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On the Arrested Development of the Left

The child is father of the man.

by
David Solway

Bio

May 13, 2013 - 1:16 am
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Rieff’s thesis can be readily appropriated by the left since it will happily adopt his foregrounding of guilt as an operational concept, not realizing that for Rieff guilt is a source of cultural restraint rather than a harbinger of cultural surrender. As a result of this misunderstanding, in the current jihadist assault on the West, we are guilty, apparently, of radicalizing the Islamic world by our national behavior and foreign policy, and are thus constrained to make amends. The carnage of 9/11, and the more than 20,000 Islamic acts of terror that followed, are due, not to the tenets of the Koran and the violence inherent in the Islamic belief system, but to our own ostensibly aggressive and imperial tendencies. The real victim becomes the attacker, not those who suffer at his hands. But Rieff’s central point is not guilt per se and certainly not guilt as catalyzing the lunge toward clemency and compassion for our enemies at whatever cost to our security, but the collapse of privacy and the rise of collective group think. “A new kind of community,” Rieff writes in Freud: The Mind of a Moralist, “could be constructed, one that did not generate conscience and internal control but desire and the safe play of impulse.” Such, of course, is the psychology of the child at work — or, rather, at play — who lives in a culture that stands for everything and therefore, as Rieff says in Triumph, “for nothing.”

In effect, we are now witnessing what Norman Cohn in The Pursuit of the Millennium — another essential book for our time — described as the eschatological drama of the left, which features the millenarian role of the redeeming child, the birth of a world-historical innocence that will transform and raise human life from the realm of ferocity into the domain of irenic harmony — though in order to do so, an initial stage of violence is prerequisite. As Cohn puts it, this was supposed to usher in “the Egalitarian State of Nature…the long-lost Golden Age or ‘Reign of Saturn,’ in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which would influence communistic speculation in the Middle Ages,” as well as in the present. Social injustice, class disparities, gender distinctions, and economic asymmetries would all magically disappear. Revolutionary millenarianism, says Cohn, was “a social struggle…not…for specific, limited objectives, but as an event of unique importance…a cataclysm from which the world would emerge totally transformed and redeemed.” In an ironic inversion of Christian lore and doctrine, we might say that a child is born who will change the world, but this child is a squalling infant in the body of a grown man or woman.

Today the movement goes under other names –social justice, neo-Marxism, environmentalism — but in particular Agenda 21, the UN’s so-called sustainable development program which, in its own words, is a “comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations system, governments and major groups, in every area in which humans impact on the environment.” As Tiffany Gabbay explains in The Blaze, commenting on Glenn Beck’s novel of the same name, “the United Nations seeks to co-opt, via individual governments, and eventually, a ‘one-world government,’ privately held land under the auspices of ensuring its ‘sustainability.’” The naked land grab represented by Agenda 21, conducted under the auspices of a presumably benign but unabashedly despotic authority, will lead us, we are given to believe, from the abattoir of history into a new Golden Age.

It sounds like something out of Sonka da Monka — the fictive poet of egregious verses (“New things take a stride/And ideas leap outside”) — or the obsessive fantasies of a pampered and deranged child, which is precisely what makes the revolutionary project so sinister and destructive. Cohn concludes, correctly: “revolutionary millenarianism and mystical anarchism are with us still.” The child has gone rampant, romantically innocent of moral obligation and duty, divorced from any notion of the past and ignorant of the gradients of human nature. Let us make no mistake about this. The feral sentimentality of our juvenile elders and incontinent prodigies, if not rudely countered, will see to our demise.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage based on a modified Shutterstock.com image.)

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David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity, and is currently working on a sequel, Living in the Valley of Shmoon. His new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, was released by Mantua Books. His latest book is The Boxthorn Tree, published in December 2012.

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Top Rated Comments   
I was never a leftist, but I felt somewhat leftish when I was a teenager. I used to wonder why the world had to be so screwed up and ridiculous. Why was "competition" the basis for our economy? Why not "cooperation?" Why were people rich or poor? Why was everything so icky?

Then I grew up. I started believing in things like "human nature" and (though I'm not a Christian) the "fallen" condition of mankind.

To me, "fallen" simply means that we, unlike any other being we know of, have the ability to imagine ourselves as other than what we are. We can imagine ourselves as perfect. The truth is, we can never actually BE perfect. So there's always this enormous gap between real and ideal.

