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.