Intentionality

I’m re-posting a piece (slightly shortened) from August 2012, because I want to present experimental results supporting its thesis.

The evidence comes from psychology professor Jonathan Haidt, referenced in an article from Quillette which is linked and quoted following the re-post, and is worth reading in full.

In 2015, Haidt started Heterodox Academy in order to promote Viewpoint Diversity in the Academy.

In the following when I use the word Liberal with a capital “L,” I mean Progressives, as very distinct from classical liberals. It is unfortunate that Progressives hijacked the word liberal. That might have been their last actual idea. It has forced us to say “classical liberal” in general conversation so as to be understood.

Also, the author to whom I was reacting used “liberal,” and explaining why she was wrong would have lengthened an already longish post. Not to mention attempting to decode her point that Liberals aren’t left, using 3 or 4 different terms.

RE-POST
Liberal Ayn Rand?

At Slate, Beverly Gage asks “Why Is There No Liberal Ayn Rand?

Ask Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan how he became a conservative and he’ll probably answer by citing a book. It might be Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Or perhaps he’ll come up with Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, or even Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative. All of these books are staples of the modern conservative canon, works with the reputed power to radicalize even the most tepid Republican. Over the last half-century, they have been vital to the conservative movement’s success—and to liberalism’s demise.

We tend to think of the conservative influence in purely political terms: electing Ronald Reagan in 1980, picking away at Social Security, reducing taxes for the wealthy.

The answer to “Why Is There No Liberal Ayn Rand?” is right there, in the first sentence of the second paragraph. It’s blindingly obvious (it’s even Ms Gage’s point) that “Liberals” don’t think in terms of ideas. Ideas are hard work, intentions are easier. Liberals like to think in terms of intentions, and mostly they think in terms of how they interpret the intentions of others based on their own intentions to improve humanity. Liberals don’t think like free people, they think in terms of how to apply power to the purpose of perfecting their fellows. To a Liberal, making everybody else perfect is what Liberty means…

You might as well ask why there’s no “Liberal” John Galt. A question you couldn’t ask if you’d bothered to pay attention to certain compelling arguments from your opposition. Even if the ideas weren’t compelling to you, would the demands of diversity not require you to attempt to understand? Would not a reasoned defense of your own ideas demand it?

And here the answer is again – in the first sentence of the third paragraph:

Liberals, by contrast, have been moving in the other direction over the last half-century, abandoning the idea that ideas can be powerful political tools. This may seem like a strange statement at a moment when American universities are widely understood to be bastions of liberalism, and when liberals themselves are often derided as eggheaded elites. But there is a difference between policy smarts honed in college classrooms and the kind of intellectual conversation that keeps a movement together. What conservatives have developed is what the left used to describe as a “movement culture”: a shared set of ideas and texts that bind activists together in common cause. Liberals, take note.

But it’s yet more subtle than that. First, the tea party people needed no institutional bastion of conservatism, controlled by an insular elite, to “re-educate” them. They’d have a hard time finding one if they did. They didn’t need the ivory tower re-education camps in the first place. They get it innately. They fundamentally understand it. When they read Ayn Rand, they can see today’s headlines. Our president’s [then Obama] success as a community organizer doesn’t make them swell with pride. Rather, it reminds them of Wesley Mouch.

“Liberals” have not abandoned the idea that ideas can be powerful political tools, they have abandoned the idea that anyone but them is allowed ideas. They are shocked, shocked when anyone deigns to challenge their intentions.

Liberals have channeled their energies even more narrowly over the past half-century, tending to prefer policy tweaks and electoral mapping to big-picture thinking. When was the last time you saw a prominent liberal politician ascribe his or her passion and interest in politics to, of all things, a book? The most dogged insistence on the influence of Obama’s early reading has come from his TeaParty critics, who fume constantly that he is about to carry out a secret plan laid out a half century ago by far-left writers ranging from Alinsky, the granddaddy of “community organizing,” to social reformer Frances Fox Piven.

In fact, no. Tea party criticism is not about the books Obama may have read, it’s about the books he “wrote.”

Liberals may argue that they are better off knocking on doors and brainstorming policy than muddling through the great works of midcentury America.

Policy without theory is untestable, and I can see why “Liberals” would consider that a strength. It allows them the excuse that without Obama’s stimulus the unemployment rate he promised wouldn’t go over 8%, but hit 10% (and more), deserves a Mulligan. He meant well.

