On Arrogance

Given my former life in academia, people sometimes not unreasonably assume that I was once a hardcore Leftist, who had some kind of epiphany. Alas, though that would be a fun story, it’s not true. I guess you could say I was a “liberal” in college, but it was in the same way most kids are — conflating “conservatives” with “my parents,” I thought it would be a nicer world if people were a little less stuffy, a little nicer to gays and negroes, but my actual political knowledge consisted of two facts: 1. Bill Clinton was president, and 2. he’s a degenerate.

If I’d thought about it — which, of course, I didn’t, all my available brainpower being devoted to getting drunk and laid — I would’ve realized that #2 is why I wasn’t a liberal, and never would be. I concluded that Bill Clinton was a degenerate because he was doing exactly what I would’ve done if I suddenly found myself in a position of nearly limitless power: strut and preen and pig out and bang interns (this was before the Lewinsky thing, obviously, but c’mon, man, that was the least surprising political “scandal” of all time).

Which would be… not fine, obviously, but at least understandable, given that I was a college kid who, like Billy Boy, was a tubby bullshit artist who had trouble keeping it in his pants.* (For the benefit of younger readers: There was once a time when college kids were expected to be a little bit rebellious, said rebellion almost universally taking the form of binge drinking and as much sexual activity as you could talk your prospective partner into). I was your standard-issue college kid c.1992, in other words, and while that was all fine and good, no one would ever want me in charge of anything important. And yet, the supposed adults had elected a chronologically-eligible, but behaviorally indistinguishable, version of me to the highest office in the land.

And when you come right down to it, it’s the sheer brass balled arrogance of that that made me first a conservative, then a dissident, now a… whatever we are. I often say I’m too lazy to be a Leftist, given how much sheer effort it takes to live like they do. I’m also much too poor, of course — the Champions of the Underclass lead lives that your average maharaja couldn’t afford — but I’m mostly just not arrogant enough. I have my blind spots and my misjudgments about myself, of course I do, everyone does, but one thing I know for certain is that I don’t know how to run your life better than you do.

Yeah, ok, if you’re a gutter drunk, or a homeless drug addict I can run that part of your life for you, since 99.9% of all your problems stem from one single source. But anything more complex than “stop shooting smack all the time,” and I’m totally buffaloed. And even there, the very best I can do — the absolute tippy-top peak of my wisdom — is: “Stop shooting smack all the time.” As for what you should do after that, or how to address your underlying issues, or what those underlying issues even are, I haven’t a clue. Don’t even know how to start getting a clue. Even if you begged me on bended knee to take over your life for you, that’s all I would do, because that’s all I can do.

As it turns out, I saw something similar firsthand. I told y’all that I had a buddy back in grad school who became a serious alcoholic.** “Stop drinking” was the best advice anyone could give him, but once he did, the scope of the problem became obvious. He had a million things wrong with his life that we knew about, and a million more that we didn’t, and a few million more on top of that that we’d never even considered. Even with a serious, Britney Spears-style “conservatorship” over his life, none of us could’ve done much for him. He had to figure it all out on his own, as best he could.

Leftists, by contrast, are absolutely certain they can run not just your life, but everyone’s life, simultaneously, and far better than we ourselves can. If you know anything about the fun world of addiction, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that even my best case scenario — the absolute apex of my personal wisdom — is not just wrong, but life-threateningly wrong. If you’re an alcoholic, you can’t just “stop drinking.” You’ll die. You’ve got to taper off, and that process needs to be carefully monitored, and I’m sure coming off heroin or whatever is similar. Had my buddy begged me on bended knee to run his life for him, and had I taken him up on it, I might well have killed him with my well-meaning “wisdom.”

This knowledge terrifies me, but it somehow doesn’t bother Leftists at all. They can learn from their mistakes — they’re still human, though they try very hard not to be — but only if that knowledge doesn’t impinge in any way upon their self-concept. The thought “Jesus, I could’ve killed that guy!” prompted a lot of soul-searching in me… but in a Leftist, it simply wouldn’t. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, I don’t have privileged access to their heads… but I know it’s true, and so do you. Beats my pair of jacks, but there it is.

Where does this… self-confidence, I guess, for lack of a better term, come from? I dunno, but figure that out, and you’ll understand something really important about the Left.


* For legal purposes, let me hasten to add that anything I ever managed to do with anyone was entirely consensual, both ways. Bill Clinton’s pants troubles were famously felonious; mine were of the “thinking with the wrong head” variety.

**seemingly redundant — isn’t all alcoholism serious? — but if it seems redundant to you, then my friend, you don’t have much experience with alcoholics. There is absolutely such thing as a “functioning alcoholic,” just as a “dry drunk” is also a real thing. My buddy, by contrast, was a deeply dysfunctional alcoholic — the “get kicked out of your apartment for not paying rent, end up sleeping in your car, getting your car repo’d, and doing time for vagrancy” kind.

