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A Social Disease?

I work in a very liberal environment, and over the past few years, I have come to wonder at the fact that the vast majority of the folks I have kept in touch with from high school, college, and graduate school are overwhelming left-leaning.  Until recently, I even found logging on to Facebook depressing, simply because the vast majority of my Facebook “friends” are Obama voters.

Although I can understand how and why I ended up with such a large collection of liberal friends, acquaintances and colleagues–from about the age of 16 through my late twenties I fancied myself a “moderate,” and I have spent most of  my adult life in or on the margins of the academic world–I can’t help but feel dismayed that so many of the folks I know have clung to the leftism of their youth with the zeal of the true believer.

Blogger Assistant Village Idiot has written many excellent posts over the years on the nature of what he considers “tribal” thinking when it comes to political, social and cultural identity.  He wrote a great one two weeks ago where he reflected on the nature of contemporary liberalism as primarily a social phenomenon:

I have declared many times that liberalism is more of a social than an intellectual set of beliefs.  Certainly, liberalism is enforced socially rather than intellectually (though the claim of intellectual superiority remains, and is in fact part of the pressure).

He goes on to cite examples from the current TV show Portlandia which illustrate the techniques of liberal social “enforcement” at work through the application of “self-righteousness,” the use of “public shaming,” and the threat of being “cut off from the group.”   Read the whole thing, and be sure to watch some of the clips, too, if you’re not familiar with the show already.

Most readers of GayPatriot are more than familiar with the shock, disbelief and horror (along with much more mean-spirited and vitriolic reactions) voiced by “liberals” when we express conservative views or even when we question standard liberal talking points and “conventional wisdom.”   Likewise, I’m sure most of us have had the experience of referring the seemingly more open-minded among them to an article, website, book or movie which they never even look into.  One reason for their reactions is that, because of the social conditioning perpetuated by aggressive liberals and the propagandizing of the educational establishment, most contemporary liberals aren’t prepared to engage intellectually with ideas outside of a narrow range of approved opinions, and so they quickly turn to insults, name-calling, ad hominem attacks, and other forms of invective.

The late Andrew Breitbart became a hero to many of us as a result of his ability to call out and confront the leftist premises in all kinds of situations.  With this post, I’d like to launch an ongoing, periodical series of posts reflecting on the phenomenon of social liberalism–both understanding its implications, and also thinking about effective ways to recognize, respond to and defend against the techniques, tactics, premises and presuppositions of social liberals.

When I first started reading blogs regularly, I thought the challenge was in possessing the information needed to refute the arguments of the left.  The more I have learned about issues and arguments, though, the more appalled I have become at the reality that most liberals don’t care about the facts or about reason, and instead they seek to enforce their views through social coercion.   In the age of the low-information voter, becoming Breitbarts is more important than ever before.

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89 Comments

  1. I can see where Sarah Palin would suffer in comparison to super-genius Joe Biden. /sarc

    And I guess disagreeing with her on issues is sufficient justification for David Letterman to call her a “slutty stewardess,” for Bill Maher (whom Brubeck thinks is a witty, intelligent fellow) to call her a “c-nt,” and for Sandra Bernhardt to want her to be gang-raped by black thugs.

    Comment by V the K — January 29, 2013 @ 6:20 am - January 29, 2013

  2. It was certainly much more reasonable for that tower of intellect, David Brooks, to decide he would vote for Obama because he liked the crease in his pants.

    Comment by V the K — January 29, 2013 @ 6:23 am - January 29, 2013

  3. Finally, how on Earth is the Tea Party “willing to cause a lot of suffering to get what they want”? To the extent that average conservatives say they want Obama voters (or whatever) to suffer for their vote, it is because that suffering is going to happen eventually, not because the conservatives wanted it to punish the Obama voters. It has to happen.

    This in a nutshell. One of my friends in the army was concerne about providing for his family if the sequeter led to his layoff. I told him I was concerned, given that I expect my field to cease to exist* in 5 years, but I’d rather suffer now, so my godkids don’t have to.

    *Exist in any meaningful sense, we’ll still administer contracts for federal employers and those who get Obama exemptions. The government plan isn’t good enough for the people who designed it, don’t ya know…

    Comment by The_Livewire — January 29, 2013 @ 7:50 am - January 29, 2013

  4. Brubeck,

    I would be interested in seeing the liberal site where the issues are well delineated and thoroughly addressed. Can you provide one?

    Comment by heliotrope — January 29, 2013 @ 8:07 am - January 29, 2013

  5. I too would like to see this wonderful liberal site where issues are addressed with calm and reason and the other view receives a fair hearing.

    Comment by V the K — January 29, 2013 @ 8:41 am - January 29, 2013

  6. I can see where Sarah Palin would suffer in comparison to super-genius Joe Biden. /sarc

    Agree. At that point in 2008, Palin (whatever her failings) was more knowledgeable than Joe “Edge of Retarded” Biden. And she probably still is. And she definitely still has a better grasp of the issues (the better ways to solve them) than either Obama or Biden. If you want to take that more as a putdown of them than a compliment to her… Whatevs; it will still be the truth.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 29, 2013 @ 11:42 am - January 29, 2013

  7. Sarah Palin must be destroyed because she brings out the peasants armed with their pitchforks and torches.

    She is a clear and dangerous threat to statism and further robbery by the state through taxation and noble social justice initiatives such as the war on greed and forced redistribution of wealth.

    Furthermore, she talks like a hick. Joe Cool Biden is really sincere and connected. He shoots the breeze. Sarah Trailertrash Palin ditzy and dumb blonde. She shoots moose.

    Comment by heliotrope — January 29, 2013 @ 12:35 pm - January 29, 2013

  8. She is a clear and dangerous threat to statism

    Oh, yeah. That, too.

    Comment by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) — January 29, 2013 @ 12:49 pm - January 29, 2013

  9. Don’t forget, she allowed two children to be born who were imperfect or inconvenient, instead of aborting them; this marks her as a blasphemer and apostate.

    Comment by V the K — January 29, 2013 @ 12:53 pm - January 29, 2013

  10. V the K, re your comment at 59, I would never criticize Palin for making the choices you mention. I also respect the fact that her son served in the military and saw combat, making him one of the very few children of politically or economically powerful families, of any ideology, who did serve. I can respect aspects of Palin’s life without thinking she was qualified to be Vice President.

    Rattlesnake, do you honestly believe that no leftist, by definition, can have beliefs with a logical foundation? Really? Wow — it is one thing to disagree with people, it is another thing to not even grant the possibility that they could honestly disagree with you based on beliefs as well thought out as your own. How is your statement different than, say, claims by certain atheists (and here is an area where I think Maher is plain wrong) that believers are by definition all poor deluded fools with imaginary friends, or that conservatives are all greedy insecure bigots by definition? (Yes, I know that this thread started off claiming that liberalism is a social disease, but the point is that anyone who wants to delegitimize the beliefs of others can always find a fancy-sounding way to explain them away.

    Comment by Brubeck — January 29, 2013 @ 1:19 pm - January 29, 2013

  11. “A Tea Party adherent who has his belief system and won’t listen to alternatives is a lot like a close-minded Marxist — both are scary because they “know” what is right and are willing to cause a lot of suffering to get what they want.”

    Because a Tea Party person who just wants to be left alone is just like a Marxist who wants to run everybody’s lives and steal their property. There is no-one more cruel and dangerous than a peaceful person who simply does not want to be a serf–or slave even.

    Comment by pst314 — January 29, 2013 @ 1:45 pm - January 29, 2013

  12. This post’s title keeps making me think of the Elton John song. 😉

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 29, 2013 @ 3:41 pm - January 29, 2013

  13. pst314 – Excellent point. Tea Party adherents want Government to leave us alone. Leftists want Government to control our lives. That is the most important difference.

    Comment by V the K — January 29, 2013 @ 3:47 pm - January 29, 2013

  14. I notice Brubeck seems to be unable to answer heliotrope’s question: “I would be interested in seeing the liberal site where the issues are well delineated and thoroughly addressed. Can you provide one?”

