Thursday, December 12, 2002

Glenn Reynolds approvingly quotes Armed Liberal on the subject of liberal snobbery:

"I’m a liberal because I respect pretty much everyone.... it comes from a feeling that the least of us are as human and worthy of dignity as the best.

"But somehow, we have managed to raise an intellectual class who believe in liberalism in no small part because it allows them to feel superior to others."

"Yep," says the Instapundit, but the observation is true not because of any inherent flaw in liberalism itself but because of a basic human fondness for feeling oneself superior to others. As Virginia Woolf put it,

"Life ... is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion as we are, it calls for confidence in oneself. Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself. By feeling that one has some innate superiority — it may be wealth, or rank, a straight nose, or the portrait of a grandfather by Romney — for there is no end to the pathetic devices of the human imagination — over other people."

And it seems to me that one such "pathetic device" of recent invention is the casual deployment of terms such as "idiotarian" in order to affirm one's superiority over ideological opponents; name-calling which effectively dismisses intellectual subtleties or valid moral qualms for the sake of scoring easy points.

Waving about one's ideology in an attempt to feel superior to others is behaviour not restricted to liberals.

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