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24 thoughts on “On Arrogance

  1. AvatarDamian

    I think the answer lies in Anonymous Conservative’s book about K/r selection in politics. With the woke left we are dealing with a psychology rather than an ideology. I’ve also noticed that a lot of the left have really messed up personal lives. Not quite as bad as the drunk, but strained relationships with their family or addiction to happy pills. This leads them to ‘change the world’ as a. they don’t really have to pay a price to do it, and b. unlike changing their messed up lives, there is no instant feedback mechanism for them.

    I think Dickens wrote about a church who would raise funds for children in India but would not help the starving child down the road in Bleak House. So they have been around for a while!

    Back to AC though. He said that the r strategists wanted zero personal responsibility, with the state taking full control, whereas K’s want personal responsibility with limited state control. Wealth (in our case debt) and abundance creates loads of r’s who try to take over society (the Great Reset?), which then collapses as the K’s refuse to work above the minimum level.

    But the arrogance. I’d say is maybe a combination of psychology, lack of feedback (i.e. reality….e.g. they talk MLK but live KKK), and dopamine addiction through taking on invisible cat fanciers. Oh, add a bit of BioLeninism through our society (or the Open Society) funding/promoting them. In a proper society they’d realise they would have to work for a living by providing value, and they probably wouldn’t be very good at it. That’s the best I can do for a Sat afternoon. Very interested in other people’s thoughts.

    1. Avatarprm

      As I recall about Dickens and Bleak House – it was worse than that. The focus was on a woman who raised funds for starving Africans and the starving urchin was *her own child*.

  2. Avatarurbando

    It is tempting to simply assume that all Leftists are inherently mentally ill and full of personal deficiencies which contribute to their destructive attitudes. And yet, when we’re speaking of true believers, this assumption is probably quite accurate. They would rather F- up the world then fix their personal problems.

    But what about the less-than-true-believers, whose name is Legion? I don’t mean the low IQ portion of the Left, but the reasonably intelligent component. Everyone knows some. What is it that enables fairly normal people to embrace this crazy, destructive, reality-denying lifestyle?

    1. AvatarSeverian

      That’s one of the things I’m trying to discover. It’s tempting to say “because they can afford it,” but that doesn’t seem to be true. At least, it isn’t in our world, where “cognitive dissonance” is a thing that exists.

      For example, I’ve told the story of College Town’s faculty ghetto being rezoned into the vibrant school district. White Flight at Mach 3, and they were quite explicit as to why… and then, the instant they arrived in the new district, they started complaining about the lack of diversity.

      To cognitively normal people, that’s a cost, a big one. It would cause real pain, and prompt real reflection. But for them, it just….doesn’t. They had to pay big money to move, and those that couldn’t afford it saw their kids get beaten up by the diversity. That’s *pain*, the kind you’d think they can’t help but learn from…. but they don’t. Ever. Though they seem normal, even bright, in every other way.

      1. AvatarSome Guy

        I’m guessing lack of struggle plays a big role. They have pampered lives and as they don’t have to actually physically work for anything they feel deeply unfulfilled. So taking up some abstract cause makes them feel like they have a struggle. Like you said before, they drive their volvo to the partner meeting and feel like they are sticking it to the man because they have a blm bumper sticker.

        1. AvatarJoseph Moore

          That’s certainly something I’ve noticed: the high correlation between identifying as a Liberal and complete incompetence at any physical task. I suppose there are Leftists out there who can dig a hole or fix a drippy faucet – but I’ve never met any.

      2. AvatarDamian

        I’ve mentioned Brainwashing by Kathleen Taylor before but I really think she has hit on something there. I wonder if it actually comes down to neural pathways creating a ‘cognitive landscape’, that was actually created by media, politicians and business. For them to reflect and to change their view would in fact require a substantial rewiring.

        I think the cognitive dissonance thing is some sort of self protection mechanism. As if they have to change their worldview on one key thing (say vibrancy), it can’t sit there as a changed view in isolation. A bit like hitting a mirror with a hammer, the cracks go across the whole thing. I think that it’s so frightening for them to contemplate a whole new belief system because they have never ever developed one. The one they have was given to them.

        1. Avatarfifteenth reader

          You’ve hit the nail on the head, Damian. Add to that, if they question one belief, then the whole edifice comes crashing down, then they lose social status, and possibly their career. They know all too well how the ideological outgroup is treated. So crimestop occurs at the very first neuron that fires “hey maybe Trump has a point…” That thought never reaches concious level. All facts that pass through their brain get transmorgified into untruths that support their stance. And their current stance can change on a dime to a completely different one, following their hive’s queen’s direction.

