The conclusions in this book may strike some readers as rash. They certainly do not fall within the millimeter-wide spectrum of permissible opinion known as political correctness. Conservatives have generally projected their genial, open-minded natures on leftists. Conservatives tend to regard leftists as their opponents rather than their mortal enemies, as indicated by the campaign statements of recent Republican presidential candidates (Dole: “My opponent is not my enemy”; McCain: “You don’t have to fear Senator Obama”).
Dennis Prager often contrasts what he calls liberals with the left, lamenting that liberals do not realize that conservatives are their true friends, rather than the left. However, there are no prominent liberal politicians anymore. Prager also states that leftists believe their opponents to be evil, but presumably nobler conservatives merely believe their opponents to be mistaken. This too underestimates the danger that conservatives experience from their opponents.
Conservatives’ wish for a civilized debate is not shared by the left, whose response to their loss in the 2016 presidential election consists of hatred, threats, riots, and extreme physical violence. Bush Derangement Syndrome was followed by Palin Derangement Syndrome. Trump Derangement Syndrome is, however, outright sedition, and terrorism of a degree that the Red Guards of the Chinese Cultural Revolution would envy.
We shall discuss the spectrum of conservative philosophies in a later chapter. At this point, it suffices to mention the well-known correlations among policy preferences shown by conservatives, and shown by leftists. That is, from a person’s position on one public policy issue, it is often possible to deduce with high confidence his or her position on other public policy issues. This is the core of the left-right paradigm, although many observers add other axes to this spectrum, such as libertarian-traditional, or collectivist-individualist.
The underlying reason for this set of correlations is discussed in Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions. He contrasts the “unconstrained” vision of the left (unlimited resources) with the “constrained” vision of the right (limited resources). This analysis owes much to Sowell’s background as an economist. Classical historian Victor Davis Hanson has written about the contrast between the “therapeutic” view of life (every distress must be assuaged by government intervention) and the “tragic” view of life (disappointments in life are inevitable). A scholar going by the name Anonymous Conservative wrote in The Evolutionary Psychology Behind Politics about the theory of r-adaptation versus K-adaptation in evolution. The former individuals and species are promiscuous, irresponsible, disloyal to one’s group, and dependent; the latter individuals and species are self-controlled, responsible, loyal to one’s group, and independent. From three completely different perspectives, we arrive at similar conclusions.
|Victor Davis Hanson||therapeutic||tragic|
The late Dr. Lyle Rossiter, a practicing psychiatrist, wrote at length about the psychological causes of the political divide in his book, The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness. We shall return to the psychology of leftism in a subsequent chapter. For the moment, suffice it to say that the left and right have different relationships with reality. This difference is hinted at in Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”.
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”
On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
The assertions in this book are the inevitable outcome of a lifetime of observation and commitment to logical deduction, wherever the conclusions might lead. Without a commitment to the objective truth, we are dead. In words attributed to Ayn Rand: “You can evade reality, but you cannot evade the consequences of evading reality.”