Carnival of WIJF: Ace, on Progressivism

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This Carnival is solely devoted to one of the best blog posts I've found in a long time. I was cruising around for a bunch of WIJF posts when I ran across a link on one of the primo entertaining blogs, Iowahawk.

I don't always agree with Ace of Spades, and I don't agree with all of his statements in today's selected post. He knows religion, and specifically understands evangelical Christianity although sometimes he sort of belittles it. That's his deal, which I don't quite get.

Also, his deal is he is a "professional blogger" now, having given up working for The Man and relocated to a less expensive living arrangement and now supports himself almost exclusively via the blog - which I also don't get, but in the sense I respect the heck out of him for managing to pull it off.

Plus he's a great writer and cultural critic, and very well educated besides. This post is evidence of the man's talent:

Because there is so much ego involved in the self-definition as progressive, the need for intellectual conformity becomes stultifying. For, if one can believe something different than you -- even if they are, on balance, progressive -- this represents a direct challenge to your own self-valuation as an intellectual worthy. Conservatives have sometimes heated debates about what the right position is, but they're not debates about whether or not someone is worthy or intelligent. Whether or not someone is a "good conservative" is sometimes argued, but that argument is not simultaneously about whether someone is a good human being. Lefitsts, sometimes by their own surprisingly honest self-admission, acknowledge that they are sometimes too eager to define and, worse still, enforce a group-mediated orthodoxy on the wider church, and excommunicate those who are deemed heretical.

Go read it all, it is well worth it.

One of the most beguiling phenomena of the modern age is the obviously intelligent liberal. That phrase, to conservatives, is a major contradiction in terms. But we all know it is a reality. Whether from the smart guys you read on the progressive Web sites or magazines, or the smart liberals you know personally, if you are a literate conservative you have wondered more than once, "How could this intelligent person make such statements?"

Drawing on an accurate understanding of human psychology and keen awareness of our leftist brethren, Ace's essay answers the question.

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zimzo said:

It's fascinating that you seem to need to believe that liberals don't just have a different opinion from you, but actually suffer from some sort of intellectual deficiency or psychological malady. I wonder if this answers some deep-seated psychological need on your part, Joe, a twinge of self doubt that you have suppressed deep in your psyche. Parhaps to feel good about yourself and your ideas, you need to believe that there is something wrong with those who disagree with you. Of course, it's not possible that liberals and conservatives both care about this country but have different ideas about what's best for it. No, you need to believe that you care just a little more. Then again, psychoanalyzing people over the Internet is a pretty inexact science no matter how well you think you know the other peson

Zimzo (heh - so it's a guessing game ye wishes me to play, eh?),

I hope you read all of Ace's post so you can put mine in context.

I DON'T, on the whole, think liberals have any kind of malady. The one's I know I would characterize precisely as 'having a different opinion from mine.' I don't view them as intellectually deficient. Mainly, I tend to think of progressives as people who operate from different assumptions than my own.

I hope, also, you realize that we "conservatives" are hardly monolithic, and I assume the same about liberals.

My interest in the "psychological" side of progressivism has to do more with "after effects" and behavior, rather than native intelligence. As Ace notes, some of the behavior is odd and contradictory from what one might expect based on the commonly stated liberal ethos.

I like plenty of people who disagree with me, and definitely don't think there is anything wrong with them. To a person, I believe they are all just one good argument from being swept over to the conservative side. I simply have been unable to make that argument so far.

zimzo said:

Well, I'm relieved to hear you haven't fallen asleep next to an Ann Coulter pod yet. I agree there can be a certain amount of groupthink in liberalism--just as there can be in conservatism. And there are certain things like speech codes that don't seem very liberal at all. But part of the problem is that these labels are increasingly meaningless. Is it really conservative to want to take away the rights of states to make their own marriage laws? Is it conservative to run up the largest budget deficit in history?

What was astonishing about this piece you linked to was how it just as well could have been written by a liberal about conservatives. Jeff Goldstein might be surprised to know that it is not his academic credentials that make him reviled by the Left, but his constant use of ad hominem attacks and demonization of his opponents. And there are certainly many on the Left who traffic in the same kind of rhetoric (Jane Hamsher and some of the posters on Kos are good examples). Ace of Space specializes in finding the looniest expressions of the Left he can find and portraying them as the representative of typical liberal ideas, while dismissing loony right-wing ideas as anomolies. To extrapolate from misassumptions to create a grand pseudo-psychological profile of liberals is symptomatic of what is wrong with political dialogue nowadays, if you could call it dialogue.

While I really don't think your characterizations of Ace and Jeff Goldstein are accurate, from my semi-frequent visits to both blogs, I agree with most of what you say. The label conservative is becoming quite useless, and I admit I should extend the same leeway to those I have tended to lump together as liberal or progressive. Thanks for the critique.

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