What if, in a fashion similar to Haidt’s two stories about capitalism, in which opposing perspectives are expressed using the same rhetorical structure (e.g., in this instance: once upon a time, then this happened, therefore that happened) one used the introductory chapter of Jerry Z. Muller’s Conservatism: An Anthology of Social and Political Thought from David Hume to the Present, as a model for a companion chapter about leftist social and political thought?
What would it say?
It would include things like rationalism (WEIRDness), top-down universalist thinking, and epistemic confidence, (both of which are described in Haidt’s CCARE talk, transcript here), and the leveling impulse of collectivism, would it not?
With that in mind, just for the sake of argument, try to let go of for and against, if only for a moment, and accept that my Cognitive Theory of Politics is correct: Left and right are, first and foremost, cognitive styles, operating systems of social cognition, from which follow things like 1) the recipe of moral foundations of each, 2) cognitive predispositions like the examples above, 3) the abstract principles and tenets commonly associated with each, and 4) all of the worlds “isms,” past and present.
Now, with THAT in mind, still letting go of for and against, step back and take a long view of human history. Consider the many “isms” that have existed across the centuries from the perspective of the underlying cognitive style and patterns of thought which underlie them.
From that perspective, sort them into left and right.
I suggest you would find it to be NOT TRUE, as Haidt said in his CCARE talk, that the French Revolution was “one of the few places on earth where the rationalists got control of an entire country and were able to do with it what they wanted.”
…they created a cult of reason, they banned the clergy, they killed the nobles, ah, and what we had wasn’t oh, let’s get rid of ah, let’s get rid of nations and religion and then people will be one, no what they had was most people didn’t, or a lot of people didn’t want to go along with the revolution, and of course they’re wrong because we know we’re right we have reason on our side, they called themselves the party of reason, also the party of humanity, the French Revolutionaries ended up murdering hundreds of thousands of people. They committed a genocide in the Vendee region lining people against the walls and shooting them, putting them out into boats and sinking the boats. The French Revolutionaries committed genocide.
I suggest, rather, you’d find that it IS TRUE, that, over the long sweep of history, the leftist cognitive style got control of MANY entire countries and were able to do with them what they wanted, with similar rationales and results.
That list of countries includes:
- Communist Russia
- Communist China
- Communist Cambodia
- Fascist Italy
- Nazi Germany
For the tip of the iceberg of supporting evidence that the intellectual thread which connects all of these is the leftist cognitive style, I submit the following analysis by Dinesh D’Souza:
Of course, it isn’t exactly difficult to notice parallels between the violent, anti-intellectual mobs wreaking havoc on college campuses and at political rallies across America and the historic violence of fascist thugs, D’Souza notes.
“The people who look like [Nazi] brownshirts, or Mussolini’s blackshirts, dress like them, carry weapons like them, have the same vicious intolerance about them, and use violence and intimidation to achieve their goals,” D’Souza continued. “Today those people pose as ANTIFA or anti-fascists. That’s extremely ironic.”
But the modern American left’s fascist tendencies go far beyond its current penchant for street violence. Indeed there are three distinct ways in which the left reveals its fascist pedigree.
“The brownshirts on the street … [are] the most obvious and most people think that that’s the only analogy between the left today and the fascists, but it’s actually not — it’s the least important of the three,” D’Souza said.
The second, explained D’Souza, is the modern Left’s attempt to impose uniformity of belief — and punish anyone guilty of thought-crimes.
“The Nazis had a term called Gleichschaltung,” said D’Souza. The term translates roughly to synchronization, and was the process by which the Nazis aimed to Nazify all of German society.
“What the Nazis meant is we’ve got to get the whole culture to be in sync with Nazi ideology. No one gets to march out of lockstep, and so now we need to mobilize the institutions of academia and the media and film and entertainment to all echo the same thing, and to punish dissenters,” D’Souza explained.
D’Souza’s definition of Gleichschaltung will be eerily familiar to most Americans today. “We have a name for Gleichschaltung in America — it’s called political correctness,” D’Souza said, “and that’s a more dangerous form of fascism than four guys at Berkeley overturning a car.”
The third obviously fascist feature of the modern American Left is the Democratic Party itself, D’Souza told LifeZette. “The Democratic Party today is the party that promotes the centralized state. The centralized state is the central meaning of fascism — that’s what fascism is ideologically.”
Also, “if you look at fascist economics, it is state-run capitalism,” D’Souza continued. “The private sector stays private, but the government tells it what to do,” D’Souza explained. “Obama never nationalized a single company, he hasn’t nationalized the auto companies, he hasn’t nationalized the hospitals, he didn’t nationalize the insurance companies — they’re still private but he told them what to do,” said D’Souza. “The Democratic Party’s economics are more accurately described as fascist than socialist.”