The blind spot of reason and conscience

«They shall not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their heart.» — Isaiah 6:10

In 1668 French scientist Edm Marriott discovered and described a blind spot – an area on the retina of the eye, insensitive to light. But there are also psychological and moral blind spots – cognitive distortion, which is expressed in prejudice and denial of the obvious. This condition is inherent in every human being to one degree or another, but usually people do not understand or recognize their limitations.

Lies and illusions – the view from the left

There are many obstacles to an adequate understanding of reality. “God sees the truth, but will not soon tell it” is the title of Leo Tolstoy’s story, which has become a proverb. The Bible is full of testimonies about the difficulties of grasping truth, both socially and educationally conditioned and internally related to human nature. “The promptings of the human heart are directed toward evil from an early age.” Genesis 8:21; “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick.” Jeremiah 17:9. The Bible repeatedly warns of false prophets, false teachers, and the influence of a bad environment. Truth is often unattractive, and it is very tempting to willfully or unknowingly distort reality in the name of one’s goals and comforting illusions.

The liberal worldview has followed this path from its inception and has relied more on fantasies and dreams than reality. Thousands of volumes have been written about the history and current state of liberalism; for some it is a catechism of good deeds and intentions, for others a collection of cynical manipulations and misconceptions about the nature of man and his relationship to society. Liberalism is proclaimed to be both the road to peace and prosperity and the path to the decay and self-destruction of civilization and man.

Without delving into theory, we need to look at the key areas of identity formation: school and higher education, work, family, politics, and community relationships. The first idea that is routinely planted in a child’s head is that he or she is exceptional, gifted, capable of reaching heavenly heights, of realizing the wildest dreams, of being successful and happy, of making the world a better place.

All of this is patently absurd, rejected by everyday life and common sense, statistics, sociology and psychology. More or less, these promises will be fulfilled for one in many thousands, and even then, provided that success comes without falling from the heights, ruinous courts and lawyers, scandalous secular chronicles, divorces and division of money and children, psychoses and neuroses.

Regular public opinion polls are not the truth in the last instance, but they are still a more reliable reflection of reality than groundless pedagogical fantasies and parental dreams. 43% of young Americans believe they are living worse than their parents, and another 21% fear this will happen to them too. In 2012, 53% of Americans thought they had realized their dreams; now, as the Wall Street Journal reports in “The American Dream in the Biden Years Is Unattainable for Many,” gloomy predictions and expectations dominate economic and social life.

All age and social groups recognize a mental health crisis, these assessments coincide with the opinion of experts and state institutions. Between the ages of 18 and 34, 50% have psychiatric diagnoses. (American Psychiatric Association). More than 12 million Americans indicate that they are thinking seriously about suicide. 76% of college students experience psychological distress. The main diagnoses are not genetically determined diseases, but depression and anxiety, generated primarily by the environment and the state of consciousness.

Two main causes of the crisis are usually identified: the restructuring of being and thinking due to the mass use of computers, telephones, social networks, which substitute surrogates for human relations and generate social alienation, and traditional explanations – low standard of living, discrimination, racism. The lack of psychological help is often mentioned. But most of the world has healthier psychological states and social relationships, although America has better socioeconomic conditions and is ahead of the planet in terms of the cost and number of psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers.

The current crisis of public and individual consciousness is primarily due to the liberal ideology that dominates all spheres of social relations, starting with school. Facing life and its contradictions turns out to be a shocking, traumatic blow and leads to despair, bitterness, cynicism, distrust of people and institutions.

Liberal education not only fails to prepare for real life psychologically and morally, but also purely practically. More and more the specialties chosen in training are inadequate for the job market and the expectation of economic prosperity. Millions of artists, artists, musicians, art critics, writers, historians, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, political scientists, experts on race, gender, multicultural, global relations find themselves unnecessary, unclaimed, living on casual earnings without hopes and prospects. More and more often it appears that even specialists in natural sciences, technology, jurisprudence, finance are being displaced by the latest technologies.

Liberalism has painted bright pictures of a future of scientific and technological progress, freedoms and rights, but in reality the time is inevitable and near when most workers will be unfit even for exploitation. Education has not prepared for this future.

Gallup has identified the most important factors in preparing and integrating young workers into the labor force. Here are some of them. “Follow your dreams”, “Anything is possible”, “Know your worth”, “Feel cared for”, “Feel that your opinion is taken into account”, “Your work contributes to the future of humanity”, “Work brings joy and inspiration”. Lifecochies – “life coaches” advise: “Find a job to your liking – you’ll be happy”.

In “Terrible Career Advice,” Bonnie Hammer, a high-ranking manager, writes, “Too many of us have heard a lot of lies about what it takes to succeed and very little truth…. Americans have been raised on a diet of dreams, from fairy tales to superheroes….. No wonder that when young people start working, so many feel betrayed.”

