Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Deepak to Kansas: Drop Dead

Michael Kinsley challenges Sarah's defenders to "show me the snobs."

How much time does he have, I wonder?

There are a few good examples posted over at "No Left Turns." But the one piece of evidence I'd like to offer has to take the cake: a posting by Deepak Chopra on HuffPost. It's a prime piece of evidence of exactly the disdain that the "enlightened" have toward the very people from whom they are seeking votes. Can the Democrats really be so obtuse to wonder why they keep losing elections during the course of which they insult the segment of electorate they are seeking to attract?

To wit, here's Deepak. Or maybe it's Rush Limbaugh pretending to be Deepak. No, he doesn't need to take time out of the day for that kind of imposture. Deepak does it all on his own.

Obama and The Palin Effect
From: Deepak Chopra
Posted: Friday, September 5th, 2008

Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin's pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of 'the other.' For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don't want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.)

I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palin’s message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.

Look at what she stands for:
--Small town values
-- a denial of America's global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.
--Ignorance of world affairs
-- a repudiation of the need to repair America's image abroad.
--Family values
-- a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don't need to be heeded.
--Rigid stands on guns and abortion
-- a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.
-- the usual fallback in a failed war.
--'Reform' -- an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn't fit your ideology.

Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from 'us' pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of 'I'm all right, Jack,' and 'Why change? Everything's OK as it is.' The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness.

Obama's call for higher ideals in politics can't be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow -- we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.

What's the matter with Kansas? They don't like the so-called enlightened classes looking down on them. And I don't blame them.


Alexander Wolfe said...

That's the best example you could find? Deepak Chopra?

Patrick Deneen said...

The sentiment expressed is an almost perfect distillation of the disdain that one hears more broadly among many spokespersons on the Left. I don't offer Chopra as a great thinker, by any stretch. But he is widely read, as are many of the posts on the widely read websites Huffington Post and Daily Kos (and similar outlets), many of which express similar sentiments. I meant it to be illustrative, not inherently pedagogical or evidence of great thought.

I could collect a great many other examples, and among them someone with credentials might impress you. But it's boring and wearisome. I don't think there's really any debate to be had over this - Kinsley is wrong. I wish he were right, frankly. I wish supporters of the Democratic party didn't feel this way about Palin and many others like her who they purportedly seek to represent. The Democratic party understands far better than the Republicans how economic disparity can unravel a nation. But they muddle this message with disdain for the lives of ordinary people. The first reason is why they ought to be winning elections. The second reason is why they keep losing.

Patrick Deneen said...

Even a Rothschild agrees with me.

Anonymous said...

The Chopra piece is very telling since a. he is lauded by popular media as so open minded and spiritual. b. the RESPONSES of the huff posters. "Right on Deepak, peace and love" .. could you imagine say a popular republican posting how blacks were communities were ignorant, petty and literate?

I don't know if it will get approaved by huff post but i responded::
its almost comical to read the article and comments here. Democrats wonder why so many people don't vote for them. Their thinking can be summed up "Why won't those ignorant, racist, redneck idiots support us" and the answer my friends, is in your question. No I have never heard it phrased that's forwardly but that's whats behind Chopra's post and a lot of the comments here.

one poster offers "Peace and Lots of Love" after agreeing with Chopra's assessment, calling small town values petty and ignorant, being 'rigid' about our right to bear arms (Gee Deepak, are we being too 'rigid' about free speech too? What about our other ancient AngloSaxon liberties(and yes, I intentionally interjected it because globalist has no values, no tradition of rights - our rights and liberties are carried by the culture you and other elitists hate.

Yet chopra, living in a comfy mcmansion, preaches about our 'materialism' and often the purity of a simpler life (presumably one of his own culture, which he idealizes, while insulting mine). He talks about his own spirtuality, yet ridicules religions and people he has nothing but a superficial understanding of, the 'core culture' of this country, a people he no doubt, as evidenced by his post, hates.

and of course, he throws in the immigrant /race card (have ANY of you stopped for a minute and to consider that he's blatently advancing his own race's interests?).

Ok, all you green eco types. How can we keep adding a million people a year to this country, a million people with high birth rates and sustain the environment. Come on, please, give me an answer other than 'we' ll all get along' Its a hell of a lot harder when there' s not as much elbow room, and if current immigration continues we'll have 435 million by 2050, a billion by 2100 - then Chopra's great grandchildren won't have to go back to india to feel at home.

I also simply have to laugh at anyone who thinks Obama is anything but chicago politician (with all the baggage attached) and race hustler. IF you think he's going to get us out of iraq or fix the middle east policy, kindly google his speech to AIPAC, in addition he has more than hinted he'd like to go into Darfur as welll, and further expand the 'crusade' for globalist democracy.

Robert said...

Dr. Deneen,
Can you talk more about the dynamic here? Coulter, Savage, Little Green Footballs, Free Republic, etc. are also widely read and much more open, vicious, and dishonest in their disdain for the lives of another set of ordinary people. Yet they seem to help rather than hurt the GOP. I understand the tribalism angle, but I assume you have the mythical "middle" in mind when talking about the recent gush of disdain losing the election for the Dems.

Patrick Deneen said...

Robert -
I had tried to talk about the deeper sources of this dynamic here:

If you were the same Robert who posted a comment in response to that posting, I think you were certainly onto something. Thomas Frank was correct that the national Republican party has done very little to help middle class Americans over the past several decades. Largely on their watch they have seen their communities emptied, jobs shipped overseas, a severe disconnect between Wall street and Main street, an obscene festival of indebtedness, and a war that was not necessary.

What Republicans have not done is embrace a progressive philosophy that defines certain peoples as unprogressed and backwards. To understand this a bit better, read Strauss's essay "Three Waves of Modernity." Our conservatives - so called - are adherents of "first wave" philosophies (Hobbes, Locke, etc.). Our progressives are adherents of "second wave" philosophy (Rousseau, Mill, Marx). For our "conservatives," the point of life is, in the main, to get ahead materially. For the progressives, the point is ... to progress as a species (thus, Deepak's airy aspirations to cosmic consciousness are a perfect reflection of this worldview). This means you can adjudge who is more or less progressed (hence, his dismissiveness of "provincialism"). And hence, that those who consider themselves more progressed are in a position to judge the backwardness of those who are not. As I've argued here for over a year in one way or another, the Left would be best served to return to a pre-modern understanding of communitas - one that stresses our equal, common and shared dependence and frailty and our concomitant duties of obligation. I'm not sure how many are very receptive to this idea - very few, I suspect.