And that Obama predicted the unemployment rate, with stimulus, would now be 5.6% is irrelevant. Get that? Not below 6%, but 5point6%. This is the same administration that quibbled over whether an unemployment rate of 8.254% should be reported as 8.3%.

So much for the precision wisdom of the centralized planners. You know, those very same people who turn out to be even more wrong than our president… in some book written by Ayn Rand…

And, finally, a note is required on the lead sentence of the closing paragraph:

In the current election this means that liberals also run the unnecessary risk of ceding intellectual authority to the right.

Excuse me, but this is the risk Liberals continually choose. They do it gleefully, confident in the ascendance of their intentions, and with no thought about ideas. There is no necessary or unnecessary when peering down from the summit of moral superiority.

This election may represent increased risk for those who don’t have, or care about, ideas; but they don’t care enough to read Atlas Shrugged or Capitalism and Freedom to find out about the ideas that oppose them. Many of us who’ve read Atlas, have also read Das Kapital and Rules for Radicals and The Black Book of Communism. We have some idea what we’re up against, and, unlike Ms Gage, we can even name Liberals we used to consider serious thinkers. We were wrong, but we could say why.
END

Liberals have largely lost the ability to respond to ideas. Ideas not their own make them angry. They have come to see ideas as the instruments by which they become victims. Ideas with which they disagree are, therefore, literally violence.

Now, I’d like to turn to professor Haidt as quoted at Quillette, for psychological research showing how Liberal disdain for ideas damages their ability to think. Not that they care: To them, it’s a feature, not a bug.

The Psychology of Progressive Hostility

In his remarkable book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, [Jonathan] Haidt recalls a telling experiment. He and his colleagues Brian Nosek and Jesse Graham sought to discover how well conservative and what Haidt terms ‘liberal’ (ie: progressive) students understood one another by having them answer moral questions as they thought their political opponents would answer them. “The results were clear and consistent,” remarks Haidt. “In all analyses, conservatives were more accurate than liberals.” Asked to think the way a liberal thinks, conservatives answered moral questions just as the liberal would answer them, but liberal students were unable to do the reverse. Rather, they seemed to put moral ideas into the mouths of conservatives that they don’t hold. To put it bluntly, Haidt and his colleagues found that progressives don’t understand conservatives the way conservatives understand progressives. This he calls the ‘conservative advantage,’ and it goes a long way in explaining the different ways each side deals with opinions unlike their own. People get angry at what they don’t understand, and an all-progressive education ensures that they don’t understand.

Haidt’s research echoes arguments made by Thomas Sowell in A Conflict of Visions and Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate. Both Sowell and Pinker contend that conservatives see an unfortunate world of moral trade-offs in which every moral judgment comes with costs that must be properly balanced. Progressives, on the other hand, seem to be blind to, or in denial about, these trade-offs, whether economic and social; theirs is a utopian or unconstrained vision, in which every moral grievance must be immediately extinguished until we have perfected society. This is why conservatives don’t tend to express the same emotional hostility as the Left; a deeper grasp of the world’s complexity has the effect of encouraging intellectual humility. The conservative hears the progressive’s latest demands and says, “I can see how you might come to that conclusion, but I think you’ve overlooked the following…” In contrast, the progressive hears the conservative and thinks, “I have no idea why you would believe that. You’re probably a racist.”

“Liberals” don’t think in terms of ideas. And worse than that, they’ve come to think in terms of stifling ideas. This makes them resistant to persuasion; which explains how they can claim skepticism about “climate change” is anti-science, while simultaneously denying there is any biological difference between men and women; describing science as racist; decrying rigor in engineering; and rejecting the theory of evolution.

It’s all intentional, if devoid of actual ideas.

Anticipating Hillary

You may know society is doomed when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing; when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors; when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you; [and] when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice.
-Ayn Rand, “Atlas Shrugged”, 1957

It’s not so much about Mrs. Bill as it is the structures that have been erected to nurture her.

Liberal Ayn Rand?

At Slate, Beverly Gage asks “Why Is There No Liberal Ayn Rand?

Ask Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan how he became a conservative and he’ll probably answer by citing a book. It might be Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Or perhaps he’ll come up with Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, or even Barry Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative. All of these books are staples of the modern conservative canon, works with the reputed power to radicalize even the most tepid Republican. Over the last half-century, they have been vital to the conservative movement’s success—and to liberalism’s demise.

We tend to think of the conservative influence in purely political terms: electing Ronald Reagan in 1980, picking away at Social Security, reducing taxes for the wealthy.

