Monday, 5 November 2012


Progressive Groupthink

The New York Times has endorsed Barack Obama for president.  As a child might say, "No surprises there."  But why?  Why was this endorsement entirely predictable?  We could have confidently pronounced four years ago, even eight or twelve years ago that in 2012 the Times would endorse the Democratic candidate for the presidency.  How come? 

Firstly, empirical historical evidence is overwhelming.  The Times has endorsed the Democratic candidate for over fifty years.  In fact, it has even provided an interactive graphic of its record so that there can be no doubt. 
You can peruse it here. So, let's get this straight.  The Times believes that for sixty years in every presidential election the Republican candidate was inadequate and the Democratic candidate was better for the hour, the nation, the needs of the day, and so forth.  This tells an irrefutable story: the Times is a politically partisan newspaper. 

This would be fair enough.  There is no problem whatsoever with a newspaper or other public media being ideologically committed and in the tank for candidates that reflect its ideological grid.  What is utterly intolerable is that said news medium would also argue that it is objective, neutral, and even-handed, without pre-commitment and bias. 

Here is how group think works at the Times:  "the editorial board consists of superior people whose intelligence and perspicuity is beyond question.  As superior minds, better educated than the average bear, we arrive at a common view about the well-being and the best future for the nation.  We all agree that the state should grow in power and authority in every area of life as the essential tool for progress in every field of human endeavour.  We believe in redemption and salvation by law.  We believe in progressive shaping of society by government.  We believe in these things because all fair-minded, educated, and rational people agree that such principles reflect justice, human rights, and progress. Consequently, we will always endorse Democrats over Republicans because at any given time Democratic candidates will be more committed to an expanded role for government and government enforced egalitarianism than will Republican candidates." 

In the ideologically blinkered world of the Times all reasonable and objective men think as they think.  So, the Times is neither biased nor prejudiced.  It is objective, rigorous and balanced.  It is not ideological or biased to believe the sky on a fine day will be blue.  That is just fact.  It is not ideology that calls for an expanded role of the state at all times and in all circumstances.  It is just brute fact that any and every expansion of the power and role of the state will bring progress. 

It is the same kind of mindset that led Soviet politicians, intellectuals, and scientists to proclaim they were merely acting according to the dictates of rational science and evidence as they herded millions to their deaths in mass starvation camps.  No ideological bias there. 

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