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Conservatives concoct their own creepy reality


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Interesting article by Gerald Caplan, from the Globe and Mail, that might resontate a little with some folks here. I am posting it in Political Philosophy because a second part next week will discuss the Harper Government in relation to this construct.

Conservatives concoct their own creepy reality

I first got a sense of how the program worked back in 2004 in a riveting New York Times Magazine article by writer Ron Suskind. Mr. Suskind was reporting a conversation he’d had with an aide to George Bush (probably the president’s diabolical Rasputin, Karl Rove), and presented the following mind-bending revelation:

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Quoting David Frum's article from a few weeks ago:

Backed by their own wing of the book-publishing industry and supported by think tanks that increasingly function as public-relations agencies, conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics. Outside this alternative reality, the United States is a country dominated by a strong Christian religiosity. Within it, Christians are a persecuted minority…Outside the system, social scientists worry that the U.S. is hardening into one of the most rigid class societies in the Western world, in which the children of the poor have less chance of escape than in France, Germany, or even England. Inside the system, the U.S. remains (to borrow the words of Senator Marco Rubio) “the only place in the world where it doesn’t matter who your parents were or where you came from.”

So I suppose the question might be, is this construction of different realities something new? I mean, we can look at empire from the past and they too were in the business of constructing different realities, especially in the frontiers that they conquered and incorporated various other ethnic groups and cultures. And, of course, all the monument building...

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Interesting piece.

Gerald Caplan, of all people, should know that there is something called "reality". It's like gravity, other people's willingness to pay or being pregnant.

IOW, when you naively believe that "truth" depends on circumstances or when you believe that everything is just another negotiation, then reality truly hits. Then suddenly, you understand that "truth/reality" - if not faith - exists.

Edited by August1991
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This reminds me of FOX News. Millions of viewers lap that programming up, not because it presents objective facts, but because it reinforces their own preconceived notions of what is real and what is not.

And let me tell you, i've seen those on the left drink their own liberal kool-aid too. But on the right it seems far more bizarre and downright scary.

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Of Shwa is completely oblivious to the fantasies and fabrications constructed to justify most left wing views. Blind because if 'it's my reality - it must be real' mindset.

I certainly don't see much I like in fringes of the Republican party (I am a libertarian), but I am getting really sick of this kind of vacuous analysis emanating left wing (or wannabe left wing like Frum) intellectuals patting themselves on the back because they think they are 'smarter'. I see no evidence of that. Whether it is GMOs, Vaccines, Fracking, Nuclear Power, Free Trade, Taxation or Climate Change - what are called 'facts' in left wing circles are really nothing but beliefs/desires repeated enough times until they become 'reality' (at least to like minded supporters).

If you don't like this kind of self re-enforcing myth making then criticize but don't pretend that it is a trait unique to conservatives.

Edited by TimG
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Of Shwa is completely oblivious to the fantasies and fabrications constructed to justify most left wing views. Blind because if 'it's my reality - it must be real' mindset.

I think this is the sort of 'creepy reality' that Caplan is referring to, except on a much smaller scale of course, and that is the construction of the straw man and subsequent embodiment of fear and hatred of the alternatives, whatever their form. It is pretty flimsy construct and could indicate a lack of intellectual capacity on behalf of the poster to conceptualize and rationally discuss abstract ideas. Instead of abstraction, all we have is the familiar distraction.

How dishonest of you TimG, it makes you out to look like an ineffectual fool.

I certainly don't see much I like in fringes of the Republican party (I am a libertarian), but I am getting really sick of this kind of vacuous analysis emanating left wing (or wannabe left wing like Frum) intellectuals patting themselves on the back because they think they are 'smarter'. I see no evidence of that. Whether it is GMOs, Vaccines, Fracking, Nuclear Power, Free Trade, Taxation or Climate Change - what are called 'facts' in left wing circles are really nothing but beliefs/desires repeated enough times until they become 'reality' (at least to like minded supporters).

Gerald Caplan and David Frum, two individuals who routinely put their intellectual and experiencial credentials on the line practically everyday, but are now reduced "vacuous analysis emanating from the left wing" by an anonymous poster on an Internet message board. This is more of the flimsy straw man building of course.

