Patterico's Pontifications

10/11/2022

Constitutional Vanguard: Seeing the Best in Others

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:52 am



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.

Read it here. Subscribe here.

22 Responses to “Constitutional Vanguard: Seeing the Best in Others”

  1. Many people fighting for the Confederacy thought they were fighting for freedom against a tyrannical President. That their side enslaved people didn’t enter into their belief in freedom.

    Kevin M (eeb9e9)

  2. I wrote to you to thank you for this post, Patterico. It really represents how I feel these days, and I know I am not alone.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  3. Kevin M,

    Right now I am engaged in reading a history of secessionist thought from the 1830s to 1860, just to see if that would help me get a handle on Trump support and where all this might go. Hanging out at more right wing sites over the years, I do hear the rumblings of “Civil War” and have never taken it all that seriously. Maybe I should (though I can’t figure what the fight would really be over– a civil war over immigration?)

    I may post comments on what I am reading here. I’d like to get engagement, particularly from our flock of populists. I don’t own my own blog, so I’ll pollute this one.

    Appalled (b3f660)

  4. 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.

    Pat, you just helped me understand one of my best friends.

    He has always been bad at managing his finances. A 61-year-old lifelong renter. He does the same thing with vehicles. He leases cars instead of buying them. (It’s all about the monthly payment, yo!) He is passionate about collecting baseball cards, and has about 90 boxes of them.

    Over the years, he has complained to me and my other best friend (yes, we are a trio of friends ever since college days) about money being tight, and how he stresses over paying rent. Meanwhile, he kept buying baseball cards.

    One day, this other friend cracked a great joke. He said X complaining about having no money is like a guy in India whining about having nothing to eat while a cow walks by. I laughed so hard at this, because the baseball cards are as holy to my friend as cows are in India.

    I begged this other friend to let me tell this joke to X. I did so, and a light bulb went off. Guess what? He started selling some of his cards! He now has a reliable source of monthly income.

    He now claims that it was his plan all along to build up a collection of cards, so that he could sell them and have a source of income! Oh really, X? Then why did it take a joke to cause such a change?

    Yes. He wants to be the hero in his own story. He has manifested this phenomenon in other areas as well. He is a very happy and optimistic guy. Maybe I should emulate him.

    norcal (a1f318)

  5. > the real ethical problem was allowing the friendship happen to begin with.

    I want to push back on this, a little bit. I think it’s an important thing that we develop friendships in our working lives; this is a human tendency and trying to fight against it encourages the development of unhealthy emotional patterns.

    The trick is to have it be understood that the demands of work come before the friendship and are not altered as a result of the friendship.

    aphrael (4c4719)

  6. I am not a christian, so I do not feel like it’s appropriate for me to opine on christian theology.

    That said, the way I was taught christianity by my christian mother is that one of the key tenets is >>love your neighbor as yourself<< and that is something that I have always strived — and failed, for I am human, and imperfect and flawed — to do.

    I truly believe that it is only by accepting and loving one another that we can help each other grow and change and heal, and the difficulty many of my friends on the left have in setting aside their righteous anger on behalf of those they love, to see and love the humanity in those at whom they are angry, is a constant source of frustration to me.

    aphrael (4c4719)

  7. Do you know why their is a southern baptist and southern methodist church? Before the civil war they broke from their churches over slavery which they thought was god’s will. Only since trump did you have a problem with nixon’s and reagan’s southern strategy of bringing ignorant southern white trash democrat populists into the republican party for their votes. When reagan got the nomination in 1980 and gave his first campaign speech in phildelphia mississippi where the 3 civil rights workers were murdered welcoming the klansmen into the party for their votes. The republican party did not denounce reagan. You have sown the wind so don’t complain about reaping the whirlwind! The donor class thought they could buy the candidates loyalty to their free trade economic libertarianism with god (abortion) guns and gays. Trump had money too and couldn’t be bought off. 20% of the party could only control the other 80% of the party for so long. Never trumpers are outcasts that nobody wants like liz cheney.

    asset (738a90)

  8. When they go low we go high BS. How well did that work out in 2016 michelle? Now ron johnson with his huge amount of money is running racist willie horton type ads against Mandela Barnes ginning up racism in wisconsin. Instead asking his supporters to go and protest johnson events, campaign offices and signs he appeals for them to take the high road and say shame on you! No wonder democrats are seen as weak. The black community needs to play hard ball with this racist and not listen to Barnes and the donor class and their running dogs in the democrat party say lets play nice!

    asset (428530)

  9. Right now I am engaged in reading a history of secessionist thought from the 1830s to 1860

    I found “The Coming Crisis” to be a fine discussion of the reasons.

    Kevin M (eeb9e9)

  10. Wasn’t “running dogs” a favorite locution of Mao Zedong?

    lurker (cd7cd4)

  11. I wrote to you to thank you for this post, Patterico. It really represents how I feel these days, and I know I am not alone.

