The Failure Of Liberal Self-Awareness
March 1st, 2012 - J. Hodgson
What is ideology? The dictionary defines ideology as, "the body of beliefs that guides a person, institution or group."
Once upon a time, it was understood that everyone had a body of beliefs with which they used to guide themselves or their institutions. In the past ten years or so, liberals/leftists in Canada have dropped the pretence of “belief” and simply presented their opinions as something that they “know”.
So what you may ask? If you have an opinion on something, the difference between knowing that opinion and believing in that opinion is simply a matter of semantics.
Expect it isn’t.
The liberal/left in Canada has, over time, hardened its ideology. They have dug into their ideology so deeply and feel so strongly about it that they no longer believe it to even be ideology. They believe it to be objective fact. In other words, if you disagree with the liberal/left, you disagree with reality.
This has created three great advantages for conservatives in Canada.
#1. The liberal/left is unable to compete in the marketplace of ideas.
In order to debate against the opinions of others, you must take the opinions of others into account. The liberal/left is drastically losing the ability to do this. When counter arguments or ideas are presented to their idea of reality, they simply react with exasperation and indignity. This is on display constantly in the House of Commons, as Liberal/NDP members react to every conservative piece of legislation with claims that Harper is being "ideological".
Is Harper being ideological? Of course!
His ideology is based on conservatism. The problem for the liberal/left is that they think calling someone ideological is somehow a slam dunk dismissal of the argument all together. This is an unsophisticated and inarticulate response. It’s the political equivalent of saying, “Shut up dummy!” How do you win a debate with, “Shut up dummy”?
Answer: You don’t bother.
#2. The liberal/left is unable to sell their ideas to the public.
In the House of Commons, the liberal/left may be able to get away with calling the Conservatives “ideological”, but the only points scored are with people who already agree.
The arrogance of believing that one has a copyright on reality tends to alienate ordinary 'middle of the road' people. The liberal/left doesn’t understand this relational notion and they continue selling the same failing ideas, year after year, to an increasingly disengaged public.
#3. The liberal/left is retarding their own true sense of reality.
When someone uses experience, evidence and reason to develop a set of principles and then uses those principles to inform their worldview...that’s a good thing. When someone internalizes the whole process to the degree that they are unable to separate opinion from fact, then they are at risk of becoming a virtual schizophrenic.
Humility, flexibility and listening are worth a lot when forming an opinion. The liberal/left is running a huge deficit in these areas. Political insularity is creating stagnation which is leading to ever more strident liberal/left orthodoxy.
Until this issue is resolved, the liberal/left in Canada is going to be at a serious disadvantage. They will become increasingly shrill in their arguments. They will defer reasoning to credentialed authorities that parrot liberal orthodoxy. They will spiral further and further down the political spectrum until they are alone and looking into the mirror telling themselves what they believe everyone “knows”.
In the meantime, conservatives who come into contact with liberals/leftists should go out of their way to point out that liberal/left opinions are, themselves, ideological. This serves two purposes.
#1. They will hate it when you do this, and that’s always fun. Driving liberals/leftists crazy can be good for a laugh. They also won’t have much of a comeback since they will be shocked that you would consider their position ideological.
#2. By pointing out that the liberal/left is beholden to an ideology, you’ll actually be helping break down the arrogance of people who are sucked into their views. They may not change their opinions, but they will reframe their notions about their opinions.
In effect, you’ll help stop them from being so insufferable. This will sharpen their ability to self-assess and ultimately add to a better and more sophisticated political dynamic.