Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Topics which don't quite fit into any other category

Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Elliott » 03 Aug 2011, 17:02

Irving Kristol wrote:[A neoconservative is] a liberal who has been mugged by reality


Some people grow up conservative. Others, of whom I am one, started off as liberal but some event, or chain of events, "woke them up".

I think it would be interesting to know what kinds of event do this to people. Are there any others here who were liberals until reality mugged them? Was there a moment in your life when you changed? What caused it?

For me, the event was moving to London, just after turning 19. I had previously lived in Edinburgh, then had a wonderful time at college in Carlisle. I expected university in London to be a similar experience. A big city, lots to do, lots of people to meet... what could go wrong?

I lived in a halls of residence in Tooting. This is an area of London with a large number of Asian and black immigrants. The halls of residence was full to the rafters with foreign students. Though I never counted, I'd estimate at most 10% of the students were British. (The university itself had a much higher proportion of British students, but they were not living in Tooting.) Down there, I was very much alone.

I grew up extremely liberal. I remember once saying to my more conservative brother: "If immigrants don't integrate, it's because we're not being nice enough to them." With these ludicrously naive opinions, I had no grudge against foreign people. When London was on the cards, I didn't really think about diversity. With no experience of it, I was mildly curious, but I was neither dreading nor looking forward to it. I took it as it came, and it came as a vicious onslaught.

It's true that, for personal reasons, I was beginning a downward trajectory in my life at that time, but going to university should have been a positive thing. It should have helped me move on and grow.

Well here's what happened.

All the Chinese students stuck together.

All the Indian students stuck together.

All the Japanese students stuck together.

All the German students stuck together.

All the French students stuck together.

They could all speak English, but only in a pigeon form that made conversation both shallow and tedious. I eventually found it better to avoid conversing with them at all, because it was intensely depressing. So I took the slightly less depressing option of staying in my room and working.

As for the British students... apparently rather embarrassed about being British, they generally drifted from one community to another, resisting each other. I remember asking people about where they'd come from (hometown stories had been lots of fun in Carlisle) but nobody wanted to talk about where they'd come from. It was as if they'd prefer to have grown up in vibrant, multicultural London... not that it was doing anything for them. As I say, these British students tended to look miserable all the time.

For my part, I tried hard to make friends. Too hard perhaps. It wasn't easy. Perhaps, as the cliche goes, London swamped me. But I find it hard to believe that London would have swamped me, at least in the same way, had it been filled with British people.

Within a few months of moving there, I realised that my view of the world had been incredibly naive and needed to be revised. I reluctantly admitted that multiculturalism didn't work. But if I'd been wrong about that, what else had I been wrong about?

So that was the start. That's when I began to grow conservative, though it was a slow process, year by year, issue by issue. I have come to think that grand ideas are all very well but it is more important to conserve the good that already exists than to replace it with an unknown quantity.

I am much less optimistic now than I used to be, and I miss the lightness of thought that being a liberal gives you, that ability to approve of something by default rather than judge it, to be happy with whatever ideas you encounter and whatever people you meet... but the simple fact is, I have to be conservative because I don't think British kids should be alone and despairing when they're at a British university, in the capital city of Britain. It is a mild form of Hell and nobody deserves it.
Elliott
 
Posts: 1800
Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 22:32
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Andrea » 04 Aug 2011, 20:52

Hello Elliott,

I found myself agreeing with several things you wrote. I, having gone through the brainwashing inherent in the university system in the USA, believed that the only way to make the world better was through Socialism and helping poor people. My family were always very conservative and my mother is a highly moral individual, and so I was raised as such, but I was misguided by those I deemed to be my intellectual superiors (the university professors). I was taught to be ashamed of being an American by my professors, and also because most people one encounters seems to dislike- or loathe- Americans. It is my own fault for having believed what I was taught. What opened my eyes to the truth is when I moved to London two years ago. I, very naively, thought London would be full of extremely civilised, intellectual English people. What I found instead, was a society completely broken down, where the natives are apathetic or self-flagellating, and inherently ashamed of their ancestry and history.

I thought I'd come to the land in which William Shakespeare and Jane Austen lived and wrote. The land where exploration and scientific achievement would be in continuation. I felt like a little part of me had died - so disillusioned was I with how ill-mannered, decadent and self-destroying this culture had become. I actually broke down and wept when I finally visited Oxford,as I had taken online courses from Oxford University, as the amount of English tarts (13-14 year old girls dressed as prostitutes) who were wandering around, and the amount of people purposefully getting as drunk as possible was incomprehensible.

