The Corner

RE: Upcoming from Al Gore

Gore’s new book is certain to be a fascinating glimpse into the liberal mindset at the moment. The equation of left-wing ideals with pure reason (and therefore of opponents with dark ignorance) is an old crutch of course, and never quite goes out of style. Thomas Paine, still the great master of the form, should get royalties. It’s thoroughly silly (I love the line about disinterest in “the tenets of fact-based reasoning” from the book description Kathryn quoted), but the particulars of complaints like this can be very telling about the way a vocal segment of the left now understands its situation.

There are elitist and populist forms of this argument. The elitist form says your enemies are themselves incapable of rational thought, which has the satisfying advantage of leaving you smug, but the unfortunate drawback of requiring you to call the voting public a bunch of dupes. The populist form of the argument helps you out of this jam by asserting that your enemies are outright enemies of reason, actively working and conniving to fool the public and darken the stage, so that rather than a bunch of dupes the voters are victims to be rescued. Gore seems to be aiming for the latter case. It’s a view that borders on conspiracy quackery, but is amazingly common among the intellectual elite now.

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.

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