipe dream, made to appear less so only because the current fiscal madness has enured us to such absurdities.

-FJ the Dangerous and Extreme MAGA Jew said...

from ducky's "People's Budget"

Our Budget Safeguards Social Security for the Next 75 Years

• Eliminates the individual Social Security payroll cap to make sure upper income earners pay their fair share

• Increases benefits based on higher contributions on the employee side

Now just how does THAT square w/voting to decrease employee contributions for going on three years now, duckman?

Oh wait, theyll increase taxes next year (or 10 years from now) to pay for all the benefit increases that they'll enact THIS year.

They'll just mine more treacle to sell to the Chinese to offset the cost differences...

As Wimpy once said, "For a hamburger today, I will GLADLY pay you Tuesday!"

Anonymous said...

I frequently quote "Reason is but the slave of Passion," because I believe it's true.

It's been true since time immemorial or at least since 500 B.C.

The partisan, when he is engaged in a dispute, cares nothing about the rights of the question, but is anxious only to convince his hearers of his own assertions."

~ Socrates (470-399 B. C.)

I might go farther and add that it's rarely about being right, but almost always about winning -- usually at all costs. In other words to be human is to be engaged in or buffeted about by a continual struggle for dominance.

The idea of "Natural Communism" is absurd -- just another example of a leftist "redefining" terms to defuse opposition through sophisticated fomentation of doubt and confusion in order to attain maximal malleability of "the masses."

The Spirit of Charity can never be evoked or "administered" through coercion. the very nature of Charity implies volunteerism.

It's far more likely that we are "Natural Feudalists" not because we're always "feuding," ;-) but because we naturally fall into hierarchical patterns where a few strong; bold, aggressive, ruthless individuals attract a following. Most of us tend to be followers; very few have leadership capacities.

Life traditionally has been a daunting, confusing, often terrifying experience for many-if-not-most. We are like children who almost unconsciously spend our efforts in a futile search for an Ideal Parent who can blaze the trail for us and show us where to go.

Yes, we are also rebellious, and willful, and want to have our own way, but we'd like "Some Mythical Magical Someone" to be able to GIVE us our way.

Ergo, Marxism appeals greatly to the Child in All of Us, while Conservatism and Libertarianism -- particularly the latter -- appeal to Creativity, Sobriety, Maturity, and a strong desire for Independence.

Communism deliberately misrepresents the desire for Independence and the Adult Point of View as Selfishness, Ruthlessness, Greed, Callousness, and Exploitation.

There is no tenable argument to support Marxism's fundamental need to keep the vast majority in moral, intellectual and social infancy. Babies, after all are helpless. They may at times be fractious and fretful, but they are weak, and therefore able to be CONTROLLED.

ALL of his is about a perceived need to CONTROL others [Control meaning SUBJUGATION] rather than aid them in every possible way to develop their full POTENTIAL as an INDEPENDENT, THINKING, possibly-CREATIVE FORCE for GOOD.

~ FreeThinke

Just a conservative girl said...

You can take public education as an example of inflexibility. Any rational person has to realize that vouchers are going to part of the solution. Many on the right think that will solve all problems and it won't. But it has to be part of the solution.

The black community is much more open to homeschooling than any other time in the recent past. The numbers are increasing every year. The reason being is that they are no longer buying what Jesse Jackson is peddling. They realize that access to public schools is meaningless unless it is a good public school. His solution is just pour good money after bad into a system that is broken for many reasons that have nothing to do with money. He is one of the people that can't see beyond himself to realize that country has changed since the sixties, and he has refused to change with it.

Sam Huntington said...

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Ducky for clarifying Silverfiddle’s use of the term “inevitable denigration.”

Ducky's here said...

Great contribution, Sam. Go powder your wig.

The most interesting post here is Freethinker's as he displays his utter ignorance of Marxism and does his performing seal act for the crew.

Marx understood capitalism as a powerful, efficient economic engine. Very few deny that fact. However, he also saw some nagging contradictions and serious faults which my Libertarian brothers overlook in their abject ignorance. They being the one's incapable of nuance, not the left.

Now as we dismantle the very mechanisms that allowed capitalism to soften some of its internal contradictions we ignore the analysis of the Marxists at our peril.

Have Conservatives grown, Silverfiddle?
Look at the parade of buttheads you just trotted out ... Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, Santorum, Gingrich. Man, talk about dullards row.
Or maybe you want to say they don't represent the conservative position today. I'd love to hear that but let's admit it. We are pretty deep down the rabbit hole.

Vive l'austérité.

Anonymous said...

What generally happens when a liberal begins to question his beliefs or begins to entertain a consevative concept, they become "born again" conservatives. Andrew Breitbart is maybe the most well known example. I am not aware of any examples of conservatives becoming "born again" liberals.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: Without getting into the merits/demerits of the people you mention (I am a political cynic. I hate them all, so I don't engage in debates about political stars), the same can be said of those on the left, and indeed almost all politicians.

It is an affliction of the political class and it knows no ideology.

Ducky's here said...

Yes, it can, Silverfiddle.

