Monday, May 04, 2015

Are Leftists neophiliacs?

Neophilia -- love of the new -- has popped up as a concept on a number of occasions but it mostly seems to occur in a marketing context. Buyers of Apple products (iPhones, iPads etc.) are often branded as neophiliacs, for instance.  Apple has made big money out of it, as new Apple products seem to come out all the time and the neophiliac has to have the latest at all times so lines up for every new release.

Since my cellphone is an old push-button one that I bought for $50 some years ago and which has no touch facilities at all, I would appear not to be a neophiliac. I have certainly not contributed to the vast profits of the Apple corporation.

Marketing is, however, only one context in which neophilia has been seen. Wikipedia gives a useful definition based on the "cult" writings of the quite eccentric Robert Anton Wilson, who popularized the term. It is as follows:

"Neophiles/Neophiliacs have the following basic characteristics:

The ability to adapt rapidly to extreme change

A distaste or downright loathing of tradition, repetition, and routine

A tendency to become bored quickly with old things

A desire, bordering on obsession in some cases, to experience novelty

A corresponding and related desire to create novelty by creating or achieving something and/or by stirring social or other forms of unrest.

A neophile is distinct from a revolutionary in that anyone might become a revolutionary if pushed far enough by the reigning authorities or social norms, whereas neophiles are revolutionaries by nature. Their intellectual abhorrence of tradition and repetition usually bemoans a deeper emotional need for constant novelty and change."

Wilson was not however the first to use the term.  Christopher  Booker attempted to summarize the '60s in a 1969 book called "The neophiliacs".  One summary of the book:

"Around the mid-1950s, on a wave of technological advances, Western civilisation moved into a period of prosperity dwarfing anything that had ever gone before. How golden was this age of affluence? How did it come to spawn a legend? The Fifties and Sixties are said to have witnessed sexual, artistic and scientific revolutions, the explosion of youth culture, the creation of a classless society. The New Aristocrats were pop singers, clothes designers, actors and actresses, film-makers, photographers, artists, writers, models and restaurateurs. Christopher Booker disentangles fantasy and reality, the ephemeral from the enduring. He charts the rise and fall of a collective dream."

And concepts related to neophilia have appeared rather a lot in personality psychology: Sensation-seeking, experience-seeking, openness, tolerance of ambiguity etc.

The most explicit focus on the concept in psychology would appear to be in the work of Robert Cloninger.  Of his work we read:

"It's within this context that the personality dimension of novelty-seeking first emerged.  In a recent New York Times interview (link is external), Cloninger argues that the quality of novelty-seeking can be one of the brightest spots on our personality horizon.  A number of years ago, he identified novelty-seeking as one of four basic "temperaments," meaning that it is an automatic emotional response that primes us to seek out new experiences.  The other three temperaments are harm avoidance (aversion to risk), reward dependence (being sensitive to social situations and reinforcement), and persistence (ability to persist in pursuit of a goal).  Cloninger believes that these temperaments are largely inherited, meaning that they are built into our biological makeup.  Some of us are programmed to embrace the new; others to run as far away from it as possible."

And the work of Jerome Kagan deserves a mention.  Of that we read:

"Largely thanks to technological advances, biologically informed research on temperament is providing the best insights into neophilia. In his classic research on boldness and shyness, Jerome Kagan, a psychologist at Harvard University, exposed infants and small children to mildly stressful forms of novelty -- noise, sour tastes, unfamiliar objects or people -- while he monitored their behavioral and physiological responses. He found that certain fearless tots, most of them boys, clearly warranted the label of “bold.” Their physiological markers are a very low heart rate and a more active left brain. Their active, spontaneous behavior and zestful, bring-it-on attitude toward new things bespeaks the instinctive energy and drive that Freud called “libido.”"

Amid all that interest in the concept it seems to me quite strange that its political relevance rarely seems to be explored.  Why? Leftists presumably find the concept gets uncomfortably close to the bone and most psychologists are Leftist.  Being an inveterate breaker of Leftist taboos, however, I HAVE researched the subject. And I found that, among the general population, Leftists tend to be both sensation seekers generally and even experience seekers -- i.e. lovers of new consumer products.  If they ever hear of the latter finding (They'll try not to) they will surely be rather embarrassed, given their frequent condemnation of "consumerism" etc.

But I don't think my research was really needed.  Res ipsa loquitur. The thing speaks for itself.  The reason I have put up various excerpts above is to make plain what I think stands out like dog's balls (with apologies for the army expression). Descriptions of neophiliacs could very well be descriptions of Leftists.

So, Yes.  Many Leftists are neophiliacs.  They want change for change's sake.  Mr Obama's 2008 campaign had a very obvious appeal in that regard.  He made "change" his theme and offered the absurd but obviously exciting promises that he would make the oceans recede and the planet "heal"

So while the defining characteristic of a Leftist is great dissatisfaction with the status quo, the reason for the dissatisfaction is not always the same. Most Leftists seem to be angry about some aspect of the status quo but the neophiliac is simply bored by it.  Whatever the motive, however, sweeping change is advocated.  And Obama certainly delivered that, with Obamacare being merely the most obvious example of big and sudden change.

