Senior educated white male.

Senior educated white male.

Trumpophobia 3

3. Differentism versus inclusivism

By far the most interesting cause of people voting for Trump is explained by reference to one of the enduring divisions of the human species, writes Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic Monthly.

Of the several views of why people choose Trump over his opponents, one is the important discovery that some people do not like or react well to differences. As Friedersdorf explains the research, this has less to do with racism as such than with ‘differentism‘, of which race-ism, tribal-ism, national-ism are examples, but which do not exhaust the categories of differences.

In one sense this is a big obvi-ism. As Jonathan Haidt explained better and more generously in The Righteous Mind, people differ along several axes. Psychological research has identified six such axes, of which procedural fairness and equality of outcome are the two that most engage the ‘liberal’ mind. Group cohesion/treason and the sacred versus the profane are two other such differences, and naturally conservatives score higher in concern for the sacred and for group cohesion.

The author on whom Friedersdorf relies is Karen Stenner, who wrote “The Authoritarian Dynamic“. The treatment accorded the more conservative personality type by Stenner is far less generous that Haidt’s. Stenner seeks to pathologize the syndromes. From the Amazon book blurb:

” This book addresses that question by developing a universal theory of what determines intolerance of difference in general, which includes racism, political intolerance, moral intolerance and punitiveness. It demonstrates that all these seemingly disparate attitudes are principally caused by just two factors: individuals’ innate psychological predispositions to intolerance (“authoritarianism”) interacting with changing conditions of societal threat. The threatening conditions, particularly resonant in the present political climate, that exacerbate authoritarian attitudes include, most critically, great dissension in public opinion and general loss of confidence in political leaders.”

Friedersdorf describes Stenner’s methodology as follows:

” Stenner began her research with a questionnaire that probed the attitudes of her subjects toward child-rearing. Their answers indicated the extent to which they think that it’s more important for kids to obey their parents, have good manners, be neat and clean, and follow the rules—or alternatively, that it’s more important that they are responsible for their own actions, and creative, curious, independent thinkers who follow their own conscience and show good judgment. Designed to provide an unobtrusive, bare-bones measure of each subject’s fundamental stances toward conformity and difference, the child-rearing questionnaires were scored and the subjects arrayed from most libertarian to most authoritarian.”

It is entirely natural that child-rearing has a huge impact on how personalities develop. It is also evident that there is continuum between rule obeying behaviour and independence, and moreover, that there is no inherent superiority whereby the curious and independent minded are to be placed above the obedient and conformist, though liberals might like to think so. Or do they confess to believing in a cognitive and moral superiority to people like themselves? Of course they do.

Stenner observed that “fears regarding immorality and crime, claims about the critical need to reestablish some normative order, and elaboration of plans for accomplishing this” occupied the bulk of “their psychic space,” consuming a hugely disproportionate share of their time and energy.”

Who defines hugely disproportionate?

“Ultimately,” Stenner contended, “much of what we think of as racism, likewise political and moral intolerance, is more helpfully understood as ‘difference-ism,’” defined as “a fundamental and overwhelming desire to establish and defend some collective order of oneness and sameness.”

Both Stenner and the coverage of her book by Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic Monthly constantly insinuate that concern for a normative order is, in some real fashion, an aberration, a morally inferior position, and that it connotes political “authoritarianism”, a political doctrine, rather than “communitarianism”, which has a much more agreeable sound. If you read a conservative thinker like Thomas Sowell or the British philosopher Roger Scruton, you would gain an entirely more generous perspective on concern for a normative order. Concern for the general state of society, for community and for public and private order is not the exclusive concern of the anxious, the ill-educated, or the authoritarian. People who raise their children to analyze and make intelligent choices are not simultaneously without concern for the state of society.

Indeed, I call the current obsession with diversity and inclusion “inclusivism”. It is a doctrine that holds, for instance, that the student body of a cognitively elite institution should be constituted by racial or ethnic groups in proportion to their presence in the general population; that differences in incarceration rates or rates of being shot by police cannot justifiably be different according to race or ethnicity, but must be uniform across society as a whole. The failure or inability to make relevant and justifiable discriminations is the bane of modern society.

