My entertainment has come from the calamitous meltdown, panic-stricken hostility, and intellectual bankruptcy of our current president’s opponents, the Marxist Progressive Left. New ideas, they do not have.
Not that our current president has any new or particularly good ideas. He won by tapping into the American sense of life—the one that says, “you can’t push me around, fella” and “my money’s as good as yours!” The deplorables of middle America finally found someone who did not condescend to them. Condescension of the bi-coastal elites, most of whom have never been to, let alone lived in, middle America is what won the election for our current president.
Denigration and ridicule of anyone who lives in or comes from the hinterlands are all too frequent. “Fly-over country” is just the most generic dismissal. As a small-towner from Kansas, I still hear this gem of intellectual inquiry: “Do you know Dorothy?” followed by a belly laugh. My reply that my mother’s name was Dorothy usually produces another belly laugh, albeit this time, though not always, showing a touch of embarrassment for asking a stupid question.
The source of the Left’s condescension is their anti-capitalist theory of human nature and consequent intelligence defense-value.
Government control of person and property—by nationalization and expropriation as the socialist variant and by heavy regulation and some expropriation as the fascist version—assumes the people, in the US’s case, the deplorables, are too weak, stupid, and ignorant to make decisions for themselves. Why else, my wife asked recently, would they insist on government controlled education? And many other things dished out at the point of a gun.*
The deplorables, say these Leftists, must listen to and follow us, the intellectually blessed elites who possess a near-God’s-eye omniscience to regulate and control our country, not to mention the deplorables’ lives. The intelligence defense-value follows from this. In a nutshell it says, “We’re smarter than you, so that gives us the right to tell you what to do. After all, it is for your own good.”
Defense-values (chapters 3 and 10) are a pseudo-self-esteem that attempts to assuage insecurities. Boasters and compulsive talkers are other examples. Defense-values, however, do not work and they sometimes lead to a conceit—a fatal one, as Hayek put it—to claim that God’s-eye view of the world to control whole societies. Because control and regulation only lead to destruction, we are left with what we have today, a “planned chaos” of rent-seeking, government-by-lobby, and in some cases, collapsing mixed economies.
Marxism, of course, is and has always been the intellectual foundation of anti-capitalist hysteria. The problem for Marxists is that most of the deplorables are the workers of the world who were supposed to throw off their capitalist chains in exchange for the communist paradise. They are, however, doing just fine under capitalism and do not have much use for the Marxist Left.
As a result, the post-modern, anti-modernity Marxists have had to find new oppressed classes
The final straw (and last gasp, one can hope) of the Marxist Progressive Left is their attempt to destroy the distinction between speech and action. This is the ultimate consequence of political correctness. Because certain classes, so the argument goes, are more powerful than others, and because speech is “socially constructed”—i.e., not individual and not in our control or even in our awareness—anything coming out of our mouths or from our pens is coercion, meaning coercion of the weaker classes.**
The oppressors are no longer the bourgeoisie, as in the days of Marx and Lenin, but whites, males, and straights. Once speech is interpreted as a weapon, as the post-modern Left interprets it, censorship is justified, and all forms of coercion become justified.
Thus, we had the massive demonstrations last fall that vociferously expressed desires to reject the results of the November election, demonstrations that at another time, perhaps in our future, could, with the presence of a charismatic, fist-pumping orator, turn into a frenzied putsch attempt.***
Violence is already being used to silence speakers (1, 2). It does not matter that most of the demonstrators are “peaceful.” Their leaders are ecstatic when speeches are canceled. Censorship is their goal.
Indeed, a spectacular fire where one of these speeches was canceled evoked an unpleasant image in my mind. I fully expected the blackshirts (1, 2) who caused the damage to throw a few books into the flames. Causing the speech to be cancelled was equivalent.
And actors and other demonstration preachifiers who beat their breasts and screech about “my America,” which means not the America of our current president or of anyone who did not vote for their candidate, are one step away from declaring speech and books they disagree with “un-American.”
The Nazis in 1933 moralized about “my Germany” and burned books that were “un-German.”
Is this where we are headed? I’m counting on the bankrupt Left to continue down its self-dug hole and the American sense of life of initiative and achievement to reject attempts to rescue any part of Marxist Progressivism.
The deplorables are decent people, but their sense of life needs to be articulated and made explicit . . . soon.
* On the left/right political continuum—right being minimal government, left being total government—fascism is on the right side of the left, because it is a form of socialism. After Hitler’s invasion of Russia in 1941, fascism became a pejorative promoted by the communists who equated capitalism with fascism. Soon after, they began calling anyone they disagreed with a fascist. The Left continues this tradition today. See Mises, Planned Chaos, chapters 6 and 7.
** Whites, we are told, suffer “unconscious racism,” which means we are not even aware of it. We should therefore just shut up and obey the dictates of the caring, humanitarian Left. Our daughter not too long ago was silenced in a discussion because she is white. And participants at academic conferences have been told that scholarly discussion with them was not possible because they belonged to one of the privileged classes! This is polylogism at work.
*** Writing about the New Left “revolutionaries” of the 1960s, many of whom today are the tenured radicals promoting relativism and authoritarianism, Ayn Rand said: “The New Left does not portend a revolution, as its press agents claim, but a Putsch. . . . A Putsch is a minority’s seizure of power. The goal of a revolution is to overthrow tyranny; the goal of a Putsch is to establish it.”