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Those Who Walked Away From Sanity

You’re walking down a foggy road, it’s twilight. You’re thinking about how divided this country is and feeling rather gloomy.

There’s a smell of sulfur in the air. And you think here, finally, is the answer to your worries. As a gentleman with horns and forked tail comes out of the fog, you slap your forehead and realize there is a reason the left is going completely insane and can’t leave anyone alone.

You slap your forehead, tell the guy that it’s early for Halloween costumes, and walk on.

There are a lot of stories of deals with the devil. They range from the gloomy, where the poor lost soul can never fight free (though he/she can sometimes have lots of fun as a ghost), to the ones where the devil is defeated by a trick. I have no proof, but my gut feeling and experience are that the first are mostly European and the latler mostly American.

And you — all of you — know d*mn well you shouldn’t make deals with the devil.

The problem is this: the deals with the devil people make — the real ones, which apply whether one believes in the devil or not — are not the kind made at twilight at a crossroads with a being of distinctly evil shape, and imbued with a suspicious smell.

Instead, they’re made in nice rooms, in meeting rooms, at conferences, with well-dressed people who are so benign, so kind, so full of desire to help us. And also, inevitably, powerful and full of the aroma of success.

They stand in our way and without quite saying anything political (some of them do. One of them was stupid enough to at least hint at politics to me when I was in the political closet, but most don’t) make it clear that if you want to advance, succeed, or even “just” remain employed, you must say the right words, believe the right things, hang out in the right circles.

Is this a sin only of the left? I don’t know. For my entire life, the half century or so I’ve been cognizant of such things, the people in control, the people who were rich, famous, well put together, were leftist.

And the problem with deals with the devil is that they sound so plausible: after all, sure, I hated communism, but these people, so smart, so successful, seemed to think that this time they could do it right. I was always contrary. What if it were I who was wrong? What if I had lacked the knowledge they had? Before the internet, who did you know who agreed with you? Some friends, sure, but you – loving them madly – could also justify their opinion. They were contrary. They were rebels. That was probably it.

After all, all the news you read, all the news you saw confirmed the narrative of the left. How could they be wrong?

Besides, again and again, in academia, in the media, in writing, in the arts, you wanted to get in, you wanted to advance, you wanted access to the public. And it was clear they wouldn’t let you in if they knew you were one of those: unwashed, stupid, or evil. Those people who stood outside the magical circle cast by the words “one of the good ones.” (Yes, I heard them used often, back and forth, as sign and counter sign. Not, note, about me.)

No, I did not take the bait. I did not sign the contract. I did not give up myself and everything I believed in to get where I wanted to go. No, at this late a date, a good fifteen years after the tests (multiple, because they couldn’t believe I’d quite understood). Honestly, when they gave up, I think it was in the belief that I was stupid.

As a writer, I know there are things about a character you can’t violate unless you wish to void that character, to destroy him, to make him non-living. And kissing the ring, and mouthing Marx was the thing I couldn’t do. Not and go on being myself.

But the offer was there. And it was tempting. No one who hasn’t struggled for over a decade for something, and then finds success dependent on what seems such a trivial thing, would understand. And yet I know a lot of you will.

It’s funny that the left, who coined the term “sellout” and who reviled Pope Benedict for his stint in the Hitler Youth, despite his pointing out everyone did it then, to survive, to pass unremarked, is made up of a large number of people who “sold out.”

Yeah, I know, I’ve said in the past that the hardcore left is composed of equal parts idiots and evil people.

Sure, if you meet someone who boldly proclaims himself a communist, under the light of the noonday sun, he’s either a madman or a demon. It would be no different if he proclaimed himself a Nazi. To do so is to lay claim to the corpses and say it was well done. A madman or a demon, no matter how much he whispers “this time we’ll do it right.”

But then there are the “socialists.” Most people don’t really know what they mean. They hear Europeans (who have no clue how much their care lacks) brag about their medical care, the wonderfulness of their many days off, the joy of knowing you’ll be taken care of from cradle to grave.

These people don’t know — most of them — how the cradle is often voided and the grave hastened by that “free” medicine. They also don’t look at where the innovations come from.

Part of that is willful “not looking.” France has a pony, they want a pony, damn the manure and full speed ahead. Part of it is that a lot of them are non-political.

And part of it… well, part of it is that even those who have doubts, and who certainly have doubts about the lengths the left is going to nowadays, know the path to success is to parrot whatever the left is saying, to never have doubts even in their own minds, to be more leftist than the leftists, more politically correct than Mao, who invented the term. They want to get publicity, to get fame, or to get ahead in their careers, to be well paid. They want to bring up their families in comfort, they want to have that air of success about them.

The people who definitely don’t smell of sulfur extend the contract, and they sign without even knowing it. They’re just going along to be agreeable. Besides all the good people – all the smart people – think this way.

They get warnings – I got them and ignored them. An acquaintance got them recently and took to Facebook to tell them where to put them – “Don’t talk to so and so, it will hurt your career.” And “Don’t listen to so and so, he’s evil.” “He’s crazy.” “She’s stupid.” “Admire so and so. He’s important.” “Listen to so and so, she’s so brave.”

And… they do. And some of them even flourish. No, not all.

You see, what used to be taught in stories of deals with the devil is that the devil always lies. In the end, you always lose. Even when you get what you want. And often, you don’t even get what you want.

The thing is that the left, in control of various institutions as they’ve been for seventy years, are losing their grip.

Part of this is because three generations of being hired for ideology is enough to create a generation too stupid to pour p*ss out of their boots with the instructions written on the heel.

This is indeed a proof of the efficiency of Marxism-Leninism. To achieve that level of rock bottom incompetence, it took the monarchies of Europe several centuries and many, many near-incestuous marriages.

So the wheels of the industries the left controlled started coming off and other things arose to replace them. Certainly true of the media and writing. Or people stopped paying attention, which seems to be the case with the visual arts.

There are a significant number of the bien-pensant on the left, who sacrificed not only their own convictions, but the right of free association, the right of free belief, the right to think over things, instead of taking directives from above on what to believe, in return for advancement, in return for money, in return for power. Some even sacrificed their ability to create untrammeled.

And now…

And now the worm is turning. The ground is shifting under their feet. People are going around them. The industries are shrinking. There is less power, less money, less adulation in the path they chose than they thought there would be.

But that’s where they are.

A lot of the unhinged rage from the left is the rage of the dupe who finds out exactly how the devil swindled them.

Sure, they’ll never admit it. A lot of them will cling to the crazy left harder than ever, rather than admit what they did.

But something deep within them has broken and is crying quietly for what they used to be; for what they might have been.

It can’t be consoled.

All they can do, instead, is shout louder, backstab faster, threaten more, and spin more deranged versions of reality.

So they don’t hear it.