The answer to “Why Is There No Liberal Ayn Rand?” is right there, in the first sentence of the second paragraph. It’s blindingly obvious (it’s even Ms Gage’s point) that “Liberals” don’t think in terms of ideas. Ideas are hard work, intentions are easier. Liberals like to think in terms of intentions, and mostly they think in terms of how they interpret the intentions of others based on their own intentions to improve humanity. Liberals don’t think like free people, they think in terms of how to apply power to the purpose of perfecting their fellows. To a Liberal, making everybody else perfect is what Liberty means.

The reason there’s no Liberal Ayn Rand is the same reason there’s no Liberal Rush Limbaugh. It’s been tried and it has utterly failed. It’s the very definition of oxymoron.

You might as well ask why there’s no “Liberal” John Galt. A question you couldn’t ask if you’d bothered to pay attention to certain compelling arguments from your opposition. Even if the ideas weren’t compelling to you, would the demands of diversity not require you to attempt to understand? Would not a reasoned defense of your own ideas demand it?

And here the answer is again – in the first sentence of the third paragraph:

Liberals, by contrast, have been moving in the other direction over the last half-century, abandoning the idea that ideas can be powerful political tools. This may seem like a strange statement at a moment when American universities are widely understood to be bastions of liberalism, and when liberals themselves are often derided as eggheaded elites. But there is a difference between policy smarts honed in college classrooms and the kind of intellectual conversation that keeps a movement together. What conservatives have developed is what the left used to describe as a “movement culture”: a shared set of ideas and texts that bind activists together in common cause. Liberals, take note.

But it’s yet more subtle than that. First, the tea party people needed no institutional bastion of conservatism, controlled by an insular elite, to “re-educate” them. They’d have a hard time finding one if they did. They didn’t need the ivory tower re-education camps in the first place. They get it innately. They fundamentally understand it. When they read Ayn Rand, they can see today’s headlines. Our president’s success as a community organizer doesn’t make them swell with pride. Rather, it reminds them of Wesley Mouch.

“Liberals” have not abandoned the idea that ideas can be powerful political tools, they have abandoned the idea that anyone but them is allowed ideas. They are shocked, shocked when anyone deigns to challenge their intentions.

Liberals have channeled their energies even more narrowly over the past half-century, tending to prefer policy tweaks and electoral mapping to big-picture thinking. When was the last time you saw a prominent liberal politician ascribe his or her passion and interest in politics to, of all things, a book? The most dogged insistence on the influence of Obama’s early reading has come from his TeaParty critics, who fume constantly that he is about to carry out a secret plan laid out a half century ago by far-left writers ranging from Alinsky, the granddaddy of “community organizing,” to social reformer Frances Fox Piven.

In fact, no. Tea party criticism is not about the books Obama may have read, it’s about the books he “wrote.”

Liberals may argue that they are better off knocking on doors and brainstorming policy than muddling through the great works of midcentury America.

Policy without theory is untestable, and I can see why “Liberals” would consider that a strength. It allows them the excuse that without Obama’s stimulus the unemployment rate he promised wouldn’t go over 8%, but hit 10% (and more), deserves a Mulligan. He meant well.

And that Obama predicted the unemployment rate, with stimulus, would now be 5.6% is irrelevant. Get that? Not below 6%, but 5point6%. This is the same administration that quibbled over whether an unemployment rate of 8.254% should be reported as 8.3%.

So much for the precision wisdom of the centralized planners. You know, those very same people who turn out to be even more wrong than our president… in some book written by Ayn Rand.

Nothing to see here about testing ideas, let’s just MoveOn:

Ms Gage continues:

Some of this imbalance is due to the relative weakness of the current American left. Liberals are not the logical counterweight to conservatives; leftists are, but they are few in number.

Some of this perceived imbalance is due to self delusion. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barack Obama (who, as a teen, was mentored by an avowed Communist, wrote about hanging out with Marxists in college and who, in 1996, received the endorsement of the Chicago branch of the Democratic Socialists of America), Bernie Sanders, Maxine Waters, Barbara Boxer and Debbie Wossname-Schultz are not left? The self-declared Communist (Van Jones) and admirer of Mao (Anita Dunn) whom Obama appointed to positions of power were not left? Please.

And, finally, a note is required on the lead sentence of the closing paragraph:

In the current election this means that liberals also run the unnecessary risk of ceding intellectual authority to the right.

Excuse me, but this is the risk Liberals continually choose. They do it gleefully, confident in the ascendance of their intentions, and with no thought about ideas. There is no necessary or unnecessary when peering down from the summit of moral superiority.