School, literature, art, social science, and law have changed millennia-old ideas about marriage. Liberal worldviews and expectations define the disaster of family relationships. Illusory beliefs about gender relations, mate selection, child rearing, family stability, and the shift from traditional norms to unbounded freedoms have jeopardized the institution of marriage.

U.S. marriage rates have fallen 60 percent since 1970, while alternative forms of intimacy have increased manifold. Gender reassignment and same-sex marriage are yesterday, the New York Times Store enthusiastically reports on the 20-person polyfamily. Liberalism normalized all forms of sexual perversions, speed dating services and one-off sexual encounters. There was a time when attachment to alcohol, drug use and psychedelics was an unquestioned obstacle in personal relationships, today it is an everyday ritual.

As a result, in some ethnic communities more than 70% of children live without biological fathers. Liberalism attributes this to low standards of living, but in other countries and in other communities in America not stupefied by liberalism, strong large families persist even in the face of severe economic hardship. Family breakdown cannot be compensated for by psychotherapy. Parental experience will inevitably determine the moral and psychological state of children and their future relationships.

The results of the liberal rebirth are nowhere more evident than in politics. The demagoguery of social justice, inclusion, diversification, the guilt of some social groups and the victim psychology of others are mercilessly exploited here. Social polarization, chaos and anarchy, all activists and all unhappy is a direct result of liberal policies that discredit democracy and destroy society and its institutions.

It is especially telling that liberals, who position themselves as fighters against totalitarianism, supporters of pluralism and tolerance, having been given the opportunity to control and dictate, become a totalitarian force, uncompromisingly suppressing dissent and opposition.

Lies and illusions – the view from the right

The advancement of liberalism is inevitably accompanied by a weakening of the influence of conservative ways of being and thinking. In education and media, conservative ideas are presented as reactionary, retrograde, contrary to progress and justice. In the gigantic stream of research and literature on social problems, the proportion of those who support traditional values is steadily declining.

Conservatism prioritizes political and social stability, the nation-state, the strength of state institutions, solid legislation, the free market, the authority of the country and leaders, the traditional family, and individual freedom and responsibility.

According to the Gallup poll, 36% of Americans consider themselves conservatives, 25 liberals and 37 moderates, although this group too, depending on time and circumstance, leans one way or the other and is increasingly polarized. Although by definition democracy is dominated by the will of the majority, today’s liberals, especially their left wing progressives, are much more active and aggressive, their demographic base is growing rapidly, and it is they who determine the nature and dynamics of social development. 

Turning to everyday life, here is an episode from the press that shows the difference between a liberal and conservative upbringing. In a poor suburb of Las Vegas, Latino schoolchildren approached their pastor: “The teacher says our community is discriminated against and the whites have all the power.” Shepherd responds: “That’s not true. We are not victims of oppression. Everyone has equal rights. They are trying to create confusion in your mind and turn you against your country, against everything.”

The credo of conservatives is law and order. The credo of liberals is justice and rights. Differences in worldview and political orientation are clearly evident in attitudes toward protest movements. In recent times, liberals saw in the pogrom protests and looting under the slogans “Black Lives Matter” an expression of the struggle against racism, civil rights violations, and social inequality. Conservatives saw in these protests a mob feral with impunity, violators of public order and laws, a danger to democracy and state institutions. Liberals wanted to disarm and weaken the police, conservatives wanted to strengthen them. For liberals, George Floyd was a victim of police brutality and a national hero, while for conservatives he was a recidivist criminal and drug addict. Similarly defined attitudes toward pro-Trump demonstrations and the seizure of the Congressional building.

The same attitude is evident in the assessment of the current riots on college campuses. Liberal leaders, media, and professors saw them as an expression of active citizenship, rights to free speech and demonstration, and a struggle against colonialism and apartheid. Not only were students indoctrinated for years with a liberal education, but they also received advice, practical help, funding and meals from faculty and outside organizations and activists. ” The political tactics were the result of months of preparation, planning and indoctrination by activists and leftist groups,” writes the Wall Street Journal.

In the conservatives’ understanding, the nationwide chaos, disruption of classes, threats and insults to Jewish students and professors, and resistance to the police are a consequence of the politicization of education, the connivance of university administrations and authorities, and the influence of foreign students and investments, especially from Islamic countries. Conservatives believe that the actions of extremists should and can be addressed through laws. In the words of Donald Trump, “The police came. And at two o’clock, it was over. It was a beautiful picture.”

Liberals have different ideas: America should withdraw support from a loyal ally, a strategic partner, a democratic state to save a terrorist organization, Israel should make suicidal concessions that will only encourage terrorists to commit new crimes.  Liberals, even women and gays, don’t want to see what the future holds for them if those they now so zealously support gain control and power.

