Wednesday 9 October 2013

Misunderstanding the Left - looking for the wrong thing, and finding it in the wrong place


The Left is misunderstood! Consequently, it is mis-defined, and mis-attributed.

People suppose the Left is pro some thing - pro-equality, pro-social justice or whatever.

This leads people to suppose that the Left is constructive - and to suppose that success in the Leftist project is the creation of a Leftist society with certain Left-approved attributes.

And since the Left is supposed positively to want certain outcomes, the Left is assumed to be in places where outcomes are presumed to be influenced: mostly government. 


It is then puzzling to discover that the supposedly Left-desired society never gets any closer, no matter how powerful the Left becomes; and that the Left are indifferent to discovering whether there is any link between their approved policies and the outcomes they purport to desire.

In sum, the Left does not learn from the failures of its policies to generate the outcomes it supposedly wants. 

It seems that - if regarded as a pro-, constructive, creative programme based in government -  the Left are inexplicably counterproductive yet indifferent to the actual effect of their policies.

It seems the Left are unconcerned by reality.


But the Left is essentially anti. Not constructive but destructive, not creative but parasitic.

What the Left is 'anti' has only emerged as the Left has grown in power: initially the Left was anti-Christian, then it became anti- various other things: monarchs, traditional sexuality, the family... and now the Left is anti-Good (anti truth, beauty and virtue).

For this perspective things begin to make sense.

The failure of the Left to achieve purported goals is actually success in causing destruction.

And the primary focus of the Left is not in government, where it would be placed to construct and create a Leftist society; but in the mass media which is the perfect place for inciting, encouraging and implementing destruction.


Properly understood the 'failure' of the Left constructively to introduce and establish the positive features of a Leftist society is actually the success of the Left in terms of its true nature being destructive.

And this fits with what is the obvious experience of the mass media controlling politics - but in a negative and chaos-inducing manner; rather than politics controlling the mass media by coercing it to become a conduit of propaganda.


Thus, Leftism's core business is destruction; and the triumph of Leftism is ever increasing disorder.



Anonymous said...

The lefty media are the immediate agents of destruction in the sense you're talking about. But where was this Army of Fausts trained? The answer, of course, is in the academy. Almost always, media folk are graduates of institutions which have inculcated progressive ideas in their impressionable students by relentless brainwashing.

A cultural reformation, if such an idea isn't preposterous, would have to begin in the academy. Of all the monolithic structures that modern society is lumbered with, the corrupt academy seems the least likely to be reformed. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

An song title has just occurred to me which I've stolen from the Andrews Sisters, if you remember the tune, Teaching is the Root of All Evil.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Alex - "But where was this Army of Fausts trained? "

The answer is that they aren't 'trained'.

Leftism is oppositional - against Christianity, tradition, monogamous heterosexuality, marriage, the good true and beautiful - what 'training' is needed for that?

Even fourth rate intellectuals can easily come up with post hoc rationalizations for what they want to do anyway - and that is all that Leftism contains.

Anti-Democracy Activist said...

First: The left is a utopian cult.

The root of the problem, then, is this: Utopia is impossible. It cannot be created on Earth. It doesn't matter how fervently you want or believe in something that's impossible - if it's impossible, it won't happen.

Second: The perfect is the enemy of the good.

The left sees its mission as destroying the existing, flawed society in order to replace it with a new, perfected society. The latter is, as I've said, impossible; but the first is absolutely possible. This is the destructive tendency you (correctly) see in leftism at work. Being cultists, leftists cannot admit of the possibility that their project to destroy and rebuild may only half work; that they may only succeed at destroying.

The left does not believe that because they cannot believe that - not any more than the members of the Heaven's Gate cult were capable of questioning the belief that an alien UFO was really coming down from Haley's Comet to whisk them away to extraterrestrial paradise.

This is how Satan works. He whispers in your ear, getting you to destroy while you're convinced that you're really creating.

Titus Didius Tacitus said...

Bruce Charlton: "Even fourth rate intellectuals can easily come up with post hoc rationalizations for what they want to do anyway - and that is all that Leftism contains."

Right. The herd mentality and swarm-attacking part is so easy that there is no real need for training.

The only real use for training is in what not to attack - but academia is lousy at that.

