Sunday, December 28, 2008

The fate of the Jews

Some of the things I have written recently have pushed right to the boundary of what may permissibly be said by civilized people -- but I have always run that risk. It is no accident that I am the proprietor of the Tongue-Tied blog. I am an instinctive anti-authoritarian. If someone tells me to do something, my instinct is to do otherwise. And if someone tells me not to do something, my instinct is to do it. I am in other words quite happy to be a rebel against the orthodoxy and am rather supported by the certainty that the orthodoxy of today will be the absurdity of tomorrow. So pushing against speech limits is, I hope, a service I can render to the advancement of knowledge and understanding.

What I will almost certainly be accused of below is "blaming the victim". I am in fact not blaming anyone, merely trying to understand -- and I accept no limits on what I can say or think in that quest. So I hope that no minds will snap shut before they read the whole of what I write below.

What I want to say a few words about now is that everlasting issue: Jews. How awful it must be to be born into a group that is a perennial source of at least controversy and often hate. I am sure many Jews must pray for Jews to be simply forgotten. But their God seems to have doomed them not to be. I admire Jews in many ways but I am glad that my heritage is less horror-filled. Mind you, as a middle-class WASP male, I too belong to a much reviled group. But we are not as targeted as the Jews, mainly because there are more of us, I imagine.

And that leads into my point: Their small numbers reveal Jews as a biological failure. Reproduction is the prime imperative in biology and reproductive fitness has to be judged by reproductive success. I have always admired the wisdom of Gideon but from a biological viewpoint, strength is in numbers. So the roughly 10 million Jews in the world today is not impressive. If the Iranians were to sail two ships carrying nuclear devices into both New York harbour and Tel Aviv harbour at roughly the same time with some jihadis aboard to detonate them, there would not be much left of that 10 million.

By contrast, there are around one billion Christians in the world. So why have Christians flown so far ahead of Jews in reproductive success? Originally, there were a lot more Jews than Christians. The obvious answer, of course, is that Jewish numbers have been kept down by persecution. But that just leads to the very vexed question of why people have been persecuting them from the Pharaohs on. There are many answers to that but I want here to look at just one.

The contrast between Jews and Christians is all the more surprising when we look at the doctrinal similarities between them. After the destruction of the Jerusalem temple by the Romans and the subsequent diaspora, the Judaism of the Old Testament simply died. Most of the instructions in the Old Testament were predicated on Jews having and ruling their own country and that was no longer the case. So the commands given in the Old Testament no longer COULD be obeyed: No animal sacrifices at the temple etc.

In response, two reworkings of traditional Judaism emerged: Rabbinical Judaism and Christianity. And they were surprisingly similar. It was no longer feasible to stone to death such evil-doers as homosexuals so that was no longer expected of believers. St. Paul simply pointed out that such offenders were still abhorrent but left punishment of them to God. And the Rabbis had to rule similarly. The major differences between the two new versions of Judaism was that the Rabbinical Jews were gene-preserving while Christianity was open to all and actively sought to embrace all men (and women). So Christians rapidly lost any Jewish identity.

So where did the more traditional Jews go wrong? I am going to be blunt. I think that there must be something in Jews that predisposes them to political stupidity. How else are we to explain their ending up on the wrong side of just about every ruler from the Pharaohs to the Babylonians to the Romans to the Popes to the Tsars to the Nazis? I can't be sure what that thing is but it is still in full bloom today. Both in Israel and in the USA Jews tend heavily to lean Left -- at a time when the Left are having a romance with the sworn enemies of the Jews: Muslims. How stupid can you get? Jews just don't seem to be able to see who their friends are. Just about their ONLY friends in the modern world are American evangelical Christians but the actions of the ADL and much else reveal most Jews as despising American evangelical Christians.

And contrast that stupid behaviour with one of the world's most successful ethnic groups: The British. As Winston Churchill said, not for a thousand years has Britain seen the campfires of an invader. While the rest of Europe was tearing itself apart with internecine wars, Britain was securing for itself a couple of continents (Australia and most of North America) plus some rather nice Islands (The British Isles and New Zealand, for instance). And their progeny populate those places to this day.

So how did the British do it? Basically through just one strategy: Allies. The British have always sought allies. That has long been the dominant aim of British foreign policy. Britain never goes it alone. They will even enter wars that really concern them little just in order to preserve alliances (WWI and the Iraq war, for instance). So any description of a war in which Britain has been involved has always been between two sides: "The Allies" and the other guy. But to achieve that, you have to be great compromisers and great propagandists. And the British always have been both. Even Hitler admired British WWI propaganda. But above all you have to VALUE potential allies. And as far as I can see, Jews generally don't. They value their enemies instead. The Iranians may get them yet.

So do I have a clue about what causes such a brilliant people to be so stupid politically? I think I do have a clue. If you read Moses and the Old Testament prophets, you will see that they often describe the Israelites as a "stiff-necked" people (Which I take to mean proud, obstinate, unwilling to bow down to anybody. A more pejorative definition is here). I suspect that Moses and the prophets were right about their people and that enough of the old genetic material has survived in Jews to make the same thing true of most Jews today. St. Luke certainly seemed to think it was hereditary (Acts 7:51) and modern-day Sabras are certainly not often shy and retiring people. Maybe in fact you have to have some of that genetic material to identify as a member of such a reviled group. Such a difficult inheritance seems a pity to me -- from my ethnically British standpoint with its devotion to compromise and the "fudge" (scroll down) as a solution to difficult issues. But I am glad that there are still some people who take on the great burden of being Jews -- given the immense contribution that Jews have made -- and continue to make -- to civilization. And I am sure that I am pretty stiff-necked myself. I would probably not be writing this otherwise.

I am now going to let one of my regular Jewish readers speak about the issues I have raised above:
A few disagreements or notes on what you wrote about Jews:

What would our numbers be without 6 million murdered..and of the remainder that survived Europe, how many were yet again dysfunctional, would not have children, committed suicide later on? Ok, we'd still be small in number, but not QUITE so small, given the one or two generations that would have survived and possibly thrived.

Religious Jews, the most "stiff-necked" of the bunch in terms of holding onto their Judaism, (and the most politically conservative), are the ones with big families. The problem is that the base is so small, that the overall numbers remain low, but in percentage terms, the one group of Jews growing is the Orthodox.

It is difficult to compare Britain, an island nation, with the stateless-until-a-short-time-ago "nation" of Israel. We were and remain an anomaly in history, a people that were interspersed among the nations. That made us the "stranger", always, and we were often forced into professions that were not looked upon in a god light, e.g. moneylending. We certainly see right now that financiers are heroes when times are flush, but even the honest ones are anathema when times go bad. And we certainly had no nation to hold onto, remained the great scapegoat of the nations. Was that because we were politically stupid?

NO. That's because we were weak and easy targets, and yes, we refused to fit in and go along with the rest of the population. We refused the easy terms of Christianity, so were reviled by Christians. We refused the paganism of Rome and Greece, and suffered accordingly. We refused to go along with the insane Mohammed, and now our no. 1 enemy in the world is Islam. Ok, so yes, we're stiffnecked, but to say it's because we were politically stupid....or should we just given in and lost our identity, should we have become Christians or pagans or Muslims, and just let Judaism go by the wayside of history?

So yes, our numbers are puny. But we outlasted the Third Reich, Stalin's Soviet Union, Torquemada's Inquisition Spain, ancient Rome and Greece, ancient Egypt..and all others who've tried to destroy us.

Now, I would agree that in the current day, and maybe ever since the Enlightenment, when we decided to "reform" and not be SO weird and stiff-necked, when we tried to blend in...we've become more and more leftist, and that HAS resulted in terrible problems for us. We don't even need to worry about Iran as we are fading away on our own, as the less stiff-necked amongst us don't care if their kids leave Judaism and marry others, or cheapen the religion in any number of ways; right now, I would agree that leftism is our dominant "religion" and it drives me crazy, as you know. It has caused us much grief and we are committing, I would also agree, our own suicide. But it is the strange people in the black hats, and the rabid "settlers' on the West Bank, and the families with the 10 kids, and those who worry about the picayune and strange rules of Halakhah, the religous, Orthodox "form" of Judaism, the form that is derived from the Rabbinic Judaism, that has the only real chance of keeping Judaism alive. THAT is not a new phenomenon, and was always thus.

Allies? Who should we have made allies with, without losing who we were? It's a valid question, but the answer is that we had no one to ally with. We had nothing or little to lands, no titles...occasionally money and know-how to make money, for which we became court Jews and influential...but money, as it is wont to do, as often corrupted these Jews, as it does most people. Should we have allied with those who blamed us for killing their Lord, and who blamed us for poisoning the wells of Europe to bring about the Black Plague, which we often missed because of our rules of sanitation? Should we have allied with the Muslims who gave us dhimmi status at best, if not actively persecuting us for our lack of intelligence to convert to Islam?

I WILL be willing to grant we are not always smart as we are given credit for. I know a lot of Jews that irritate the hell out of me, and that I don't find so bright...but what percentage of science Nobels (not the meaningless and political ones like "peace" or "literature") are from Jews? That's another story and I know you know it.

So being alone and defenseless and insular and is a blessing and a curse. I'm well aware of the curse, but more need to understand the blessing. And what hurdles we've had to face. That we've overcome them is the miracle we'll celebrate, in part, tonight, the first night of Chanukkah. It is the anti-assimilation holiday, totally perverted by the reformed Jews, but the holiday is purely about maintaining our identity, our stiff-necked and crazy and insular persona, even in the face of hate and abuse.

