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The Psychology of Progressive Hostility

Recently, I arrived at a moment of introspection about a curious aspect of my own behavior. When I disagree with a conservative friend or colleague on some political issue, I have no fear of speaking my mind. I talk, they listen, they respond, I talk some more, and at the end of it we get along just as we always have. But I’ve discovered that when a progressive friend says something with which I disagree or that I know to be incorrect, I’m hesitant to point it out. This hesitancy is a consequence of the different treatment one tends to receive from those on the Right and Left when expressing a difference of opinion. I am not, as it turns out, the only one who has noticed this.

“That’s a stupid fucking question,” answered a Socialist Alliance activist when I asked sincerely where they were getting what sounded like inflated poverty statistics. “If you don’t believe in gay marriage or gun control, unfriend me,” demand multiple Facebook statuses from those I know. “That’s gross and racist!” spluttered a red-faced Ben Affleck when the atheist and neuroscientist Sam Harris criticized Islamic doctrines on Bill Maher’s Real Time. Nobody blinks an eye when Harris criticizes Christianity, least of all Affleck, who starred in Kevin Smith’s irreverent religious satire Dogma. But Christians are not held to be a sacrosanct and protected minority on the political Left. As Skeptic Magazine’s Michael Shermer tweeted recently:

Outbursts of emotional hostility from progressive activists – now described as Social Justice Warriors or SJWs – have come to be known as getting ‘triggered.’ This term originally applied to sufferers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but activists have adopted it to describe the anxiety and discomfort they experience when they are exposed to views with which they disagree. “Fuck free speech!” one group of social justice advocates recently told Vice Media, as if this justified the growing belief among university students that conservatives should be prevented from speaking on college campuses. It’s no secret that, with the rise of the triggered progressive, university professors are increasingly intimidated by their own students. An illustrative example of this alarming trend was provided by the hordes of screaming students who surrounded the distinguished Yale sociologist Nicholas Christakis and demanded his head (which they duly received). Christakis had made the mistake of defending an email his wife had written gently criticizing Yale’s attempts to regulate students’ Halloween costumes. “Who the fuck hired you?!” screamed one irate student in response. “You should step down!”

This sort of my-way-or-the-highway mentality is now spreading well beyond the urban university and into even remote communities. In the small Outback Australian town of Alice Springs where I once lived, agitators have attacked and attempted to silence the local aboriginal town councillor Jacinta Price for her principled efforts to improve the lives of her people. When Price tried to sound the alarm about skyrocketing sexually transmitted diseases, or the adult rape of children in aboriginal communities, she was shouted down as a ‘traitor’ and a ‘coconut’ (a term of disparagement used to describe a person deemed to be black on the outside and white on the inside). These criticisms do not come from the majority of aboriginal people in Alice Springs, but from a minority of furiously offended activists who, in their own little circles, plot to have Price undemocratically removed from the town council. Censorship is now the instrument of choice, and a reactionary authoritarianism increasingly defines what the liberal Muslim activist Maajid Nawaz has termed the ‘Regressive Left.’

So how and why have these activists become so intolerant and horrible to deal with? Part of this hostility can be explained by a wilful ignorance and incuriosity about ideas with which they disagree. Every so often, a progressive friend will peruse my bookshelf in a thought-police sort of fashion. What happens next is fairly predictable. Once they realize that Malinowski’s Melanesian epic The Sexual Life of Savages doesn’t include any erotic pictures, they will turn their attention to the Ayn Rand collection. “Why do you have these?” they ask with an air of indignation, holding up a copy of Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. “Have you ever read her?” I will ask. “No,” they reliably respond.

The liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill once explained that, “The greatest orator, save one, of antiquity, has left it on record that he always studied his adversary’s case with as great, if not with still greater, intensity than even his own.” Mill held that unless we carefully study the views of those with whom we disagree, we will never really know what they’re right or wrong about. “He who knows only his own side of the case,” Mill wrote in his 1859 book On Liberty, “knows little of that.” Our opponents could be right for all we know or care, because they may know a fact or offer an argument we’ve never thought to consider. And even if they aren’t right, Mill points out that specks of truth may exist among their falsehoods which can guide our minds in new directions.

