Somewhere There’s an Idiot

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conservatism, liberalism and progressivism

My modus operandi for blogging is to cruise around the web until I find something that pisses me off, and then I blog about it. Maybe I’m just tired, but this morning I was struggling to find something obnoxious enough to be worthy of a post. Then I found this.

Rightie bloggers just love to demonstrate how well they’ve been brainwashed by regurgitating the propaganda and misinformation about liberalism they’ve been fed all their lives. Correct exposition of groupthink is then rewarded with rightie group approval. And I know it’s futile to try to educate them, but just maybe if we speak up a few innocents might be saved from being assimilated by the rightie hive mind. So here goes …

First off, by now you probably know that whenever anyone says “I used to be a liberal, but now I’m a conservative,” that person is either lying or never actually understood what a “liberal” is. I’ll be charitable and assume this Fausta person falls into the second category.

Fausta begins by defining liberalism, thus:

Liberalism used to mean, as Friedrich Hayek put it, “the fundamental principle that in the ordering of our affairs we should make as much use as possible of the spontaneous forces of society, and resort as little as possible to coercion”. Sixty years ago Hayek was saying, “That socialism has replaced liberalism as the doctrine held by a great majority of progressives does not simply mean that people have forgotten the consequences of collectivism. It has happened because they were persuaded of the very opposite of what these men had predicted”, and that’s even more true nowadays.

Now, I know Friedrich Hayek was a famous guy and a big bleeping authority, but this definition sucks. It’s true that liberalism is about liberty. But Fausta’s citation of Hayek reflects the Libertarian Fallacy — that all authoritarianism and coercion come from government, and if we could get government off our backs we’d all be free as birds.

The real world, people, does not work that way. In the real world, oppression comes out of the private sector just as readily as the public. In fact, if government doesn’t step in and put a check on private sector oppression, ordinary people can become as powerless and persecuted in a “free” country as they would be in a totalitarian state. The most blatant examples of this in American history involve racial minorities, but there also has been economic oppression where the wealthy were able to mercilessly exploit the laborers of all races who created their wealth. But liberalism assumes that We, the People, are rational beings who can recognize problems and use representative government as a means for solving those problems, thus achieving systemic improvement in the human condition. Thus, in the 20th century We, the People authorized government to ensure fair labor practices, for example.

But in the conservative mind, all checks on the power of the wealthy to get wealthier amounts to “collectivism,” which is the same thing as Communism. Where ordinary citizens are able to use government as a tool to protect themselves from oppression, that (to a rightie) is coercion and just a step away from Stalinism. In a free society, government should step aside so that big corporations can shortchange their workers and rob them of their lives and dignity without interference. To a rightie, “freedom” means limiting the power of government, which sounds grand. But if government truly is of, by, and for the people, what righties really want to do is limit the power of the people.

But enough of my liberalism lecture; let’s crash ahead to Fausta’s next paragraph.

You find liberals defending Mao, and splitting hairs over whether it’s fair for a book to claim that Mao was responsible for the deaths of 70 million people, when in fact it was “only” 20 million. The same people who claim to be against homophobia and injustice in this country choose to ignore the persecution of gays in Castro’s Cuba (where men have been sent to concentration camps for being gay, and AIDS patients are compulsorily interned) and in Muslim countries, where it gets you a death penalty.

You will not find liberals defending Mao. Maoism is not liberalism. Righties think everything identified as “the Left” is the same thing. It is not. One might find self-identified lefties defending Mao, but those people are not liberals. Period; end of argument.

As far as liberals “splitting hairs over whether it’s fair for a book to claim that Mao was responsible for the deaths of 70 million people, when in fact it was ‘only’ 20 million” goes, an example would have been nice. But one suspects this is a snip of historic scholarly argument taken out of context and has nothing to do with “liberalism.”

Regarding “ignoring” injustice in Cuba and elsewhere, in fact through “liberal” organizations like Amnesty International liberals have tried to make a difference for many years. Fausta is clearly not aware of these efforts, but he should educate him- or herself before he/she spouts off again.