          People are not rational, no matter how intelligent they are. And they are not rationalizing creatures either. They are socializing ones. In group vs out group is one of the most powerful forces in the universe.

          1. Avatartullamore92

            How should we deal with these people? I just hired one to do some physical labor for our org., nothing too demanding and everything lined up – proximity, decent demeanor, etc – but he’s clearly a) one of them (retired teacher) and b) not really that handy (adequate job, but not ideal). Small town, etc. I just can’t work up the same hatred for this one guy that they feel for all of us.

  3. AvatarAnonymous White Male

    I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that humans need something “divine” to believe in. As subsequent generations grow up without “God” they still search for something that can replace it. Ridiculous statements like “the right side of history” show the conundrum. History is merely a series of human actions over time, but it apparently also has a sentient awareness because it knows the difference between “good” and “evil” and can’t be complete until all “evil” is removed from its presence. And you remember the “early Christian martyrs”, don’t you? They could have lived if they just denied they were Christian. But, many of them didn’t. Do you realize how powerful that is? They so believed in eternal life that they were willing to take a leap of faith into the void. That’s what you deal with when you have zealots like the left of today. I’m not saying they are good, or anything. I’m just saying they have a “faith” that they have to believe in. And r vs. K is a good physiological description of the process. Amygdala and all that.

    1. AvatarSome Guy

      The tranny stuff is one of the central mysteries of the new religion. No one ever explains how a man is really a woman, especially since they are all dead-universe materialists who would scoff at anything so ridiculous as a soul.

  4. AvatarMaus

    Sev, your common-sense approach to life bases conservatism on humility about how we should relate to others. It’s a refreshing take that helps me reframe my own life’s journey. I’d say I was a natural conservative in my youth because I was raised by older, risk-adverse parents. They operated from a world-view formed by the crucibles of the Depression and WW2; so I was taught to prefer tried and true approaches over experimental leaps that might be a rocket to golden success but would more likely fall like lead to the earth, with attendant pain and crippling setbacks. In sum, peace and mediocrity without struggle or extravagance were the goal. And they delivered.
    I rebelled against the idea of settling, but the risk aversion sunk in and kept me from flying too high. As I entered adulthood and starting encountering the world beyond friends and family, I learned that there were a lot of shitheels. Whether they were degenerates or simply unpleasant people, I really struggled with the whole Christian “love thy enemy” injunction. Who has ever willingly turned the other cheek? I quickly lost any desire to help or improve people. The focus of my conservatism sharpened into a desire to dispense justice. To articulate the rules and ensure that each person got what they deserved, no more and no less. But weaponized justice brings conflict, and one learns in practice that it’s as impossible as helping to carry out perfectly, or even well. Sometimes arrogance is only tempered by the experience of failure.
    So the final evolution of my conservatism was formed by my desire to simply avoid as many of the degenerate and unpleasant people as I could. To do that effectively demands true freedom of association, which has been eroded at an accelerating rate since the 1960s in AINO. I was literally born into the end of an era; and my inheritance stands in stark contrast to the Western frontier of the late 19th century. As you have noted, successfully avoiding those with whom one does not wish to mingle takes money and a lot of it. Gated communities, private schools and the other tools of de facto segregation don’t come cheap. It’s certainly not within reach of a risk-adverse, middle-class denizen like me. So the natural conservatism of my youth delivers a final bite to my ass as TPTB roll out their frenzied national tent revival aimed to “save” me from my deplorable ways. Protesting that I merely wish to be left alone will only confirm that I am an intransigent sinner, beyond redemption and marked for Sonderbehandlung.

  5. AvatarJoseph Moore

    You all are describing a college roommate of mine, circa 1979, who was described by a fellow classmate at the time as “that elitist snob.” Me, slow on the uptake, didn’t really get it – he seemed nice enough. Took about 20 years for it to finally sink in (I’m both socially slow on the uptake and sort of reflexively generous, a combination that has cost me a world of pain). Not only was he a roommate, we both volunteered for a church project for a couple years after college where we were again housemates. Then, as work took me often to Chicago, I’d always look him up. He was even my best man. So, yea, I’m that clueless.

    Intellectually, he’s bright enough, but seems to imagine himself some sort of elite intellectual. Part of me is simply baffled – c’mon, even among the lawyers, judges, and academics he hangs out with, he MUST run into people way, way more intelligent and accomplished than himself. Is it Dunning/Kreuger? He’s not smart enough to see how not smart he is? How, even in his own crowd, he’s no more than a mediocrity? Who knows?

