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Politicopsychopathology
September 12, 2012 11:19 PM   Subscribe

According to Adorno, in psychoanalysis only the exaggerations are true. If you wished to characterize the Democrats and the Republicans in terms of true exaggerations, you might say that the Republicans have become the Party of Psychosis while the Democrats have become the Party of Neurosis. The Republicans are psychotic because they have lost contact with reality, and orient their behavior not toward realities but toward fantasies. The Democrats are neurotic because they are aim-inhibited, as an old-fashioned shrink might say: their anxieties, hang-ups, and insecurities mean that they can’t attain satisfaction, since in a basic way they won’t even allow themselves to know what they want.
posted by j03 (65 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
According to Adorno? I had to rub my eyes and take a double take. Then I noticed it was n+1. Crisis averted.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:24 PM on September 12, 2012 [3 favorites]


Heh, look, a psychoanalytical view of politics that doesn't reduce to Daddy Party and Mommy Party...

...er, never mind.
posted by effugas at 11:24 PM on September 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


(Also, the Democrats are behaving more in line with Freudian Hysteria, the Republicans by Neurosis. Neither party is showing much of any sign of Psychosis which has nothing to do with any objective reality. According to late Freud, Psychosis has all to do with an inconsistent world view and the Republican world view is plenty consistent. And not only consistent it is marked by the classic neurotic feature of avoiding issues where the world view is inconsistent. An avoiding of where things break down, an avoiding that is evident through their exaggerations and changes of topic. Meanwhile, the Democrats are much more marked by that playground envy where one identifies what one wants through what another appears to want or not want, and then rejects it when offered, that funny dynamic is a much stronger feature of Freud's definition of Hysteria than it is of a Neurosis. Really, again, neither party is insane. I apologize to all you partisans who wish otherwise.)
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:37 PM on September 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


Adorno hated the cinema and jazz. This is why his opinions don't interest me.
posted by Wolof at 11:50 PM on September 12, 2012 [5 favorites]


There is a (fringe) economic theory that cultures move between inward vs outward tendencies on long time-scales. Resting/reflection vs. action/doing (neurosis vs psychosis). 80s and 90s were the action phase, muddled transition 2001-2007, now in the reflecting phase. 1930s and 40s inward, in and outs in the 50-70s (not a 20 year cycle). Stocks don't do so well in the resting phase. Culture recharging and digesting before the next period of change. It might even be reflected in which party is voted in as President, if assume Dems as inward and Repubs as outward.
posted by stbalbach at 11:53 PM on September 12, 2012


We'll all come to a better interpretation of the political situation today if we resist the urge to resort to pathology.

Neither side is composed of crazy dumb batshit psychotics. That means our side must try all the harder to understand the other so that we may better convince them that they are wrong. We must lead them from their position to ours. A dangerous journey, the forests between the mountain peaks are rife with false trails and paper tigers.
posted by TwelveTwo at 12:04 AM on September 13, 2012


I'm an Independent. So I'm schizophrenic.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:11 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Republicans are actually crazy this year. They had candidates like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann, and for crissakes, Donald Trump was popular earlier in the election cycle.

It's a noticeable form of insanity. It's quite reasonable for experts to weigh in on which type of insanity we're experiencing. I think some Republicans fear their father too much, or at least maybe fear the Koch brothers.

I've been watching elections for many years. I've never seen insanity get so much traction with the electorate before. These are crazy times.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:19 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


<axe grinding>This is why I've always had an issue with the psychoanalytic/symptomatic reading of culture/society/whatever. It assumes pathology, finds it everywhere, and just happens to be selling the antidote in the form of never-ending therapy. There is indeed craziness in the world, along with all sorts of other more- or less-effective ways of dealing with the hand we're dealt in life, but treating every social phenomenon like a mentally-ill human blunts its analytic capacities and belittles the experiences of those who actually suffer from mental illnesses / psychic distress.</axe grinding>
posted by LMGM at 2:01 AM on September 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Odd; second time Adorno has come across my feeds today:

Judith Butler wins Adorno Prize

Q: How does it feel to join a list of past Adorno recipients that includes people like film director Jean Luc Godard and composer Pierre Boulez?

A: Well, it feels odd. I’m probably the shortest person on the list.

posted by wemayfreeze at 2:21 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Heh, look, a psychoanalytical view of politics that doesn't reduce to Daddy Party and Mommy Party...

I think we're at GOP = Out of Control 3 Year-Old Party, and Democrats = Single Mom Who Most Days Feels Like Giving Up Party.
posted by fleacircus at 3:28 AM on September 13, 2012 [20 favorites]


Psychoanalysis is scientifically discredited.
posted by spitbull at 3:37 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm an Independent. So I'm schizophrenic.

That's not what 'schizophrenic' means.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:56 AM on September 13, 2012 [5 favorites]



Psychoanalysis is scientifically discredited.


