Thursday, 30 November 2017

Old Left - Predator; New Left - Parasite

I have often argued - from my position as an ex-insider - that there is an important distinction between the Old Left and the New Left.

The inflexion point between Old and New Left was in the middle 1960s, indeed it was probably - exactly - the summer of 1967 when the New Left became dominant! And since then the Old Left has been all but displaced in ideology.

The Old Left was Utopian - it has a very explicit blueprint of the society it was aiming at; and in its aggression the Old Left was mostly predatory - by revolution and conquest the Old Left attacked and tried to kill those societies which opposed it. The weapons of the Old Left were organised mobs, guns and tanks. The Old Left ideology was based on economics and class.

The New Left is the Left of identity politics, feminism, antiracism and (especially) the sexual revolution. And the New Left is a parasite, not a predator.

The New Left preys upon its host, sucks its host's vitality. The weapons of the New Left are infiltration, subversion and inversion. Its ideology is based upon emotions, not economics; a  multiplicity of minorities not class: it is passive-aggressive rather coercive. The New Left saps the strength of its victims; rather than overpowering them.

Both types of Leftism are destructive, are indeed self-destroying. The Old Left because its utopia was unsustainable; the New Left because its success as a parasite will kill the host.

But the New Left parasite continues parasitising, corrupting one after another of its host's functions - because that is its nature: short-termist, selfish, hedonic: without conception of greater purpose or meaning.


Chiu ChunLing said...

Marxism has always had the parasitic nature. What more precise statement of the justification of parasitism could exist than Marx's formula, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need"? This has always been the reason that Marxist regimes collapse, by installing the parasites in positions of power, they kill the host, a host that is generally terribly wounded by the revolution installing Marxists in power.

It is not that the "New Left" is new, it is that it has not yet consolidated power. The revolutions that place Marxists in power always requires a critical mass of people who seek to be parasites on society, the behavior of Marx and following intellectuals prior to Marxism taking over nations demonstrates this. What we see is the drawn out agony of a host that has lost the will and strength to fight off the parasite but is still too powerful to be fully mastered by it.

But make no mistake, the New Left sees itself taking over, eventually. Becoming the entrenched, dominating power in society, the "Old Left" is their aspiration.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - Well, at an important level, The Left is the The Left... But as someone who was bred and self-educated into the Old Left - the New is *also* a very different phenomenon in many ways; and the loss of utopianism (i.e. a highly precise - albeit in practise unworkable - vision of an alternative society) is one of them.

Chiu ChunLing said...

I think I can appreciate what you are saying here. The "Old Left" was mainly a limited movement of intellectuals who could point to some external or theoretical 'utopia', the advantage of that distance being used to hide the various contradictions and difficulties. The "New Left" has too much popular support, it must include many "thinkers" barely competent to compose coherent sentences, who project their self-interest onto how the society in which they are currently living should be altered to their personal liking at any given moment.

This isn't just a problem for the Left, however. For people seeking to preserve those elements of traditional Christian culture most conducive to a wholesome society, there is the constant problem of how (and whether) to cooperate with those who are supportive of tradition without regard for anything than its long standing. Many traditions in any human society are simply wrong, some of the oldest and most enduring human traditions appallingly so. The only advantage is that at least traditions have been practically tested enough to have confidence that they are pragmatically possible even when we have no confidence in their moral value.

To build a popular movement, one must allow some populist elements.

And this is the real danger of the New Left compared to the Old Left. The Old Left just wasn't popular enough to be really imminently dangerous. The New Left is. Projecting their idiosyncratic and even idiotic fantasies onto the utopian vision the Old Left admired from afar, they are gathering themselves to take us there in one Great Leap Forward.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - I don't myself agree with that theory of why the Old changed to New Left, in The West. I suspect it was more of a piecemeal pragmatism - aimed at survival and made possible by a move into deliberate lying.

The IQ testing movement is an index of this. IQ testing was promoted by Old Left meritocrats (aiming at de facto equality of opportunity, equality across classes) - to discover high ability in relatively uneducated and impoverished populations; so that these individuals could be given the chance to reach their full potential.

In practice, this was usually linked with advocacy of government attempts to raise IQ and reduce genetic disease by national policy (i.e. eugenics) - all this being harnessed to the utopian agenda of a planned society.

But by the 1950s IQ testing, and common observation, revealed that the meritocracy by class was already, pretty much, attained. Furthermore, absolute poverty was already abolished.

The New Left emerged with an emphasis on inequalities/ differentials of outcome (not opportunity - ie 'relative' poverty, aka 'deprivation') and a calculatedly dishonest refusal to allow innate differences to explain any of these inequalities (because if innate differences are allowed there is no evidence of systemic prejudice - or rather, the systemic prejudice is in the opposite direction to that which the New Left claims - ie when innate difference is allowed, women are systemically-favoured, not discriminated against. Obviously!).

Perhaps the first explicit act of the New Left was probably to demonise IQ testing (and eugenics - at that time many first rate biologists were active in the eugenics movement); and to pretend that all inequalities were due to malicious prejudice (at first the claim was deliberate prejudice - snobbery, sexism, racism) but later when these inequalities persisted the claim was of pervasive, unconscious prejudice - which is where we are now...

The point is that the New Left is built on deliberate lies - one of which is the lie of no significant innate and heritable differences, and cannot survive without these lies - hence it is necessarily incoherent.

The Old Left was built on some bad motivations and some empirical mistakes - so it was potentially capable of learning (i.e. learning to abolish itself, which if it had not become the New Left would probably have happened).

Chiu ChunLing said...

While "populism" isn't a very precise term, I would think that the rejection of meritocratic arguments entirely would be a feature of it, not evidence against it.

I also don't believe that the Old Left was significantly free of deliberate deceptions, but the lies were designed to fool even most experts who didn't have independent access to the underlying data. The adoption of populist deceptions makes the lies more transparent to the applied intellect, it doesn't make them more deliberate.

It may be that you are disputing the idea that conservation of Christian tradition faces a similar peril, I would nuance that by saying that while the peril is similar, it is not one that a Christian must court. Because the Christian objective is the transformation of the individual, beyond this life, it is not really necessary to have significant popularity.