The Liberal’s New Clothes

20 May

I was planning to write something different, then this occurred to me and I decided it rated a post of its own.  And I was in a cranky mood at the time.

There are times when I really think people should be forced to read The Emperor’s New Clothes at Secondary School (12-18) and think about its deeper meaning. I imagine that most teenagers would object to reading a kid’s story, but the fable does have a profound meaning that resonates through the ages.

The basic story, of course, is well known. A pair of swindlers convince a king that they can make him a magic suit of clothes. To a wise man, they tell him, the garment is a beautiful set of robes; to a fool, it is absolutely invisible. The king, naturally not wanting to appear a fool, promptly tells the swindlers that it is a magnificent garment indeed. And his queen, equally determined not to appear a fool agrees. And so does everyone in the palace. As the song goes, ‘it’s just the thing to wear on Saturday’s parade, leading the royal brigade.’

So the king walks out stark naked, knowing – at some level – that he’s in the nude, but unwilling to admit it to himself. And everyone admires the set of clothes so much that, perhaps, he begins to truly believe in them … right up to the moment a small boys shouts out ‘the king is naked!’

Terry Prachett, may he rest in peace, had a pithy comment on the whole story that should be borne in mind. The Emperor’s New Clothes is a story about a small boy who sees through the lies and calls out the truth, embarrassing the king and exposing his complete lack of fitness to rule. But it’s also the story of the small boy who was sharply rebuked by his father for being rude to royalty … and also the story of the crowd that was rounded up by the soldiers and told to pretend the whole embarrassing episode didn’t happen on pain of death.

(This was in a Discworld book, but I have been unable to locate the source.)

Ok, so what does this have to do with the modern age – and liberals? No one could be this stupid, right?

Well, there’s a reason I suggested everyone should read the story, because if there is one thing liberals are good at, it is the manipulation of words.

Put the correct buzzwords into an argument, liberals discovered years ago, and the argument will avoid any cold-blooded scrutiny that might reveal its flaws. ‘Liberal’ sounds so much better than ‘conservative,’ ‘progressive’ sounds so much better than ‘reactionary’. Who can argue against progress? Of course, one could make progress forward until one falls off a cliff – having decided that reversing or altering course is reactionary – and one can be supremely liberal until one discovers, the hard way, that one has allowed people too many liberties and they use them to hang you from the nearest lamppost.

Dictators were quick to take advantage of this curious blindspot. What is wrong with a state that calls itself the ‘Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’? (Well, apart from the fact there isn’t a single truthful word in the name?) Or the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea? (Which is at least marginally more accurate, as it does control North Korea.) And then there’s the absurd quest among liberals for an agreement, ink on paper, between the West and Iran. Or Israel and Palestine. Or a hundred other flashpoints where liberals have been trying hard to paper over the fact that the Emperor has no clothes. To the liberal mindset, having the agreement is all that matters …

…Choosing to completely ignore the fact that dictatorships feel free to ignore any agreement that isn’t actually enforced.

This gets worse, believe it or not. Liberals have demonised the word ‘racist’ so much that the mere hint that someone is racist leads to hasty back-treading, or outraged condemnation from the perpetually offended if the accused does anything other than genuflecting to liberal orthodoxy. A rational society demands that the accused be proved guilty, not have to prove his guilt; liberals demand the accused prove his innocence … and, as there is no way to prove a negative, the accused is unable to remove the stain of the accusation. The charge of racism – and sexism, homophobia, etc – makes it impossible to hold a rational argument, if only because everyone knows that such people are invariably wrong. Is there any point in arguing with someone who seems to be arguing from a blatantly racist point of view?

Unsurprisingly, this results in shattering levels of contempt for so-called liberals from everyone else. Why? It is far from impossible that the so-called racist is arguing from a far more reasonable point of view than bloody-minded racism. A person who thinks the thugs who recently ran riot through Baltimore should be imprisoned, rather than being allowed to run free, isn’t a racist, but someone who has a respect for the rule of law. But anyone who makes public statements to this effect runs the risk of having spurious charges of horrific bad-think levelled against him, isolating him from his supporters or the mainstream community. I honestly don’t think liberals grasp just how strongly their bullying tactics are detested, or how bad it will be when this hatred and rage finally explodes.

This ties back to the quote I used earlier. Yes, people may see the nakedness of the argument for what it really is and turn on the king. Or the person who points out the truth may be vilified for daring to suggest that the king is naked. Or the bosses may use deadly force to maintain the illusion, even though everyone knows the truth.

Or, perhaps, that they will walk out one day and discover that it’s a very cold day and they’re freezing to death …

… And their new clothes simply do not exist outside their deluded minds.

Advertisements

14 Responses to “The Liberal’s New Clothes”

  1. David P. Graf May 21, 2015 at 12:03 am #

    Unfortunately, liberals have no monopoly when it comes to double talk. For example, I have heard some conservatives blast almost any government program because it creates “dependency” but God help you if you try to take away their medicare and social security.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard May 21, 2015 at 12:19 am #

      That’s the Best You Can Do? IE Claim that Conservatives are “as bad as Liberals”.

      • David P. Graf May 21, 2015 at 3:15 am #

        Note that I referred to “some conservatives” not all conservatives. I think that the ability to fool oneself and others through wordplay is not ideological in nature but simply to use a very overused phrase part of the “human condition”.

    • Dennis the Menace May 21, 2015 at 12:26 am #

      No hypocrisy there despite your incorrect belief otherwise.

      For decades the Feds sold everyone the BS that those programs were ‘paid into’ by individuals and even at one point used the term ‘accounts’ when in fact it is just one enforced Ponzi scheme.

      So, they feel entitled to what they paid in for. That’s all. Perfectly rational expectation on their part regardless of ideology.

      Whereas, when the day comes where the bulk of the public finally realize that they are really just another form pay-as-the-government-can-tax…er, “get contributions” welfare programs…that is the day those programs become as politically vulnerable as every other welfare program in America ends up being.

      That day is close at hand and especially so for younger generations who know that they will be paying in more than they will ever get out of it.

  2. Dennis the Menace May 21, 2015 at 12:22 am #

    “There are times when I really think people should be forced to read The Emperor’s New Clothes at Secondary School (12-18) and think about its deeper meaning. I imagine that most teenagers would object to reading a kid’s story, but the fable does have a profound meaning that resonates through the ages.”

    That can be very easily fixed…at least for teenage boys by having a version that swaps out the Emperor with Kim Kardashian. (wink) 🙂

    “The basic story, of course, is well known. A pair of swindlers convince a king that they can make him a magic suit of clothes. To a wise man, they tell him, the garment is a beautiful set of robes; to a fool, it is absolutely invisible. ”

    Such is the main story of how Keynesians have caused a long running human rights crime against generations of people who would have suffered from the loss of prosperity as they have do to Keynesian ongoing warfare on savings and sound money.

    “But it’s also the story of the small boy who was sharply rebuked by his father for being rude to royalty … and also the story of the crowd that was rounded up by the soldiers and told to pretend the whole embarrassing episode didn’t happen on pain of death.”

    In the above analogy concerning Keynesians, the ‘father’ is folks like Paul Krugman and Thomas Piketty. The ‘boy’ is folks last named ‘Hayek’, ‘Sowell’, ‘Laffer’ and ‘Tamny’.

    ” because if there is one thing liberals are good at, it is the manipulation of words.”

    That’s why I fight back by using labels like ‘watermelon’ (hard core communist red on the inside camouflaged with a thin veneer of fake environmentalist green on the outside). For the truly deserving, ‘libtard’ works.

    They all complain that is hate speech, etc. But all it does is prove that the labels strike home. The truth hurts for all those idiotic emperors just like the one in the story.

    “This gets worse, believe it or not. Liberals have demonised the word ‘racist’ so much that the mere hint that someone is racist leads to hasty back-treading, or outraged condemnation from the perpetually offended if the accused does anything other than genuflecting to liberal orthodoxy”

    Or it means “ANY criticism of Obama”. ‘Sexist’ means the same thing except you swap out Obama’s name for Shrillary’s.

    “Unsurprisingly, this results in shattering levels of contempt for so-called liberals from everyone else. Why? It is far from impossible that the so-called racist is arguing from a far more reasonable point of view than bloody-minded racism. A person who thinks the thugs who recently ran riot through Baltimore should be imprisoned, rather than being allowed to run free, isn’t a racist, but someone who has a respect for the rule of law. But anyone who makes public statements to this effect runs the risk of having spurious charges of horrific bad-think levelled against him, isolating him from his supporters or the mainstream community. I honestly don’t think liberals grasp just how strongly their bullying tactics are detested, or how bad it will be when this hatred and rage finally explodes”

    Yep. The Democrats ‘RACIST!’ and ‘SEXIST!’ faux-demonizations proves that they are hell bent on making sure that no straight white male or married white female EVER considers voting them again via that very process. I’m not complaining, mind you. I think it is great!

    “Or, perhaps, that they will walk out one day and discover that it’s a very cold day and they’re freezing to death …

    … And their new clothes simply do not exist outside their deluded minds.”

    No. Aliens with all the winning lotto tickets for the next 100 years will publicly land on the White House lawn before THAT happens.

  3. Michael Jørgensen May 21, 2015 at 10:53 am #

    Just a FYI: The original story is by Hans Christian Andersen “The Emperor’s New Clothes”.

    It is (or was) taught in Danish schools both as a fun story and for the deeper meaning.

  4. Tom May 22, 2015 at 2:02 am #

    “(This was in a Discworld book, but I have been unable to locate the source.)”

    Thief of Time.

  5. Ken Rought May 22, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

    FWIW, I hate the terms liberal and conservative. That suggests that you can pigeon-hole people. Most people are much more complex than that and many so-called liberals and conservatives actually find, when they sit down to talk, that there are many things they agree on. I realize that labels are convenient but they also obscure much and tend to interfere with meaningful conversation. Just a comment from someone who has been around since the 1940s…

    • David P. Graf May 23, 2015 at 1:56 am #

      Ken,

      You are so right. It’s funny how descriptive labels and what they mean to others can change over time. For example, how would you describe someone who busted the budget, signed bills that raised taxes, put together a bipartisan plan to provide more funding for Social Security and had the first gay couple to stay overnight in the White House? Pretty good chance that many would describe that President as a liberal but it was Ronald Reagan. I think that labels are used more as a way anymore to rally the faithful to troop to the polls and vote for particular candidates. Since I believe that we as humans are fallible, I don’t think that anyone has a monopoly on all the truth. My beef is with ideologues of any stripe who consider the harm done to ordinary people by their pet ideas as just collateral damage not worth bothering about.

      • Duncan Cairncross May 24, 2015 at 4:40 am #

        I agree I agree almost entirely
        The only problem is the “conservatives” (not “real” conservatives -just the ones that run the republican party) are the ones that are naked)

        Have a wee read of this
        http://davidbrin.blogspot.co.nz/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

        Dr Brin is not only a good science fiction writer but also a trained (and quoted) scientist who has a good handle on the problems of our age
        Bring back Adam Smith – we really need him now!

    • ruopp June 4, 2015 at 2:54 pm #

      Ken,

      You’re absolutely right. Liberal-Conservatives, Democrats-Republicans,UMP-PSF, UDC-PSS, all left-wing- right-wing parties in countries like UK, USA, France or Switzerland. They all have a public agenda to gather votes, to make their proposition stronger ion their countries but, as you said, people are much more complex and I have to agree with you. In my country, Switzerland, people tends to vote to the left-wing for communal, and cantonal elections but they vote to left-wing on federal election. Worst is that they can go against all parties when it comes to referendums and popular initiatives.

