I’m getting pretty Trayvon’d out. This is going to go on forever, and get very, very ugly. A Texas gun rights group is trying to form a legal defense fund. Zimmerman will need the best and most aggressive attorneys, and it will be very expensive. But if it can be seen as a firearms lethal self-defense case, which it is, strictly speaking, rather than evil racist kills black honor student, it will draw a huge amount of money and talent. When it becomes possible to donate, I will kick in, and I hope those with even a few dollars to spare will also.
But on to the bigger issues. Those who take the system at its face value are following the Supreme Court hearing on Obamacare, which is not going as well as hoped for the federal government. Apparently for a long time leftist legal authorities- the only kind that count- have dismissed the possibility of an overturn. But the Supreme Court, even to some extent the liberals, have been more skeptical than expected.
At the Volokh Conspiracy, a widely read libertarian law blog, they wonder why the experts weren’t more attuned to the legal and political reality. They attribute it to the fact that law professors are encouraged to teach broad legal theories rather than actual law. Anybody can see why they do that- inventing novel legal theories such as legal realism and critical legal studies is what makes you famous and influential as a law professor, the kind who will confer and dine with judges and influence policy, and maybe become a judge yourself. Going through all those books on the shelf is scut work for clerks. You don’t get to invent completely new rights out of thin air, like gay marriage by doing that.
At Reason they come up with a deeper, and again pretty obvious but more sinister explanation- leftists can’t actually argue with people who disagree with them, because they don’t know what they think. I have always been puzzled by leftists complete inability to debate the smallest issue. In The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, liberal bad guy Ellsworth M. Toohey wins a debate in college- then has a rematch where he argues the other side, and wins again. Rand intended this to illustrate the slippery nature of leftists- they are more interested in manipulation than the truth- but leftists can barely argue their own side, much less any other possible perspective. They generally don’t get past shouting “Racist!”
The author quotes research that shows conservatives and moderates can understand and present liberal arguments, but liberals can’t understand and present conservative arguments, and are less able the more liberal they are. This is the rank ignorance of which they are always accusing others.
But, like all things leftist, what appears to be a bug is actually a feature. Leftism is not meant to be a coherent, consistent and intellectually defensible system. It is a set of mandatory beliefs, sort of like a mind virus, that support a system of power. You are just required to believe certain things, and you are required to believe that those beliefs give certain people the right to unquestioned power.
In a democratic society, the appeal on one level is pretty simple. “Vote for us and we will give you money.” That’s the appeal of the New Deal. It’s self-limiting though, because the voters won’t let you give money to people they don’t like, and they won’t let you keep too much money for yourself- they understand you will be taking a commission, but will become disgusted if you overdo it.
Leftists then need another source of power. So they took over areas where power was not determined by consent- the law, education, government bureaucracy in general, human resources in particular. They used these positions of power to browbeat, shame and humiliate people into going along with them.
All kinds of people, intellectual conservatives in particular, think ideas and policy can be debated and the most true will win out. But truth is poison to leftists. They can’t tolerate it and will not permit it. To them telling the truth is the worst crime you can commit. Ignorance of the truth in general- except to some limited extent among higher-level leftists the “doublethink” described by George Orwell- is a defense mechanism necessary for them to function.
My feeling is that regardless what jawboning they do at the Supreme Court, Obamacare will come through mostly intact. The Supreme Court wants to look like they are independent, and have the power in the end, but they will go along like everybody else.
The inability to understand reality is a strength, but it’s also become a serious weakness. Walter Russell Meade has another post on the breakdown of the blue model in health care reform. One of the problems that leftists have is the decay of doublethink. In the old days, the people who put together the New Deal had some exposure to reality. They knew what was real and what wasn’t, and they could even say so to each other over cigars and whiskey. Their children, who put together the Great Society, couldn’t do this. They remembered hearing their parents talk about dark, mysterious things late at night, but they really believed Negroes (as they were then called) were the equal of white proles and with generous benefits and lenient justice could be fixed. Their children, the ones running things now, don’t even thing think blacks need to be fixed in any way, that everything is the fault of those white proles.
Leftist ignorance makes them more confident, arrogant, aggressive, and cruel- all sources of their strength- but makes them vulnerable to reality. The New Dealers had European workers and peasants as their clients. They believed they could be educated and indoctrinated to be loyal workers and citizens of a multi-ethnic social democracy, and they were more or less right. The Great Society people spurned the “hunkies”, “micks” “peckerwoods” and “squareheads” and took on blacks as their key political allies. They believed they could be educated and indoctrinated to be loyal workers and citizens in a multi-racial social democracy, and while the idea may not have been ridiculous on its face at the time, it has proved to be disastrously wrong.
Failure is OK, people and societies fail all the time, deal with it and move on. But the Great Society people set up a system by which their ideas could never be questioned. Their children and heirs can’t even imagine that a question is possible. But they go on, browbeating, shaming, and humiliating, and none dare question.
So why if it is obviously wrong and maintained by aggression and intimidation do people put up with it? They do so because leftism is closely intertwined with the moral and existential system that has defined Western civilization for over a thousand years, Christianity. It’s Easter time, the most important season of Christianity, so it’s a good time to delve into this relationship deeper than I have in the past.