Needless to say, I found very little of what I expected. In place of Englishness, we have multiculturalism, that plague which has destroyed London and made many areas look like third-world ghettos. The natives have a terrible dependence on alcohol, as if they are trying to drown their sorrows by being in a state of drunkenness, whilst the new immigrants (some, not all) are actively trying to change our way of life through sheer demographics. I have witnessed horrible acts of inhumanity on the streets of London. I laugh incredulously now when people say we need to help people in Africa or some other far-off land, because it is pretty bad here. We are living in a society which seems like it is on the brink of violence, if you but scratch the surface. The tensions are palpable, if you are sensitive to them. If you look at someone for more than two seconds (like I did in McDonalds in South London when I first arrived) you will be shouted at with loads of hostile language, violent gesticulations and perhaps physical violence.

Just walking to a nearby curry house with my husband a couple of months ago, on the high street, a group of menacing thuggish (feral!) young men walked towards us. I was sure they would attack us. Then the police came, thankfully, and this gang of youths (not from a caucasian community) dispersed, one of them disposed of a gun. Why my husband and I should be afraid to walk on our own street is beyond comprehension.

I have, therefore, been "mugged by reality" and it was not a pleasant experience. I've learned that Westerners are not evil, we are good - we have contributed so very much to this world. We should respect ourselves and our civilisation - there is no shame in it. Every civilisation in the world has done some evil things - but that does not mean we should forevermore be with such a persistent guilt complex. If anything I am more proud to be American than I ever thought possible, and since my husband is English, I am very keen on maintaining western values in our household.
Andrea
 
Posts: 158
Joined: 30 Jul 2011, 21:55
Location: England

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Mike » 04 Aug 2011, 23:42

It wouldn't be completely accurate to describe myself as an "ex-liberal" in that I've still got views on some issues which would be characterised as liberal/progressive, but I've certainly changed my attitudes vastly since university soft-lefty days.

Oddly enough, although there have been other causes for this change, the thing that pushed me most decisively away from the sort of middle-class soft-left consensus which dominates public opinion in Australia (as in Europe) was my experience as a musician.

A few years into my teaching life I jumped ship for a while to try my luck as a jazz muso (something I was absolutely passionate about at the time, and still enjoy very much), and the experiences in that little world were very instructive. There were some very talented musicians in the scene at that time who barely did any playing at all. Practising? No, they hardly did that either. So what did they do? Spend all their time filling in paperwork to apply for government grants.

Now what was truly bizarre was that it was considered somehow more noble to be "pursuing your art" on government money, which in practice meant producing music so abstruse that hardly anyone wanted to hear it, rather than building a solid reputation through your ability and industry doing gigs, as I was trying to do.

The moment of truth really came for me when I read the account in a jazz magazine of how one particular drummer, who shall remain nameless, spent his quite generous government grant. The grant was specifically given so that he could study with a top jazz drummer in New York; in his report, he quite blithely stated that he hadn't been able to track down this drummer for lessons during the time covered by the grant! Instead, he rambled on about how the money had still "contrbuted to his development" and so forth due to his getting into contact with a number of other fine musicians, etc. Shorn of the drivel, the report could have been summarized thus: "I spent taxpayers' money having a great time hanging out with jazz royalty in the Big Apple."

Six months later, he got another grant.

As you can imagine, all this got me thinking. ;)
Mike
 
Posts: 402
Joined: 01 Aug 2011, 11:08
Location: Australia

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Eric » 06 Aug 2011, 22:25

My leftist beliefs were gradually worn down in my late 20s by reading everything I could find by (and about) Orwell. I bet I'm not the only one.

I like to think that my leftism was based on some genuine concern for fair play and decency. I guess leftists who are attracted by power and bossing others around have a very different view on Orwell. If they are honest...

One day I discovered I was a "neo-con" (sorta like Moliere's guy discovering he'd been speaking prose for years!).

But now I'm getting a little fed up with that crowd what with their war fantasies and rather dismal appreciation of economic facts, and am reading the better class of "paleo-con" or libertarian sites (Taki's Mag, Steve Sailer's blog etc.)