I think conservatives have learned to accept this situation. Liberals never have and never will.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (70)
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When I was on the CNN comment board the other day , a group of self inflicted ethno masochistic liberal trolls popped up to peddle the litany of White/ ONLY historical sin , which has become the default factory settting of the narrative which is constantly enforced in the minds of every generation of our young people throught the Western educational and cultural sphere since the 60 's . .

If anybody should be aware of this it would be those like us who have to put up with on a daily basis on MSM debate forums . The notion that White people ONLY, everywhere and anywhere , for some mysterious reason , according to these " anti-racists " progressive Whites , has no rights of blood and heritage to remain the majority in their homelands . They appear so obsessed with this that one can only conclude that the fewer Whites there are , the more estatic they become . I eventually unrapped their mental processes layer by layer and diversion by diversion , seeking to explain this cultural anomaly which has no historical parallel .

It turns out that Progressive middle class Whites do not have the ability to self-analyze or explain themselves to themselves what motivates this behaviour, because the truth is cringingly embarassing to stare in the face . No other human society in history has convinced itself that putting the economic, territorial , cultural , ethnic, racial interests of the " Other " above its own is one of the highest acts of virtue one can aspire to . It is a form of Hyper Moralism , Hyterical Humanitarianisnm perculiar to Western White middle class academia . It is malignant virtue narcissism , fetishised to such an excess that it has begun to take on all the worst misunderstood aspects one can think of from Religion ..

They have constructed a mental labrynth which they themselves cannot navigate out of , because wisdom , reason , logic and common sense were not employed to construct it in the first place . It is not anchored in any of those things , in any gusty , intuitive earthy common sense . It is constructed out of very emotionally charged , appealling and moral sounding wordisms , like " equality " " egalitarianism " " tolerance " " progressive " " nuanced , " balanced " " non-discriminatory " " inclusive " . It is an artifically constructed wish list infantile world built upon cutey sounding wordisms . A denial of real life , humanity and the world as it actually is . Some of the most profound truths are often some of the " ugliest " , but for them , Moralism must trump Factualism everytime and they will hang on to their paradigm to the bitter end , and take us all down with it . .

No society can survive by creating an anti-heroic myth about itself . No society. race or civilzation can survive this . They will be swept aside by other cultures , races and civilzations who don't play by the same rules or have any intention of doing so . In other words " un-peopling " themselves as a supreme act of humanitarian sacrifice for the " other " . And " Anti-racism " taken beyond the bounds of clinical insanity to the point where it inverts natural law and truth upon its head and becomes a form of extreme wicked, vindictive, evil racism itself .

This self-anointed arty farty middle class fashion fad fraternity are slowly starting to realize that they have once again screwed up and painted themselves in a corner . It is not a nice feeling to be a member of the best and the brightest , the morally invincibles , destined to rule, who have the power to perceive higher truths that us lesser unwashed ungrateful white working class " horrible racist " foxnews reading redneck cannot possibley fathom .--and having to summon up the courage to say they were wrong .

Rather than just admit that a mere idea ,-- religious ,cultural , territorial , ethnic , racial balkanization was wrong , they would rather see us their own flesh and blood whose own ancestors payed toil sweat and blood to build the works of their inheritance, slowly consumed by the " Other " . Because they fear losing their status in goverment , media and the universities . They are petrified of moral and intellectual repudiation .

My advise to them would be this . If you are under the age of 40 . don't wait too long to come to your senses , because , if you don't the least of your worries will be being made to feel like an idiot for a few day everytime you look in a mirror, and not being able to Lord it like a modern day privileged caste of elitist wise men to the Court who will get a cushy little number helping to preside over this global kindergarden. We are sleep walking to the demographic abyss . We can survive those prophets of doom like us being wrong . But we can't survive you being wrong -When someone rings you at work to tell you there is smoke coming out of the basement of your house , you don't ask them what right wing political party they support . You rush over to investigate it .

