Book Excerpts

Below are selections from the book The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness, by Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr., M.D.

From the Preface:
This book is about human nature and human freedom, and the relationship between them. Its contents are an outgrowth of my life-long interest in how the mind works.... (click here to continue)

On the Madness of Modern Liberalism:

The egalitarianism and welfarism of modern liberal government are incompatible with the facts of human nature and the human condition. But the rise to power of the liberal agenda has resulted from the fact that the people of western societies have irrationally demanded that governments take care of them and manage their lives instead of protecting their property rights. This misconception results in massive violations of those rights while permitting government officials to act out their own and their constituents' psychopathology... (click here to continue)

On the Ideals and Dangers of Liberalism:
Any government with the power to mother its citizens also has the power to dominate them and steal from them: to overtax them, confiscate their property and override their binding agreements. For this reason, the legally enforceable institutions of society must be very limited, lest the government charged with protecting the people against tyranny and theft becomes itself the most dangerous tyrant and thief.

Under the creed of modern liberalism, the individual citizen is not called to maturity but is instead invited to begin a second childhood. Like the child at play, he is given, or at least promised, ultimate economic, social and political security without having to assume responsibility for himself... (click here to continue)

On the Appeal of Modern Liberalism:
The rise to power of the liberal agenda has resulted from a particular meaning that government has come to have for people in western societies, namely, that the state is a proper source from which to gratify the longings of the people for various forms of parental care.

The modern state has taken on the role of an apparently benign, generous, omnipotent and god-like parent, who serves as custodian, manager, provider and caretaker, all to the detriment of the people. We have, in effect, parentified our governments in the belief that we will be better off if they take care of us than if we take care of ourselves... (click here to continue)

On the Seduction of the Liberal Agenda:
The liberal agenda's favors seduce the people a little at a time, always playing on their regressive longings to be indulged. Favor by favor, accompanied by the constant drumbeat of entitlement propaganda, the otherwise intelligent citizen is led to an increasingly erroneous conception of the proper role of government in a free society. Like a child molester, the liberal politician grooms his constituents until their natural cautions against yielding power in exchange for favors dissolves in reassurance... (click here to continue)

On the Psychopathology of the Liberal Mind:
Rather, the adult drive toward omnipotent control of others, in any arena whatever, is rooted in fears of separation, abandonment loss or abuse--the residual effects of early attachment gone wrong. The need to dominate others arises from the tyrant's need for absolute assurance that the catastrophic loss of dependency or the pain of abuse so devastating to him in his earliest years will not be repeated. In his determination to control the world, he constantly defends himself against what Karen Horney aptly described as the most basic of human fears: being alone and helpless in a dangerous, indifferent world, the nightmare of the abandoned, terrified child. Persons plagued with such fears easily conclude that it is in their greatest interest to dominate others, or to imagine that they can, and to set about achieving that goal through the manipulation of government power.

On Character:
These abilities contribute to what is commonly called character, which term also implies dispositions to behave with honesty, integrity, responsibility, self-direction and dependability in interactions with others. Among other things, persons with good character typically keep promises and honor contracts, respect the sovereignty of other persons and their ownership of property, and in so far as possible, take responsibility for themselves by providing for their own needs and the needs of those to whom they have assumed some voluntary obligation. Persons with character do not make legally enforceable claims on the time, effort or material assets of other persons. They do not feel entitled to be subsidized by persons with whom they have no prior personal relationship or contractual duty... (click here to continue)

On Altruism:
A competent individual always remains a unique and lifelong cause of his own experience, with innate capacities for awareness, choice and initiative that serve him in his quest for self-fulfillment. This pole of his human nature justifies a life lived in freedom, one that reflects his exercise of personal sovereignty. Depending on his level of maturity, however, he will also commit himself voluntarily to the well-being of others and find that commitment rewarding in its own right. When not lost in the torment and dysfunction of mental disorder or discouraged by the oppressive hand of government, charitable service to others feels inherently gratifying and even fulfilling, not burden-some, to the mature adult. This altruistic pole of human nature, a rational expression of a biologically determined nurturing instinct, is one of the pillars of social order.

On Integrity:
Integrity usually means wholeness, completeness, soundness or lack of impairment, and Erickson clearly applies these meanings to his ideas about life's last phase. Integrity can also have more specialized meanings... (click here to continue)

On the Ideals of a Ordered Liberty:
Thus, a society's values and expectations about what is right or just influence the citizen's moral choices in economic, social and political arenas at any moment. If society honors the principles of rational individualism, the citizen's choices will be influenced by ideals of individual liberty, self-reliance, personal responsibility, voluntary cooperation, moral realism, and respect for the rights and sovereignty of others. If, on the other hand, society honors the liberal agenda's principles of coercive collectivism, then the citizen's choices will be influenced by ideals of entitlement, welfare dependency, state regulation, moral relativism, and the socialization of major categories of human action... (click here to continue)

On Writing One's Life Story:
When his efforts are not stifled by government policy but are instead allowed to flower as fully as possible through personal choices among real world opportunities, the individual's life becomes a unique story, written as it is lived, and rewritten creatively as fate and fortune demand... (click here to continue)

On the Role of the Family:
A mother who is thus able to require of her child that he treat her to an ever increasing extent as a sovereign individual instead of a mere instrument for his ends has profound significance, not just for the child's growth but also for the broader social order. In the family that facilitates his growth to competence rather than to character disorder, a framework of family "law and order" obligates the child to reciprocate the loving embrace from which he consistently benefits. Among other things, this framework demands of the child that he play by the rules: that he respect the persons, property and sensibilities of others and do what he agrees to do. The family communicates and enforces this obligation as both an expression of their love and a condition of it.

Consistent with the broadly destructive effects of its social philosophy, modern liberalism has had significant success in undermining the foundations of the traditional family despite the fact that its concept of society is modeled on the family. These effects have resulted from the agenda's legislative initiatives and from its persistent invitations to relax the constraints of conscience... (click here to continue)

On Child Development and Freedom:
In terminating the infant's parasitism in his mother's womb, birth permanently removes all guarantees of material security for the remainder of his life. It is a politically momentous fact that the infant is now a separate and highly vulnerable entity that has been transported from the limited but guaranteed environment of the womb to the unlimited and contingent environment of the outside world. This most basic existential condition, one that lasts life-long for everyone, generates much of modern political conflict... (click here to continue)

On Adolescence:
If any phase of the life cycle embodies the innate human urge to be free, it is surely that of adolescence... (click here to continue)