Psychoanalysis in the context of being not a therapeutic technique but an ideology/philosophy/metaphysical system amuses me. Like when you see a book about some political issue by a “Marxist-Lacanian psychoanalyst” and wonder whether that's what he's listed as in the Yellow Pages and/or the brass plaque outside his practice.
posted by acb at 4:02 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is so amusing about the persistence of "psychoanalytic" social theory is precisely that is has persisted as an ideology (and a model of human motivation and behavior) among social theorists so long after it has lost all clinical credibility. It makes about as much sense as rank behaviorism or any other reductionist account of human conduct. And famously, it applies western concepts of family dynamics (now widely recognized even among westerners as reflecting a particular cultural moment and its characteristic gender hierarchies) to a "universal" explanation of both individual and cultural "neurosis." You might as well offer a chiropractic or homeopathic theory of social behavior for what it's worth. As someone who trained in social science in the 1990s, I hope fervently that I never have to think about Deleuze, Lacan, or any of the rest of them again.
posted by spitbull at 4:16 AM on September 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


A: Well, it feels odd. I’m probably the shortest person on the list.

And the least intelligible, which is saying something.
posted by spitbull at 4:17 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Democrats have always been the party of schizophrenia. That's why I love/hate them.

Republicans are the party of paranoia.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 5:29 AM on September 13, 2012


I was just thinking something like this the other day.

I came to this conclusion.
posted by gjc at 5:37 AM on September 13, 2012


Actually this is about policy differences. But that is boring and doesn't get many web hits.
posted by Miko at 5:54 AM on September 13, 2012


Neither side is composed of crazy dumb batshit psychotics

I would love to believe this-- really I would! And maybe Palin, Bachmann, Cain, Trump, etc. are just carefully created constructs who don't believe what they themselves are saying. But I am honestly scared that the Far Right Fringe has become more acceptable to the hard-core Republicans and the win-at-all-cost mentality is causing them to choose leaders that are frighteningly out of touch with reality. Now we have Romney-- a real contender to be our next President-- painting the present President as a secret Muslim sympathizing with terrorists. Sure, Romney no doubt is just using this cynically to try and get a leg up but he is legitimizing this weird paranoid delusion that our President is actually our enemy.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:54 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


It wasn't until I dug through the author's list of previous articles and saw content from eight years ago that I was convinced that he wasn't a fresh-faced undergraduate who just took Psych 101 and Intro To Political Theory and had some Important Things To Tell Us About Their Convergence. Christ.
posted by Mayor West at 6:17 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let's not forget that the public are like psycho-analysts: Disinterested in modifying the beliefs they were taught long ago despite near continual failures to create healthy lives because profit.
posted by srboisvert at 6:28 AM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


the Far Right Fringe has become more acceptable to the hard-core Republicans

I think they're with them only as long as they have a winning game. The hard-core fiscal Republicans/think-tank-free-market types will align with whatever and whoever seems to be able to achieve and maintain policy control which favors their interests. I have no doubt that if the vast, flabby middle stopped responding to the nutjobs like Cain, Bachmann, and Palin, they'd be dropped like a hot potato. Right now, social issues and vague right-wing fiscal ideologies are holding sway with a lot of low-information voters, and so though the fiscal/intellectual right isn't at all highly visible in this cycle, they're content to work with what seems to be drawing votes at the moment in a fairly hostile (to them) climate.
posted by Miko at 6:34 AM on September 13, 2012


I agree. The right needs to sell a fantasy to get poor people to vote for them. On the other hand, the left needs to sell a stark reality to people in denial, and few will buy that one, because it's depressing, and there's a reason they were denying it.
posted by Brian B. at 6:41 AM on September 13, 2012


Right now, social issues and vague right-wing fiscal ideologies are holding sway with a lot of low-information voters, and so though the fiscal/intellectual right isn't at all highly visible in this cycle, they're content to work with what seems to be drawing votes at the moment in a fairly hostile (to them) climate.

But hasn't this been the case roughly since George Bush the elder stopped supporting Planned Parenthood so he could get on the Reagan ticket? I thought the whole bargain there was whatever passed for intellectual Republicanism (which is not to say there's none but that there are a lot of free riders hiding behind their banner) making nice with the so-called Moral Majority to get elected.
posted by immlass at 6:47 AM on September 13, 2012


Oh, come on. The Republican rhetoric may be couched in a delusional fantasy world, but their actions are pure rational self-interest for the elite. They're not crazy; they're just evil.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:05 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


But hasn't this been the case roughly since George Bush the elder stopped supporting Planned Parenthood so he could get on the Reagan ticket?

It's been the case since Lee Atwater. It's a winning strategy for them, but if it stopped working they'd jump ship.

I do think the rhetoric and policy proposals have been getting ever more extreme, though. Even if they aren't actually implemented, they get attention and speak the language of extreme social conservatives, which wins their loyalty and contributes to polarization.
posted by Miko at 7:18 AM on September 13, 2012


What is so amusing about the persistence of "psychoanalytic" social theory is precisely that is has persisted as an ideology (and a model of human motivation and behavior) among social theorists so long after it has lost all clinical credibility.

