Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sauron Himself Is But An Emissary - Part VII

Creeping toward the end here. I think Part IX will be a summary

Part I Is progressivism a grandson of communism, or a cousin?
Part II The Nature of Evil
Part III Expanding Brotherhood
Part IV Social Pressure
Part V A Thought Experiment
Part V-A A Thought Experiment - continued
Part VI How Things Work

Envisioning

I Have A Dream, Imagine there's no countries, Visualize World Peace, I dream things that never were and ask “why not?”, the liberal organization Common Dreams, I Can See A New Day, Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream, New Frontier, Woodstock Nation, Imagine Seven, Teach Peace, What if they gave a war and no one came, half-a-dozen Arlo Guthrie songs, 1-20-09, the Netroots site Progressive Vision, HuffPo's Mike Lux always talking about Obama's Progressive Vision. Even the magazine titles show this: American Prospect, New Republic, versus the conservative American Spectator, National Review, Weekly Standard.

Envisioning some utopia and moving toward that is of enormous importance to progressives. It has been a recurring theme since Rousseau, through Marx, the utopian communities of the 19th C, the Bolshevik and Nazi New Men, and exploded in popularity during the 60's. Even those who are older and more cynical respond to this rhetoric, just tempering it with a doubt whether the baddies will ever let it be.

Consider also: those in the arts who make their living by envisioning something and making it appear are overwhelmingly liberal. In university math departments, the theoretical mathematicians are liberal, applied mathematicians more conservative. The social sciences, including education at the graduate level, is comprised of people who have a vision of how things are supposed to be, with theories clung to tenaciously despite slight evidence. Even in religion, where we might expect more conservatives, we find that the New Agers are all on the left, and the Christian Left is heavily into visions of a new society that lives by Jesus rules.

It's not accidental that progressives have fewer children. It's hard to keep convincing yourself of this vision thing when you've raised more than one child past the age of eight. Imagining and dreaming helps, but the adjustments are constant.

It would be easy to mock this, and I am sure some snark has crept into my description. But envisioning is not itself a bad thing. It is a core human ability that separates us from other creatures. All humans do a significant amount of envisioning - imagining, dreaming - in order to organise our lives. Conservatives do a lot of envisioning as well, to carry out our ideas and plans. It is not at all to be despised.

Yet it seems to have peculiar force among liberals. My guess is that they are much better at it than others, and so lean on that strategy more. Core liberals tend to have higher SATV than SATM, higher verbal than performance IQ's. They go into fields that require abstraction, verbal fluency, word pictures. In art, you can make things come out the way you want. In engineering, not so much. In applied sciences, you are making constant tradeoffs of cost vs. strength vs time constraints vs. flexibility, and the trick is to make something that works, not to hold true to the original vision.

Their visions have more reality for them than these do for other people. Not an either-or, but a matter of degree, and I suspect it is tied to a brain ability. As a strong imaginer myself, I think I have some understanding of this - and it perhaps explains why I started out on the left. In the arts and theoretical mathematics to boot.

A curiosity of all this - and here I will have to go a bit negative - is that if you do not believe in their vision, progressives think there is something wrong with you. You must subscribe to some evil or lesser vision, or be too stupid or fearful to embrace their vision. I don't pretend to understand this, and it is certainly not universal among liberals. But it is common, and plays strongly in the national dialogue. Perhaps someday you'll join us... Clinging to their guns and religion... the ongoing anti-military rhetoric. Something about the progressive attachment to visions of a better world makes it hard for them to see others as merely wrong - they have to ascribe pathology and evil motive to them.

7 comments:

karrde said...

At least one blogger I know uses the phrase yin and yang to describe two types of people

One of the two types always seemed concerned about feelings, dreams, and consensus. The other is always concerned about doing; about what, how, and for how much.

(I've forgotten which is yin and which is yang...)

The long description of the Dream (as another commentator calls it, The Vision of the Anointed) is evocative.

It is hard for me not to get caught up in a similar dream.

One thing I find curious is the longevity of the Dream. I suspect that similar dreams of a more perfect world have beset past ages.

Early on (part I or II), you alluded to the dream of a global power that would control international troubles.

For many long ages, the people of Europe dreamed of re-creating the regional power of Rome. Its combination of rigorous Law, powerful armies, civil engineers who built good roads/bridges/aqueducts, the Pax Romana that enabled much commerce, and the Ceaser who oversaw the Empire haunted Europe for centuries.

Was Rome such a Dream to Europe of the Middle Ages? Many kings and armies fought to recreate the lost glory of Rome. They never seemed to find it; but new claimants to the mantle of fallen Rome popped up every century or so. Even as late as Napoleon, we find leaders donning the title of Emporer.

Other examples can be mentioned briefly: the dream of reclaiming the Holy Land, the dream of a unified Christendom after the Reformation, the dream of exploration, the dream of a colonial power that would gift the undeveloped world with the education and wealth of the developed world...

Did the Dream cause the abuses and evils which occurred under its aegis? Or did the men who worship the Dream cause it?

It may be easy to call such things the effect of the Spirit of the Age.

Could an explanation be that real evil spirits try to corrupt the good things that are in the Dream? (We've been using Sauron as a symbol. What if there are evil powers, servants of a Dark Lord, who try such things among the affairs of men?)

Such thoughts are usually far from my lips; I am reminded that such ideas are not socially-approved-of in this Age. But I cannot tell whether they are impossible/untrue, or merely unpopular.

I can say that the fallen nature of mankind seems enough to ruin many good things; both this and the Evil Spirit explanations do not admit rigorous proof.

copithorne said...

That feeling of being blamed or judged keeps coming up for AVI.

Still no examples. Just the feeling.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Shucks, just waiting for you to catch up on the many unanswered challenges I've given you copithorne. Glad to oblige whenever you get into the same league here.

copithorne said...

What do you have in mind? I do try to answer questions. It's what makes things conversational.

The Count said...

Excellent post, I can only aspire to something so ambitious.

I think another reason creative types tend to lean left is that they get to cast themselves as the star of a very appealing story. Great revolutions are fought and won it is said by merely "raising awareness", "speaking truth", "bearing witness" etc., all good enough in one sense but utterly futile when faced with actual bullets.

OBloodyHell said...

> At least one blogger I know uses the phrase yin and yang to describe two types of people

Sounds like he's got his head stuck up his ying-yang.

:oD

OBloodyHell said...

"There're two kinds 'a people...an' you ain't either one of 'em"
- Dolly Parton -