Saturday, August 22, 2009

Liberal “Thinking”: Changing Human Nature

Driving across the country, you hear a lot of stupidity poured out over the airwaves. You hear so much, in fact, that it hardly rates mentioning. But near the end of my recent trip, one woman gave us a little gem that’s worth discussing. This woman encapsulated the fundamental flaw with liberal thinking when she claimed that eliminating guns would stop human violence. The flaw she so eloquentlessly displayed, is that liberals constantly try to change human nature rather than change human behavior.

Here’s the set up. The talk show host asked his audience “what do you wish had never been invented?” After a succession of callers suggested de-inventing their pet peeves (like bass on car stereos or video games), one brave caller gave us the liberal home run: guns.

But she didn’t just say that she wished guns had never been invented, she explained why. And that’s where this gets interesting. After she whined, “if we could just get rid of guns, people wouldn’t use them,” the host asked, “wouldn’t that just mean that the strong could do what they wanted to the weak?” No, she responded, “because if we get rid of guns, the urge to commit violence will go away.”

Un. . .believably. . . stupid!

Consider for a moment that most violent crime today is not committed with guns, even in countries like the United States where guns are available to all. Consider also that for a millennia, mankind has been killing each other with whatever weapon they can find. Guns are merely the latest in a long line of tools that began with the bare hand. Consider also that a gun, just like a knife, a club, a lampshade, a car or a rubber duck, has no morality of its own. It is only when the gun is put into the wrong hands that the gun will be put to an immoral use. Thus, attacking the gun fails to address the real problem, which is the person bent on harming another.

But this post isn’t about guns (the gun post is coming next week). This post is about the problem with this woman’s “thought”-process, and what this tells us about liberal thinking. And in that regard, she’s given us a great window in the flaw the underlies the liberal mindset: rather than accepting human nature as a fact, and proposing rules to control human behavior, she is hoping to change human nature itself.

Indeed, she’s not saying, if we eliminate guns, there will be no opportunity for violence -- because that’s obviously false. Instead, she’s assuming that human nature is violent because of the temptation of guns. If we can only eliminate this temptation, human nature will readjust and violence will vanish.

But this wishful thinking is irrational to the nth degree. The gun did not create the instinct for violence, nor does it maintain that instinct. Nor is it at all clear that human nature can be changed. In fact, attempt after attempt by the left to change human nature has failed miserably, dashed against the rocks of reality. We can control our natures, but we can’t change them. Conservatives understand this. That why our policies are about changing incentives. That's why we believe in strong institutions like marriage and church to reign in our worst impulses by making misbehavior more expense, i.e. giving us more to lose if we act out, and by increasing the level of reward if we act properly.

Liberals don’t understand this, and that’s the problem with so many of their policies. They are constantly trying to change human nature. They dream about eliminating money because that will cause people to stop being greedy. They dream about teaching kids to cooperate and not keeping score in sports or giving out grades because they hope this will stop people from being competitive. They try to stop people from using racist or sexist or whatever words because that will stop us having those beliefs.

The insanely stupid idea of unilateral disarmament was about changing the way man viewed violence. Liberals unilateralists argued that violence arises solely because of fear. Thus, if we showed that we would never attack anyone, they would not attack us -- a policy that has failed every time it's been tried, like in 1938. Liberals likewise argue that crime is about poverty. If we could just lifted everyone from poverty, we could end the desire of people to take things from others (envy). (Though, as an aside, it is important to note that this “crime” does not include white collar crime, which liberals see as being caused by greed).

Communism was about changing the way man worked in the community. By banning private ownership, people would stop being greedy, i.e. seeking to satisfy their wants. Instead, they would work according to their abilities and would take only according to their needs. Socialists from the 1930s spoke of the “new man” or the “socialist man”, who was supposed to be a creature created by these new societies without all of the negative human nature that besets us now.

None of this worked. None of this could work, because we are hardwired to want, to need, and to feel the whole gambit of emotions. You simply can’t change man. You can control him with incentives, and by punishing him for misdeeds and rewarding him for good, but you just can’t change human nature.