Total BS - though its rivals keep spreading this nonsense. Psychoanalysis is plenty credible, though of course it has changed quite a bit since Freud's day. Tons of practicing therapists are heavily influenced by psychoanalytic and psychodynamic concepts; there are active research programs with top scientists still supporting them (Eric Kandel, anyone?); and there is strong support for many central psychoanalytic concepts (e.g. defense mechanisms, transference, the critical importance of early childhood relationships on future personality).
posted by shivohum at 7:31 AM on September 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


One of my best friends is a Republican (even though he's socially liberal). He's a hyperintelligent guy - he grew up in a refugee camp and now owns a multimillion dollar condo in NYC (due solely to his hard way and planned approach to life). Since he's very reasonable and open to discussion, I asked him about some of the more extreme views that the Republicans take (regarding things like abortion and gay marriage) and his response was "Well, yeah - every political party is full of idiots, and sometimes you've got to toss them a few bones so that they vote for you. Elections are about votes."

Granted, this is largely anecdotal, but I don't think that the leaders of the Republican party are insane (with a few notable exceptions) - I think that many of them pretend to be in order to gain traction with their constituency.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 7:55 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


in related news, Thomas Szasz died today
posted by rebent at 8:34 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Granted, this is largely anecdotal, but I don't think that the leaders of the Republican party are insane (with a few notable exceptions) - I think that many of them pretend to be in order to gain traction with their constituency.

Plenty of the rank-and-file actually believe that, though, and the believers are the ones voting and influencing the stances of the politicians themselves.

Talk to your "best friend." Does he accept the reality of climate change, or not? Does he support the Bush administration's use of torture, or not? A human being can't lie to himself forever. Eventually, even if he's just in the Republican party "for the tax cuts", he will start to become a pro-life, torture loving, pro-Iran-invading, science denier who's angry at gay rights getting a seat at the policy table.
posted by deanc at 9:04 AM on September 13, 2012


I think that many of them pretend to be [crazy] in order to gain traction with their constituency.

This is true, pretending to be crazy is a sign of party loyalty and core affiliation with Republicans. Clint Eastwood knows. It has become a positive feedback loop, what was crazy 4 years ago is normal today and sets a new bar for proving ones loyalty to the cause. At some point the pretending become the truth.
posted by stbalbach at 9:13 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The left, with more honesty and intelligence, can tell its own story about American fortunes since 1968.

Interesting phrasing: we're supposed to look at our fortunes since 1968. But why not look at statistics on things like income and crime going back decades before 1968? If liberal policies have been successful, this should be borne out by comparing statistics from before and after they were enacted. We tend the story no earlier than the '60s, because not many of us have a first-hand memory of being politically conscious in, say, the '40s.
posted by John Cohen at 9:51 AM on September 13, 2012


Comparing prewar and postwar policy, pre-New Deal and post-New Deal economies, poses its own set of challenges. The technological environment and infrastructures involved were totally different. Even if we liked the economy of the 1920s, we can't recreate it, so it's a little fruitless to draw comparisons, other than very general topline trend ones, going that far back.
posted by Miko at 11:15 AM on September 13, 2012


Talk to your "best friend." Does he accept the reality of climate change, or not? Does he support the Bush administration's use of torture, or not? A human being can't lie to himself forever. Eventually, even if he's just in the Republican party "for the tax cuts", he will start to become a pro-life, torture loving, pro-Iran-invading, science denier who's angry at gay rights getting a seat at the policy table.

With all due respect, I disagree with that. Democrats say some really dumb and inaccurate stuff sometimes. (Point of reference: I am an independent voter.) For example, government employees often claim that they are underpaid, comparing their average salaries to employees with similar experience in the private sector. This is spurious data because it completely fails to account for the fact that unionized government workers have a lot more job security, whereas private sector employees often have to worry about layoffs. So any comparison between the two is completely inaccurate unless the zero incomes of unemployed people in the private sector are factored in, which they are not. There are plenty of examples to be made demonstrating how Dems play the data fallacy game too, so don't pretend that Republicans are the only ones who falsify facts.

Second of all, my friend grew up in socialist countries and saw how socialism utterly destroyed people's lives and took away their freedom. Most of the reason he's a Republican is because he feels like Democrats are chipping away people's freedom of choice, whether it is the freedom to start a business without approval from various government offices or the freedom to drink a 64 oz soda without being told that you're influencing other taxpayers healthcare costs. To him, these are gradual steps down the road to socialism - where eventually you have to bribe govenment offices to keep your business running, or be friends with a politician to skip the waiting list for medical procedures. Personally, I feel that he is overreacting, but based on the context of his upbringing, I can't fault him for having these feelings.

My point is, please don't assume that people are only ever Republicans out of ignorance, hatred, or greed. I think that's very close-minded of you. My friend may be Republican, but he is a good person with strong ideals - he's one of the best human beings I know, in fact.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:23 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Also, interesting data point - even among my Republican friends, most of them passionately hate George W Bush.)
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:27 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


To him, these are gradual steps down the road to socialism - where eventually you have to bribe govenment offices to keep your business running, or be friends with a politician to skip the waiting list for medical procedures. Personally, I feel that he is overreacting

...

please don't assume that people are only ever Republicans out of ignorance

But, as you say, he is a Republican for that very reason, namely bringing over his personal baggage from the old country. And not only that, it is logical to assume that one you immerse yourself in Republican culture and social mores that you are going to start to absorb and internalize their other loony beliefs, as well. I mean, you didn't answer the question I asked, did you? Does he believe those Republican shibboleths or not?

even among my Republican friends, most of them passionately hate George W Bush

Did they at the time he was in office, or were they ranting about what a loser John Kerry was and how Gore was a loser leftist while being all "rah rah Iraq War and screw those class warfare commie-socialists like Kerry!" ?
posted by deanc at 11:29 AM on September 13, 2012


Democrats say some really dumb and inaccurate stuff sometimes. (Point of reference: I am an independent voter.) For example, government employees often claim that they are underpaid, comparing their average salaries to employees with similar experience in the private sector. This is spurious data because it completely fails to account for the fact that unionized government workers have a lot more job security, whereas private sector employees often have to worry about layoffs. So any comparison between the two is completely inaccurate unless the zero incomes of unemployed people in the private sector are factored in, which they are not.

And here we have another example of the inherent asymmetry. On ONE HAND we have a party whose senators believe that climate change is a conspiracy created by scientists to give an excuse for more funding and boost ratings for the weather channel while advocating the use of torture and escalation of a conflict with Iran. On the OTHER HAND, we have someone who might fail to account for the total set of non-economic benefits involved in comparing public sector salaries vs. private sector salaries. "Both sides are just as bad" is a nice belief to have, but that doesn't mean it's true. And my point is that you can make excuses for individual Republicans, but at the end of the day, they're buying into a culture where loony beliefs are the mainstream and a social obligation to articulate.
posted by deanc at 11:33 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Most of the reason he's a Republican is because he feels like Democrats are chipping away people's freedom of choice,

With all due respect, your friend sounds like an idiot. Blaming socialism for the downfall of certain parts of Europe is naive at best, and believing that Republicans are the party of choice is just downright absurd, willful ignorance. Not that Democrats are necessarily any better, but it's demonstrably not true that Republicans stand for letting people do whatever they want.
posted by odinsdream at 11:59 AM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


And here we have another example of the inherent asymmetry. On ONE HAND we have a party whose senators believe that climate change is a conspiracy created by scientists to give an excuse for more funding and boost ratings for the weather channel while advocating the use of torture and escalation of a conflict with Iran. On the OTHER HAND, we have someone who might fail to account for the total set of non-economic benefits involved in comparing public sector salaries vs. private sector salaries. "Both sides are just as bad" is a nice belief to have, but that doesn't mean it's true.

When it comes to determining whether or not somebody lied or engaged in deceitful behavior, that's usually pretty easy to determine. But once you get into the scope of the lie - and start making a case for "which lie was worse" - it becomes a highly subjective and very unproductive discussion, because everybody prioritizes moral values differently.

Do I agree with you personally? Yes - that's why I'm voting Democrat this year. However, I agree with you based purely on my subjective values, which I don't feel ought to be imposed on anybody else.

Blaming socialism for the downfall of certain parts of Europe is naive at best

I didn't say Europe - my friend grew up in Eastern Asia, and that's the socialism that he's afraid of. And having personally visited there (on a trip with him, in fact, so he pointed out plenty of examples), I have to admit, I could see some valid points. We're not talking about a simple economic collapse here; we're talking about a society which literally allows people to starve to death on the streets. Where you have to avoid the nightclubs that the children of senior Socialist party officials go to, because if you get into a fight with them you'll be arrested on trumped-up charges. While meanwhile, amputees ride around on modified tricycles that they found at the dump because the government doesn't provide wheelchairs. This is the version of socialism we're talking about, not some "socialist lite" European crisis.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:18 PM on September 13, 2012


I think once it comes down to, "both sides are just as bad, man, and it's all about what you think in life, dude," we've gone down an unproductive rabbit hole.

If one side is saying, "climate change is a lie and the president is hell-bent on turning us into an communist state!" and the other side is saying, "public employees should have salaries that are identical to private employees," and you think that these are morally, intellectually, and factually both just as bad, without any inherent difference outside your personal opinion, and that said belief does not make a statement about you, as a person, morally and intellectually, (because, "it's all just an opinion, man"), then that's the end of that, really.
posted by deanc at 12:24 PM on September 13, 2012


It's not as though Socialism necessarily ends in those outcomes, because there are many counterexamples. In an environment free of other cultural values it can of course be taken to extremes. There's a difference between an economy designed to be completely state-controlled for reasons of self-interest and one that is moderated for maintaining a standard of living for all members of society. An American socialism would necessarily happen in an American context and be guided within American principles of governance. It's as silly to think that because you lived under one Socialist government, you can generalize about them all, as it is to think that because you lived under another economic system - such as capitalism - you can generalize about conditions in all capitalist nations. It's obvious that you can't. Abstract principles have to be applied, and the application makes all the difference.

