On the essay to which I’ve linked under JUST FOR THE HELL OF IT, the blogger henceforth known here as Colin Liar (no implied relation to Billy Liar) raised the question of my politics. He went so far as to accuse me of a “faith-based” orientation, even though neither of the essays to which Liar responded (or any other essay on Sequart) concerned religion. This accusation, while incredibly stupid even by the standards of the famed trope “someone is saying something stupid on the Internet,” prompts me to some observations about the nature of ultraliberal ideology.
I identify myself as a liberal, but I distance myself from all those who let liberal ideology do their thinking for them. I consider such people to be “ultraliberals.” Their responses to any sustained argument invariably comes down to quoting chapter-and-verse of whatever manifesto they favor. This rote response renders them common kin with their supposed enemies, the “ultraconservatives.”
While I have written essays on religion on THE ARCHIVE, I feel reasonably sure that Liar read none of these in making his baseless accusation. It’s far more likely that, given that he had simplistically labeled me a conservative because I opposed a particular liberal position—that of feminist Kelly Thompson—it stood to reason in his pea-brain that I must be opposing said liberal cause in the name of religion. Obviously, to one governed by rote response, it goes without saying that all conservatives expouse religion, while no liberals do.
For me neither the total corpus of all things liberal nor the total corpus of all things conservative can be reduced to such pat formulas—though both ultraliberals and ultraconservatives manage to reduce themselves to formulaic creations. Both “ultra” types suffer from a profound attachment to their formulaic responses, an attachment that has its origins in unresolved fear.
On a CBR messboard, I gave my terse (for me) answer to the question, “Why do we believe what we believe:”
We all believe what we believe because we're either reacting to fear of something that threatens us personally, or because we see that threat extended to a person or persons with whom we sympathize.
The extent to which a person will not hold reasoned discourse on a given topic marks the intensity of that fear.
The statement’s implications ally it loosely with the Adlerian theory of compensation, but hopefully with more of Adler’s original subtlety. Adler realized that the sense of being threatened by outside forces was intrinsic to the nature of psychic formation, but he distinguished between ‘positive compensation,” which afforded the individual (and by extension, his society) some palpable advantage, and “negative compensation,” which was merely regressive in nature. Thus when I characterize ultraliberals and ultraconservatives in terms of “unresolved fear,” I’m distinguishing that from a stance in which the subject confronts his fears with some open-mindedness, at the very least not resorting to empty rhetoric, or, of course, lies.
Now, when I made my original objections to the Kelly Thompson essay, one might say I was addressing a particular “fear” of mine. The reforms for which Thompson called didn’t threaten me directly, since I don’t think Thompson’s essay is going to have any measurable effect on the marketing of direct-market comic books to a dominantly male audience. But I do see her essay playing to certain ultraliberal positions, which I’ll examine more fully in another essay, and so I responded, knowing I wasn’t likely to convince anyone but still wishing to have my contrary say. One could certainly disagree with my logic and conclusions without being an ultraliberal, but it’s impossible to do so by referring to stock arguments.
Take as a further example Colin Liar’s scorn for two intellectuals cited in an unrelated essay of mine: Nietzsche and Sade. For Liar any interest in these two figures must be proof of some demonic desire to degrade women.
Now, a half-intelligent liberal opposed to my views—or a half-intelligent conservative, for that matter—might have justified this fatuous position by quoting selected passages from the two authors. He might have quoted one of the most controversial passages from THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA: “You are going to women? Do not forget the whip!” As for Sade, that’s even easier: one can hardly turn a page in Sade without finding the author describing the delights of torturing women (though a few pages allow for some masculine victims).
This position would have ignored the fact that both authors have been reclaimed to some extent by feminism. One example of the reclamation of Nietzsche is the 1994 academic essay-collection NIETZSCHE AND THE FEMININE, in which roughly half of the contributing authors were unquestionably female. (Oddly, one author sports the same gender-ambivalent name as Ms. Thompson, “Kelly.”) As for Sade, Angela Carter’s THE SADEAN WOMAN would refute a unilateral conflation of Sade and anti-feminism.
But ultraliberal Colin Liar doesn’t even mount the half-intelligent arguments. He is so awash in his stock responses that he feels he can denigrate both authors in cavalier fashion and that none of his readers will demur—which, as of this writing, none of the Sequart respondents have. Colin Liar shows supreme contempt for his audience by mounting such flimsy, not-even-half-intelligent arguments. Their response thus far has been to roll over like dogs and ask for more.
Moreover, Liar doesn’t even realize how he’s contradicted his own position re: my “faith,” since even a half-intelligent opponent would know that neither Nietzsche nor Sade fit into a “faith-based” philosophy.
And this is my fear: that ultraliberals of such mammoth incompetence will someday become the norm in comics-criticism. THE JOURNAL is bad, but at least it’s still half-intelligent. What brave new comics-world can we foresee, if numbskulls like Colin Liar represent its dominant thought?
While Kelly Thompson’s essay is nowhere as massively idiotic as Colin Liar’s, she does endorse an ultraliberal position. I’ll be analyzing a few more aspects of her problematic essay in future installments.
ADDENDA: I knew I shouldn't bother looking at Colin Liar's own blog, but I posted this anyway and wanted to put it here too, in the likelihood that he'll just erase it and so prove himself a coward as well as a moron and liar.
No time bother sorting through the above comments, most of which are crap-- and I especially wouldn't bother on a blog where I could be easily censored, but here's a response to Tordelback's comment:
"Your demolition of the childish whining of Mr. Philips was a pleasure to read, Colin."
If Colin Liar "demolished" me so well, why hasn't he responded to my counter-assertions in the comments-thread?
One word answer;