So when you hear that next liberal plan, ask yourself, are they offering a solution to a problem or are they trying to change human nature. If it’s the latter, sit back and enjoy the spectacle of failure.

(FYI, if you haven’t already, go back and read my article about conservative v. liberal thinking. You might find that article explains a lot about the how liberals and conservatives view the world differently and why they propose different kinds of solutions for the same problem.)


LawHawkSF said...

Thanks, Andrew. I'll play. Hey lady! How many people were slain at Thermopylae? How many guns did the Spartans have? The Spartans had the great equalizer of their day--organized tight formations, excellent armor, and years of training to defend their country as patriots rather than as mercenaries. The Persians had only numbers, and they were cut down like wheat by a scythe.

Guns don't kill people. Idiots who willingly surrender their best means of defense kill people (with considerable help from the thugs who have no such scruples). Liberalism is a mental disorder which causes otherwise intelligent people to believe things that aren't, and never can be. Without the invention of guns, the liberals would believe that the only thing holding us back from a perfect world is those godawful high-speed crossbows.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I'm going to go into much greater detail on the gun debate later this week, but this woman was spitting out strange "facts" all over the place that should have been obviously wrong to the thickest person -- but she had made her mind up. It really was delusional. But not to just dump on her, I hear these same things all the time. As I point out in the article, so many liberal policies are based on the idea that if we just do away with some symptom, the disease will vanish. And that's just faulty logic.

patti said...

the lesson of controlling one's behavior, at the expense of their nature, is usually learned in kindergarden. if you want a cookie, best not beat your playmate over the head with a rock, no matter how much you want to. oy. liberals are making my brain cry.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, you think like a conservative, asking kids to control their behavior. If you want to be a good liberal, you need to want to change the desire to do wrong.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: I was just addressing one specific symptom of liberal psychosis in relation to your post. I look forward to your epxansion on it. Remember, I live in a city that is run by and inhabited by ultraliberals, the most psychotic cracked eggs in the carton.

CrisD said...

A dark little comment:

I like to remind my kids when we talk about execution...that there are fates worse than death. You know, live disemboweling ( I think a favorite of the early native Americans was skinning alive and then you've got the good old Braveheart treatment.

Guns would be a blessing.

Peace out :^)

Writer X said...

A person who has the mindset that human nature is controllable must also think that humans are robots and incapable of original thought. I'm curious: Andrew, what state were you in when you heard that little nugget of wisdom?

AndrewPrice said...

CrisD, Guns serve a lot of useful purposes, particularly protecting the weak from the strong. And you're right, there are many worse ways to die than by gun shot. But as you can see from this quote, the woman has focused her fears on guns, and she honestly thinks that if we could just get rid of them, human nature would be better. But it won't.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, I am embarrassed to admit that she lives in Colorado. Sadly, stupidity knows no geographic limits.

The left has a history of thinking that they can change human nature. And as you can see from this woman's quote, it's something they deeply internalize. That along with the short-term thinking that I discuss in my prior article (at the link) really explain why their policies never work.

StanH said...

Violence and humanity are inextricable. The stories as ancient as humanity itself, Cain and Able, Zeus and Cronus. Mankind can not deny their humanity by simply choosing a fantastical desire …liberalism. A good movie that made that point was, “Enemy at the Gates.” You had one zealous apparatchik (forget the name)and a sniper (Jude Law) that fell in love with one woman Rachel Weisz. To make a long story short, the apparatchik realized that even without money man had drive, wants, and desires, he envied Jud Law for his love of a woman. and he stood up and took a bullet so Jude Law could spot Ed Harris and kill him. The point being guns, money, healthcare you name it would be replaced, or “The Seven Deadly Sins” if you will. Only the politburo, ruling class would prosper in an egalitarian Utopia, as has been proven time and again. Another principle that has always served me well is the “80/20 Principle.”

PS: My wife and I saw “Inglorious Basterds,” …awesome!

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, Glad to hear it's a good movie. I like Tarantino a lot, but his last couple have seemed like he's running out of ideas.