But I don't believe there is much of a progressive voice left.

I'm very interested in Richard Lugar's apparent imminent defeat. One of those guys that I would rarely agree with but he struck me as intelligent and decent and therefore worth listening to.

That type of individual is being driven out of government by the hard core fundamentalists. Leave's little room for either compromise or sanity.


Silverfiddle said...

Breitbart didn't force Evan Bayh out. This is why political team sport arguments are pointless. For every bastard or saint you bring up, I can produce an equal and opposite one.

Ducky's here said...

Evan Bayh was nothing but a Blue Dog looking to cash in as a lobbyist.

Point remains, what few principled politicians we have are being forced out by the fringe.

Ducky's here said...

You can play the game now because it's pretty much over.

Anyone with any integrity is being forced out. There is no way to reclaim our government and the Baggers can take a piece of the credit for the situation.

Breitbart was part of the problem. A cheap profiteer like we have on every street corner in D.C.

Silverfiddle said...

Yeah... If we'd all just stopped exercising our rights, rolled over and shut up so Obama and the Pelosicrats could work their will, we'd be enjoying days of wine and roses now...

Anonymous said...

"Ordinary conservatives have largely abandoned George Bush's governmental adventurism and regret his ambitious projects, and have completely thrown over "big government conservatism" as an oxymoron. Many of us have learned our lessons about war, and don't want to start any more. We are also waking up on civil liberties, which used to be the exclusive domain of liberals and libertarians.

Little late (after multi-trillion dollar debts and thousands of deaths) to admit you have learned your lessons.
Smarter people would not have made those mistakes. They already learned their lessons, from History.
After all these disastrous mistakes; America should give power back to them?
Americans "get it" more than you do. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you, fool us over and over againg say goodby to conservatism in government for decades.

Silverfiddle said...

Right Anon...

Speaking of fools and disastrous mistakes, watch Obama and the Pelosicrats as they display colossal historical ignorance and a plonkish stupidity when it comes to human nature.

98ZJUSMC said...

Conservatives are better able to understand liberal positions than liberals are able to honestly entertain conservative ideas.

See that here on a daily basis.

If you can not coherently articulate the, basis in logic, of your own ideas; how can you possibly understand opposing viewpoints?

It simply frustrates the indoctrinated mind.

Z said...

Ducky, when you can teach, open a blog and a class.

SF, you say "Are there any examples of liberals seriously entertaining conservative ideas without the inevitable denigration?" Not at conservative blogs, that's for sure. I have to admit nobody's ever called me an ASSWIPE in 'real life'...only on the blog. There are many more incidents and, of course, the left can't leave a comment without insulting or picking on the slightest little point and blowing it up and getting indignant about it ...so they can ignore the important, big points, of our posts and hope to draw attention from them.

I think bringing Andrew Breitbart up is a perfect example of how the libs can't listen and learn, too. Thanks, Ducky, for the reminder; that you could never understand what he was trying to do, and why (make the media tell the truth) is indicative of a lot.

Liberalmann said...

Wow you really go on loony, Beckian rants to end up with what evidently just more lies and spin. Bend it like Breitbart!

Why Liberals Are More Intelligent Than Conservatives

Liberals understand Ryan's plan perfectly. It gives more to the wealthy, and takes away from average Americans. Like you.

But even Ryan doesn't understand Ryan when it comes to Ayn Rand flip flops.

98ZJUSMC said...

After all these disastrous mistakes; America should give power back to them?

Right. Let's keep it in the hands of those who doubled, tripled and quadrupled down. Keep it in the hands of those who refuse to admit that the math doesn't add up.


I see you make the typical lefty assertion that we all loved Bushs' ridiculous spending.

Wrong, but feel free to carry on.

98ZJUSMC said...

Why Liberals Are More Intelligent Than Conservatives


Finntann said...

"Liberals understand Ryan's plan perfectly. It gives more to the wealthy, and takes away from average Americans. Like you."

As opposed to:

"Conservatives understand the left's plan perfectly. It gives more out in entitlements, and takes away from average Americans. Like you."

Six of one, half a dozen of another.

Both parties are spending money they don't have. You could tax the rich at 110% and still not cover the spread.

You are 15 Trillion in debt, and neither side has the answers, both sides are hopeless.

The who's smarter, who's more empathetic, liberals or conservatives is nothing more than mental masturbation... hope it feels good.

Kid said...

There is no other way to describe liberals(Though I explore the various ways myself) as anything but little brat children.

They don't know or care about history.

They only want what they want when the want it and can't even recognize that what they want is majorly harmful.

Facts are a major pain and only get in the way. It bothers them to hear facts.

They say things like they support the "troops" because they can think of no reasonable way to not support the "troops". But they wouldn't even click a link to send a soldier a cookie.

They are irrational and unreasonable and only get mad when you point that out. It usually sends them into tirades of insults in reply.

They're stunted mental development at best and mental disease most likely.

Just like children they won't learn anything until it bites them on the ass.

I don't give them the time of day anymore. It's a total waste of time.

