Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The End of Reason

I have been working on the next installment of my Cultural Insanity series and it is on the way, but since posting the first part I have seen something related to it that I would like to report as a separate post. Frankly, I have been a little distracted by monitoring the response to my first Cultural Insanity post; after all although I was trained as an anthropologist and not unfamiliar with psychological theory, in making the analogy between a personality disorder and two very different cultural sub-groups, I was treading on somewhat unfamiliar ground.

I was elated when ShrinkWrapped, a psych-blogger whom I respect enormously picked up on my ideas and posted a not unsupportive discussion of it mixing in material fro Dr. Sanity and Victor Davis Hansen. of it.

A day or so later Solomonia put up a post citing the video of a classic television confrontation between Ayaan Hirsi Ali and “an anti-American Canadian interviewer”, Avi Lewis of Canadian Television.

Lewis, in this clip, personifies the smug, self satisfied, passive aggressive argumentation style of the “progressive left”. But the very slickness of his approach combined with the emptiness of his arguments alerted me to something that I had never realized before about the way they argue. I saw immediately that I had identified another aspect of the psychological blindness that the lefties and Islamists have in common. It points back to my original diagnosis of Borderline Personality.

… They (the left and the Islamists) focus, as Avi Lewis does in this interview,on picking out isolated examples of widely disapproved of, squalid and reprehensible behaviors from Israel, America and The West (as when Lewis says “they shoot abortion doctors in the US”)and insisting that they are proof that we, as nations and a civilization, are not living up to our high ideals. Thus Israel, The U.S. and the west is held to account for an idealized, utopian standard of perfection without margin for error. The fact (and they never stoop to dispute the fact) that Israel, America and the west in general are far better in comparison to the rest of the (far more squalid and reprehensible) real world is avoided when possible and brushed off as rationalization when unavoidable. In the event that it is pointed out forcefully that the rest of the world is so much less democratic and desirable and that it is always an option to leave and that no one leaves- in fact, America is still the great magnet of immigration it has always been as Hirsi Ali does here the leftist will always shift the subject. Lewis counterattacks with a jocular but passive aggressive suggestion that she must have had to go to a special school to learn “these American clich├ęs” as part of her application process”. This begs the question which Hirsi Ali asks this dope- "why don't you and your leftist friends go somewhere else?" Naturally, they'll never admit it but there IS no other place that they could tolerate and there is certainly very few that would tolerate them.

For the sake of accuracy I must point out that what I described in the last three sentences above did not occur as I first described it in that comment. What Hirsi Ali actually said was that she did not believe Lewis’ description of the plight of Muslim Americans was nearly as dire as Lewis described it to be. And she offered the opinion that if they were truly feeling under siege that they would do what other people all over the world have done when they have felt to be under siege, they would move away. She pointed out that there is no such population movement as this taking place and that there would not be. The first time through I had thought that I heard this exchange to include a challenge to Lewis on why he persists in living in a western country. I was mistaken. I believe that if she had made that challenge, the exchange would have gone much as I outlined it.

After seeing this post and responding to it in the comment stream I continued to reflect on this new insight into this essential similarity in tactics between the Islamists and the left. It was beginning to occur to me that there was something else, something deeper that I had not reached yet.

Meanwhile, for two days the comment trail on ShrinkWrapped’s post had been quite supportive- until someone with the screen name copithorne wrote a comment using a tactic out of the same family. Since I quote copithorne’s full comment in my reply I’ll let my reply speak for both…

A two sentence fisking:

copithorne says:

"Diatribes about "the left" in which no "leftist" appears -- no quotes, no policy positions -- are expressions of projection of a disowned shadow."

I say:

Leftists who don't bother to read a sincere analysis thoroughly enough to observe that it actually began with a live example of a leftist argument and then label such analysis as “diatribe” are intentionally projecting their own aggressive rejection of discourse on the conservative analyzer. It is not necessary (in informed and reasonable circles) to have exhaustive actual quotes of Hitler’s hate speech to know that he was a genocidal anti-Semite. It is not generally in question that Lenin and Stalin tried to institute a paradise of the workers by slaughtering, starving and persecuting them in their millions. Just so, if characterizations of the left hit their mark and sting to the degree that the only feasible defense seems to be a trivial
pettifogging by attacking the lack of “quotes” and “policy positions” it means that he has no real rebuttal for the characterizations themselves. It is a disingenuous trial lawyer’s trick to subvert meaningful point/counter point with meaningless "discovery” of inconsequential minutia. Note that he neither actually points to a faulty idea nor does he contradict anything ShrinkWrapped, Dr. Sanity, VDH or I say. If there is a disowned shadow in the neighborhood I say copithorne might do well to look and see if it’s connected to his own feet.

copithorne says:

This currently seems to be the total sum of contemporary conservative politics -- the appeal of having enemies on which a person can project material of which they are unable to be self-aware.