And so it is 65 years since my grandparents were murdered by the animals, the Nazis, in Auschwitz. My 2 kids are religious, my sister's 5 kids and 7 grandchildren (I'm the slow one of the two!) are all religious or being raised religious. We haven't disappeared yet. But Hitler and his henchmen are gone, the Reich is gone. Yes, new enemies have arisen, and anti-Semitism doesn't go out-of-fashion, and yes, we can be total idiots...but we persevere, because we believe in what we are and who we are...not better than anyone, but maintaining who we are and what we do is important, EVEN IF WE DON'T EVEN ALWAYS UNDERSTAND WHY...: we are the group that gave the world the premier book about theodicy, the book of Job. It is who we are. We maintain faith though at times it seems absurd to do so. It is not always or maybe it is NEVER rational. But we've outlasted all the other folks who tried to do us in, and we believe that we'll outlast the Iranis and Hamas and Islam and all the rest of the murderers.

Said with proper passion.

He misses my point a bit, however and I admit that I should have spelled it out more. The thrust of my initial remarks above was not at all that Jews should always have sought allies. I agree that allies would have been rarely available. My point is that Jews should be cultivating their allies NOW -- while such allies (American fundamentalist Christians) are available. Fundamentalist Christians are strong people in the face of the hostility of the world and have therefore remained supportive of Israel despite the scornful attitude that many Jews seem to have towards them -- but changing churches is an American tradition and church doctrines themselves have undergone a lot of changes even in my lifetime. My old Presbyterian church is still an oasis for the old gospel but many other churches are not. So nobody should take fundamentalist Christians for granted. Their support might not always be available. Note that already outside America fundamentalist Christians are often little focused on Israel. So from a British perspective it is stupid of Jews not to value, support and encourage American fundamentalist Christians.

And the reason I mentioned Britain was to point out that even a great and powerful nation has always seen a pressing need for allies. So if the Brits have always thought that they needed allies, might not people who are in a much weaker position also need them?

My comments on the Biblical description of Jews as "stiff-necked" as an explanation for Jewish political folly could probably also be expanded. I did note that I myself probably deserve that description. My point, however, was that obstinacy and defiance has both strengths and weaknesses. And I think that Jews are a good example of that. It gives Jews an independence of mind but also generates hostility towards them. Even The Lord himself did not like it! And I have NO expectation that it will ever change much. If Moses and the Hebrew prophets could not change it, who could?

Again, however, I think the British offer a safer example -- a way of handling others that any target of hostility should find thought-provoking. The Brits are experts at deflecting hostility. They don't succeed entirely at it of course but their historic civility and their ability to find allies shows that they are pretty good at it nonetheless. And their way is what outsiders often condemn as "British hypocrisy". But it is not really hypocrisy. It is just an attempt to respect the sensitivities of others. And the tools for doing that are compromise and the "fudge". You almost have to be British to understand what a fudge is and probably the best way of finding out is to Google "British fudge" and read some examples of it. It it is basically a partial retreat or concession that is disguised as not being a retreat or a concession. So it means something like "an evasive compromise", "handling a dilemma by vagueness" or "concealing what is really going on by vague or misleading words". It might not be too unkind to describe the whole of British politics as one big fudge. I doubt that the word is capable of precise definition but precision is, after all, anathema to it. There are some good examples of it here (Scroll down a little).

And I did make the point that the relatively small population of Jews in the world is essentially the result of persecution. That was really my starting point. I went on to ask WHY Jews have been so persecuted. And given their present demonstrable unwisdom politically, I suspect that they have always lacked political wisdom -- with "stiff-neckedness" being a major fount of that unwisdom. But my British heritage means that I speak as someone who not only respects compromise but also understands the "fudge". Nobody respects the "fudge" -- but they do it rather than perpetuate hostility.

A fudge that modern-day Jews could use would be to declare that Christian fundamentalists are after all just another Jewish sect. It is only partially true but it would warm relationships.

To be blunt:

I just want to make a brief comment on something that every single Jew who has written to me on this topic has said. They say: "We have survived them all so far and we will survive the present lot of SOBs too" (I paraphrase).

What that overlooks is what Winston Churchill originally said in 1934 (he said much the same later too). I briefly alluded to it earlier:
For nearly a thousand years England has not seen the campfires of an invader. The stormy sea and our Royal navy have been our sure defense. Not only have we preserved our life and freedom through the centuries, but gradually we have come to be the heart and center of an empire which surrounds the globe.

Churchill went on to warn (rightly) that the sea barrier was not alone enough and that Britain was nonetheless in dire peril. But what I want to draw attention to is that the English have survived for a long time too but have done so in style. They have had relative peace and prosperity (not a single woman raped by foreign troops in nearly a thousand years and very few civilian deaths from hostile foreign action) and have made their culture one of the world's most influential and made their language the common language of the world. English is even the language most widely spoken by Jews. Compared to that success, the Jewish achievement of mere survival amid horrendous losses is a very poor second prize.

I am sorry if that is a harsh way to put it but my more "fudged" British way of putting it previously obviously failed to communicate effectively in at least some cases.

So what I was doing above was to analyse what the English got right and what Jews got wrong. My conclusion is of course only my own opinion but I hope that the arguments I have made in support of it are persuasive. And my principal focus was of course on just one of the things that have kept Britain safe and thriving: Their unremitting emphasis on the importance of allies. Britain was invaded many times before the Norman conquest in 1066 but the Normans brought to Britain a wider continental awareness and engagement. And that system has continued in one way or another to this day.

And my (pissing into the wind) hope is that I might get more Jews to value allies highly too, now that some chances for allies have opened up. I have been a partisan for Israel since my early teens and I want it to survive in peace and prosperity, not amid more horrendous losses. So I say what little I can that might assist that.

Comment on a critique

Punditarian has some comments on my recent posts about Jews. We appear to be in substantial agreement -- with the main problem being that he has completely missed my point when I compared the English and the Jews. I was not at all interested in the question of what the future holds for the English. I was merely trying to extract what lessons we can learn from their rather distinguished history to date. How did the English do so well from the 11th to the 20th centuries? I think the answer to that could have lessons for Jews. And there is nothing in that answer that is at all threatening to Jewry or Judaism. Quite to the contrary. Jews have survived for 3,000 years amid great suffering. I believe that there are ways to reduce that suffering. It has been said that when we stop learning we die so I do hope that Jews are still capable of learning some things. If so, I believe that the English are one group who could teach most people something.

I think the only area where Punditarian and I disagree is fairly trivial. He wants to call Jews a nation. I have no strong feelings about that at all. My only point is that Jews are not a race and he seems to agree with that. Nonetheless his use of "nation" is a bit peculiar. In ordinary usage, "nation" refers to the people of a particular place under a single government. So Israel is undoubtedly a nation but Jews generally are not. Whether you call Jews a nation, a people or just a group, however, the only really interesting question, it seems to me, is how they are defined. It is of course an old question that has been debated for many years and Israel itself has effectively thrown up its hands over the matter and declared that you are a Jew if you think you are. Being one of those pesky social scientists, however, I still strive to bring a bit of order out of chaos so I still like my definition that you are a Jew either because of your own religion or the religion of one of your recent forebears.

In an earlier post, Punditarian conflated geneology with genetics in discussing one of my statements but I concede that the statement concerned was unclear enough to enable that. I could not see how any modern day Western Jew could trace a GENEOLOGICAL connection to the Israel of 2,000 years ago but Punditarian took me to be referring to a GENETIC connection. There is of course no doubt (as we see here) that some Western Jews derive some of their genes from the Middle East and, hence probably from ancient Israel. Overall, however, Jews are racially very mixed. I trace some of my ancestry to Scotland but that does not mean that I am a Scot.

One point made by Punditarian that I rather liked, however, was his point that Jews have always been only weakly endogamous. As he notes, the Bible itself records plenty of examples of marrying "out". The book of Ruth is in fact all about one such episode.

"Fudging" and treading on dangerous ground

"Fudging" is of course what the English do in order to avoid treading on dangerous ground but I have enough independence in me to be rather un-English about that. I mentioned yesterday some of the points made by Punditarian. One point I did not mention, however, was his comment about "fudging". He cautiously mentioned that Jews are rather good at that too. He must be Jewish as I cannot imagine a gentile daring to say so. It could feed the stereotype of Jews as being devious and dishonest.

So let me start out by saying that Australians do a bit of fudging too. And we even call it that. I imagine that fudging occurs from time to time in a lot of places. An essential point however is that British fudging is primarily used to avoid upsetting community or political applecarts. It is used to keep everyone involved reasonably happy. So whether Jews often do that sort of thing from time to time I will leave unanalysed. My point about the matter is that modern-day Jews certainly overlook large opportunities for doing so -- and overlook such opportunities at considerable loss. The example I gave of a way in which Jews could do some good British fudging still seems to me to be valuable: Jews could declare that fundamentalist Christians are after all just another Jewish sect. Like all fudges, that is only partly true but it would surely warm relationships greatly nonetheless. And the importance of warm relationships between modern day Christians and Jews was the whole point of everything I have recently written on the topic.

An omission:

I note that although I have defined "Jew" in what I think is the most reasonable way, I have not defined "English". As an academic, I see that as a regrettable omission and I think it may have led to some confusion. So: As with the Jews, a number of definitions are possible but not all are equally good. Some sort of rough racial description could perhaps be managed, for instance, but for my present purposes, all I need to do is to define the English as the LINGUISTIC group that first came to England c. 1500 years ago and who still live there in the persons of their descendants -- descendants who still speak an evolved version of the same language. That makes no racial claims and in fact what I say is heavily dependant on a cultural claim, as we will see in a moment.

And the descendants of the original German tribes of 1500 years ago have of course received heavy genetic input from other groups: Particularly the previous Celtic inhabiants of what was once Britannia and various Norse invaders (Danes and Norwegians). So racial purity is in their case, as usual, a fantasy. It is however true that the physical and cultural differences between the three major groups were slight so have left little difference that is now detectable.

