Constitutional Vanguard: Seeing the Best in Others
See it as a hokey post full of naivete, or a broadside at Twitter. The one thing it isn’t, is short. Clocking in at over 4,500 words, there’s hopefully something interesting in it for everyone. If nothing else, you should get some ideas for good books to read or podcasts to listen to.
The post starts with explaining how Stanley Kubrick performs the Ludovico technique on the viewers of his movie A Clockwork Orange. It then takes us into a discussion of trying to see the best in other people — and how Twitter interferes with that. Mixed in there are various digressions I hope you find interesting, including a discussion about why smart people believe crazy things. Excerpt:
Harris asked Storr what he believes is behind such insanity. His answer was essentially that we are all storytellers, and when we tell ourselves the story of our lives, we all want to be heroes. So our brain’s incredible capacity to engage in motivated reasoning is often tasked with the job of minimizing facts that interfere with our conception of ourselves as heroes. Irving, the Holocaust denier, didn’t decide to be evil. He thought he had stumbled on an untold story and sacrificed his reputation and even his freedom to tell it. (Australia locked him up for his beliefs, which is something we don’t do here.) Even though in reality he was a deluded fool, in his mind, he was a hero.
That seems to fit a lot of the insane “New Right” orthodoxy these days, doesn’t it? There is a thread that runs through many of the beliefs of the Trumpy New Right: a belief in promoting “freedom”—a noble and praiseworthy goal in the abstract — that becomes twisted and perverted into the sort of wild beliefs that motivate people to gather at the U.S. Capitol to “take back their country” by force if necessary. The people at the Capitol who believed with their whole heart that they were taking action to remedy a stolen election were the heroes of their own story. They were the New Revolutionaries: ready, willing, and able to spill the blood of a few cops in order to water the tree of Donald Trump’s liberty, and stop the lawful counting of votes for the other guy.