I suspect (hope) reading Dalrymple for the first time has influenced more that a few thoughtful young people in a similar manner.
Eric
 
Posts: 1
Joined: 06 Aug 2011, 21:26

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Gavin » 06 Aug 2011, 22:41

What an interesting and personal post, Elliott.

I can personally empathise with many of your experiences and as it happens I am only a mile from Tooting now.

I find myself in something of a minority as being someone who never was a liberal in the first place. I always had a distrust of left wing ideas and they seemed to me rather naive and hypocritical. However, many times I have encountered other people with conservative views who were previously liberal.

There does seem to be a "coming of age" for liberals whereby they grow up intellectually - for some of them, anyway - but as you say being on the right is not an easy place to be as you are no longer fooling yourself about anything. But it is not a defeatist place either. We can keep working to to make the world better, but from a position of being acquainted with reality, which is surely a better place to be.
Gavin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3432
Joined: 27 Jul 2011, 18:13
Location: Once Great Britain

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Rachel » 07 Aug 2011, 15:27

What a facinating thread.

I was never a complete left winger because my Dad's family left Romania after it turned Communist. The Communists took all my family's property. As a kid I'ed hear from him and his family what a complete mess Romania and the whole of Communist Europe was in long before it became common knowledge on TV. From what I've heard, TD's descriptions of Romania in "The Further Shores of Marx" are spot on.

Also I grew up in a working class-lower middle class area in Britain with a extremely socialist council. In school I noticed that all the kids whose parents did not work had newer clothes and more toys than the kids whose parents did work. They also gave free school dinners to the unemployed while those whose parents worked hard at low paying jobs had to budget for sandwiches.
At age 9 I had a friend whose parents had not worked in 13 years. After getting to know her, I could not help noticing that her parents were not really looking for a job - and I'm not being judgemental or mistaken, they really were'nt interested. That's not to say that there aren't many unemployed people who are desperate for a job, particularly in this recession. I'm just talking about this specific girl's parents.

So as a child I hated Communism and saw the beginnings of the long term unemployed underclass. But I still believed in the NHS. I thought it was a wonderful thing and that the state should always make healthcare free to everyone.
That was until I got severely ill myself. My G.P made a real mess of things, left me permanently disabled. I found that I needed to either go private or have connections to someone in the NHS or wait a huge waiting list for an appointment or help. I left Britain because of that. Multiculturalism only took off after I left Britain in 1995. My parents were immigrants who believed in integrating so I never got the multiculturalism thing.
Rachel
 
Posts: 292
Joined: 03 Aug 2011, 10:14
Location: Israel

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Constantine » 09 Aug 2011, 11:00

I know it's somewhat of a cliché but in all honesty the attacks of September 11th 2001 were the turning point for me.

I can vividy remember the aftermath and my feelings of anger and disgust on reading left-wing commentary that attempted to portion blame for the attacks on America and the West.

After that it was a domino-effect conversion as myth after myth was shattered. Inspired energised and liberated, I "rebuilt" my beliefs and worldview.

It was during this time that I came across the works of Mr Dalrymple which have had such a profound effect on me.

Looking back I find it hard to believe how much I adhered to the tenets of liberalism.
Constantine
 
Posts: 14
Joined: 09 Aug 2011, 05:22
Location: Athens, Greece

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Elliott » 09 Aug 2011, 15:02

Constantine wrote:Looking back I find it hard to believe how much I adhered to the tenets of liberalism.
Me too, Constantine. I used to think (at 18) that morality was outmoded!
Elliott
 
Posts: 1800
Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 22:32
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Clinton » 09 Aug 2011, 20:21

Believe it or not, my conversion was the result of my university experience.

Yes, my university was left-wing like almost all universities. But I studied economics. And modern economics instruction (which is in the Neoclassical school) runs counter to almost everything the left believes. By my graduation, I could not imagine how anyone could still believe in things like central planning and government price controls. And it didn't hurt that the Soviet Union imploded and the Berlin Wall fell during my tenure there.

To this day, I am still mostly an economic conservative, which is probably ironic considering I am such an admirer of Dalrymple, and his work focuses mostly on social issues.
Clinton
 
Posts: 8
Joined: 30 Jul 2011, 23:25

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Elliott » 09 Aug 2011, 20:25

It's good to see you here, Clinton!