What is important, however, is the large cultural change brought about by the last (Norman) invasion of England in 1066. Before that event England was getting invaded all the time, with the previous invasion being only a couple of weeks before, in fact. The Normans represented racial groups (Celts and Norse) that were already well represented in England so the change they brought was not a racial one. What the Norman rulers brought to England was a much larger and cannier political perspective and, for one reason or another (due in part, no doubt, to the Norman struggles for independance from France), that perspective hardened rapidly into the alliance-orientation that has characterized the English ever since. And so it still is. Tony Blair sent 15,000 British troops into Iraq not because Britain had been attacked but because America had been.

More detail on English history

Below is an email recently received from a Jewish friend that questions one of the points I have made so far. It is in fact not directly about Jews at all but traces back to my comparison of Jews with the English above. It challenges in part my description of the English as having survived the last 1000 years "in style". It does not challenge the external achievements of the English but does point to internal problems. I follow that challenge with some more comments of my own.
I wish to add some objections to your core thesis that agues that the English have survived in style for the last millennium and a half.

While on the surface this carries with it an apparent truism it overlooks the fact that English history, despite a popular misconception, has not been in and of itself peaceful. Looking at the period after 1066 (the time when England was last successfully invaded) Albion has witnessed on local soils rebellions by the Saxons against Norman Feudalism, the Baron Wars, Peasant Rebellions, the War of the Roses (which really spanned the era between Richard II and Henry VII), the English Civil War, the Jacobite War and the insurrection of Monmouth. If one adds in the American Revolution (which for all intent of purpose can be looked at as an internal struggle between English speaking people) it is evident that the English have had a long history of warring amongst themselves.

In addition if you add in the numerous English lives (mostly commoners) that have been lost in the pursuit of Empire on a global basis -not to mention those lives foregone in conflicts with Spain, the Netherlands, France, Scotland, Denmark, the United States etc - the idea of surviving with style, at least how it reflects down to the bulk of the populace, is found wanting.

Now I will not deny the fact the English have been very successful in transmitting their culture on a worldwide basis. The dominance of the English language and systems of education and governance attest to this phenomenon but it has come at a price which I believe cannot be swept so easily under the proverbial rug.

The English are a very admirable people (I have been somewhat of an anglophile for most of my life although my enthusiasm has waned as of late as British institutions which I once respected continue to shed ground to the Stealth Jihad) but the accident of geography that has afforded them island status clearly played a large role in their success (yes the Scots and Welsh could harass the English but by sheer force of number were unlikely to ever win the upper hand..).

Winston Churchill was correct in arguing that the island situation was an advantage that could not last forever and that Britain would need to work on establishing alliances to ensure survival. This was not a novel idea at the Empire level (regional alliances with the Iroquois, the Basuto, the Sikhs were common) but in the more critical area of European politics it was particular loathsome to the English mindset. After the Napoleonic Wars and the obvious realization that the European Powers (Russia, Prussia and Austria) were intent on turning back the forces of liberalism and nationalism (via the Concert System) Britain retreated into a type of 'splendid isolation' where it focused on growing its Empire alone without outside interference. With the possible exception of the Crimean War this attitude characterized British geo-politically thinking up to the Second Anglo Boer War. It was only after the South African conflict, where British resources were stretched to breaking point by the guerilla tactics of well organized militia that the need for global allies would become a necessity. In fact one can pinpoint this change in policy to the signing of the Anglo-Japanese Agreement of 1902, a framework that set the foundation for the Entente Cordiale with France and the Anglo-Russian Entente.

However even in this regard the Brits were slow to the post, for one the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy was already well established. Germany also had cultivated an ally in the Ottoman Turks. One could even argue (with hindsight) that Britain's decision to enter into a system of alliances and thereby join the trend was ultimately what caused the weakening of the Empire by forcing London to engage in a vortex of events leading to the disastrous Great War (although I suspect that you will argue otherwise using the pretext that the growing influence of German Naval Power made war inevitable).

I believe that the success of the English people resides with a combination of factors. They are a very resourceful people (their pragmatic creativity during the First Industrial Revolution and beyond bears this out) but so does a commitment to the free inquiry. The former has its structural origins in the English Reformation, but was further augmented by the battle against autocracy during the Civil War and the Hanoverian transfer of power during the reign of George I. These changes were not as forthcoming amongst Britain/England's continental rivals who were forced to delay the coming of modernism to the Enlightenment Period.

However what has most served the English is their ability to adapt - to take the best from the outside and make it somehow English. They did this with the Roman system of laws, Grecian Rationalism, Judeo-Christian Ethics, Stoicism and Iberian naval proficiency. It is this same characteristic that the family branch of the English, the Americans, have utilized with remarkable success today (Another island nation, the Japanese, are similar to the English in this regard).

It is this adaptation that has created the illusion that the English have resisted invasion. While no army since William the Conqueror have overwhelmed the English on the home front since the 11th century (although the Hungarians humbled the English football team at Wembley in the 1950s) it is equally true that the English monarchy has resided in the hands of foreigners since then. The Normans were of a Franco/Norse stock, the House of Plantagenet, and its spin offs in Lancaster and York were all Gallic, the Tudors were Welsh, The Stuarts - Scottish and Hanover, Saxe-Coburg and Windsor were/are all German. Yes not since the ill-fated Harold Godwinson (aka Harold II) has England had a monarch of English ethnicity and before that power was invested for some time with Danish kings such as Canute and Hardicanute.

What is most remarkable though is that within a short period the English turned these foreigners into extensions of England that their ethnicity is more a matter of historical detail than anything else.

However with each addition and influx of change a point of saturation is neared. Changes are rarely neutral with respect to key factors. The utility of adaptation carries with it a double-edged outcome. At what point in a series of changes is the system or the people no longer English?

British Internationalism, the overriding policy of adaptation, that dominates the nation in 2008 is a consequence of this underlying tendency, however in subjecting itself to the relativism of multiculturalism the Brits seem to have shot the bolt and traded away the base in one foul swoop. Could it be that the English will simply wither away? Over-adapted themselves to death? Maybe there is a grace in this style but I am at a loss to find it.

Phew! Where do I start there and where do I finish? The argument is too detailed for most readers to judge so I think I should content myself with some fairly general remarks in reply. I am inclined to make remarks along the lines that that the Jacobite wars were fought mainly in Scotland and that the Monmouth rebellion was trivial but that would just move the debate too far afield.

A major point above, and one I had been waiting for someone to make, is that, although there has been no foreign invasion of any moment, the English have at times fought amongst themselves -- and the Scots also got a bit far South on some occasions.

And I do not for a moment deny the savagery of some of England's internecine wars. There were large areas of civility in the wars concerned but there were some nasty incidents too. My point, however, is simply that foreign invasions would have made things much worse and England managed to avoid those. The English have never had a magic wand that insulates them from all harm but they have done better than almost anybody (Yes. I know about Iceland and Japan) at keeping out foreigners. Internecine wars are regrettably common just about everywhere -- see for instance pre-Tokugawa Japan and the numerous wars that for so long consumed the German states. And see Renaissance Italy and classical Greece for that matter. So the English did little better than others on the internecine front but they did wonders on the foreign front. Life in England would have been a lot nastier and much more destructive if foreign troops had marched through England's "green and pleasant land" as well.

And I will be a little pesky and point out that England's internal strife came to a halt a remarkably long time ago. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 terminated England's internecine wars. Since then there have been lots of nasty internecine wars in other places: Two of them in America in fact. So the English even got the internecine problem under control earlier than most. I can already hear a few roars about my mention of America, though.

I think the next point made above by my friendly critic is that lots of English troops have died in England's wars abroad. That is of course true. EVERY nation has lost sons in foreign wars. But, again, the English have generally got off pretty lightly. In WWII, for instance, English losses were piffling compared to the losses of men (and population generally) suffered by Germany and Russia. Britain's alliance with the Soviets was unpleasant but, as with most of Britain's alliances, it did succeed in getting lots of foreigners to die for English liberty. Clever? You judge.

So I think at this point I will make a concession to my critic above: I may have given an impression of complete tranquillity in England and that would certainly not be justified. But nearly a thousand years of freedom from foreign invasion was still a major achievement and it sure beats almost anything elsewhere. And that seems worth study.

We now move into an area that is a bit fuzzier. How consistent has been Britain's seeking of alliances? I have not the slightest problem in saying that their seeking of alliances has waxed and waned. The seeking of alliances was simply an English tendency, not some rule laid down from on high. So I will not spend too much time on each era of English history. My critic does descry, however, a period in which the enthusiasm for alliances was low but admits that the Crimean war took place during that period.

I cannot let the magnitude of that pass unremarked. In the Crimean war (against Russia), the English were allied with the FRENCH! The enormity of that can hardly be understated. Perhaps a small anecdote will help. Since Norman times, the French have always been England's chief enemy. And when the allied generals in the Crimea were discussing strategy to be used against the Russian enemy, the English generals had the unfortunate tendency of referring to the enemy as "The French"! That did not go down too well with their French allies, of course. So the English propensity for seeking allies was strong enough at that time to cause them to enter into the most unlikely and unpopular alliance which was at that time conceivable. So I don't think that the English enthusiasm for alliances was too far submerged in that era either.

This post is already way too long so I will finish by making a tiny point about the many late 19th century alliances that were negotiated in Europe. It is true that Britain was not an enthusiastic participant in them but there was a good reason for that. The prime mover in the alliances concerned was Germany's brilliant Otto von Bismarck and Bismarck kept playing musical chairs with Germany's alliances as a way of keeping everyone off balance and thus preventing the rest of Europe from ganging up on the new Germany and thus igniting a hugely destructive war. So the British were rightly deeply skeptical of all those manouvres. And when Bismarck was gone we see how right he was about the dogs of war that lay in wait for Europe. Without his mercurial diplomacy to prevent it, Europe entered WWI.

And it is true that I think the German fleet was the main reason for Britain coming in on the side of France in WWI. The battle of Jutland showed that the German fleet was rightly feared. But that is all another story. The rest of my critic's observations I broadly agree with.

By the way: Most readers here will know that I am Australian, not English, but I want to make that clear for any new readers. Thanks to our British forebears, Australia is the only nation that has an entire continent to itself -- which is exceptionally neat. And Australians are probably even more devoted to alliances than the English are. Wherever British or American troops are fighting, Australian troops will normally be there too lending a hand. And in the more than 200 years of our history, we have not seen the campfires of an invader either. Nor have we had any civil wars. So Australia really has had a tranquil past -- lightyears more tranquil than the history of the Jews over the same period. And Australia is a pretty tranquil place today too.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

When will psychologists ever learn?

Artifactual relationships, absent sampling and invalid measuring instruments still abound in research into the psychology of politics

Rather to my surprise I recently read in the popular press a rather good article which points out that "phobias" and prejudice are very different. It was written by a young psychology professor named Nicholas Haslam at the University of Melbourne. I have myself for some time been protesting the misapplication of the word "phobia" to just about anything that Leftists disagree with: Homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, etc. As the article will cease to be available on the newspaper site after a while, I have reposted it on POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH today.

To keep his article within the bounds of political correctness, however, Haslam also had to say that "Prejudice flourishes among people who are cold, callous, inflexible, closed-minded and conventional". So you are still a pretty bad egg if you distrust Muslims or regard homosexuality as wrong or unhealthy.

What he said there is a conventional belief among psychologists but the evidence for its truth is very weak. In the 60 years that psychologists have been subjecting such theories to experimental test, just about the only proof for such theories that they have found has been derived from handing out to their students a bunch of questionnaires and seeing if the students who didn't like (say) blacks also expressed views that psychologists regard as close-minded etc. And from what their students say, psychologists generalize to all mankind.

From almost any point of view that is a ludicrous procedure. Not only do they base their research on a non-sample -- meaning that no generalizations can be drawn from it anyhow -- but college students are even a group of people who are KNOWN to be unrepresentative of the general population in all sorts of ways. And even if students were representative, relying on what they say would be most incautious. Students are very good at giving their professors the answers that they think their professors want. So many of the answers given will not be what the students really think.

So for all of those reasons, I was only slightly surprised when, in one of the earliest pieces of research I ever did, I found a correlation of .808 (a very high correlation) between two variables among students but when I repeated the survey on a more representative population, the correlation dropped to around .10, which is negligible. For the rest of my research career. I did almost all my research on proper samples of the general population and almost always ended up getting very different results from my student-using colleagues.

So I was curious to see if Haslam was just mouthing conventional and unsubstantiated platitudes or if he really had some basis for his generalizations. He replied that he was relying on a big review article on the subject by Sibley and Duckitt in Personality and Social Psychology Review titled "Personality and Prejudice: A Meta-Analysis and Theoretical Review". In a very restrained academic way it ploughs the old furrow that racially prejudiced people are sick in the head and anti-racists are just wonderful lovely people. Negative racial views are very common (if rarely acknowledged publicly these days) so there must be a lot of sick people around.

I have debated in the journal literature with Duckitt before so expected him to be less naive and assumption-prone than are most writers in the field -- and so it was. He shows a rare and commendable awareness that alleged correlations between attitudes and personality can arise because the alleged measures of personality are in fact measures of attitudes, for instance. He does not take that awareness as far as he might, however. He seems, for instance, to take correlations between racism and social dominance quite seriously despite the fact that the social dominance questionnaire contains such items as "Inferior groups should stay in their place", "Superior groups should dominate inferior groups" and "Some groups of people are just more worthy than others". Races are of course groups so is it any surprise that such statements correlate with other expressions of racism? All Duckitt has shown is that some expressions of racism correlate with one-another. He has shown nothing about personality at all.

So the finding of a relationship between social dominance and racism is what is called in science a "methodological artifact" -- generally a source of shame among serious scientists, but something that has long been common in this research field. Duckitt himself points out some other examples of it. Psychological research is in general still a profoundly amateur enterprise.

I might mention that the folly that I have just pointed out is not really the fault of Duckitt. His article is simply a summary of what other researchers have found and none of them seemed to see any problem with their measure of social dominance either. So it is psychologists as a whole that my criticism principally applies to. I never cease to be staggered by how blind psychology academics can be. They must never look at the questions they ask people.

Duckitt DOES show an awareness of the sampling problem I have mentioned but does not seem to take it seriously. He claims he has some real samples in his data but he does not identify them and combines them with the student data. There is no repetition of all his analyses on student and non-student data. So the generalizability of his findings is simply unknown.

But the problems with the Sibley & Duckitt article do not end there. Duckitt says very little about the measures of racism that he uses. He concedes that they were only poorly comparable and that some were more narrowly focused than others but he seems to take no account of that in his major analyses. Yet this is a vital point. In my research, I repeatedly found some shared variance betweeen attitudes to different racial groups but not much (about 20% on average). In other words, there were many people who didn't like (say) blacks but who did respect (say) Jews. So in most of the general population, there is essentially no such thing as racism. If there were, knowing a person's attitude to one minority would tell you all you need to know about that person's view of all minorities. But it is not so. Undoubtedly, there are some individuals who dislike all outgroups but that is not generally so. So the concept of racism is close to being an irrelevant concept. The concept it embodies is misleading. Many white people may be wary of blacks but have no firm views on race in general. So Duckitt makes a basic assumption that has very little correspondence with reality. There is ample room for attitudes to different races to have different correlates but Duckitt treats them as all the same. He has thoroughly scrambled Humpty Dumpty.

What I have just challenged is what psychologists call the "validity" of the racism measures. Do they index what they purport to measure? And the pervasive Leftist orientation among psychologists seems to make them very poor at composing valid questionnaires to measure racism, conservatism. authoritarianism etc. If you want to find out what people really believe you have to present them with statements that express that and not statements that are utterly loony. But psychologists tend to think that anything to do with conservastism etc is loony so it is common for them to compose questionnaires that contain way-out statements rather than normal expressions of conservatism etc.

And that shows on the rare occasions when the validity of such a questionnaire becomes testable. Do answers to a psychology questionnaire about conservatism predict a conservative vote in national elections for instance? From the McClosky and Adorno questionnaires to the Altemeyer questionnaire, they dont, or do so very weakly. So some of the measures of conservatism most frequently used by psychologists are demonstrably not valid.

And that IS the fault of the person who devised the questionnaire. I am more a libertarian than a conservative but I do have some conservative sympathies and the questionaire measures of conservatism that I compose correlate with general population vote up to the level of .50, which is not high in any absolute sense but which is very high by the standard of what is normally found in psychological research. It is certainly much higher than what is found in general population samples with the McClosky, Adorno and Altemeyer measures that other psychologists use. And the difference is that my conservatism questionnaires contain examples of what conservatives really say rather than what psychologists think they say. And it is amazing how profoundly wrong the conventional psychological conception of conservatism can be. See here. When psychologists research conservatism, they usually research a caricature of it.

And what is true of conservatism measures used by psychologists is also true of measures of prejudice. And so validation of such measures against real-life behaviour is rarely attempted. Does a "racist" person according to psychologists actually tend to vote for political candidates who are critical of affirmative action or uncontrolled Hispanic immigration, for instance? Psychologists normally seem game to test that only among their students.

So you see why I gave up psychological research around 1990. I felt that I was in a dialogue with mere game-players rather than serious scientists. What they say reflects their prejudices, not the results of any serious research.

The games psychologists play can be dangerous however. The sort of utterance that I quoted from Haslam above has the tendency to dehumanize those it describes and that view of "racists" and others has certainly passed from psychologists into the popular culture. Note here where a NY film critic quite literally questions the humanity of "racists". When one notes how many people -- even critics of illegal immigration -- are routinely denounced by Leftists as "racists", we see that such dehumanization could hit a lot of people. How ironic that the Leftist psychologists who would denounce the dehumanization practiced by the likes of Hitler go on to do a pretty neat job of dehumanization themselves. And just as Hitler based his dehumanizations on fake science, so do modern-day academic psychologists.

Substantiation for the various points I have made above about research findings can be found here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Assumptions in moral debate

I have written a bit recently on what philosphers call meta-ethics. In other words I have been talking about what morality is in the abstract rather than discussing a particular moral dilemma (such as whether or not abortion is right). Scheule has made the interesting point, however, that we not only bring assumptions to discussions of ethical dilemmas but we also bring assumptions to our meta-ethical deliberations. So if a Leftist says that is it absurd to believe in the reality of something that has no known place or position and cannot be detected by any instrument, we could answer in the usual religious way or we could do something much more radical: We could say, "Why is absurdity a bad thing? Absurdity can be entertaining". We could, in other words reject absurdity as an evaluative criterion. So then we have to find a way of examining what we should think of absurdity. At that point we have obviously fallen into an infinite regress and the discussion cannot go on.

Sadly, I think Scheule is right. Meta-ethical discussions are every bit as much a matter of opinion as are ethical debates. So where can we go from there? The usual philosophical response in such circumstance would be something along the lines of saying that a rejection of absurdity as a criterion makes discourse impossible so therefore we cannot do it. But that is in itself arguable -- as is the nature of what is absurd. So I think that the entire discussion is not a universally available one but rather one that can only take place among people who have certain agreed asssumptions. And asking for shared assumptions between Left and Right is a tall order, and an order that will often not be met.

