Why Three Crazy Attacks Were Blamed on the Right
In the last post on this blog I included links to the website of Patrick Bedell. Because of the name of his blog, “Rothbardix,” and the content contained within, I concluded that Bedell’s politics were based on the libertarian philosophy of Murray Rothbard, a prominent thinker in the Austrian School of economics; a wing of the classical school of economics that has produced the essential conservative thinkers Ludwig Von Mises and Friedrick Hayek.
When I first conveyed the information about Bedell, I did so knowing that given the evidence about the sources of his political philosophy and the information contained on his website, that the Left would seize on this information in order to blame the Right and conservatives somehow for Bedell’s attack on the Pentagon. I did not think that there was any reason to defend Rothbard’s theories or to show whether Bedell had misinterpreted them or not. The fact that someone who was reportedly mentally ill decided to attack police officers at the Pentagon should speak for itself.
When I post such information my intent is to be as objective as possible, while I wait to see how far the Left will go in concocting their horror stories even before all the information is out. In the case of Bedell, the Left’s response was no different nor any more deliberative than the knee-jerk attacks blaming “right-wing” extremism for the death of census worker Bill Sparkman 2009 and the “falling down kamikaze” attacks committed by Joe Stack a few weeks ago. Without getting into a long list of examples, let this article by the Christian Science Monitor suffice to show the typical pre-fab template that is endemic to the liberal mind when it contemplates such events.
However, as has been proven here, Bedell was actually a registered Democrat.
Now, while it is tempting to rub their faces in it with this new information, much like I did in this post on the Sparkman case, like most conservatives, I am reluctant to play the blame game and infer by some massive stretch of credulity, that Bedell’s conspiracy theories and his registration with the Democratic Party proves that all such people and their philospohies are intrinsically violent and suggest they are a clear and present danger to the Republic.
Nevertheless, one must point out that the Left’s reactionary response to these three attacks and the fact they repeatedly followed the pre-fab template blaming “right wing extremism” without the evidence to prove it, suggests that there is something quite disturbed or disturbing about their world view. I think it has gotten to the point where we can see the results of living out the intellectual life on the squalls of theory, and it just may be that …dare I say… it has driven the Left a little crazy.
Is there any better explanation for those who continue to rely on an unproven invective and who, by doing so, are creating a very poisonous atmosphere for political debate in the country?
The Other McCain has written an article about this, and in it he suggests that in fact, the Left (yes, the entire Left) believes that their opposition is suffering from political psychosis. He writes:
Very little knowledge of Bedell’s personal story was necessary, however, for some people to construe his Pentagon attack as politically important. They had their explanations ready-made, thanks to an army of “experts” who had been warning since last year that political opposition to the Obama administration was inherently dangerous, rooted in irrational malevolence with an extraordinary potential for violence.
McCain then links back to an earlier article he published in the American Spectator where he discussed the origin of this belief amongst leftists. In December, Congressman Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island gave one of the most remarkable speeches in recent memory concerning health care reform. In that speech, Whitehouse relied on the theories contained in The Conspiratorial Style of American Politics by Richard Hofstadter written in 1965. He even read from the book while on the floor.
Ever since Obama was elected, the ideas contained in this book have been the preferred approach by the Left to attack conservative opposition to their agenda. There have been any number of left-wing pundits who have directly quoted from the book in attempts to explain the tea party and any number of others who clearly accept the book’s main premise. So much so, that it is clear that progressives use clinical psychology as a tool in their attacks against conservatives. For instance, here is one of the more..ahem.. extremist quotes from Whithouse’s floor speech:
Why all this discord and discourtesy, all this unprecedented destructive action? All to break the momentum of our young president. They are desperate to break this president. They have ardent supporters who are nearly hysterical at the very election of President Barack Obama. The ‘birthers,’ the fanatics, the people running around in right-wing militias and Aryan support groups, it is unbearable to them that President Obama should exist.