Sprinkled throughout what I regard as Rand’s erroneous theory of Objectivism, are moments of penetrating insight. In his critique of her work, the late president of the American Philosophical Society Robert Nozick called her writing “powerful, illuminating and thought provoking.”1

The world is more complex than we can imagine, and every new point of view we encounter can enrich our understanding even if we don’t embrace it entirely. But this comes with the risk of self-effacement and growing uncertainty. Imagine that you are standing in a small clearing in the middle of a vast forest, and that this forest represents your ignorance of the world. The clearing you stand in represents your knowledge. As one gains knowledge, the clearing expands and the forest of ignorance recedes. But as the clearing expands, so does its circumference and so the area of contact between knowledge and ignorance also grows, and our knowledge of the extent of our ignorance grows with it. So, paradoxically, the wiser we become, the less wise we feel. This is the wellspring of intellectual humility, the Socratic realization that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know, and the more apparent it becomes that your own opinions are susceptible to fallibility.

This is a tremendous problem for progressive students entering higher education, where remarkably homogenous viewpoints are taught and heterogeneous ideas are shunned. For example, one of the concepts most ridiculed by philosophers in recent decades has been the notion of ‘social justice,’ which has received such a beating that the Nobel Prize winning economist and philosopher Friedrich von Hayek once remarked that shame should fall upon people who still defend the idea.2 But ask any self-described social justice advocate to name a critic of the very idea of social justice, and they will likely draw a blank. Criticisms of social justice are routinely swept under the carpet in an environment where students are asked to embrace the concept hand-on-heart, as if no reasonable or legitimate objections had ever existed.

A whole raft of brilliant philosophers and Nobel Prize-winning economists lean to the right. The problem is that these people tend to go into business or enter academic fields like engineering, economics, and mathematics. They have therefore surrendered the humanities and what philosopher Roger Scruton has called the ‘fake fields’ of gender and ethnic studies to their political opponents on the Left, who relish their role as the unchallenged shapers of student minds. According to a 2005 survey3 conducted in the United States, there was only one Republican sociology professor in the humanities for every 40 Democrat professors, and we now know the extent of the resentment when views outside the progressive consensus trespass on their territory.

Last year, the Wilfred Laurier scandal shocked conservative and moderate professors when a young teaching assistant by the name of Lindsay Shepherd revealed that she had been interrogated and disciplined by her superiors for showing a Youtube video to her communication studies class. The video in question was of a televised debate between a group of progressives and psychologist Jordan B. Peterson about whether or not the law should punish Canadians who refuse to use new transgender pronouns like ‘zir’ and ‘ver.’ During Shepherd’s surreptitious recording of the interrogation, her superiors can be heard explaining that professor Peterson’s views were “problematic,” and that she should have either criticized them or not exposed her students to his opinions at all. “But that would be taking sides,” protested an audibly distressed Shepherd, who insisted that, although she didn’t share Peterson’s views herself, she had played the video to encourage a class debate. “Yes,” replied one of her interrogators. “Can’t you see that this is something that is not really up for debate?” Her job, she was informed, is to oppose the political Right.

According to these academics and others like them, not only should people be punished for not conforming to the new politically correct consensus, but conservative opinions opposing punishment for non-conformity should also be punished. A 2012 study, conducted by Yoel Inbar and Joris Lammers and published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, found that progressive faculty openly admit to discriminating against the conservative minority when it comes to job promotions and grant applications.

Given the current environment, conservatives would be advised to simply abandon academia if they know what’s good for them. On the other hand, it is a problem when a student goes through university where each and every course is taught by a left-leaning professor. For conservative students, the toxic and hostile university environment needn’t cripple their intellectual development. These students arrive at university with conservative ideas and will naturally seek out and read conservative authors in their own time to balance out the latest application of progressive doctrine to which they are subjected in class. The most ambitious will be familiar with both Rand and Marx, Keynes and Hayek, Galbraith and Friedman, Krugman and Sowell, Picketty and Peterson. But we ought to worry about the progressive student who arrives with progressive ideas, and is then showered in class with more of the same and reinforces them in their own time. Such students live in a much smaller cultural universe than the cosmopolitan intellectual world through which the conservative will be made to travel. This isn’t to deny that bigoted reactionaries on the opposite side of the spectrum also inhabit a tiny intellectual space. But that does not excuse the closing of the mind at a university.

In 2014, one of the world’s leading scholars in the field of moral psychology was publicly accused of homophobia for showing his class a video about the phenomenon of ‘Moral Dumbfounding.’ A transcript of the video Jonathan Haidt showed his class can be read here, and a transcript of the apology he offered his class the next day can be found here. A subsequent investigation by the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity found no evidence of wrongdoing. But, rather than being put off by this brush with reputational disaster, Haidt became fascinated by the problem of hypersensitivity at university. “It’s a crazy time, but it’s also a fascinating time to be a social scientist,” he has since remarked, “It’s the dawn of a new religion, and I study moral psychology as though religion, politics, even sports, they’re all manifestations of a tribalism.”

In his remarkable book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, Haidt recalls a telling experiment. He and his colleagues Brian Nosek and Jesse Graham sought to discover how well conservative and what Haidt terms ‘liberal’ (ie: progressive) students understood one another by having them answer moral questions as they thought their political opponents would answer them. “The results were clear and consistent,” remarks Haidt. “In all analyses, conservatives were more accurate than liberals.” Asked to think the way a liberal thinks, conservatives answered moral questions just as the liberal would answer them, but liberal students were unable to do the reverse. Rather, they seemed to put moral ideas into the mouths of conservatives that they don’t hold. To put it bluntly, Haidt and his colleagues found that progressives don’t understand conservatives the way conservatives understand progressives. This he calls the ‘conservative advantage,’ and it goes a long way in explaining the different ways each side deals with opinions unlike their own. People get angry at what they don’t understand, and an all-progressive education ensures that they don’t understand.

Haidt’s research echoes arguments made by Thomas Sowell in A Conflict of Visions and Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate. Both Sowell and Pinker contend that conservatives see an unfortunate world of moral trade-offs in which every moral judgment comes with costs that must be properly balanced. Progressives, on the other hand, seem to be blind to, or in denial about, these trade-offs, whether economic and social; theirs is a utopian or unconstrained vision, in which every moral grievance must be immediately extinguished until we have perfected society. This is why conservatives don’t tend to express the same emotional hostility as the Left; a deeper grasp of the world’s complexity has the effect of encouraging intellectual humility. The conservative hears the progressive’s latest demands and says, “I can see how you might come to that conclusion, but I think you’ve overlooked the following…” In contrast, the progressive hears the conservative and thinks, “I have no idea why you would believe that. You’re probably a racist.”

No doubt, other factors creep into the mix of the triggered progressive mind. Fashionable theories, such as those advanced by Jacques Derrida, teach students that all text and language is structured by power, so any argument from someone in a position of ‘gendered’ or ‘racial’ power can be disregarded, whatever its logical validity. By reinforcing this premise with a heavily left-biased education, university educators have created a Frankenstein generation of fanatical students, and are now finding that they are unable to force the genie they’ve conjured back into its bottle. With the rise of the Heterodox Academy, progressive, liberal, and conservative university professors are coming forward, united by their concerns about the dangers of educational orthodoxy and committed to bringing an end to the radical Left’s domination of the humanities and social sciences. It’s a noble stand in the name of viewpoint diversity and free inquiry, as the rest of society slowly becomes aware of what their taxes are paying for. The sharp decline in public support for the university, especially among Republicans and conservatives, suggests they are not impressed.

 

Matthew Blackwell is a writer currently completing a BA in Economics and Anthropology at The University of Queensland. You can follow him on Twitter @MBlackwell27

 

References:

1 Nozick, Robert (1997). Socratic Puzzles, Harvard University Press.
2 Hayek, F.A. (1976). Law, Legislation and Liberty, Volume II. The Mirage of Social Justice, Routledge.
3 Cardiff, C. & Klein, D. (2005). Faculty Partisan Affiliations in All Disciplines: A voter-registration study. Critical Review, 7.

 

Comments

  1. Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views. - William F Buckley

    More emphasis needs to be given to the disparity that exists in the two sides’ current ability to pass the Ideological Turing Test (despite Paul Krugman’s extraordinary self-delusion that it’s the other way around). The prevalence of left-wing messaging in the media, education, entertainment, and social media industries doesn’t just make it impossible to be unaware of left-wing positions; it also gives left-wing people the notion that theirs are the only ideas.

    Pay attention to the number of times that left-wing messaging begins with the words “I don’t know”. As in “I don’t know how anyone could believe that!”

    You don’t know? When did your ignorance become a weakness in my position?

  2. I rather like Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s commentary in the coddling of the American mind, where they note that a lot of these behaviors correspond with problems that cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to deal with. In other words, these people are being taught something that increases anxiety, which might explain the extreme moral panics that they fall into. For example, one of the things that progressives tend to do, the Assumption of racism, sexism, and whatever other ISM seems familiar and useful to them, is a particular mental error called mind-reading. You are assuming another person’s internal State without evidence.

    I would also like to point out that this fits my own experience in some ways. I graduated college in 2000, and by the time I went back in 2005 the anxiety and depression rate had tripled. In just five years, college students had become incredibly mentally fragile and unable to deal with life. So I think this may help explain some of what is going on with the Progressive Movement. They cannot understand what you are saying or why you could be saying it, so they mind read in order to impute a motive.

  3. WHen I read articles like the following, I am truly amazed at the fragility of the left:

    Trump has really freaked these people out. They are basically suffering from mental illness because Trump is President. That is the zealotry that we have to worry about. These people will not be placated and will not turn off the politics in any situation.

  4. Trump has made it clear that he sees citizenship and loyalty in ethnic terms. Thus American Jews are disloyal to Israel if they vote for Democratic politicians. An American judge whose ancestors came from Mexico is really a Mexican and thus cannot possibly be impartial in cases involving non-Hispanics.

    US presidents are head of state AND head of govt., unlike most other western Democracies. Presidents have traditionally put most of their partisanship aside, except when campaigning for re-election, but Trump has been campaigning as a partisan Republican virtually non-stop since 2015. Except on a few occasions [e.g., his speech on July 4, 2019] he hasn’t bothered to try to talk to Americans as a whole, especially those most impacted by his policies and his rhetoric.

    That’s a big reason why his poll numbers are so high among Republicans and so low among Democrats. And some of Trump’s base love the meanest parts of his personality.

  5. Indeed, but Psychopaths are not the majority of progressives. Furthermore, while some Progressive leaders might be Psychopaths, which makes them able to manipulate their followers, most of the progressives are not going to be Psychopaths. Thus, they have a much more clouded view of the motivations of those with whom they interact.

    Think about it from the terms of a much more common mental disorder, that of anxiety. One of the things that you see on college campuses is a massive wave of anxiety, and it’s not just on college campuses anymore. If you listen to what people are saying when they detect something that they view as hate on Twitter or TV, or elsewhere in society, they call it dog whistling. In other words, someone like Trump is sending a signal that is closely tuned to only white supremacists, and thus those white supremacists are hearing a white supremacist message that the rest of us don’t get. Curiously, it seems the only the left is able to detect that white supremacist message. I rather doubt that white supremacists would be able to make head or tail of it.

    What they are doing, is not an accurate reading of a person’ motives, instead, they are shuffling through all sorts of various meanings of what they are hearing because they are determined that they will find hate in there somewhere. Occasionally, those readings strain credulity, but that is not the point for them. They are sufficiently motivated listeners to be able to find hate, and I’m sure they congratulate themselves for finding it.

    This is very similar to mental errors found in anxiety. These mental errors are also found in depression, and what they consist of is seeing something, and then interpreting it in an excessively negative light. So if someone walks by in a hurry and doesn’t smile back when they see you, you have obviously done something to make them hate you. It does not occur to you, when you are in the grip of the mind reading error, to interpret this in a more charitable way. They might be busy, and really have to get somewhere. They might just really have to get to the bathroom and aren’t paying attention. They might be listening to something on their phone and completely distracted. None of these meanings occur to you, while you are mind reading. You pick the one that is most disadvantageous, and assume their internal mental state as one opposed to you. That’s my reading, and I’m not the only one who’s seeing this. If you take a look at Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, in The Coddling of the American Mind, you will see what I am talking about.

    Psychopathy is sexier, but it is a very low percentage of people who Express psychopathy even in a very limited manner, less than 2% of the populace. Progressives are 8%, and I highly doubt that all of the sociopaths are part of that group. They might find them useful idiots, but many of them are making their way in business or sales or other very profitable Enterprises, and the ones who are low functioning an ill-educated are usually making their way through drugs, gangs, or jail. Postulating an entire movement of Psychopaths as the Progressive movement doesn’t fit the available data on the progressives or on psychopathy.

  6. Okay, then I think we may be arguing at cross-purposes.

    My argument is that a lot of the hysteria is being fueled by a great deal of anxiety, and also by students being trained in such a way as to emphasize the errors of thought that are involved in anxiety and depression. Effectively, I am arguing that, if a student is borderline anxious or depressive, this thinking might very well tip them over into full-blown anxiety and depression. Even if a student is not anxious and depressed, being caught in this postmodern way it’s likely to make them act in such a way. So this is effectively causing a mental illness on college campuses, which is why I think that anxiety tripled in the five years that I was away from the University campus between college and grad school.

    I think that your argument is fairly sound, in that a small number of agitators with bad motives can cause an awful lot of Chaos. Al Sharpton is a classic example, at least for me. I grew up in the Bronx during the 80s, and I remember his influence quite well. Furthermore, his influence was used to excuse things like tax evasion by his cronies, as well as heightening racial tension and causing serious race problems by his mishandling of things like the Tawana Brawley affair.

    Having listened to their rhetoric and grown up with it, I have no problem seeing Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as high-functioning Psychopaths, or as Shawn King as a modern example, given his calls for violence and untrue reports on police and racial incidents for social power. I just don’t think that the rank and file Progressive is psychopathic. I think their behavior is more akin to those with severe anxiety.

  7. I am aware of that, I just figured that this was a way of letting you know that I was considering your arguments and your sources instead of tossing off answers. Because ignoring them would just be rude, you know?

    Also, it’s the sort of thing that I would like to see as a habit on this site, as it greatly increases the chances that we will get somewhere with our discussions, as opposed to shouting past each other.

  8. I have a half-baked theory on this.

    Please bear with me on this:

    Normally I prefer to mull my ideas longer before discussing, but fundamentally, I think it’s the generation raised on television in homes with two working parents. The idea began gelling when I read this article:

    Particularly this bit:

    Still, we persist, often with parental help and significant struggle. Eventually, we get a job that previous generations probably wouldn’t envy. We pay through the nose for health insurance, have zero job security and pray we advance as soon as possible. Most of us, contrary to popular belief, try to fight our latte-obsessed, avocado-toast-addled, entitled-youngster image.

    Many of us are eternally disappointed with the unjust system that blocked us from doing things past generations did, like get married, have kids and have a lovely oak-shaded, picket-fence life.

    Our system, it seems, is skewed in favor of older people, and we see it every day: We long for something more.

    That’s the very entitlement that older generations complain about. Yet this author can’t see it- he has the illusory idea that older generations moved straight from college into high-paying jobs with nice homes, furnishing, etc.. I’ve noticed this in the workplace. The rest of the article complains millennials were sold a bill of goods regarding college giving them a bright future, and does not focus on non-successful majors but rather the financial hardships they are encountering.

