You’re right-wing? You must be stupid

From Spiked:

DunceMocking conservative and right-wing political figures for their stupidity is all the rage in certain media circles. Yesterday it was the turn of Tony Abbott, leader of the opposition in Australia, after he mixed up the words ‘suppository’ and ‘repository’ in a live TV debate. Last week, Australian election candidate Stephanie Banister was branded ignorant after she made a series of gaffes about Islam during a TV interview. A video of the interview went viral, and as a result of the humiliation Banister has now withdrawn her candidacy. Not surprisingly, commentators compared Banister to Sarah Palin, the former US Republican vice-presidential candidate who was, and continues to be, regularly targeted for her ‘stupidity’. One blogger recently referred to Palin as the ‘Queen of Stupidity’, the ‘very embodiment of all things stupid’.

…Since the end of the Second World War, right-wing and conservative ideas have come to be marginalised within the key cultural and intellectual institutions of Western society. In a frequently cited statement, the American literary critic Lionel Trilling declared in his 1949 preface to a collection of essays that right-wing ideas no longer possessed cultural significance:

‘In the United States at this time, liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that nowadays there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation. This does not mean, of course, that there is no impulse to conservatism or to reaction. Such impulses are certainly very strong, perhaps even stronger than most of us know. But the conservative impulse and the reactionary impulse do not, with some isolated and some ecclesiastical exceptions, express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.’ (2)

While Trilling’s statement contained an element of exaggeration, there is little doubt that it also captured something important about political developments in the 1940s.

More here.