Free Markets, Free People


The elitists among us are found in progressive ranks

It’s simply that they  think they’re head and shoulder’s smarter than the average voter and – the “and” is critical – know what is best for them.  Now certainly there are likely those on the right that feel that way too, but I’m talking about a whole movement on the left.  Progressives are of the opinion, especially given their dedication to nanny-state measures, that we simply are unable to take care of ourselves.  That belief, driven by their activism translates into a further belief of inferior intellect among the masses.  Think about it – if you truly believe that most everyone else can’t make the proper decisions for themselves and it takes the wise progressive and a benevolent government to guide them through their life and ensure they’re looked after, are you going to actually try to argue that those people are as bright as you are?

Of course not.  In fact, you may consider them to be stupid.  And, if you’re really arrogant, you might let the mask slip and blurt it out every now and then as did University of Wisconsin political scientist Charles Franklin in an interview about the midterm election results (Byron York reports):

Franklin was responding to a question from Bill Lueders, news editor of Isthmus, a weekly alternative newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin.  In an account published Thursday (H/T Ann Althouse), Lueders says he asked Franklin why "the public seemed to vote against its own interests and stated desires, for instance by electing candidates who’ll drive up the deficit with fiscally reckless giveaways to the rich."

"Franklin, perhaps a bit too candidly, conceded the point," Lueders writes.  "’I'm not endorsing the American voter,’ he answered. ‘They’re pretty damn stupid.’"

Lueders writes that he responded, "Thank you, professor.  That’s the answer I was looking for."  The rest of Lueders’ account explains that smart voters support things like high-speed rail and higher taxes for the rich, while dumb voters support "an obvious phony like [Republican senator-elect] Ron Johnson over Russ Feingold."

It’s instructive to note that Franklin blurted out the truth as he conceived it and Lueders got an apparent affirmation of his belief on the matter.  And note how Franklin has also adopted the subtle but evident principle that the money of the rich doesn’t really belong to them.  Words like “giveaways” give the clue.

Shocking?  Hardly.  In fact pretty main-stream for progressives.  Think back about how the progressives among us tried to label the Tea Party.  In fact, that’s still going on as witnessed in this exchange between progressive Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone and David Gergen and Peter Hart in the wake of the midterm election results:

Taibbi: To me, the main thing about the Tea Party is that they’re just crazy. If somebody is able to bridge the gap with those voters, it seems to me they will have to be a little bit crazy too. That’s part of the Tea Party’s litmus test: "How far will you go?"

Gergen: I flatly reject the idea that Tea Partiers are crazy. They had some eccentric candidates, there’s no question about that. But I think they represent a broad swath of the American electorate that elites dismiss to their peril.

Hart: I agree with David. When two out of five people who voted last night say they consider themselves supporters of the Tea Party, we make a huge mistake to suggest that they are some sort of small fringe group and do not represent anybody else.

Taibbi: I’m not saying that they’re small or a fringe group.

Gergen: You just think they’re all crazy.

Taibbi: I do.

Gergen: So you’re arguing, Matt, that 40 percent of those who voted last night are crazy?

Taibbi: I interview these people. They’re not basing their positions on the facts — they’re completely uninterested in the facts. They’re voting completely on what they see and hear on Fox News and afternoon talk radio, and that’s enough for them.

Gergen: The great unwashed are uneducated, so therefore their views are really beneath serious conversation?

Taibbi: I’m not saying they’re beneath serious conversation. I’m saying that these people vote without acting on the evidence.

Gergen: I find it stunning that the conversation has taken this turn. I disagree with the Tea Party on a number of issues, but it misreads who they are to dismiss them as some kind of uneducated know-nothings who have somehow seized power in the American electorate. It is elitist to its core. We would all be better off if we spent more time listening to each other rather than simply writing them off.

Booman at the BooMan Tribune says of the exchange:

What’s ironic is that Gergen is dismissing the Tea Partiers by taking them seriously. People like Matt Taibbi take them much more seriously, as they should, but they don’t ascribe any merit to their views. They take them seriously because they are .going to do grave damage to the nation.

