We at LSS have always had a weakness for the Enlightenment. You know, that period of history starting with Spinoza and moving through Locke and Hume right up until Voltaire and co. When the defining features of our modern world were laid down. Observation would discover evidence, and reason would then organise that evidence into action. The resultant leaps in science and technology have transformed the lives of millions ever since. And for a long time, societies which held true to those principles in their political institutions were the most successful in the world.
The deep existential tragedy of our times is that reason no longer works. There are millions who no longer consider demonstrable fact as sufficient cause to change their beliefs. Who cannot reason from belief to consequence. We must find out why, or die.
Writing in the Atlantic, Peter Wehner* Why Trump supporters Can’t admit who he really is uses supporters of the Orange Forty fifth President of the United States as his case study; the Atlantic is an American magazine after all. But the conclusions are universal. We are glad that someone is tackling this issue. We are proud that he cites the work of Amy Chua, an author whom we have often recommended in these blogs. He offers this insight from Jonathan Rauch
“Motivation conditions cognition” Very few Trump supporters I know are able to offer an honest appraisal of the man. To do so creates too much cognitive dissidence.
People in terror no longer think rationally; other areas of the brain take over, and the result is a maelstrom of frenzy, emotion and despair.
Wehner knows this unreason is not confined to the political right, describing the base depths that Clinton supporters abjected themselves to in order to maintain their man in the White House. And no one has been a better critic of the Left’s Stalinist imposition of norms in academe and the media than Nick Cohen of the Observer.* But as Cohen correctly observes “moral equivalence is not practical equivalence. He states “all extremists threaten us-but it’s the radical right we should fear now”. He is correct. They have most of the money. They have most of the media. Above all they have the Golden Myth, that once the Chosen People lived in a Land of Lost Content. The Left by contrast are a rabble of academics, activists and misfits whose mutual hatreds and nervous excitements makes them incapable of mounting any serious organisation. Until the centre can find a critical mass of people and resources, the future may be very bleak indeed.
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