Spengler: Why Won’t Liberals Listen to Reason?

The left believes that a clever elite can fix all the world’s problems; conservatives accept that human error can lead to disastrous outcomes. Liberals fancy themselves rational in contrast to conservatives’ dour acknowledgment of tradition and tragedy. Why, then, is the left so impossibly, stubbornly, counter-factually dense when it comes to the state of Israel (among other matters)?

Liberal rationality is a pose. Knowledge is existential — that is, we tend to ignore facts that apply to a world in which we will not exist at all. I saw that before the 2008 banking crash, when I tried to warn the industry that a crash was inevitable. Most of them said, in effect, “If what you’re saying is true, then I shouldn’t have a job, so I won’t think about it.” Not long afterwards, most of them didn’t.


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  • Cy

    Jean, the wording on my part could have been better … the point was more like that there was no rush to find a silver lining to the old regime in any of the revolutions that we HAVE supported (Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan). The return of the poppy trade and boy sex slaves hardly detered Western warmongers in the latter nation.

    Canada has a bad history with South Africa. Our native reserve system was the basis for Apartheid, and Canada (even under Trudeau) provided access for South African officials to study the reserve system. No P.M. until Brian Mulroney really contested the status quo. Our current PM sat on a committee that endorsed Apartheid, while one of his right hand men (Anders) is the only Canadian MP to oppose Mandela’s citizenship.

    Jack’s article itself explains why the farming attempt failed – forced redistribution and downsizing of land to unskilled workers with no sense of ownership (ironically). This is startlingly similar to what the Soviet Union did under Lenin – unsurprisingly, productivity dropped to near zero in that instance as well. The ANC’s historic embrace of marxism has led to many economic inefficiencies and will lead to many more (not to mention the loss of potential investment that will instead flow to Botswana or Namibia).

    The issue perhaps is more geo-political than racial. My apologies for any offense taken on your part.

    • Jean

      No offense taken when the misunderstanding of intent on both sides is clarified. :)

  • ward

    Cy there are plenty examples of wealthy blacks, Italians and Mexicans who have most certainly “shot to the top”.

    Carlos Slim
    Lee Iacocca
    Herman Cain

    And they did it in the manner Joe describes.

    So I assume you must be trying to make the point that the majority in some ethnic groups – or nations – are poorer than others.

    That would point more to cultural values and government policies.

    Zimbabwe used to be the breadbasket of Africa. Now its just another destroyed nation. What happened there?

    • Cy

      Examples, yes. But where do they sit on the bell curve of achievement for their respective groups? Also, Oprah was never a slave and, despite whatever trials she has faced in life, likely did not have to work as hard as her enslaved great grandparents.

      The point being made as not that achievement isn’t possible through hard work, but rather that hard work alone does not guarantee personal success – even now that most legal barriers have been eliminated.

      As for Zimbabwe, interesting you ask. I happened to befriend a guy who (well into our fraternizing) revealed he was a “Boer” of Zimbabwe. His take was that the post-segregation nation was working just fine until Mugabe was about to be voted OUT for his lack of economic performance. Mugabe used the tried and true method of scapegoating, this time being whites. His “war veterans” were mostly just young and unemployed political supporters who knew no more about farming than the majority of the black population who urbanized and wanted nothing to do with agriculture (land reform or not). So these kids with guns raided the farms, took them over, and basically sent them to pot.

      What does that have to do with your point? Not very much, really. It was just third world politics with disastrous consequences.

      • Jack

        Just FYI Cy (you likely already know about this) but since you mention Zimbabwe I thought I should point out once again this little gem in order to advance the debate. It may have nothing to do with what is being discussed (I haven’t done much more than glance at the comments) but I’ll throw it out for consideration.

        • Jean

          Running a successful farm takes knowledge, capital, work ethic, and giving farms to people without the knowledge, or not willing to put in the work to know how to run a farm, splitting up large farms into too small and inefficient units that wouldn’t be viable except for the barest subsistence farming etc … are not formulas for successful farms or a successful economy based on farming.

          Are there any successful ” black ” farm in South Africa ?
          I don’t want to assume that there are none, but any that are would have had to manage their farms in as a competent manner as the previous white owners.