    When discussing this with my wife, I observed “Don’t they understand that once you graduate college, you still live like a student for a few years? That those jobs getting coffee in the finance sector, for instance, are good jobs because they should be forming networks-” and that’s when it hit me.

    My wife and I recently had a child, so the Easter bunny and Santa have both been under discussion.

    Additionally, we’ve all noticed that young liberals (defined as under 40) overwhelmingly perceive conservatives, and much of the world, only in terms of stereotypes, hence the appeal of intersectionalism (applies to everyone else).

    Shortly, these kids were raised by TV, and more specifically were raised on TV created after

    Early regulations on educational programming were implemented by the FCC in 1991, as ordered by the Children’s Television Act—an Act of Congress passed in 1990. They included a requirement for television stations to document their broadcasting of programs which “[further] the positive development of children 16 years of age and under in any respect, including the child’s intellectual/cognitive or social/emotional needs”, and a requirement for the FCC to use this as a factor in license renewals. Stricter regulations were implemented in 1997, requiring all stations to broadcast at least 3 hours of programming per-week that is designed to educate and inform viewers aged 16 and younger, and introducing requirements regarding on-air identification of these programs, and more stringent reporting requirements. -Wikipedia, Children’s Programming Regulations

    Enough dithering, the point is: Nothing is understood for these kids. They found out Santa was a feel good lie, and when they went to college after being told that it was a ticket to success, did not question whether elbow grease would need to be supplied. They believe that the tin is, and must be, 100% literally accurate. They consumed social norms and mores via the medium of television and movies, and lost the cultural transmission that normally should be passed to teenagers and young adults that things aren’t that nice. The Disney Channel’s programming isn’t a saccharine, idealized version of the world where every adult is unbelievably wise and understanding of children, and where children are smarter than the adults, it’s a slightly cleaned up but accurate portrayal of reality and social expectations. They never outgrew this view of the world, because every channel that should funnel it to them in terms of cultural transmission was cut off.

    1. Popular culture? Heavily censored to higher and higher age brackets
    2. Parents? Working
    3. Schools? Hands tied or an agenda.
    4. Jobs? Most of these progressive kids didn’t work in HS.

    There was a recent Quillette article where the author was rightly lambasted for saying “No longer is the bully the jock in his letterman’s jacket blah blah inaccurate blah”- that was never the bully except on TV.

    I asked my wife for a post-college movie or television series that accurately portrays living standards for actual post-grads. Neither of us could think of one. Shows like Friends which purported to do so (See, they need room-mates!) the Friends had possessions that were so nice and sets that were so complete, not to mention such high-end apartments, that they had to be no younger than late 20s at the start of the series. They weren’t making waffles with a tennis racket, and had comfortable couches and matching end tables, not milk crates with sheets tossed on top. So that time period is invisible to these kids. They encounter it out of college and can’t cope. They feel it’s unfair they can’t simultaneously afford a decent if small apartement, maybe with a roommate, and nice clothes, and be able to go out drinking (very expensive), and decent clothes, and do things like go to concerts regularly. If they do, they complain that the lifestyle previous generations had was denied them for insert reason of choice, instead of questioning their own assumptions about what those generations had and when they had it.

    Am I being clear? They spent their formative years learning social mores and expectations via media that was legally required to explicitly spell-out the required lesson, and where all interactions were frequently driven to teach that lesson! Of course they look for “the narrative,” and want to be on “the right side of history,” and talk about “cancelling” people, and automatically side with the first protagonist to claim grievance- they live in a world were TV and movies reflect real life but better looking.

    EDIT: Didn’t tie it back. This is why they believe in dog whistling, etc. There has to be a club, a secret handshake, something that tells these supremacists what the whistles are. People can’t just understand things! You have to be told and are a superior being if you clue yourself in at all.

    There’s an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Barney tells Marshall he’s going to teach him how to live. It then cuts to him shaking Marshall’s hand and saying “And then you slip the guy a $20, and he takes care of you.” Marshall is bemused, and says “What guy? There’s a guy?” Barney looks at him flatly and says “There’s always a guy”.

    These people can’t see the guy.

  9. It’s Misogynists 'R Us – all the way down.

    I also happen to know that Christina Applegate is a breast cancer survivor. Which is like good for her: for me, there’s a human able to suffer behind the hot bimbo image she so successfully played on MwCh.

  10. Great comment. I do think young people have been done a disservice by many of adults who traditionally would have been responsible for preparing them for life. I have tried lending my copies of ‘The Righteous Mind’ and ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ to my two much younger cousins, but both books sat gathering dust on my aunts kitchen table. A more productive approach seems to be posting links on Facebook- one of them has now watched Johan Norberg’s ‘Sweden: Lessons for America’ and a Steven Pinker talk at Google. He has even significantly reduced the amount of time he spends on social media!

    Although my cousins seem to be exempt (both in stable jobs, one working for a start-up), part of the problem might relate to job instability in the labour market. To me, it isn’t clear that people are better off, if they are materially more successful, at the expense of not knowing whether you will have a job in two months. My father was a USAF NCO who served for twenty years, including in Vietnam, before going into the oil business, and eventually becoming a supply boat captain. He was also an orphan, who was moved around the foster system during his mid to late childhood- but his most difficult period was when he was shitcanned by a suit from Texas and spent six months unemployed, before regaining his job. So job insecurity can have a profound impact on even the strongest peoples lives.

    But more importantly they simply weren’t prepared for adult life. No competitive sports. None of the give and take negotiation that occurs when a group of children are left unsupervised by adults. And being excluded from a trip to the cinema is now bullying- WTF! Apparently, best friends are now banned, because other kids might feel excluded. My dad gave me his first name (he was Joe, from joining the military, onwards), because he wanted me to have a hard time in the school yard and to have to stick up for myself (it didn’t work, by the way- everyone thought it was a cool name).

    Education costs are a nightmare though. What administrators have done to expand costs at universities is an abomination. The one set of students protests that actually did make sense, was the shit that happened at The Cooper Union. Plus, almost every housing market in the West, has effectively been mismanaged by successive politicians for the past thirty years. Even many economists just don’t get that it simply doesn’t conform to the normal laws of supply and demand- because it’s simultaneously bifurcated and interdependent, with the gain naturally accumulating on the speculative side.

    So I think that the crisis that young people are facing, is essentially a collision of internal and external issues. This is why Jordan Peterson is a genius- because he has correctly intuited that the resolution of the former, through the acquisition of inner moral strength, will necessarily lead to the solution of the latter. It is difficult though- ‘when you’re in the hole’- having gone through CBT myself, by failing to seek help after a pedestrian involved car accident at 21 (driving without due care and attention) and only dealing with the memory shrapnel ten years later- I can sympathise with those who feel as though the world is out to get you. But the solution is not a retreat into any ideology that assigns blame to an unfair and evil world, absolving the individual of the drifting inertia of their own live- the solution is to take control of your own life. For those who are not necessarily receptive to Jordan Peterson, for reasons of political affiliation, it’s worth checking out Circle of Influence and Control (also Concern).

  11. This is called special pleading.

  12. I’m not aware of Thomas Sowell ever being wrong.

    The Great Recession happened exactly because Congress wanted to pump up the housing ownership rate among Americans. And it’ll happen again & again & again as long as people seriously believe that the govt. knows better than them what they need at what prices (i.e. how much of their own work product they exchange for the goods received).

  13. For reasons of smear, you mean?

    I will check out the circle.

  14. I know I’m in danger of the socialist refrain that ‘they just didn’t do it right’- but there are plenty of examples in Asia where well-planned and executed policies did work, at minimal cost to the taxpayer.

  15. Although I might be willing to concede that the incentives in government make us structurally incapable of achieving similar results in the West. I would also add, that one of the failings of the West, is the provision of housing without the prerequisite that people be responsible for their own maintenance.

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