Monday, October 25, 2010

Politics on the Brain

The impulse to call one's opponents not just wrong but stupid or crazy seems hard to resist, especially for people who should know better. We’ve grown to expect armchair bloggers (ahem) to carry on like this, but it doesn't take much of a search to find the same insults from publications and pundits with more respectable pretentions. Nor are they in any way one-sided. Try these.

From Scientific American:
"Positive personality traits associated with liberalism (self-reliant, resilient, dominating and energetic) and negative ones attributed to conservatism (easily victimized or offended, indecisive, fearful and rigid) appear as young as nursery school–age kids." Who exactly attributed those traits to each?


Dr. Lyle Rossiter, author of The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness:
"Like spoiled, angry children, they rebel against the normal responsibilities of adulthood and demand that a parental government meet their needs from cradle to grave…The roots of liberalism – and its associated madness – can be clearly identified by understanding how children develop from infancy to adulthood and how distorted development produces the irrational beliefs of the liberal mind." Whose minds in particular, Lyle?


Sarah as "Psychopath" by Deborah King in Psychology Today:
"Sarah Palin is a classic 'psychopath' as defined by Lowen psychodynamics, a system that analyzes the inner forces that affect behavior."


The pithy but highly debatable Irving Kristoll remark, “A neoconservative is someone who has been mugged by reality.”

It is safe to say there will be no surcease to this sort of silliness, but it is worth pointing out that none of it changes anyone's mind. It just makes the opposition angry. Perhaps that is the real idea. Plenty of people are stupid and a fair number are crazy, true enough, but, regrettably, no single political movement has a monopoly on them – or on brilliant people either. Political differences are philosophical, not pathological. One fundamental question, as an example, is “What is the proper legal relation of the individual to society?” There are brighter and saner (irony intended) ways to debate this and other questions than calling each other morons and psychos.

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