One of the main reasons that people fall for Progressivism is that the propaganda appeals to their vanity. People who know themselves to be of low morals or ability enjoy the egalitarian assurances that they are just as good as the virtuous and the competent. Those with a bit more intelligence savor the image of themselves as generous benefactors, enough that they are willing to steal billions from every productive citizen in the realm to continue feeling that way. And liberals seem to devote inordinate time to complimenting each other on how enlightened their opinions are.
But another reason which I had overlooked until now is that Progressive propaganda appeals to people’s optimism. We conservatives are always raining on the parade by pointing out reality, and reality, a lot of the time, is a downer. Reality is full of consequences, failure, mean people, human fallibility, germs, falling rocks, etc.
Just how powerful a force foolish optimism is wasn’t clear to me until I was in a bookstore a few days ago. I took a look at the works of a certain authoress who’s been recommended to me, one of those who writes basically romance novels only longer and with more plot. I read a few random pages and realized that there was no way I could possibly read an entire book of this. I don’t read romances, not out of intellectual snobbery but because the fictional universes in such works require a fundamental optimism I can’t believe in. The fiction I read tends to involve wars, lots of people dying, and star-crossed lovers. Indeed, a few years ago I went through a phase where I could only watch westerns and classic war movies, in which a happy ending generally meant the hero dying bravely, because I couldn’t endure facile assurances that things – any things – would turn out all right in the end.
I was amazed recently when some people I know, who I had thought were sensible, started recommending The Secret. I knew someone was buying that vile book (and the celebrities who are promoting it are all known liberals), it just never occurred to me that I would ever actually come into contact with such a person. But the number of copies that have sold is a demonstration of how badly people want to be sold fairy tales -and it’s an insult to call that pack of lies a fairy tale, because real fairy tales forced their protagonists to suffer and show great merit before giving them a pot of gold and a beautiful spouse.
Most self-help books are the same tripe, that one is just a distillation of the genre. There are a few self-help books that take the tough-love approach, but the fact that I’m having trouble thinking of examples just shows how much less successful these are.
Back in the days when I was exploring New Age folderol, I belonged to a sort of club of Tarot card readers. I must say that, while we were searching in the wrong places, the members of that club were sincerely seeking understanding and spirituality. One of the members decided that since she enjoyed reading cards so much, working for one of those 1-900 numbers would be a good deal for her. What she didn’t realize, though perhaps it should have been obvious, was that the people who call those numbers were not like the serious seekers in our club. Her callers wanted to be told that fortune and romance were just around the corner, regardless of what idiot mistakes they were making. One of them was on parole and asked her if he was going to stay out of prison – as if this were a matter of Fate over which he had no control. She tried to read the cards honestly. She was fired in a week.
During Dubya’s administration, one evening I listened to a speech he gave about terorrism. Everything he said about it was self-evidently true and I really couldn’t see – ah, for those naïve days – how liberals could possibly take exception to any of it.
The next day yielded a pile of editorials and blog posts whining about how Dubya was “playing on our fears”, “promoting fear”, and other trite phrases for fear-mongering. I saw then, though I didn’t pay enough attention to the revelation at the time, that what liberals want is a government which will tell them comforting lies, like the kind parents tell frightened toddlers so they can get to sleep. When a politician – or anyone – mentions facts to them, it makes them very angry. No wonder they can’t handle having it pointed out to them that their economic policies are going to lead to (more) disaster; they can’t even endure hearing that terrorism exists no matter how manifest its existence is.
Small wonder Progressivism steadily gains ground. Progressives tells everyone who obeys them that they are wonderful people and that as long as those mean old right-wingers don’t spoil it for everyone, Hussein Obama is going to lead us to a paradise of bunnies, bread and circuses. How the hell can facts and logic compete with that?