“Unilateral Intellectual Disarmament”

Why the Left is losing the argument:

In sum, the left systematically has dumbed its side down, to the point where supposedly well-educated elites are untrained and unaware of our country’s history and constitutional traditions. The left thinks words have no fixed meaning (health care and health insurance, are close enough, so they insist we can define the latter to be the former.) The liberal elites have a poor grounding in market economics so they swallow the idea that health-care insurance is “unique” because others’ purchases affect your cost of goods. (Surprise: all markets operate this way.) They advance illogical and counterfactual arguments (e.g., withdrawing a 100 percent subsidy for health care to seniors is a “mandate”) because they are unused to vigorous debate that upsets their preferences dressed up in a thin veil of factual distortion. (Sorry, taking away a freebie is not remotely the same in logic or in law as requiring you purchase something.)

Conservatives, well aware of the intellectual deterioration of liberal institutions, have spent decades pursing supplemental education in think tanks, the speeches and writings of public intellectuals (e.g., Irving Kristol, James Q. Wilson), professional organizations (e.g., the Federalist society) and classrooms of intellectually rigorous scholars (e.g., Robert P. George, Harvey Mansfield and Richard Epstein). In doing so, they sharpened their rhetorical kills, versed themselves in history and political philosophy, and prepared themselves for intellectual combat against those who had rejected the idea of objective meaning, be it in literature or the Constitution. In moments like the Supreme Court argument we see how vast is the gulf between conservative and liberal elites.

Just another example of Haidt’s thesis.

6 thoughts on ““Unilateral Intellectual Disarmament”

  1. Annoying Old Guy

    There was a time (say, 1890-1930 or so) when “Progressives” had actual intelligence and good arguments. When proponents held the advantage in public discussion. The problem for them is that their policies turn out to not work in reality and in the aftermath of the 20th Century socialism is no longer a bright possible future but a dismal past and decaying present. I am not sure they disarmed themselves or the 2×4 of reality beat it out of them.

  2. JJS

    They are armed with the same ammo they bring to every debate. “Shut up..Your mean and stupid!!!”

  3. Bilwick

    “There was a time (say, 1890-1930 or so) when ‘Progressives’ had actual intelligence and good arguments.”

    I question the “good arguments” part (any justification I’ve ever heard or read for picking A’s pocket to give to B has always fallen apart when put to logical questioning); but at least they made rational-sounding arguments. (Empasis on “sounding”. Even as late as the early or mid Sixties, “liberals” would at least try to appeal to reason, even if their premises were faulty. (They got away with it because “conservatives” of that era rarely questioned those premises, but either accepted them or gave them a religious spin, and questioned only the likely results.) I’m old enough to remember when “liberals” on campus were generally among the more intelligent people I’d meet in college, even if they didn’t quite have the monopoly on smarts that they thought they had.

    Nowadays, it’s amazing to this codger how unbelievably stupid most “liberals” are. As a scan of their comments on this message board will testify.

    “I remember when ‘liberal’ meant being generous with your own money”–Will Rogers.

  4. Dale Amon

    The same has been true for Libertarian thought. We’ve built up our think tanks and our white papers and learned how to rhetorically defend ourselves when we are a tiny minority. The tools and the education are now helping us beat the crap out of folk who have no better intellectual argument than to fall back on name calling and innuendo. While not 100% true, I find the vast majority of the left these days does indeed have the intellectual capacities of a brain damaged hyena.

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