Selfish Psychology: Revealing the Lie of Liberals’ Apparent Moral High Ground
(This article first appeared at www.floppingaces.net on 7 Dec 2012)
The left consistently takes the moral high ground, and the right is left grasping at air. In order to prevent this happening, conservatives need to be secure in the values they stand for, but they also need to understand the twisted psychology behind the left’s celebration of victimhood.
Romney has been roundly beaten up over his now infamous 47% comment regarding the culture of entitlement that afflicts our country. He was then beaten up again for his comments about the Obama administration in effect bribing sections of the voting community with ‘extraordinary gifts’. Never mind that both comments were patently true – both left and right wing queued up to condemn Romney’s apparent moral failings – such, sadly, is the level of debate in the USA.
However it would be a mistake to confuse the left wing censure with that of the right. Grindrich, Jindal and Walker’s comments were simply those of pragmatic politicians positioning themselves so that they didn’t disaffect the 47%, and those sections of the community that were in fact the recipient of extraordinary gifts.
The outrage from the left is another matter. What is concerning is that the left – those ‘elite, smart people’ that Rick Santorum identified (he would be better served if he labeled them ‘intellectual’), actually believe their rhetoric – which is that a huge proportion of the population needs the State to look after them.
These patrons of the culture of entitlement become shrill with anger if it is pointed out that there is even such a thing as a culture of entitlement, not to mention that trying to support over 100 million people on welfare is a recipe for ruin. Equally unacceptable to them is the notion that sections of the population are cynically fleecing the system of all the welfare they can get – this doesn’t fit with their image of the helpless victim.
The irrational and aggressive reaction of these elite liberal to what are obvious truths is evidence of what in psychological parlance it is called a psychosis. It is apparent, that for deep psychological reasons liberal intellectuals need to feel that they are looking after people, and they resist with a vengeance any truth that shows the real motivation for their position.
This psychology of the liberal mind has been discussed occasionally, but it needs to be raised again and again until it is well understood, because without a thorough understanding, it is difficult to defeat the apparent moral high ground the liberal takes. Indeed dissent, as Romney demonstrated, is a politically perilous position. David Cameron, the somewhat conservative British Prime Minister, was alluding to this difficulty, when he said of their out of control welfare system: ‘There are few more entrenched problems than our out-of-control welfare system, and few more daunting challenges than reforming it’.
Despite the need to understand the psychology of the liberal, there is precious little work being done on it – most critics tend to simply argue the deficiencies of their policies without attempting to understand what motivates them.
A case in point is Michael Savage’s popular Liberalism is a Mental Disorder (2005). Despite the title it turned out to be more of an investigation into the logical fallacies of the liberal agenda, rather than a look into what was driving them. He did not venture far into insights into the liberal mindset, beyond observations such as liberalism was a ‘naïve worldview’, and while ‘often well intentioned’ came with disastrous consequences.
The following year the psychiatrist Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr M.D. published The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness. This was an attempt to understand what it was that drove the liberal. Like Savage, Rossiter identifies what amounts to the liberal’s all consuming celebration of victimhood. He says, ‘What the liberal mind is passionate about is a world filled with pity, sorrow, neediness, misfortune, poverty, suspicion, mistrust, anger, exploitation, discrimination, victimization, alienation and injustice.’
Where Rossiter breaks new ground is that he connects this obsession with deep childhood fears. He describes it is an extension of their need to control others, which is: ‘rooted in fears of separation, abandonment loss or abuse – the residual effects of early attachment gone wrong.’
Finally, the biologist Jeremy Griffith goes further again in his explanation about the human condition drawing a connection between an increasingly dysfunctional society, the subsequent emotional damage (or fears) inflicted on new generations, and why celebrating victimhood then becomes such an irresistible attraction.
Griffith uses the term ‘pseudo idealists’ to describe those drawn to causes not to genuinely do good, but so they can feel good. Griffith says this feeling is irresistible to those who are emotionally damaged because it allows them a way to escape their psychological pain without having to face it. Griffith explains, ‘For those who had become overly corrupted, excessively angry and destructive, the adoption of a born-again, pseudo- idealistic strategy was a responsible reaction. The problem was, however, that unable to explain and thus confront and admit their extremely corrupted and alienated state, they were using the born-again-to-‘idealism’ lifestyle to delude themselves that what they were doing was actually right, that is was ideal. They deluded themselves that they held the ‘moral high ground’ when the opposite was true.’
As a result of the increasing levels of dysfunctionality this temptation to adopt pseudo-idealism is becoming a tidal wave. Again, Griffith points out, ‘With the levels of upset in the world becoming extreme, relief-hunting became a huge industry, to the extent that we became, as sociologist Frank Furedi recognized, “a society that celebrates victimhood rather than heroism”.’
The psychology of liberalism is tangled – it presents a compassionate, selfless front, but is actually completely selfish. It is critical to understand this in order to withstand its advance. However even armed with this understanding, attempts to withstand it will be swamped if the levels of those needing the relief of pseudo idealism just keep rising. In the Art of War, Sun Tzu says if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss. Unless we resolve the root cause of it, what Griffith refers to as the human condition, a hundred battles may not be enough.