Clinton wrote:Yes, my university was left-wing like almost all universities.


Would you like to elaborate on this, in this thread? I'm curious about people's perceptions of left-wing bias.
Elliott
 
Posts: 1800
Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 22:32
Location: Edinburgh

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Caleb » 21 Oct 2011, 04:07

I haven't so much been mugged by reality as gang raped by it.

I grew up in a household that I would describe as having been small c conervative on social issues, but small l liberal on economic issues. My family were heavily influenced by strong Christianity when I was young (though they later got out of that). My father was a very active member of the Australian Labor Party when I was young. He handed out political literature and scutineered (oversaw vote counting). My parents had very middle class values.

My father started his own business when I was about thirteen, and despite (or because of) trying to remain very left wing in how he treated his employees, he became progressively conservative in a very reactionary way due to his dealings with them and their union. I also saw his employees engage in the most absurd, self-destructive personal behaviour. The most egregious example was probably one who won the lottery such that she could have bought seven or eight decent houses at the time. Within five years, she had blown it all and was back on skid row working for my father in his factory. These days, my parents are a lot wealthier than they were when I was a child, probably because of their outlook on life. However, I also find many of their views to be extremely reactionary and somewhat distasteful at times, so I'm certainly not willing to embrace that kind of conservatism.

At the age of eight/nine, my parents pulled me out of the government education system because of poor academic standards there, but more importantly, because of the poor disciplinary standards. They sent me to a private Christian boys' school. I have very mixed feelings about that school. On the one hand, we did perform better academically than government schools, but I think we were simply better at performing within a fundamentally flawed curriculum. I think my basic understanding of the three Rs is probably pretty good. This may be to do with my particular school, being right at the tail end of a time when such things were important, or it may have been because of my parents' very active role in the education of their children. Probably a combination of all three. However, secondary school, I can honestly say, was almost a complete waste of time. Despite better grades than the local government school student, I emerged having had almost no exposure to "the classics" and with scant knowledge or understanding of a bigger picture to do with our culture, history, etc. Most of what I learnt in secondary school I have since forgotten and most of what I know now I learnt outside of school. Conservatism as an ideology was present at the grand level (and manifested itself mostly in school assemblies), though most teachers didn't actually show any sort of ideological bias. They just taught what they taught.

Also, I am of very mixed feelings about the disciplinary issues at my school. Discipline was often quite harsh. In retrospect, I have no issue with that (though I did, of course, at the time). However, there were times when there seemed to be absurd rules simply for their own sake, and these were rigidly enforced. The thing I have/had the biggest problem though was the way bullying and privilege was institutionalised for certain groups through a prefect system.

After leaving school, I was pretty reactionary at university at first. I was off the leash. I embraced all sorts of liberal positions. However, I also quickly came to realise that a lot of that was wrong. In my first year of university, I joined the student wing of the Labor Party, but quickly realised the broader left wing body was pretty nutty and got out of student politics.

At university, I studied history (very politically correct and left wing), classics (very apolitical and intellectually rigorous), psychologly (not so much left wing as just completely neurotic) and philoosophy. I ended up doing an honours degree in philosophy. My department was actually remarkably conservative though, both in the material (there were almost no courses on 20th century continental philosophy) and the outlook of the professors.

Where I really began my mugging was a few years after graduating when I returned to study to become a teacher. I already had an inkling of things being messed up because I'd begun to head in the direction of libertarianism about the same time.

To their credit, certain professors were excellent and ideologically neutral. However, others made no attempt to even veil their left wing agenda, and I (and to a lesser extent, certain other students) did constant battle with them.

I worked for a short time in Australia after completing my credentials, but then headed to the U.K. to live, work and travel for two years (about half of which was spent outside the U.K.). Working as a supply teacher in London was a real eye opener. However, the real nadir for me came working in a middle class school for about half a year.

I can pinpoint the exact moment the vestiges of my liberalism came crumbling down. I vividly remember my surroundings and the students. It was February of 2003, and I was teaching a sociology class to 16 and 17 year olds. Of course, the entire curriculum was couched in feminist and Marxist perspectives. Anyway, in passing, I had mentioned democracy. One of the students asked what that meant. So, I asked if anyone in the class could define or explain what democracy was. After about two minutes (during which time I became more and more incredulous), one of the students asked if it had anything to do with voting.