Capitalist principles, taken to an extreme, are also pretty horrifying.
posted by Miko at 12:26 PM on September 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


One of the most right-wing reactionary people I know grew up under a dictatorial regime that clothed itself in "socialism". While I take that into account in attempting to understand where she's coming from, I can't help but think that she, like so many others, has learned "lessons" from this experience that are so distorted as to likely be beyond useless.
posted by glhaynes at 12:31 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which is not really pertinent to the discussion other than to say: I increasingly think the vast majority of political differences/misunderstandings are caused by language and, unfortunately, that seems one of the most impossible things to fight against.
posted by glhaynes at 12:48 PM on September 13, 2012


For example, government employees often claim that they are underpaid, comparing their average salaries to employees with similar experience in the private sector. This is spurious data because it completely fails to account for the fact that unionized government workers have a lot more job security, whereas private sector employees often have to worry about layoffs.

There are a ton of things this comparison leaves out. It leaves out the fact that government employees can't be compensated by any other means but salary (no stock options, no better office, no negotiated compensation of any sort).

As far as I have seen, there have been no reasonable comparisons between federal and private workers.

And really, the highest paid government workers aren't unionized. I don't know where you got that from. They are difficult to fire, but so is a lot of upper management in the private sector.
posted by Quonab at 1:07 PM on September 13, 2012


Public sector employees have to worry about becoming the next target for severe and sudden cuts as tax revenue declines and idiots in Congress decide to grandstand.
posted by Miko at 2:15 PM on September 13, 2012


Most of the reason he's a Republican is because he feels like Democrats are chipping away people's freedom of choice, whether it is the freedom to start a business without approval from various government offices or the freedom to drink a 64 oz soda without being told that you're influencing other taxpayers healthcare costs.

Of course, the guy trying to regulate soda drinking is not exactly a screaming liberal democrat. And nobody needs approval from the government to start a business. You might need licenses and inspections, but those are not abridgements of freedom in any sane political outlook.

We're not talking about a simple economic collapse here; we're talking about a society which literally allows people to starve to death on the streets. Where you have to avoid the nightclubs that the children of senior Socialist party officials go to, because if you get into a fight with them you'll be arrested on trumped-up charges. While meanwhile, amputees ride around on modified tricycles that they found at the dump because the government doesn't provide wheelchairs. This is the version of socialism we're talking about, not some "socialist lite" European crisis.

None of that is socialism. A government is socialist because it DOESN'T provide wheelchairs??
posted by gjc at 4:23 PM on September 13, 2012


I guess some hands on experience could be helpful, lest we all produce armchair diagnoses.

Consider, if you will, a person affected by autism. How many people have actually met one? I did, an in my (very limited, also numerically) experience one could very easily tell that there is something "odd" about autistic people, but that doesn't imply that it is equally as easy to diagnose the person as affected by "autism", as opposed to any other apparently "odd" behaviors. Yet, it's so easy to slap a label on a person that does thing that appear to be "odd" to us.

Now consider the process through we form a "generalization".

1. I see a white swan;
2. I see more white swans;
3. Hence I conclude that "all swans are white".

or

1. I see a crazy Republican/Democrat;
2. I see more crazy Republicans/Democrats;
3. Hence I conclude "All Republican/Democrats are crazy".

Now, did that tought ever come to your mind? You needn't have some form of brain malfunction to come to that conclusion, you don't even have to "ponder" / "think attentively" to come to that conclusion.. Apparently it's an almost automatic conclusion many, if not all of us, come to naturally.

What could be wrong in a tought like that? What if some people actually believe that thought to be an "absolute truth"? What if million of people actually believe that's the truth?
posted by elpapacito at 6:07 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have to flat-out reject any argument that says both sides are equally crazy/sane. I feel that, empirically, it is not true, nor is there any reason for it to always be true.

Recent analyses have concluded that not only are we more polarized that any time in measurable history, that polarization is not a even split - in which party moved to a more distant extreme from the center - but that the polarization is asymmetric, meaning the left has not moved quite as much, staying within the realm of "moderate," while the right has crept ever more extremely rightward and has consolidated tightly. We haven't heard as much about this as we should have.

posted by Miko at 6:41 PM on September 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The conservatism of people from formerly Communist countries is a form of PTSD.

I find it almost impossible to blame them for it.
posted by jamjam at 12:21 AM on September 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't say Europe - my friend grew up in Eastern Asia, and that's the socialism that he's afraid of. And having personally visited there (on a trip with him, in fact, so he pointed out plenty of examples), I have to admit, I could see some valid points. We're not talking about a simple economic collapse here; we're talking about a society which literally allows people to starve to death on the streets. Where you have to avoid the nightclubs that the children of senior Socialist party officials go to, because if you get into a fight with them you'll be arrested on trumped-up charges. While meanwhile, amputees ride around on modified tricycles that they found at the dump because the government doesn't provide wheelchairs. This is the version of socialism we're talking about, not some "socialist lite" European crisis.