Leftist (mass media) activity is like a cultural artillery barrage with poison gas shells: effective, but dangerous when the wind shifts the wrong way.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ADA - "The left is a utopian cult. "

It *was* a utopian cult, but not any more.

I know the Left from inside - I read a lot of early (19th century) socialism in my mid teens - and it was utopian then. But already by the 1970s it was long gone.

There was a brief resurgence of utopian Leftism in the 'environmentalist' movement of the 70s, but that too is long gone.

The post PC, New Left is not utopian - and the deeper you go, the less idealistic is becomes, it is anti-, it is cynical, is is self-hating and death seeking. These are the opposite of utopian.

Bruce Charlton said...

@TDT and ADA - I have been influenced by my PC hate-fest experiences (personal and of quite numerous friends) in which academic persecution of PC-taboo-breaking was always, without exception, initiated by media pressure.

In general, academia will hide and cover-up PC-taboo breaking, for fear of 'bad publicity' - only when there is a witch hunt on the go do they join-in with the mobbing (but they *always* do join in).

Samson J. said...

The post PC, New Left is not utopian - and the deeper you go, the less idealistic is becomes, it is anti-, it is cynical, is is self-hating and death seeking. These are the opposite of utopian.

We had a guest speaker at my church last year - a young man I really liked, he was very bright and kind and he now works for an international Christian outreach organization. Anyway during the course of his talk, he mentioned that he has a friend who is *very* influential in the Canadian media; he wouldn't name his name but I assumed from the way it came across that this friend was some kind of bigwig at the Globe and Mail or CBC or something.

Anyway this speaker described his media friend thusly:

"I've had conversations with him about the sorts of stories he ought to run, and the problem is he genuinely doesn't believe that there's any standard of right and wrong. He doesn't believe that news stories should aim to 'build up' society in a constructive way, because he genuinely doesn't believe that there's any 'truth' worth promoting."

I personally find it very difficult to imagine "putting myself in the shoes", so to speak, of someone who doesn't believe in... anything.

Adam G. said...

There's a case to be made that the modern Left is what you get when you discover that your Utopian dreams can't happen but you refuse to accept it. Nihilistic rage mixed with vestigial utopian reflexes.

Nick D. said...

I don't think it's helpful to reduce the matter to statist ideologies (left /right). Though in different ways, Corporate Capitalism is just as soul-damaging as Communism. The latter was doomed to failure, the former is doomed to success (sorta like the Soviet Gum store vs. Walmart). It's more clever, it walks in sneakier shoes. Instead of outright and blatantly lies lies, it deals in half-truths.

Bruce Charlton said...

@ND "I don't think it's helpful to reduce the matter to statist ideologies (left /right)."

Neither do I and I don't do this - but something quite different.

Look at my mini-book Thought Prison (available free online, linked at the sidebar to the Left) which opens with an explanation - although in that book I use the term Political Correctness for the modern Left.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to equivocate on the meaning of "trained", but armies are usually trained to think and act as their commanders desire - which it's reasonable suppose, applies to an Army of Fausts.

In a nutshell and in general terms; I blame very much the influence of lefties ensconced in tutorial jobs at universities for the moral state we're in. In particular I blame the lefty mindset of media folk on the miseducation they received at university.

I would distinguish between the arts and science faculties in the likelihood of a "lefty philosophy" conditioning the outlook of undergraduates. For obvious reasons it's much more prevalent in the former than in the latter.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Alex - Training refers to a *skill*.

To lean a skill means to be able to do something you could not do before.

To develop skills requires multiple repetitions (practice) under supervision (eg learning a musical instrument, learning to dance, learning a sport).

By this criteria modern universities DO NOT DEVELOP SKILLS AT ALL (except in the minority of professional schools such as medicine, dentistry, law, engineering and the like).

In fact (with the exception of the above examples) British universities have never had much to do with developing skills - before they were corrupted into futility, they relied upon skills already inculcated at school; and were mostly focused on providing information/ knowledge relevant to the future career.

I don't think universities ever had much to do with generating the ideas of the left - these were mostly developed outside the academy or on its fringes by freelance intellectuals (RW Emerson, Marx, Nietzsche, William Morris etc), and creative artists.

Rather, universities were simply drawn along behind the Left; but have done a useful job for evil by validating the ideas, adding prestige and authority to what would otherwise have been recognized as obvious nonsense and wickedness.