Rage, rage against the dieing of our fame!
Posted by aogWednesday, 08 March 2006 at 20:06 TrackBack Ping URL

It seems like I read something like this story about selective quoting, misrepresentation and flat out making things up by the Old Media in order to give aid and comfort to the enemies of the USA1. I still can’t quite understand why, though. I have come to the conclusion that it’s not about the enemy du jour, they are simply a convenient tool to use. It’s also not about President Bush, although he is a lightning rod as a target of the effort. What is left?

Is it pure cowardess? Is it because the USA is a soft target — one that doesn’t strike back and openly admits its faults? Is it Logo-Realism and thence from fact that the USA admits that it is imperfect while other nations, far more despicable, claim to be morally superior that those countries are morally superior? Is it simply narcissitic rage at a nation that very obviously could easily get by without the chatterati who fill Old Media?

I can’t explore this much myself, because I have only one friend who is involved at all as a journalist and she suffers from only a mild case of BDS and otherwise is non-loony. I also have too few friends to alienate them over what is likely to be a futile effort (I just avoid any political discussion when we get together).

But it bugs me, because normally I can construct models for other people’s behavior, even if I don’t agree with it. I have utterly failed to construct such a model for the Old Media types who spin and distort with such effort.2

1 Other posts / stories in this vein:

2 Politicians and pundits are easy — both are using such beliefs to further their own interests in power and / or money (e.g., it’s obvious what Michael Moore gets out of his distortions).

Comments — Formatting by Textile
pj Thursday, 09 March 2006 at 13:51

You can’t construct rational models for it because it’s not rational … it’s spiritual … it’s natural to give your strongest emotions to those close to you … lovers love family, friends, and neighbors more than distant people … haters hate their neighbors more than distant people … rationally, it would make more sense to hate terrorists and tyrants in the Middle East than conservatives and Christians at home, but the latter are nearby, and thereby much more satisfying objects of hatred. People who are far away, you just don’t get practical opportunities to indulge your hate (or love). It’s all abstract and bloodless. But your neighbors, you have opportunities to hurt, criticize, or harm (or help, praise, and aid) them every day.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 09 March 2006 at 17:54

I do not agree. The label “irrational” is applied to bigots and racists in a similar way, but I don’t think such a label is warranted. They are simply misinformed — i.e. they operate from axioms that do not correspond to reality. Their behavior, given those axioms about the intrinsic qualities of other ethnicities, makes sense to me.

I guess it’s at the bottom that I can figure out what axioms I would have to adopt as the basis of my belief system such that I would act as they act. Maybe it’s because even a racist has actual beliefs he can enumerate, while our modern chatterati have only emotion.

As for loving / hating neighbors, isn’t this kind fo thing most prevalent in people who have no contact with either conservatives or Christians? I do not think it is obvious that such people have more contact with such than with the moonbats of the Middle East.

Michael Brazier Thursday, 09 March 2006 at 23:41

I think I know the creed these people follow; I call them “vulgar egalitarians”, for they assume that everyone should be equal to everyone else, in the most obvious sense of “equal”, physical and material similarity. Under this creed it is a sin to treat two people differently, no matter how one of them differs from the other; and if one person has something (wealth, legal rights, ability) that another lacks, that is proof that the first person has sinned against the second and must repent, giving over his ill-gotten gains to his victim.

For instance, Americans possess far more wealth and power than the average person on Earth does; the vulgar egalitarian therefore condemns America as evil. The fact that American power does not spring from American sins in any obvious way only shows, to egalitarians, that the connection has been carefully concealed, and only their great intelligence and high education can penetrate the deception. Arabs possess less wealth and power than the average person (much less than Americans) therefore, to egalitarians, Arabs are the victims of American crimes, and whatever they do against America is justified. Indeed, the evil consequences of the acts of Muslim terrorists must be laid at America’s door, not the terrorists’, for American power proves American guilt, for which America must be punished; all blame for the punishment rests with the sinner, none with the agents who carry it out.

Those in the media who deliberately distort the news to defame America are, in their minds, merely exposing the most wicked (because most powerful) institution in the world for what it truly is. The assumption that power implies evil, and weakness implies virtue, is never questioned; if the facts challenge it, there must be something wrong with them, thus publishing them could only confuse the public.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 10 March 2006 at 08:04

Possibly, but these chatterati never have any problems with them having more than other people.

cjm Friday, 10 March 2006 at 09:05

the chateratti are all cases of arrested development, they think as children, feel as children, act as children. once i had children of my own, and could observe human nature “unedited” i started noticing that many many adults only have a veneer of maturity. given that these individuals (in the chateratti) are all insulated from the consequences of their belief system, they appear quite insane to those of us outside the bubble. to me, they seem to have very empty and meaningless lives, and i have only disdain for them.

pj Friday, 10 March 2006 at 09:10

AOG - Well, I partly agree and partly disagree.