          • Cy

            There are some, though most would probably be run by outsiders (e.g. from East and North Africa). Education was not a priority of the apartheid regime.

        • Cy

          Read it before, and not surprising since being worked as a glorified donkey on a farm is different from actually running one. Also slave-like labour on a farm creates a distate for agriculture in general, which means the redistributed owners of the farm probably didn’t even try to farm it.

          I don’t think it necessarily adds to the debate but it does provide some solace to Boers and their spiritual supporters – many of whom are still convinced that what they did in South Africa was right.

        • Cy

          Sorry to come back to this Jack, but I’m going to have to ask: what are you implying with your post? Is it that since black farmers in South Africa failed this somehow validates what the Boers were doing? If so, does this mean we wasted our time in WW2 since the Germans had superior technology? Was it wrong to help oust Gaddafi because of the short term chaos?

          Short-term economic gain does not justify long-term oppression. I see you have fans for your post as does Jean. Take the implication as evidence of why certain groups will always be a little wary of the right.

          • Jean

            It’s not about race as far as my post is concerned or intended, it’s just that unprepared people given a task with too high a learning curve will fail.

            Being given land but not given the time to develop the skills first to run them lead to failure.

            A bunch of white city folks given land but knowing little to nothing of farming would have been equally unsuccessful.

            So for whatever complex reasons the handover of the farms was rushed and botched.

  • Cy

    As for your allegations regarding our living standards. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. GASP!!!!!! We enjoy and owe our living standards to the hard work of self interested individuals seeking to advance themselves whilst applying Faith that allows them to try again again in the face of insurmountable odds. We owe our standard of living to the high moral codes found in a Judeo Christian religion backed society.

    No offense, but biggest load of crap I’ve read in quite some time.
    Does this mean the other 90% of the world -in poverty- doesn’t work hard, Joe?
    How come the slaves “we” (you good Judeo Christians) took in hundreds of years ago didn’t become the richest Americans? Why didn’t Italian immigrants who worked the factories shoot right to the top? Why aren’t Mexicans doing that now? Because in all cases you’re underpaying them and selling their goods at normal value, creating excess wealth.

    Why do nations like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who rely almost entirely on foreign slave-like labor and have a different God than you, have considerably higher standards of living than the West? Same principle, as last paragraph, only on a larger scale.

    Wealth is created by selling for excess value compared to the inputs. Purchasing power can come from wealth or from credit. Europe had no wealth after WW2 – only at that point did Keynesian economics become attractive to governments. Without purchasing power you have no standards of living.

  • Joe

    Wrong you are Cy.

    I’m not scared of any change but I certainly am not a fan of change for the sake of scamming the gullible as is the case in AGW. I simply look at the evidence and find out that there is None! There is Nothing that falls outside the norms that have been recorded since we found an accurate way to measure temperature. We certainly haven’t hit the high temperatures of the medieval warm period or the Roman time period. Nor have we hit the lows found in the previous ice ages. In other words we are taking national and personal treasure and giving it to scam artists for no reason other than it is the latest “scientific” induced panic.

    As for your allegations regarding our living standards. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. GASP!!!!!! We enjoy and owe our living standards to the hard work of self interested individuals seeking to advance themselves whilst applying Faith that allows them to try again again in the face of insurmountable odds. We owe our standard of living to the high moral codes found in a Judeo Christian religion backed society. We owe our standard of living to free men and women freely entering into enterprise to the benefit of themselves and everyone around them.

    As for the age of the earth I have nary a clue. I suspect that it is very old. Not that my opinion on such matters is of any import. The universe is as old as the universe is.

    Its being the work of its Omniscient, Omnipotent, Eternal Creator allows for its antiquity and the existence of dinosaurs and all manner of life forms we can never imagine possibly in places we can never know about. The Creator has no duty or obligation to inform me on such subjects so like everyone else I speculate and apply conjecture. I certainly don’t look to the ‘latest scientific’ for guidance. After all Darwinism led to the attempted extermination of the lesser races. Based on a Christian understanding I know there is no lesser race. I also know that there should be no extermination of anyone because of race or creed.

