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Yet more thunder down under: An interview with Dr. John Ray
By Bernard Chapin
In September of 2002, I ran across an essay at frontpagemag.com called "The Psychology Underlying Liberalism" by Dr. John Ray. I had never heard of the author before but found his description of the left to be startlingly accurate. I emailed it off to several friends and associates who agreed with me considering the rare quality of its insight.
Since that time, Dr. Ray has added to his work and eventually produced a monograph called, The Motivations of Political Leftists, which is available for free online. He also runs a blog called "Dissecting Leftism" which is updated frequently.
Dr. Ray is a former professor of sociology at the University of New South Wales although his degree was actually in psychology. Overall, he describes himself as being a social scientist but is officially retired from formal academic pursuits. Dr. Ray has written an extensive biography that you may wish to read upon finishing our interview.
BC: Dr. Ray, let me begin by asking about your well-known, The Motivations of Political Leftists. What is the reason why a psychologist like yourself would become interested in so meticulously deciphering leftist motivation and behavior? Does it have anything to do with your university background?
JR: Most of my academic research was in fact concerned with the psychology of politics so what you now read from me is the result of decades of thought, reading and research. In the School of Sociology where I spent most of my teaching career, almost all of the other academics were Marxists of one sort or another so I know the species very well from first-hand observation.
BC: For readers unfamiliar with your work, do you regard radical leftism as being antithetical to the successful functioning of political states? Also, in reference to radical leftists as individuals, are many of them guilty of projecting their own personality difficulties and conflicts upon their own countries?
JR: I think it is obvious from the world's many experiences of Communism that radical Leftism is an unmitigated disaster for anyone subjected to it. And I do think that the things Leftists criticize most in others are the very faults that are most prominent in themselves -- simplistic thinking for example. Psychologists call that "projection" It reminds me of Christ's admonition to stop worrying about the speck in your brother's eye and get rid of the beam out of your own eye. Christ had obviously seen how common projection was too.
BC: What would you say to those who regard notions of left and right as being passé nowadays?
JR: The rejection of a one-dimensional Left/Right view of politics is a respectable one and is widely supported among libertarians but I have done a lot of survey research on the question and find that only a single Left/Right polarity is to be found in public opinion data.
BC: In your work, you describe yourself as a Libertarian and then observe that rightist governments are generally less meddlesome in their citizen's lives than are leftist governments. This seems true enough, but is it possible for one to be a leftist and a libertarian at the same time? I ask you this particular question with an obnoxious American television personality at the forefront of my mind.
JR: It is all a matter of degree but matters of degree are important. I
think conservatives are more favourable to liberty than Leftists are but
blind Freddy knows that conservatives can support government coercion too
on some occasions. As far as I can see, however, liberty is totally left
out of a Leftist philosophy. There is ALWAYS something more important than
liberty to a Leftist. They only favour liberty when they think it will be
BC: Is there any hope for sociology? It seems to be the discipline most corrupted by political correctness. Do you find the field's current misuse as a PC bullhorn to be inevitable– given its historical origins? [By the way, I have met many educated people who quote Margaret Mead authoritatively but know nothing of her professional debunking].
JR: Sociology as I know it is just a form of Marxist theology -- fit only for second-rate minds. Mead is an anthropologist rather than a sociologist and to this day most anthropologists seem to defend her on the grounds that what she said SHOULD have been right!
BC: Let's turn to your other area of expertise: psychology. Personally, I'm teaching my eighth university psychology class at the moment and have been sincerely disappointed by how drunk the textbooks are with multiculturalism and the way in political correctness is favored over coherence. What kind of damage do you think PC, or what Hollander calls "the adversarial culture," has done to the study of psychology?
JR: Because most psychologists are Leftists -- with the typical disregard for evidence that that implies -- psychology will never be a science. I have pointed out the unscientific nature of the psychological "research" I know of in the academic journals many times. I advise you to abandon psychology and go into business -- where you will almost certainly make a more honest dollar. At the moment I see the whole discipline as a fraud on the taxpayer.
BC: I just ran across this paragraph in an article from techcentralstation.com. It juxtaposes liberals with conservatives and argues: "Conservatives love history; liberals love sociology. Conservatives are archaeologists; liberals are engineers." Given your background in the psychology of liberalism, would you agree with the author's analysis?
JR: It has a grain of truth. Conservatives endeavor to learn from history; Liberals are only really interested in their own theories. And Leftists certainly want to engineer us. And from Stalin to Pol Pot, we know what that leads to.
BC: Lastly, and along a completely different line altogether, you shared with me some personal experiences regarding feminism. How do you think the feminist movement has altered our lives? Can you share with our readers any horror stories regarding their behavior at your university or towards yourself in particular?
JR: Feminists amuse me. I so often saw their angry eyes around me in the School of Sociology that I know what motivates most of them -- so I am also rather sorry that they are such congenitally unhappy souls. Normal women, however, are a delight. Fortunately, I have met a lot of the latter. I do know one lady, however, -- a former colleague at university -- who calls herself a feminist but whom I regard as an absolute saint. There are holy people in all faiths.
Thank you for your time, Dr. Ray.
Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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