    Comment by V the K — January 29, 2013 @ 3:48 pm - January 29, 2013

  15. Jeff (ILC)–That is amusing. I was not familiar with that song before.

    Comment by Kurt — January 29, 2013 @ 4:48 pm - January 29, 2013

  16. Rattlesnake, do you honestly believe that no leftist, by definition, can have beliefs with a logical foundation? Really?

    Yep. Leftism makes no sense.

    How is your statement different than, say, claims by certain atheists (and here is an area where I think Maher is plain wrong) that believers are by definition all poor deluded fools with imaginary friends, or that conservatives are all greedy insecure bigots by definition?

    This is a logical fallacy. The fact that those things are both inaccurate has no effect on my statement.

    Comment by Rattlesnake — January 29, 2013 @ 5:44 pm - January 29, 2013

  17. Is Maher “scary because [he] ‘know[s]’ what is right”?

    The question here is partly epistemological. Brubeck seems to treat all viewpoints as (at least potentially) valid. Thus, anyone who asserts that their viewpoint is right, is ‘scary’ because they deny the validity of someone else’s viewpoint. But that in itself is a viewpoint, which implicitly negates the validity of certain other viewpoints. In other words, self-contradicting mush.

    A better approach would be to admit that there exists one reality – one objective truth – and we had best use our reason to discover what it is. And in that process, some viewpoints are going to be revealed as wrong. (Not everyone can be right.) And part of adulthood is using your own mind to arrive at the viewpoint that you -know- (by reason) to be right; accepting the risk that your knowledge might be wrong or incomplete, and accepting the responsibility to correct your viewpoint when (by reason) you see that it is.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 29, 2013 @ 6:14 pm - January 29, 2013

  18. Rattlesnake, there is one way in which adopting left-wing politics is logical; and that is, adopting left-wing politics out of calculated self-interest. Michael Moore has made himself quite wealthy by catering to the prejudices of a left-wing audience. Ed Schultz and Jesse Jackson have similarly profited by exploiting the bottomless capacity of leftists to enjoy hearing their prejudices affirmed. Any number of Democrats in Congress have also logically concluded that left-wing politics are a patht o wealth and power.

    But can anyone make a logical case that left-wing policies are good for society? No, not really.

    Comment by V the K — January 29, 2013 @ 6:38 pm - January 29, 2013

  19. Operative words, ‘logical’ and ‘really’. As in ‘logically valid’. Krugman will sometimes affect to make such a case. But he’s wrong. Under scrutiny of logic, his viewpoints usually fall apart.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 29, 2013 @ 6:43 pm - January 29, 2013

  20. “both are scary because they ‘know’ what is right”

    The postmodern pretense is that all viewpoints are equally valid. The criteria for choice then devolve to power and privilege, and leftists can denigrate views they disapprove of not on the basis of facts (for the facts are nearly always against them) but on “fairness” to those who are “disempowered”. And thus it is the Tea Party is “cruel” for objecting to having their property expropriated on behalf of Designated Victim Groups (and of course on behalf of the Official Helpers of those victim groups.)

    Comment by pst314 — January 29, 2013 @ 8:39 pm - January 29, 2013

  21. Heliotrope and others asked about a left-leaning site that addresses issues in a thorough and intellectually rigorous way. To pick just one of many examples, take a look at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities site. They have a point of view that most of you likely won’t agree with, but their numbers and their budgetary analysis are rigorous and well-respected. In short, they are a refutation of the idea that liberalism is somehow incompatible with reason, as has been argued in this thread. (I would say that they are center-left, but I will let you judge that for yourself.)

    Comment by Brubeck — January 30, 2013 @ 1:13 pm - January 30, 2013

  22. they are a refutation of the idea that liberalism is somehow incompatible with reason

    That depends on how well they reason. For instance, on the extent to which they fudge their numbers to make their point.

    I don’t know if they do or they don’t; I just know that I’ve seen a lot of leftie outfits, articles, etc. which do. Just because someone puts on a careful appearance of being rigorous, accurate, etc. does not mean that they are. You know the saying: figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 30, 2013 @ 1:36 pm - January 30, 2013

  23. (continued) To be precise, what I usually see lefties practice is a kind of self-deception: Basing their ‘rigorous, analytical” case on unrealistic assumptions, and pretending that all of the knowledge and facts that undermine their desired conclusion simply do not exist.

    It goes to RS’ point about the basic illogic of leftism. When a philosophy is deeply illogical, as leftism is, then the ‘factual’ case to support will almost inevitably show oversights and other flaws.

    To provide just one easy illustration, I’ve often seen left-wing outfits use static tax rate analysis, “if we hike tax rates by X points on Y pool of money, it multiplies out to Z dollars of revenue”, which blithely ignores the dynamic (often self-defeating) effects of tax hikes.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 30, 2013 @ 2:06 pm - January 30, 2013

  24. ILoveCapitalism, I don’t think you can say that unrealistic data assumptions are a uniquely or even predominantly left-wing sin. Remember how long many prominent Republicans argued the erroneous supply-side idea that tax cuts would pay for themselves, or maybe even increase revenues? There are certainly those on the left who would increase taxes far more than I would desire, but the empirical evidence doesn’t support the conservative contention that even relatively modest tax increases will harm growth. Neither does the empirical evidence support the idea that tax cuts are a magic growth elixir.

    By the way, while I think I am on pretty solid empirical ground here, you might disagree, but note that the arguments I am making are based on empirical evidence and reasoning, not emotion or social conformity or what have you. This idea that liberal ideas can’t be supported with logical argument is just plain wrong.

    Comment by Brubeck — January 30, 2013 @ 4:08 pm - January 30, 2013

  25. Remember how long many prominent Republicans argued the erroneous supply-side idea that tax cuts would pay for themselves, or maybe even increase revenues?

    Comment by Brubeck — January 30, 2013 @ 4:08 pm – January 30, 2013

    Oh, would you like data?

    Kennedy’s major tax cut, which included chopping the top marginal rate to 70% from 91%, became law in early 1964, after his untimely death. It promised to grow the economy and close the budget gap.

    “Coming at a time of substantial deficit in the federal budget, this was a startling proposal to many observers,” said New York University economist Richard Sylla, co-author of “The Evolution of the American Economy.”

    To the shock of many naysaying Democrats, the plan worked. The economy grew at an average 5.5% clip, and unemployment fell to 3.8%. In turn, the annual deficit shrank to $1 billion from $7 billion as individual income-tax receipts nearly doubled.

    That is data, Brubeck.

    As is this: the statement of your Barack Obama Party that modest tax increases will close your deficits is mathematically impossible.

    The total of the Obama deficits for the past three years, even with a generous adjustment, is $3.43 trillion dollars.

    As Mary Katherine Ham so helpfully calculated, the grand total of wealth of every single one of the US’s billionaires is $1.3 trillion — or, put differently, a mere 38% of the total generously-adjusted Obama deficit.

    Clearly, not enough. So let’s go even deeper than that. Let’s tax everyone who makes over $200k at 100% of their income.

    That would raise a grand total of 2.4 trillion dollars — or 71% of the total generously-adjusted Obama budget.

    So, Brubeck, if you confiscated the total income of every single taxpayer making over $200k annually in the United States, you couldn’t even pay the entire generously-adjusted deficit that your “progressive” Obama Party and Barack Obama have run up in just the past three years.

    And that doesn’t even get into the economic effect of confiscating every single dollar of income that anyone making over $200k has.

    So to put it bluntly, Brubeck, math and previous experience, all of which I have provided with links and data to support them, demonstrate that your statements are false. Just as I have previously demonstrated through links that you support and endorse among Obama Party leaders the behaviors that you accuse and affect to despise among Republicans.

    But again, your point is not to deal with the facts; your point is to browbeat and coerce us into supporting your Republican-bashing worldview. Again and again in this thread, when your liberal ideas have been refuted with facts, you have spun in a new direction, once again complaining about what Republicans and Tea Partiers have allegedly done.

