Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr, MD

The first step toward an in-depth understanding of adult behavior is to comprehend its origins in childhood. Whether adaptive or maladaptive, the enduring patterns of thinking, emoting, behaving and relating that define adult personality begin in the early years of life. In fact, our earliest experiences with caretakers and others, acting on inherited temperament factors, strongly determine our later personality traits, including those expressed in political values and beliefs.

The dispositions of the liberal mind are no exception: his hopes and fears, beliefs and passions, values and morals are in great measure the legacy of his childhood from birth through adolescence. The traits that define who he is are the traits that lead him to pursue particular goals in the political arena and to use particular methods to achieve them.

The radical liberal mind’s goals are now familiar, of course, but another brief summary will prove useful in highlighting their essentially childlike nature. Just noted were the grandiose goals of providing for everyone’s material welfare and healthcare, protecting everyone’s self-esteem correcting all social and political disadvantages, educating all citizens, and eliminating all class distinctions.

In his pursuit of these goals, he intends to construct a universal human family, one united in bonds of mutual love, concern, caretaking and tolerance. Through drastic government action the radical liberal seeks the following:

* A powerful parental government to provide everyone with a good life and a caring presence

* An elite corps of surrogate parents that will manage the lives of the people through approximately equal distributions of goods and services, just as real parents provide equally for the needs of their children

* A guarantee of material security from the state, similar to that which a child expects from his parents

* A form of parental social justice that cures or mitigates all states of deprivation, inequality, suffering and disadvantage

* A guarantee that negative rights for the protection of individual liberty will yield to positive rights that reduce or eliminate inequalities of wealth, social status and power, just as good parents would balance benefits to their children

* Government laws that will punish the “haves” for their excesses and compensate the “have-nots” for the pangs of envy, just as good parents would do for their children

* Government directives from wise and caring officials that channel the citizen’s initiative and industry through social programs and tax incentives, just as wise parents determine the directions of the family’s labors

* Government policy that instructs the people in how to relate to each other politically, just as good parents instruct their children in how to conduct themselves properly

* Permissive laws passed by sympathetic legislators that lower the obligations of contracts, ease codes of acceptable conduct, and relax the burdens of established institutions such as marriage and adoption procedures, just as indulgent parents would do

* Government welfare programs that free the citizen-child from the duties of altruism, just as parents do

* An international caring agenda that will enhance the family of nations by understanding everyone’s hardships, tolerating destructive actions by others, and empathizing with aggressors to bring them to the negotiating table, just as good parents do in resolving family disputes

These and other goals dear to the modern liberal heart are remarkable for the childhood needs they address and the adult needs they ignore. As noted in more detail below, what the radical liberal mind really longs for, as revealed in his political goals, is a child’s relationship to a loving family whose caretaking compensates him for the injuries he suffered in his early years. He seeks all of this in the contemporary political arena.

The major problem he faces is that a substantial portion of the population is still competent: it is a population that deeply reveres individual liberty, readily accepts its responsibilities, and passionately opposes its destruction. It is not about to yield to the liberal’s mad dream. Because competent people know that they can direct their own lives and provide for their own security through voluntary cooperation, and because they love a world of freedom in which to live as they choose, they have no need for, and indeed vehemently reject, the oppressive intrusions of liberal government.

What the competent citizen wants, in contrast to the modern liberal, is a coherent and dependable structure for ordered liberty, secured by a limited government that respects the autonomy and sovereignty of the individual and protects his property rights against the constant invasions of collectivism.

The liberal mind rejects this prescription on principle and attempts to overthrow it in government policy. What the liberal seeks in order to feel secure is the modern welfare state with its endless guarantees and endless regulations. This goal is literally fantastic in its own right. But equally irrational is the method by which he attempts to achieve it.

He is willing to use any kind of government power, including power which destroys the foundations of civilized freedom, in order to get what he demands: government insured safety and security over the entire lifespan, along with accommodation to his neurotic demands. He seeks through the state that degree of coercion needed to redress the trauma, injustice, helplessness and humiliation experienced at the hands of his original caretakers. He hopes to do this by passing laws that indulge his impulses and exempt him from the proper obligations of mature adulthood.

Considered in its entirety, the liberal’s goal of making the state into an ideal parent/family and his method of achieving it by compelling competent people to do his bidding constitute the radical liberal agenda. Above all, the agenda is a blueprint for the use of irresistible government power. Driven by his irrational needs and desires, the radical liberal mind is more than willing to sacrifice the noble structure of liberty that originally defined America for the shabby asylum of the modern welfare state.


Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr, MD

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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