I told the students that the U.K. was pretty certain to be involved in a war fairly soon (the Iraq War began the following month), and that potentially, some of the boys in the class could be fighting (and dying) within a year. I said that it wasn't a matter of me trying to push any particular opinion about that war, but that the students should be aware of how the process occurs that allows a country such as the U.K. to become involved in that war, a war which could potentially affect the lives of some of the students.

Until that point, I'd always assumed that once people got over the hump of putting food on the table or a roof over their heads, that they would use their leisure time to learn more about the world and better themselves. In short, I'd assumed that the middle class were, broadly, like my own family: not only aware of how society works, but concerned and active participants. Yet here were middle class kids who had new mobile phones and holidays with their families to Spain, but who didn't know or care about anything beyond such things. It was at that point that I realised the middle class is as morally bankrupt as the underclass, and only slightly better behaved. There has been no turning back.

Seemingly, the only values that are taught in British schools these days are what I term soft-environmentalism and soft-multiculturalism. You don't have to actually know anything about environmental science, and you can consume like a ravenous beast. You just have to feel nice about the environment. Likewise, you don't actually have to know anything about your own culture or another culture, you just have to feel nice about cultures.

Upon returning to Australia, I witnessed more of the same in government schools, including those in upper-middle class suburbs. Academic standards were a joke, as were disciplinary expectations, and the values of soft-environmentalism and soft-multiculturalism were omnipresent. Middle class parents always complain about these lack of standards, yet whenever their own children are brought up, they never want to believe that their own children could be anything less than perfect angels, let alone part of the problem. Then again, the parents won't admit that they are part of the problem.

I left Australia a bit over four years ago and moved to Taiwan. Partly, it was so I could live abroad again and travel, partly it was so I could save more money (something difficult to do as a teacher in much of the West these days), and partly because I'd just had enough.

Yet Taiwan, and Asia more broadly, is hardly peachy. My students rote learn everything and their entire education system is highly test-oriented. Yet I wouldn't trust most of these kids to go down to the shop and buy me a drink. They have absolutely no ability to apply anything they "know" and are incapable of critical thinking. Their knowledge about the outside world is terrible. Then again, they know little to nothing about their own geography, history, politics, etc., though they are blindly patriotic.

Every day in this country, at approximately 7am and 3pm, one or two million kids sweep and clean their schools. Yet the routes to and from this school are completely littered. Indeed, the entire island is covered in litter and is generally environmentally degraded.

Likewise, the students spend endless amounts of time lining up and standing at attention, yet whenever people try to board or alight from a train there's a complete free for all. Likewise, the traffic here is insane.

They're obsessed with learning values in school here, by which they mean Confucian values. I actually think that's a large part of the problem because it's all concerned with the outward projection of authority and one's position in the heirarchy. The net result is that might is right and when authority isn't present, all bets are off. There's certainly no internalisation of ethics by many people here. Workers rights, the rights of minorities, the rights of individuals generally, the rule of law and all the rest of it are almost the complete opposite of the West. At times, it's like living in a dystopian novel. God help us if this is going to be an Asian century.

I needed to get my head out of this for a while, so last year, my wife and I travelled for about five months in Southeast Asia. Many Westerners love Southeast Asia (one guy I met listed his priorities when he arrives in a new place as "a mango and a massage"), but I found it to be even worse than Taiwan. It is a socially backward, corrupt part of the world with very little social justice and the arbitrary exercise of power. Whether it has always been that way (I suspect) or tourism has brought that out, I don't know. Western tourists in Southeast Asia are often appalling too, and not just in their anti-social and disrespectful behaviour. On the one hand, they will acknowledge that the traffic is crazy, and that the border guards corrupt, yet they won't acknowledge that cultures that produce and continue to allow such things are bad cultures, and they certainly won't admit that such cultures are generally inferior to their own culture (despite the fact that they'd never actually want to live in a place like Cambodia themselves). Then again, why would they? The average tourist in Southeast Asia probably couldn't tell you which form of Buddhism is practised in Cambodia, let alone any details about it. Then again, why would they? They couldn't really describe or explain any of the deeper details (such as the religious history) of their own nations.