    We get it. You hate Republicans and Tea Partiers, you want Republicans and Tea Partiers to shut up, and nothing is going to change that. No facts, no logic, no rational arguments that we bring to bear are going to be recognized or even acknowledged as valid unless they support your hatred of Republicans and Tea Partiers and your belief that Republicans and Tea Partiers should be silenced.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 30, 2013 @ 6:22 pm - January 30, 2013

  26. Texas has zero state income tax, a relatively robust economy, and a state budget surplus. California, Illinois, and New York have high tax rates, consistent budget problems (California’s budget is only “projected” to be balanced by the new tax hikes), and weak, declining economies. Thus, while models constructed by the left-wing economists may “validate” their fiscal policies; conservative policies are validated by the real world.

    Comment by V the K — January 30, 2013 @ 8:49 pm - January 30, 2013

  27. farting

    Comment by oldjoe — January 31, 2013 @ 8:24 am - January 31, 2013

  28. North Dallas, no one is proposing to attack deficits and debt solely through tax increases — so far we have had considerably more spending cuts than tax increases in deficit reduction efforts — so the whole Mary Katherine Ham exercise is a straw man. Plus, I think it is pretty clear that we would not have been better off with lower deficits in the short run as we were trying to avoid a depression after the financial crisis.

    Comment by Brubeck — January 31, 2013 @ 8:50 am - January 31, 2013

  29. Brubeck,

    Now that you have studied the FreedomWorks site, what aspects of the TEA Party belief system stand out to you as particularly nutty and Neanderthal?

    Comment by heliotrope — January 31, 2013 @ 9:17 am - January 31, 2013

  30. no one is proposing to attack deficits and debt solely through tax increases

    Except for Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and the rest of the Congressional Demoncrats who have:

    – Proposed no concrete spending reductions
    – Declared that Entitlement Reform is Off-The-Table
    – Attacked Repubilcans for proposing spending reductions and entitlement reform
    – Refused to allow Republican spending reduction and entitlement reform bills passed by the House to be voted on in the Senate
    – Spent the entire “Fiscal Cliff” Tax Increase on Pork in the Sandy Relief Bill.

    Comment by V the K — January 31, 2013 @ 11:41 am - January 31, 2013

  31. North Dallas, no one is proposing to attack deficits and debt solely through tax increases — so far we have had considerably more spending cuts than tax increases in deficit reduction efforts — so the whole Mary Katherine Ham exercise is a straw man.

    Comment by Brubeck — January 31, 2013 @ 8:50 am – January 31, 2013

    Actually, Obama (and Maddow, and Robert Reich, and numerous other of his supporters) is (“We don’t have a spending problem”), and the 2012 Obama Party platform, signed to and agreed upon by all candidates, members, and elected officials of the Obama Party, explicitly precludes any spending cuts and demands only tax increases on the wealthy.

    So actually, Brubeck, the entire Obama Party and Barack Obama himself, as well as the entire mainstream media, are saying that. That is a fact, easily demonstrated with links and references.

    But again, your point is not to deal with the facts; your point is to browbeat and coerce us into supporting your Republican-bashing worldview. Again and again in this thread, when your liberal ideas have been refuted with facts, you have spun in a new direction, once again complaining about what Republicans and Tea Partiers have allegedly done.

    We get it. You hate Republicans and Tea Partiers, you want Republicans and Tea Partiers to shut up, and nothing is going to change that. No facts, no logic, no rational arguments that we bring to bear are going to be recognized or even acknowledged as valid unless they support your hatred of Republicans and Tea Partiers and your belief that Republicans and Tea Partiers should be silenced.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 31, 2013 @ 11:43 am - January 31, 2013

  32. so far we have had considerably more spending cuts

    Really? Kindly provide a cite, figures or a graph where overall, future U.S. government spending drops. The ones I’ve seen, all point up.