I have no idea what he means by his first sentence, however it is irrelevant whether or not Matt Taibbi ascribes any “merit” their views, their views are the views, as David Gergen points out, of “40% of those who voted”. So you can throw all the pissy little elitist hissy fits you want, call Tea Partiers every name in the book, but that fact remains true and is obviously incredibly relevant to the electoral future.  And the progressive answer to that truth isn’t to attempt to engage and persuade, it’s to call them crazy and dismiss them.

That is arrogance.  That is elitism.  It’s also not very smart.  But, at the moment, that is the progressive movement in a nutshell.  Naturally they’re unable to see that, as demonstrated by Booman as he concludes his post (and joins the new progressive narrative I pointed too the other day):

The GOP may not want to help the economy while a Democrat is in the White House, but they don’t know how to help the economy regardless. We saw this during Bush’s two terms in office. And when Bush finally faced reality and took the obvious steps to save the economy, the Republicans went Full Metal Teabagger in response.

David Gergen thinks it is elitist to dismiss the threat presented by this rise in Know-Nothing foolish ideology. What he forgets is that our government will no longer work starting in January. If elites like Gergen are good for anything, they should be good at protecting our institutions. They didn’t. And now we have a really big problem.

Those two paragraphs are a case study in progressive elitism and filled with enough logical fallacies for a semester’s worth of work in a logic class, not to mention classic projection.  But you have to hope this incredible cluelessness continues if you’re at all interested in returning fiscal sanity to this country.  As long as the Taibbis, Boomans, Franklins and Lueders of the progressive world believe that everyone who votes for the other side is “crazy” and/or “stupid”, they’ll make no attempt to engage and persuade.   And that leaves a pretty open field for their opposition.

You’d think, as smart as they claim to be, they’d have picked up on how, well, stupid that approach is in electoral politics.  They used that approach frequently and vocally prior to the midterms and 60 seats plus went to the opposition.  A smart person would analyze that outcome and modify their approach.  But not progressives.  Those smart guys are doubling down instead.

But remember you’re the dumb one.

~McQ

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38 Responses to The elitists among us are found in progressive ranks

  • Really, that should be Boobman.  On several levels…
    Progressives (Collectivists) have an increasingly hard time with free speech.
    http://www.redstate.com/razshafer/2010/11/22/joe-straus-stands-against-free-speech/
    That’s a post about Joe Straus…nominal Republican but really Progressive…here in Texas.   Seems he wants a little of that McAnus-Feingold feeling right here.
    And calling me a “Know-Nothing” just makes me smile.  A grim, crocodilian sort of smile.

  • McQYou’d think, as smart as they claim to be, they’d have picked up on how, well, stupid that approach is in electoral politics.  They used that approach frequently and vocally prior to the midterms and 60 seats plus went to the opposition.  A smart person would analyze that outcome and modify their approach.  But not progressives.  Those smart guys are doubling down instead.

    Liberals are all about feeling, not thinking.  It simply feels good to belittle the opposition as crazy.  It also allows the libs to avoid the unpleasant chore of thinking about why they lost, which would lead to the even more unpleasant realization that they aren’t as smart as they think that they are.

    Has anybody asked these geniuses how the electorate, which was brilliant in ’06 and ’08, somehow lost its collective marbles since those halcyon days of enlightenment?  That should make for an interesting answer!

  • I am growing to truly loathe the left, and their elitism and contempt for me simply because I disagree is the leading reason why.

    For most of my life, I considered the left to be well-intentioned, but misguided. I thought they let their concern and compassion run ahead of their reason. They clearly didn’t understand economics, and not much about human psychology and human nature, but they meant well.

    At some point in the last few years, my view has switched. I still think there are some in the above category, but I my own mental model is now based on people who have an inborn need to control others, and will rationalize any reason – any reason at all – to exert that control.

