The true test of a philosophy is not what it promises to make of the world but what it makes, in fact, of its adherents. Human nature is remarkably recalcitrant, but ideas do affect people over time, for good or ill, and the societies people make will ultimately bear the image of those effects and thus of the ideas. When historian Paul Johnson, in his book Intellectuals, detailed the often vicious and demented lives of such thinkers as Rousseau, Shelley, and Marx, he was not engaging in casual ad hominem attacks, or playing gotcha with our universal tendencies toward weakness, perversion, and moral failure. He was attempting to trace both the origins and the consequences of his subjects’ philosophical errors. Our beliefs arise from who we are and we become what we believe, a process which, according to our choices, can either resemble a spiral staircase heavenward or a flushing toilet. To him who has, more will be given, and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
Leftism is bad for people. It makes them awful. The unwashed, ill-mannered, anti-Semitic, entitled, and now violent mobs littering various parts of the nation under the banner “Occupy” believe their ideas will lead to a better society — but they actually are the society their ideas lead to. Their behavior when compared to the polite, law-abiding, non-racist demonstrations of so-called tea partiers tells you everything you need to know about the end results of statism on the one hand and constitutional liberty on the other.
This is not, of course, to say that every left-winger is a miscreant but rather that the natural, indeed inevitable, result of statism is to produce nations of miscreants. When the state is permitted to make the individual’s moral choices, the individual is forced to become either a slave or a criminal; when the state is permitted to redistribute wealth, it chains the citizen into a rigid, two-tiered hierarchy of power rather than freedom’s fluid, multi-layered rankings of merit and chance; when the people are taught to be dependent on entitlements, they are reduced to violence when, inevitably, the entitlement well runs dry; when belief in the state usurps every higher creed, the people become apathetic, hedonistic, and uncreative and their culture slouches into oblivion. I need hardly expend the energy required to lift my finger and point to Europe where cities burn because the unemployable are unemployed or because the hard-working won’t fund the debts of the indolent; where violent and despicable Islamism eats away portions of municipalities like a cancer while the authorities do nothing; where nations that once produced history’s greatest achievements in science and the arts can now no longer produce even enough human beings to sustain themselves.