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The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness

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By Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr. MD

Dr. Lyle H.Rossiter, Jr., a forensic psychiatrist, explains the
madness of liberalism in his new book The Liberal Mind: The
Psychological Causes of Political Madness. You can read an excerpt
below, and read more at his website

Like all other human beings, the modern liberal reveals his true
character, including his madness, in what he values and devalues, in
what he articulates with passion. Of special interest, however, are
the many values about which the modern liberal mind is not passionate:

His agenda does not insist that the individual is the ultimate
economic, social and political unit;

It does not idealize individual liberty and the structure of law and
order essential to it;

It does not defend the basic rights of property and contract;

It does not aspire to ideals of authentic autonomy and mutuality;

It does not preach an ethic of self-reliance and self-determination;

It does not praise courage, forbearance or resilience;

it does not celebrate the ethics of consent or the blessings of
voluntary cooperation.

It does not advocate moral rectitude or understand the critical role
of morality in human relating.

The liberal agenda does not comprehend an identity of competence,
appreciate its importance, or analyze the developmental conditions
and social institutions that promote its achievement.

The liberal agenda does not understand or recognize personal
sovereignty or impose strict limits on coercion by the state.

It does not celebrate the genuine altruism of private charity.

It does not learn history’s lessons on the evils of collectivism.

What the liberal mind is passionate about is a world filled with
pity, sorrow, neediness, misfortune, poverty, suspicion, mistrust,
anger, exploitation, discrimination, victimization, alienation and

Those who occupy this world are “workers,” “minorities,” “the little
guy,” “women,” and the “unemployed.”

They are poor, weak, sick, wronged, cheated, oppressed,
disenfranchised, exploited and victimized. They bear no
responsibility for their problems.

None of their agonies are attributable to faults or failings of their
own: not to poor choices, bad habits, faulty judgment, wishful thinking,
lack of ambition, low frustration tolerance, mental illness or
defects in character.

None of the victims’ plight is caused by failure to plan for the
future or learn from experience.

Instead, the “root causes” of all this pain lie in faulty social
conditions: poverty, disease, war, ignorance, unemployment, racial prejudice, ethnic and gender discrimination, modern technology, capitalism,
globalization and imperialism.

In the radical liberal mind, this suffering is inflicted on the
innocent by various predators and persecutors: “Big Business,” “Big Corporations,” “greedy capitalists,” U.S. Imperialists,” “the oppressors,” “the rich,” “the wealthy,” “the powerful” and “the selfish.”

The liberal cure for this endless malaise is a very large
authoritarian government that regulates and manages society through a
cradle to grave agenda of redistributive caretaking.

It is a government everywhere doing everything for everyone.

The liberal motto is “In Government We Trust.”

To rescue the people from their troubled lives, the agenda recommends
denial of personal responsibility, encourages self-pity and other-
pity, fosters government dependency, promotes sexual indulgence,
rationalizes violence, excuses financial obligation, justifies theft,
ignores rudeness, prescribes complaining and blaming, denigrates
marriage and the family, legalizes all abortion, defies religious and
social tradition, declares inequality unjust, and rebels against the
duties of citizenship.

Through multiple entitlements to unearned goods, services and social
status, the liberal politician promises to ensure everyone’s material
welfare, provide for everyone’s healthcare, protect everyone’s self-
esteem, correct everyone’s social and political disadvantage, educate
every citizen, and eliminate all class distinctions.

With liberal intellectuals sharing the glory, the liberal politician
is the hero in this melodrama. He takes credit for providing his
constituents with whatever they want or need even though he has not
produced by his own effort any of the goods, services or status
transferred to them but has instead taken them from others by force.

It should be apparent by now that these social policies and the
passions that drive them contradict all that is rational in human
relating, and they are therefore irrational in themselves. But the
faulty conceptions that lie behind these passions cannot be viewed as
mere cognitive slippage. The degree of modern liberalism’s
irrationality far exceeds any misunderstanding that can be attributed
to faulty fact gathering or logical error. Indeed, under careful
scrutiny, liberalism’s distortions of the normal ability to reason
can only be understood as the product of psychopathology. So
extravagant are the patterns of thinking, emoting, behaving and
relating that characterize the liberal mind that its relentless
protests and demands become understandable only as disorders of the
psyche. The modern liberal mind, its distorted perceptions and its
destructive agenda are the product of disturbed personalities.

As is the case in all personality disturbance, defects of this type
represent serious failures in development processes. The nature of
these failures is detailed below. Among their consequences are the
liberal mind’s relentless efforts to misrepresent human nature and to
deny certain indispensable requirements for human relating. In his
efforts to construct a grand collectivist utopia—to live what Jacques
Barzun has called “the unconditioned life” in which “everybody should
be safe and at ease in a hundred ways”—the radical liberal attempts
to actualize in the real world an idealized fiction that will
mitigate all hardship and heal all wounds. (Barzun 2000). He acts out
this fiction, essentially a Marxist morality play, in various
theaters of human relatedness, most often on the world’s economic,
social and political stages. But the play repeatedly folds. Over the
course of the Twentieth Century, the radical liberal’s attempts to
create a brave new socialist world have invariably failed. At the
dawn of the Twenty-first Century his attempts continue to fail in the
stagnant economies, moral decay and social turmoil now widespread in
Europe. An increasingly bankrupt welfare society is putting the U.S.
on track for the same fate if liberalism is not cured there. Because
the liberal agenda’s principles violate the rules of ordered liberty,
his most determined efforts to realize its visionary fantasies must
inevitably fall short. Yet, despite all the evidence against it, the
modern liberal mind believes his agenda is good social science. It
is, in fact, bad science fiction. He persists in this agenda despite
its madness.

Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr, MD is the author of The Liberal Mind: The
Psychological Causes of Political Madness. He received his medical
and psychiatric training at the University of Chicago and served for
two years as a psychiatrist in the United States Army. He is
currently in private practice in the Chicago area.
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