The problem here TimG is that I doubt your credentials stack up against theirs in any sort of relative capacity and the reason I say this is because:

If you don't like this kind of self re-enforcing myth making then criticize but don't pretend that it is a trait unique to conservatives.

No where in the OP or linked article is there any hint that this is "a trait unique to conservatives." In fact, Caplan writes, "Of course the Republicans have no monopoly on inventing imaginary new worlds" Note Caplan's use of the phrase, 'of course' generally used to denote an obvious and well known notion.

So, TimG, you either didn't read the article and assumed it's content, which makes you out to appear like an ineffectual fool, or you willfully ignored Caplan's 'of course' whichs makes you out to appear like an ineffectual fool. Or it may have been any number of reasons in between, with the ultimate result being you look like... etc.

Of course, any rational person can pick up on your limp effort at creating distracting strawmen, which is one of those problems with extreme right wing conservatism hinted at by Caplan. It's creepy. And self-professed-libertarian or not, you fit right in.

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Bravo, you deftly dissected Tim's post, and yes i suspect there was bias in what he wrote, but it is more about the obvious bias of the person who posted the article and the likelihood of their intended target with that post. He was obviously wrong though, your intellectual honesty is above reproach, kudos.

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I think this is the sort of 'creepy reality' that Caplan is referring to, except on a much smaller scale of course, and that is the construction of the straw man and subsequent embodiment of fear and hatred of the alternatives, whatever their form.
I did not start a thread that serves no purpose other than being a call for like minded lefties to pat themselves on their backs for how "smart" they are compared to those "despicable" conservatives. This entire post is a perfect example of the lefties constructing their own "creepy reality". The fact that you can't see that shows how limited your own world view is.
The problem here TimG is that I doubt your credentials stack up against theirs in any sort of relative capacity and the reason I say this is because:
So what? They are opinion columnists. Their credentials mean squat. The only thing they have over people who post on forums is they are better at crafting well written words. That does not give their opinions any more merit than semi-anonymous forum posters. This obession which credentials is one of the pillars of the "creepy reality" for lefties. i.e. the idea that an opinion should be ignored if it is not coming from someone with the "correct" credentials.
No where in the OP or linked article is there any hint that this is "a trait unique to conservatives." In fact, Caplan writes, "Of course the Republicans have no monopoly on inventing imaginary new worlds"
Again - so what? The entire article is devoted to bashing the creepy reality of people he disagrees with. If he was really interested in composing a piece on the prevalence of self-reinforcing mything making he would have spend at least half of his column talking about where the left does the exact same thing. Leaving such a discussion out is why I see it as vacuous exercise re-enforcing the "creepy reality" that many lefties live in.
Pointing out hypocrisy is no strawman. If you can't see it then you are simply proving my point that you are completely oblivious to the artificial constructs you create to justify your own reality.
Edited by TimG
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I did not start a thread that serves no purpose other than being a call for like minded lefties to pat themselves on their backs for how "smart" they are

Sounds like a self-esteem problem because that's not at all what this thread is about. Especially when you consider that Frum is a staunch conservative.

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Sounds like a self-esteem problem because that's not at all what this thread is about. Especially when you consider that Frum is a staunch conservative.
What is it about then? Oh - right - it is about how conservatives engage in myth making. And that is a topic of interest why? Because it makes lefties feel better about themselves if they can belittle those they disagree with. Frum may be a conservative but Frum did not start this thread.

The only people with self esteem issues are the lefties who think they can replace an honest discussion of political differences with what is nothing but an ad hom attack against people they disagree with.

Edited by TimG
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It's not an ad hominem attack when you're criticizing the political discourse.
It was not a criticism of political discourse. It was an shameless attempt to delegitimize certain political opinions by labelling them as 'invented realities'. It is common lefties tactic that I am getting really sick of.

My response is all political beliefs depend very much on 'invented realities' and it is dishonest for the writers and poster to pretend that there is something exceptional about conservative views.

Edited by TimG
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Of course, any rational person can pick up on your limp effort at creating distracting strawmen, which is one of those problems with extreme right wing conservatism hinted at by Caplan. It's creepy. And self-professed-libertarian or not, you fit right in.

Pointing out intellectual dishonesty of a political movement or party is not an attack. It is called debate.

