Year: 2013

The Effects of Emotional Reasoning in Progressive Society

Progressives tend to believe that their feelings are inherently noble.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief is as follows, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• Our feelings are inherently noble.

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• We are unlikely to be wrong because we are inspired by our inherently and transcendentally noble feelings.
• We should follow our feelings rather than external beliefs.
• If it feels good, it’s okay.
• If it feels good, it should be publicly expressed. The need for privacy is illegitimate and comes from fear.

 

People who engage in emotional reasoning believe that what they feel must be true.

Cognitive psychologists talk about a distorted thinking pattern called emotional reasoning. People who engage in emotional reasoning believe that what they feel must be true. It is usually applied to falsely negative thoughts and feelings, but also explains falsely positive thoughts and feelings.

Progressives’ tendency to believe their emotions is emotional reasoning at work. When emotions become truth, hedonism results. “If it feels good, it’s okay” is an unconscious newthink belief. Nobody likes a scold; everybody likes to have fun. But, as recent history demonstrates, newthinkers under the influence of this seductive belief trust that what feels good is good and tend to ignore the consequences. Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone argues that the boomer generation prefers values over rules, being on their own over being on a team.* The resultant hedonism, a persistent trait of progressive society, led to the “Do Your Own Thing” trend of the 1960s, the Me Decade of the 1970s, and the hook-up youth culture of today. While 96 percent of baby boomers were raised in religious homes, 58 percent of them abandoned their religion, and only about one-third of those have since returned. Meanwhile, materialism has soared: in 1970, about 40% of college freshmen rated having lots of money as quite important, but by 1987 that number was about 75%.** Unfortunately, hedonism leads to narcissism, and narcissism eventually leads to unhappiness – another persistent trait of progressive society. The rate of depression has increased by about 10 times in the last two generations.***

A second result of the emotional reasoning of newthinkers is the incremental “pornification” (a term coined by Laura Ingraham) of progressive culture. To newthinkers, because sex feels good, it is good. Therefore, there’s nothing wrong with open sexual display in public, with sex between teen-agers, with sex in the media, with sex without marriage. For millennia, the most common tactic an unscrupulous young man attempting to seduce a young woman might use is to convince them that they are in love. Young progressive men no longer need to use that ploy due to progressive promiscuity. Progressive women are the dupes of the biggest seduction in history: the indoctrination of young women into the belief that unless they adopt the more uninhibited sexual inclinations of young men instead of the naturally more conservative inclinations of young women, they are repressing their true feelings and acting subordinate to men.

Thirdly, widespread emotional reasoning among progressives leads to narcissism. Since feelings are noble, more attention is paid to them, which means more attention is paid to the self: thus the narcissistic streak within the progressive worldview.

Finally, newthinkers’ habitual emotional reasoning leads to chronic blaming. If all feelings are considered noble, negative feelings such as envy, anger and hopelessness must be justified by the object. For instance, one might unconsciously feel envy and think, “He is wealthier – he must have exploited to obtain his wealth.” Or one might feel hurt and angry, and think, “He has hurt me – he must be a bad person.” Or one might feel hopeless and think, “Everything seems stacked against me – the system must be biased.” As in all these cases, instead of taking personal responsibility for negative feelings and working to change them, the newthinker’s negative feelings are validated, explained and blamed on an external cause.

* Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000), p. 258.

** Ibid., pp. 258-260.

*** Ibid., p. 261.

The Knockout Game: Thug Culture in Post-Civilized America

Here’s my definition of thug culture from a March 2013 post:

thug culture n : a social pattern characterized by the inherent tendency, especially in males, toward seeking social status based on violence, the maintenance of face, and primitive behavior

Civilization is the historical exception, not the rule. One need only peruse a book on ancient history to see the violence, slavery and degradation that were a part of everyday life. Western civilization and the American worldview slowly imposed civilization. But as the progressive worldview has taken over, the fabric of civilization has worn thin, and thug culture, the human norm, is re-emerging.

