Saturday, 3 August 2013

There’s a growing consensus on the Right that arguing with lefties is a complete waste of time

Yes, I know I’ve made this point before, most recently while writing about American psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind (here) in which he convincingly argues that left-wingers and right-wingers’ moral assumptions and concerns are so different, it guarantees mutual incomprehension. But three things have had me brooding about the subject again in recent days.

First I made the mistake of getting involved in a spatette on a friend’s blog with some leftwing Canadian female (how those three words taken together lower one’s spirits). I was making what I thought were some interesting points about how certain racial groups and countries are never forgiven for past “crimes” (whether real or imaginary) – and this woman fires back with scads of the usual sort of hysterical lefty verbiage that sounds clever but doesn’t actually say anything except YOU’RE WRONG YOU’RE WRONG YOU’RE WRONG, mixed in with insults (my analogies were “useless”) and a mystical insight into my motivation for writing such tripe (I was posing as a victim of racism, apparently, while accusing other people of racism – paranoid, you see).

I shot off an intemperate response, at which point she posted another comment making exactly the same points she’d made before, incorporating the same mixture of pomposity, snideness and pop psychology: she’d hurt my feelings, apparently. My response – which could act as my response to all left-wingers, was this:
I've just remembered why I gave up arguing with liberals. It's unrewarding, because you never get to hear anything new, and by the time you've struggled your way through a blizzard of vaguely clever sounding phrases, you realise there's no core argument there - just a blizzard of vaguely clever-sounding phrases designed to save face. Don’t worry – my feelings aren’t hurt, I’m just bored.
Some more incomprehensible nonsense followed from my attacker (after she’d thought about it for three days), but as it was even less illuminating than what she’d written before, and as I didn’t wish to engage in any more unseemly brawls on my friend’s site, and as I meant it when I said I was bored, I decided to withdraw from the fray (Leave ‘er, Scott – she’s not worf it!).

Yesterday, the Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan wrote an excellent post entitled “Hatred is terribly important to a certain kind of Leftie” (here), following a Twitter spat with prominent eco-maniac George Monbiot:

Monbiot: Could you help me construct a word for people who hate the natural world? Equivalent of misanthrope. Anyone with Greek 
Hannah: Do you truly believe that people who disagree with the green agenda – some of them at any rate – ‘hate the natural world’? 
Monbiot: I think some of them do, unless it is completely controlled by people.
Hannan comments:
Ponder what is being claimed here. Can you seriously imagine looking at an unspoilt landscape – a spectacular waterfall in a pine forest, say – and saying to yourself, ‘Ugh! What this place really needs is a car park, or a tower block, or a wind farm’? Does anyone – any real people, I mean, not the nameless Texan character in The Simpsons – think that way?
(Yes, they do – they’re all on the Left: just look at the myriad environmental horrors committed by every communist government that has ever existed.)

Recently, James Delingpole, during one of his excellent radio shows broadcast on the right-wing US Ricochet website, wondered whether it was really worth arguing with Warmists any longer, because he was beginning to feel sullied by contact with such mendacious, unpleasant, hate-filled, irrational people. Today, he followed that up with an excellent post on, entitled “Why there’s no point arguing with lefties” (here).
[Lefties] don’t get us because their minds are simply not programmed that way. Presented with any loosely right wing argument, their brains are quite incapable of weighing the pros and cons and then drawing a considered conclusion. They go simply: “Does not compute.” 
Or, rather, they go: “This argument is wrong because the person making it is wicked/stupid/mentally ill/badly brought up/misogynistic/racist”. Note that at no stage has any effort been made to grapple with their opponent’s logic, let alone concede the possibility that he might have a point. 
In my earlier days as a happy warrior for the right, I credited the enemy with more intelligence than they deserved. I thought it was no more than a cunning Alinskyite smear tactic. “Of course they don’t really believe it when they tar us as selfish, uncaring, cackling servants of Satan with dollar signs on our suits and cigars clamped between our teeth,” I told myself. “These are just convenient caricatures the left has devised for cheap emotional effect. No way do they take all that nonsense seriously, though. I mean, it’s not like we righties don’t explain the rationale behind our position in pretty much every article we write, every statement we make, on every subject ever.” 
My big mistake here, though, was to assume that lefties think with the same intellectual rigour as righties. But after more than a decade’s engaging with them in the trenches, mano a mano, I’ve reached the sorrowful conclusion that they just don’t. Never mind the intellectual rigour part: where lefties are concerned even the notion that they “think” is moot. “Feel”, yes. But picking their way through a lucid argument, examining the evidence, contemplating the possibility of unintended consequences, trawling through history, considering human nature and then reaching a sensible conclusion? These, in my experience, fall well beyond the purlieus of your average lefty’s skillset.
Spot on. When the person you’re arguing with refuses to even start to consider the merits of your argument, there is simply no point in continuing.

I’ll only add one point to what these Heroes of the Right have said. I’ve begun to suspect that the unpleasant, insulting verbiage that is the Left’s stock-in-trade is designed to act as a smokescreen for whatever the mainstream politico-media-academic liberal world-view happens to be at any given moment. With a few notable exceptions, left-wingers never ever produce original ideas – essentially it’s a set of variations on ideas and attitudes that were current during the French Revolution. That, of course, is why most left-wing books and articles are so numbingly boring – the author’s purpose is to maintain the status quo.

The reason I enjoy reading right-wing books and articles isn’t simply because I’m right-wing – for instance, I disagree with many of the views espoused by both Hannan (the man was initially enthusiastic about Obama, for God’s sake, and mists up whenever Oliver Cromwell’s name is mentioned!) and Delingpole (far too socially liberal regarding drugs and pornography for my liking). No, I enjoy reading right-wingers because their arguments tend to be based on facts, both physical and psychological, and they genuinely seem to want to make the world a better place. Left-wingers’ don't really seem to mind much whether the ideas they're propounding would improve our lot - the point of their  "ideas" is to make them feel morally superior - and their main aim appears to be to cover up the mass of inconvenient facts which don’t support their peculiar opinions: mention one of those facts  - e.g. the earth has stopped warming, most people on diabaility aren’t actually disabled, immigrants are a net drain on the economy, the NHS is so badly run it kills tens of thousands of patients, tax revenues increase if you lower marginal tax rates etc. - and the next thing they’ll be telling you your arguments are useless, or that you’re evil or psychologically damaged, or that you’re an ugly poo-poo face. (Hannan cites Charlie Brooker’s intelligent comments about James Delingpole as an example: ‘James Delingpole is a w*nk-writing f*ck-of-a-sh*t’. Brooker has just left the Guardian because it refused to censor the nasty comments people were posting beneath his articles!)

Professional politicians and journalists have to deal with the irrational rantings of these sad, deluded people – the rest of should simply ignore them. Life really is too short.


  1. Nope, very little to disagree with here. Admirable post. Could you contact your friend Delingpole and ask him to do a little bit of rain-dancing to-morrow?

  2. Delingpole's rain-dancing has evidently done the trick. I'm not sure whichi is better - beating Australia handsomely to retain the Ashes, or via a thoroughly undeserved draw courtesy of the weather. Whatever, it's a sweet feeling. I trust you are busy emailing all your Australian friends to commiserate.