You raise a good point I had left vague, about what constitutes nearness. I would distinguish between having actual personal relationships, sufficient to exchange views and get to know someone well, and the sort of nearness that inspires hatred. I would agree that if leftists actually had friend or family relationships with conservative Christians, many (not all) would become less hostile to them. However, it’s important to note that people can have only a matter of hundreds of personal relationships, but their lives are influenced by millions. A woman who wants an abortion may feel deeply influenced by the person trying to ban abortion, even though she doesn’t know him. She may not feel influenced by someone in Iraq. It’s that nearness of perceived influence, not the closeness of the personal relationships, that I meant to refer to. Leftists perceive conservative Christians as hostile competitors for things they value, such as power to shape society, and despise them for it. Because they mentally compete with Christians all the time (e.g., whenever they fantasize about politics), they have many more opportunities to get a frisson of pleasure from hating them.

But I think you overestimate the significance of reasons and underestimate the significance of spirits or emotions. In general, reasons matter to reasonable people; confused or unreasonable people won’t have logical reasons for what they do.

Racists are a good case. Some racists may be reasonable folk who believe in racism because of evidence, but for others evidence is only a face-saving cover for hatred or lazy prejudice.

Our chatterati are similar. Like racists they too have beliefs. But: (1) Their beliefs are not sufficient to explain their actions, which are motivated more by a spiteful spirit than by ideology. (2) They are not honest about their beliefs, preferring to present fake ideologies which are more respectable than their true beliefs, and more likely to win them power and influence. In hiding their true beliefs, and shifting from one Potemkin ideology to another as expediency dictates, they only appear to have no beliefs.

pj Friday, 10 March 2006 at 09:11

Michael - Your theory falls to the inconsistency of leftist rhetoric and action:

— You say they believe in equality “in the most obvious sense, material”, but actually the most obvious sense is power, and they seek the greatest possible inequalities of power — themselves in charge, and everyone else submitting. I propose it is not an ability to see beyond the obvious that leads to their focus on material goods, but rather that they have found that proclaiming the equality of material goods appeals to the greed of those who have little while providing a shield to attacks upon their own lust for power — it is hard to criticize those who declare loudly and often for “equality” as seeking to establish inequality.

— You say they think “it is a sin to treat two people differently,” but compare how leftists at universities treat liberals and conservatives — differently.

— You concede that their is no evidence (at least no “obvious” evidence) for a theory that America is the source of all evil, but you insist that leftists use rational logic is used to deduce this position (a logic accessible only to “their great intelligence and high education,” and never made public to the rest of us). Isn’t a simpler theory that the hatred for America comes first, and the illogical and unevidenced “reasons” are merely rationalizations?

— You say the media “who deliberately distort the news … are, in their minds, merely exposing … what it truly is” — your assumption is that they are, in their minds, seekers after and publishers of truth. But then, when truths are uncovered that contradict their “deliberate distortions,” why do those not get published? It seems more sensible to infer that they deliberate distort the news because they want to propagandize, not because they want to expose the truth.

— You say leftists assume that power is evil, and weakness is virtue, but leftists seize as much power for themselves as they can get, and are ruthless toward the weak who are in their power, suggesting that they declare power to be evil only in a competitive environment, and primarily as a device for diminishing the power of their competitors.

In short, your theory is a mix of leftist propaganda which you half believe, and contradictory theses which you’ve inferred from evidence. Consider carefully: is it really possible to “deliberately distort the news” and “merely expose what truly is” in one and the same action? The first is what you’ve inferred from leftist actions, the latter what you’ve accepted from leftist propaganda, and the two contradict one another.

cjm Friday, 10 March 2006 at 11:11

leftists will only associate with other leftists. 99% of their energy goes into displays of hyper-purity. they are parasites and their strategems for survival illustrate this.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 10 March 2006 at 11:30


I think you missed Michael’s point a bit, which is that in the view of the chatterati, anything that contradicts their worldview is by definition false. That’s certainly the impression I get from my observations. It’s the root of the “fake but accurate” meme, which is used as a term of mockery by people like us but a valid technique by the chatterati (the flip side of “cowboy”).

But perhaps cjm is right — certainly there are strong parallels with how my young children react when physical reality does not bend to their desires.

pj Friday, 10 March 2006 at 13:00

cjm is right, in that childhood is a time of selfishness, adulthood a time of giving/loving, and leftists have chosen a state of perpetual selfishness.

Michael’s point, as you put it, is true in a sense, but only if you accept the leftist definition of “true”, which is “good for me,” and of “false” — actually “lie”, they rarely speak of falsehoods — which is “bad for me.” But if we allow nonstandard definitions of terms, it’s hard to communicate.

