The author of Imlac’s Journal quotes Malcolm Muggeridge on George Bernard Shaw:
He wanted to make a lot of money without being considered rich.
Here is Theodore Dalrymple, writing in the same vein:
[D]uring the early years of the AIDS epidemic … it was demanded of us that we should believe incompatible things simultaneously, for example that it was simply a disease like any other and that it was a disease of unprecedented importance and unique significance; that it could strike anybody but that certain group were martyrs to it; that it must be normalized and yet treated differently…. It was a bit like living under a small version of a communist dictatorship, in which the law of noncontradiction had been abrogated in favor of dialectics, under which all contradictions were compatible, but which contradictions had to be accepted was a matter of the official policy of the moment….
The demand for recognition and nonrecognition at the same time is surely one of the reasons for the outbreak of mass self-mutilation in the Western world in an age of celebrity. A person who treats his face and body like an ironmongery store can hardly desire or expect that you fail to notice it, but at the same time demands that you make no comment about it, draw no conclusions from it, express no aversion toward it, and treat him no differently because of it. You must accept him as he is, however he is, because he has an inalienable right to such acceptance….
I think the same dynamic (if I may call it such) is at work in the current vogue for transsexualism: “You must recognize me and not recognize me at the same time.” In this way, people can simultaneously enjoy the fruits of being normal and very different. To be merely the same as others is a wound to the ego in an age of celebrity, and yet we are herd animals who do not want to wander too far from the herd. And in an age of powerlessness we want to exert power.
What will be the next attempted reconciliation of our incompatible desires? [“Everyday Snowflakes“, Taki’s Magazine, July 15, 2017]
Good question. I don’t have a ready answer, but I have some other examples of incompatible desiderata. Each entry in the list below has two parts: (on the left) an objective that most leftists would claim to support and (on the right) the left-wing policy that hinders attainment of the objective.
Ample employment opportunities for low-skill workers – Minimum wage
Vigorous economic growth – Regulation
Property rights* and freedom of association – Public-accommodation laws
Less crime – Strict gun control or confiscation of guns*
Peace – Less defense spending (and therefore lack of deterrence)
The result of each left-wing policy is to create victims, ranging from young black men to law-abiding citizens to most Americans. The left’s constant search for “victims” is evidently hindered by intellectual myopia.
Moreover, in many cases leftists are actual or potential victims of their own policy preferences. But their magical thinking (unconstrained vision) blinds them to the incompatibility of their desires.
* There are many hypocrites on the left (like Shaw) who would vigorously defend their property rights while proclaiming their attachment to socialism, and who employ guards (with guns) to protect their property.
More posts about the left and magical thinking:
The Left and Its Delusions
A Keynesian Fantasy Land
The Keynesian Fallacy and Regime Uncertainty
America: Past, Present, and Future
IQ, Political Correctness, and America’s Present Condition
The Barbarians Within and the State of the Union
The Pretence of Knowledge
“The Science Is Settled”
The Harmful Myth of Inherent Equality
“And the Truth Shall Set You Free”
The Transgender Fad and Its Consequences