Silverfiddle said...

Hey Liberalmann, here's where you stumble into stupidville:

It gives more to the wealthy

I'll take it easy on you, because you probably sincerely believe government has its own money, Obama's Stash, as it were...

Government is funded by the people, taxing them to pay for necessary services.

So explain to us how government "gives more to the wealthy," or shut your piehole. Explain where government got the money, or shut your pie hole.

Sam Huntington said...

If liberals are more intelligent than conservatives, how does Satoshi Kanazawa explain Liberalmann?

... just asking.

Finntann said...

Ducky, Ducky, Ducky... come on, you can do better than Tristero.

His article and your comments, past and present, illustrate nothing other than neither of you have a clue about what Libertarian Party is about.

First of all neither of you are seem capable of discerning the difference between libertarians and Libertarians, I'll give you a hint... the differences are similar to the differences between republicans and Republicans, as well as democrats and Democrats.

For example, an Anarchist is a type of libertarian... an Anarchist is not a Libertarian.

Don't feel bad though... many Libertarians get confused too! A perfect example of this misunderstanding is Jersey's comment from yesterday:

"You libertarians live in your own universe all by yourselves, and just blithely ignore your communities..."

It is the falsehood that you believe that community is impossible without government or the intervention of the state. To which I reply, the state does not have a primary role in community, other that to step aside and allow it to function. This isn't to say that "government" isn't a community in and of itself, and that is part of the problem.

Let us take a look at some of Tristero's points and the logical fallacies they contain.

"There is no such thing as an intelligent version of libertarianism."

What can I say? Ad hominem, Ad nauseam, appeal to prejudice, demonizing, disinformation, glittering generalities, labeling... need I go on?

His entire article falls apart as it is based entirely on opinion.

"there is nothing intelligent that libertarianism brings to the table that isn't already part and parcel of liberalism."

Really? You liberals are advocating minimal government and adherence to the non-aggression principle? To include adherence by the government?

"Just ask Alan Greenspan, one of the most influential libertarians of all times"

Oooh! This is going to be a two-parter...

Finntann said...

Greenspan? A Libertarian?

I don't think so... it's kind of funny, I always considered him somewhat of a neo-conservative monetarist.

While he self identifies as a libertarian-Republican... he can call himself a Horse for all I care, it does not make him one though.

Oh and by the way, his fawning adulation of Rand would make him an Objectivist more than a Libertarian.

"libertarianism is as impossible to discuss in general as "Christianity," "Islam," or any other creed; there are social libertarians, economic libertarians, left libertarians, and so on."

Really? What? The same can't be said of both the Republican and Democratic Parties?

Are there not Progressive Democrats, Liberal Democrats, Conservative Democrats, New Democrats, Christian Left Democrats, and dare I say libertarian Democrats?

Hmm... so Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are the same type of Democrat?

"libertarians fail to recognize that individuals simply cannot physically exist without a social/cultural/environmental context"

Really? We do that? You mean it isn't possible that the social/cultural/environmental context couldn't exist without the dominance of the state?

"failing to recognize an indisputable physical and ethical reality - namely, that the conflict between the one and the many is primary - libertarianism is all but useless."

I can assure you, we recognize the conflict between the one and the many. We just differ in opinion on which one we consider primary.

Tristero argues for nothing more than tyranny of the majority. For government, democratic or otherwise, without limits and bounds is simply that, tyranny.

That said, the inherent flaw in the Libertarian Party is it's fixation on Libertarian purity of which there are probably as many variations as there are Libertarians.

I read through 146 comments yesterday on another blog arguing back and forth over who was the "true" Libertarian... Gary Johnson or Ron Paul. The only thing they all agreed on was Bob Barr wasn't it.


viburnum said...

From the Chronicle article: "...it gainsays one of the central claims of liberals, that is, that liberals are more open-minded, empathetic, imaginative, and tolerant than conservatives are. The study indicates, rather, that when it comes to facing the other side, liberals lean toward caricatures and extreme cases, and this tendency rises the more liberal they are.

Sound like anyone we know? ;-)

Silverfiddle said...

Finn: Thanks for fisking that.

And Ducky, thank you for giving us a living example of how extreme liberals cannot understand any viewpoint but their own. This explains much.

Anonymous said...

Are there any liberals or Liberal blogs who seriously welcome the opinions and or comments of Conservatives?
I don't think that there really are.
Yes they want us to be their token playthings. Yes, they ask us to participate in their discussion, but only to ridicule us with their holier than thou BS. I personally have grown tired of being attacked by these Zoo Creatures like those that we see in the protests at Occupy Wall Street. I stopped caring what liberals think about me, so now I tell them what I think of them!.

Trekkie4Ever said...

As most conservatives already know it is almost useless confronting them with the truth and when they are unable to refute that truth they start bashing the person.

But, I don't think I will ever stop trying to get through to them.

Z said...

Darth, "liberalman" told me he had a blog when I asked him, but you can't click on his name to it...so he HAS one but it's restricted to like-minded lefties.
not at all uncommon on leftwing blogs.