Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fathoming The Reactionary Mind

I readily admit that I find it difficult, if not impossible, to fathom the extreme right-wing mind. To me, it is a mind mired in a world of fantasy, willful ignorance, and intractable denial. Magical thinking seems to be a substitute for cogitation. Name-calling in lieu of discussion. Denunciation instead of deliberation. And I would be quite content to leave such minds alone, content as they are in delusions of grandeur and superiority, except for the fact that they bother and disrupt the business of the adults in society.

The above, I'm afraid, is an all too apt description of the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, young Tim Hudak.

Yesterday, Kathleen Wynne brought down her throne speech in the Ontario legislature. As reported in the Globe, with nods to both the NDP and the Conservatives, the speech trod a fine line between fiscal responsibility and social spending in its effort to garner support from both parties.

Despite the reasonable and conciliatory tone of the speech, young Hudak, as is his wont, immediately rejected any possibility of support. The Star's Martin Regg Cohn notes the following:

Tory Leader Tim Hudak followed Wynne at the microphone to say his party would vote against the speech, instantly marginalizing himself just as he did last year for the Liberal budget (allowing the New Democrats to dictate the agenda).

He went on to reject any possibility of countenancing road tolls or congestion fees to address the problem of gridlock in the GTA until government waste [is] first eliminated. As Cohn tartly observes: Hmmm. Now there’s a Tory inaction plan: foster more political gridlock so that traffic gridlock festers for another generation.

I have no idea whether Kathleen Wynne has either the capacity or the political capital to reverse the significant damage done by her predecessor. I do know, however, that for Hudak to reject out of hand even the possibility of working collaboratively for a time, insisting instead on an imminent election, is the mark of an untutored and immature mind, wholly consistent with the extreme right-wing mentality described at the start of this post.


  1. Hudak's reaction, Lorne, is an indication that his defeat in the last election taught him nothing.

    1. From what I have read of the ultra conservative mind, Owen, there is always a great deal of difficulty in the processing of something new - I guess, in that sense, Hudak belongs to the right party which, of course, bears little resemblance to the Progressive Conservative Party of the past.

  2. Lorne, here's your problem. Over the past three years there have been incredible research breakthroughs into the differences between rightwing and leftwing minds.

    The explanation goes like this: "It's not that conservative people are more fearful, it's that fearful people are more conservative."

    A British researcher used brain scans of Republicans and Democrats that found they actually used different parts of their brains.

    "Republicans were using the right amygdala, the center of the brain's threat response system. Democrats, in contrast, were using the insula, involved in internal monitoring of one's feelings."

    Left and Right truly do see different realities. It's when we try to reconcile their perceptions with our understanding of the same thing that we become frustrated with them.

    What I find inexplicable is how the Right doesn't perceive climate change from their threat bias.

  3. Thanks for this very interesting information, Mound. I have become quite interested in the mechanisms of the brain lately, having recently read The Wisdom of Psychopaths, by Kevin Dutton, and The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty, by Simon Baron-Cohen, not, of course, that either book even remotely relates to conservatives ;)