Voices Of Reason
Ben Smith notes that George Packer and Andrew Sullivan are lamenting the irrationality of the right and he posits that liberals are going to be increasingly relying on this argument the more we lose.
He might be right about that. But I would love to know where people have been the last decade or so. The right impeached a president over sex, they stole and election, they invaded a country that hadn't attacked us and they created a bizarroworld media which purposefully misinforms its audience. This isn't new.
In fact, the dirty hippies like me have been talking about "epistemic relativism," "PoMo conservatism" (terms I coined to annoy wingnuts) for years now, and long before the serious people noticed "epistemic closure". A very famous (and fat) politician even wrote a book about it called The Assault on Reason. It's just a little bit late in the game for for our intellectual betters to take notice of something that's been going on for quite a long time.
But it's not confined to the right anymore. It has lately manifested itself on the left as well, as Packer demonstrates here:
This is why Obama seems less and less able to speak to and for our times. He’s the voice of reason incarnate, and maybe he’s too sane to be heard in either Jalalabad or Georgia. An epigraph for our times appears in Jonathan Franzen’s new novel “Freedom”: “The personality susceptible to the dream of limitless freedom is a personality also prone, should the dream ever sour, to misanthropy and rage.”
Yes, let's all pretend that Obama is the Voice Of Reason Incarnate and that the problem is that those who believe in freedom are prone to puerile tantrums when they don't get their way. Meanwhile let's ignore the fact that the VORI promised shallow, pie-in-the-sky, post-partisan utopia, with ponies and unicorns for everyone, and his followers are now disillusioned and apathetic because it was utter bullshit. Different side of the same coin, I'm afraid.
That the VORI and all of his worshipers among the intellectual elite fail to acknowledge (or even notice) the radicalism of his opponents is just as much of a problem as the radicalism itself. They have enabled it all along the way. In fact, I would have to say that it's also a form of "epistemic closure" at this point. Anyone who is writing about the unreasoned radicalism of the right wing as if it just manifested itself out of nowhere has been in denial for well over a decade and a half.