Conservatives look at the world more adequately than liberals, but they are not free of blind spots in their minds either. This applies above all to resistance to renewal, an unwillingness to see necessary and inevitable change. Conservative thinking can tend to support racism, xenophobia, nationalism, and the preservation of status and privilege. Conservatives have viewed a change in attitudes toward growing property divisions, abortion, and gun ownership. For years, they saw mass immigration as nothing more than a source of cheap and disenfranchised labor and didn’t realize that it was strengthening the Democrats’ base. Many conservatives in big politics reacted paranoidly to changing relations with China and Russia, but underestimated the destructive processes at home.

The polarization of society today has reached such acuteness that it is impossible to imagine compromise and peaceful existence of liberals and conservatives. Prominent historian Robert Kagan, in his book “Insurrection – How Anti-Liberalism is Tearing America Apart,” writes that “The pro-Trump movement is directed against the America that Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and other Founding Fathers envisioned.” But today it is liberals who have rebelled against all of America’s history, and in the face of its founders, they see slave owners, racists, and those who affirm exploitation, discrimination, and white privilege.

There are no limits to the use of funds in this struggle. Policy and legislation are subordinate to the demands of partisanship. The judicial and media bashing of Trump is evidence of that. But Trump has also said repeatedly that his opponents will get the same treatment: ” If they say the president has no immunity, then Biden, I’m sure, will be on trial for all his crimes.”

There have always been many obstacles to objective perception and judgment. Monarchical and authoritarian rule, religious dogma, communal norms and control have set rigid boundaries of what is acceptable and allowed. Freedom without shores or authority, the cult of individualism produces its own obstacles: seeing only what one wants to see, thinking arbitrarily and not doubting one’s rightness and judgment, not recognizing reality if it does not suit one’s interests and psychological comfort.Sigmund Freud wrote that people “Have never known a thirst for truth. They demand illusions they can’t live without.”  “Not only is man not master of his own house, but he must content himself with scraps of information about what is going on unconsciously in his brain.” Eric Fromm: “Our society … This is a society of zombies whose soul is dead, people with empty thoughts and words.” For all their differences and mutual dislike, both liberals and conservatives cannot accept these diagnoses. And if there was a politician or an expert who was ready to call things by their names, he would not be seen or heard, nor would he be allowed to say a word.

The blind leading the blind

Jews in America are about 2%, but no ethnic group has done as much to promote liberal ideas as Jews. Most American Jews are liberals, and traditionally, under all conditions, vote for Democrats. In politics, media, education, law and finance, until recently Jews have been prominent and influential in all aspects of the country’s life. But their orientation, as a rule, was liberal goals and values, even if they contradicted and harmed Jewish interests.

The worldview of Jewish liberals was defined by the belief that good deeds aimed at general welfare, education, and support for the weak and discriminated against, along with museums, literature, and lectures on the Holocaust, would end anti-Semitism.

Indeed, there were periods when it seemed that prejudice against Jews had become a marginal phenomenon that would be eradicated in the not too distant future. The main concern of Jews has been minority issues, especially the black community, support for gays, immigrants, labor movements, social assistance programs, and relaxation of legislation.

The appearance to the country and the world of Donald Trump, although his actions as president were extremely favorable to the Jewish state, was perceived by liberal Jews as a major threat to democracy and civil liberties. Most Jewish organizations and Reform synagogues have made the fight against Trump central to their efforts, as have Jews in politics, media, and universities.

In American history, there have always been fewer Jewish conservatives than liberals. Their numbers are declining, today only about 13%, 10 years ago it was 18%.

Although the majority of Jewish intellectuals are liberals, among conservatives there are also bright researchers of social problems and publicists: Ben Shapiro, Denis Prager, Lee Zeldin, Koroln Glick, Gadi Taub, Jonathan Tobin. Adjoining the conservative camp are the editors and writers of Momentum, a magazine covering domestic and international politics, culture and religion founded by Elie Wesel and Leonard Fein, and the Jewish News Syndicate, which reports op-eds and commentary.

A significant portion of Conservative Jews – 24% voted for Trump, compared to only 10% of Reform, 8% of Reconstructionist, and 14% who did not join these groups.  Trump got the most support, 54%, from orthodox Jews. Trump’s statement, “Every Jew who votes for Democrats hates their religion….. They hate everything about Israel and should be ashamed of themselves, because Israel will be destroyed.” It is difficult to object, today especially, but there is no shame or willingness to open one’s eyes and reconsider one’s position.

The orthodox do not have the same influence as liberals, but they do not squander effort and resources to promote ideas and projects that have nothing to do with and contradict Jewish interests. Although there is a small group of Hasidim who believe that the creation of Israel before the coming of Moshiach is contrary to the Torah and solidarize with the Palestinians.