    As their philosophy has taken over education, media, and government, they become more brazen every year with those inborn beliefs about controlling us. Once they thought they needed to at least pay lip service to the democratic ideal. Now they are moving into clear authoritarian territory in their thought patterns. They now feel comfortable showing utter contempt for anyone not on the left, with often the unstated implication that things ought to change so that the rubes are under their direct control.

    I’ve seen it in media, in the politicians themselves (via their responses at public events) and I’ve even seen the software development industry, which used to lean heavily libertarian, join the pattern.

    I don’t want to sound pompous, but d@mn it, I’m the one who understands things those people have never studied and in many cases demonstrably don’t have the intellectual firepower to understand: calculus, evolutionary biology, statistical analysis, physics, and the like. A lot of these people did humanities majors because they knew they could not hack the math and other areas needed for a degree in those other areas. Too many of the ones we hear from wimped out with worthless degrees in communications, gender studies, and the like. They don’t learn anything except putting words without meaning in a row – some don’t even master basic grammar - but are taught that they are then qualified to tell other people what to think. No wonder arrogance is their stock in trade!

    I can forgive arrogance in someone who is smart enough. Bill Gates is an arrogant SOB, but when you are as smart as he is, it’s not a surprise that you feel that way. These people, though, range from mediocre to gullible idiots, and have a century-long track record of failure in their ideology. They still have not come clean about their support of communism, for goodness sake, because they are congenitally unable to admit that they can ever be wrong. Yet they *still* want to tell me how to live my life, raise my children, do my job, and so on. I’m sick to death of them.

  • For most of my life, I considered the left to be well-intentioned, but misguided. I thought they let their concern and compassion run ahead of their reason. They clearly didn’t understand economics, and not much about human psychology and human nature, but they meant well.

    And a lot of the rank and file really are that.  But the leadership, the intelligentsia, never have been.  It is a hard reality that they are EITHER cynically convinced that they should control by whatever means, and that they know their theories don’t work in reality, or so voluntarily stupid (deluded) that they no longer live in reality.
    I was going to disagree with your “inborn” comment (and I still sort of do), but it has to be recognized that…along with what I believe is an innate drive to live free…human history shows the strong tendency to oppression and some form of tyranny.  A question worth pondering, no?

    • I have pondered it deeply. From an evolutionary biology standpoint, the following model seems most appealing to me:

      In a primitive tribal society that practices agriculture (the cauldron in which the modern human race evolved), you need different kinds of people for the society to work. To oversimplify, you need laborers to haul the water and tend the crops, hunter/explorers who handle the hunting (because that’s one of the main sources of food, particularly protein-rich food, even in an agricultural society) plus do the intelligence work to know what’s going on outside the community, and finally leaders to make the decisions and keep the society stable.

      Evo-bio says if you need several types, given time there will be a close-to-optimal equilibrium. That is, you get the proper numbers of each type for the society to prosper. Too many leaders and they fight with each other and bring instability. Too many laborers and the society can’t respond to changing conditions. Too many hunter/explorers and their independent nature causes instability. (Keep in mind that I’m talking about primitive tribes, not modern economic societies here, where the dynamics are quite different.)

      So if you believe that leadership/control tendencies were needed for primitive societies to thrive, then evo-bio says it’s a foregone conclusion that some people will be born with those tendencies.

      So far, just standard stuff any undergraduate in evo-bio could figure out. But then we have to look at what happens as we move out of the tribal society into bigger groups, and then examine the advent of modern societies based on economic cooperation.

      I suggest that the percentage of those with the inborn need to control is higher than optimal for modern societies. So those born with that need seek to change society to make it easier to express their natural tendencies. They sincerely believe in their own ability and destiny to lead; they just need to find rationales for it.

      Now ask yourself: If you are that type of person, who feels the inner need to control, what political philosophy do you naturally choose? One that relies heavily on voluntary cooperation, or one that suggests that elites need to control most of what goes on in the society? It’s clear to me that such people are far more likely to choose a political philosophy that allows them to express their own inborn need to control.

