The (Monte) Python Paradox -- Why the Left Loses
The far left hates each other the most
This is such an infamous left problem that Monty Python satirized it in "The Life of Brian." Only the far left is this hilariously sectarian, but the tendency plagues the left as a whole. This is demonstrated by progressives turning on Obama rather than fighting the Tea Party. Of course, most progressives are not so confused, but enough are, that they stymie the rest.
So what causes the Python Paradox? It all stems from a single mode of thinking:
- I'm right, he's wrong. (inevitable)
- It's totally obvious that I'm right (fatal error)
- Since it's obvious, the other guy knows I'm right. (logical, given #2)
- Since he does the wrong thing anyway, he's bad. (logical)
For example: (1) I'm right; the drug war is stupid and Obama should stop it. (2) This is totally obvious, it kills 1000s with no results. (3) Obama is smart so he knows this. (4) But he refuses to stop it, so he must have some evil intentions.
Thinking you're right and the other guy's wrong is not the problem, because that's inevitable and there's a good way to deal with it. Step 2 is the Python Fallacy—the cause of the Python Paradox. We'll come back to that shortly. Once you take this step, then steps #3 and #4 are completely logical and cannot be faulted.
The Python Fallacy. If something is totally obvious to you, it does does not mean it's totally obvious to others. Two other possibilities: (1) You just might be wrong (once in a blue moon). (2) The other person could be confused.
So why doesn't the far left get this? Why can't people at least admit that the other guy might be an idiot instead of evil? That would be so much nicer. And, if the other guy is just confused, then he's worth talking to and trying to set straight. But if he's evil, then just hate him.
In other areas of life—sports, business, military, etc.—people are not so nasty. They are happy to just conclude the other guy's an idiot and try to set him straight. They don't have to hate everyone they disagree with.
The Fix. It's far more helpful, and much more often correct, to think like this:
- I'm right, he's wrong.
- It's totally obvious to me, but he's not so smart.
- So he's not likely evil, just confused, or just maybe, I made a mistake.
- So let's try to figure out why we disagree.
Let's put that into practice:
- I'm right; the drug war is stupid and Obama should stop it.
- Obvious to me, but perhaps Obama knows something I don't.
- So he's not likely evil, just confused (overly worried) or perhaps he knows he couldn't and it would just cost him the election.
Learning to think like that—which is how scientists argue—is the necessary first step toward progressive politics. So why is that so hard?
- Why the far left is so sure their ideas are obvious.
- The missing idea: Strategy.
- The far left won't change, so what do we do?
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