A typical example of this was a Canadian I met who proceeded to tell me that the current conservative government in Canada is trying to dumb students down. I asked him how so. He told me that he didn't know what an MP was (Member of Parliament -- and I'm pretty sure that they're fairly similar in both Australia and Canada, both being derived from Westminster). There was the inconvenient issue of him having attended school under a left wing government, but let's not let that get in the way of a good conspiracy. Whilst I didn't actually believe that he had not been taught that in school (I think he had been either absent or fooling around at the time), I humoured him. I asked him if he thought it might be incumbent upon him then, to subvert this conspiracy, to go to a public library or use the internet to find out what an MP was. He told me that was the government's job. When I pointed out that, according to him, the government wouldn't do that since it was obviously involved in the conspiracy to keep him stupid, he simply couldn't acknowledge the circular nature of his argument.

So it goes. These days, I really don't know what to think anymore. I'm so punch drunk it's not funny.

One final point is that demographics is going to be the final blow. Even if we say that my experiences with the middle class are not representative, the middle class are being outbred by not only an indigenous underclass that is largely hostile to what we consider to be civilisation, but more importantly, an imported underclass that is completely hostile to that. There is a case in point in Scandinavia. That region is often held up as being the perfect model of liberalism, yet faced with an antagonistic Muslim populace that grows larger by the day, they are faced with two options, neither of them liberal. One is to succumb. The other is to become more conservative as an adaptive mechanism for survival. One way or the other, we will see the death of liberalism within a few generations, if the whole thing doesn't collapse under its own bad economic policies.

I despair for this though because whilst I can acknowledge that there is a lot that is wrong with the West on both the left and the right, what will replace it, either from outside (i.e. Muslim immigration or the rise of Chinese hegemony) or from within (and here I'm thinking of the rise of extremely xenophobic political parties) will be far worse.
Caleb
 
Posts: 865
Joined: 20 Oct 2011, 04:44

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Rachel » 22 Oct 2011, 20:22

Caleb, your post was facinating.
I really appreciate you writing it. The description of Taiwan was particularly interesting.
I have never been to the Far East but I really enjoyed reading it. It brought it all to life for me.

Caleb wrote:.... Working as a supply teacher in London was a real eye opener. However, the real nadir for me came working in a middle class school for about half a year.

I can pinpoint the exact moment the vestiges of my liberalism came crumbling down. I vividly remember my surroundings and the students. It was February of 2003, and I was teaching a sociology class to 16 and 17 year olds. Of course, the entire curriculum was couched in feminist and Marxist perspectives. Anyway, in passing, I had mentioned democracy. One of the students asked what that meant. So, I asked if anyone in the class could define or explain what democracy was. After about two minutes (during which time I became more and more incredulous), one of the students asked if it had anything to do with voting.

....Until that point, I'd always assumed that once people got over the hump of putting food on the table or a roof over their heads, that they would use their leisure time to learn more about the world and better themselves. In short, I'd assumed that the middle class were, broadly, like my own family: not only aware of how society works, but concerned and active participants. Yet here were middle class kids who had new mobile phones and holidays with their families to Spain, but who didn't know or care about anything beyond such things. It was at that point that I realised the middle class is as morally bankrupt as the underclass, and only slightly better behaved. There has been no turning back..


I wonder if the students knew what democracy was but were just deciding not to participate or "couldn't be bovvered" to answer. I find it hard to believe that they really did not know what democracy was.
Rachel
 
Posts: 292
Joined: 03 Aug 2011, 10:14
Location: Israel

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Caleb » 24 Oct 2011, 06:57

Oh yeah, Asia is a crazy place. In many ways it's very diverse, but there is also a common thread in all of the places I've been to. Taiwan is kind of further down that continuum from Myanmar, but it's on a different continuum to various Western nations. My wife and I went to Australia during the summer (winter there) and when she returned she actually remarked that the whole place (Taiwan) looked like Vietnam! Haha. It's actually really interesting to see how much my wife has changed since I've known her. When we met, she'd never been out of Taiwan, but she's since been to Australia a couple of times, Scandinavia, and most of Southeast Asia. She can see a lot of the good and bad points in both Asia, specifically Taiwan, and the West. In many ways, I've become more mellow about the things that frustrate me here while she's become more vocally indignant about things that she wouldn't have thought twice about before.

