Monday, January 17, 2011

ZOMG Sarah Palin is so incredibly dumb!!!1!one!!

I mean, like she's so dumb!

Well, that's the position of Michelle Goldberg, who gets positively bitchslapped by Ann Althouse at around 10:00 into this video (note: Video from November 2009).  The three minutes starting at that point is a very interesting window into the progressive way of thinking.  Goldberg is very clearly sealed in the progressive bubble (see her comment at 40:45 that "reality has a liberal bias"), but is also absolutely incapable of defending her positions when someone pushes back.

This is a long video, but is important for anyone who - like me - is tired of sneers from smug progressives.  They congratulate themselves on being more insightful and nuanced (see 10:50), when what they really are being is tribal.

Goldberg offers numerous examples of what lawyers call "declaration against interest", where the statement is so contrary to their chance of winning their case that the statement is presumed to be true.  For example, at 24:00, Goldberg states "... I found it, if not unbelievable, then her psychology is so different from anyone that I've ever encountered as to seem unrecognizable ..."  For someone who by her own admission values nuance to offer a nobody I know voted for Nixon example is telling indeed.

Tribal.  Goldman has chosen Obama's progressive intellectual tribe.  She picks arguments that support that decision, and rejects arguments that show that decision to be less than wise, and there's no bridging this divide.

Watch the exchange that starts around 26:00, where Althouse (who voted for Obama) says that he's "dithering" on what do do about Afghanistan.  Goldberg rushes to his defense, exclaiming that she loves (her words) an intellectual President.  Althouse is looking for leadership; Goldberg is happy to have someone from her tribe on top. Althouse brings it up again - and Goldberg challenges her again - at 37:30.  There's simply no possibility of common ground here, or of a true intellectual debate of the ideas.

None of this would matter much if the Left were intellectually sound.  Unfortunately, it's not, and rather than being the odd "black swan", Goldberg's helplessness in the face of reasoned analysis is sadly par for the course.  The Left is populated by people who spent their school years in the comfortable cocoon of compliance.  Rather than challenging ideas that were presented to them - from either the Left or the Right - they cruised along, got their honors degrees from Ivy League schools by parroting what their professors expected, and became so used to hearing that they were "the best and the brightest" that they came to believe it in their bones.

They have no idea that there are people who don't think like they do, but think as well - or better - than they do.  And when they run into one of these people, they have absolutely no idea how to respond other than falling back into tribal platitudes.

Progressive 's view of Gov. Palin seems based not on analysis, but on which tribe they self-identify with. I mean, ZOMG she's so dumb. I mean, how can you do anything like this if you're not ZOMG dumb dumb dumb?

I keep saying that this Republic needs an intellectually vigorous Left.  Sadly, we don't have one, but even worse we have an intellectually feeble left that thinks that they're Ever So Clever, and therefore Fit To Rule.

I don't know what to do about this, other than sit back and watch the inevitable collapse of the current Intellectual Order.  This coming decade will be a series of catastrophes for them as Great Society and the New Deal collapse, as the most progressive states go bankrupt, and as we see a return to 1970s-era stagflation as the policies implemented during the first two years of the Obama Administration bite.  The Progressive Intellectual's world view will be swept aside, but a lot of regular folks will get caught in that rip tide, too.

What I do expect is that whatever is left standing at the end of the decade will be stronger and more intellectually vigorous than what we have now.  Not that that is saying much.


Arthur said...

"an intellectually vigorous Left"

Could you describe what your idealized version of that Left would be? Could you list a few theoretical bullet points they would consider the bedrock their beliefs were based on?

I ask because I'm having a hard time envisioning a left different than what we have today, or one that wouldn't rapidly morph into what we have today at any rate.

Anonymous said...

WC Fields is back?????

wolfwalker said...


"I ask because I'm having a hard time envisioning a left different than what we have today, or one that wouldn't rapidly morph into what we have today at any rate."

It's the second part that's the real problem. Madison called it 'factionalism,' Borepatch calls it 'tribalism,' but both were really talking about the same thing: the tendency of humans to gather into groups, which they then defend against attack beyond all reason. I see it all the time, on all sides of almost every political issue. Even people who should know better do it, people with first-hand knowledge of the advantages of thinking for oneself. It's an innate part of human nature: we live for the Tribe, we die for the Tribe.

For my part, I think "an intellectually vigorous Left" would be marked by three major features:

1) a desire to discuss and debate issues rather than trying to silence the opposition by force.

2) an admission that the solutions the Left has tried in the past have either already failed or are now failing, and a sincere desire to try new approaches to problems.