We need an Orwell to offer some psychological explanation for why an Al Gore, who gobbles up carbon-based power in his mansion and private jet, continues to harangue the less well off about their energy profligacy and threats to the planet, or why a John Edwards, who just finished a towered 28,000 sq. foot palace, claims Jesus would find us unforgiving to the poor, and serially speaks in terms of two nations, rich and poor.
Is this disconnect explained by an easy means of alleviating guilt over their own largess through cosmic preaching about the inequality and selfishness of others?
Or is it a genuine notion that as a crusading Senator and trial-lawyer they have battled enough for the less well off to justify some small compensation for their ongoing labors?
Or is it a clinical schizophrenia in which one side of the Mother Teresa brain has no connection with the Donald Trump other?
It may be all or none of the above clinical syndromes, but I refer to it as the political left's "theory of relativity." Al Gore is just one of the more recent relativists who believe in the theory.
For Democrats and the left, there is no "disconnect" or even cognitive dissonance about such contradictions. As a group that wholeheartedly subscribes to moral relativity and subjective ethics, it makes perfect sense that they have no problem with any "moral authority" as long as that authority just happens to agree with and justify their beliefs.
After all, if morality is relative; if truth is subjective and there is no objective "good" or "bad"; then why bother to look any further?
Let us look at their tactics to try to understand the underlying psychological motivations in this obvious contradiction.
Cindy Sheehan is a prototype of an "absolute moral authority" on the Iraq war because her son was killed in Iraq. To the leftists, it doesn't matter that there are hundreds--even thousands--of parents who happen to believe the opposite from Sheehan about the war. The only opinion that matters and conveys "authority" is one that they agree with.
Ann Coulter is [rightly] criticized by the left--and the right-- when she inappropriately shoots her mouth off about John Edwards; but there is a deafening silence on the left (except for laughter at the cleverness of it all) when Bill Maher is even more inappropriate and publically expresses "sorrow" that terrorists did not succeed in assasinating the Vice President. No relativity of opinion there.
This article discusses the frequent leftist accusation of being a "chickenhawk" if you support the war but have not been a veteran; or have not lost a loved one or sent your own "children" off to fight in the war. John Murtha is one who makes this accusation. He has the proper moral authority, because he fought in Vietnam. So does John Kerry. The other 25% of the Congress who served in the military have no such authority (because they disagree with Murtha and Kerry perhaps?); and the opinions of the vast majority of the grown-ups who are actually doing the fighting for the American public are unimportant. You might as well call Al Gore and most of the environmentally righteous "chickengreens" as one blogger, noting the left's hypocrisy has.
In all three of these cases, the persons in question have become the left's vocal "moral authority" because they happen to agree with the left's beliefs about the key political issues and are anti-Bush , anti-Republican, along with varying degrees of anti-Americanism and anti-capitalistism thrown in for good measure.
What these three examples (and there are many more) have in common is both a breathtaking subjectivism and relativism in one breath; and ideological absolutism in the next.
They all demonstrate the inherent philosophical and psychological contradictions that the postmodern left exploits in order to achieve political power. They are perfectly aware that their positions don't make any sense and can be refuted by anyone with basic knowledge of logic and logical fallacies; but their goal is to maintain the psychological denial necessary to believe in the left's ideology. Interpreting this defense and exposing it is essential to countering that ideology.
Stephen Hicks asks this important question (page 184):
The pattern therefore raises the question of which side of the contradiction is deepest for postmodernism. Is it that psotmodernists really are committed to relativism, but occasionally lapse into absolutism? Or are the absolutist commitments deepest and the relativism a rhetorical cover?
The possibility that the relativism is primary can be ruled out with some thought. If the modern leftist truly embraced relativism, then you would not see the uniformity of their politics. Hicks again:
If subjectivity and relativism were primary, then postmodernists would be adopting political positions across the spectrum, and that simply is not happeniing.
Indeed. Thus we must conclude that the moral relativism that characterizes the left's equation of terrorism with America; deliberate targeting of innocents with herculean efforts to spare innocent life; Bush with Hitler; Iraq with Vietnam; and the use of the global warming debate (and it is still a debate) to morally impugn their critics, while exhibiting the most obvious hypocrisy themselves--all this suggests that these issues are are simple rhetorical devices that are used to manipulate and forward their socialist / totalitarian agenda.
The truth is that the postmodern leftists don't need to believe anything that they say. In fact, they can easily ignore evidence that contradicts their arguments; never acknowledge that their arguments (or more precisely, their beliefs) have been debunked and; and ultimately they can simply redefine words or resort to word games (the various meanings of "is" for example); or move the goalposts (those aren't the WMD's we were looking for) when convenient.
The word games and much of the use of anger and rage that are characteristic of much of their style can be a matter--not of using words to state things that they think are true--but rather of using words as weapons against and enemy that they still hope to destroy.The usefulness of the theory of relativity is that all issues can be brought up over and over again at the appropriate time to get your opponents or critics off your back and get some breathing space.
If your opponent accepts that the debate is a matter of opinion or semantics, then your losing the argument does not matter: nobody is right or wrong. But if your opponent does not accept that everything is a matter of opinion, then his attention is diverted away from the subject matter at hand--namely politics--and into epistemology. For now he has to show why everything is not merely semantics, and that will take him awhile.We see this done cyclically. No issue is every resolved. When the left realizes it is in a losing position, it simply backs off until it is opportune to revive the argument. And then they start back at the same points which were countered and try again, this time with more passion and outrage.
This theory of relativity works very well for them.
You might want to remember all this when the cycle of gloom, doom and quagmire starts up again.
It's just a matter of opinion or semantics anyway. Right?