Thursday, June 20, 2013

Atlantic: Why Do People Have to Make Stuff Up?

I have found it interesting how many people have truly strange conspiracy theories about big money and libertarianism.

The other day I got a very angry letter from a colleague, claiming that the Koch Foundation was trying to take over NC politics.  I checked (by googling) the source.  And it was a fund-raising letter from Sen. Kay Hagan.  The point being that fund-raising letters by their nature are designed to use scare tactics, and have no obligation to be truthful.  I asked for evidence that the CGKF was trying to "buy" NC politics, and my colleague sent back something about Art Pope.  Ma'am, those are different people, and Art Pope lives in NC.  Lots of rich people (including my colleague who was sending these notes, by the way) had made contributions to NC politicos.

Now, the Atlantic has a piece wondering why people need to make up these bizarre stories.  The answer appears to be that folks on the left need, actually psychologically NEED, to think they speak for "the people."  They have never met the people, and they actually think the people are morons who need protection designed by smart leftists, but okay.  So when a leftist encounters someone they disagree with, their first instinct is to believe that the disagreer can't possibly ACTUALLY believe those things.  S/he must be getting paid.  And they must be getting paid by...the KOCHS.  Because the Kochs are everywhere.   (What about Soros?  Well, that money goes to leftists, and they are telling the truth.  So that money is not the same as the Koch money, which is for EVIL).

This argument gives two useful things:  1.  A bogeyman, a single enemy; and 2.  An explanation why someone might disagree (they don't REALLY disagree, but they are being bribed to pretend to disagree, with the claims of the left).  Since no smart, reasonable person could POSSIBLY disagree with a leftist, who cares so much about the people, and who knows the truth with scientific certainty.


James Oswald said...

Sounds too ad hominem for my tastes. Is the article trying to close the minds of those who agree with them or open the minds of those who disagree?

Old Odd Jobs said...

Take 1000 people who identify as left wing. Take another 1000 who identify as right-wing.

Ask a bunch of questions.

I'm pretty sure you'll find MORE people on the left who believe that their opponents are lying, bought, evil etc. That's my claim. Just more.

Obviously this go right back to Marx. When you favour capitalism, you are a "capitalist" i.e an owner of capital. Hence, you have "interests". When you are a socialist, you simply stand up for society. This point of view is the D.N.A of left-wing thought.

As Mises puts it in his book on Marx: "a refusal to consider the possibility of dissent among honest people; either you think as I do, or you are a traitor"

Thomas W said...

A lot of this has nothing to do with political ideology. Take the above blog, replace "left" with "right", "Koch" with "Soros", and make a few judicious edits. The result will be just as true.

The left tends to take any organization which gets money from the Koch brothers (no matter how long the chain of intermediate groups) and declare it to be part of the Koch's plot to take over the country. The right does the same thing with George Soros (but this group is funded by another group which is funded by a third group which gets part of its money from Soros, so it's part of the conspiracy).

Squarely Rooted said...

"The answer appears to be that folks on the left need, actually psychologically NEED, to think they speak for "the people." They have never met the people..."

Uhhhhh...are you referring to the 51.1% of "the people" who re-elected Barack Obama as their president? I haven't met them all, either, but they seem to think that politicians on the left and their ideas are just fine.

More generally, cranky rants describing disparaging millions of people don't really make left-leaning-but-open-minded people such as myself want to continue reading your blog.

alanstorm said...

" I haven't met them all, either, but they seem to think that politicians on the left and their ideas are just fine."

So 51% of voters were gullible enough to buy BO's BS.

Apparently, you have a problem with someone pointing this out.

"left-leaning-but-open-minded"? Don't think the open-minded description applies, if you are unwilling to examine what he said and choose to be offended by the manner of presentation. In addition, I've never met a left leaning person with an open mind, although a lot claim it.