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well said. A simpler observation is that the left never progressed beyond Jr. High. They must be protected and liked, or God help you. The main difference between the left and conservatives is that the left live in Group Think and conservatives for the most part are individuals.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wow. Although I don't believe in propaganda in principle or inculcation in practice, I have to admit that if this article were, word for word, indoctrinated into the minds of the world's masses, many, if not most, of the world's problems would vanish.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Last week I brought a painting of Saint Anthony of Padua holding the baby Jesus to my log cabin I build with my own hands at the foot of the White Mountains. This great mystery of God becoming a baby I thought of when I say the above sentence the child father of the man.
1937 Saint Faustina
"When I arrived at Midnight Mass, from the very beginning I steeped myself in deep recollection, during which time I saw the stable of Bethlehem filled with great radiance. The Blessed Virgin, all lost in the deepest of love, was wrapping Jesus in swaddling clothes, but Saint Joseph was still asleep. Only after the Mother of God put Jesus in the manger did the light of God awaken Joseph, who also prayed. But after a while, I was left alone with the Infant Jesus who stretched out His little hands to me, and I understood that I was to take Him in my arms. Jesus pressed His head against my heart and gave me to know, by His profound gaze, how good He found it to be next to my heart (Diary of St. Faustina)
humility in front of mystery is the best response
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
footnote
1 Peter 2:2
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation..
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Excellent article, I've always liked the phrase arrested development to describe liberal/progressives, they just can't seem to get beyond a certain point when trying to use reason or logic.
Like children, they always want to believe they're the trendsetters always on the cutting edge of evolution, but they ignore the soul that rules the conscience.
I really doubt that we can continue to live together in the same country.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Allow the Liberal Meccas full freedom and Independence.Maybe they can prove us wrong,in NYC,Detroit,San Francisco,Chicago,Providence.Like the song goes;SHOW ME SOMETHING GOOD,TELL ME THAT YOU LIKE IT!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You Sir, in a long article, finally hit the Nail Right on the Head. But now I am waiting for the solution to the problem you have so rightly pointed out.....
Are we, the Adults in our Nation, supposed to give all of these Overgrown Silly Children a spanking and force them to bed with no dinner or is it time for more radical mearsures, like a revoluiton with the refreshing of the Liberty Tree?
Soon we will have to make this decision for our future is staring us in the face..... We must, as a people, recognize reality or we shall perish!!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Knew lots of them over the years: spoiled brats all. They were always told that they were special and nothing was their fault but rather they were victims.

Thus, they want to bend the world to their will no matter the cost to others.

I personally believe that certain parts of our traditional revealed religions inculcate a belief in personal blamelessness and a desire to harm others that don't play by our rules.

It is really that sort of bad conscience that makes it very hard for the Left to see Islam as it is, as they are much the same: you condemn one for intolerance then you stand condemned yourself. Again, much easier to blame others.

The Left will not learn until they get some serious personal blowback even if that is just being shunned.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You give them too much credit. Anyone that could learn as you say wasn't really a liberal, just misguided for a while. A real liberal would never learn. Just look at how many of the 1960's radicals are still just as bad now as they were then even after seeing their vaunted Soviet Union collapse and all the dismal record of what they preach?

No, the best thing for it is to put them away by themselves somewhere. Let them run things how they want and when they fall apart they it will be plain to all. If they manage to hang on, that's fine. It will provide a place to keep sending the loonies to. It would need good physical borders though since leftist regimes are notoriously violent and constant vigilance to keep out their spies and provocateurs.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, it is very difficult to learn anything when one already knows EVERYTHING.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Endorsing a theme of this impressive article - the misplaced "empathy" of the Left - is this book review. [I confess that the book under review is mine own.]

http://frontpagemag.com/2013/dgreenfield/imagine-the-uk-without-thatcher/
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I was never a leftist, but I felt somewhat leftish when I was a teenager. I used to wonder why the world had to be so screwed up and ridiculous. Why was "competition" the basis for our economy? Why not "cooperation?" Why were people rich or poor? Why was everything so icky?

Then I grew up. I started believing in things like "human nature" and (though I'm not a Christian) the "fallen" condition of mankind.

To me, "fallen" simply means that we, unlike any other being we know of, have the ability to imagine ourselves as other than what we are. We can imagine ourselves as perfect. The truth is, we can never actually BE perfect. So there's always this enormous gap between real and ideal.

I think conservatives have learned to accept this situation. Liberals never have and never will.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Liberals and moderate right wingers recognise that since human IQ is on a bell curve, half of us are below average. The implication is that the left half of us can't help ourselves the way the right half can, i.e. meritocracy is always advocated by those who are genetically better endowed than their fellows. What all of them do therefore try to tilt the table to make up the difference.