This election may represent increased risk for those who don’t have, or care about, ideas; but they don’t care enough to read Atlas Shrugged or Capitalism and Freedom to find out about the ideas that oppose them. Many of us who’ve read Atlas, have also read Das Kapital and Rules for Radicals and The Black Book of Communism. We have some idea what we’re up against, and, unlike Ms Gage, we can even name Liberals we used to consider serious thinkers. We were wrong, but we could say why.

Animal Farm Shrugged

Google Says Some Apple Inventions Are So Great They Ought to Be Shared

In plain English, Google wants Apple’s intellectual property to be declared public property. Google General Counsel Kent Walker wrote:

While collaborative [Standards Setting Organizations (SSOs)] play an important part in the overall standard setting system, and are particularly prominent in industries such as telecommunications, they are not the only source of standards. Indeed, many of the same interoperability benefits that the FTC and others have touted in the SSO context also occur when one firm publishes information about an otherwise proprietary standard and other firms then independently decide (whether by choice or of necessity) to make complementary investments to support that standard in their products. … Because proprietary or de facto standards can have just as important effects on consumer welfare, the Committee’s concern regarding the abuse of SEPs [standards-essential patents] should encompass them as well.

He means some Apple patents should be seized and given freely to Google, because they are popular. And Google is at a competitive disadvantage without them. License them? No, that’s unfair, or too expensive, or insufficiently damaging to a competitor. It is the job of government to DO SOMETHING about this.

A reading of Atlas Shrugged reveals this is exactly the same pressure Hank Rearden faced from an eerily familar Kleptocracy. I used to nod and have a smallish chuckle when I saw an Ayn Rand plot device writ in MSM headlines. Now? I’m scared.

I understood Animal Farm as a warning, not a manual for governing. Now, I hear the president of the United States paraphrasing Old Major and Napoleon in every campaign speech.

Reality’s convergence with the “fiction” of Rand and Orwell is accelerating. Google is Orren Boyle, Jim Taggart, Wesley Mouch and Dr. Potter combined. Old Major and Napoleon are the current administration.

#youdidntbuildthat Subsidies required to meet government mandates

BMW CEO Orren Boyle James Taggart Norbert Reithofer says that Germany’s goal of having a million electric cars on German roads by the end of the decade will require the government to enact subsidies in the form of tax incentives. It brings to mind Solyndra, A123, General Motors and others. Especially General Motors.

The struckthrough names are fictional. James Taggart and Orren Boyle are obsequious, scheming crony capitalists in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

Taggart’s railroad is failing because he is incompetent, but the government is there to help:

Empty trains clattered … They carried a few carloads of sheep, some corn, some melons and an occasional farmer with an overdressed family, who had friends in Washington. Jim [James Taggart, President of Taggart Transcontinental Railroad] had obtained a subsidy from Washington for every train that was run, not as a profit making carrier, but as a service of “public equality.”

Later, in a meeting with a Federal Czar*, who is hammering out a series of edicts designed to seize complete control of the economy, Taggart and Boyle have this exchange:

“It is not essential whether you can afford it or not,” Taggart said coldly. “You have to be prepared to make some sacrifices. The public needs railroads. Need comes first – above your profits.”

“What profits?” yelled Orren Bole. “When did I ever make any profits? Nobody can accuse me of running a profit-making business. … But, of course, the public does need railroads, and perhaps I could manage to absorb a certain raise in rates if i were to get – it’s just a thought – if I were to get a subsidy to carry me over the next year or two…”

*Wesley Mouch, Co-ordinator of the Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources. See Atlas Shrugged Chapter VI, from the start, for the meeting minutes.

Peter Singer and Ayn Rand


Peter Singer, Princeton University Professor of Bioethics, speaks out.

Would you kill a disabled baby? [asked by] KAREN MEADE, Dublin

[Singer:] Yes, if that was in the best interests of the baby and of the family as a whole. Many people find this shocking, yet they support a woman’s right to have an abortion. One point on which I agree with opponents of abortion is that, from the point of view of ethics rather than the law, there is no sharp distinction between the foetus and the newborn baby.

Well, he’s right about one thing. The only remaining piece of the puzzle is whether the State has a responsibility to prevent murder.

This is the question upon which Objectivism founders. It purports to base its moral code on the intrinsic value of human life, but labels fetuses as “parasites.” The failure to assert an inherent human sanctity precludes a moral code built on valuing human life.