      In a society that is restricted to mostly voluntary economic cooperation, people who feel the need to control tend, I believe, to end up running small companies where they get to hire others that they can order around, and in some cases entering the military, where command-and-control is more prevalant than in open society. But in those areas of society, there are natural feedback mechanisms built in to keep their tendency to control from getting out of hand: the market in the first case, and obvious failures of leadership on the battlefield in the second case.

      However, once control types shift society to the left, there is no limit to the ways in which they can rationalize increased control. They typically choose ways that can’t be easily measured, because then they don’t need to justify their control over time: economic fairness, environmentalism, etc. They seek ways to control without any feedback mechanisms, so that they can continue to control indefinitely.

      Now, this is just a mental model, but it explains much if you believe it’s basically right, which I do (plus or minus a whole bunch of complicating details).

      It’s also interesting to ponder the possiblity that because of the way America was formed, we are heavier than other areas of the world in the original independent hunter/explorer types. That could be one of the sources of American exceptualism.

      • Interesting, at a minimum.  Not too far off what I understand was a Greek concept that involved four basic archetypes; farmer, warrior, healer, and something I don’t recall.  But “warrior” did not have the obvious meaning, and did not necessarily describe a vocation.  Rather a mind-set that sought to restore balance or justice.
        Any hoo, it is becoming increasingly clear to me (and I’m not alone) that there are two diametrically opposed camps, and they cannot be reconciled.  I will not be ruled, and there are people who cannot contrive to let me govern myself.  So…  There will be a parting of the ways at some point.  It need not be violent, but it certainly COULD be.
        Along these lines, I thought this provided some interesting insights into the Obamic conduct…
        http://www.pjtv.com/?cmd=mpg&mpid=174&load=4436

        • “a Greek concept that involved four basic archetypes; farmer, warrior, healer, and something I don’t recall.”

          The ‘Guardians’ that Plato wrote of in his ‘Republic’.

          “ Plato believed that the ideal state comprises members of three distinct classes: rulers, soldiers, and the people. Although he officially maintained that membership in the guardian classes should be based solely upon the possession of appropriate skills, Plato presumed that future guardians will typically be the offspring of those who presently hold similar positions of honor….”

          http://www.philosophypages.com/hy/2g.htm

      • Personally, my experience says a lot of “progressives” are sheep, they just want to be the sheep at the tip of the herd as it moves and not those in the back snorting dust and bits of sheep feces.

        To swap metaphors in mid rant – they are the little capos, the mid level societal bosses who don’t have an ounce of original thought, but can parrot the chatter from the ones who truly WANT control.  They’ve been promised bits of the leavings of their masters and they’re happy with that because they get to control, without the headaches of having to be in charge. (IMHO, our President wants control, but isn’t smart enough to know he’s not smart enough to BE in control, he has more arrogance than brains).

        That’s most of them, they don’t have the balls to be Mao, but they do have the balls to be” executive committee chairman in charge of village #3″ as long as they know that somewhere out there Mao is waiting to rush in, pat their little heads, slaughter the miscreants they report, and reward them with another medal and a new rickshaw for their fine work.

        A leftist society depends on all kinds of essentially useless mid level functionaries to (pseudo) operate, the bulk of the progressives I’ve met fit this requirement more than adequately.

      • I have pondered it deeply. From an evolutionary biology standpoint, the following model seems most appealing to me:
        In a primitive tribal society that practices agriculture (the cauldron in which the modern human race evolved), you need different kinds of people for the society to work.

        Well, IIRC agriculture beggan some 10k years ago. There is not much physical evidence of evolution in that time period (modern people existed well before known agriculture). I think you need to go back pre agriculture to find out how we evolved.

        • There is not much physical evidence of evolution in that time period (modern people existed well before known agriculture). I think you need to go back pre agriculture to find out how we evolved.

          Sorry, that was the conventional interpretation twenty to thirty years ago, and has been made totally obsolete by analysis based on genetic advances, and even some morphological studies of human development over that time.
          You can get good overviews of the evidence in Before the Dawn and the The 10,000 Year Explosion. I particularly recommend Before the Dawn, an extremely well-written book. Examples such as light skin, lactose tolerance, and changing teeth all indicate physical and biochemical evolution during that period.