Stenner describes the phenomenon as “innate psychological dispensations to intolerance” and calls it “authoritarianism“. This is a dreadful failure to analyze properly and a gross insult to some of the attitudes that have elevated us from living in caves. Some people are intolerant of dirt and disorder, of rodents in the basement, of shit in drinking water. What is tolerated or not tolerated lies on a spectrum. Some people think there needs to be a decision in any given society to drive either on the right or the left, but not both. Some people are rule enforcers, some rule breakers. When to obey and what rules not to obey is a matter of the most careful judgment. Personalities differ in their propensities to conform or break rules, and these propensities are to some extent capable of being different according to political or religious regimes.

The pathologization of political difference begins in Stenner’s characterization of those who want a rules-based order as “authoritarian”. Her analysis, and that of Friedersdorf reporting on it are no more than another form of snobbish condescension towards those whose anxieties for a sense of community are greater than their own.

At the root of all such characterizations of Trump supporters lies the firm belief that those who do not like him are cognitively and morally superior.

Trumpophobia 2

Maximilien Robespierre

Today I am writing on the subject of the reasons why those who oppose Trump explain his support among a large block of Americans. The subject is vast and I do not pretend to be comprehensive. Over time I hope to catalogue, however partially, the reasons why Democrats and others of the political Left insulate themselves from the realization that they are losing a large political battle for the soul of the United States, when they think they are winning it.

  1. Fear

Joe Lansdale writes in the Texas Observer on the subject of why his neighbours will vote for Trump:

Trump has provided a dark, dank hole into which these folks can dump whatever it is they’re mad about ….

“Guns are a symbol of fear, but they are also a symbol of power, a way for the everyday person to feel important and potent, to be a participant in the great game show of life. Guns have replaced the previous religion of Texas, which was football, and Trump is the high priest. Fear sells, and it stimulates. Trump and his cronies constantly tell us, without actual facts, how bad crime is and how evil all foreigners are — especially if they dress funny — and they repeat over and over the false information that the economy is on the verge of collapse and you better build that bunker and stock up, because if you don’t, all you’ll have for protection from the certain rise of crazed liberals is harsh language.

“This is a world so many conservative Republicans feel they can control. A frightened world. A world where the happily stupid, bless their little hearts, can thrive within their own fear-based mythology. A place where those with and without teeth, with and without educations, will happily pull the lever for the Great Pumpkin come Election Day.”

2. Language

A more sophisticated interpretation comes from The Atlantic Magazine’s George Packer. His discussion begins with Victor Klemperer’s writing on the subject of the use of language in Nazi Germany, where Klemperer lived in hiding throughout the Second World War.

” Klemperer was a literary historian, and to preserve his mental balance under Nazi rule he used his diary to continue doing the academic work from which, as a Jew, he was officially banned: He studied the language of the Third Reich. He recorded how, after Hitler took power, certain words in various forms—Volk, fanatisch—soon became ubiquitous in public and in private; how religious terms imbued the ruling ideology; how euphemisms such as evacuation and concentration camp were coined to make massive crimes sound bureaucratically legitimate; how the German language grew impoverished and uniform; how Nazi language became a total system outside of which Germans could no longer think, and which did the thinking for them, to the bitter end.”

“Klemperer seems to be describing Trump’s speeches.”

” Compare this to the language of Trump’s populism. There’s not a breath of inspiration in it. The crowds attend his rallies for red meat—Hillary Clinton, Ilhan Omar, Mexicans, the media, corrupt “elites” of various kinds—and go home satisfied. Nothing whatsoever is asked of them. Their hero never paints a convincing picture of what American greatness would look like— “

” The strength of Trump’s populist language lies in its openness. It requires no expert knowledge and has no code of hidden meanings. It’s attuned to some of the strongest currents in American pop culture, and it gives rise almost spontaneously to memorable slogans—“Build the wall,” “Lock her up,” “Witch hunt,” “No collusion,” “Make America great again.” It’s the way people talk when the inhibitors are off. It’s available to anyone who’s willing to join the mob.”