Fausta continues,

Liberals rant about the glass ceiling in our country while not speaking a word against women being killed for having been raped in Iran – at times by being buried in the ground up to their necks and having small stones thrown at them until they die. That countries like Iran stand against the modern world poses no contradiction to liberals, even when liberalism used to be synonymous with modern ideals back when the very definition of modern stood for liberal.

In fact, the Feminist Majority Foundation and other feminist organizations were speaking out in opposition to the oppression of women in Afghanistan long before righties noticed that the Taliban was our enemy. And it is interesting that the rightie mentions Iran, a “bad” country, and not rape in Iraq (which I blogged about recently), or our “ally,” Pakistan.

Liberals rant about 2000 soldiers dying in Iraq while dismissing 2,996 murdered on the morning of September 11 by saying it was just “sand thrown in America’s eyes”.

As an eyewitness to the collapse of the WTC towers, I’d like Fausta to say that one to my face. Even better, Fausta should come to Manhattan and spout off about liberals “dismissing” the dead of 9/11 to an audience of liberal New Yorkers, most of whom knew at least one of those 2,996. The audience reaction should be, um, interesting.

In the rightie mind, whenever one self-identified “leftie” expresses an opinion, he speaks for all “liberals.” So because (I assume) somewhere in America a half-dozen crackpots might have “dismissed” the deaths of 9/11, ergo, all liberals think this way. In fact, if anything, “liberals” may be more genuinely concerned about the deaths than conservatives. Most of us believe we should have used all of our resources to destroy al Qaeda instead of being sidetracked into deposing Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with 9/11.

Liberals fuss about one CIA agent’s cover being blown, which in their eyes warrants an investigation, while leaks on confidential information on the war against Islamic fascism are applauded and any investigation should be called off.


Translation:
Liberals object when administration officials conspire to manipulate the press by spreading rumors (which, incidentally, included revealing classified information). And liberals object when information is leaked that genuinely injures national security. However, leaks that reveal corruption, despotism, and illegal activity being perpetrated by our government are gratefully appreciated.

Liberals believe that the USA has no enemies, that there is not much in the way of danger, and that we’d all live in peace if only we’d turn our swords into plowshares, no matter how much evidence there might exist to the contrary.

The above needs to be filed under “outrageous hyperbole.” It’s too irrational to actually address. In fact, that pretty much encompasses the remainder of this little essay. Liberals, we are told, encourage ten-year-olds to have sex, hate the work ethic, and live to oppress Christians. The usual garbage that has no basis in reality.

Part of me feels sorry for Kool-Aiders like Fausta, but such brainless little robots are ever the soldiers of despotism. Pathetic as they are, they must be corrected, and opposed.

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26 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Steve M.  •  Jan 3, 2006 @12:21 pm

    It’s hopeless. These people think every Bush foreign-policy and domestic-security decision follows 9/11 as day follows night — they think there’s a perfect fit, and therefore any criticism of any policy can only be the result of some perverse devaluation of 9/11.

  2. Steve M.  •  Jan 3, 2006 @12:22 pm

    (And of the threat of terrorism in general.)

  3. joanr16  •  Jan 3, 2006 @12:24 pm

    Wow maha, you must turn over a lot of rocks to write this blog.

    Basically, it looks like the new year is starting off with the same old. Make a bunch of completely untrue statements about liberals, then go bankrupt somebody’s retirement fund. Afterward, martinis at the club to drink to Dick Cheney’s health. Just another day at the office for a Kool-Aider.

  4. Liz  •  Jan 3, 2006 @12:31 pm

    Copyediting note to an excellent piece: Regurgitate is not spelled with a “j”.

  5. Rick  •  Jan 3, 2006 @12:42 pm

    Used to be a liberal is just another way of justifying becoming our parents…
    or
    “At 20 our convictions are the hills we view the world from…at 40 they are the caves we hide from it in…”(paraphrased)

  6. maha  •  Jan 3, 2006 @1:08 pm

    Regurgitate is not spelled with a “j”.

    Well, it oughta be! :-) I corrected it anyway.