Michael Brazier Friday, 10 March 2006 at 15:27

pj: It’s quite true that leftists seek out positions of power, and consistently abuse the power they have, particularly to suppress contrary opinions. But they would tell you — and believe — that this is justified, because they are fighting against “the System”, breaking up greater masses of power than what they possess. The more sophisticated leftists will argue that their work against “oppressors” is doing penance for their unearned advantages and unconscious complicity in “oppression”. That is, they admit a share of collective guilt and use that to defend their personal misconduct. All rationalization, of course, but not conscious; if the argument were set forth in their conscious minds, no leftist could miss the inconsistency of themselves doing what they blame “the System” for doing.

pj Saturday, 11 March 2006 at 10:36

Michael - What you say is true, excellent points, and I’m glad to see you agreeing with me that their statements are rationalizations and, for the most part, unconscious (i.e. spiritual).

But I think we can go a little deeper with the recognition, first, that “the System” is not a real enemy — a set of actual persons — but a name for a phantom enemy; what they oppose is reality itself. They don’t like the nature of Creation. “The System” that they oppose is simply a practical, reasonable ordering of society, more or less compelled in most of its aspects by the nature of physical and human reality. So this, too, can be understood as a kind of generalized rebellion against God and God’s Creation. Some aspects of leftism are a revolt against love, others a revolt against reality — all are united as a revolt against God. Their despite of the Jews can also be understood this way — if you despise God, you are sure to despise God’s Chosen People.

Orrin Judd likes to quote Darwinists saying that their Darwinism is motivated by their distaste for Creation. They think Creation is wicked - Darwin famously cited parasites to argue this - and their hostility to Creation is of a piece with their hostility to God. This view of Reality as something wicked and offensive and that ought to be fought against is widespread among the Left. They are full of schemes to change reality, re-shape human nature, or “change the world.”

The one thing I would take issue with in your reply is the last claim, that “if the argument were set forth in their conscious minds, no leftist could miss the inconsistency of themselves doing what they blame “the Systemâ€? for doing.” Again, it seems to me to over-emphasize the reasonableness of leftists, while under-emphasizing the spiritual element of hostility to God’s Creation. They are overwhelmingly motivated by the desire to revolt against God’s Creation and replace it; to “be as gods” themselves, as Adam and Eve were tempted, and make a new creation. This is not reasonable, but it is logical in its own way. Once you have decided that you must re-invent Creation, the logical next step is to seek to maximize your own power.

pj Saturday, 11 March 2006 at 10:41

In short, replace the words “the System” with “God,” and I think you have leftists pegged.

Michael Brazier Sunday, 12 March 2006 at 01:31

Well, there’s a subtlety here: it’s true that what leftists call “the System” is in fact a practical response to the order of reality, but most leftists wouldn’t admit that this is true. The ordinary lefty journalist, of the kind the Old Guy was puzzled by, imagines that the inequities of society are just errors in the design, which anyone of good intelligence and education can correct. The recognition that basic human nature is the real source, and the consequent desire to remake nature (becoming, indeed, new gods) exists only in the hard core of leftism. That is, “the System” is really a name for God, but many leftists don’t know Who they are opposing. Egalitarianism is the start of the path; wishing to destroy the cosmos comes at the end.

Incidentally, the assertion that the Jews are God’s chosen people, set apart from the Gentiles, is an offense against the egalitarian creed — from that point of view anti-Semitism on the left is predictable.

pj Sunday, 12 March 2006 at 07:41

Michael - Yes, good. But what I would say is that the extreme positions, the faithful-to-God and anti-God position, are attractive poles, and people tend to gravitate to one or the other; this force overcoming the opposite, very powerful statistical tendency for people to muddle their positions. (That is, under statistics, if it were random whether people took a faithful-to-God or anti-God position on any given issue, as an atheist would expect, then you’d expect to find the population clustered, with each person taking the pro-God position on half the issues and the anti-God position on half; very few people would be at the extremes.) But there is a spiritual force that pulls people toward the extremes. And when we see the “ordinary lefty journalist … imagin[ing] that the inequities of society are just errors in the [human] design” we have to wonder if they believe something so silly and contrary both to theory and empirical evidence because of mistaken reasoning, or because of the same (though less dominant) attraction to the anti-God pole that the hard-core leftist has been drawn to.

So I would agree with all that, including the idea that the leftist begins as reasonable and ends with an anti-God spiritual commitment, but would argue that the force that pulls him is not the persuasive power of leftist reasoning and evidence, but the attraction of the anti-God spiritual pole, which gradually pulls the leftist away from reason. The “ordinary lefty journalist” of your mention has only traveled partway toward the extreme, but is nevertheless attracted to the extreme.

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