March 10, 2005

The "Reality"-Based Community

We've all had ample opportunity to snark and snicker at some people who have ratcheted their self-righteousness up another notch by proclaiming themselves part of the "reality-based community." In doing so, these same self-important people usually claim that those not wearing their tin-foil hats can't face or deal with reality. On occasion, they also set up a bizarre false dichotomy and lump the rest of us into what they like to derisively call the "faith-based community." Regardless of how they choose to characterize those not in knee-jerk lockstep, the embrace of the phrase "reality-based community" as an intellectual cudgel by the Angry Left is in fact a sad joke that they have played upon themselves.

Jonah Goldberg brings up Ron Susskind's insertion of the phrase "reality-based community" today, and suggests that what the unnamed Bush aide really meant was "status-quo community." Perhaps, but I think it is more likely that this aide who must not be named more likely used, and meant, the words "reality-based community" but as he pronounced the word "reality" he moved his arms, hands, and fingers in the same manner as Dr. Evil when he uses the word "laser." The point being that it isn't really reality that these people are dealing with but instead the carefully constructed fantasy world that for them constitutes what they believe reality to be. Could Mr. Susskind have consciously or subconsciously missed this important non-verbal qualifier that turns the meaning of the phrase "reality-based community" around 180 degrees while he was mentally composing his anti-Bush diatribe for the New York Times magazine?

For the self-delusional perception is reality. Their perception of the importance and solidity of the carefully constructed house of cards manifested by the UN, the ICC, the Kyoto Accords, and international law is their reality. Facts that don't fit their perception are discarded so as to preserve the reality they have so much invested in. Conversely, as every student of logic knows, from a false premise you can deduce anything. If a neo-conservative conspiracy to steal steal the world's oil can be perceived, it must be true! If they can imagine that President Bush knew about 9/11 but let it happen anyway, it must be true! The mere act of saying that Bush stole the election makes it true!

Once you appreciate its true meaning, the embrace of this phrase by the Angry Left is especially fitting. Who said irony is dead?

Posted by Charles Austin at March 10, 2005 10:16 AM

My general understanding - as a Lefty myself - was that the term "reality based" was more of a teaser against the extreme "Faith based" people, as opposed to an actual statement of policy. I do not believe they meant that literally; I might be wrong though.

As for the "deck of cards", as you call them, those are the only things that are going to keep terrorism relatively away from the US, because those are the only instances whose existence give third-worlders like me, the sense that we can be shielded from Western excessive power and dominance. Remove all those things, and you have anarchy. But don't trust me! I am the lunatic Lefty, right? Ask Bush. For all his talk against the UN, he had to scheme to base his war on Iraq on "the enforcement of a Security Council resolution". Even King Georges II understands that the UN needs the US, but the US needs the UN too.

Posted by: TheMalau at 02:23 AM

Thanks for the comment, but I must respectfully diasagree on a few points.

1. I don't believe the original use of the term in Susskind's article has anything to do with an alternative to the faith-based community. That interpretation came afterwards as the Angry Left continues to pigeonhole everyone into either part of the problem or part of the solution.

2. The house of cards (rather than deck of cards) will not keep terrorism away from the US. Nothing, and I do mean nothing will keep terrorism away from the US, since there are some who are willing to die to spread mayhem and the disease that causes this has reached a rather advanced state. All we can hope to do is to minimize their damage through an aggresive, assertive plicy of zero tolerance and preemption where appropriate. Your comment, though, illustrates my point exactly in that you put your faith in agreements to protect us, while I don't. I have no faith in an "international law" which has scant recognition of the concepts of freedom and liberty which the United States is based upon.

3. Your suggestion of anarchy in the absence of this house of cards is a false dichotomy, or was anarchy all the world had before the UN existed?

4. Your fear of Western power is exagerrated and propelled by propoganda. I've lived abroad and seen how the US is portrayed even by "friends and allies" and it bears little relation to the reality I have experienced.

5. I neither trust nor mistrust you, even as you try to put words in my mouth or thoughts in my head. I take your statements as I find them, grind them in the crucible of reality and find them wanting. I don't recall calling you any names. Perhaps I do get a little snarky with some on the Left, but I do believe the bad faith of so much of what I read from the Angry Left merits ridicule. I'll make a better effort to be more precise in my criticisms since I do not mean to imply that everyone on the Left acts in bad faith.

6. Bush went to the UN to appease the "reality-based commnuity" who insisted on working through the UN and to appease Tony Blair. It should be obvious that since we went forward without the UN that we definitely did not need them in any sense of the word.

7. Your gratuitous use of King Georges II (sic) reveals either a remarkably poor understanding of the United States and its political institutions or an agenda and propoganda driven mindset that is willfully ignorant.

8. The US does not need the UN. Period. In fact, it can be argued rather easily that most of the world does't need the UN and that it generally does much more harm than good. Our new UN ambassador John Bolton has exactly the right approach to reveal the transnational emperor's lack of clothing.

Posted by: charles austin at 10:20 AM

Actually Charles, while your response above is all correct, the simple fact is that "King George II" is an example of why the "reality-based" community ... isn't.

Posted by: Robin Roberts at 12:25 PM

I must admit that I don't even get the "King Georges II" remark. As far as I know you (theMalau) must mean King George III, because to my knowledge there is no country with a "King Georges II reigning" -- a Google search turns up only links to King George (no "s") II and III of Britain, neither of whom are in the position to "understand" anything, much less the United Nations, because 1) both kings have been dead for quite some time, and 2) the United Nations was unknown at the time they were living, and in fact wasn't established until after World War II.

So I don't get the King Georges (sic) reference at all.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 08:52 PM

And besides, if I follow the logic, it should have been King Georges (sic) III, since George W. Bush is the third "king" we've had named George.

Posted by: charles austin at 02:32 PM