It is for instance a common Leftist assertion that there are many realities. That seems to me simply confused but it would nonetheless seem to rule out shared assumptions. In fact, it seems to me that "There are many realities" is a deliberate denial of any common assumptions. The Leftist is happy with his emotionally-dominated life and nothing will be allowed to interfere with his emotionally-dominated conclusions. And the denial of common assumptions would appear to be basic rather than a mere stratgem. The Leftist is surely aware that there is a glaring inconsistency between "There is no such thing as right and wrong" and "racism is wrong" yet that inconsistency does not seem to bother him in the least. He sees no problem with inconsistency-- to the point where inconsistency is almost a hallmark of Leftist argument. So the Leftist is quite happy to deny the possibity of rational argument. Making self-contradictory assertions is not rational. The Leftist is quite happy merely to emote.

Leftist argumentation does however remind us that we DO make some assumptions in meta-ethical debates and that could be seen as unsatisfactory. I think a very rough and ready way out is to note that despite our philosophical entrapment, people do nonetheless continue to make morally-influenced decisions and often care deeply about such decisions. So if we must give up asking philosophical questions there are still important questions there to ask, so why not instead ask scientific questions: Something I myself turned to in this area long ago. It is surely at least of interest to do studies of various sorts which detect how people do arrive at moral judgments in real life even if attempts at philosophical simplification have hit a wall.

Morality thus becomes a field of study for psychologists and anthropologists rather than for philosophers. And there have now of course been many research studies of that nature. Pinker offers a useful summary of them. And what such studies tend to show is what I have said above: That we do as human beings inherit certain moral instincts. So morality again emerges as quite solidly founded in the real world and a worthy and important object of discussion. It is a discussion of human instincts or responses to instincts. It is not wholly arbitrary and can be of vital importance. And the criteria we use in such discussions are not arbitrary either. They too are part of what we inherit. So I find it rather encouraging that both scientific enquiries and meta-ethical deliberations can arrive at essentially the same conclusion.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

There IS such a thing as right and wrong

I have been writing -- sporadically -- on topics in moral philosophy for many years now (See here) so I think it is time for me to ask if I have learnt anything over the years. I think I have. In particular, I think I have now arrived at a complete answer to what Leftists say about the matter. "Complete answer" is a very bold expression for a philosopher to use but readers will be the ultimate judge of whether I have achieved that, of course.

The Leftist argument

The nub of the Leftist argument is that "right" and "wrong" language is incoherent. Saying "X is pink" and "X is right" seem on the surface to be the same sort of statement but we can immediately see that they are not. Pinkness is an objective property that we can point to whereas rightness exists only in the mind of the speaker. "Who says?" is a complete refutation of any claim that something is right. Religious people can say that "God says" but since religious people do differ considerably on moral questions (e.g. abortion) it is immediately obvious that it is only an opinion about what God says that we are dealing with. And how can an opinion have any objective reality? So the Leftist concludes that there is no such thing as right and wrong, just different opinions and value judgements. You cannot find rightness under a rock and you cannot find it anywhere so it does not exist as such.

A better argument

I did three courses in philosophy in my years as a university student and was always exposed to the above analysis. And up until fairly recently I accepted it as describing at least one sort of moral statement. I was always aware, of course, that nobody ever talks as if they believed it. Leftists are in fact very quick on the draw with moral language. They can say that there is no such thing as right and wrong and then immediately and with a straight face go on to say that "racism" or "intolerance' is wrong. And George Bush is of course EVIL!

So what the heck is going on? I think the first key is, as I have previously argued, that moral language is not used in one way but rather in several ways. And I have SHOWN that usage of moral language differs from person to person by way of psychological research. Philosophers are like physicists: They are always looking for a "unified field" theory of what they study but what if such a unified field does not exist? Perhaps the closest anybody has come to a single explanation of what moral language does is the formulation that "is good" or "is right" statements simply commend. R.M. Hare is associated with that view. But if we go on from there to unpack "commend", I think we are back to square one. Surely "commend" simply means "is good". Other objections to Hare's claims are summarized below (From Philosophical Analysis in the Twentieth Century By Scott Soames. p. 137)

I have previously set out what I think are the main uses of moral language but I will repeat them here as a preliminary to an important update. It seems to me that statements such as "X is right" (or "X is good" or "You ought to do X") can be unpacked in only four or perhaps five basic ways:

1. I like it when people do X
2. Doing X generally leads to widely desired results
3. It is the will of God that you do X
4. X has an inescapable, universal "moral" quality.
5. X is the prevailing rule around here (though if the person was asked why that rule exists he would almost certainly reply by referring to some version of one of the preceding three statements).

I think most people would agree that "You ought" or "is right" statements can mean 1, 2, 3 or 5 above. I do. You might dispute the truth of any of them but you would understand what is being said and understand that it is a factual claim. I would for instance dispute an "ought" statement that is unpacked as 3 above because I am an atheist but I accept that the person making the claim is trying to make a statement of fact that can be proved or disproved in some way. So. at least in the senses 1, 2, 3 or 5 above, there clearly IS such a thing as right and wrong.

Interpretation 4 above however is the difficulty because it is apparently untestable and undemonstrable -- and is hence the one that Leftists focus on. They claim it is gibberish even though the usage does seem to be widespread. And I think that the widespread nature of such statements is the key to understanding them. I think that such statements arise because human beings do have inborn, hardwired moral instincts. So a person who uses "is wrong" statements of that ilk is expressing an important instinct. He is in fact referring to something quite objective: Normal human feelings and instincts. He is saying: "That goes against normal human feelings and I know it does because it goes against feelings deep in me". He could of course be wrong. His own feelings might not be a reliable guide to what is general -- but it is nonetheless a factual claim that can be disputed. Such a person might, for instance, say "murdering babies is wrong" and mean that as a universal and unquestionable claim about how normal people respond to the idea of murdering babies. But we can argue with him about the matter by pointing out that the undoubtedly brilliant civilization of ancient Greece routinely allowed the killing of babies in some circumstances. So the argument is an empirical one, not an unfalsifiable claim. And that is what I have only recently come to see.

I am not of course saying that the unpacking I have offered above is always high in the consciousness of the person making such statements. Most people use the word "dog" with great confidence but would be rather hard put to define a dog when you remark that dogs can be of many shapes, sizes and colours. So what defines a dog? When pressed the person might say a dog is "tailwagger" -- but is a boxer dog with an amputated tail not a dog? And so it goes on. Similarly, "is right" statements can be used with considerable accuracy and meaningfulness even though the person using such statements might not be able to unpack them readily or at all.

Because the standard psychological measures of moral attitudes (e.g. Kohlberg's) are profoundly contaminated by the Leftist assumptions of their authors, I have not even tried to look up inheritance data about morality in the behaviour genetics literature -- though there is some supportive evidence mentioned here and here (referring to the work of Hauser and Haidt respectively) and the idea is to be found in the work of various well-known writers -- e.g. Steven Pinker and James Q. Wilson. So suffice it to say that most important human characteristics seem to show very substantial genetic inheritance (See e.g. here and here and here, and some work on a genetically-coded social abnormality reported here, here and here). If morality were an exception that would be most surprising.

And from the viewpoint of evolutionary biology, it would be even more surprising. Man is both a social animal and an animal that falls very readily into conflict with his fellow humans. So ways of regulating behaviour to enable co-operation and forestall conflict must necessarily be of foremost importance. And that is largely what moral and ethical rules are all about. To forestall conflict there HAVE to be rules against murder, stealing, coveting your neighbour's wife etc. And that is why there are considerable similarities between the laws of Moses (ten commandments etc) and the much earlier Babylonian code of Hammurabi. The details of moral and legal rules are of course responsive to time, place and circumstances, but there are some basics that will almost always be there. And given the importance of those basic rules for social co-operation, it should be no surprise that such rules became internalized (instinctive) very early on in human evolution. So many if not most of our social instincts are in fact moral or ethical instincts. Ethics are the rules we need for co-operative existence.

Obviously, however, the rules are not so well entrenched as to produce automatic responses. We have broad tendencies towards ethical behaviour but that is all. This is probably due to their relatively recent evolutionary origin. Most of what we are originates far back in our evolutionary past whereas the social rules that we use became needed only with the evolution of the primates.

Additionally, we are the animal that relies least on instinct. So all our instincts can be both modified and defended by our reasoning processes. Just because a thing is instinctive to us it does not mean that the behaviour concerned is emitted in any automatic way. We think about why we do what our instincts tell us and generally conclude that our instincts are thoroughly wise! And we do generally explain our rules of behaviour in a thoroughly empirical and functional way -- generally starting with: "If everyone did that .... ". And moral philosophers are of course people who specialize in such talk. But, as Wittgenstein often pointed out, all such talk is largely epiphenomenal (an afterthought). It is predominantly their set of inherited dispositions that make people behave ethically, not any abstract rationalizations.

And that realization does explain why philosophers so often back themselves into absurd corners. You might guess what is coming next at that point: Peter Singer. Peter Singer (a former student of R.M. Hare) is undoubtedly a very able and influential philosopher and in good philosophical style he starts out with a few simple and hard-to-dispute general rules from which he logically deduces all sorts of conclusions that are greeted with horror by normal people -- his view that babies and young children may be killed more or less at will, for example. As a theoretical deduction, his views are defensible but seen in the light of the biological basis of morality, they are counterproductive. A society that killed off its young more or less at will would not last long.

So we come back in the end to the good Burkean principle that theories are to be distrusted and and continually tested against whether or not they lead to generally desired outcomes. Philosophers judge an argument on its consistency, elegance and comprehensivesness. Conservatives judge it on its practical outcomes. And Leftists judge it on whether they can use it to make themselves look good.

A famous objection to any claim that moral statements are at base empirical and hence rationally arguable is the objection by David Hume. David Hume contends that there is an unbridgeable gap between "is" and "ought" statements -- so that you cannot justify "ought" statements by "is" statements. Yet that is precisely what people normally do. An "ought" statement always commends some course of action and when people ask WHY that course of action is commended the reply is often in terms of "is" (empirical) statements (e.g. the commendation of X can be explained as: "X leads to generally desired consequences" or "X leads to consequences that you would like" or "I like X" or "X is the prevailing rule in this culture"). So in my view the fact that an "ought" statement can be explained in that way shows that it is an empirical statement to begin with. Statements in general have all sorts of influences on people (for example, if someone said to me: "Your son has just died", it is clearly an empirical statement but it would also have an enormous influence on me if true. It would cause me to take many actions that I would not otherwise take) and an "ought" statement is an empirical statement with what is expected to be one particular sort of influence -- it is meant to cause you to behave in the way described (Something that R.M. Hare also saw). So an "ought" or "is right" statement is simply a shorthand (compressed) "is" statement that can be expanded in some way if desired. It might be noted however that there seems to be a gradient in "good", "right" and "ought" statements, with "ought" statements being most intended to incite action and "good" statements least so.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Instinctive influences on morality

I am one of the many who believe that we all have inborn moral responses. So when people say that something is "just wrong" they are not really being incoherent but are being guided by strongly felt moral instincts in themselves. I set out my thoughts on the matter at more length here.

A recent piece of research rather strongly supports that view. The research was based on the responses of a small group of (mainly) young women attending a minor British university so we must not get too excited about its generalizability but it may be a straw in the wind nonetheless. Below is one summary of it:
"A new study has found that people are more likely to be lenient in making decisions if they have just washed their hands. British scientists who carried out the research said the findings suggest that jurors in criminal trials who have cleansed their hands may make their verdict less severe. And voters may be more likely to excuse a politician's misdemeanours when going to the ballot box if they have just had a shower.

In the study, 22 people who had washed their hands, and 22 who had not, were made to watch a disgusting three-minute clip of heroin addicts from the hit film Trainspotting. All 44 were then asked to rate how morally wrong they deemed the series of acts shown to them on a scale of one to nine, with one being acceptable and seven being very wrong. The actions included stealing money from a wallet, lying on a job application, cooking and eating the family dog, killing a dying plane crash survivor to avoid starvation, and abusing a kitten. All said they thought the actions were 'wrong'. However, the participants who had washed their hands were less likely to judge the actions as harshly as the group who had not.

In another experiment, a group was asked to read sentences with words such as 'purity' and 'cleanliness' before being posed the same moral dilemmas. Another group was given sentences with neutral words. Again, the 'clean' group judged the unethical behaviour less harshly.

Lead researcher Dr Simone Schnall, a psychologist at the University of Plymouth, said: "We like to think we arrive at decisions because we deliberate, but incidental things can influence us. "This could have implications when voting and when juries make up their minds." Lancaster University psychologist Professor Carey Cooper described the findings as "terrifying". He said: "It suggests that washing can make us more prepared to accept wrongdoing. "It is very scary when you think of the implications, especially in the judicial world."

The original report of the research is here.

So judgments of right and wrong are simply not rational. They are instinctive. I think conservatives will be a lot more comfortable with that than Leftists are. Leftist don't think ANYTHING (except homosexuality) is instinctive.

One should note however that the setting of the research was deliberately designed to draw out instinctive responses. People on a jury (for instance) may be less influenced by irrelevancies. Nonetheless it has long been known in psychological research that incidental factors can influence research results. This is merely the latest instance of it.

The original research article gives some interesting and plausible theoretical background to what they found.

If I were being devil's advocate, I would say that the results show that middle-class young women in Britain have been taught to associate cleanliness with virtue and to associate virtue with mercy so the old "more research is needed" applies here too. Would you get the same results with Lebanese? Maybe not.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Was Hitler a racist?

"John Ray has now gone too far. Pointing out that Nazism was simply an extreme version of prewar Leftism was fine but denying that Hitler was a racist is right off the planet". That is the sort of reaction I expect to the above heading. But as Eddington said, the universe is not only stranger than you imagine but it is stranger than you can imagine. And the truth is that Hitler's ideas about race were pretty similar to the thinking of Leftists today. We all know that Hitler used the Jews as a scapegoat but what have you ever read about what his conception of race was? You may be surprised.

Although in his speeches he undoubtedly appealed to the nationalism of the German people, Locke (2001) makes a strong case that Hitler was not in fact a very good nationalist in that he always emphasized that his primary loyalty was to what he called the Aryan race -- and Germany was only one part of that race. Locke then goes on to point out that Hitler was not even a very consistent racist in that the Dutch, the Danes etc. were clearly Aryan even by Hitler's own eccentric definition yet he attacked them whilst at the same time allying himself with the very non-Aryan Japanese. And the Russians and the Poles (whom Hitler also attacked) are rather more frequently blonde and blue-eyed (Hitler's ideal) than the Germans themselves are! So what DID Hitler believe in?

In his book Der Fuehrer, prewar Leftist writer Konrad Heiden corrects the now almost universal assumption that Hitler's idea of race was biologically-based. The Nazi conception of race traces, as is well-known, to the work of Houston Stewart Chamberlain. But what did Chamberlain say about race? It should not by now be surprising that he said something that sounds thoroughly Leftist. Anthropologist Robert Gayre summarizes Chamberlain's ideas as follows:
"On the contrary he taught (like many "progressives" today) that racial mixture was desirable, for, according to him, it was only out of racial mixture that the gifted could be created. He considered that the evidence of this was provided by the Prussian, whom he saw as the superman, resulting from a cross between the German (or Anglo-Saxon "German") and the Slav. From this Chamberlain went on to argue that the sum of all these talented people would then form a "race," not of blood but of "affinity."

So the Nazi idea of race rejected biology just as thoroughly as modern Leftist ideas about race do! If that seems all too jarring to believe, Gayre goes on to discuss the matter at length.

So although Hitler made powerful USE of German nationalism, we see from both the considerations put forward by Locke and the intellectual history discussed by Gayre, that Hitler was not in fact much motivated by racial loyalty as we would normally conceive it. So what was he motivated by?

Locke suggests that Hitler's actions are best explained by saying that he simply had a love of war but offers no explanation of WHY Hitler would love war. Hitler's extreme Leftism does explain this however. Hitler shared with other Leftists a love of constant change and excitement --- and what could offer more of that than war (or, in the case of other Leftists, the civil war of "revolution")?

The idea that Nazism was motivated primarily by a typically Leftist hunger for change and excitement and hatred of the status quo is reinforced by the now famous account of life in Nazi Germany given by a young "Aryan" who lived through it. Originally written before World War II, Haffner's (2002) account of why Hitler rose to power stresses the boring nature of ordinary German life and observes that the appeal of the Nazis lay in their offering of relief from that:
"The great danger of life in Germany has always been emptiness and boredom ... The menace of monotony hangs, as it has always hung, over the great plains of northern and eastern Germany, with their colorless towns and their all too industrious, efficient, and conscientious business and organizations. With it comes a horror vacui and the yearning for 'salvation': through alcohol, through superstition, or, best of all, through a vast, overpowering, cheap mass intoxication."

So he too saw the primary appeal of Nazism as its offering of change, novelty and excitement. And how about another direct quote from Hitler himself?
"We are socialists, we are enemies of today's capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions"

(Speech of May 1, 1927. Quoted by Toland, 1976, p. 306)

So Hitler WAS a racist -- but a very mixed-up one -- just as modern-day Leftists are -- who support racial preferences (affirmative action) but still say they are anti-racist! The big failure for both Hitler and the modern-day Left is an inability to treat people as individuals. They cannot even think about others except by lumping them into huge and simplistic categories.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The psychology of Politics

By John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- January, 2008 revision

I did my first piece of research into the psychology of politics in 1968. It was my Masters dissertation. I have been studying the subject ever since -- now with many academic publications on it behind me. So it seems reasonable that, over four decades later, I should look back and say what I have learned in the intervening years. And the prime thing I have learned is that you cannot understand Leftism without understanding its emotional roots. And once you understand that, all the rest is detail.

What IS Leftism?

In good academic style I start with a definition: The first thing to say is that Leftism is emotional. The second is to say that the emotion is negative and the third thing to say is that the negative emotion (anger/hate/rage) is directed at the world about the Leftist, the status quo if you like. The Leftist is nothing if he is not a critic, though usually a very poorly-informed critic. And the criticisms are both pervasive and deeply felt.

What is routinely overlooked in most discussions of ideology is that conservatives don't like the status quo either -- but they don't hate it and they don't get burned up about it. Ask almost any conservative and he will give you a long list of things he would like to see changed in the world about him. It is only a Leftist caricature to say that conservatives support the status quo. And conservatives like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were undoubtedly great agents of change.

So Left and Right do indeed differ in their response to the status quo but not in the simplistic "for and against" way that Leftists claim. The difference is in depth of feeling and in the changes desired. Leftists want change passionately and feel very righteous about the changes they want. Conservatives can see fault and conservative leaders do quite regularly work towards the changes that they and their voters think desirable -- but most conservatives just want to get on with their own lives. There are undoubtedly some people who are completely happy with the world as it is but they are not concerned about politics. They probably do, however, vote conservative when called upon to vote. They would not be able to find much in common with the constant complaint that is the mark of the Leftist. The typical conservative does not simmer if his wishes for change are not implemented. The Leftist does.

One marker of the difference just set out will be well known to anyone who reads blogs from both sides of the divide: Profanity is hugely more common on Leftist blogs. A systematic study of the matter found profanity to be TWELVE TIMES more common on Leftist blogs. Profanity is of course an attempt to express one's feelings strongly.

Note that I do NOT use the word "liberal" for the Left side of politics. "Liberal" as a name for any left-leaning political party is just camouflage. Except in sex-related matters, liberty is in general a very low priority for them. And their attack on sexual mores arose only as a means of tearing down the status quo. Their advocacy of freedom of choice in sexual and reproductive matters soon breaks down if people make choices they disapprove of. The amazing attacks on Sarah Palin's decision to bear a handicapped child rather than abort it certainly showed no respect for her choice in the matter.

So what is conservatism? Basically it is caution based on a perception that the world is an unpredictable, dangerous and often hostile place. So change is not rejected. It is in fact, as just said, sometimes desired. But it is approached in a skeptical, step by step, way to ensure that its effects are beneficial or at least benign. And an important criterion of what consitutes "benign" is how the change affects individual liberty. At a minimum, a conservative wants to ensure that change will not reduce his individual liberty.

Because the Leftist is angry rather than prudent, however, he cares not a bit for the conservative's caution. The most thorough-going Leftist just wants to smash everything that exists around him out of the feeling that it is all so hateful that none of it is worth preserving. And in the French revolution, the Bolshevik revolution, the Maoist revolution and many more minor revolutions, the Leftists got their way -- with results we all know about. Doing any sort of a good job of putting back together what they have smashed is beyond them. They are destroyers only. Hate is not constructive.

Because we all know of those dismal results, Leftist activists and politicians in entrenched democracies have to be more careful. Expressing the full extent of their feelings and advocating revolution would simply marginalize them and they know that. So they have to find ways of undermining society in more subtle ways. And they are greatly aided in that by the complex nature of modern society. Most people have only the vaguest notion of how society works so the Leftist politician can propose various changes that sound good but which will be disastrous in practice -- with "share and share alike" being the classic example of that. And when the disasters unfold the committed Leftist cannot lose. He will get an internal glow of satisfaction from the suffering and disruption unleashed on all those fools around him that he hates but will be excused from blame because he "meant well".

What CAUSES Leftism?

So what motivates a Leftist to be so full of negative emotions toward the surrounding world? Many things. There is no one cause of Leftism. But there are nonetheless two major sources of Leftism and understanding them explains most Leftist policies and positions. The first is the motivation most common among Leftist voters and the second is the motivation most common among Leftist leaders. It would be nice if we could identify just one sort of motivation common to all Leftists but, as with so many other things in life, reality is more complicated than that.

And although the motivations of leaders and followers are in general very different, there is of course some overlap between the two. Some people who express their Leftism only at the ballot box are similarly motivated to Leftist leaders and some Leftist leaders are similarly motivated to Leftist voters.


So, to start with the average Leftist voter: It could be that the Leftist was born into a subset of society that is in general hostile to the larger society. Miners are a common example of that. Mining towns were once bedrock Left-voting places. Why that was so is beyond the scope of what I want to say at the moment, however.

And Left-voters may simply be upset that they personally are not getting a very good deal from society as it exists and be generally critical of society for that reason.

But the biggest category of Leftist voters by far would appear to be genuinely well intentioned but shortsighted people who are strongly emotionally affected by suffering in others. They see other people who are not doing well in some way and urgently want that fixed by whatever means it takes. They are angered by what they see as "injustice". And that emotion dominates all else. And it is the strong negative emotions evoked by the surrounding society that unites these people with Leftists of other stripes.

And that, I believe is how politics works: It is particularly the people who are especially sensitive to the suffering of others who make us all suffer, paradoxical though that may seem. Without their numerous votes, the destructive and irresponsible Leftist politicians would never gain power. And the converse of that is that a little bit of heartlessness can be desirable. Balance is needed in fellow-feeling, as in many other things.

That the fellow feeling of the Leftist follower is unbalanced and immature can be seen from its sheer immediacy. Leftists can rally (and did rally) to shield vicious muderers like "Tookie" Williams from the rightful consequences of their actions because the Leftists concerned see only the immediate prospect of the offender's execution. That a failure to punish severely the reprehensible deeds that people like Williams commit will excuse and encourage more such deeds by others is just not within the tiny time-horizon of the Leftist. Any fellow-feeling for Tookie's innocuous but long-dead victims was notable for its absence in the vigils designed to "save" Tookie.

Another sort of immaturity that infests the Leftist's emotional life is the childish need to be looked after. How wonderful it would be if the protective parents of one's childhood remained forever present, shielding one from all threats and providing all needs. The Leftist passionately wants that and fools himself into thinking that the state can fulfil that role. It never does, of course, but such Leftists just never grow up emotionally. They continue dreaming their childish dreams.

One test of the claim that most Leftist voters are chronically emotionally disturbed and dissatisfied is that Left-voters should be more unhappy than conservatives -- and that has been borne out in almost all the happiness surveys that I have seen. For some discussion of that, see here. Because they are calmer, less emotional and not as easily upset, conservatives are happier and more level-headed -- and so are not as easily stampeded into foolish actions by emotional appeals. Most of them don't even believe in global warming!

So, for most Leftists, their Leftism mostly dwells deep within the personality. Which is why from age 2 I could tell that my son would be a conservative. His favourite "joke" at that age (and indeed for some years afterward) was: "The boy fell in the mud". He was able to see the funny side of a minor mishap that would have been seen as a tragedy by an emotional Leftist.

And the soft-hearted Leftists have much to thank conservatives for. The conservative element in the population protects them from the consequences that they wish for. Nowhere is that better seen than when the revolution succeeds. Among the first people to be "liquidated" by the hard men of the revolution are the soft-hearted revolutionaries.

Fortunately, time also plays a part. Many of the well-intentioned Leftists do over time come to see that simplistic solutions to society's ills don't work and end up voting for more complex and balanced solutions. They become conservatives. Even the once very Leftist George McGovern sounds remarkably conservative these days. Many of the most vocal conservatives started out as Leftists and have become quite evangelical as a consequence of learning from experience that Leftist policies are destructive. They have the same benevolent aims as before but have grown wiser about what will best serve those aims. And the older they get, the more chance they have to see the counterproductive nature of simplistic Leftist "solutions".


In absolute numbers, Leftist activists and politicians are very few but their impact is large -- so understanding them is the big challenge. They are mostly motivated by ego needs. The Leftist activist craves attention and praise. He needs to be perceived as wise and righteous -- and he tries to achieve that by pretending to be all heart and condemning the world for its many faults and imperfections. And some Leftist leaders -- intellectuals in particular -- are out-and-out rage-filled haters who want to smash everything in a world that does not fit in with their theories and accord them the prominence and praise that they need and feel is their due.

But anger is a very bad frame of mind in which to make decisions and craft policies so the policies advocated by Leftist leaders are usually simplistic and very poorly thought-out. The Leftist leader is so keen to smash the status quo that detailed thought about the alternatives and their consequences is rare. And the basically good people who are the Leftist voters are angry too, for different reasons, so they don't think things through or pay much attention to detail either, and as a result, they will often be lured into voting for some unscrupulous Leftist politician who promises to fix everything -- but who is sufficiently involved in politics to know deep down that the cure will be worse than the disease. But if offering false hope gets the leader/activist into a position of power and glory, too bad! And the poor old conservative who knows how things work and says that there is no easy fix will be ignored -- and called "heartless".

The most succinct summary of what I have said above is that Leftism is the politics of rage. This contrasts with the usual summary that Leftism is the politics of envy. But Leftists these days seem to be a generally affluent bunch. They are certainly not on average materially disadvantaged. So material envy is an implausible motive for most of them. Envy of status, prestige and position, however, is another matter. That is where Leftist leaders come in -- something discussed at great length below.

Conservatives and emotion

I have a separate monograph on conservatism but I think I need to say a few more things about conservatism here. The main thing that I have said so far about conservatives is that they are cautious. But caution is not really an emotion. It is a disposition and some emotions have to go with that but I think I should say a little more about what those emotions are.

What I did mention above is that conservatives are always shown in research as being happier and more content than Leftists and that leads into what I think is important. Because conservatives are NOT full of rage, they feel free to enjoy whatever is around them. And one of the great satisfactions in human life is fellowship: Feeling part of a group of people whom you like or respect. So instead of screaming "racism" at every sign of group loyalty, conservatives can simply enjoy their group loyalties. They are untroubled patriots, for instance.

So American conservatives can feel warm inside to be Americans and they can greatly value the fellowship they find in their church. And where conservatives diverge most strongly from Leftists is that they can also feel a sense of fellowship, belonging and connectedness with their ancestors and forebears. We often see this very strongly expressed among American conservatives when they talk about the "Founders" of the nation and the wisdom the founders bequeathed in the Constitution etc. And such thoughts are of course often to the fore on Thanksgiving day. And I have put up a "Thanksgiving" edition of POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH that shows how much hostility Thanksgiving now attracts from the Left. Thanksgiving is of course a continuation of traditional harvest festivals. Human beings have always joyously celebrated a successful harvest and given thanks to their Gods for it. It takes the hate-filled modern-day Leftist activists to find any fault with that.

And another common expression of solidarity with the past is of course the great respect that conservatives pay to those who have died in war in the service of their nation. In my country, Australia, that day of remembrance (which we call Anzac day) is our only really solemn national occasion. Leftists have tried to laugh at it from time to time but it goes from strength to strength, with young people as well as old participating in the services of remembrance.

