"People have often been willing to give up personal identity and join into a collective. Historically, that propensity has usually been very bad news. Collectives tend to be mean, to designate official enemies, to be violent, and to discourage creative, rigorous thought. Fascists, communists, religious cults, criminal 'families' — there has been no end to the varieties of human collectives, but it seems to me that these examples have quite a lot in common. I wonder if some aspect of human nature evolved in the context of competing packs. We might be genetically wired to be vulnerable to the lure of the mob." ~ Jaron Lanier
Come Now, Is the Left Really Any Less Bad?
Exclusive to STR There's been a lot of talk lately about how we might have better luck trying to work with our friends on the Left now that the hopelessness of the Right is undeniable. I suppose anything might be worth trying and I agree there's reason for giving it a shot. But I'm skeptical. My frustration with liberals goes back a long way.When I came of age, back in the Sixties, it seemed to me that my peers had a healthy mistrust of government, all government. After all, it menaced us in ways one doesn't have to rehearse that folks might dredge up those memories. Admittedly, most people's reasons were generally too crude and uninformed to be intellectually useful, but at least their gut instinct was appropriate.But the energy of those days faded away as soon as the Viet Nam business ended. The focus of popular anger gone, folks soon forgot the forces that brought on the evil of imperialistic war and its corollary, domestic tyranny, were not gone at all, just moved to the background where the political class and its owners wanted it. The so-called counter culture got co-opted so fast one can hardly remember it ever existed. The Left no longer distrusts the government, it embraces it. How can the Left be taken seriously today when it offers no principled opposition to the system with which it claims to be at odds?How anyone who thinks himself a Liberal, in the best sense of the term, can stomach the antics of their current crop of saviors of the common man is astonishing to me. If it isn't perfectly clear that they are only in it for what's in it for them, and not in any sense for the good of the people they claim to represent, then all I can conclude is that people wish to be deceived. And as long as otherwise good folks think the root of all evil resides exclusively in the machinations of the Republican party, or that by redoubling their efforts to promote the success of the Democrats those evils will be stymied, they will never see the cause of justice advanced. Just as the ruling class wants it.Instead they waste their energy lamenting the public's lack of enlightenment instead of shining a light on the dark recesses of the system that eats out our substance. Of course, if they were to shine their flashlights in that direction, it would be the transfixed eyes of their own intellectual raccoons, among others, that glared back. Just listen to what passes for political discourse from its public intellectuals. All one hears are dull, hysterical rants about whether some government vote-buying program should be changed by some trivial amount rather than whether it complies with the moral absolutes we were taught as children. The only question to be decided is whose pockets are to be picked, and whose are to be lined. Who is to be pampered and who is to be clobbered. Whether government will be seen as benign or malevolent depends on the configuration of victims and beneficiaries, rather than whether or not people's rights are respected and promoted.The Left needs badly to get its intellectual house in order. It has no principles we can respect. All it offers is a thoroughly confused collection of demands focused more on replacing its political opponents than achieving anything that could rationally be thought of as social justice. Just go down the list of what the Left gets worked up about these days and one sees simply a hackneyed list of complaints revolving around a contradictory set of ad hoc premises that would be overly charitable to call a philosophy.This is where the Left's public intellectuals have so despicably misled their followers. They have become so satisfied just being players in the system, enjoying rubbing their shoulders with the denizens of the ruling and political classes, that they no longer show even a pretense of concern for the rights of free men. And if the officials in government who call themselves Liberals can be taken as representing the people who so enthusiastically support them then it is certainly fair to say that the Left is far more eager to control the minutia of their fellow citizen's lives than in freeing them from the oppression and exploitation of the owners of the system.Now we shouldn't let the followers of those intellectuals off the hook. They're getting the kind of moral justification they want for their own confused notions. None of their enthusiasms conform to the Golden Rule, they just want their way and they want the state to make it so. They're not about to let some silly unalienable rights stand between them and what they want. If their intellectuals wish to do something useful instead of feathering their own nests at the expense of their deluded followers, they ought to abandon their obsession for petty control mongering, spit on their hands, and get down to the serious business of developing and popularizing a coherent ruling class analysis. But they just can't give up the notion that their favorite whipping boy needs to be vilified, expropriated, and subjugated. They believe this is their ticket to power, which of course is what they really want.The same is true for the Left's political enantiomer, the Republicans. Their followers are willing victims of the same illusion. Together they provide the credulous with a battle of ideas more apparent than real, a noisy and obscene spectacle that perfectly serves the purpose of distracting people from what really threatens their safety and security, the growth of a democratically endorsed totalitarian despotism that makes all the old fashioned varieties seem child-like in their thuggish lack of sophistication.Consequently, government has become confident of the docility of the subjects it rules, and with good reason. No outrage is too outrageous, and no atrocity too atrocious to motivate the sheep to do other than bark impotently. One can't even get them to recognize tyranny when they see it. Murders on a scale that no civilized man could excuse, torture, bald-faced thievery and extortion, kidnapping, lying, and every kind of monstrous and pitiless perfidy under the sun is seen by them as no big deal. That such a neutered population as this would actually rise up is as unthinkable to me as the very concept of rising up is to them. Run amok maybe, but that's something different. That the Left is as culpable as the Right in bringing about this sorry state of affairs cannot be denied. While Liberals are busying themselves tinkering around the edges with all sorts of social control legislation, then smugly contemplating their success now that the local bar can no longer allow smoking, the ruling class relaxes over cigars and cognac enjoying the satisfaction of knowing that useful idiots are doing the work of growing the power of the state, power those cigar smokers will use to advance their own interests at the expense of ordinary people. Is this really what the Left wants? One can certainly be sure the ruling class wants it.