Interestingly, the Italian Fascism of Mussolini was to a considerable degree similarly motivated.  He drew heavily on and largely incorporated the "Futurist" movement of the early 20th century.  Futurists were very clearly neophiliacs. Of the Italian Futurists we read:

'We shall sing the love of danger, energy and boldness!" the Futurist Manifesto shouted from the rooftops in 1909. "We declare that the world's splendour has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. There is no more beauty except in strife, no masterpiece without aggressiveness, a violent onslaught upon the unknown forces, to force them to bow to the will of man ... "We wish to glorify war -- the only hygiene of the world -- militarism, patriotism, the destructive arm of the anarchist, the beautiful ideas that kill!"

Much more at the link.  Clearly, excitement is what the Futurists craved.  Many Leftists of today seem to crave the same.  Since modern-day Leftism is a form of Fascism, that is not exactly surprising.

And for young people at least, Nazism seems to have been largely  motivated by a hunger for change and excitement and consequent hatred of the status quo. This is reinforced by the now famous account of life in Nazi Germany given by a young "Aryan" who lived through it. Originally written before World War II, Haffner's (2002) account of why Hitler rose to power stresses the boring nature of ordinary German life and observes that the appeal of the Nazis lay in their offering of relief from that:

"The great danger of life in Germany has always been emptiness and boredom ... The menace of monotony hangs, as it has always hung, over the great plains of northern and eastern Germany, with their colorless towns and their all too industrious, efficient, and conscientious business and organizations. With it comes a horror vacui and the yearning for 'salvation': through alcohol, through superstition, or, best of all, through a vast, overpowering, cheap mass intoxication."

So he too saw the primary appeal of Nazism as its offering of change, novelty and excitement. Modern day Leftists sure are in good company.


An Important Lesson from the Baltimore Riots

If you’ve been watching the Baltimore riots over the past few days, one thing should be perfectly clear: when seconds count, the police are minutes away.

You watched as countless businesses and homes were burned while the police line stayed put a few hundred yards back. Rumor has it that the mayor ordered the police to stand down.

Which begs the question: who can you trust to protect yourself in an emergency?

The answer is you and you alone. We all saw the news reports of Baltimore residents protecting their property with machetes and shotguns. Those were the buildings that were passed over by the mobs.

But in liberal states like Maryland, citizens are being disarmed and prevented from arming at record pace. One of our readers tried to by defensive ammunition at a Walmart and he was greeted by a sign reading,

“Due to the ongoing State of Emergency, ammo will not be available for sale.”

Can you imagine trying to buy a gun/ammunition to protect yourself only to be turned away? Meanwhile, the police are being told to stand down and your neighborhood is literally being destroyed right before your eyes.

This isn’t unique to Baltimore… it can happen anywhere in this country. Yet the most populous liberal states in this country won’t allow citizens to defend themselves!

The Second Amendment was written so that citizens could protect the nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic. If the Founders were alive today, they would have expected law-abiding Baltimore residents to be armed to defend their communities.

But many weren’t and as a result, their homes and businesses burned.

Yet, Maryland isn’t alone. New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia all make it next to impossible for civilians to defend themselves at home and in public. More than 20% of the American people live within these gun control states.

But even in Conservative states like Louisiana, police are trained to seize civilians’ weapons when emergencies strike. Just look at what happened during Hurricane Katrina… Instead of protecting the people, the police and National Guard went door-to-door confiscating firearms and leaving residents to fend for themselves.

Today, six in ten Americans agree that owning a firearm makes you safer. Yet all across this country, there are laws on the books that prevent citizens from being able to protect themselves.

These laws are unconstitutional. The only problem is that Barack Obama has packed the courts with liberal activist judges that uphold these abhorrent laws.

Liberal states won't let citizens defend themselves and when push comes to shove, they won't let the police protect the citizens either.



Revealed: Obama’s Plan to Transform the Country

This blows the lid off of the entire amnesty movement within the Obama administration.

For years, we’ve known that the President’s amnesty agenda was nothing but an attempt to pad voter rolls with Democrat voters. Until now, we never had the proof.

The Department of Homeland Security is calling it the “Task Force on New Americans.” The goal? Get 9 million resident aliens their American citizenship in time to vote by the 2016 election.

This is nothing but a liberal attempt to desperately hold onto power for as long as possible.

We all knew that amnesty was just the beginning. The Left sees every foreigner who enters this country as a potential Democrat voter. And now, they are trying to get as many of these alien residents naturalized as possible naturalized before the 2016 election!

Here’s what’s even worse: of the 20 states with the highest populations of green card holders, 14 of them are holding Senate elections in 2016. Seven of them are incumbent Republican Senators. These include battleground states like Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Add in Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and it is clear why DHS is pushing so hard to get as many “New Americans” as possible naturalized before 2016. A couple hundred thousand new Democrats in Ohio and Florida means it's game over for the Republicans.

Let’s be clear. That is exactly what is happening. Whistleblowers have called attention to the fact that DHS funds are being redirected to make this liberal pipe dream a reality.

Congress didn’t appropriate money for this. The Department of Homeland Security is just making it up as they go along.

If we don’t put a stop to this now, then it is over. It’s one thing for people to naturally go through the process of getting their citizenship. It is an entirely different situation to have the Federal government pushing the issue with an election year deadline.

If you don’t fight back against this one, then be prepared to lose on every other issue you care about. Abortion, gun control… you name it. It’s all on the chopping block if the Obama administration is allowed to naturalize 9 million new voters.

We’re a nation of immigrants, there’s no debating that at all. But never before has the Federal government played politics to this scale with naturalization to achieve a political objective.

As I said, this is it. Nine million new voters in these swing states in such a short time frame would irreversibly swing the tides.

This fight is the gateway to all other policy fights. We need to win this one first before we can secure any others.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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