Jonah Goldberg

A massive new study from Berkeley scientists at has found that political liberals have the following qualities in abundance:

- Cowardice and appeasement

- Comfort with confusion and ignorance

- Recklessness

- Indecisiveness and similar cognitive defects

- Terror mismanagement

In short, after an exhaustive research effort, the scientists concluded that the typical liberal is very much like Renfield, that sniveling, nasty, bug-eating sidekick to Dracula. This is why liberals always say, "Yethhh, master" to bullies and tyrants like Josef Stalin, Fidel Castro or Saddam Hussein: They are dim-witted, cowardly, nasty creatures who can never make up their minds. It's not me, science says so.

OK, I'm making this up. There is no such study scientifically "proving" that liberals are feckless crapweasels.

But there is a Berkeley study that purports to prove that conservatives are hard-wired in the brain to be closed-minded bullies. The study by a team of psychiatrists claims to show that conservatives are defined by five qualities: "Fear and aggression," "dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity," "uncertainty avoidance," the "need for cognitive closure" and "terror management."

According to the media summary put out by Berkeley's crack press office (and later pulled from its Web site), all "conservatives" share the same basic psychological wiring. They give four examples of four conservatives who share these attributes: Hitler, Mussolini, Rush Limbaugh and Ronald Reagan.

Now, this whole thing is what I like to call a pinata of asininity - bash it from any angle and from any distance and you will get some reward. But let me pick a few points.

First of all, Hitler and Mussolini weren't conservatives. Or at least, the idea that Mussolini and Hitler were "conservative" as we understand the term in the United States and Britain is very, very much in dispute among political scientists and intellectual historians.

For example, Hitler always claimed he was improving upon Marxism and socialism ("Nazi" does stand for National Socialism, you know). Mussolini was born into a socialist family, was a leading socialist journalist and thinker and was admired by Lenin. When Mussolini broke with the Socialist Party about WWI, he declared, "You think you can turn me out, but you will find I shall come back again. I am and shall remain a socialist and my convictions will never change! They are bred into my very bones."

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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