I say:

Who is projecting here? All I see is customary leftist rejection of all contradiction to his “ideas” on any technicality no matter how flimsy or arbitrary. It’s the pedant’s refuge, rejecting the student’s ideas and labor because they are beyond him with the
stinking hypocrisy that his footnotes are in the wrong format and his bibliography is not long enough.

So, up to this point, I have been concentrating on understanding how this method worked on a practical level. Now I had begun to see clearly that it was not just intentional blindness to (and twisting of) the the reality of the situation but, in fact, reflected the selective vision of splitting and dissociation. Assuming the unearned and undeserved position of moral, spiritual and intellectual superiority they are not open to dialog but insist on ignoring what we say and either “correcting our papers” or rejecting our thoughts and ideas on technicalities.

Then, on the blog Cuanas, I found another posting of the Lewis/Hirsi Ali interview with this comment posted by a fellow named Irfan Yusuf.

Irfan Yusuf said...

So let me get this right. This woman has little or no knowledge of the varieties of religion or communities she criticizes (apart from her own Somali upbringing).

She was caught by the Dutch telling lies to gain migration status. She told Ian Buruma that she committed "immigration fraud".

And now the Americans are lapping her up as some kind of long last(sp) daughter. Had she not been so anti-Muslim, you'd have tossed her in immigration detention yourself, if not in Guantanamo Bay (heck, her name is "Ali" and that's a common Ayrab (sp) terrorist name, isn't it?).

I can't wait to see how your evangelical conservatives behave when you realize (sp) she is pro-abortion and wants those teaching creation science to be thrown into prison.

What I see here is more like squirming to keep from seeing the truth. At a loss to prove Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrong or even mistaken about anything, Irfan does a crazy little Islamic tattletale dance (oooh, look she is a baaaad girl! Don’t talk to her! Don’t listen to her!) while at the same time accusing us of being blindly anti-Muslim. Here is the answer I posted:

Mr Yusf, exactly how much do you have to know about a bunch of communities in which the leaders and the apparent majority of the citizens consider anyone who worships a different God less human, practice honor killing, celebrate the killing of innocents in terror attacks and vow to make the entire earth into a Caliphate where everyone will be subject to the terror of Islamofascism in order to be qualified to criticize them? Something tells me that when her co-filmmaker and friend Theo Van Gogh was butchered in the streets for the film they made together and a threat against her was pinned to him with the murder weapon she earned the asylum of the United States of America.

If you think a technicality like a lie she told in order to insure her own escape from the hell of living under Islamic rule is going to persuade us to think less well of her you are even more blinded by your cultural disease than most of your compatriots. It’s pathetic that you write it as though we might think that it invalidates what she says and writes. Is that all you've got?

I should also have pointed out to Mr Yusuf that even if some of the more literal minded Christian evangelicals do not find her positions on abortion and evolution to be in agreement with theirs, they will issue no fatwas calling for her death, neither will they justify trying to treat her as a second-class citizen for it. Oh well, he wasn't really listening anyway...

I have been trying to pull this all together in my mind and, in the end, I keep remembering a short, pathetic little comment on ShrinkWrapped’s post that I had ignored as twaddle at first. The commentor’s screen name is Post Hole Digger, which I assume means he is a PhD in something.

Huh, here I thought that what I wanted was to see a world of peace and kindness,and to do toward others as I would want done toward me. I am now ashamed to admit, but I even thought that was actually a good thing. But now you explain that I'm really just insane. Instead of virtues, I have a grave psycho/emotional dysfunction. I just never realized.
This is not twaddle, it is the cry of a lost soul. Post Hole Digger is right, only his sarcasm is misplaced. Both Islamism and Leftism are attempts to see a world of peace and kindness. That is very nice to say but the unfortunate fact is that this is not a world of peace and kindness. There is no such world. This is a world that contains peace and kindness along with hatred, love, avarice, generosity, violence and cruelty. Both Leftism and Islamism are nothing more than ideologies that pretend to be able to control and rationalize the unfathomable complexity of life.

To anyone not enmeshed in their borderline systems the actual out come of their utopian schemes, proven out in the past, is obvious.

The Islamists would have their Caliphate where everyone and everything would submit to the will of Allah. That sounds OK until you ask who is interpreting Allah’s will for us. As it has turned out in the past, it has most often been the most bloodthirsty political infighter or conqueror capable of rising to the top of the Shari a system who has gotten to say what’s on Allah’s mind. The best that The Caliphate has been able to offer in the past has been the more moderate, slightly less megalomaniacal son or grandson of the deceased bloodthirsty political infighter or conqueror.