As David Geary points out in his book Male, Female, men universally compete for social status and for the control of resources which sustain reproduction. Throughout preindustrial societies, nearly one in three young men are killed during this competition, and those who have killed have gained a definite social asset in many or most prestate cultures.*

Thuggery is also an asset in the post-civilized subcultures emerging throughout America. The “knockout game” – in which a young thug, on video, tries to knock out an unwitting stranger with one punch — is a textbook example of thug culture. The thugs are seeking social status. In their subculture, social status is based on violence, primitive behavior and the maintenance of face.

Unfortunately, there’s an ethnic component to the knockout game, too.  Virtually all of the “gamers” are young blacks and the victims non-blacks.  A higher rate of violence is the norm in African-American neighborhoods: almost 40 percent of violent crimes are committed by young African-American men, who only comprise about 3 percent of the population.**  A young black man is 13 times more likely to commit a violent crime than the average American.  This statistic is the deplorable result of the progressive worldview’s effect on ethnicities who see themselves as oppressed.

The appalling savagery, unfairness and cowardice of these attacks is shocking to civilized people. But don’t worry — as civilization unravels, as newthink usurps Americanism — you’ll get used to it. After all, it’s the historical norm.

* David C. Geary, Male, Female, (Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2005), p. 318.

** Larry Elder, 10 Things You Can’t Say in America, (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), p. 43.

The Collective Journey to Utopia

Under newthink, the progressive worldview, social virtue is created by collective public action toward utopia.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We should celebrate human beings, not God.
• Humanity is the ultimate authority.
• Utopia is possible.
• Social virtue is created by collective public action toward utopia.

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• To achieve desirable social results, one should become part of a collective public organization and work toward one’s goals.
• Positive social action can be achieved through governmental, academic, media, union, and other organizations.

 

This belief in a collective progression toward utopia is the spark that inspires many newthinkers to shape their lives around their worldview. It animated the 1960s counterculture. Progressives imagine their heaven on earth with the same passion that traditional Americans imagined heaven.

Though traditional Americans believed that social good was created by serving God, country, community and family, progressives believe that social virtue is created by collective public action toward utopia. The green movement, for example, encourages everyone to recycle and reduce their “carbon footprint” in order to save the planet. The socialist movement treats the government as the solution for social inequity and envisions a future where everyone shares the wealth.

Traditional American society was like nature: a chaotic mess that miraculously worked. Progressive society is more like a beehive: a progressive hive of worker bees who toil steadily and tirelessly toward their utopian ideal.

Traditional American society was essentially an individual enterprise in which the group existed as a framework to uphold individual rights; progressivism is essentially a collective enterprise in which the individual subsumes himself to the group. Traditional American society was like nature: a chaotic mess that miraculously worked. Progressive society is more like a beehive: a progressive hive of worker bees who toil steadily and tirelessly toward their utopian ideal. The newthinking worker bees tend to be hard-working, intelligent, ideological, confident and positive in the pursuance of their often-unconscious goal. Every beehive owes its existence to its worker bees. The progressive takeover of most public organizations – universities, libraries, high schools, churches, government bureaucracies, etc. – has been accomplished by them.

Obamacare: Both Cynical Power Play and Sincere Struggle for Progressive Virtue

Obamacare is without doubt a power play – a political move designed to appropriate one-sixth of the U.S. economy into the government. As the medical sector is socialized, Washington’s politicians and bureaucrats gain significant wealth and power.

But government doesn’t create wealth; it only consumes it. So as the public sector grows, the private sector suffers; Washington and the state capitals thrive while the rest of the country withers. Payroll taxes will have to increase, perhaps double, to the level of comparable European systems in order to finance the single-payer, Medicare-for-all system which seems to be our destination. As doctors leave the system and bureaucratic costs rise, medical treatment will become more expensive, less available and lower in quality. Family budgets will incur hundreds of dollars more per month in health insurance and payroll taxes, and potentially thousands of dollars more per year in deductibles. The result? A substantial percentage of disposable family income will no longer be spent in the private sector. Budgets, whether a family’s or a nation’s, are not infinitely capable of absorbing hits like this. At some point they break. At some point the already fragile economy collapses.