  7. Swami  •  Jan 3, 2006 @1:13 pm

    Nice piece of work, Maha. I’m afflicted with the same perverse desire to root around the garbage dumps called righties blogs. The only thing I’ve ever found is frustration,which isn’t a bad thing,because it helps to build my power of reason by testing it against stupidity.
    I liked your catch on the disconnect between 9/11 and the soldiers who have been killed in Iraq. I picked up on that one before you pointed it out with your excellent commentary, but there was a time when I might have wrestled with Fausta’s obvious sophism.
    I believe the righies don’t get it because they don’t want to get it..How else can they fail to see the underlying truth that thier government is trampling on their freedom when the government purposely attempts to decieve them, as in the Plame affair.

  8. Donna  •  Jan 3, 2006 @1:54 pm

    Just once, on these rightie blogs, I’d like to see the Bush supporters speak to the issues and concerns brought up by critics of Bush without resorting to ad naseum issue-masking through parroting childishly inaccurate generalizations about those criticizing their ‘brand idol’.

    Geez, Maha, you are great in disecting and counter-vailing against their generalizations, and I can only hope Fausta and friends have some little corner of their brains that wishes to think and discuss things with increasing maturity.

  9. modus potus  •  Jan 3, 2006 @3:55 pm

    A “former liberal” sees the light and repents? Christian fundies use this technique so much that it immediately raises my suspicion. You see, obtaining converts is so important that making stuff up is practically obligatory if it “improves” the argument. It’s not really a lie if it rescues someone from hell, or its real-world equivalent, “terrorism.”

  10. Donna  •  Jan 3, 2006 @4:09 pm

    Regarding fundies, I remember a line from an old poem entitled
    “The Pusher”" ‘Beware the pusher, all proselytizing men. Your conversion sustains them through their uncertainty…..’

  11. Fausta  •  Jan 3, 2006 @7:48 pm

    I appreciate the comments.

    I’m a woman. Hispanic, as a matter of fact.

    As far as liberals “splitting hairs over whether it’s fair for a book to claim that Mao was responsible for the deaths of 70 million people, when in fact it was ‘only’ 20 million” goes, an example would have been nice.
    NYT book review, Oct. 23, 2005
    “Take the great famine from 1958 to 1961. The authors declare that “close to 38 million people died,” and in a footnote they cite a Chinese population analysis of mortality figures in those years. Well, maybe. But there have been many expert estimates in scholarly books and journals of the death toll, ranging widely, and in reality no one really knows for sure – and certainly the mortality data are too crude to inspire confidence. The most meticulous estimates by demographers who have researched the famine toll are mostly lower than this book’s: Judith Banister estimated 30 million; Basil Ashton also came up with 30 million; and Xizhe Peng suggested about 23 million. “ I call that splitting hairs.

    As to the “otrageous hyperbole” re: 9/11, I used the exact words I heard on a sermon at church on Sunday, September 11 2005 by a self-proclaimed liberal Episcopalian priest.

    Brainless little kool-aid drinking robot that I am,

  12. Frank Wilhoit  •  Jan 3, 2006 @9:26 pm

    A libertarian is merely someone who does not understand why he should be held to any standards.

  13. maha  •  Jan 3, 2006 @9:30 pm

    OK, so I was right about the “how many people did Mao kill” argument; it’s an issue in historical academia that doesn’t have anything to do with liberalism or conservatism. And the kool-aider heard one of the half-dozen crackpots who dismissed the deaths of 9/11 (if, indeed, she understood what the speaker was actually saying) and assumes that this is a common opinion among liberals. I was right about that, too.

    Fausta, dear, you are extremely dim. And extremely dangerous. You are the sort of person who becomes a “useful idiot” in the hands of despots.

  14. Fausta  •  Jan 3, 2006 @9:54 pm

    While on the subject of despots, I highly recommend Le Livre noir du communisme : Crimes, terreur, répression, or, if you’re not as dim as I, the English translation.

    Of course, it deals with many an “an issue in historical academia that doesn’t have anything to do with liberalism or conservatism”.

  15. maha  •  Jan 4, 2006 @7:10 am

    Fausta, child, I am no Communist and no apologist for Communism. But anyone who sees “liberal bias” in an academic argument among historians over how many people Mao killed is hopelessly, HOPELESSLY, brainwashed. You may be able to read history books in French, but you clearly lack the intellectual discernment to understand what anyone is actually saying in them.