  • “That is arrogance.  That is elitism.  It’s also not very smart.  But, at the moment, that is the progressive movement in a nutshell.  Naturally they’re unable to see that, as demonstrated by Booman as he concludes his post (and joins the new progressive narrative I pointed too the other day):”

    How long did Scott Burp post his drivel here?  And the core of everything he posted was that we were all too stupid to understand…anything….and (since Obama wasn’t posting here) Burp was therefore the smartest man in the cyber-room any time he showed up.  He was the poster boy for elitism locally.

    I love progressive elitists when they’re forced to confront the real world

    They’re usually such easy prey.

  • I think that the term “elitist” has been run into the ground.  It would not surprise me to see the word worn as a badge of honor soon.  The term “know-it-all” in its classic context, fits much better.

  • My take away ..
    Gergen, who is always too pragmatic for words, comes off as pragmatic .. with too many words.
    Matt Taibbi, is my kind of Progressive, too smart to know he is stupid.  I’ll take him any day because as long as he dismisses 40% of the electorate, his ideas and policies will be on the sidelines.  It’s just another form of letting someone dig their own hole .. not interrupting your ‘enemy’ while they are making mistakes.
    Obama and Pelosi also keep trying to dismiss these ignorant “bitter clinger” “teabaggers” to their own peril.  I hope they keep up their antics, now through Nov. 2012.  I give Reid slightly higher marks for at least trying to co-opt the “Tea Party” thing with one of his own creation in Nevada (although it didn’t help that much).
    The “Reid Experience” along with Delaware (and a few others who lost or made it more difficult than necessary) will teach the neophyte “Tea Party” folks that having ‘flaky’ candidates is still a sure ticket to failure.  As long as there are still plenty of “my kind of Progressives” out there, and with this acquired knowledge, they should still do well in 2012.

  • Billy HollisFor most of my life, I considered the left to be well-intentioned, but misguided. I thought they let their concern and compassion run ahead of their reason. They clearly didn’t understand economics, and not much about human psychology and human nature, but they meant well.

    I think that this sums up the rank-and-file quite well.  Liberalism provides them a means to do - to BE – “good” without taking too much trouble.  All that they have to do is hand over part of their money (or, better still, part of SOMEBODY ELSE’S money) to the government and “good” will follow.  The poor are fed and housed, the sick are treated, widows and orphans are cared for, blah-blah-blah.  And if these things aren’t done very well and money is wasted… well, that’s the government’s fault, not their own.  Heads I win, tails you lose.

    However, there are the others discussed by Billy Hollis, Ragspierre and looker: those people who have an inborn need to control (whether they really know what to do or not).  They exist on the left and right; at the present time, we see the left in ascendency.  A couple of centuries ago, it was the right.  The common thread is the imposition of morality on other people, the need to be a bloody busybody.  What is the motive?  While there are certainly those who get their jollies in pushing other people about, I suggest that the real motive is protection of the society as the busybody thinks it should be for benefit of all.  The Inquisitor, the Puritan judge, the commissar: they all drew their zeal from the idea that they were struggling for something larger than themselves.  Yes, there were those who cynically used the prevailing ideology for their own gain, but the true believers never did it for themselves.

    • “The common thread is the imposition of morality on other people”

      That is a common thread among all societies, right to left, from Ugg the caveman to (**insert favorite modern example**), from the smallest family of nomadic hunter-gatherers to the largest most sophisticated modern societies. The differences are how the morality is inculcated and the consequences of not following it.

      Some folks, like the legendary Erp, refuse to admit it.  

      • PS

        That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking with it.

      • “The common thread is the imposition of morality on other people”

        This is common on the Right and Left, but the Left tends to promote it as amorality

      • The other common thread on either side, is there is always a more than adequate supply of people content to implement and oversee the often nefarious schemes of ‘their betters’.

         

        • lookerThe other common thread on either side, is there is always a more than adequate supply of people content to implement and oversee the often nefarious schemes of ‘their betters’.