But the orthodox also need to be aware of their blind spots and think about how to respond to the challenge of modernity. They need to learn how to talk to Jews and non-Jews of a different way of being and thinking. The mantra “Everything is for the best, everything will be fine if you pray more and donate to the synagogue” and hopes for miracles are acceptable for internal consumption, but not convincing in the external environment. It must be remembered that any transgression, failure to fulfill obligations and promises on the part of a religious person is perceived much more critically and sharper than the average average average person. That they persuade not by words but by example.

The real situation of Jews today is obvious. This is a critical moment in their American history. This has never happened before. On the eve of World War II, there were pro-fascist movements and demonstrations with Nazi slogans, but they did not receive such mass support as the current bacchanalia of anti-Semitism. And the Jews were certainly not a part of it.

What are the results today, after October 7, of efforts to overcome anti-Semitism? Trade union, human rights, educational and arts organizations, the National Committee of Gays and Lesbians, the leadership of Black and Muslim organizations and religious centers are demanding an end to aid to Israel and a halt to military action in Gaza, which means continued Hamas power and new terrorist attacks on Israel. Anti-Semitic actions and demands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators find support in the media, universities, and in the power structures. Many Jews are joining the solidarity movement with Palestine. Everyone understands the meaning of the slogan from “River to Sea” – the destruction of the Jewish state – but its mass use is justified by demagoguery about freedom of speech. 

In the streets, in universities, Jews have no defenders besides the police. Pro-Palestinian demonstrations have hundreds of times more participants than pro-Israel demonstrations. Posters with pictures of hostages are torn down or defaced with pro-Palestinian slogans. Attacks, threats, insults against Jews have become a daily reality. Even yesterday’s favorite of millions, Jerry Seinfeld, having spoken out in support of Israel, is today a “Genocide Supporter.”   

The Democrats, the party of Jewish liberals, in 2002 expressed 34% more sympathy for Israel than for the Palestinians, in 2023 in the year Democrats sympathized 11% more with the Palestinians than with Israel. (Gallup).

Today, the shift is even more pronounced, especially among the young.

Most Jewish organizations have suffered complete political and moral bankruptcy, degenerated into bureaucratic fundraising agencies, and, speaking on behalf of the Jewish community, primarily tried to approach and please the authorities and the elite, to please their haters.

Anti-Semitism has taken on global proportions. The UN and other international organizations have shown hostility to Israel for years, nowadays the agenda is to reward terrorists with a state under their control. Even Arab dictators would like to destroy Hamas, any state realizes that tolerance of terror encourages its spread, but anti-Semitism blinds and dominates reason.

In Europe, the birthplace of enlightenment and liberalism, unenlightened and illiberal Muslim immigrants have shattered the illusions of Jews and not only Jews.  When the Soviet human rights activist Natan Shcharansky asked the famous French philosopher Alain Finkedkraut if there was a future for the Jews of Europe, he responded with the question, “Is there a future for Europe?” Today, Finkedkraut, a recognizable selebrity, is afraid to show his face on the street and cannot teach or participate in public life.

In the Soviet Union at the stage of its collapse, Jews contributed greatly to economic and political liberalization. But most Jews have left the country, and although in the post-Soviet states Jews are highly visible in the economy, politics, media, as well as in the opposition, their fate is problematic. Russian writer Mikhail Weller says that liberal Jews are paving their way to Auschwitz. Perhaps said too harshly, but today is not the time for consolation.

Jews have not learned the central lesson of their history: anti-Semitism is ineradicable, it was and remains part of the Jewish destiny. And when Jews forget their history, life brings them back to reality. After the Holocaust and the victory over fascism, Jews convinced themselves, “Never again.” But here we go again, anti-Semitism is spreading around the world, and the world is not only indifferent, but solidarizing with the new fascists.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meeting with prisoners of Nazi death camps, recalled that President Roosevelt was well informed about the mass extermination of Jews, but responded to requests for help by saying he was not prepared to lose even one pilot to save them and refused to accept Jewish refugees. Churchill tried to use the army, but the army refused to do the job. “If we don’t protect ourselves, no one will protect us,” Netanyahu said. Israel realizes who it is dealing with, and this applies not only to Hamas fanatics and their allies, but also to Western politicians.

President Biden also gave a speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day. He recalled that Hitler and the Nazi Party “Did not begin the rule with mass murder. It began slowly through economic, political, social, cultural life: demonization of Jews, boycotts of Jewish businesses, synagogues disfigured with swastikas, attacks on Jews in the streets and schools, anti-Semitic demonstrations, pogroms, riots.” This is a true picture of what is happening in America and around the world today, even though fascism is already unmasked and not properly resisted. The American president’s speech at the Holocaust museum was flawless. But the next day he announced a halt to arms shipments to Israel and again demanded that Hamas, which openly aims to destroy the Jewish state, not be eliminated.