Streetwise Professor

April 19, 2015

Victor Davis Hanson and the Streetwise Professor: Peas in an Anti-Progressive Pod

Filed under: History,Politics — The Professor @ 4:57 pm

It’s kind of spooky that Victor Davis Hanson and I will frequently draw the same conclusions from a particular Obama remark or action, phrase our analysis in similar terms, and do so almost simultaneously. This VDH piece from April 14 and mine from April 11 are a case in point. We both conclude that Obama’s foreign policy is driven not by incompetence (though there is that) but instead it is the result of conscious choice based on his beliefs and mindset. VDH and I both attribute Obama’s actions to his “romantic” view of Third World nations and revolutionaries, and his belief in America’s sins. Our conclusions are based on the same words uttered by Obama, and by same actions that Obama has undertaken.

I am not asserting a causal relationship here. Instead, this is an example of “multiple discoveries”, a phenomenon studied by the sociologist Robert Merton, and the Stiglers, père George (an economist) et fils Stephen (a statistician).

That is, similarly prepared or disposed minds, presented with the same facts, are likely to reach the same conclusion. Hanson and I are both conservatives who have spent our professional lives in the progressive swamps of academia, and who are hence quite familiar with the leftist infatuation with anti-Western movements abroad and disdain (and often hatred) for the United States. Through long exposure, we are well versed in leftist cant. We are both steeped in history, although Hanson is a real historian, and I am just an amateur. We both share a tragic view of man, and a belief that there are historical regularities that connect all ages: this gives us a neuralgia to progressivism (literally understood based on a knowledge of its Hegelian roots) and makes us shake our heads at people like Obama, who quite openly believes that things that happened before he was born, or came of age, are irrelevant (except, of course, if they can be used to shame western culture-the Crusades!-or the US-slavery!-or idealize “the other”-remember the beautiful Caliphate!).

In other words, we are almost destined to see Obama in the same way, and interpret his remarks and actions  nearly identically.

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