As for the poor, deluded lefties like PHD, they are destined to be frustrated by their efforts to help their fellow man. But for all their talk about equality, sharing, peace, love and understanding, if put to the test of leadership, they would, like all other leftist/socialists who have ascended to leadership (Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Hitler, Pol Pot, etc…) turn to violence, coercion and despotism out of their exasperated zeal to reform humanity against its wishes and nature. It is not insane to do toward others as one would want done toward one's self- that is a great moral principal- but it is insane to assume that others are on the same program and have the same vision of what is good.


Blazingcatfur said...

I am so glad I found your blog. I learn with each post. Your understanding of the left puts into words what I am unable to articulate - well articulate as eloquently;)

Pastorius said...

Great post, Yaacov.

It seems that the left's only route of argumentation leads to the cul de sac of solipsism.

As you say, they avoid discussing the points you make, and instead focus on the world they have created, where all moral value is conflated to the point where the evil that America, Israel, and the West in general does, is equal to the evil done in such dastardly countries as Iran, Syria, and the Sudan.

The only time their "dialogue" does ever touch down in the real world is when they gain power, and begin to actually kill those who would impede their efforts.

SC&A said...

Copithorne is an idiot, easily dispensed with.

'Not mentioning' the names of Nazis does not mean Nazism did not exist.

'Not mentioning' the names of various Stalinists does not mean Stalinism did cost tens of millions of lives.

Copi is also the person who believes the Marc Rich pardon (reviled even by Jimmy Carter) was a 'good thing' and he also opposes intervention in Darfur or anywhere else there are black victims (He/she seems to have no such problem with Israel).

He also denies the reality of Carl Jung's early questionable ties (and verifiable) to the Nazis.

Copithorne is in no position to talk about projection- unless he referring to his/her own well documented biases.

Solomon said...

Note that Avi Lewis is married to Naomi Klein, FWIW.

The Contentious Centrist said...

Even Naomi Klein acknowledged the antisemitic element in the anti war protests and the lurch of the so-called left into fascist exhibitionism:

"But when I saw Le Pen beaming on TV, arms raised in triumph, some of my enthusiasm drained away. There is no connection whatsoever between French fascism and the "free Palestine" marchers in Washington (indeed the only people Le Pen's supporters seem to dislike more than Jews are Arabs). Yet I couldn't help thinking about the recent events I've been to where anti-Muslim violence was rightly condemned, Ariel Sharon deservedly blasted, but no mention was made of attacks on Jewish synagogues, cemeteries and community centres. Or about the fact that every time I log on to activist news sites like Indymedia.org which practise "open publishing", I am confronted with a string of Jewish conspiracy theories about September 11 and excerpts from the Protocol of the Elders of Zion."



Truly great blog, Yaacov. I admire your patience and painstaking effort to explain your positions in fine detail and expose the vacuity of some of the poseurs on the Far Left.

Here's a link to Orwell's essay "What is Fascism". When I read it a few years ago I found its current relevance quite depressing:

"War resisters usually base their case on the claim that British imperialism is worse than Nazism, and tend to apply the term ‘Fascist’ to anyone who wishes for a military victory. The supporters of the People's Convention came near to claiming that willingness to resist a Nazi invasion was a sign of Fascist sympathies. The Home Guard was denounced as a Fascist organization as soon as it appeared. In addition, the whole of the Left tends to equate militarism with Fascism. Politically conscious private soldiers nearly always refer to their officers as ‘Fascist-minded’ or ‘natural Fascists’. Battle-schools, spit and polish, saluting of officers are all considered conducive to Fascism. Before the war, joining the Territorials was regarded as a sign of Fascist tendencies. Conscription and a professional army are both denounced as Fascist phenomena."


Blazingcatfur said...

Yes Avi is, the Lewis' are the 1st Family of Canadian Socialism. Her uncle is Seth Klein of the Centre for Policy Alternatives, a "left wing think tank" is that an oxymoron??

Anonymous said...

A carefully thought out post. Your insight into the way the left and the Islamists arrive at their arguments is very enlightening.

Exposing lefty poseurs like Avi Lewis as well as the commenter known as copithorne is a service to those who seek the truth.

Keep up the good work.

Nancy Coppock said...

Yaacov, I hope you continue delving into this subject. Consider it a cultural anthropological dig.

Consider the art of dissembling:
Wiki reports-- Psychology Of Lying--
The capacity to lie is noted early and nearly universally in human development. Evolutionary psychology is concerned with the theory of mind, which people employ to simulate another's reaction to their story and determine if a lie will be believable. The most commonly cited milestone, what is known as Machiavellian intelligence, is at the age of about four and a half years, when children begin to be able to lie convincingly. Before this, they seem simply unable to comprehend that anyone doesn't see the same view of events that they do -- and seem to assume that there is only one point of view: their own -- that must be integrated into any given story.