So, given all the negatives, why is the socialization of America’s medical industry a priority for progressives? Is it just a cynical power play on the part of the Washington elite? To see it only this way is to miss a lot. Remember (see my last blog post), progressives tend to believe that utopia is possible. Many of them believe that Obamacare will eventually bring inexpensive (in some cases, free) health care to everyone. That this utopian ideal is unreachable doesn’t matter; that possibility is rarely even entertained. Universal health care is progressively virtuous. The struggle for progressive virtue is, to progressives, the important thing. Merely striving for progressive virtue in itself makes progressives feel virtuous.

This devout sense of progressive virtue is predominant outside of the elite. But don’t be so cynical that you can’t recognize this idealism, mixed with the duplicity that is necessary to pursue their unpopular aims, among the progressive elite too.

Progressive Utopia

Progressives tend to believe that utopia is possible.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief is as follows, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We should celebrate human beings, not God.
• Humanity is the ultimate authority.
Utopia is possible.

WorldviewTree_p068

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• It is only exploitative and oppressive groups that have kept a utopian reality from being created.
• Social virtue is created by collective public action toward utopia.

 
 

…to progressives, humans are inherently good, and since that is true, utopia is possible.

It’s too depressing, if humanity is the ultimate reality, to perceive that reality as evil or even flawed. We need our gods to be good. Therefore, to progressives, humans are inherently good, and since that is true, utopia is possible. Heaven can be relocated here on earth.

Progressivism, international socialism, national socialism, communism, fascism – any “ism” based on humanity – are all attempts to create their proponents’ version of utopia.

The Island of Utopia by Ambrosius Holbein
The Island of Utopia by Ambrosius Holbein

Progressives believe that a utopian America could already exist were it not for exploitative and oppressive groups that have kept it from being realized. Progressivism, international socialism, national socialism, communism, fascism – any “ism” based on humanity – are all attempts to create their proponents’ version of utopia. They all believed that to achieve their utopia they must destroy the group or groups oppressing them. International socialists blamed the bourgeoisie; national socialists blamed Jews; Italian fascists blamed Christianity and the upper class; communists blamed capitalists. Newthinkers, as we shall see, blame many of these and more.

Because of their belief in the possibility of an earthly utopia, newthinkers do not compare America to other actual societies in the present or past. In such comparisons, America would fare well. As Dennis Prager argues, progressives instead compare it, unfavorably, to a future utopia. All the features of this progressive utopia will become clear as this blog progresses. But, as I’ve already discussed, it will:

• Celebrate humanity rather than God
• Value youth and childish characteristics
• Revere physical health
• Venerate nature and all things natural
• Have very few limitations on public behavior
• Promote all cultural expressions equally (In other words, it will discourage any cultural expressions.)
• Promote all ideas equally (In other words, it will discourage the use of ideas.)
• Discourage tradition
• Value emotion over intellect
• Be concerned with popularity rather than right and wrong
• Elevate the importance of groups over individuals
• Be undemanding of individuals, as long as they don’t oppose the system
• Encourage collective action toward its goals

Why Appearances Tend to Be More Important than Reality to Devout Progressives

A devout traditional American sought the love of God. A devout progressive seeks the love of humanity; all you need is love.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We should celebrate human beings, not God.
• Humanity is the ultimate authority.
• It is important to be loved by humanity.

 

If humanity is the ultimate authority, then it is understandably important to be loved by our fellow humans. But there is another reason for newthinkers’ concern about receiving the love of humanity. Men have traditionally dominated the social macrocosm; women have dominated the social microcosm. Newthinkers perceive this as a subordinate position for women and an example of gender oppression. Thus, as they attempt to correct that perceived imbalance, evolutionary micro-feminine drives are increasingly transported into the macro world. One such drive, as David Geary points out in his book Male, Female, is the need for strong interpersonal relationships.* Women tend to be more oriented toward people, men tend to be more oriented toward things; thus the increased importance under the progressive worldview of the more feminine trait of valuing popularity and love.

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• Appearances are more important than reality.
• It is more important to appear lovable than to do the right thing.
• We must offend others as little as possible.

 

People can be fooled, but God can’t. So, when humanity is the ultimate authority, appearances are more important than truth.

When others’ love is based on what they think about us, what we appear to do is more important than what we actually do. Alternatively, when our actions are based on what is right under the omniscient view of God, what we actually do is important, not what we appear to do. People can be fooled, but God can’t. So, when humanity is the ultimate authority, appearances are more important than truth.

As appearances increasingly matter more than reality, popularity becomes essential. On an international scale, though traditional Americans usually thought it was more important that the world respect us than love us, newthinkers tend to feel that America should have the world’s approval before acting.

…unfriendly global non-progressives – such as Islamist terrorists – for whom the psychology of progressives is foreign, view this appearances-are-primary, need-to-be-loved attitude as a weakness, and use it against us.

The newthink focus on appearances leads to a desire to be loved by humanity that in turn creates a hesitancy to use power. This diminishes America’s strength: if you don’t use it, you lose it. Meanwhile, unfriendly global non-progressives – such as Islamist terrorists – for whom the psychology of progressives is foreign, view this appearances-are-primary, need-to-be-loved attitude as a weakness, and use it against us.

* David C. Geary, Male, Female, (Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2005), p. 326.

Good Health: The Dike that Holds Back Nonexistence

To devout progressives, health is of paramount importance because it is all that protects one from nonexistence.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We should celebrate human beings, not God.
• Humanity is the ultimate authority.
• God doesn’t exist.
• There is no afterlife with a reward or punishment for behavior in this life.
• Health is of paramount importance because it is all that protects one from nonexistence.

 

Concern about health is, well, healthy. But the degree of concern over health and fitness has, not coincidentally, tracked the growth of progressive society. Commercialized physical-culture made an exponential leap starting in the late 1970s.* The “Me Decade” strikes again.

Fitness CenterThe concern over fitness and physical attractiveness tends to trump traditional moral concerns in the personal lives of modern Americans. In one survey sample, 90% of American women counted a previous rape conviction in a potential partner as being less unappealing than obesity.**

Progressive concern for health is tantamount to concern over one’s soul in traditional American society. It’s logical: because newthinkers don’t generally believe in an immortal soul, their bodies are all that bind them to existence. No wonder health concerns are predominant among newthinkers – good health is the dike that holds back nonexistence.

* Dorothy Porter, “The Healthy Body,” Companion Encyclopedia of Medicine in the Twentieth Century, Editors (Cooter and Pickstone, 2003), p. 211.

** Ibid., p. 215.

Activist Atheists

activist atheism n : the social movement based on the beliefs that God does not exist and the worship of God is unvirtuous.

Activist Atheists:
Newthinkers who, because they believe God-worship is unvirtuous, actively oppose the idea of God and all religious institutions that worship God.

To devout progressives, God-worship becomes a progressively-unvirtuous anachronism that leads people astray from scientific reality and humanity-based principles. Activist atheism prods progressive magazine editors to create covers for their weekly news magazines with titles like “The Rise and Fall of Christian America.” While reports of the death of Christianity in America are exaggerations, away from the extreme of activist atheism, a great body of Americans is unconnected to church or synagogue. When backed against the wall by a pollster, they may admit to a belief in God, but that belief often has no social expression. Meanwhile, Activist Atheists are attempting to remove God from the public square. If they succeed, they will then attempt to remove God from society entirely.

But the path to a God-free society isn’t always easy for devout progressives. They take such care to deny the presence of God, but it can be troubling if his goodness is questioned. To newthinkers, God is their absent father; they are allowed to revile their father, but no one else better try it. In the novel Catch-22, Lt. Scheisskopf’s wife becomes upset and attacks Yossarian for ridiculing God. Yossarian asks why she’s upset, since she doesn’t believe in God. She insists she doesn’t, breaking into tears, insisting that the God she doesn’t believe in is good, not stupid and mean like Yossarian depicts him.*

Activist Atheists are attempting to remove God from the public square. If they succeed, they will then attempt to remove God from society entirely.

Devout newthinkers who have climbed high enough in the cognitive branches of newthink’s worldview tree to internalize the “God doesn’t exist” belief suffer from cognitive dissonance due to two contradictory unconscious beliefs: God is the absent father and God does not exist. An absent father is different from a father who doesn’t exist and never has existed. Newthinkers unconsciously and fundamentally believe in God the Father, but they also believe their father has abandoned them. This is deism, in which God exists, but is not active in the universe. When those who internalize newthink logic get to the point where they believe humanity is the ultimate authority and God doesn’t exist, the point where newthink’s deism becomes atheism, then one of the cornerstones of the newthink worldview – God is the Absent Father – is threatened. The dissonance between the belief in an absent God and the belief in a nonexistent God may be the catalyst toward a new worldview, one which I hope never emerges, in which a new universe metaphor denies the existence of God altogether.

The unconscious belief that God does not exist obviously has major effects as it spreads through society. One is a decrease in the influence of traditional religions. Traditional theologies tend to be dismissed by newthinkers as fantasies, psychological crutches, and/or cultural appendices. Newthinkers elevate science into a means of explaining everything, seen and unseen, in the universe. They unconsciously believe that science, since it comes from inherently noble humans, is therefore more true, powerful and insightful than religion.

Another dynamic is the progressive tendency to create messiahs out of mere mortals. The belief that God doesn’t exist leaves a hole in newthinkers’ psyches which they tend to fill with charismatic figures. As Jonah Goldberg argues in his book Liberal Fascism, progressives yearn for a leader in harmony with the people’s will.** In America, that yearning gave us Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama; in Europe, it produced less benign leaders.

Finally, this belief causes newthinkers to reject traditional principles. They have no foundation in newthink because God doesn’t exist; there is no reward or punishment in the afterlife for good or evil done in this life. In their place are the new principles of political correctness, based on emotion and the unconscious beliefs we are exploring. Unfortunately, as traditional morality declines, so does the pressure to conform to its high standard of conduct – and so does its attendant good behavior.

* Joseph Heller, Catch-22, (New York: Dell, 1962), p. 184.

** Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism, (Three Rivers Press, 2009), p. 23.

Atheism is Progressive Faith in the Non-Existence of God

Devout progressives eventually come to the conclusion that if humanity is the ultimate authority, then God must not exist, because he is by definition the ultimate authority. Under newthink, humanity takes on God’s role.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief, from the Godless Universe metaphor on up, goes like this:

• The Universe is a Home.
• God is the Absent Father.
• Transcendental goodness does exist.
• Transcendental goodness exists within us, not outside of us.
• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We should celebrate human beings, not God.
• Humanity is the ultimate authority.
• God doesn’t exist.

WorldviewTree_p062

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• Traditional God-based religions are fantasies, psychological crutches, and/or cultural appendices.
• The old God-based beliefs don’t apply anymore because we now know he doesn’t exist.
• Principles should derive from reason and feelings, not from an external and nonexistent God.
• Science rather than religion should be used to explain the ultimate nature of the universe.
• There is no afterlife with a reward or punishment for behavior in this life.
• Humanity takes the role formerly occupied by God.

