True Believers(tm)

a quote from Hoffer’s, The True Believer

The readiness for self-sacrifice is contingent on an imperviousness to the realities of life. He who is free to draw conclusions from his individual experience and observation is not usually hospitable to the idea of martyrdom… All active mass movements strive, therefore, to interpose a fact-proof screen between the faithful and the realities of the world. They do this by claiming that the ultimate and absolute truth is already embodied in their doctrine and that there is no truth or certitude outside it. The facts on which the true believer bases his conclusions must not be derived from his experience or observation but from holy writ.

my emphasis

The “holy writ” may be the Bible, the Quran, the Vedanta or the writings of Hayek and Friedman but they all share one characteristic; the ‘truth’ expounded in each text is the only ‘truth’, the facts be damned.

Other texts, which I’m sure will be thrown into the fray, such as Marx’s Das Kapital or Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals don’t have the same power of True Belief amongst those who advocate for some of the policies found in the two books.  As Simon Maloy put it, writing at MediaMatters

Do you know who Saul Alinsky is? If not, don’t fret. There’s an entire cottage industry of conservative writers working feverishly to reintroduce the storied community organizer to the world and document how he successfully overcame almost 40 years of being dead to pull the strings within the Obama White House.

The constant quoting and referral to Alinsky’s work by the right does seem to show that more on the right than on the left of the political spectrum are reading his book. This insistence by wingnut ‘pundits’ that the left must be following the dictates of a leftist radical from the Sixties is just one more indicator of the modern American conservative mindset – their own books are all true and show the right way to act therefore the left must thinks its holy texts are just as valid.

Various psychological studies have shown that those who call themselves liberal are more flexible in their thinking when compared to those who consider themselves conservative, which would seem to indicate that those who are considered ‘liberal’ are less likely to become True Believers.

The work grew out of decades of previous research suggesting that political orientation is linked to certain personality traits or styles of thinking. A review of that research published in 2003 found that conservatives tend to be more rigid and closed-minded, less tolerant of ambiguity and less open to new experiences.
It’s that whole, “libruls are so open-minded, their brains fall out” schtick, when what’s actually happening is progressive-minded folks are willing to listen to those who offer differing opinions, liberals understand nuance and are capable of seeing good points even in the midst of drivel.  The modern conservative, the True Believer, ‘knows’ the Truth, everything, and everyone, that disagrees with the Truth is simply nonsense = Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

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