|Nov 08, 2009 8:27 pm
||Political Labels: Are they meaningful - Or are they just political swear words?
John Stephen Veitch
|| On the Innovation Network Thomas Holford wrote two significant posts I'd like to replay here.
We start with a question Lamar Morgan asked:
>"What does it mean for humanity to be infected with solipsism and megalomania? You lost me with those big words."
Thomas Holford continues:
I have spent a great deal of my adult life trying to unravel the really, really fundamental issues that distinguish between "the left" and "the right".
It's always been remarkable that almost all leftists tend to believe in the same set of issues (unions, welfare, environmentalism, big government, etc, etc.) and all "rightists" tend to believe in THEIR set of issues (property rights, gun rights, self-reliance, personal responsibility, etc., etc.).
What explains this?
I think the difference goes back at least as far as the ancient Greek philosphers. The underlying issue is virtually the same issue that Socrates was debating with the Sophists, which included among others the philospher Gorgias.
In a nutshell, Socrates believed their was some ulimate "truth" and "virtue" which he sought to discover through dialogue and asking questions. Implicitly, Socrates believed in an external objective reality.
The Sophists believed, essentially, that people were only able to know "reality" from what their senses told them. As a practical matter, if a person didn't learn anything through their senses, it didn't exist for that person.
Hence, different people had different "realities", and their was no common "external objective reality".
Solipsism comes from the latin words "sole ipsum", which means "only oneself". It refers to the belief or perception that a person is the only intelligent being in the universe, and everyone and everything else are just perceptions.
A corollary to the denial of external objective reality is "nihilism", or the belief in nothingness, beyond the self. The nihilist believes that after he is dead and gone, there is . . . nothing.
What contemporary leftists believe, in my opinion, has a philosophical pedigree that goes all the way back to the Sophists and their "nihilism".
Throughout history, succeeding generations of philosphers have built on the sophist's ideas of nihilism and embellished them and refined them in various ways.
Rene Descartes famously said: "I think, therefore I am".
Conversely, if Descartes is NOT thinking, i.e. dead, he is no more, and there is no external objective reality.
Nietszche, Hegel, Engles, Marx and others have all expressed ideas that can be characterized as "nihilist".
The logical extension of "nihilism" is "narcissism", obsessive love and admiration of the self, based on the belief that the self is the only intelligent being that exists. And from "narcissism" it is only a short step to "megalomania": the belief that oneself is the greatest, smartest being in existence AND is entitled to absolute authority and control over all other beings. If one believes that other beings are just cartoon images projected by your senses onto the inside of your skull, than you can manipulate those images anyway you want for your own benefit and pleasure. There is no such thing as "morality".
The philosphy of Socrates goes down an entirely different path. There IS and external objective reality. It IS populated with independent beings that have a separate existence. The external independent beings have FREE WILL. And in a world with external independent beings having free will, the formula for harmonious world really boils down to: The Golden Rule.
"Do Unto Others as You Would Have them do unto you"
And if you think about it, the Golden Rule is the underlying ethic of the market system and of capitalism, which assumes that people have free will and can independently make decisions on economic transactions that improve their satisfaction and well being.
Long winded, but not easy to say concisely since people have so many wrong headed notions in their skulls.
Lamar Morgan also Liked that post.
That led him to ask.
"Is there anything that can be done to educate the progressive liberals who are apparently so misguided that they would willingly attempt to save a species of fish and at the same time deny dry land in California water. What has happened to the world's sense of sanity? Did it never have it?"
To which Thomas Holford wrote:
This was the core question that I set out to answer when I tried to understand the different realities of "the left" and "the right" (or the Sophists and the Socrateseans).
My conclusion is that "progressive liberals" will likely never change because they live in a closed reality inside of their heads.
Their philosophy results in their psychology, and their psychology is narcissism.
Everyone has some degree of self awareness, but extreme narcissism is formally recognized as a psychiatric pathology known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
There are two very troubling of aspects of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
1. It can be induced in people, typically by difficult childhood environments or experiences like parental abandonment, divorce, alcoholism, etc.
2. It is virtually incurable. There is no reliable way known to recover a pathological narcissist once they go over the edge. Once a narcissist, always a narcissist.
The narcissistic reality built into the heads of people with NPD essentially makes them uneducable. They perceive that they are "the smartest person in the room", and therefore, no one is going to tell them anything IMPORTANT that they don't already know or need to know.
The way that narcissism works is that narcissistic people need a source of what is called "narcissistic supply". In other words, they need to surround themselves with people who will continually remind them of how wonderful they are. People who decline to be enablers or sycophants for narcissists inevitably find themselves ignored or excluded.
People who actively seek to diminish or undermine the narcissist's grandiose self-image often find themselves the objects of active hostility from the narcissist.
The modern liberal culture supports and reinforces the society wide tendency to greater and greater narcissism. Think of "self-esteem" programs in the schools. Think of "American Idol". Think of Oprah and her daily parade of pathetic, blubbering victims. Me! Me! Me! It's all about me.
Sadly, we live in culture of narcissism. "Progressive liberalism" is a political ideology that panders to, fosters and exploits narcissism.
Neither are going to go away.
The only response I can think of is to:
A: ) Recognize narcissism as real, intractable, and closely interwined with liberal politics.
B:) Call it out and expose it in all its multiplicity of forms, and all of its shallow pretension.
As Rush Limbaugh says: "We don't want to get along with liberals; we want to defeat them."
End of rant.
John Stephen Veitch; The Network Ambassador
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