          That’s one of the shames of our species: the ability (desire?) to be a pawn, a tool, a toady, a lackey, or even a rent-a-thug.  I suppose that it’s another case of taking the easy way out mentally / morally: “I was just following orders.”

          [W]e know enough if we know we are the king’s subjects. If his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king wipes the crime of it out of us.

          William Shakespeare
          The Life of King Henry V, Act IV, scene I

          • Ah, so “I vas chust following orders” is another of Shakespeare’s inventions.

          • Less likely to happen if you believe in Inalienable rights endowed to you by ‘the Creator’.   There is wrong, and mere obedience to the king does not wipe it out of you.

            The progressives are far less concerned with the ‘rights’ of the individual than they are the collective.   I am not convinced the Creator gave rights to  ‘the herd’.  It is not a truth I hold to be self evident, whereas I’m fairly convinced Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and President Obama buy it.

            And it’s the inability to perceive the individual as worthy of having rights above and apart from those of the herd that sets the two sides apart today.  So I’ll go with Docjim’s Collectivist vs Individualist (below) as well.

    • You mention the “right” a couple of centuries ago. What do you mean?

      I was recently in an online “discussion” where the issue of fascism came up. Is it left or right wing? I argue it is left wing. Part of the argument went back to the origin of “left” and “right”, during the French Republic, and I don’t consider the modern American right to fit in anywhere there.

      The American right traces back to the Scottish Enlightenment. It does not trace back to the French Revolution or Republic. The “right” of France, at its farthest right, is monarchy.

      The American left, as well as fascism, national socialism, communism, socialism, etc., all trace back to the French left. The American “right” traces back to the Scottish Enlightenment; it is not the “right” of the French Republic.

      • Religious right, whether the Roman Catholic Church during the Inquisition, the various anti-heretical Crusades, or the wars during the Protestant Reformation; or the various abuses by Protestant churches (such as the persecution of Quakers and Catholics).

        But I think that you raise a good point: our terms are sufficiently fuzzy that it makes discussion a bit difficult.  I think that Ragspierre is on to something below:

        We should never use “right” or “left”.  Those terms are ambiguous, at best.  We should use “Liberty” v. “Tyranny”.  Or “Enlightenment” v. “Reactionaries”.  Monarchs were not “rightists”.

        May I suggest “individualist” vs. “collectivist”?

        • I could live with that one…

        • Well, the foundation of the US was Protestant, and the English Protestants who came here did not use forced conversions of the natives, as the Spanish Catholics did in what is now Latin America.

          It is often claimed that the English didn’t intermix with the natives (as much, there was some mixing going on) as the Spanish due to English racism. This is nonsense. The reason was religion: for a Protestant to marry a heathen carried severe potential problems, since the Prostant faith required volentary conversion. John Rolfe in fact wrote an open letter on his decision to marry the heathan native woman Pocohantes, in which he addresses the issues, race not being among them.
          I’m not saying that the Protestant faith has been blameless, but in terms of religions of the period it was “progressive”.

  • This is a test.  This site has eaten several posts.  I’m mad as  hell, and I’m not gonna take it any more…

  • Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of my brilliant…but evaporated…posts.
    We should never use “right” or “left”.  Those terms are ambiguous, at best.  We should use “Liberty” v. “Tyranny”.  Or “Enlightenment” v. “Reactionaries”.  Monarchs were not “rightists”.
    All law is morally based.  Even “natural law” has to come from a moral source, seems to me (seemed to the folks who defined the  term, too).
    The wheat is winnowed from the chaff on the tendency of a law to invade the liberty of people who do no harm…bodily, property, conscience, psyche…of others.  As you will note, that isn’t a bright-line rule.  It is a pretty fair working definition.

  • >>But I think that you raise a good point: our terms are sufficiently fuzzy that it makes discussion a bit difficult. <<

    Aren't they fuzzy simply because these ideas are a circle. There is no fixed positions. People lie somewhere on that continuum.

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