    He ended up a lawyer, then a judge, in Chicago. I doubt he’s ever played word association: I say “Chicago Judge” and the first thing that pops into your mind is…..? He’s what I’d call a glib plodder – he’ll get there, eventually, but he’ll have a quip or put-down ready far in advance of his actual comprehension. Judge is the perfect paint-by-numbers career for him – minimum actual learning, lots of office politics, lots of judicious ass-kissing. He’s published a few things, in which there is no shred of evidence that he’s ever had an independent, let alone original, thought. Of course, he’s a proud liberal – like he’s working in Chicago if he’s not?

    His casual assumption of intellectual superiority at first baffled, then grated, then infuriated me. Now, I’ve got to laugh, and am looking for an opportunity to do so in his face. E.g., my high-end vo-tech was in international business and finance – basically, applied economics. I have sometimes been on panels or just hung out with academic economists, who treated me as a peer – because I am. But as anyone not in academia knows, saying you are an economist labels you as prissy dead weight. The working finance guys, who have stuff to do, want the chief economist to give them the cost/growth assumptions they want them to use, then go back to their corner office and leave them alone.

    So, for 25+ years, I was a high-end “applied micro-econometrician” – I crunched numbers, built and used models, and performed analysis. Household name companies relied on my expertise.

    And my buddy the judge presumed to correct my understanding of economics in the most condescending way possible. Because of course he did. I cut off the discussion, because the rational, generous, even Christian, response at that point would have been the prompt application of blunt force to a certain ugly Irish mug – and we were arguing over texts.

    It’s one thing to see the arrogant cluelessness and and condescending assumption of intellectual and moral superiority in strangers or talking heads. It’s a little too real to see it face-to-face.

    As to causes, I’ve met his mother and father, and – well, there’s some room for damage there. His dad was very accomplished but harsh; his mom was a piece of work. But who knows? Certainly not me.

  6. AvatarAllen

    The old chestnut about power corrupting people comes to mind. I believe that power attracts people who are already corrupt. See Bill and Hillary Clinton. Similarly there appears to be two main modes of people’s thinking. One is open to new information and flexible in their approach to problem solving. The other has a model of the world that is fixed and is closed to contrary results. The latter mode of thinking is the source of leftism, and attractive to people with that sort of mindset.

    Thus, underfunded programs, an economic stimulus that is not large enough, what have you. I’ve always noticed that any underfunded program can’t seem to ever point to partial success.

  7. AvatarBaltbuc

    Really well said. At a high level, the Left mode of thinking is fixed and closed. I wonder if the concept of being open to new info is a purely Western concept as well. I don’t see a whole lot of ME and Asian folks that fall into this category.

  8. AvatarFeinGul

    The motive that matters is Power.

    That’s all that concerns the rest of us, which is most of the world now.

    As to their arrogance, they’re spoiled sociopathic little shits who were raised that way. Also never been in a scrape in their lives.

  9. AvatarCodex

    Where does this… self-confidence, I guess, for lack of a better term, come from? I dunno, but figure that out, and you’ll understand something really important about the Left.

    You’re the socially normal ones with the liberal arts educations, but here goes: From whence comes hubris?

    1. A failure-haped hole in their experience: preservation from the intimate consequences of failure. What makes free (ish) markets humane and successful is not being allowed to take profits, but being required to accept failure while being preserved (mostly) from the catastrophic consequences of same.
    2. Parent-shaped holes in their mental furniture. Pace the Crow, “Mother is the word for God in the hearts of little children” ** These children learn about love, power, and relationships from other children.
    3. Most probably, a God-shaped hole in their souls. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. Wisdom = eschewing hubris for humility.

    The devil is in the details, but the Left is mostly just globo-homo pozzed normies.

    *Probably Thomas Sowell, but not original to me .
    **Vanity Fair

  10. AvatarTypoist

    Another angle. Learning not to treat people as dolls is part of growing up. (Maria in ‘Mistress Masham’s Repose’ springs to mind.) I think a lot of leftism is very slow maturity, or none at all.

  11. AvatarMBlanc46

    No one who seeks office should be allowed to hold office. But some common functions need to be performed, so there need to be offices. I’ve often thought that selection by lots, as the ancient Athenians practiced for a while, might be the best method. Of course, they didn’t allow women or slaves or riff-raff in the pool, so the selectees were likely to be mostly not beyond the fringe. In our case, should we go that route, that would mean no women, no Negroes, and no obvious perverts in the pool. However, if we stick with elections, I have a hard time imagining anyone that I’d prefer to our gracious host. Not that I want him running my life (or your life). But just performing the common functions that have to be performed.

  12. AvatarFeinGul

    Every aspect of our lives politicized and yet the allure of power eludes so many…

    There’s no more hidden a reason than basic human nature. Yet million of words are written psychoanalyzing Basic Bitch brats.

    To what end? If you can’t get it on its face you can’t get it.

  13. AvatarMartinian

    Damian’s point that it’s a Psychology not an Ideology is a good reminder.

    This another reason why it’s so important to get the pulse of the zeitgeist.

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