25 Feb 2018

The Snobbish Revolutionary Left

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Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoi, Portrait of an Unknown Woman, 1883, Tretyakov Gallery.

Jeffrey Folks has got the Social Justice Warriors, the Reformers and Improvers, the Holier-than-thous pegged.

For liberals, the distinction between the “dumb masses” and their enlightened selves renders life meaningful. Disdain for ordinary folks is not just an ancillary trait of liberalism. It is fundamental to the its nature.

At its heart, liberalism is a gnostic religion, and the essence of that religion is the believer’s faith that he possesses the means of changing the world for the better. The belief that the world must be changed requires there to be a mass of individuals whose lives are in need of change. Following this logic, it is the liberal, not those deplorables in need of change, who knows what must be changed. For liberals, there must be a mass of people in need of this knowledge for life to make sense.

Above all, liberalism is a hubristic faith. Its followers share the fatal flaw of pride in their own intellectual capacity. This is why liberalism appeals so strongly to those in the knowledge trades: teachers, journalists, writers, psychologists, and social workers. The sense of “knowing more than others” is its strongest attraction – particularly to the young, who otherwise know so little. Liberalism confers, or seems to confer, almost immediate power and authority to those who embrace it.

The left’s obsession with superior knowledge runs through its entire history. As Woodrow Wilson remarked, the “instrument” of political science “is insight. A nice understanding of subtle, unformulated conditions.” Lyndon B. Johnson thought “a president’s hardest task” is “to know what is right.” And the most hubristic of all is Obama’s “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Yes, we are wonderfully bright, and we’ve been waiting eons for ourselves to appear.

The problem for the liberal is that most people do not want to be transformed.


4 Feedbacks on "The Snobbish Revolutionary Left"

Seattle Sam

I don’t think conservatives are immune from feeling that they know better than a lot of other people (especially, say, liberals who deny the laws of economics). The difference is that most conservatives resist the temptation to compel those people to change — precisely because they understand through experience that the compelling force (government) is more likely to bungle the job than to get it right. Even if you thought Obamacare was the right “idea”, you cannot possibly think that it was executed well.
The fact is, that millions of people making millions of decisions are more likely to get it “right” than a group of Wise Men in government.

Dick the Butcher

I call it “infallible ignorance.” I’ve also seen it referred to as “smug stupidity.” Whatever the diagnosis, liberals are outraged by facts. I can’t decide whether the more glaring weakness is the dishonesty or the stupidity.

But, we the people respond to Big Brother’s constant failures by giving the government more power and more money precisely because of the failures.

JK Brown

Murray Rothbard highlighted the radical pietists of the mid-19th century. They developed a belief in imposing morality on society as a path to their own salvation. These became the Progressives of the late 19th century. I

It seems to me that in the 1920s, there was a split with evangelicals continuing on with Christianity and what we call Progressives today shifting to Marxism as their driving force. Both continue with their belief in using government to impose their morality on the wider society as a path for their own salvation. The Progressives, however, shifted to worship government and increasingly adopt the socialist facility of liquidating those they disdain.

Steven Wilson

I don’t mind transformation, it’s just that I want to be in charge of it–as I have been for seventy years now. I’m a far different person and I think better one than I was as a feckless and callow youth. But that feckless and callow youth had a lot more faith in government, experts, and intelligence than this old and transformed one does. Government is a blunt force cookie cutter, experts are those who supposedly have narrow but exhaustive knowledge of a single topic, and intelligence is only a tool and not a virtue.


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