It's really changing very rapidly, which is creating all sorts of social upheaval. Imagine taking the past two and a half centuries of technological and social development in the West and compressing those things into a couple of generations. They just don't have any of the same cultural reference points with regard to these things either, so something that appears really familiar can often be completely surprising here.

The Westerners here in Taiwan are an interesting lot, though supposedly, they're even crazier in China, which has a lot of entrepreneurs, apparently. It's mostly an English teaching crowd and/or those married to locals in Taiwan as it's a different economy, more developed and Westerners have been here longer. On the other hand, various Southeast Asian nations have different crowds. Some have a lot of people working in NGOs. Others have a lot more tourists. Thailand is a real mixed bag and there are all sorts of interesting characters there (plus lots of cretins). I met a guy from Kazakhstan who sold real estate to Russian expats amongst other things. I think I've seen enough of Southeast Asia though. There were some things I liked, but very few of the places I went to really appealled to me because they seemed to attract people I wasn't really interested in and the wealth (and therefore educational and cultural) differences between locals and me meant I didn't have much in common with them either.

You could be right that my former students did know what democracy was, though I'm not so sure they actually could have described it beyond it being something about voting. From my experiences of teaching humanities in Australia, and also reflecting upon when I was a student, I suspect that not that many people really know what it's all about. In my case, I was interested in school, but more importantly, I came from a family that was very politically active. Otherwise, I don't think I'd have been much different.
Caleb
 
Posts: 865
Joined: 20 Oct 2011, 04:44

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Gavin » 24 Dec 2011, 23:42

Relevant to this thread, I have recently been reflecting on the way that many people who one might expect to be cultural conservatives actually turn out to be liberals, highly sympathetic to rioters, thugs, rapists and so on. My point here is, why are some not 'mugged by reality'? Indeed they become more liberal as they age.

My belief is that those who do this have usually had unusually comfortable and privileged lives and have not been at close quarters with the underclass. I believe that in, say, their 60s, they think to themselves something along these lines:

"I am a decent enough fellow. Most of the people I know are decent enough. If anyone behaves badly - as I have heard they do - then this surely must be because they have not had such a privileged life as me. And if they have not, then this has probably not been their fault, and might even have been mine."

Middle class liberal guilt, then. This motivates one to consider the central difference between the liberal (idealist) and what I would call the realist outlook. It ultimately boils down to liberals believing that human beings are at heart good, and realists believing that very often people will do wrong if they can get away with it, simply because they can do so. Realists, then, believe that human beings are flawed, and we must keep those flaws under control to preserve civilisation. One of the greatest illustrations of this, for me, was Lord of the Flies.

If I may take Richard Dawkins as an example of a liberal, in his documentary The Root of All Evil he says:

"I believe there is kindness, charity and generosity in human nature ... As social animals we've worked out that we wouldn't want to live in a society where it was acceptable to rape, murder or steal. We have a moral conscience and a mutual empathy and it is constantly evolving."

I was a little uncomfortable with Dawkins' generality in this remark. Let's just say he made it prior to the English riots. In much of my daily life I would say it is, on the contrary, alarming how many people (apparently an increasing number) seem to have no conscience at all. I assume Dawkins has mixed in somewhat privileged circles, different from my own, throughout most of his life. (Until recent years I had not known that Dawkins was a liberal, but his recent guest editorship of the New Statesman, along with the vulgarity he allowed on his forums and other somewhat PC attitudes make this perfectly clear.)

Anyway, this, I believe, is the core difference between liberals and realists - a naïveté about human nature. Some liberals are awoken from their delusion when mugged. Some, alas, even blame themselves.
Gavin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3432
Joined: 27 Jul 2011, 18:13
Location: Once Great Britain

Re: Ex-liberals: when were you mugged by reality?

Postby Damo » 27 Dec 2011, 14:44

Gavin, a lot of liberals I meet these days seem to work in very well paid jobs dealing with the underclass. Community outreach officers, multicultural hip hop coordinators and other such rubbishy non jobs.

As Thomas Sowell said 'the poor are a goldmine'.
Damo
 
Posts: 165
Joined: 09 Aug 2011, 16:09

Next

Return to Other Topics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron

Login Form

Who is online

In total there are 2 users online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 2 guests (based on users active over the past 5 minutes)
Most users ever online was 175 on 12 Jan 2015, 18:23

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests
Copyright © Western Defence. All Rights Reserved.