Jacob Weisberg’s DoubleThink

Time to point out some more DoubleThink from the Political Left. Here, Jacob Weisberg’s recent ruminations will do. Let’s review his recent article: The Right’s New Left . The Tea Party movement has two defining traits: status anxiety and anarchism.

To some extent it’s a ripoff of an old David Brooks’ article that characterized the Tea Party as the Right’s version of the New Left. I critiqued that Brooks’ article here. Weisberg makes the same mistake as Brooks, conflating the ‘New Left” with hippie counter-culture. They weren’t the same thing. But this allows Weisberg to cast the “political left” as being about “youth” and cool music. You know, the change is “forward-looking.” In contrast, the political right is a bunch of old white geeezers who are looking back to an era of “capitalism” that never existed. Misplaced nostalgia. Well, frankly, I think he is correct to point this out, but this rather important fact apparently didn’t dissuade him from writing The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism Marks the End Of Libertarianism a few years ago. For Weisberg, the historical reality of Laissez Faire Capitalism apparently is dependent on what political argument he is attempting to make.

Now I think Weisberg is largely correct about “status anxiety” of many Tea Partiers, but I also get the feeling that Weisberg suffers from his own status anxiety at the thought of the GOP regaining control. In terms of the Tea party being anarchistic, I would will only say that there are about as anarchistic as Weisberg. No doubt, they are likely revulsed at the idea of Jacob Weisberg telling them what to do, but they probably don’t have any particular revulsion about telling Jacob Weisberg what to do. Likewise, Weisberg, though disparaging Tea Party obedience would, nonetheless likely soften his position on obedience to authority if the authority was Sarah Palin.

Tea Party aside, you get the feeling Weisberg doesn’t have a particularly high opinion of anarchists. He writes:

its antagonism toward any authority, its belligerent style of self-expression, and its lack of any coherent program or alternative to the policies it condemns.

Later in the article, Weisberg correctly writes about the phony resentment of what one may call the “Country Class.” In my original critique of Codevilla’s essay, I noted that the Democratic underclass had suffered much more of the brunt of “Dem Party Elite Rule” than this country class. Unfortunately, that latter point seems to have evaded Weisberg. He talks about how much the elite has helped the poor, minorities and immigrants. This hasn’t occurred in empirical reality but it has, no doubt, occurred in Weisberg’s left-right communitarian DoubleThink reality.

Weisberg sums up his argument by stating that “Nostalgia, resentment, and reality-denial” are characteristics of those who refuse to accept their new social status in a moment of great social change. In empirical reality, there hasn’t been any real change in the hierarchical institutions of of power. The only thing that has changed is the party who wields the power. But in Weisberg’s left-right communitarian DoubleThink reality, there, has been, no doubt, great social change.

Weisberg’s same argument could be levied against radical libertarians. Failure to engage in Weisberg’s DoubleThink reality makes us reality-deniers. As Weisberg states: “The most radical statement of individualism is choosing your own reality.” That’s not actually quite correct. You might be free to choose your own reality but you have to bear the costs of choosing to operate in a phony reality. But there are no such burdens on Weisberg in operating in DoubleThink political reality(which allows the political class to invent their own reality as well). This “reality denial” business, interpreted with an Orwellian lens, given the fact the United States is on it’s way to having the largest, Stasi intelligence State in the history of the world, should be a bit unsettling.


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