    Now, go slink back into your hole, dear, and quit bothering the grown ups.

  16. mary  •  Jan 4, 2006 @10:57 am

    Maha, dear, I posted the comment above about an hour ago, and it seems to have disappeared (at least on my screen, anyway).

    If it’s lost again, not to worry, I’ve done a screen capture and kept a copy. Hope there’s not a problem with your code.

  17. maha  •  Jan 4, 2006 @11:29 am

    Mary, I don’t run a public forum. This is a place for liberals and progressives to talk to each other without harrassment from the Right. I allow righties to comment occasionally, but usually rightie comments are filtered out and deleted, as they mostly consist of misdirection and gratuitous insults. If you want to bait liberals, you can find plenty of other places to do so.

  18. mary  •  Jan 4, 2006 @11:41 am

    LOL. Baiting ‘righties’ and apostates appears to be the sole purpose of this site. Who do you think you’re fooling?

    Or, as your mentor said:

    [Our purpose is] to ensure that literature and art fit well into the whole revolutionary machine as a component part, that they operate as powerful weapons for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy, and that they help the people fight the enemy with one heart and one mind.

    At least his propaganda was accompanied by better artwork.

  19. maha  •  Jan 4, 2006 @12:06 pm

    Mary: My “mentor”? I don’t recognize the quote. I assume some famous Communist wrote it. I am not a Communist.

    If you are interested in how I define liberal, progressive, and “leftie,” this is something I’ve written about before. Here, for example. In fact I genuinely despise Mao because of what he did to China and Tibet. But of course you won’t believe me because I’m a “leftie,” and all “lefties” are Communists to you. That’s why you are an ignorant sot. And as you are determined to remain ignorant I have no interest in trying to educate you.

    As for “baiting” righties, please note that my objections to Fausta’s screed were specific. I explained exactly what I objected to and gave factual reasons why she is an idiot. But this is my site. I did not go to Fausta’s site and insult her there. She is welcome to write nasty things about me on her site, and you are welcome to write whatever insults of me you wish on other sites. I frankly do not care and probably will never read these comments, but go ahead if it makes you feel better.

  20. New Yorker  •  Jan 4, 2006 @1:51 pm

    I read that post and was furious, therefore wrote an e-mail to that Fausta person. I told her what you write in your post- conversions to the right make fanatics with narrow minds. That disgraceful post of Hispanic Fausta is an example. Because she read a piece of some moron on Mao’s deaths and some weirdo priest saying some nutty note on 9/11, Fausta labels millions of liberals as terrorists, murderers, abusers, etc.

    Sad, very sad, that this is the kind of poor, brainless argument she and many extreme righties are holding against the liberal thought.

    It makes them look stupid.

  21. maha  •  Jan 4, 2006 @2:02 pm

    The thing with the question of how many people Mao killed — historians come up with different estimates based on different methodology. Trying to determine if Mao killed 23 or 33 or 43 million is not “splitting hairs”; it’s what historians do. I’m sure you can find similar disagreements over how exactly many people died in the French Revolution or the Irish Famine. A person has got to be warped to consider the lowball estimate of 23 million killed by Mao to be some kind of “apology.”

  22. Steve from Canukistan  •  Jan 4, 2006 @8:57 pm

    Instead of getting so bent about chairman Mao maybe the righties could explain to the rest of us again why their frat boy fearless leader invaded Iraq? And maybe they could also explain why tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been required to “involuntarily forfeit” their lives because of George W Bush’s pathetic vanity. Jesus said, “By their fruits ye shall know them” Matthew 7:20.

  23. EssEm  •  Jan 14, 2006 @3:13 pm

    These comments alone would be enough to turn a liberal into a righty.

  24. Matt  •  Oct 19, 2007 @4:35 pm

    Those of you who love statism, invite tyranny into your homes. You truly deserve your fate.

  25. maha  •  Oct 19, 2007 @5:38 pm

    Matt — learn to read. Even better, learn to think.

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