asymmetry of political converts

Leftist scholar of the Right Corey Robin has been writing about us deplorables again, and I’d hate for him to think that none of us are reading.  He points out at the New Yorker that converts from the Left play a notable role in the history of Right (a largely baneful role, our paleoconservative friends would insist, but that’s an argument we needn’t take up), but there is nothing analogous in the history of the Left.  Notable Leftists are nearly always lifelong Leftists.

Robin tells the interesting story of Derek Black, who once embraced the horrible “white supremacist” idea that each group should defend its own interests and identity.  He was exposed in college, met with outrage and ostracism plus a few who decided to be nice to him with a view to his conversion.  The intensive good-cop-bad-cop routine eventually succeeded in breaking Derek’s spirit, and he was successfully reconstructed as a conventional Leftist twit.  As Robin points out, what has not happened is for converts like Derek to supply a creative force for the Left.

Stated this way, it’s pretty clear where the asymmetry lies.  Converts to the Right are breaking with the surrounding consensus.  They are consciously going off into “the wilderness”, to “the losing side”.  Converts to the Left are surrendering their dissent, conforming to the group consensus.  Clearly these are two very different social dynamics, and one suspects involve two rather different types of people.  One doubts that the latter, who gives up his dissent, is as likely to be the sort to push through an intellectual shake-up.  Even if he once was, the humiliation of having once admitted that the group was right and he was wrong has likely cured him of it.

I doubt Derek Black will ever again have an original thought, and I suspect he would be relieved to know that he won’t.

9 Responses

  1. You are right. Another reason is that the Left is an intolerant religion and everybody should agree with the dogma, which is completely narrow and ever changing. This makes difficult to be an independent thinker without falling into the category of “heretic”.

    The Right is simply everything that is not Left. Impossible being a heretic. Today, Catholic traditionalists (like me) mix with atheist libertarians, neopagans and hedonist PUA. This makes easier to come with a new perspective.

    Another reason is that the former Rightist are always suspect of having being heretics. They are never fully forgiven. There is no atonement in the Leftist religion. So the new Leftist has no credibility to give a different perspective and must toe the party line at all times.

  2. Would Leftists admit this? Are we righties just deluding ourselves that we are the “losing” side? Everybody nowdays seems to want to claim victimhood. Obviously, I think that it is trivial to show that the Right has been losing handily since England hung their king in 1649, yet, every Leftist I know sees their side as fighting an uphill battle agains the “sneaky and evil repbulicans” who use the system for their own benefit and “steal the election.” Every leftist I know acts like the Right is actually in power, and his group is fighting to overthrow it.

    These views of reality are incompatible. How do we tell which is correct?

  3. Indeed, every Leftist I know also *talks* like the Right is actually in power, but how they act is different. They might go to their boss to get their conservative co-worker fired for his beliefs, but it would never occur to the conservative co-worker that he could get his liberal colleagues fired for their beliefs. I wonder how liberals manage to explain this to themselves.

  4. They cannot live without picturing themselves as the underdog. Their entire ideology and their power is based on playing the victim. René Girard explained that. They oppress others while they play the victim. “The leftist cries out in pain while he strikes you”

  5. A guess: It is “explained” by the fact that Liberal beliefs are good and true, and Right beliefs are wrong, so getting someone fired for a wrong belief makes no sense. Basically, I think Liberals can tell themselves that the firings are one-sided because even the right-wingers know they deserve to get fired, because right-wing beliefs are just so obviously evil, and history bends toward justice or whatever.

  6. Or, more common probably, is to just ignore the cognitive dissonance, because tribalism is fun, especially when you’re winning.

  7. You’re probably right. They’d say that patriarchy is so indefensible that even The Patriarchy must fire people for believing it.

  8. Me at age 16: far left (but likes guns)
    Me at age 19: run-of-the-mill libertarian (but likes strong military/defense)
    Me at age 25: anarchocapitalist
    Me at age 29: avid daily reader of Steve Sailer, John Derbyshire, VDare, Taki’s, this blog, etc.

    Now, in my mid-30s, I don’t read any of that stuff anymore except to pop in once in a blue moon to see if you/them have had a significant shift or evolution in thinking. (Do you think you have?) Here’s how I’d characterize mine:

    I’m not interested in politics anymore. I like to spend time with my neighbors, coworkers, friends, and family, whom I genuinely appreciate and enjoy, and who are also a very diverse bunch in basically every way you could think of. And I like meeting new people like that too.

    I guess I’ve decided “hatefacts” can still be true without being worth forming an identity around, and they definitely aren’t worth making enemies over.

    Compatible with this is my belief that a rebellious nature, selectively applied, might be the most important thing a person can possibly have. Use it to live virtuously — in fact, you can’t live virtuously without it. But it’s easy to use the rebellious impulse to just score points for some “team” you think you’re on, in some war you think you’re fighting (mainly on the internet), and that’s a complete waste.

    But if you superimpose a trendline over this plot, I guess I map as a convert from Leftism!

  9. “They might go to their boss to get their conservative co-worker fired for his beliefs, but it would never occur to the conservative co-worker that he could get his liberal colleagues fired for their beliefs. I wonder how liberals manage to explain this to themselves.”

    The conservative is a bad person, a potential criminal and his dismissal is a good thing for the society and the mankind. The same way as when a rapist or a corrupt person is fired. This is not interpreted as power held by an ideology but about law enforcement, that is, the authorities fulfilling their basic duty for the society. This is because for a Leftist, the Leftist ideology is not an ideology but basic truth and decency.

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