 

Progressive society nurses a lot of anger toward God and “organized religion.” Part of this is because churches tend to be pillars of our cultural traditions. But there may be another more fundamental reason for newthinkers’ anger toward God than the cultural orientation of some churches. One of the three trunks supporting newthink’s worldview tree is the Godless Universe metaphor: The universe is a home; God is the absent father. The newthinkers’ Father, in whom they still unconsciously believe, has abandoned them. Just as a fatherless child grows up angry at its missing father, so does fatherless humanity nurse anger against its absent God. Among more devout newthinkers, that anger can become hatred. God’s status as an absent father helps explain the streak of God-hatred in progressivism.

As one climbs the newthink worldview tree, the unconscious idea that God is missing morphs into a belief in his nonexistence. Why do we stop believing in God? Because God is invisible and it’s easy to think he’s not there; because bad things happen and we blame him or doubt his existence; because we’re not always good and it’s easier to think he doesn’t exist than to admit our shortcomings; because there’s an initial ostensible feeling of freedom in believing no ultimate judge of our behavior exists. Given these disincentives for belief in God, the real surprise is not that atheism exists, but that religion does.

Atheism is every bit as much of a belief system as religion; neither can be proven. It’s purely a matter of faith – faith in the nonexistence of God.

If one is merely skeptical of the existence of God, agnosticism is the logical position. But the more devout newthinkers take another step: they believe in the nonexistence of God. Atheism is every bit as much of a belief system as religion; neither can be proven. It’s purely a matter of faith – faith in the nonexistence of God. Humans need to believe in something beyond themselves. If they start believing God is not home, then something must take God’s place. As G. K. Chesterton observed, those who stop believing in God do not believe nothing, they believe anything. For newthinkers, that “anything” is humanity. God ceases to exist and man attempts to sit on his throne. Atheism exists among nonbelievers because it enables the human need to believe in something beyond themselves – in this case, humanity as a whole. Atheism, which eschews religion, takes the place of religion in the human psyche.

Milestones on the Path of Humanism: Atheism, Narcissism and Solipsism

The belief that humanity is the ultimate authority is the essence of humanism.

The unconscious logic supporting this belief is as follows, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• We should celebrate human beings, not God.
• Humanity is the ultimate authority.

The unconscious logic branching out of this belief is:

• God doesn’t exist.
• It is important to be loved by humanity.
• Utopia is possible.

 

Along the path of humanism are milestones. The first milestone: If humans are the ultimate reality, then God is not. Newthink’s inherent belief system is atheism. The second milestone: If the ultimate reality is humanity, it’s only one step to believing that “the ultimate reality is me.” Remember how the 1970s, a period of huge progressive growth in America, was called the “me decade.” Narcissism is a common destination for newthinkers. The third milestone: If the ultimate reality is me, then it’s only one step to believing that “all reality exists only because of my perceptions.” Luckily, few progressives travel that far down the path.

Newthink’s inherent belief system is atheism, but humanity’s innate religious drive conflicts with this, resulting in a slew of pseudo-religious movements devoid of God…

Since humanity is the ultimate authority to newthinkers, as the progressive worldview takes over, those plumbing the inner reality of humans – psychologists, spiritual mentors – become part of a new humanistic priesthood. The more progressive psychologists are no longer just trying to understand and treat psychological illness; they are performing some priestlike duties, like explaining the divine (inherently noble human nature) to laypersons. Spiritual mentors pop up to fill the void left by priests and pastors. As James Hitchcock says, “Religion cannot be suppressed forever. If suppressed, it comes back, sometimes in bizarre and deformed ways.”* Newthink’s inherent belief system is atheism, but humanity’s innate religious drive conflicts with this, resulting in a slew of pseudo-religious movements devoid of God, part of what Hitchcock calls the cult of self-worship.

* James Hitchcock, What is Secular Humanism?, (Servant Books, 1982), p. 78.