Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Liberalism's "Seven Deadly Sins"?

Photo taken by me of an old commercial moth ki...                               Image via Wikipedia
Here's an article worth the read: "7 Reasons Why Liberals Are Incapable of Understanding The World" by John Hawkins.

Here's an extract from each point, with my favourite, #3, in full.

1) Liberalism creates a feedback loop. It is usually impossible for a non-liberal to change a liberal's mind about political issues because liberalism works like so: only liberals are credible sources of information.

2) Liberals sources of information are ever present.

3) Liberals emphasize feeling superior, not superior results. Liberalism is all about appearances, not outcomes. What matters to liberals is how a program makes them FEEL about themselves, not whether it works or not. Thus a program like Headstart, which sounds good because it's designed to help children read, makes liberals feel good about themselves, even though the program doesn't work and wastes billions. A ban on DDT makes liberals feel good about themselves because they're "protecting the environment" even though millions of people have died as a result. For liberals, it's not what a program does in the real world; it's about whether they feel better about themselves for supporting it.

4) Liberals are big believers in moral relativism.

5) Liberals tend to view people as parts of groups, not individuals.

6) Liberals take a dim view of personal responsibility.

7) Liberals give themselves far too much credit just for being liberal.

I'm sure conservatives are sinners too. I'll leave it up to liberal readers of the Ball Bounces to point out our sins. Be that as it may, the facts of life are conservative -- which brings us full-circle back to the article's title.
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Anonymous said...

That was lame. Hereis are 7 deadly Conservative sins:
1. Abortion is legal
2. Gay marriage is legal
3. Lacks fiscal discipline...runs record deficits
4. Abandoned voter recall legislation
5. Stuffs the Senate with Tory hacks
6. keeps the Human Rights Tribunal
7. Income trust betrayal

Harper has a supermajority and the opposition parties have no leaders. There is nothing to stop Harper. Yet, he does nothing.

Anon1152 said...

So much could be said in response to each of these points. Especially after reading the original article. I'm going to try to limit myself (before blogger limits me):

"1) Liberalism creates a feedback loop. It is usually impossible for a non-liberal to change a liberal's mind about political issues because liberalism works like so: only liberals are credible sources of information."
---- Hm... So says a guy whose only citations are links to a website called "rightwingnews.com" and whose written an article saying that "liberals are incapable of understanding the world." Is there any irony in this?

"2) Liberals sources of information are ever present."
---- Much depends on the meaning of the word "liberal." "Conservative" sources of information are also ever-present. And I think that the "liberal-ness" of the "mainstream media" is exaggerated at best, and an inversion of the truth at worst. But, again, much depends on how you interpret the word "liberal." That word's meaning in one context can have the opposite meaning in another context. If only the whole tower-of-babel thing hadn't happened, maybe we wouldn't be so confused and confusing...

Out of curiosity: I get most of my Canadian news from the Globe and Mail. I sometimes subscribe to the paper. But most times (now is no exception) I can't really afford the subscription, so I rely on their website. How would you categorize the Globe, if you were to use terms like "liberal" and "conservative"?

"5) Liberals tend to view people as parts of groups, not individuals."

- Um... I'm not sure that this is true. For example, recall George W. Bush saying "you're either with us or you're with the terrorists".* That sounds pretty group-focused to me. In fact, saying "Liberals are incapable of understanding the world" sounds fairly group-focused.
---- You would probably call me a liberal. And given the flexibility of the term, you would undoubtably be correct, at least in some sense of the term. But I view people as individuals who are also, simultaneously, members of groups. I don't find anything controversial or contradictory in that belief. If you do, then please, let me know (and explain).

"6) Liberals take a dim view of personal responsibility. Who's at fault if a criminal commits a crime? The criminal or society?"
---- A false dichotomy. (One of many it seems). You may call me a liberal (do you?). Especially if I'm in the process of disagreeing with you. But I believe quite strongly that individuals are ultimately and absolutely responsible for their actions. This means that someone who commits a crime is responsible for his or her actions (absolutely) and that everyone else is too. It seems that people who go on and on about "personal responsibility" are often (though certainly not always) talking about other persons's responsibility, not their own.


*Since I believe in tracing claims to original sources, rather than getting information about others' point of view "through the heavily distorted, poorly translated, deeply skeptical lens" of those you already agree with, you can find that quote (and context) here: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html

RkBall said...

2. The G&M is leftist/liberal on the following issues:

* abortion
* capital punishment
* Charter activism
* the preference for marriage rights rooted in the selectively applied notion of sexual orientation rather than in the fundamental laws of human biology and the presumptive rights of children to a mother and a father
* single-parenting and extra-marital sex
* cradle-to-grave welfare entitlements

What is the G&M's view on legalization of prostitution, euthanasia, and embryonic stem-cell research?

If in favour, then it is left, left, and left again.

There's not much right about the G&M.

Anon1152 said...

"There's not much right about the G&M."

Well... They endorsed Harper in each of the last three elections (2006, 2008, 2011).

RkBall said...

Problem is, there's very little left of our society to "conserve". The Liberals and NDP have been chomping at the bit to legalize prostitution, and euthanasia will be next. The Conservatives can be relied on to not promote either of these, but, neither will they seek to roll back any of the social decline initiated by Trudeau and the Charter and leftist judges.

On issues that matter to social conservatives, like the promotion of homosexuality, abortion, stem-cell research, injustices caused by Big Unions and the excessive entitlements of government employees, etc., the Conservatives are simply left-wing liberals in drag.

RkBall said...

Thanks for your detailed comment. I'll try to get to it more carefully in the next day or so. I just finished a two-day car trip Toronto - PEI and I'm bushed (not GWB).

RkBall said...

"But I view people as individuals who are also, simultaneously, members of groups. I don't find anything controversial or contradictory in that belief. If you do, then please, let me know (and explain)."

The problem is when the groups have rights that individuals don't. I have back problems. If they were worse, I might be deemed handicapped. At which point I would become a different person in the eyes of the law, entitled to favoured treatment in hiring, etc. A company might well hire me not for who I am and what I can do, but because they will get points for me being designated handicapped. It goes absolutely against the grain of my liberal instincts. (I'm using liberal in the traditional, non-modern sense.)

The latest abomination along these lines is a liberal school in the US that is going to inquire about a person's sexuality on the application form, and offer gays etc. special favoured scholarship assistance.

Anon1152 said...

Regarding your comment @10:45:

I think this is where distinctions between conservative, social conservative, neoconservative, the-conservative and perhaps the old progressive conservative are relevant. The Globe is usually "progressive" on social issues. Though as I said, they have a long history (including recent history) of endorsing conservative candidates.

Positions on euthanasia do not necessarily fall along standard left/right lines (though once an issue becomes framed in terms of one's social and political (and religious) identity you do see those left/right divisions. But I'm not sure how much they have to do with core values. Euthanasia can be justified in terms of cost-effectiveness (a particularly reprehensible justification, in my opinion) that would fit into some right-wing world views. I think a good Christian case can be made for it as well (perhaps an even stronger religious case could be made than a secular case, given it might involve heaven, eternal life). Prostitution is also tricky. An right wing free-market
argument can be made in favour of prostitution. And feminists (who would normally be considered leftists) are often against legalizing prostitution, and in favour of criminalizing pornography.

Anon1152 said...

Regarding your comment @ 6:46:
I too am suspicious about, or wary about (or chary about) "group rights". I'm not against them per se. I think they can be very important. But I have my suspicions. If I were responding to someone who complained about people who "viewed people as individuals, not as parts of groups", I'd probably say something like: "I view people as individuals who are also, simultaneously, members of groups. I don't find anything controversial or contradictory in that belief. If you do, then please, let me know (and explain)." But I digress. My justification for protections for members of groups (e.g., the physically "disabled" or whatever) is that typically, people who do not fit into the category (either directly, or by fulfilling all requirements expected) of white english speaking men of european descent (who are christian either religiously or "culturally", which these days often means "secular") they are discriminated against in ways that are not made explicit. There is plenty of evidence of this. One study I found particularly interesting is cited below*. I've seen similar canadian studies that were more recent focusing on peoples names and whether or not they "sounded foreign". Apparently, when fake resumes are sent out in response to job ads, the ones with non-foreign sounding (or in the american study, "white" sounding as opposed to "black" sounding) names are called back MUCH more than resumes with the foreign sounding or "black" sounding names. I was looking for the Canadian study. I'm sure I have it in a bibliography of mine somewhere, but I can't find it at the moment.

Anyway. This is, I think, evidence that people who don't fit into those identified groups (disabled, gay, black, whatever) are discriminated against in non-official ways. The group protections/rights that you worry about are designed to compensate.

I started reading a book a few weeks ago (and hopefully I can pick it up again soon) called "Shylock's Rights: A Grammar of Lockean Claims". The Introduction says that the argument will be (at least in part) that rights are... necessary evils. The more perfect a society, the fewer "rights" it will have.

* Bertrand, Marianne and Sendhil Mullainathan. “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment in Labor Market Discrimination” in The American Economic Review, Vol 94, No. 4 (September, 2004), pp. 991-1013.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"