    We have had some fictitious, small “cuts” to the future spending increases that Obama wanted – but future spending is still slated to increase. Saying that something has been “cut” as it continues to increase is political propaganda 101.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 31, 2013 @ 12:58 pm - January 31, 2013

  33. Defense programs have been cut, but these cuts have been more than offset by increases at the EPA (budget doubled under Obama), HHS, Education, and welfare spending.

    Comment by V the K — January 31, 2013 @ 1:13 pm - January 31, 2013

  34. I agree with the other comments: The points in your response to me, Brubeck, are either disproven by data (as in the case of supply-side tax cuts which, over time, actually did pay for themselves) or/and are tu quoque, “Look over there! at Republicans doing it!”.

    I don’t think you can say that unrealistic data assumptions are a uniquely… left-wing sin

    And indeed, there’s nowhere I did.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 31, 2013 @ 1:16 pm - January 31, 2013

  35. Yeah, V – I was talking about the overall spending levels.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 31, 2013 @ 1:17 pm - January 31, 2013

  36. The perfect description of Brubeck, Barack Obama, and liberal tactics, from today’s Wall Street Journal:

    Back in 1965, when American politics watched the emergence of the New Left movement—rebranded today as “progressives”—a famous movement philosopher said the political left should be “liberated” from tolerating the opinions of the opposition:”Liberating tolerance would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left.”

    That efficient strategy was the work of Herbert Marcuse, the political theorist whose ideas are generally credited with creating the basis for campus speech codes. Marcuse said, “Certain things cannot be said, certain ideas cannot be expressed, certain policies cannot be proposed.” Marcuse created political correctness.

    But let’s talk about Marcuse in the here and now. He also proposed the withdrawal of toleration “from groups and movements . . . which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc.”

    Barack Obama in his “gloves-off” news conference Jan. 14: “They have suspicions about Social Security. They have suspicions about whether government should make sure that kids in poverty are getting enough to eat or whether we should be spending money on medical research.”

    Marcuse called this “the systematic withdrawal of tolerance toward regressive and repressive opinions.” That, clearly, is what President Obama—across his first term, the presidential campaign and now—has been doing to anyone who won’t line up behind his progressivism. Delegitimize their ideas and opinions.

    That’s exactly what Brubeck has been doing here. Every single one of his posts has been to point out how awful and repulsive Republicans, Tea Partiers, and conservatives are, how wrong the ideas and opinions of Republicans, Tea Partiers, and conservatives are, and how no one should pay any attention to Republicans, Tea Partiers, and conservatives.

    Notice that not once has Brubeck actually tried to put forth actual facts supporting his own positions. Every single one of his posts has been for one purpose and one purpose only: delegitimize the ideas and opinions Republicans, Tea Partiers, and conservatives.

    Brubeck does not wish to dialogue or interact. He wants to destroy Republicans, Tea Partiers, and conservatives. And he is going to sit here and harass and attack us until we punch back twice as hard.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 31, 2013 @ 4:26 pm - January 31, 2013

  37. Marcuse… proposed the withdrawal of toleration “from groups and movements . . . which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc.”

    Wow, he said that? Yes, that describes exactly what has been going on.

    Barack Obama in his “gloves-off” news conference Jan. 14: “They have suspicions about Social Security. They have suspicions about whether government should make sure that kids in poverty are getting enough to eat or whether we should be spending money on medical research.”

    Spoken like a true worshipper of the State. In Barack Obama’s warped view of the world, only the State is capable of providing medical care or making sure kids get enough to eat. As I touched on, a few days ago.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — January 31, 2013 @ 5:11 pm - January 31, 2013

  38. […] The first post in my ongoing, periodical series about “social liberalism” generated a li… I had originally planned a second post about the implications of the socially-perpetuated nature of liberalism on both the arguments (or lack thereof) and pundits that seem to dominate on the left side of the political spectrum.  I still think that’s a fascinating topic, and I plan to write more about that in the future. […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Social Liberalism: The Power of Slogans — February 1, 2013 @ 12:26 am - February 1, 2013

  39. gonna let me post?

    Comment by oldjoe — February 1, 2013 @ 8:40 am - February 1, 2013

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