Sep 14, 2010

The Subspecies and Origin of the Leftist

It is clearer to me every day that my enemy and the enemy of western civilization is leftist ideology. It really is evil. Or, if you're uncomfortable with strong words like “evil,” let's say leftism is opposed to good. It is destructive to the happiness of the individual and tears at the roots of society, while promoting itself as having a virtuous concern for the common good.

Here's an example:



We live in such a morally confused and intellectually dimmed world, I feel compelled to explain up-front that I don't hate everyone on the Left, just leftist ideology. I mainly made friends with leftists in my youth because I was one. Some of them are still my friends even though I've moved on ideologically. And yet, as an example of how intellectually damaging the Left is, if you asked for my friends' private opinions of me, they probably would say I am “narrow” and “fixed” in my conservatism. Interesting – no?

There is a frustrating opacity one experiences in trying to relate to a leftist. I have devised categories – subspecies, if you will, which help explain the lack of transparency they exhibit: the “shallow” leftist, the “committed” leftist and the “vampire” leftist.

The Shallow Leftist

First, as Thomas Sowell has described, many leftists are subject to stage-one thinking. They tend to neglect the question, “and then what happens?” This makes their reasoning, if we care to call it that, very shallow. Perhaps “obtuse” or “his ideas are as intellectually interesting as a piece of dry white toast” would be more descriptive, but for ease of use, let's stay with “shallow.” You can't really penetrate the shallow leftists' thinking, because, well... they're not... thinking, that is.

The Committed Leftist

Second, sometimes the disconnectedness one experiences with the Left is because they are ideologically committed and know you would disapprove if they revealed their thinking. This is what we're seeing in the White House now. They have become as God and any doubts they ever have about the efficacy or morality of their plans is soon dispelled by Ego and Hubris. We don't have access to their reasoning because they know, if the public understands what they're all about, they will never be entrusted with the authority to accomplish it. Watching Obama's economic policy play out is like being at a seminar where the professor's theories are soon discovered to be horse puckey and the room is gradually emptying out while the professor “stays the course.” He's going to go to the bitter end whether the students like it or not, because, by god (he, himself), he knows what's good for them and they're going to take this medicine if it kills them!- I mean him... I think.

The Vampire Leftist

But the first two categories are not nearly as disturbing as this last one. This is the one which keeps me up at night... with a crucifix, a vial of holy water and a garlic necklace. There is a large portion of people on the Left comprised of good, intelligent and accomplished people who suffer what Gerard Vanderleun has dubbed the “Twilight effect.” I have called them vampires. I use the term reluctantly and with all the love of neighbor and desolation I feel at the mortal wound inflicted on them by leftist ideology. Perhaps immortal wound is more accurate, because, like the poor, the Left will always be with us it seems, no matter how many times the ideology proves to culminate in destruction and cruelty.

The vampire leftists are simply incapable of seeing themselves no matter how often or how compassionately you hold up the mirror to them. I know one or two “shallow” leftists; I know one or two “committed” leftists; but the vast majority of leftists I know personally, fall into the “vampire” category. And it is this spiritual blindness I find so horrifying. It isn't that they haven't reasoned through the issues... or that they have, but they don't want us to know what they've concluded... it is that they deny to you, and worse, to themselves, having come to the positions they hold as true.

I find having described these categories of leftists very helpful for clarity. But in addition, I think I've had an insight into the psychological/spiritual origins of such people... or, to rip-off Darwin:

The Origin of the Leftist

Leftist ideology teaches that the moral code is within (the heart, the “evolved” ability to reason) and explains moral failings without (the parents or society). This is the opposite of the conservative believer or, using the better term coined by Chesterton, the happy pessimist, who seeks his moral code externally (God and the Bible, traditional moral codes “evolved” over millennia) and explains his moral failings internally (Original Sin, his imperfections). The happy pessimist believes human nature contains dark aspects and is immutable, which makes him seek a power higher than himself for moral guidance and/or compels him to struggle against his own demons before seeking to impose his ideas of social justice externally. Admittedly, this worked better when our society held Judeo-Christian values more homogeneously.

Of course, there are as many jerks and buffoons on the Right as there are on the Left. And, there are wonderfully good people on the Left as well as the Right. But – and this is really the crux of the matter - leftist ideology tends to convince people of their own victimhood or the victimhood of the Lefts' favored minorities (what, Mormons aren't a minority?), which tends to make the recipients of victim status self-indulgent,self-pitying, narcissistic, dependent and unhappy. This is how individuals are ruined and whole segments of society are destroyed – the black family, for example. Individual leftists who have survived the onslaught have done so because they tend to personally live by conservative principles, while preaching, teaching and imposing leftist ideology on everyone else.

In case the problem with victimhood isn't glaringly obvious, let me suggest it destroys human dignity. The victim mentality makes one less attractive to a potential spouse or friends because there is nothing quite as unappealing as self-pity. Believing you're a victim also shackles you to your present circumstances and makes you less likely to struggle for self-improvement. Why bother when The Man (the Other, whatever group or structure is the oppressor) is responsible for all your woes? Nah – to improve your lot, you should agitate – or community organize – to make sure everyone else treats you better.

Leftism appeals to two of the baser human instincts as well. The first is the desire to remain childlike – to be coddled and made safe and not to have to buy your own health insurance until you're twenty-six. The second is an appeal to one's moral vanity: since I am a good person and I mean well, it shouldn't count against me that my ideology is so destructive to the good... and if you do count it against me, it just proves you are an evil greedy hateful conservative oppressor! Let's call this the “I'm ok... you're evil!” mentality.

How to deal with the Left? I'm tempted to advise, “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it,” (Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals), even though it goes against my Christian ethic. I do believe we have done too little “targeting” of the Left when we're arguing with the shallow or vampire leftists. Obama's support for infanticide in his opposition to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act would have disqualified him with almost every decent person I know – had they known it. Therefore, my first suggestion is, name it; identify it. Don't keep quiet about what you recognize. In the case of the shallow leftist, I would just love them and cajole them. Maybe open the door a peek occasionally on the view they're missing. The vampire leftist is a difficult case because of the self-delusion involved. I think we have to pray for these people. It is a psycho-spiritual problem best left to God to fix. And finally, the committed leftist... these we have to fight, because, given the chance, they'll murder us.

Readings for the Roman Catholic Liturgy
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Reading 1
Wisdom 9:13-18b

Who can know God's counsel,
or who can conceive what the LORD intends?
For the deliberations of mortals are timid,
and unsure are our plans.
For the corruptible body burdens the soul
and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.
And scarce do we guess the things on earth,
and what is within our grasp we find with difficulty;

but when things are in heaven, who can search them out?
Or who ever knew your counsel, except you had given wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from on high?
And thus were the paths of those on earth made straight.

Reading 2
A reading from St. Paul's letter to Philemon
I, Paul, an old man,
and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus,
urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus,
whose father I have become in my imprisonment;
I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.
I should have liked to retain him for myself,
so that he might serve me on your behalf
in my imprisonment for the gospel,
but I did not want to do anything without your consent,
so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.
Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while,
that you might have him back forever,
no longer as a slave
but more than a slave, a brother,
beloved especially to me, but even more so to you,
as a man and in the Lord.
So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

Gospel: Luke 14: 25-33
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
"If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.

Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
'This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.'
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple."

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