August 2, 2012
The Narcissistic Style in Liberal Politics
By Timothy C. Daughtry
Timothy C. Daughtry, Ph.D. is co-author of Waking The Sleeping Giant: How Mainstream Americans Can Beat Liberals At Their Own Game.
~beginning at the 2nd half of his article:
As Gary Casselman and I argue in Waking the Sleeping Giant, the political struggle in this country is really a contest between two worldviews and two types of political character. The grassroots conservative movement represents the Judeo-Christian worldview of mainstream America, with values of independence, personal responsibility, and respect for the rights of others. This movement has promoted a newfound appreciation for the link between our Judeo-Christian heritage and our constitutional liberties. If we are morally accountable individuals, then liberty — within widely agreed-upon boundaries — should be our natural state. It is this worldview that underlies the conservative belief in limited and defined government.
But the Judeo-Christian worldview, with its old-fashioned focus on personal responsibility, has gradually been pushed aside by a liberal worldview in our educational, news, and entertainment institutions. The left’s worldview offers self-esteem in place of self-discipline, entitlement in place of earning. Just as showing up for the game merits a trophy, students at expensive law schools are entitled to contraceptives paid for by other people. Schools dominated by the left teach children to feel good about their math skills even as math performance plummets.
Those immersed in the narcissistic institutions of the left would be expected to have difficulty appreciating points of view that differ from their own, or that challenge their ingrained sense of superiority. And, if they become politically active, they would have difficulty recognizing any moral limits on their tactics because they are, in their own minds, intellectually and morally superior to their opponents. The battle cry of the pampered campus radicals of the 1960s — “by any means necessary” — echoes through the left’s institutions today.
If our analysis is correct, then there is no need to look for deep psychological processes such as paranoid projection in order to understand the left’s distorted view of grassroots conservatism; the left’s accusations would be rooted more in their culture of narcissism than in paranoia. After all, paranoid individuals believe their delusions; narcissists just lie in order to get their way.
Conservatives are understandably concerned with winning the 2012 election, but the long-term battle is for the cultural institutions that shape the character of our children and our citizens.
I’m sure that there could never be
A man as virtuous as me.
I’ve honed my precious self-esteem
In ways no common man could dream!
To feed my moral vanity,
I preen for all the world to see;
I thrust in everybody’s face
The noble causes I embrace.
And lest there be the slightest doubt
That I’m no bitter, clinging lout,
The bumper stickers on my Volt
Affirm that I’m no right-wing dolt.
As these credentials will attest,
I am the brightest and the best —
And true to my enlightened soul,
Utopia shall be my goal!
The planet should be mine to run;
I know what’s best for everyone.
My Nanny Squad will nag and scold,
Until the plebes do as they’re told.
My Social Justice Ministry
Will outlaw inequality —
With good intent unwavering,
I’ll redistribute everything!
I’ll be obscenely generous
With subsidy and stimulus;
To fund my drunken spending sprees,
The fat cats’ profits I will seize!
For those who fail, my heart will bleed,
But woe to those who dare succeed.
I vow to vanquish human greed —
To each according to his need!
There’ll be no want, there’ll be no war,
My Welfare Corps will feed the poor.
There’ll be no limit to my grace,
When I control the human race!
I’ll heal the Earth, I’ll low’r the Seas,
My Healthcare Force will smite disease —
And all will rightly worship me,
The Savior of Humanity!
I’ve noted the majority of Liberals lack meaningful accomplishments. In fact, their behaviors are often self destructive. BUT – if they care, it allows them to think they are morally superior. This is revealed in their smug and smarmy attitudes. Liberals are wonderfully lazy and suffer from a form of brain damage – they are incapable of understanding economics. The answer to every problem is throwing money at it – regardless of dire fiscal straights. Getting their hands dirty – actually devoting personal time to rectify a problem they allege they care about is a bridge too far. The money thrown should fix the problem. IF you want to see a liberal’s head explode – prove to them their solutions make the problem they care about worse AND made the debt worse. This is when they lose it. Since their only virtue is caring, if you invalidate that then it becomes a personal matter. They will attack you for ruining their day.
Liberals never throw their money at a problem. Liberals throw “our” money at a problem. Liberals could create all the wealth they need. And, they could custom design businesses to their specifications. But, that would mean growing up and being an adult.
Interesting comment – reminds me of a woman I met a few years ago who had recently immigrated (legally) to the US from Central America. When she first arrived in California, it wasn’t easy for her to find work or housing. She had some left-wing friends who invariably pitied her and decried the US for being hostile to foreigners.
Happily, she met a conservative gentleman who offered her a job at his company. Many of her fellow employees were conservative, and to her delight, this woman found that none of them pitied her at all! Not only that, but they all told her how lucky she was to live in the US!
And with that, a new conservative was born.
Does the left’s obsession with blaming conservatives suggest that a kind of paranoid style has infected American liberalism?
Perhaps, but I don’t know that it is as deep as that. As a former liberal myself, I know that liberalism is a juvenile philosophy based on notions of ”fairness” and “equality” that are not based in rational thought or workable ideas. Like two year olds who are told they must share when no earthly reason is given for it, so too do liberals regard their ideas of fairness. It is not fair that A should have more or do better than B, regardless of either A or B’s circumstances. It may be that A worked his tail off and B slacked or became a drug addict. Those factors are rarely taken into account in the liberal mind, and if they are, it’s only because A made B the way he is.
Thus, inane statements like “everyone should make a living wage” or “responding to violence with violence just makes more violence” roll off their tongues with the gravity of scripture, as if something truly profound and right has been uttered. No thought is given to what they have just said and whether it is sensible, workable or even desirable. It is fair and good, you see, and those who hold the views are therefore fair and good. Ergo, those who do not are the opposite. Hence the attitude held by liberals that conservatives are unfair, selfish, greedy and so on.
In addition, much like toddlers on a playground, it is not enough for liberals to merely disagree with another’s opinion. They are compelled to make it personal, and so the ad hominem attack replaces a rational argument, making debate impossible. It is not enough that conservatives have a different viewpoint. They must be disparaged, destroyed, marginalized and rendered irrelevant. Here is an example I saw just a few minutes ago on Facebook: a picture showing a packed Chic-Fil-A restaurant was posted with the caption “just a preview of what liberals can expect on election day.” And immediately, a liberal chimed in with “onward homophobic Christian soldiers, marching off to war. Come to think of it, these ‘christians’ never saw a war they didn’t like.”
In two little sentences, this liberal managed to smear a business, insult Christians, accusing them of homophobia and warmongering, and question their actual Christianity. And not once did he respond to any of the points of the actual debate; i.e, whether the executive at Chic-Fil-A has the right to express an opinion in a supposedly diverse culture. Disagreement is not enough for these folks. No, they must boycott, smear, pass laws, destroy the business, picket the homes, make threats against the people with whom they disagree. It is the reaction of a jilted or disappointed child who does not get his way.
Excellent analysis, Mr. Daughtry!
The most telling thing that narcissists do is contradict themselves. We’ve all heard our dear fellow Americans on the Left (to borrow Dennis Prager’s description) call for peace and tolerance – only to follow these pleas with angry attacks and complete intolerance – sometimes in the same sentence!
Narcissists also exhibit lack of empathy and inability to reason well (even when possessing high IQ) so good luck debating with them!
The real key to understanding narcissists – and by extension the political Left- is to realize that they lack a mature conscience, so they are only restrained by fear of punishment or of damage to their reputations. A bit like spoiled teenagers!
I agree with everything you’ve put forth. The baby boomers (the little spoiled hippies) have narcissistized our whole culture, they infected all of our institutions (even the military now), and are creating little drones of self-absorbed createns who are so unable to “think critically” (reason) that they end up the “useful idiot” voting bloc of the left.
Liberalism/Progressivism, at all levels boils down to “what can government do for me?” For the nefarious power monger, its about “what can government take from others and give to me”. For the willfully ignorant it is “what can government do for others, so that I don’t have to do for them”, and for the useful idiots, its about “other people’s money”.
When you lack a moral compass, narcissism is the natural result. Me, me, me …
“The most obvious explanation for the growth of the grassroots conservative movement is that the people paying the bills finally decided to speak up about how their tax money is spent.”