This is related to the political system of socialism in exactly no ways.
posted by odinsdream at 5:40 AM on September 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


economic system
posted by Miko at 5:44 AM on September 14, 2012


Michele Bachmann: Obama & Hillary Clinton are brainwashing America with radical Islam ‘speech codes’
posted by homunculus at 1:00 PM on September 14, 2012


Perfectly sane! See, we just disagree. Not about policy, but about what reality is.
posted by Miko at 1:26 PM on September 14, 2012


See also: Who's More Full of Shit
posted by Miko at 8:48 PM on September 14, 2012


Miko, Homunculus, you're placing me in the uncomfortable position of having to defend a philosophy that I don't personally believe in, since my friend isn't here to debate you - nor would he have any inclination to. However, since you insist on putting me in this position, I would like to point out that cherry-picking individual Republicans and holding them up as examples - as though their existence says something after the party as a whole - is pure sophistry and unworthy of debate. It's as irrelevant as deanc's earlier question about whether my friend "believes those Republican shibboleths or not?" - that's like saying that all Catholics must believe the Pope's dictates completely. Seriously? I'm not the best debater, nor am I even particularly invested in this, but even I can spot the flaws in that logic.

It's unlikely that we'll ever get a Republican to participate on Metafilter for long before being driven away by the pure hatred directed toward him (which is a shame, since I think Metafilter could use more intellectual curiousity towards different viewpoints) but if we did, he could just as easily use your same rationale to point to Jimmy Carter or Rod Blagojevich as examples of the Democratic party.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:29 PM on September 15, 2012


cherry-picking individual Republicans and holding them up as examples - as though their existence says something after the party as a whole - is pure sophistry and unworthy of debate. I

It certainly does say something about the party as a whole if the party as a whole does not repudiate them, but is content to accept the gains their rhetoric may bring them.

It's unlikely that we'll ever get a Republican to participate on Metafilter

There are a bunch of Republicans on MetaFilter.

he could just as easily use your same rationale to point to Jimmy Carter or Rod Blagojevich

Jimmy Carter is a pretty great representative of the Democratic Party. He is not crazy, he is learned, and he does not advocate hate. I am proud of Jimmy Carter, and so is the party. That's why he was invited to speak at the convention and is welcome as a representative of Democratic ideals. There's no comparison between a Jimmy Carter and a Sarah Palin.

Rod Blagojevich is an idiotic criminal who deserved his comedown. I'm happy to say it as a Democrat. I'd have liked him out a lot sooner and with less fanfare. I repudiated him. As did plenty of others, vocally, in my own party. Out on his ass, as he should have been.

It's the silent tolerance of these fringe views - as long as they pay off in votes - that disturbs and concerns me deeply. This isn't something evenly split across the partisan divide. It's a visible issue in the Republican party. If someone is helping them - even by exploiting racial, gender, social, sexual, economic, or heterosexual fear - they'll accept the help.
posted by Miko at 3:46 PM on September 15, 2012


There are a bunch of Republicans on MetaFilter.

Really? Would you point some out for me? I ask because when I was new to Metafilter (and fairly ill-behaved, I'm ashamed to admit) some people who correctly called me out on it held you up as an example of a well-respected person whom I would do well to study and attempt to emulate. Although it was definitely good advice (that's why I had you as my contact for a time) I also asked whether there were any well-respected Republicans on Metafilter whom I could observe as well, since I wanted to study a balanced pair of viewpoints. (And let's be fair - it's easy to be well-respected when you agree with the majority opinion - being respected when you disagree with the majority is far more challenging.) But you know, nobody could name a single one. If you can point out a single well-respected Republican Mefite, I'd appreciate it.

Rod Blagojevich is an idiotic criminal who deserved his comedown. I'm happy to say it as a Democrat. I'd have liked him out a lot sooner and with less fanfare. I repudiated him. As did plenty of others, vocally, in my own party. Out on his ass, as he should have been.

Please, let's be honest with ourselves - the Democratic Party repudiated Blagojevich because it would have been political suicide for any politician to support him. So framing it as an act of integrity on their part is more than a little disingenuous - and certainly doesn't convey an accurate picture of the situation.

Jimmy Carter is a pretty great representative of the Democratic Party. He is not crazy, he is learned, and he does not advocate hate. I am proud of Jimmy Carter, and so is the party. That's why he was invited to speak at the convention and is welcome as a representative of Democratic ideals. There's no comparison between a Jimmy Carter and a Sarah Palin.

OK, so maybe that's the wrong analogy. Substitute John Edwards for Jimmy Carter, in that case. You remember John Edwards - he was the golden boy of the Democratic Party a while back? And he even was a vice-presidential candidate, so that makes for a much better analogy to Sarah Palin. Or are you going to say he got repudiated too, and that makes everything OK? This is just my subjective opinion, but I don't think "repudiating somebody" should be a get-out-of-jail-free pass for all the support they received before their crimes became public knowledge.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 4:33 PM on September 15, 2012


If you can point out a single well-respected Republican Mefite,

Well, now you're raising the bar. Before I just had to point out a Republican! Now you want a respected one, too?

All I can say is that in threads here and there over time, someone's popped up to say they were Republican. I don't have any clear recollections about whom they were, and when I think of respected MeFites, for most of them my understanding of their political affiliations is "Democrat/Socialist/Libertarian/Anarchist" or the biggest category "I really don't know."

In this thread earlier in the year, a bunch of conservatives spoke up. Based on the comments in there from people who aren't liberals, I think we've got people who happily identify as "conservative" and sometimes "Libertarian" but few who label themselves "Republican," at least none turned up in this thread. On the other hand, I'm not really sure how many MeFites who lean Democratic in elections label themselves "Democrat."Do I? Or are you just assuming because I'm defending Democrats in this discussion?

the Democratic Party repudiated Blagojevich because it would have been political suicide for any politician to support him.

Why isn't it political suicide for any politician not to comment negatively on, say, Bachmann? Or Santorum?

John Edwards is an asshole. Yes, I would say that in the eyes of partisans, he got repudiated, so everything's OK. Finding examples of people that Democrats have repudiated doesn't advance your argument. My point is exactly that the Republican party doesn't seem to be willing to distance themselves from their own extremists, even when they are saying and doing things that should be beyond the pale in a civil society. Because they see the behavior and don't repudiate it, they tacitly tolerate it and accept what gains it brings them.

What you'd have to find to prove your case is a Democrat saying something extremely racist, religiously biased, gender-biased, etc and not being distanced by fellow party members. I'm not contesting that it happens, but it sure doesn't happen as often.

I don't think "repudiating somebody" should be a get-out-of-jail-free pass for all the support they received before their crimes became public knowledge.

How was the public supposed to know they were criminals before their criminality was public knowledge?! We're not talking about reading people's minds here. We're talking about statements they make, standing up in front of people, saying extreme things that are recorded on audio, video, and in print. Not secret backroom shenanigans, but their actual views.

I think that saying that members of both parties are equally extreme in their rhetoric - confining ourselves to the current election cycle, which I really am - is a false equivalence. It might seem fair and nice to say so, but it doesn't appear to be the case.

Have a look at Romney's dodge on Bachmann's claims that Hilary Clinton's aide is a spy for the Muslim Brotherhood. How hard would it be to say "Those claims appear to be utterly unfounded and my campaign will not do them the dignity of repeating these attacks on our public servants."
This isn't the first time Romney has been reluctant to give his opinion on a controversial issue. In the wake of Donald Trump's renewed charges that President Barack Obama might not have been born in America, Romney told reporters he would not "repudiate" the billionaire and that he doesn't necessarily agree with everyone who supports his candidacy. Romney was also unwilling to condemn Rush Limbaugh for calling Sandra Fluke a "slut" earlier this year, merely responding that he would not have used the same language.
I can't even imagine Obama not repudiating claims that far counter to reality about his opponent.
posted by Miko at 9:39 PM on September 15, 2012


Well, now you're raising the bar. Before I just had to point out a Republican! Now you want a respected one, too?

Sorry, I communicated that the wrong way. My question wasn't meant as a challenge to your assertion (though it seems implausible that there would be many Republicans on Metafilter when even people like Ironmouth get accused of being "too conservative.") I was simply curious as to whether you could help answer my long-unresolved question. Please consider that paragraph as completely tangential to our discussion.

I think that saying that members of both parties are equally extreme in their rhetoric - confining ourselves to the current election cycle, which I really am - is a false equivalence. It might seem fair and nice to say so, but it doesn't appear to be the case.

Speaking of "raising the bar", I'd like to point out that you've done some serious shifting of the goalposts in this argument. For example, I never said that members of both parties were equally extreme in their rhetoric. Since I'm assuming that you're arguing me in good faith, I want to remind you about the specific parameters of what we're debating. I never said that Republicans and Democrats were equal - my first assertion is that both parties - not just the Republicans - do a significant amount of distortion, lying, and confabulation. My second assertion is that - based on my first assertion - people who claim that Republicans are just evil, or that the only reason one might be a Republican is out of ignorance, religious malice, or greed, are being remarkably intolerant and closed-minded. Based on those originally established goalposts - not the shifting goalposts that you're enacting now - I don't have to prove that the Republican viewpoint is equivalent to the Democratic viewpoint, I simply have to prove that a substantial case can be made for it which does not rely on ignorance, religious values, or greed. Let's keep that in mind.

Furthermore, saying that you are "confining yourself to this election cycle" is another example of goalpost shifting. Anybody can prove anything when you only examine a limited timeframe that best suits said proof. The current crop of Republicans is (in my opinion) woefully sub-par so examining this limited timeframe epitomizes selective data-filtering towards your goals.

John Edwards is an asshole. Yes, I would say that in the eyes of partisans, he got repudiated, so everything's OK.

This sounds very much like the Catholic idea of the confessional. What an odd concept! Effectively: "I apologized, so everything's OK." I'd like to point out that every time somebody has posted a question on AskMe about a significant other who hurt them - but apologized later - the overwhelming consensus has been that it is not OK, and that an apology or repudiation of past behavior should not remove the red flags that are raised about the person's character. It's interesting that you feel political parties are exempt from what seems like a very useful piece of common-sense advice.

How was the public supposed to know they were criminals before their criminality was public knowledge?! We're not talking about reading people's minds here. We're talking about statements they make, standing up in front of people, saying extreme things that are recorded on audio, video, and in print. Not secret backroom shenanigans, but their actual views.