    Simon Jester (c8876d) — 10/11/2022 @ 8:18 am

    +1

    lurker (cd7cd4)

  12. @10 The communist cell was developed to take heavy casulties and keep on going. Most revolutionary movements are led by the survivors in leadership like cuba’s castro and che instead of frank pais. The french revolution ended up with napoleon. Mao, Ho, Lenin, Stalin, Ortega bros, Trotsky, Giap and Lin Bao were the survivors. On several occasions Gen. Washington escaped being killed and might have been replaced by gen.benedict arnold or worse.

    asset (428530)

  13. If we accept the fiction that the media serves the “public’s right to know”, and on top of that, that they are some kind of monastic order who have taken holy vows to serve no other cause except the public’s right to know, then I suppose we could fault Nina Totenberg for apostasy, hypocrisy, and down-right oath-breaking.

    But I suppose neither of those things, and therefore find no fault in Nina not snitching out RBG.

    nk (211f5c)

  14. Wasn’t “running dogs” a favorite locution of Mao Zedong?

    In glorious people’s socialist workers paradise, is dog is running or dog is dinner, comrade.

    nk (211f5c)

  15. “seeing the best in others”

    I have to chuckle about how we (the big “we”) choose to behave on social media. Because in many instances, it’s just not how we would act in person. In person, we care about how people view us and we are slow to abuse others because of how it makes us look.

    If you are in a bar seeking to unwind after a long day, would you get up in someone’s face with this or that ideological nonsense? The normal dynamic would be to strike up a conversation and find commonality. And even if two people are on opposite extremes of the political spectrum, the goal is still to be civil and not be strident. We may want to persuade, and in the process, appreciate the other person’s perspective. We don’t presume someone is evil, an idiot, or that they need a stern lecture about “how it really is”. We probably bite our lip a bit because, again, we don’t want to come across as an a$$, and life is bigger than just politics. On social media, we want to be Right more than we want to be liked or be civil.

    On a side note, I never found the attraction of happyfeet’s brand of internet performance art. I know nk loves him. But, would you find it amusing to interact with that individual in person in the same manner, say in that imagined bar above? Maybe for an hour it would be amusing, but at some point I think (ok, I know) it would get annoying and tedious. Because at its heart, it lacks good faith. It’s more about amusing yourself and annoying people than it is about genuine interaction. It’s about not breaking kayfabe. Social media tends to not make us better people…we need less of it…and more reality…

    AJ_Liberty (5f05c3)

  16. AJ, it is like Yelp. And this particular bit (cued up) is what is wrong with social media.

    https://youtu.be/CgUrRqQ2w_M?t=266

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  17. norcal (a1f318) — 10/11/2022 @ 12:13 pm

    He now claims that it was his plan all along to build up a collection of cards, so that he could sell them and have a source of income! Oh really, X? Then why did it take a joke to cause such a change?

    Maybe he had this idea as a possibility, all the time, but he never wanted to do that, and he never felt the time was ripe.. If he didn’t have that in mind (at least as an excuse to spend so much money) why would a little mention have been enough to spur him into action?

    It might be realized he had extras.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  18. AJ_Liberty (5f05c3) — 10/12/2022 @ 6:01 am

    In person, we care about how people view us and we are slow to abuse others because of how it makes us look.

    What is this talking about? If there is somebody there who would not like it.

    The normal dynamic would be to strike up a conversation and find commonality.

    Sometimes at the expense of other people not there, who you don’t imagine would hear what you say, especially if the conversation is in Spanish and you are president of the Los Angeles City Council.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  19. Gov. desatan under federal investigation for misusing covid funds for transporting illegal aliens. (DU)

    asset (cc5604)

  20. I enjoyed the read.
    Thank you

    steveg (173483)

  21. Maybe he had this idea as a possibility, all the time, but he never wanted to do that, and he never felt the time was ripe.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 10/12/2022 @ 12:29 pm

    Perhaps. However, I talk to him all the time, and if anything he’s an oversharer. He never mentioned this possibility prior to the joke.

    You don’t understand. He reveres the other friend, and humor can be very powerful.

    norcal (a1f318)

  22. Here’s a coincidence: Patterico published this post on Tuesday, and on the same day the New York Times published this article, describing how President Biden’s desire to connect with audiences often leads him to tell stories that aren’t true, in whole or part.

    For more than four decades, Biden has embraced storytelling as a way of connecting with his audience, often emphasizing the truth of his account by adding “Not a joke!” in the middle of a story. But Biden’s folksiness can veer into folklore, with dates that don’t quite add up and details that are exaggerated or wrong, the factual edges shaved off to make them more powerful for audiences.

    They quickly add that he isn’t as bad as Trump (few are):

    Former President Donald Trump lied constantly, not only about trivial details (suchas insisting it hadn’t rained during his inauguration when it clearly had) but about consequential moments — misleading about the pandemic, perpetrating the “big lie” that Biden stole the 2020 election and claiming falsely that the Capitol was not attacked by his supporters on Jan. 6, 2021. Biden’s fictions are nowhere near that scale.

    And we listen to other people’s stories. Biden is said to be one of our better “retail” politicians, and I think one of the reasons is the stories he tells.

    But here’s the fundamental problem with story-telling: It often leads to non-rational thinking. We hear, or see, a powerful story, and we draw general conclusions from it. We think “fast” and easy, instead of “slow” and hard. If that last sentence isn’t clear to you, go buy a copy of Kahneman’s book.

    (I pasted that article selection from the version published by the Buffalo News, since it isn’t behind a paywall.)

    Jim Miller (85fd03)


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