      The problem in my opinion is that each and every politician has it’s own agenda (keep the power) and they don’t care much for what (we citizens) we have to say.

      Barroso, the former EU commission president said something that ticked me, he said that the EU was an empire, and he meant it.The first time I saw a politician telling the truth. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2Ralocq9uE)

      I use to joke about politicians and I have my favorite question: When do you know a politician is saying a lie? Answer: When s/he opens hers/his mouth.

      Now we’re experimenting what be a real politician means, how he’s so disconnected from the people. On feb 2014 we voted a popular initiative to stop immigration even from EU, despite the fact that we have signed the free movement treaty accord with the EU. One year later, many politicians (probably affected by the peoples decision) decided that we have to vote again, just like the EU had done with Ireland when the Irish had refused the Lisbon treaty. Where’s the democracy there?

      Every time we vote we should vote with our conscience, to people we believe or to matter we believe will be better for us but, yes there is always a but, think that you can’t only vote thinking of you or your family, instead you have to think about your friends, your community, your country. Short sighted votes tend to byte you back after some year and then it’s to late to regret your decision.

  6. Ryshon May 29, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

    I think the bigger problem is that Republicans (“Conservatives”) and Democrats (“Liberals”) as distinct ruling entities, do not really exist. Both parties take smaller issues, abortion, environment, social security, minimum wage, and pretend to have these huge dramatic fights over how different they are, while glossing over the issues that really impact most of our population. The substantially more expensive, poorer quality of our healthcare, the massive income disparity between the folks running the countries government and businesses and everyone else, the continous poisoning of our food and water by blue-blood owned mega-corporations, the ongoing expansion of security policies intended to control, rather than protect our population, and on ad nausea.

    Both parties are solidly committed to enforcing the same status quo, such as interventionism in foreign affairs that has cost us so much in Iraq, Afghanistan, maintaining the efficacy of the 1% grip on power and wealth in the United States and continuing to oppress our population with over-regulation, removal of our privacy under the fourth amendment in the name of “security”, and continuing to reward their good old boys network of bankers and executives with massive bonuses despite terrible performance of their companies to shareholders and pensioners, even bestowing massive golden parachutes when they can no longer publically pretend those same individuals are doing a good job. Don’t get me started on the catering to big pharma, the continued growth of bureaucracy of the federal government, including the IRS, Homeland Security, at the expense of the general population. And we’re fooling ourselves if we ignore the fact that rigid scientific studies have convinced the rest of the planet that GMO food is extremely harmful to homo sapiens in the mid and long term, despite our desire to make nice for Monsanto et al, while they put our countries independent farmers and ranchers out of business through the legal chicanery enforced by our patent office granting what basically amounts to patents of infinite duration and flat our land piracy in the name of copyright infringement. (Look up any of the hundreds of stories of farmers who lost their lands due to lawsuits after GMO seeds were wind planted on their property)

    I think of that line in The Usual Suspects, “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” and I think an updated version is appropriate to today’s political environment. The greatest trick the Republicans and Democrats ever pulled was convincing the world there was actually a substantive difference between the two.

    To paraphrase another classic movie line from the Princess Bride, Political pariest in America are pointless, anyone who says differently is selling something.

  7. Chilled_camo June 8, 2015 at 11:22 pm #

    I think that ultra-radicals on both ends of the pendulum are no bueno for anything… I think that as a rule, conservatives are more hypocritical, however there certainly are some liberals who bathe in hypocrisy every day. It is also a fact that usually conservatives are less educated then liberals… on average. I believe that conservatives should ask themselves; “What have the conservatives/republicans done for me in the past twenty or thirty years?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: