The Left’s Gordian Knot

The various forms the Leftist ideology has adopted — Marxism, Socialism, Neo-liberalism — are rarely the result of initially spontaneous mass movements. Rather, such eruptions are usually triggered by one or all of three classes of people: theory-ridden intellectuals for whom exalted but impractical ideas substitute for the real world of refractory human beings, ruthless opportunists intent on seizing power, and wealthy socialites and media types who like to play with forces they do not understand, expressing, in the words of Victor Davis Hanson, “a pathetic projection of their own elite tastes and guilty desires.” The damage they do is immeasurable but the detritus they leave in their wake has never deterred them from wreaking further havoc. For the political Left assumes that it represents the next step in human evolution. In reality, it embodies the next stage in civilizational decline.

This “new” state of affairs will often manifest as a condition of reversion, whether to an idealized vision of the past, as in Rousseau’s natural state of man, or to a more primitive, tribal-like mode of communal association predicated on an ostensible harmony among its members. It’s a compelling and destructive dream world. This is not to disparage those men and women whose sacrifice and commitment are genuine. But the suspicion remains that the majority are unaware of their true motives, which may have more to do with a sense of inadequacy, self-reproach, and inner lack, however overlaid by a varnish of self-satisfaction, than with a presumed nobility of purpose.

With its manufactured emphasis on peace, brotherhood, and dialogue, its generic sympathy for the poor, the oppressed, the fugitive, and the marginalized, and its mainstreaming of social and sexual deviance as a species of cultural sophistication, the Left as we know it today manages chiefly to assuage its own bad conscience. For the most potent advocates of the contemporary Left, especially the Liberal Left, are generally privileged people — politicians, academics, newspaper editors, Hollywood actors and TV personalities, intellectual mandarins, the parvenu rich, social patricians — who feel they have a debt to pay for enjoying their own prosperity, exemptions, and perquisites. They are like an extant version of that fossilized aberration known as Siphusauctum gregarium, aka the stomach-on-a-stick, which resembles a tulip on the outside but conceals a bulbous gut within. They rightfully belong in the Cambrian, but are regrettably with us still.

Uneasy or embarrassed by favored status and determined to present themselves as lofty egalitarians, they will do everything they can to mobilize those whom they regard as the disenfranchised — the young, the working classes, the destitute, the “undocumented,” the “different” — while refusing to surrender their own prerogatives. They will treat enemies as friends so as not to have to deal with obstacles to their need for absolution. Inwardly crippled, they will feign magnanimity. They will labor to change the world, not from the ground up but from the top down. And in so doing, they will bleed other people’s blood.

Clearly, then, the empathy they profess for the socially disadvantaged and the strangers in their midst is almost entirely fraudulent. There is a deep lesion between the rhetoric and the reality. They will embrace Rousseau’s argument in A Discourse on Inequality that “the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody”; in actual fact, they generally evince a distinct hankering for the fruits of the earth, which they guard jealously, and dispose of the earth as they see fit. Such is the operative “dialectic” of the socialist elite. Meanwhile, the dream must be protected in defiance of both concrete practice and ensuing results.