See, here I think is where our philosophies differ the most. You seem to think that the ends do not justify the means, and that morality is determined from one's intentions. I believe that the ends do justify the means, and therefore it is extremely important to do a thorough analysis of what the end result will be, because in my worldview it's equally possible to be a terrible human being through ignorance (for example, if one miscalculates the effect that their "good intentions" will have) as through malice. Therefore I place more emphasis on cultivating the twin virtues of skepticism and cynicism, since these stop people from becoming sheep that blindly follow false messiahs with a nice smile and good hair. (To clarify, I am not calling you a sheep, and I want to make it clear that this insult was not directed at you. I've simply noticed a certain gullible quality in most of the people I know who supported Edwards - a need for guidance, if you will.)

I recognize that this may be anecdata, but I've held Edwards in contempt since he first came to the public eye. Any reasonable examination of his history should have lead one to the conclusion that he was a populist slimeball willing to say or do anything to get votes (in short, exactly the behavior that you're castigating the Republican party for). Granted, I didn't know he had an affair at the time, but based on what I knew of his character, it was utterly not a surprise to me. We're not talking about "reading minds" - we're talking about simple character judgements and looking at people's actions rather than their words. Miko, I respectfully submit that if the only things you scrutinize people on are their statements - rather than their behavior - you're going to experience a lot of extreme disappointments in life.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 8:21 AM on September 16, 2012


I never said that members of both parties were equally extreme in their rhetoric.

Fine. If we agree on that, there are no further points to debate there. Both parties are not equally extreme in their rhetoric, nor do they indulge in equivalent amounts of "distortion, lying, and confabulation." Since we agree there, my point is made.

My second assertion is that - based on my first assertion - people who claim that Republicans are just evil, or that the only reason one might be a Republican is out of ignorance, religious malice, or greed, are being remarkably intolerant and closed-minded.

I think there are some Republicans for whom those characterization do not apply. However, I do find the majority of Republicans, and mainstream Republican rhetoric to be morally deficient, in my personal estimation, and I have a right to that point of view. That deficiency may indeed be based on malice or on ignorance or on greed, but I esteem it as a deficiency nonetheless. It's not intolerant or closed-minded. It's my informed perception, like it or not.

I think you can make a substantial case for what I'd call 'Republican-style fiscal conservatism,' but not a substantial, supportable case that meets the needs of our pluralistic nation's citizenry and economic realities for today's Republican party platform. That's a distinction I would make. The platform does not stand up well to solid, realistic reasoning. It is possible to imagine Republican platforms that would do that - there have been some in the past - but that's not what we are encountering from today's Party.

Furthermore, saying that you are "confining yourself to this election cycle" is another example of goalpost shifting. Anybody can prove anything when you only examine a limited timeframe that best suits said proof.

If there are no parameters, the danger becomes speaking in such broad generalities and covering such broad time periods that reasoning becomes entirely loose and flabby. I inserted that (a) because the current platform and cycle is in fact, the subject of my current remarks and (b) because I found you were straying away from a clear focus and wanting to speak in very large generalities, which the historian in me can't manage. There are too many differences in party doctrine election cycle to election cycle.

You seem to think that the ends do not justify the means, and that morality is determined from one's intentions

I don't know where you're getting this. You're throwing out analogies that don't fit the question. Morality is determined from one's actions, and I'm all for condemning bad actors when they are Democrats, just as I condemn the bad actors I am seeing in today's Republican party, who are content to sit silently by while people carrying their banner make hateful arguments that contribute to hostile conditions for American citizens pursuing their rights.

Miko, I respectfully submit that if the only things you scrutinize people on are their statements - rather than their behavior - you're going to experience a lot of extreme disappointments in life.

First, statements are behavior.

Second, please drop your condescending and patronizing tone if you are at all interested in continuing the discussion. After 25 years in political activism, I've got a fairly good handle on what it is about politicians that needs to be scrutinized, and you need not waste any tears of concern for my potential disappointment.

Are you just here to say not all Republicans are evil? Not all Republicans are evil. There. However, their party platform is a moral shame and the rhetoric and willingness to exploit bigotry is disgusting and should be condemned by people who believe in the equality of all people before the law. This is an opinion of mine which is not movable without changed behavior from the party.
posted by Miko at 9:09 AM on September 16, 2012


: "I apologized, so everything's OK."

You really misread that. I don't forgive him, he should get the book thrown at him. Everything's OK with the party if the party disengages. My point is I want those Republicans who are upstanding, honest, and believe in equality to disengage with their hatemongers. You keep missing this point.
posted by Miko at 9:10 AM on September 16, 2012


Also I never supported Edwards. Between this and your need to defend your friend, I submit that you are reacting to other people you know in your personal life in most of your comments, not to me.
posted by Miko at 9:11 AM on September 16, 2012


I'm done with this thread, but I'll leave as a closer: Why I Left the GOP.
posted by Miko at 2:18 PM on September 16, 2012


I'm sorry Miko - I didn't mean to sound condescending or patronizing, and that certainly wasn't my intent. Since you've expressed that you don't wish to continue this, I'll refrain from any further arguments (because it would be unfair for me to try to win a debate simply by getting the last word) but I just wanted to take a moment to apologize for any offense that I may have inadvertently caused you.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 2:32 PM on September 16, 2012


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