Thursday, March 10, 2016

Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Muslim

Your outside is in
and your inside is out
your inside is out
and your outside is in,
so come on,
come on.

A recent article analyzing the psychocultural differences between the Left and Right by David Roberts over at the Vox site, White working-class nostalgia, explained by John Wayne (hat tip to reader Egghead), in my view gets a lot of things subtly wrong, all in the same sense: all to do with his contrasts between right and left. He articulates at least three:

1) Unlike the left, the right has an unrealistic airbrushed, idealized view of the "good old days", "with the dirty bits brushed off"

2) Unlike the left, the right perceives threat from the Other and from change; and

3) Unlike the left, the right has more of a sense of Self -- "more attuned to in-group/out-group distinctions and to the purity of the in-group".

He may be right about the right, at least on the surface (one senses an amused detachment from any of the three virtues he is palpating here, as though one could conceivably occupy such a neutral Archimedean point).  At any rate, he's wrong that the left doesn't indulge in exactly the same things, only just from the opposite mirror-image.

1) The left indeed has a mythologized view of the past as always sordid under a surface veneer of seeming goodness -- with that sordidness always due to the evil of white Westerners, and never to do with non-white non-Westerners: thus they have airbrushed any essential goodness out of the past whenever they contemplate white Western history, but retain quite a mass of "good bits" about the almost idyllically conceived essential goodness of the Noble Savage.

2) The left does in fact have a threat perception: evil white right-wingers and/or Christians; and this threat perception is easily as high if not higher than anything right wingers indulge. The irony is that their vigilant threat perception is most often calibrated with direct reference to any criticism of non-white non-Western threats -- deemed by the left to be axiomatically non-existent, and hence any concern about such non-white non-Western threats (par excellence now, of course, being Muslims) itself becomes the threat about which society must remain hyper-vigilant! Thus it's not that, as the writer says, We could just as easily say that the left side of the spectrum scores high on "obliviousness to threat" -- it is rather that the left is selectively oblivious to the Muslim threat, while being quite lucidly paranoid about the supposed white Western right wing threat (the "backlash" that somehow never materializes) in the white Western right wing's supposed paranoia and "Islamophobia" about Muslims.

3) And thus, finally, the left maintains just as much -- if not more -- of an in group/out group distinction; it just inverts it inside-out: in its civilizational and psycho-cultural self-hatred, it has cultivated a perversely paradoxical paradigm whereby it relocates its allegiance to its own out-group (morphing post-911 in the Mother of all Others, the Muslims) while directing its hyper-criticism, shame, and guilt, veering into condemnation (hence, "self-hate") against its own in-group -- against its own civilizational and psycho-cultural Self, incoherently scapegoated as a sort of in-group Other, the white right wing Christian, with historical roots in the ancien régime of our "authoritarian," "theocratic" and "imperialist" Western past, whose "conservative" regressiveness the utopian vector of Progress tries perpetually to transcend (if not transform).

I delved into this issue at least in part -- also probing the perhaps deeper issue of the confluence of Left and Right in the sociopolitical and psychological phenomenon of PC MC (Politically Correct Multi-Culturalism) -- back in 2009 and 2010 in a few essays:

Leftists are not Relativists

Self-Criticism and the Mother of all Others

Morosophy and the Mother of all Others

And even longer ago, nearly ten years past:

Spelunking the Leftist Psyche


Richard James said...

I laughed out loud at your title today; excuse me for commenting tangentially on this post but in view of your recent posts on "Better Cops" that's also a pithy summation of the attitude of the likes of Sam Harris toward the likes of Maajid Nawaz.

Egghead said...

Hi Hesp, It was fun to see your editing (addition) process going from a comment to an essay.

Ayn Rand's Anthem was first published in England in 1938. In 1946, she edited the text for publication in America. You can get a modern used book for under $5 with both copies (1938 with 1946 edits - and 1946). It is fascinating to see her literary development.


At its core, this leftist article is deeply presumptuous - really authoritarian! Witness: "Liberal policies can counteract the disruptions of modern life. Things like free universal day care, portable health insurance, higher wages, affordable college, protection from predatory lending, and a universal basic income can help ensure that families and communities are resilient enough to survive shifting economic conditions."

Just looking at "free universal daycare," who says that the white working class women want to dump their kids into daycare? Maybe the white working class women want to raise their own babies and children in their own homes - as happened in most of the history of mankind to date - and many places in the world even now! The author assumes that women WANT strangers to raise their children - as if it were a benefit instead of a flaw! Indeed, technological advances should enable women - and men - to have MORE family time instead of less family time. Far from 'counteracting the disruption of modern life," the liberal policy IS the disruption of modern life. Feminism claimed that women could 'choose' their role, but the reality is that most women are forced to work outside the home now - with more policies leading to this forced end (i.e., tax policy, wage policy, etc.)


My main concern is the dire implications for the West if Western Muslims are as authoritarian as (this article claims that) Western Christians are. Ah, yes, thinks the authoritarian Muslim, "...the good old days of the caliphate...."

Hesperado said...

Thanks Richard James, I hadn't realized how apt that title is for the Harris/Nawaz relationship...

Egghead, I was a little confused, is the Leftist article you go on to discuss the same as the Ayn Rand publication you started with?

Egghead said...

Three separate comments. Last two about the article in the essay. :)