Does this sound like a pretty good comment on the Left?

“What we are suggesting is that being stuck in a doctrinal belief system which is intolerant of another’s personal interpretation, or one which disregards facts and foments intolerance of others while setting its followers apart as elite and uniquely special, is a move away from our full potential and from the kind of reasoning that has brought humanity its marvelous advances”

That statement is an only slightly edited version of a passage from a long article in “Tikkun” — a Left-wing Jewish periodical with vague pretensions to being religious. It is meant to apply to religious fundamentalists and is basically an attack on fundamentalist Christians and Jews.

The theme of the article is that the Christans and Jews concerned are “rigid” in their beliefs. They are incapable of changing their views in response to new evidence. Does that sound like anyone you know? Does it sound like people who blame “poverty” for everything, even Islamic hostility to the West? DESPITE the fact that Bin Laden is a billionaire and most of the 9/11 hijackers were thoroughly middle-class?

Tikkun also seems to be unaware that the concept of mental rigidity has been actively researched by psychologists since before WWII and in fact originates with the Nazi psychologist Jaensch. Nazism and Communism are siblings, however, so it is not particularly surprising that the transplanted German Jewish Marxist theoretician Theodor Wiesengrund (aka Adorno) carried on the Jaensch research after the war, making much of it in his co-authored 1950 book “The Authoritarian Personality”. Wiesengrund also thought that it was conservatives who are mentally rigid.

The Wiesengrund/Adorno theory attracted a lot of attention and follow-up research and the outcome of that research was precisely the opposite of what Tikkun asserts. Far from being a general attribute with deep roots in the architecture of the brain, rigidity was in fact found to be highly situational. People who were rigid in one way were often not at all rigid in other ways.

So mental rigidity does exist. We would hardly have Leftism otherwise. But rigidity in political or religious matters does NOT imply a general handicap or trait of rigidity. People who are rigid in their politics can easily be very flexible in other ways. And the “flexibility” of Leftists when it comes to morality of any sort is a good example of that.

I was myself intimately involved in the psychological research I have just described for around 20 years and my many published papers on the subject offer a comprehensive introduction to the whole body of research on the topic. A brief summary of the research with full citations can be found here

(For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.)

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