March 11, 2013

Crisis: The ideological ape in action
"There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes that truth is relative."
-- Opening sentence Allen Bloom's "The Closing of the American Mind"
"Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no outrage - torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonments without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians, which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side." (The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, vol 3, p. 419)
"Science never cheered up anyone. The truth about the human situation is just too awful."
-- Kurt Vonnegut

1. What's wrong with Rand Paul?
About ME/CFS


You'll find yesterday's entry about the mB12-protocol that I use here.

Today I take up my Nederlog for March 7, that was entitled Crisis: End of the rule of law in the US? - in which I may have committed what is for some self-styled US liberals the unpardonable gaffe of praising Rand Paul.

1. What's wrong with Rand Paul?

As it happens, I praised Rand Paul before, and on similar grounds as on March 7 last, namely in December 2011. Here is the item:
Rand Paul speeches on Sixth Amendment

Yesterday I wrote about the U.S. Senate's apparent majority desire to castrate the Sixth Amendment. Here are two articles about it, the first brief and the second more comprehensive, longer and considering possible implications:

And here is a speech by Rand Paul, the son of Ron Paul, about the subject. It takes 9 minutes:

My reasons for linking it are, first, that I liked the speech, though Rand Paul is not a great speaker, and is clearly reading from a prompter, but what he says makes sense, and second, not being American but European, that I find such persons as the Pauls, and such movements as the Tea Party and the Libertarians a bit strange, confusing and "typically American".

Note that I clearly stated then that I do not pretend to understand - most - US so called libertarians, and this is still the case. [1]

I did then not know that I might have committed what amounts to an unpardonable gaffe in the eyes of many self-styled US "liberals", "progressives" and/or  "democrats", though I might have guessed it if I had thought about it.

I know now, because Glenn Greenwald, who also praised Rand Paul's recent filibuster that I reported on March 7, ran into the same problem, which was very clearly seen and phrased by Orwell, in the above quote: If you are not One Of Us, you are One Of Them - for our loyalties and beliefs are dictated by our leaders and our belonging to Our Group.

Here is Greenwald on the problem in yesterday's The Guardian:
He gives good arguments, but I fear - based on decades of experiences with the self-styled Dutch academic "left", who turned out to be nearly all lying careerists who followed local political and moral fashions and who all helped leaders who might help them or their (academic) careers - this is not something one can settle by rational argument: It is a very widespread human shortcoming, viz. that most men are ideological apes, who follow leaders, and who are collaborators - conformists, careerists, hypocrites - rather than humane individuals. [2]

I have treated that theme quite a few times in Nederlog and in ME in Amsterdam (in Dutch mostly, except for my Spiegeloog-columns, that also are in English), simply because I ran into it time and again: Self-styled radicals, self-styled revolutionaries, self-styled leftists, who always spoke or wrote in very high moral tones and terms, and as if they invariably meant well and exactly knew what they were speaking about, but who time and again betrayed any ideal they stood for as soon as doing so served their own or their party's interests, and who turned out to be nearly all careerists, of precisely the same types as the men and women who made careers under Stalin and Mao - but without the excuse that they lived under a totalitarian dictatorship. [3]

Nearly all Dutch leftists of my - babyboomers - generation that I know of were not the moral men and women they pretended to be, and were not the marxist revolutionaries, nor the environmental idealists, nor the feminist liberators they pretended to be: They were all out for personal advantages, tenure, income, protection, preferment, careers, status, and money, and absolutely nothing else - which also is the reason almost none of them knew any of the texts of Marx or whoever else they appealed to in order to justify their own claims: They were not interested in ideas, they were not interested in ideals, they were into poltiics to improve themselves, by posturing, lying, lipserving, and by being loyal fools and willing executioners of whatever political leader that they believed could and might reward them.

And because in Holland - unlike in other European states - the universities were effectively in the hands of the radical left (in the local Communist and Labour parties) from 1970-1995 there were many academic posts to be pirated by a pretence of being the morally and politically right sort of person for it, for which reasons many posturers of my generation are still professors in a "science" they never cared for, and have been professors for decades, because it pays so well, is such an easy job, and gives so much status and so many privileges and perqs.

Apart from this, this phenomenon - the relativity of all values to the personal interests of the persons pretending them - probably also has a zoological foundation: To follow the group, to do a leader's bidding, to be loyal to Us whatever crimes and tortures We commit helps groups to continue to exist, helps leaders to continue to lead, and helps followers to get personal advantage.

Therefore only the rare few like Orwell judge political and moral matters in a non-partisan way, and keep seeing that torture is torture also if Our boys and girls do it, while the great majority lacks both the intellect to have, find or reason out  such a clear vision by themselves and also lack the personal motivation to be interested in truth and morality, rather than in postures and careers. [4]

And to answer my own question what's wrong with Rand Paul?: [5]

As far as I can see, and from the point of view of vast numbers of American self-styled "progressives", "liberals" and "democrats", his fundamental shortcoming is that he is "not one of
Us" - and so whatever he says, even it is just the same as Our Leaders said only a very short while ago, simply "must" be wrong, mistaken, immoral, reprehensible and no good at all.

Also, for nearly all concerned, this sort of conviction is a deeply moral sentiment: Loyalty to Our Leader and to Our Group trumps all truth and all morality, because for ordinary men and women what is true and what is good is not something they themselves decide, to the best of their abilities, in the light of such knowledge as they believe they have, but is something their leaders decide, in their enormous wisdom and goodness, and something that their followers feel proud to loyally leave to be decided by these paragons they so proudly follow in the name of the highest moral ideals.

It's a great pity, and one of the reasons I do not like politics, but it explains much about the socialist dictatorships of the 20th Century.
P.S. See my Spiegeloog-columns, and especially "Yahooism & democracy" for more on the topic of betraying ideals out of loyalty or for personal advantage. It is and was very common.

[1] I do not mean that I can't place them at all, and I am not ignorant about politics. I do mean that there probably are reasons for being (not) "a libertarian" that I don't really know because I am not an American, and I also never visited the US. Some American attitudes simply seem quite quaint from a European point of view, indeed regardless of one's political or moral convictions. (It probably is the same the other way round: Some widely shared European attitudes seem hard to get for many Americans.)
[2]""L'honnête homme, détrompé des toutes les illusions, est l'homme par excellence." -- Chamfort.
[3] This makes a considerable difference, though it is in the end probably mostly human nature to follow leaders, to be loyal to the group, and to look upon the world in a relativistic way, that is dictated by loyalties and interests rather than by truth or morality.
[4] If I escaped it, as seems quite clear from the careers I did not make in Holland, the reason is very probably genetical, also because my babyboomers generation, that betrayed so many ideals they pretended to stand for, had little to fear from being honest or moral.
[5] It is likely that I disagree with much he stands for. But that does not mean - logically speaking - that he can't be right in some important matter of principle.

About ME/CF
(that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

       home - index - summaries - mail

TOP of page
Maarten Maartensz - M.A. psy B.A. phi