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Forum Post: "The Right's Stupidity Spreads, Enabled by a Too-Polite Left", by George Monbiot. [The Guardian]

Posted 6 years ago on Feb. 7, 2012, 11:31 p.m. EST by shadz66 (19985)
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"The Right's Stupidity Spreads, Enabled by a Too-Polite Left",

Conservativism may be the refuge of the dim. But the room for rightwing ideas is made by those too timid to properly object.

by George Monbiot.

February 07, 2012 "The Guardian" -- Self-deprecating, too liberal for their own good, today's progressives stand back and watch, hands over their mouths, as the social vivisectionists of the right slice up a living society to see if its component parts can survive in isolation. Tied up in knots of reticence and self-doubt, they will not shout stop. Doing so requires an act of interruption, of presumption, for which they no longer possess a vocabulary. Perhaps it is in the same spirit of liberal constipation that, with the exception of Charlie Brooker, we have been too polite to mention the Canadian study published last month in the journal Psychological Science, which revealed that people with conservative beliefs are likely to be of low intelligence. Paradoxically it was the Daily Mail that brought it to the attention of British readers last week. It feels crude, illiberal to point out that the other side is, on average, more stupid than our own. But this, the study suggests, is not unfounded generalisation but empirical fact.

It is by no means the first such paper. There is plenty of research showing that low general intelligence in childhood predicts greater prejudice towards people of different ethnicity or sexuality in adulthood. Open-mindedness, flexibility, trust in other people: all these require certain cognitive abilities. Understanding and accepting others – particularly "different" others – requires an enhanced capacity for abstract thinking.

But, drawing on a sample size of several thousand, correcting for both education and socioeconomic status, the new study looks embarrassingly robust. Importantly, it shows that prejudice tends not to arise directly from low intelligence but from the conservative ideologies to which people of low intelligence are drawn. Conservative ideology is the "critical pathway" from low intelligence to racism. Those with low cognitive abilities are attracted to "rightwing ideologies that promote coherence and order" and "emphasise the maintenance of the status quo". Even for someone not yet renowned for liberal reticence, this feels hard to write.

This is not to suggest that all conservatives are stupid. There are some very clever people in government, advising politicians, running thinktanks and writing for newspapers, who have acquired power and influence by promoting rightwing ideologies.

But what we now see among their parties – however intelligent their guiding spirits may be – is the abandonment of any pretence of high-minded conservatism. On both sides of the Atlantic, conservative strategists have discovered that there is no pool so shallow that several million people won't drown in it. Whether they are promoting the idea that Barack Obama was not born in the US, that man-made climate change is an eco-fascist-communist-anarchist conspiracy, or that the deficit results from the greed of the poor, they now appeal to the basest, stupidest impulses, and find that it does them no harm in the polls.

Don't take my word for it. Listen to what two former Republican ideologues, David Frum and Mike Lofgren, have been saying. Frum warns that "conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics". The result is a "shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology" which has "ominous real-world consequences for American society".

Lofgren complains that "the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital centre today". The Republican party, with its "prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science" is appealing to what he calls the "low-information voter", or the "misinformation voter". While most office holders probably don't believe the "reactionary and paranoid claptrap" they peddle, "they cynically feed the worst instincts of their fearful and angry low-information political base".

The madness hasn't gone as far in the UK, but the effects of the Conservative appeal to stupidity are making themselves felt. This week the Guardian reported that recipients of disability benefits, scapegoated by the government as scroungers, blamed for the deficit, now find themselves subject to a new level of hostility and threats from other people.

These are the perfect conditions for a billionaires' feeding frenzy. Any party elected by misinformed, suggestible voters becomes a vehicle for undisclosed interests. A tax break for the 1% is dressed up as freedom for the 99%. The regulation that prevents big banks and corporations exploiting us becomes an assault on the working man and woman. Those of us who discuss man-made climate change are cast as elitists by people who happily embrace the claims of Lord Monckton, Lord Lawson or thinktanks funded by ExxonMobil or the Koch brothers: now the authentic voices of the working class.

But when I survey this wreckage I wonder who the real idiots are. Confronted with mass discontent, the once-progressive major parties, as Thomas Frank laments in his latest book Pity the Billionaire, triangulate and accommodate, hesitate and prevaricate, muzzled by what he calls "terminal niceness". They fail to produce a coherent analysis of what has gone wrong and why, or to make an uncluttered case for social justice, redistribution and regulation. The conceptual stupidities of conservatism are matched by the strategic stupidities of liberalism.

Yes, conservatism thrives on low intelligence and poor information. But the liberals in politics on both sides of the Atlantic continue to back off, yielding to the supremacy of the stupid. It's turkeys all the way down.


[The article above was copied verbatim from : http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30467.htm where the connecting links are available & also here : http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/feb/06/right-stupidity-spreads-enabled-polite-left ]

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[-] 6 points by beautifulworld (22863) 6 years ago

This article is honest in its criticism of both the left and the right which hits hard at the crux of the matter. Sadly, there are no William F. Buckley’s out there today. But, I agree, liberals, too, have failed miserably to counter policies that have diminished the voice of the American people, especially over the last decade.

Has the American ethos of rugged individualism finally caused the nation to shoot itself in the foot? I think so. It is the shame that very ethos puts on people that has quieted liberals. So what has resulted? Like the article says:

“A tax break for the 1% is dressed up as freedom for the 99%.” and “The regulation that prevents big banks and corporations exploiting us becomes an assault on the working man and woman.”

It is obvious, too, that the author hasn’t been on this forum. We have some pretty rude liberals here, LOL!

[-] 2 points by JesseHeffran (3903) 6 years ago

Hey, I resemble that comment. :)

[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (22863) 6 years ago


[-] 3 points by GypsyKing (8719) 6 years ago

I find this a very good analysis. It reminds me of Chaberlain (sp) before WWII. I think we must see the direction things are going in and act. The question is, how? In the US, the population seems inexplicablely split between right and left, even though the right has come out in the open with it's anti-99% agenda. This makes it difficult to create a vigourous strategy. This is the difficulty we are struggling against. I am not fully versed in the situation in Britan. Perhaps you could fill us in a little.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 6 years ago

'GK' : Glad You're Around ;-) & ...

The Sad Reality in The UK is that The 99% are fire fighting a rearguard action against further 0.01% onslaughts, with Bankster-Bailout generated 'Mass Austerity' being felt by everyone, under The 'Conservative-Liberal Alliance' Government.

The previously, historically 'Left of Centre' 'Labour Party' is in opposition (with 7 other smaller parties in parliament) and they are paying the price for sucking up to 'Business' under the aegis of That Unconscionable WAR Criminal, TONY BLIAR, who can't walk the streets in The UK, without the very real risk of a Citizen's Arrest for Crimes Against Humanity !!!

The 99% Struggle continues here too, where Greedy Corporate Eyes and the whispered entreaties of the 'Prophets of Profit' and associated 'Free-Market Fundamentalists' are again in the ascendant under The 'Pro-Business' Tories and The Wishy-Washy Liberals !!

Of course in The UK, politics is massively under pinned by the very real but not so often mentioned "Class System", at the pinnacle of which is 'Mrs. Elizabeth Windsor', who will be celebrating her Diamond Jubilee (60 years as 'Mrs. Queen'), this year !

I shall be hoping that The Old Testament Term 'JUBILEE' will stick a little and people in The UK, USA and elsewhere will analyse this term for its contemporary relevance. In short The OT Jubilee was a once every 49/50 years remission and cancellation of all debts because back then it was understood that 'Intergenerational Indentured Debt-Bondage' Was A Bad Thing and to be avoided !!!

fiat lux ...

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (8719) 6 years ago

Thank you for that succent summation! There is no doubt in my mind now that the 99.9% in Britain and in the US are in a very similar boat. This is bad news in a way, and very good news in another way, as it enables us to form common cause with our cousins in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. Make no mistake, as Europe and the US goes, so goes the world!

[-] 2 points by shadz66 (19985) 6 years ago

The Guardian is by default, my newspaper of choice in The UK and of course this article will upset some readers - especially in The U$A. where talk of political 'left and right' is all shifted so much more over to the 'right' than in Europe and where The Corporate Pro-WAR MSM (ABCNNBCBS - FUX SNEWzzz) 'spectrum' (?!) predominates, propagandises and 'mind manages' !!!

In truth of course, The New Politics of The 21st century, will have to look past these older terms towards questions less of 'left and right' and much more concerned with questions of "Right and Wrong" but that's for the younger generation to formulate and articulate in future !!

So, while accepting that this forum-post may upset as many as it informs, I didn't wish to be "too polite" after all ... life's NOT a popularity contest !

'commune bonum' est 'summum bonum'...

[-] 2 points by GypsyKing (8719) 6 years ago

Read The Nation. It's the best political journal I'm aware of.

[-] 1 points by shadz66 (19985) 6 years ago

OK & I'ld like to suggest, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/ as my sincere recommendation ;-)

[-] 1 points by GypsyKing (8719) 6 years ago


[-] 2 points by gestopomillyy (1695) 6 years ago

"beware stupid people in large groups" the saying on my beer coolie

[-] 2 points by shadz66 (19985) 6 years ago

In which case, be sure to give all things "Tea Party" related a very wide berth indeed !!! ;-)

[-] 1 points by freakyfriday (179) 6 years ago

Author should make a few posts here that don't follow the party line and see how polite "leftists" can't be....or are the rude, vulgar, name callers the anarchists?

[-] 0 points by warbles (164) 6 years ago

Yes!! Less civil discourse!!

[-] -3 points by FarIeymowat (49) 6 years ago

That's funnny. "correcting for both education and socio economic status".... What a bunch of fucking propaganda.