Having settled to his satisfaction why Trump’s rhetoric is working, because it resembles the simplifying tendencies of language in the Third Reich (bad, bad Nazis), and that all you need to do is be ready to join the mob, he proceeds to examine why the rhetoric of Trump is more satisfying than the rhetoric employed by the political Left. Here he gets to the interesting admission, that the rhetoric of the political Left is unattractive. His insights are profound.

“The crudeness of Trump’s rhetoric makes it both dangerous and politically potent. By contrast, the language of the contemporary left is anti-populist. Its vocabulary, much of it taken from academia, is the opposite of accessible—it has to be decoded and learned. Terms such as centered, marginalized, intersectional, non-binary, and Eurocentric gender discipline separate outsiders from insiders—that’s part of their intent, as is the insistence on declaring one’s personal pronouns and showing an ability to use them accordingly. Even common words like ally and privilege acquire a resonance that takes them out of the realm of ordinary usage, because the point of this discourse is to create a sense of special virtue.”

“The language of the left creates a hierarchy of those who get it and those who don’t. Mastering the vocabulary is a way of signaling entry into a select world of the knowing and the just. The system is closed—there’s an internal logic that can be accepted or rejected but isn’t open to argument or question. In this sense, though much of the language of the left has academic origins, its use in the public square is almost religious. The abandonment of language that brings people in rather than shutting them out is one of the left’s many structural disadvantages in American politics today.”

‘A sense of special virtue’, ‘an internal logic than can be accepted or rejected but isn’t open to argument or question’ – these are emphatically the terms upon which the political Left chooses to conduct itself. It is anti-rational in the highest degree.

Over the course of a lifetime dealing with Leftists, it has been my observation that their prevailing motive is a sense of self-assigned virtue. The likely consequences or actual consequences of a policy are not the basis upon which it should be judged, but only the degree of virtue one feels in imposing it. Thomas Sowell describes this dynamic well in “The Vision of the Anointed”. He calls it self-congratulation as the basis for social policy. Hence no learning is possible or required, since the feedback from policy to consequences is decisively broken.

I recall the first time I heard the term correct applied to politics. It was in 1975 or thereabouts. A young PhD student in the Trudeau the Elder regime said the question being asked on the Yale campus where he took is degree was “are you correct?”. He meant it in the Marxist sense: that politics was not a matter of persuasion and belief but of scientific deduction. Your answers to political problems were correct or not in the same sense that your answer to 2+2 was correct or not.

“An internal logic that can be accepted or rejected but isn’t open to argument or question”.

And the pundits think those who favour Trump are ignorant, fear-driven and irrational. Maybe they know what sort of people they are dealing with: a bunch of Robespierres leading zombie armies of the night.

Trumpophobia

I am surrounded by Liberals and Democrats. “Not my President” stickers can be found in the summer colony I inhabit in July and August. Conversations have to be carefully managed to avoid any serious discussion of the Donald. Known Trumpists gather in small groups and exchange significant winks. A sentence is sufficient. This is probably as it should be, or as good as it ever can get. It is Volvo territory, and the chattering classes are firmly convinced that the United States has been taken over by an uncouth narcissist who opposes all the good things in life.

I agree that Trump is uncouth and an egotist, and I don’t care. You ask why? Because every time the President gets into a spat with some sacred cow of the Left, the range of what can be said by others expands. The most recent example was his taking on of the Congressman from Baltimore, an American black politician. Trump called his district in Baltimore a rat-infested dump, and after all the outrage of the left (racist! racist!) , it became possible to talk about the poverty and lack of civic virtue of the black population of Baltimore, and by extension, of all the other violence- and rat-infested cities governed for too long by Democrats, sustained by black majorities. Racist indeed. We are allowed on occasion to point out realities, as long as we can bear the opprobrium of the Left. But it takes an ice-breaker like Trump to call spades, spades.