  • Joe

    “is that when an idea from a rational institution is proven to be truly disastrous, it is easy to move away from it in favour of the next idea”.

    Like Darwinist evolution or AGW or Keynesian economics or any other scientific scam that serves a political end.

    BTW we Christians don’t believe we are accountable to a super being in the sky. We we believe we are accountable a Super Being IN Whom the earth and sky and all that exists has its-their-our being.

    • Cy

      AGW – Still to be decided. Like a good Con, you hear change and it scares you, particularly since it would be bad for business in your neck of the woods. AGW is still being debated and AFAIK no one has been burned at the stake or honor killed for taking a position either way.

      Keynesian Economics – Not looking too good right now but it is wholly responsible for the lifestyle you currently enjoy. I’m sure you’re not complaining about the subsidies received by Alberta for the oil patch, in the name of “government investment”. Despite that, governments around the world regularly flip-flop between Keynes and Friedman as required, proving that rational institutions do in fact work. Do you switch to Buddhism when trying to prove that you are a peaceful, nature-loving person?

      Evolution – Not even discussing this until you tell me how old you think the world is

      Got any better examples?

  • Joe

    Dunno ’bout you Cy but in my eyes the failure of the left to properly vet the ivory tower ideas and ideologues is identical to ‘faith and tradition’ you accuse the right of espousing. Just because someone has gone to school doesn’t mean they can tell the difference between fact and fiction. Especially when they are following the post modern ideals of making fiction, fact.

    • Jean

      Otherwise rational people can believe all sorts of things that others will consider ridiculous or plain crazy:

      A) Conspiracy theories.
      B) Astrology.
      C) Organized Religion
      ( Believing in God or not believing in God or some First Cause is something else in my opinion: Most religions are just too sure of themselves for me as an agnostic, and atheist are also too sure of themselves ).
      D) Utopias.
      E) Dystopias. ( Where cynicism is pushed too far by the over pessimistic ).
      F) Flat Earth Societies, believers in the lost continents of Atlantis and Mu, and the Government had a chip implanted in my brain etc …..

      Humans have a great capacity to be very rational for most things and be completely ” LOONY TOONS ” about one subject they obsess about.

      • Cy

        No disagreement there.

        One more note about rational thought … rational doesn’t always mean “right”. Many of humanity’s most disastrous ideas (Communism, Nazism, eugenics, Apartheid, etc) were conceived in the halls of academia. The difference between rational institutions (schools, science labs, sometimes political movements) and dogmatic institutions (religions/cults, sometimes political movemetns) is that when an idea from a rational institution is proven to be truly disastrous, it is easy to move away from it in favour of the next idea. There’s no accountability to a super-being in the sky or on the ground and it is easy to prove to the layman through those same facts and reason why what they previously thought was wrong.

  • jt

    “Also, in terms of reason, which side pushes faith and tradition over academics?”

    I dunno Cy, which one is it?

    • Cy

      One imagines the same people who assail “ivory tower intellectuals” and feel that we should adhere to processes just because our parents or grandparents did it. Presumably they are the same ones who don’t see faith as a personal matter but as something around which all of society should be forced to participate through the laws and the courts (pretty much renedering English precedent law moot).
      They are almost certainly the same ones who deliberately ignore new scientific findings and hard evidence because they offend the principles INFERRED by a human translation of a 2000 year old text.

      Whoever fits that description despises reason – not just the conclusion but the process itself.

  • Cy

    There are a lot of liars and extremists on both sides of the M.E. issue. Neither Liberals nor Convervatives are honest enough to admit that. Each group picks one ethnic group as the unassailable victims and virtually condemns the other to death.

    I have Arab and Israeli mates. They are rarely as extreme as their self-appointed advocates here in North America.

    Also, in terms of reason, which side pushes faith and tradition over academics?

    • Jack

      Not certain where you are going with this. Please clarify.

  • Jack

    I stopped being a Liberal around age five. That was when I figured out that Santa Claus was pure fiction. I still liked the presents under the tree but as I grew older I came to realize who was paying for them.

    Nothing has changed in over sixty years.

    “Same old, same old.”