As I commented in the previous post, the childish nature of our MSM and the silly comments cannot be refuted. The adult mind almost hears the childish taunt: 'Can too. Can not.' form of rationalization of error.

These sillies grew up believing 'thinking for yourself' was simply thinking the opposite of their parents and that their opinion can never be wrong - even if that opinion is related to a fact. Consider the silly math that allowed little Sally to think 2+2=5 until she decided the answer was in fact 4. Imagine the mind warping done to these children in the name of education. It is a complete dereliction of trust and duty. Even more dark, is the sinister fact that we, the taxpayer, are footing the bill for such abominations!

The Judeo/Christian teaching imparts this wisdom: 'How dark is the the light if the eye is dark' and Proverbs teaches 'the wise (adult) imparts wisdom and knowledge while the fool (child) spreads folly and destruction.' Adult/children of today look into the light and see danger in the deepening awareness of responsibility and accountability to something larger than themselves, therefore, they run in the opposite direction square into the dark hole of destruction. There it is, the spiritual correlation, to the above assertion that they believe 'thinking for yourself' is thinking the opposite of their parents or anyone that has developed their relationship with the living God. Such is the pseudo-thinking of men like Avi Lewis, who grew up pampered and told he was brilliant when a child, therefore never accepted wisdom from that day forward. Now, functioning as adults, these childish minds can only bully anyone that dares think different from their own perfected idea of what is accepted and what is not. It is a verbal "Lord of the Flies" phenomenon.

Again, I commend your work and diligence. Well done, my friend.

Jewish Odysseus said...

Yaacov, your title for this amazing essay really carries so much meaning in so few words. In some ways it totally captures our current struggle, and its predecessors.

Leninism was based on a notion of "dialectic," as propounded first by Hegel then by Marx--"petty bourgeois objective reality" didn't actually exist, it can be relentlessly re-defined and transmogrified by The Party and its Thinkers, so that simple shopkeepers become deadly "speculators," diligent farmers become hated "kulaks," and lifelong historians, poets and scholars become menacing "chauvinists and anti-socialist wreckers."

And the beauty of communism was that these "arguments" were backed by such iron-fisted brutality that no-one would dare stand up to confront their absurdity. "So "the reason" of the Party's argument...WINS BY DEFAULT.

It is similar w/Islam. Going back to its earliest days, the idea that "since all wisdom is contained in the Koran, therefore we don't need and mustn't a llow anything that is NOT CONSISTENT with the Koran," led to many infamous campaigns of book-burnings, library-burnings (remember the famous ancient library of Alexandria), annihilation of kaffir relics, right up the the present day.

Such an idea is the precise opposite of our classical/modern concept of "reason."

Now both these baleful ideologies are uniting against us, the genuine civilization, in order to do to us what they did to the Alexandria Library, the kulaks of the Ukraine, and the statues at Bamyan. And when we are gone, then there will be no-one to argue that our defense of "reason" was far, FAAARRRRRR more persuasive...so THEIR definition will carry the day, the year, and the thousand years of darkness.

And these savages will then worry about how to annihilate each other.

Anonymous said...

From Bruce Wechsler:

Yaacov: Very well done; I look forward to the next post. There is no doubt that you have touched a nerve here. What should prove very interesting (not to mention entertaining) will be the comments you and the other bloggers will be getting from those suffering from the syndrome. Simply more evidence for your point.

As for the Hirsi Ali interview, she handled herself wonderfully; composed and graceful. The one thing that surprised me most was Lewis' shock that Ali would say that you can come to America with nothing and become very successful. That a supposedly hip, modern educated person can actually take issue with that basic truth is more disturbing to me than any other BS he might or did utter. Her response to that was powerful [paraphrased] "You were born in freedom so you can spit on it. You don't know what it means not be free. I do." Bless her.

Keep up the hard important work, ben Moshe!

Bruce Wechsler

The Contentious Centrist said...

An afterthought: The pathology you observe in Avi Lewis and his ilk on the "Rococo" Left has been diagnosed very competently by Martin Amis in a recent article as "the fetishisation of balance", which, in my opiniion, is a type of rhetorical fallacy:

"We are drowsily accustomed, by now, to the fetishisation of “balance”, the
groundrule of “moral equivalence” in all conflicts between West and East, the
100-per-cent and 360-degree inability to pass judgment on any ethnicity other
than our own (except in the case of Israel). And yet the handclappers of
Question Time had moved beyond the old formula of pious paralysis. This was not
equivalence; this was hemispherical abjection. Accordingly, given the choice
between George Bush and Osama bin Laden, the liberal relativist, it seems, is
obliged to plump for the Saudi, thus becoming the appeaser of an armed doctrine
with the following tenets: it is racist, misogynist, homophobic, totalitarian,
inquisitional, imperialist, and genocidal. "