In George Orwell’s
immortal dystopia Animal Farm, the ruling pigs distilled the
revolutionary ideology for the stupider animals, such as the sheep,
hens and ducks, to a simplistic but highly useful slogan, “Four legs
good, two legs bad”. Not only did it explain to the dumb masses the
essence of the pig-led revolution, but it also performed an
important ancillary function of silencing the opposition. Any time
somebody tried to question the leaders’ guidance, the proletariat on
cue would start chanting in unison, “Four legs good, two legs bad,”
drowning out the miscreant.
How often have I wondered, listening to left-wing intellectuals
bloviate on TV, how these ostensibly educated and intelligent people
could, with a straight face, robotically spout arrant nonsense while
contemptuously ignoring the contrary factual evidence cited by their
ideological opponents or their attempts to point out glaring
contradictions in progressive “reasoning” (to the extent that
reciting the talking points by rote can be characterized as
Conservatives are particularly aggravated not so much by the
arguments of their leftist opponents as by the latter’s superior
attitude and reluctance to engage in serious intellectual debate.
The leftists always look and sound as if they know everything worth
knowing and see no need to validate their beliefs in an open
give-and-take. They show palpable disdain for the opponents of their
worldview whom they barely acknowledge as really human, much less
respect as their equals.
But why do leftist intellectuals seem so unabashedly, even proudly,
dumb? What’s behind their utterly predictable, kneejerk behavior?
Are they just plain stupid? To be sure, there is no dearth of dumb
individuals on the left (just watch MSNBC), but most of them are
smart enough. The real reason is different: They are just Pavlovian
dogs obeying the dog whistle.
In his famous experiments Nobel-prize winning Russian biologist Ivan
Pavlov trained his dogs to react to the bell they had been taught to
associate with feeding in exactly the same way as if food was
actually being delivered. The conditioned reflexes, as Pavlov called
this behavior, or the dog whistle in contemporary American parlance,
hold pride of place in the ideological playbook of the progressives.
Many of them have impressive intellectual equipment which they
employ quite effectively in their mundane pursuits. But in all
matters political and ideological they rest their brains, allowing
the progressive software planted in their minds by upbringing,
brainwashing in the guise of education, and mass culture to take
From early on, they are trained, like Pavlovian dogs, to respond in
a prescribed manner to certain stock terms and formulas: “wealth
sharing” good, “capitalism” bad; “progressive” good,“conservative”
bad; “’New York Times’ good”, “Fox News” bad; “Democrat” good,
“Republican” bad… In short, four legs good, two legs bad. It is a
very effective way of inculcating he approved attitudes and views
into the minds of the adepts of the dominant creed.
The power of the dog whistle is vividly illustrated by an experiment
run by media analyst Mark Dice. Using familiar progressive
shibboleths like “trust the government”, “ban all guns” and “keep
everybody safe,” he easily induced a number of California college
students to sign fake petitions to ban the Second Amendment, put all
registered gun owners in prison or concentration camp and even to
execute them. A typical response of the signers was, “No problem.”
Trying to open the eyes of committed liberals is a waste of
intellectual ammunition; they don’t want to endanger their
ideological brain-stuffing by exposure to the free marketplace of
It’s much more comforting for them to masticate prepackaged pabulum
than to think independently at the risk of being cast into the outer
darkness and condemned as knuckle- dragging troglodytes and stooges
of Big Business.
Just try to discuss any particulars of Obama’s disastrous presidency
with his acolytes. Responding to the dog whistle, the Pavlovian
reflex kicks in and - bang! – the lids on their ears slam shut.
They refuse to listen, they don’t want to hear, their minds are set;
they know that Obama is the epitome of sweetness and light while his
opponents are despicable villains and evil racists – and that’s all
there is to it.
It is an old standby of warfare to demean and dehumanize the enemy.
Hence the caricatures and scornful nicknames that each side in war
uses as propaganda tools to boost the patriotic sentiment and foment
hatred for the enemy. Carl von Clausewitz famously said that war is
politics by other means. Inverting his formula, what is politics if
not war by other means? That’s what the Democrats believe and
practice even if Republicans don’t understand it.
Progressives have worked long and hard to demonize their
conservative opponents and largely succeeded in turning the very
word “Republican” into a term of opprobrium. "Nazis" is how many
Democrats habitually call their political opponents. Republicans
refer to Democrats as their “friends across the aisle;” for
Democrats, Republicans are the enemy.
Once the progressive ideology has acquired a sizable following and
gained the allegiance of the elites; once it has become fashionable,
hip and with it, the band wagon effect kicks in. People yearn to
belong, to be part of something bigger than themselves, to be on the
side of the angels (that is to say, the winning side).
To a regular person no fate is worse than that of an outcast. The
Greeks of antiquity knew it and invented the institution of
ostracism which many considered to be worse punishment than death.
Normally, people find it far more comfortable to toe the line, blend
into the surroundings and lose themselves in the crowd than to plant
one’s banner on a lonely hill and challenge the dominant orldview.
Martin Luther’s “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise” is not for the
faint of heart.
And if you think that in their eagerness to belong proud
intellectuals are much different from the proles whose most
strenuous cerebral exertion doesn’t go beyond guessing which
celebrity has the sexiest butt, think again. If anything,
intellectuals are even more susceptible to propaganda.
They are more heavily invested in the ideological Zeitgeist and
easier to control than man in the street, for they have an acute
need to validate their status in the eyes of their peers.
Voltaire pompously proclaimed, “I may not agree with what you say.
But I will defend, with my life, your right to say it.” Really?
Isn’t that the same Voltaire who vehemently demanded to demolish the
church: “Écrasez l’infâme” (let’s crush the infamous). The modern
disciples of that hate-monger and anti-Semitic poseur love patting
themselves on the back for being so morally superior, so noble and,
above all, so tolerant, but extending that tolerance as far as
defending their opponents’ right to contrary views, much less with
their own lives – you gotta be kidding!
Rather than laying their lives on the line for the right of
conservatives to have their say, the left does everything in its
power to shut them up. Just ask the Hollywood conservatives (yes,
Virginia, there are conservatives in Hollywood) who for the most
part have to lead catacomb existence, like early Christians in
Imperial Rome, trembling in constant fear of being found out and
deprived of their livelihood.
Just ask the nearly extinct conservatives on campuses where free
speech is all but stamped out under the guise of “hate speech
codes”; where the rare conservative guest speakers are routinely
shouted down so as not to expose the students to the views that run
counter to the ruling dogma; where the only officially sanctioned
conflict is that between the left and the far left.
Sound familiar? Students of Soviet art will readily recognize one of
the most important precepts of “socialist realism”: only one kind of
conflict is allowed: the good vs. the better. Or, as students of
totalitarianism will recognize as its paramount principle:
everything that is not permitted, is forbidden; everything that is
permitted, is mandatory.
So the upshot: there is no point trying to open the zombie liberals’
eyes. It’s a total waste of time and energy. The real target should
be the young whose minds have not yet completely closed and who
still might be receptive to appeals to their common sense. “We’ll
get you through your children!”, the lefty poet Allen Ginsberg
yelled to his erstwhile fellow radical Norman Podhoretz.
That’s exactly why the Bill Ayerses and Mike Klonskys have given up
open terrorism and burrowed into the educational system to gnaw
America from within. This is one field whichconservatives can’t
afford to yield; the battle should be joined.