I’ve always been a FIRM believer in allowing only those who pay income taxes to vote in federal elections. Let the states have their own rules when it comes to their own elections, but the federal government should not be allowed to spend our tax money when we have a vastly decreasing say in the matter. As soon as the people who aren’t paying any income taxes become the majority, those of us who are paying them will quickly become a permanent minority. Our nation will then be finished. We will fall just as quickly as the Roman Empire fell.
Perhaps the worldview cited by Mr. Daughtry supports this tendency, but ad hominem attack has been the default setting for socialist since Marx.
Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” (1776) and Bastiat’s writings in the first half of the nineteenth century were diametrically opposed to Marx. Great thinkers such as Carl Menger (1840-1921) would have been expert critics of the “Communist Manifesto” (1848) and “Das Kapital” (1867).
Von Mises in “Socialism” and “Theory and History” discusses the glaring errors in Marx’s theories. “Socialism” focuses on the inability of “One World Socialist Government” to calculate prices.
Excellent article and excellent comments.
I would add one ingredient: carnal minds.
All of humanity is carnal to some extent, but while the right works on remedying carnality, the left indulges. The left either lack conscience or have seared consciences as a result of their behaviors.
Liberals are anti-God and as a result, lack wisdom. Very little in their world works. Their solution is to infiltrate with an attempt to dominate so that everyone becomes like them.
I would add that it is not so much narcissism as hubris – “We can do everything; nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. We are as gods.” This derives from Rousseau’s blank slate theory, that humans can be shaped from birth to form a just and equal society by getting rid of all notions of selfishness, greed, possessiveness. The only problem they see is the persistence of older people who cling to those bourgeois notions – hence the long-term project to educate people from birth in the proper ways of thinking.
Narcissism and paranoia are not what characterizes the Left, those are symptoms of a much deeper infestation/illness of its body and mind. The Left uses the theories of social justice and equality as an unatainable goal and does that with the sole purpose of domination. That domination simply replaces the exploitation claimed to be cause of all ills. The left’s ideology is totalitarian, it encompasses every aspect of the subdued people’s life with one distiction from an other “ill” that was meant to replace – religion. The distiction is that orders don’t come from God as religion says, but from people who assume that they are God incarnated.
If we adventure to make this comparison there is only one world religion that fits the pattern of extreme totalitarianism and that is Islam. Both philosophies want world domination, total submission, no questions asked. The Ulama, the Muslim “clergy” was replaced by the Central Committee of the Party, the nomenklatura. Both philosophies use deceit, both philosophies use discrimination – Islam openly, the Left covertly -. Both philosophies have the ultimate goal of total transformation of society, an “unconstrained vision of the outcome of their policies and politiques”, to paraphrase Thomas Sowell. Both philosophies are contrary to human nature and both disregard that aspect of their vision.
@VonMisesJr. “Utopia” is exactly the “Garden of Eden” fantesy. Marx envisaged an ideal society, Judenrein (free of Jews), Kapitalrein (free of the burden of money) in which every one goes to the societal shop and takes off the shelve whatever desires without even paying for it. Everyone gives what he can, everyone gets what he needs. There is no utopia more Utopistic than that. Back to Islam: if one dedicates his life to Allah, prays consciously, pays his alms, does his pilgrimage to Mecca, lives only by the precepts of the Koran, the Sunna and the Sharia, he becomes free. The same MO, the same MV, the same outcome: equality and cosmic justice.
We can easily understand why the vision of the Founding Fathers differed from all of the above and why the Left is still not happy with the fact that the Founders’ influence could not be completely erradicated from the American people’s mind.
I may as well repeat my schtick for my favorite liberal-psychology book:
‘‘Although a voice of individual liberty is still quite audible in modern America, it is clear that a distinctly collectivist bias now dominates the whole of western political thought. This bias is destructive to the ideals of liberty and social order and to the growth of the individual to adult competence. Instead of promoting a rational society of competent adults who solve the problems of living through voluntary cooperation, the modern liberal agenda creates an irrational society of child-like adults who depend upon governments to take care of them. In its ongoing efforts to collectivize society’s basic economic, social and political processes, the liberal agenda undermines the character traits essential for individual liberty, material security, voluntary cooperation and social order.’’
Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr., M.D. ‘‘The Liberal Mind The Psychological Causes of Political Madness’’ p12.
It reads a lot like a text book, but it lays out the transfer neurosis of liberals.