June 19, 2012

Jonathan Haidt, Call your office!

I applauded last night's superb "Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons" gathering. Bradley Beck, spoke on "the importance of effective communication within the liberty movement." A recurring theme -- if not his directly -- was the other folks' competence at distilling ideas and appealing to the heart. I have certainly complained several times that I need to trot out 100 year old economics books while my Facebook friends can just show a picture of a poor child.

I will not let go of this smug superiority lightly, bit I must confess one absolute truth. Videlicet, that all of my leftist friends feel exactly the same. Oh those clever right wingers use all their Koch money and hire evil geniuses and package child molestation as a public good! Why oh why can't we have some brilliant people on our side?

Case in point is a link sent by a great friend of this blog. I noticed that Ann Althouse referred to the same article, but sugarch -- I mean our anonymous friend -- was first. It is painful, but I suggest you read it coast to coast.

In conservative politics, democracy is seen as providing the maximal liberty to seek one's self-interest without being responsible for the interests of others. The best people are those who are disciplined enough to be successful. Lack of success implies lack of discipline and character, which means you deserve your poverty. From this perspective, The Public is immoral, taking away incentives for greater discipline and personal success, and even standing in the way of maximizing private success. The truth that The Private depends upon The Public is hidden from this perspective. The Public is to be minimized or eliminated. To conservatives, it's a moral issue.

-- And there are far less appealing sections.

But the topic is how to appeal to these people or those they have influenced, and just saying "that is complete and total b******t!" is not going to work. George Lakoff is the West Coast' s answer to Noam Chomsky and I confess I don't know Elisabeth Wehling. They and their passionate followers are clearly beyond reach. But this is on HuffPo and will be passed around (no doubt I'll see on Facebook any minute now).

Politics Posted by John Kranz at June 19, 2012 12:19 PM

Nobody light a match - strawmen are everywhere!

Not to mention at least a few flat-out lies: "Wealthy progressives have not funded progressive communication in the same way to bring progressive moral values into everyday public discourse." Okay, maybe it's not technically a lie since George Soros is a communist rather than a progressive, and the dozens of progressive charitable foundations are funded by the wealth of long-deceased free market businessmen despite now being directed by progressive "moralists."

That the redefinition spin machine is working this hard is a sure sign of desperation on the progressive left. Rand said that what is moral is what is required for human survival. Rational self-interest is innately human, while the moral foundation of altruism is unearned guilt. But when wage earners have no wages to earn there is nothing to feel guilty about.

Posted by: johngalt at June 19, 2012 3:55 PM


Is Jonathan Haidt the author you once (or maybe multiple times) recommended to us to help explain why so many people, "don't get it?" If so, can you please re-remind me which book to read?

I have very little time for reading but jg and I have a 16 hour drive to CA coming up soon and we might be able to do some reading in the car.

Anybody else with must-read reading suggestions?

Posted by: dagny at June 19, 2012 5:34 PM

Guilty -- The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion Amazon

You'd dig Arthur Brooks's The Road to Freedom as well. It rubs some old scabs off of our elevator talk contretemps.

Posted by: jk at June 19, 2012 6:05 PM | What do you think? [3]