Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Unfair Fight

I came to a conclusion as I read this article about Rachel Maddow: reflective and introspective people -- ie, liberals -- look at the world and get depressed. Conservatives -- the current dominant American variety, anyway, who are anything but reflective or introspective -- look at the world and get angry and scared. The former -- and I suppose I could be personalizing a little too much -- leads to a point at which one is tempted to throw in the towel, while the latter leads to monomaniacal obsession, laced with a heavy dose of paranoia and conspiracy-theory formation, all aimed at eliminating that which causes the anger. Absent reflective ability and desire for insight, the focus is outward; as an act of perceived self-preservation (in the form of walling off all self-doubt) it becomes single-minded and unbound by any other ethos than survival at all costs.

If I'm right, it helps explain the seeming disadvantage liberals have in messaging: hard to keep your heart in the fight if the more you examine reality the more it bums you out. On the other side, anger and paranoia are great motivators; and the wronger you are, the more wild the conspiracies you can dream up, the more you're able to justify striking out by any means. For liberals, in the long term, it seems a losing proposition.

I've written (based on actual studies) that, unlike liberals, conservatives tend to harden their views when presented with information that disproves them. If so, it would seem there's no way to change things. It's inherent to how the differing minds work. Reality is hard. It can be depressing, all right, especially in a country where it's under constant siege. But for those to whom that reality is at cross-purposes with the beliefs to which they must cling to maintain a foothold on their version of sanity, it's infuriating. Because it's threatening to their very core.

So you see Texans coming out and admitting they want to eliminate the sort of education that makes kids think for themselves. You see them wanting to repeal voting rights. You see Republicans around the land coming up with laws that prevent incursion into their false reality by anyone who doesn't look and think and pray exactly like they do. Compared to the unfettered paranoia and conspiracy theorizing motivating the right, the left are virtually weaponless.

Since, for conservatives of the current type, it's a matter of self-preservation, of prevention of the need to see the world as it is, there's no means that doesn't justify the end of keeping the cracks sealed. But for liberals, willing to see the world for what it is (or unable to kid themselves, much as, maybe, they'd like to), it's well, I wish it were different, but it isn't, and there's not much I can do about it.

Of course, that's exactly not what Rachel does, so maybe I'm wrong. But it's an interesting thought; and, other than the giving up part -- for some, anyway -- I think it might be correct. Adrenaline beats oxytocin.


  1. Great post, doc.

    Except what passes for modern conservative climate, economic, and foreign policies are actively and demonstrably destructive.

    Pretend you're in the middle of a tricky aneurysm repair, and your assistant thinks it's a pretty keen idea to resect the vena cava. I'm not imagining your oxytocin levels rising.

    Anger can be righteous as well as paranoid.


  2. You repair ANEURYSYMS!?!?!?!????
    in People???
    and I think I've figured(Southern Colloquialism for "determined")out why you're (!)so dang-blamed negative all the time...
    It's not the terrible Paciffic Northwest Weather/Football/Baseball/Basketball(Low Blow, I know)
    it's that you have to drive 405 miles to Boise Idaho to enjoy a Deee-Lish-Us Chick-Fill-A sandwich...
    While I only have to drive 2.75 miles...
    Ever had one, Heroin's easier to kick...
    Shoot, its probably easier for you to catch a Delta Jet to the A-T-L and enjoy one at the World's Busiest Airport, rather than risk crossing over into that Right Wing Backwater of Id-a-Ho...



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