Through a Glass Darkly

I’m looking for me
You’re looking for you
We’re looking in at each other
And we don’t know what to do 

– The Who

Scientists have done a great deal of research suggesting that conservatives — who in the US have increasingly had to kowtow to the religious right for at least 30 years — are naturally inclined toward their biases, research which author Chris Mooney has analyzed in a book provocatively called, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science – and Reality. Here is an article that discusses the book and a recent thoughtful critique of it:  “Disputing the Science of Conservative Anti-Science”

The article advises American scientists that “they will need all the insights [available to them] … if they are to succeed in saving us all from the well-organised, persuasion-focused resurgence of prideful ignorance that threatens us all from the right.”

But in the attached article from The Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy, Marxist cultural critic Slavoj Zizek suggests that even this apparent naturalness can be manufactured:  “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

Using the suicidal platform of Kansas’ current populist Republicans as an example, Zizek reminds us that “decades ago, the same Kansas was the hotbed of progressive populism in the US.”

Zizek contrasts this history with liberalism in recent years. While ostensibly advocating for the poor, more often than not, the liberal “fight for multicultural tolerance and women’s rights marks the counter-position to the alleged intolerance, fundamentalism, and patriarchal sexism of the ‘lower classes.’” He urges us to

[r]ecall [Psychologist] Jacques Lacan’s definition of successful communication: I get back from the other my own message in its inverted (true) form – is this not what is happening to today’s liberals? …  Is the scary and ridiculous Kansas redneck who explodes in fury against liberal corruption not the very figure in the guise of which the liberal encounters the truth of his own hypocrisy?

So how fair is the choice we are given between “open” liberalism vs. “closed-minded” conservatism? Just asking…


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