I vote right wing because the left wing table tilting involves regulation etc that is harmful to advancement; i.e. they tilt the table by retarding innovation. Left wing table tilting demands hiring of miinority road crews. The right wing table tilting (yed the right wing has always done this) is Eisenhower's interstate. Big difference in results.

Solwy's indictment of "childlike" is simply wrong.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You could be right. But I'd like to see a leftist politician stand up in public and say "We believe half the citizens of the United States are too stupid to take care of themselves, and helping them is why I became a leftist!"

I'm not sure everyone is as calculating, as intentional as you describe. Most people don't think like engineers, if they think at all.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There's a difference between "too stupid to take care of oneself" and "this person has an IQ of 130 and has a built in advantage over others" (e.g. being able to handle symbolic processing, something only 20% of the population can do.) The below avg IQ is capable of being trained, doing a job, doing it well, and being perfectly functional in society. But that group -- on average -- isn't that which will advance into management (Dilbert notwithstanding) and otherwise be what anyone would mistake as "upwardly mobile."

The above average group will naturally be rewarded with better paying jobs and more opportunity, and contrary to what is believed here on this site, it's NOT necessarily because they worked harder, prayed more, or were otherwise "more worthy." It's because this goup can and will invent intermittent wipers, be more successful in business due to being able to parse legal paperwork better, etc.

Table tilting by the left tries to increase lower ability job pay via minimum wage manipulation, minority hires via AA, unions, and so on. They see a zero sum game: the table is only so big. The right tends to change the table size.

Is the glass half full or half empty? Engineers will tell you to get the right sized glass.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Who are you, and what have you done with our Leftist friend, randomengineer? :P

AS for "childlike" being wrong, I think not. Adults understand and accept the differences in ability. Childlike people do not. They think it's "unfair", so they are always trying to make it "fair".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Moderate right wingers, viewed through a "conservative" prism, probably seem like leftists. Actual breathing leftists, conversely, are unable to distinguish between me and you. You see a huge divide. They do not.

Fairness, as per leftists, is shorthand for the table tilting I spoke of. They are correct in their assessment. It is NOT fair. The question is what, if anything, one is to do. e.g. if the right were to simplify regulation and construction of nuclear plants -- LOTS OF THEM -- this would provide immediate jobs, lower the cost of energy, kill the left's carbon madness crap, and result in more jobs... cheap energy allows for inventions and that which uplifts everyone. Things are NOT fair, so one can best approach fairness by enlarging the table.

Just because the left recognises things are unfair and says so does not make them children. Childlike is when you understand the differences and respond with "tough $hit."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We're getting mixed up here. Certainly lots of conservatives say "tough $hit." I think that's because they're tired of having their money and freedom sucked away by leftists attempting to make everything "fair."

On the other hand, most conservatives believe that the best way to improve the lot of the genetically-disadvantaged 50% is to give them JOBS. That means growing the economy, growing business, encouraging entrepreneurialism. And that means CAPITALISM. Not laisseze-faire capitalism (another strawman), but healthy, well-supervised, and (if you must) "socially conscious" capitalism.

The leftist alternative: just spend a lot of money on poor people. As we can clearly see today, this doesn't really raise anyone out of poverty. It just makes chronic poverty less horrible. In effect, it subsidizes poverty.

This is very different from the "social safety net" - the goal of helping people through hard economic or personal times. I don't think most conservatives have a problem with that idea. What we object to is our taxes going toward the care and maintenance of a full-time, permanent, impoverished underclass - an underclass that has been taught, by leftists, to regard its care and maintenance as an "entitlement" or a "right."

Ideally, the conservative solution ensures EVERYONE gets something. Some get more than others, but that, as they say, is life. And obviously, the real solution falls short of the ideal.

The leftist solution does the opposite. It confiscates from A and gives to B. A has to lose in order for B to gain. And as your bell-curve comment shows, there is no intention to "solve" or "eliminate" the problem of inequality - only to maintain it at some arbitrary level, presumably based on how good liberals are feeling about themselves at a given moment. It could change - maybe this year liberals decide A needs to give up a bit more so B can have a few more "entitlements." Talk about laissez-faire...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"On the other hand, most conservatives believe that the best way to improve the lot of the genetically-disadvantaged 50% is to give them JOBS."

We are violent agreement. :-) My only point is that there is inherent unfairness, and the left is far from childlike to say so. How we deal with unfairness is the difference. We are on the same side.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I hope we can stay on the same side.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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