You're right about Enemy At the Gates. The socialists never understood what you just stated. Even if we get rid of the object most envied or hated or lusted after, those emotions continue to exist and they will continue to drive human behavior. And that's why any plan to change human nature is doomed to fail.

Joel Farnham said...

das Ding ein sich =

The thing to itself.

Guns are not evil. Take table salt. Split it into two base components and you get two poisons. Sodium and Chloride. Yet are used daily, and are not considered evil.

What the gun really represents is individual power. When someone suggests that guns should be outlawed, what they really mean is that the individual is too powerful and that power must be reduced.

Basically, the Honest, law-abiding individual has too much power in this nation according to liberals.

When I saw the guy walking around at the townhall with his gun, I was of two minds instantly. First, What is he thinking? Doesn't he know that it could change things so that the press think that we are all gun nuts. Then I saw it for what it is. Raw naked power, prominently displayed as to who actually has the power in this nation. The individual.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I'll talk more about guns later in the week.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I agree with you about the message sent by the guy with the gun. But I still think it was a bad idea. I think what he did distracted from anything else going on, probably scared a lot of who would otherwise have agreed with him, and will likely lead to the very thing he was trying to stop -- in other words, I expect that they will now pass a law making it illegal to bring guns to protest rallies or to event attended by politicians. So his attempt to argue for gun freedom will instead result in more restrictions.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew, I don't think he was arguing for gun freedom. I think he was exercising gun freedom.

As for distraction, yes, for a bit. I am not seeing a huge backlash though. I think it is more of a pointed reminder.

They might try to enact a law, but in this climate of distrust of government, will it go unnoticed?
And unchallenged?

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I don't know how Arizona is going to treat this. If it happened in NY or MA, there would be a law prohibiting this already working its way through their legislatures, with promises from their governors to sign it. I suspect that Arizona will see such a bill in their next session. Whether it passes or not, I don't know.

And in terms of being a distraction, it hasn't blown up into a national issue because Obama choose not to make it one. If he'd raised a stink, it would be all over the television completely obscuring the health care debate. The only reason that I can see for him not blowing this up was (1) to not seem weak and (2) he was afraid that the blue dogs are already so far out to the left that they won't accept an anti-gun tirade.

That said, it was certainly a distraction for that event. Do you know what Obama said at the town hall that day? Or what anyone else objecting to Obama said that day? All that was obscured for the public at large.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew and Joel: We sort of hashed over this bringing guns to public meetings issue in our comment thread on Thursday on my SF Diary. Rather than repeat it all here, I'll just refer to it if anybody wants to know where I stand on guns at public meetings, the Second Amendment, inappropriate behavior and what I think of people who bring loaded rifles to peaceable assemblies.

As for the incident being minor, I have seen it repeated interminably on every news station. It was harmful, unnecessary, negative, and plain damned foolish. With rights comes responsibility. The best I can say of the clown with the rifle, was that his action was hideously irresponsible.

MegaTroll said...

I wasn't happy with the guy with the rifle either. I thought about it and I said, I would be really angery if Code Pink did this to Bush, so I can't excuse this guy just because he's on my side.

I think it was a distraction, like you said, and I think he is going to turn people off getting out and protesting. Sure he was a decent guy, but whose to say the next one is or the one after that? I don't want to take my kids to a protest rally if people are going to start showing up with loaded guns. I'm a gun owner, but that bothers me.

On the article, I think you're right. The liberals I know always want people to be different. I am happy with getting people not to act wrongly, but they seem to want people to not have the impulse anymore. That doesn't work.

AndrewPrice said...

Mega, Thanks, that's been my observation as well, that they are more concerned with your intentions than your actions. But human nature is too strong to be overcome with trendy policies.

Individualist said...


The article was a few months ago on the Fox news website but I will find it a posthere. I am posting this now becuase then I will have to look.

It was about England all the knives that they had confiscated from people on the street to defend themselves. Get rid of guns and the next thing the liberals will be demanding is Sword Control.

AndrewPrice said...

Individualist, That's exactly what's going to happen. Guns protect the weak from the strong. Take that away and the weak will need to turn to something else.

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