The best of anti-Trump invective comes from Andrew Sullivan in New York magazine. It should be read, despite everything that is wrong with it, because it is the best expression of the concerns that a certain class of American has about Trump. Never mind that it is overwrought, partizan, snobbish and ultimately even silly. Sullivan compares the American Republic to Rome, and gives a useful precis of how Rome transformed from a Republic into a dictatorship over the course of a century or two of political turmoil, civil war, faction war, and occasional massacres.

Sullivan’s main points regarding Trump are as follows:

” If republicanism at its core is a suspicion of one-man rule, and that suspicion is the central animating principle of the American experiment in self-government, Trump has effectively suspended it for the past three years and normalized strongman politics in America.”

” He has also definitively shown that a president can accept support from a foreign power to get elected, attempt to shut down any inquiry into his crimes, obstruct justice, suborn perjury from an aide, get caught … and get away with all of it. “

“But when the president himself declares the system he works in is rigged, when he opines that electoral fraud is rampant, when he accuses his own FBI and intelligence services of being corrupt, he accelerates this process of delegitimization.”

” The second case against complacency is that a key branch of government that can and should restrain presidential overreach, the judiciary, is being methodically co-opted for the cause of executive power.”

“And the third is precedent. If republican virtues and liberal democratic values are a forest of traditions and norms, Trump has created a vast and expanding clearing. What Rome’s experience definitively shows is that once this space is cleared, even if it is not immediately filled, some day it will be.”

” A republican president respects how the system works, treats power as if it is always temporarily held, interacts with other agents with civility, however strained, and feels responsible, for a while, for keeping the system alive. Trump simply has no understanding of any of this. His very psyche — his staggering vanity, narcissism, and selfishness — is far more compatible with monarchical government than a republican one.”

The whole of Sullivan’s article, except for his precis of Roman history, proceeds from of a lack of insight into several important features of US politics, which have been present since Hamilton and Jefferson went at each other with equal acerbity and suspicion in the 1700s.

Paranoia: the republic is always in danger from the plots, misdeeds, and of concentration of power in the Presidency, which in principle should be restricted to executing the laws that the Congress has passed (as people of this school maintain when the President belongs to a party they oppose).

Lack of historical perspective: power has been concentrating in the Presidency since Teddy Roosevelt, and not just in the regime of his distant cousin Franklin. You could look at the criticisms of Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus (the freedom from arbitrary arrest and seizure) in the Civil War as an example of Presidential concentration of power and suspension of civil liberties

Assault upon norms: Trump has consistently refused to take shit from a media class that has been determined to destroy him and whose animus against him and impotence is revealed daily. People elected him to fight back against the smothering liberal consensus and he has, successfully. He does not need press conferences when he can reach millions through tweets.

The case for Trump is most succinctly made by Conrad Black: that after 32 years of the family regimes of Bushes and Clintons, where a Bush or a Clinton was either a president, vice-president or secretary of state, something ended the soft-left passivity and decline. That event was the Trump election.

Nothing in the past three or four years has surprised me more than the hysterical and fact-resistant reaction of liberals to Trump. It is as if the totalitarian instincts of the American liberal – by which I mean leftist – have been given free range. Everything they accuse Trump and his followers of being: racist, ignorant, anti-immigrant, white supremacist, seems to have been the cover for a snobbery so gigantic it defies description, or in my case, understanding.

The useful portions of the American public, the people who drive ambulances, police the streets, fight the fires, build and repair cars, the genuinely civic minded, occasionally church-going, and non-fanatical American working class, and the rest of the civic core of American society, has been held up tp the opprobrium of people whose living is earned treating in symbols and information.

The people who have received university educations seem, by and large, to be anti-Trump, and I doubt not they cloak themselves in concern for the norms and practices of republican government. It seems to me however that the Gramscian long march through the institutions is bearing fruit, and that a class of people falsely and wrongly educated in American “educational” institutions is being told their views are wrong and that they are superfluous. As indeed they are. Hell hath no fury like a liberal scorned.

Anyone who doubts that Trump will crush his opposition in the next election is not paying attention. This certainty – as near as life and fortune allows – is becoming obvious even to some Democrats. I am taking bets.

Mueller is senile

Watching Robert Mueller yesterday, I was struck by the appearance of early senility. I mean that in a medical sense, and not as an insult, though I am not qualified to make a professional estimate. Amidst all the prevarications, the deliberate wasting of time, the failure to understand plain questions, and the meandering, it was clear to all, including Democrats, that the purpose of putting Mueller before the panel failed. Nothing would stick. It could not be used as the basis of impeachment proceedings, no more than the report bearing his name, which also failed in its purpose.

It is hard to understand what the Democrats think they would have achieved had they “won” yesterday. The experience of Nixon and Bill Clinton show how utterly divisive impeachment proceedings are. What the Democrats sought yesterday was to avoid being crushed in the next election by being able to avoid fighting Trump. It is not going to happen. And they will be crushed.

See Breitbart; see Tucker Carlson.

This does not mean that those caught in the Democrat’s delusory framework will open their eyes to the oncoming train in the tight tunnel. Those who have bought into Trump-as-evil-Russian puppet remain obdurate in their refusal to see who is the puppet of Russia; think the Steele dossier is true; and think the man a racist for telling off brown Somali Muslim woman in the Squad for her evident hypocrisy and ill-will towards America. There will always be at least 40% of the American population who think the Republicans are the agents of Satan. 40% are Republican. The remaining 20% are open to persuasion. Increasingly they look at what the Dems are proposing: intersectionality, radical identity politics, open borders, soft on crime, gun-controlling, and they will not like what they see.

I predict a lot of sensible Democrats are going to go into the polling booth and pull the lever for Trump, despite everything.

“Not a famine of bread”

This is from the Anglican liturgical calendar for the sixth Sunday in Pentecost. It is from the Book of Amos, which is only a few pages long.

“The time is surely coming, says the Lord God,
when I will send a famine on the land;

not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.

They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;

they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
but they shall not find it.”

I have been thinking much on the theme of a famine, not of bread, but of hearing the words of the Lord. In my considered opinion, this is an exact description of our current state of being in North America. See previous blog postings for your evidence.

If you keep hammering white people, they will unite

I cannot condense Bret Weinstein’s address better than he does himself.

Bonding through racial/tribal/genetic affinity is way older than bonding through reciprocity (trade and political organization).

As you break down bonding through affinity, you naturally build the strength of bonding through genetic likeness.

When you back people against a wall, they will be compelled to unite, despite any previous disunity. Intersectionality backs white people against the wall, and claims they should have no rights, that they are inherently evil because of their genetic nature.

The liberal order is being destroyed by intersectionality, which is the claim that virtue is a numbers game based on degrees of supposed oppression. White people cannot be oppressed, everyone else, to a degree, has been.

As white people are backed into a no-win corner by intersectional analysis and action, they will be forced to unite on the basis of their racial/national/tribal basis.

Which is what we see happening?

Delingpole on the Climate Wars

Never mind about the science: for Delingpole, the climate thing is a branch of the culture wars.

The question I am asked when I express my doubts about climate catstrophism to the true believers is: how dare I question the consensus of people who know so much more than I do? To which Delingpole answers at minute 21 of this interview…

The impending slaughter of the Democrats and other good news

Fortunately for them it will only be a metaphorical slaughter at the ballot box. As Conrad Black opines this morning in American Greatness…..

https://amgreatness.com/2019/07/09/tired-irrelevant-democratic-candidates-point-to-trump-reelection/

Plus Boris Johnson is shortly to lead the Conservatives in the UK on a platform of taking the UK out of the European Union completely, and not trying to negotiate with Brussels.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Johnson

So there is much reason to be content this morning.