If TimG doesn't want to engage in debate, then he shouldn't. But the diatribe about left wing posting to make themselves feel better is rather bizarre. Good job poking holes.

Perhaps TimG could have posted some equivelent arguments of "reality-making" by the "left" instead of attacking the poster. That kind of post would have been engaging and relavent. Instead, it seems any post that is "anti-conservative" is a personal attack on TimG himself and he comes accross as defensive and small-minded.

On the original post:

The classic example of creating a reality by the current Conserviative government is the crime issue. They ignore all statistics and barge ahead with a "tough-on-crime" agenda that has very little basis in reality and will cost taxpayers more money to solve a fictitious problem.

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TimG has nothing. Any time someone criticizes conservative philosophy or politics, he trots out some nonsense about "the left do it too!" As though someone else being wrong too (even though he has done nothing to prove it) makes them both right.

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Pointing out intellectual dishonesty of a political movement or party is not an attack. It is called debate.
Saying someone is 'delusional and making stuff up' is not a debate. It is an ad hom attack.
Perhaps TimG could have posted some equivelent arguments of "reality-making" by the "left" instead of attacking the poster.
Read my post. I gave many examples including: GMOs, Vaccines, Fracking, Nuclear Power, Free Trade, Taxation or Climate Change.

Of course the lefies love to say their opinions are 'reality-based' but that is nonsense. Their opinions are based first and foremost on their world view and then they cherry pick the facts that support their world view whether we are talking about the delusional beat up on the rich demagoguery to CO2 mitigation policies that simply cannot work.

It is an artificial reality constructed to valid a lefties' opinion of themselves. Actual facts are irrelevant. In other words, it is exactly what the op was criticizing conservatives for doing.

Edited by TimG
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Of course the lefies love to say their opinions are 'reality-based' but that is nonsense. Their opinions are based first and foremost on their world view and then they cherry pick the facts that support their world view

You mean like the crime omnibus bill?

Cuz ya, crime must be skyrocketing for us to need that!

Sorry, what was that about cherry picking ?

Edited by guyser
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Of Shwa is completely oblivious to the fantasies and fabrications constructed to justify most left wing views. Blind because if 'it's my reality - it must be real' mindset.

I agree with this in a sense. Much easier to see the untruths of others since we don't agree with them. We're all guilty of drinking the Kool-Aid. Every single one of us have been brainwashed and conditioned how to think and what to belief is right or wrong since birth.

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Gerald Caplan is a staunch member of the Left, a former organizer and candidate (failed) for the NDP, and a lifelong ivory tower academic. His dismay at conservative values and beliefs stems from that, as does his disdain for those who possess such values and beliefs. His opinion piece is nothing more than a heavily biased rant which can easily be summed up in "I don't like conservatives".

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That's not what he's saying at all. He's saying that conservatives make a particular kind of argument that does not reflect reality and he outlines exactly why he's making that argument. He didn't once attacks conservatives personally.

A personal attack would be calling conservatives crybabies because they don't like their arguments scrutinized. That would be personal. It says all conservatives have a particular character flaw or problem with themselves personally. It has nothing to do with their arguments or ideas.

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That's not what he's saying at all. He's saying that conservatives make a particular kind of argument that does not reflect reality and he outlines exactly why he's making that argument.
Sophistry. Instead of arguing the ideas he simply says they are 'not based on reality' which only shows that he does not understand people with a different the frame of reference. It is a personal attack on people with conservative views.
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Sophistry. Instead of arguing the ideas he simply says they are 'not based on reality' which only shows that he does not understand people with a different the frame of reference. It is a personal attack on people with conservative views.

Actually, he goes on to explain why they're not based on reality. So he is arguing about the ideas. There's no point in debating arguments that are made up out of thin air. In fact, it's funny that you would call what I said sophistry, since that's exactly what he's saying about these arguments; they are not based on reality. Except instead of just throwing around the word out of context, he actually shows why these arguments are illogical.

Edited by cybercoma
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Actually, he goes on to explain why they're not based on reality.
He does no such thing. His argument is basically 'I disagree with the ideas therefore they are not based on reality'. All of his so called facts are really nothing but constructs from his own 'false reality' that he creates to justify his own views. You can't see that because you are stuck in the same 'false reality' and mistake his unsupported assertions as facts. Edited by TimG
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