And there is no doubt that the army is always one of the most solidly conservative bodies of people that exists in any community. And the degree of fellowship in the army must be very close to maximal. If you pass a member of your old army unit in the street, you always stop to say a few words at least. There is a lasting bond between men who have fought together that outsiders can only dimly understand. My time in the Australian army was most undistinguished (though very fondly remembered) but I was an army psychologist so perhaps I have a little more awareness of what the army is about than most. I am certainly pleased to say that I have worn my country's uniform.

All these sorts of fellowship that conservatives feel are generally felt pretty strongly. There is often a swelling of pride and gratitude associated with such feelings. And, because of his anger and dissatisfation with society, the poor sad old Leftist is basically left out of all that. His hate and rage bars him from sharing some of the most basic human connections and emotions. And, where Leftist followers are concerned, that is particularly sad. As an emotional person, he is probably much in need of such connections and feelings so not having them must multiply his bitterness. So when Leftist followers do at long last find an outlet for their need for fellowship and connectedness that passes muster with them we get the completely over the top hysteria of Fascism, Nazism or Obama-worship. (Anybody who has been conned into believing that the National Socialist Hitler and the Marxist Mussolini were Rightists should read here and here)

And I now want to give a vivid example of how conservatives feel: Something that Leftists will hate viscerally but which most conservatives should understand and enjoy. And if conservatives enjoy feelings of connectedness with the past, where better to look at this point than to an institution founded in 1440 by King Henry VI and which is still as flourishing as ever today. I refer to a school that has been giving boys a first-class education for nearly 600 years: Eton. I reproduce below the Eton Boating Song. Eton is of course Britain's most elite school and British private schools are famous for fostering a sense of fellowship among their pupils. And you will see that vividly below. Listen to the music as you read the words and I will add a few comments afterwards. The song refers of course to competitive rowing regattas but it is also the unofficial song of the whole college. It is certainly the song most associated with Eton:

Jolly boating weather,
And a hay harvest breeze,
Blade on the feather,
Shade off the trees;
Swing, swing together,
With your bodies between your knees.

Rugby may be more clever,
Harrow may make more row:
But we'll row forever,
Steady from stroke to bow,
And nothing in life shall sever
The chain that is round us now.

Others will fill our places,
Dressed in the old light blue;
We'll recollect our races,
We'll to the flag be true;
And youth will be still in our faces
When we cheer for an Eton crew.

Twenty years hence this weather
May tempt us from office stools:
We may be slow on the feather,
And seem to the boys old fools:
But we'll still swing together,
And swear by the best of schools.

I went to a totally undistinguished school in a small Australian country town but that song does tend to bring a tear to my eyes. It is a powerful expression of being part of something bigger and better, and something that transcends time. I hope some of my readers get that powerful feeling too.

And note that is also a humble song. It talks of pride in a great identity but without any thought of dominating and changing others -- which is the Leftist preoccupation. It talks of the singers as being "old fools" sitting on "office stools". There is no Fascist aggression there at all. In characteristically English style, it actually spends quite a lot of time talking about the weather! No egotistical "Tomorrow belongs to me", "We are the people we have been waiting for" or "Yes we can" there.

Yet it is a song that expressed a powerful feeling. British officers in World War I were known to go "over the top" in the dreadful charges of that war singing the Eton Boating song. That to me is a sort of nobility which I know that no Leftist egotist will ever understand.

To summarize so far, then: In political matters Leftists have primarily negative emotions whereas conservatives have primarily positive emotions. And the happiness research bears that out.

Patriotism, nationalism and racism

Warner Todd Huston sets out at some length the simple but rather denied truth that American Leftists only pretend to be patriotic. In a patriotic nation they have to do that for PR purposes but their hearts are not in it and they manage the pretence only by claiming that they love what America COULD BE rather than what it is. Rather pathetic.

I have set out at some length above evidence that patriotism is not in general aggressive. There is however a related attitude known as nationalism. Nationalism can mean two quite different things: 1). A desire of a people for independent existence as a nation -- as in 19th century German nationalism or 20th Scottish nationalism; 2). When the lovers of their own country want to dominate other countries. It is meaning 2 that I am concerned with here. And all the examples of that which I can think of, from Napoleon to Hitler, have been Leftists. So my summary of the matter is that nationalism is a Leftist perversion of patriotism. No wonder Leftist leaders are so suspicious of patriotism! They judge others by themselves. They know how vicious they would be with an entire nation behind them and assume that others think similarly.

But, as already mentioned, both patriotism and nationalism are only one sort of group loyalty. Rotarians are often strongly attached to their club and even homosexuals feel "gay pride" apparently. And many church members are strongly attached to their religious denomination or local church. And religious identity can extend to something like nationalism -- with physical attacks on members of other denominations. There is still a faint remnant of that in Northern Ireland (though the enmity there is as much historic as religious) and in Islam there is a lot of it. Muslims are great slaughterers of other Muslims -- if the other Muslims don't subscribe to the "right" brand of Islam. But Islam is Fascistic anyway.

And then there is the great unmentionable. You CAN feel proud of your race. And if the pride is "black pride" that is just fine. But "white pride" is apparently a breath from the depths of hell. Yet history's most destructive example of racism was not concerned with whiteness at all. Hitler in fact allied himself with the non-white Japanese and attacked many nations that were just as white as Germans are. In fact there are proportionately rather more blue-eyed blondes (idealized by the Nazis) in Russia and in Poland than there are in Germany -- and Adolf slaughtered millions of both. Hitler's bag was -- following Woodrow Wilson and Houston Stewart Chamberlain -- ARYANS. And most Aryans are in fact brown (Indians).

So the Leftist suspicion of pride in being white has exactly no foundation in the place where it might be most expected! So when Leftists associate Nazism with white racism, it is just the normal Leftist ignorance of facts and history. So white racism as an oppressive thing is mainly an American phenomenon. And the KKK were overwhelmingly Democrats! Clearly, conservatives were not the problem there.

I can't resist noting here, however, that I quite like Aryans myself. I normally have three or four quite brown Indians living with me in my house and most days I fly the flag of the Republic of India from my flagpole. And I was kicked off the Majority Rights blog for constantly mocking the white racists who also blog there. So I imagine that it is by now pretty clear that Leftists would have an uphill job of tagging me as a white racist (though they will no doubt get to the top of that hill somehow). I just don't fit their simplistic black-and-white way of thinking. If we are more careful with our definitions than Leftists usually are, however, I think it should become clear that there are some forms of white "racism" that are perfectly reasonable, normal and harmless.

I refer in particular to my prior comments showing that patriotism is not in general necessarily aggressive, hostile or oppressive. And I see no reason why what we might call "white patriotism" should be aggressive, hostile or oppressive. In other words, a feeling of connectedness with other whites and a pride in being white does not necessarily imply a wish to oppress or attack people of other races. But when we come to nationalism, however (the Leftist specialty), it is a very different situation. White nationalism (the desire to conquer or control non-white races) is indisputably a very bad thing.

But white nationalism is also a very rare thing. Hitler wasn't moved by it nor was the British empire. The chief enemy of the British empire was the French, who are quite white. The KKK is about the only example of white nationalism that I can think of. And the KKK at one time were a major power at Democrat conventions (The 1924 "Klanbake" convention, for instance). Such acclaimed Democrat Presidents as Woodrow Wilson and FDR both had solid KKK support. So if we are careful with our definitions, white pride is only dangerous in the hands of Leftists. The very small band of modern-day neo-Nazis are probably an exception to that but there are small exceptions to most rules. And the modern-day political parties that are most often called neo-Nazi (Britain's BNP and Germany's NDP) do in fact have a lot of quite socialistic policies -- just as old Adolf did.

Note how easily everything falls into place once we have swept away the Leftist hokum about Nazism and the KKK being "Rightist".

Possible objections to the above account

1). A challenge to the account I have given above could be the fact that, right up to JFK, Leftists were patriotic too -- almost crazily so in the case of people like Theodore Roosevelt and the followers of Hitler. So have I misunderstood or misrepresented present-day Leftists? If Leftists were once patriotic, surely it is wrong to see lack of patriotism as characteristic of them.

I think Obama worship gives us the answer to that. Because Leftists are more emotional, their POTENTIAL for group loyalty generally and patriotism in particular is unusually great. But the more there are things that they hate in the world about them, the more they are inhibited from giving rein to any such feelings. But when something arises that they can give undivided loyalty to, they go overboard -- as we saw in Fascism, Nazism and in the Obama worship of 2008.

So the Leftist is in perpetual conflict: He WANTS connectedness but so many things in the world about him are unsatisfactory to him that he ends up as a rejectionist rather than as a participant. In the past, it was only "The Bosses" who were the focus of his ire and he could kid himself that most of the people around him were not responsible for the "injustices" that bother him so much. Now, however, when it appears to him that even "rednecks" and "NASCAR dads" are on the side of what upsets him, he is completely alienated. He once felt that "the workers" were on his side and appointed himself as a spokesman for them. That illusion is now gone and the whole country is on the wrong track from his viewpoint. So how wonderful for him it was when the Obamessiah came along to rescue him from that dreadful dilemma and offered the prospect of reshaping the country into his desired mould!

2). I have argued primarily from real-life examples above that patriotism does not imply hostility towards others. I might mention that there is a very large academic literature in psychology which assumes otherwise -- starting with the work of the Marxist Adorno et al. (1950) on "ethnocentrism". Leftist psychologists claim that patriotism and racism do go together. When I did survey research to test that assumption, however, I repeatedly found that the facts showed exactly what I have asserted above -- that patriotism does NOT in general go with hostilty towards others. See e.g. here and here and even here.

Reference: Adorno,T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. & Sanford, R.N. (1950). The authoritarian personality New York: Harper.