As McCain points out in his AmSpec article, Hofstadter based the theories contained in The Conspiratorial Style on the ideas of Theodor Adorno of the Frankfurt School. Adorno, a committed Marxist and leading light in the doctrine of Critical Theory, developed the convenient concept hat all political opposition to left-liberalism was rooted in psychological maladjustment; in effect that conservatism was pathological. In fact, Adorno’s most influential work, “the altarpeice” of the Frankfurt School, was his book The Authoritarian Personality, where he developed a subjective scale through which he claimed to be able to rate how those with middle class, conservative, or Christian values would support a racist and a pre- fascist politics.
The obvious subjectivity of Adorno’s theory has always posed a problem for empiricists. Many have questioned whether “authoritarianism” is a personality trait that can be measured scientifically at all. But others have challenged the theory on other levels. Shortly after The Authoritarian Personality was published, researchers in psychology recognized that the Frankfurt School failed to recognize authoritarian tendencies on the Left. This led to a whole range of studies-not necessarily rooted in psycho-analysis- that attempted to analyze political ideologies, some of which showed that adherents to left-wing ideologies displayed a higher tendency or degree of authoritarianism than the right-wing.
Due to the left-wing bias in American academia, many students have heard about Adorno, the Frankfurt School and Hofstadter’s The Paranoid Style. However, many have never been exposed to the field of psychological research that has shown left-wing ideology produces a high degree of authoritarianism. For instance, one of the most prominent studies was conducted in the 1950s by H.J. Eysneck. In his book The Psychology of Politics, Eysenck showed that the most authoritarian of the political groups studied were Communists. In other groundbreaking works, like The Uses and Abuses of Psychology and Sense and Nonsense, Eysenck showed how the application of psycho-analysis to social psychology was flawed. Eventually, Eysenck declared that Freudian psycho-analysis was a pseudo-science, and in light of the evidence, it should be dismissed as such. His 1992 book, Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire, details this idea.
Even though Eysenck’s findings should have called into question the theoretical foundations of books like The Paranoid Style long ago, other objective studies of political ideology should have also challenged the Left’s obduracy on this subject. For instance, a study conducted by Rokeach in 1960 developed a scale for dogmatism, a characteristic he found was possessed by those from all political ideologies. In another study, Balik and Kubat showed how left wing authoritarianism could be defined. Characteristics of left-wing authoritarianism feature:
1. A high degree of submission to authorities which attempt to subvert the authorities currently ruling in the given society.
2. Generalized aggression towards the established elites or those who support them.
3. A high degree of dedication to the norms accepted by the revolutionary authorities. Left-wing authoritarians are also dogmatic and ethnocentric. Chiefly, left-wing authoritarianism correlates with its right-wing counterpart.
So, even though I have a huge problem with the application of science, or as Eysenck would have it “pseudo-science,” to determining the nature of political belief and using it to predict political behavior, in light of the research, it is obvious that the idea of the authoritarian personality cannot be isolated to analyze only the political Right. That is intellectual dishonesty and politicized science writ large.
The Left has been using The Paranoid Style ad nauseum in order to bludgeon conservative criticism of Obama’s radical social agenda, and it is clear that their tendency towards dismissing the tea parties and other opponents as “crazy” and “dangerous” comes directly from the Marxist perspective bred in the laboratories of the Frankfurt School of Social Research. It is ironic that when leftist supporters of Obama bash conservatives for labeling him a socialist, they do this through an ideological prism developed by German Marxists.
As The Other McCain has shown, it is this ideological prism which is the source of the Left’s reactionary impulse to blame conservatives for any violence that appears political. However, as I have shown, there are many violent incidents that go unreported and are impliedly acceptable or considered “understandable” by the Left as violence is indeed, an aspect of its strategy.
It remains a mystery why conservatives haven’t acquainted themselves with the research on the authoritarian personality that has developed since The Frankfurt School’s original. In light of the development of the theory conservatives can use it to show how much the radical, violent and totalitarian modern Left is the really dangerous political movement in our times.
Because it extends beyond the mere ironic, conservatives should be making the case that the Left’s obduracy in repeatedly blaming conservatism for the recent attacks despite the evidence, is itself, a characteristic of the authoritarian personality discovered by social psychology. Instead of always being on the receiving end of high theory, conservatives could also use these discoveries to point out the authoritarian, violent, paranoid, and dangerous tendencies of various Marxist and leftist groups in history.
Need an example? How about this: