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Ed Driscoll

Elites’ Sacrificial Victims

April 22nd, 2014 - 3:32 pm

Victor Davis Hanson writes, “When your goal is to save the planet, you can’t worry about who may get hurt:”

Why do our well-meaning elites so often worry about humanity in the abstract rather than the real effects of their cosmic ideologies on the majority? The dream of universal health coverage trumped the nightmare of millions of lives disrupted by the implementation of it. Noble lies, with emphatics like “Period!” were necessary to sell something that would hurt precisely those who were told that this was going to be good for them. A myriad of green mandates has led to California’s having the highest-priced gasoline and electricity in the continental United States, a fact that delights utopians in San Francisco and in the long run might help the rest of us, but right now ensures that the poor of the state’s vast, hot interior can scarcely afford to cool their homes or drive to work. Fresno on August 1, after all, is a bit warmer than Berkeley or Menlo Park.

In a word, liberal ideology so often proves more important than people. Noble theories about saving humanity offer exemption from worry about the immediate consequences for individual humans. In a personal sense, those who embrace progressive ideas expect to be excused from the ramifications of their schemes. For the elite who send their kids to prep schools and private academies, public charter schools for the poor are bad, given that they undermine the dream of progressive, union-run education that has turned into a nightmare for those forced to enroll in it.

The notion that elites, well-meaning or otherwise, “worry about humanity in the abstract rather than the real effects of their cosmic ideologies on the majority,” certainly isn’t a new one. In November of 2009 at the New Criterion, Anthony Daniels (aka Theodore Dalrymple) explored “The costs of abstraction — On the intellectual irresponsibility of Soviet sympathizers:”

In a desultory kind of way, I have collected, over the years, many books about the Soviet Union published in Britain, France, and America during the 1920s and 1930s. They are not by any means overwhelmingly pro-Soviet, with titles such as Soviet Russia Fights Crime, The Protection of Women and Children in the Soviet Union, and Soviet Russia Fights Neurosis (in which, published at the height of the famine, are found the immortal words, “The greatest and most far-reaching values of the Soviet dictatorship are psychological and spiritual”); on the contrary, many of these books give the most compelling evidence of all the horrors of the Soviet Union, all of them now attested and accepted as being true.

My little collection has led me to the conclusion that the Soviet Union was valued by contemporary intellectuals not for the omelette, but for the broken eggs. They thought that if nothing great could be built without sacrifice, then so great a sacrifice must be building something great. The Soviets had the courage of their abstractions, which are often so much more important to intellectuals than living, breathing human beings.

Leftwing ideology and a love of abstractionism caused intellectual elites to look the other way at the eggs being broken in the Soviet Union. (Other than Orwell, who famously asked, “But where is the Omelette?”) No wonder they can avert their eyes so easily to the slow-motion rolling disaster of Obamacare.

Or heck, the original sin of today’s eco-holiday:

Related: If you haven’t read it yet, don’t miss Victor Davis Hanson’s PJM column yesterday on “Cliven Bundy and The Rural Way,” with an assist from VDH’s rough-hewn grandfather, and his horse named — of course — Paint.

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1970s Left = If it feels good, do it.

2010s Left = If it makes you feel good about your yourself to do something about some problem, mandate with the full force of law that somebody else compulsorily does it.*

*Meanwhile, you rig the game with carbon offsets/tax policy/crony capitalism/post-secular indulgences so that you can keep on trucking with that old 70s mantra. Compulsory public policy, like mass transit, is for little people.
26 weeks ago
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