` THE ROOT CAUSES OF POLITICAL LEFTISM
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What appears below is an attempt to analyse most aspects of Leftist political thinking and display the psychological and sociological roots of such thinking in an historical context. Such a large subject requires a lot of pages so I have split the story into three parts. The present file summarizes the whole argument and two further files give more detail. See also my main blog for daily updates to the story. What appears below is the product of many updates and expansions. This is the update of September, 2023

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"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State."

-- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (pictured below). Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.





"For a hundred years or more the defining division in politics, in Britain and elsewhere, was about the role of the state. Essentially progressives believed in its ability to improve society; Conservatives feared its interference stifled personal liberty.

-- Anthony Blair, Labour Party Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (2006)



"To me, conservative means believing in a minimum amount of government and a maximum amount of freedom -- and keeping government out of people's lives and business -- and leaving people alone,"
-- Lyn Nofziger, long-time U.S. Republican insider (2005)





THE ROOT CAUSES OF POLITICAL LEFTISM



By John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.)




Introductory summary:

As a good academic, I first define my terms: A Leftist is a person who is so dissatisfied with the way things naturally are that he/she is prepared to use force to make people behave in ways that they otherwise would not.

As the quotations at the head of this page say, Leftists characteristically use the power of the state to enforce their wishes for control

So that is what Leftists are but what makes them that way? Why do they want to do that? What is the psychology behind that impulse? The basic contention here is that Leftists are chronically angry people and from that all their behaviour follows. Anger can escalate into rage and solidify into hate

So what do we make of the Leftist contention that conservatives are the problem because conservatives are opposed to change and always in favour of the status quo regardless of its merits? Leftists say that they are "progressive" and conservatves are simply a barrier to progress.

That assertion is clearly false. BOTH Leftists and Rightists want to change the status quo (Have you ever heard of a conservative-dominated government that a lacked a legislative agenda?) but the two sides simply want different changes



But to begin from the beginning:

I did my first piece of research into the psychology of politics in 1968. It was my Masters dissertation. I have been studying the subject ever since -- now with many academic publications on it behind me. So it seems reasonable that, over four decades later, I should look back and say what I have learned in the intervening years. And the prime thing I have learned is that you cannot understand Leftism without understanding its emotional roots. And once you understand that, all the rest is detail.

What IS Leftism?

It follows from my definition of Leftism above that the essential feature of all Leftism is the desire to stop other people from doing various things they want to do and make them do various things that they do not want to do (via taxation, regulation, mass murder etc.) When (on October 30, 2008) Obama spoke of his intention to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography. He was talking about transforming what American people can and must do.

So that is the first and perhaps the most important thing about Leftism: It is intrinsically authoritarian. It is also fundamentally egotistical. Where do they think they get the right to tell other people what to do? They have to believe that they are better, wiser, more caring etc. Their wise and noble intentions are the justification for their authoritarianism. Thinking highly of themselves and being authoritarian are two sides of the same coin

Leftists are not alone in desiring to regulate others, however, so to complete the definition, we have to look at other things that characterize them.

The first remaining thing to say about them is that Leftism is emotional. The second is to say that the emotion is negative and the third thing to say is that the negative emotion (anger/hate/rage) is directed at the world about the Leftist, at the status quo if you like. The Leftist is nothing if he is not a critic, though usually a very poorly-informed critic. And the criticisms tend to be both pervasive and deeply felt.

Orwell of course understood Leftism exceptionally well so it is revealing that in 1943 he wrote an essay called "Can Socialists Be Happy?" His answer was that they can't even imagine it.



What is routinely overlooked in most discussions of ideology is that conservatives don't like the status quo either -- but they don't hate it and they rarely get burned up about it. Ask almost any conservative and he will give you a long list of things he would like to see changed in the world about him. It is only a misleading Leftist caricature to say that conservatives support the status quo. And iconic conservatives like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were undoubtedly great agents of change.

So Left and Right do indeed differ in their response to the status quo but not in the simplistic "for and against" way that Leftists claim. The obvious difference is in depth of feeling and in the changes desired. Leftists want change passionately and feel very righteous about the changes they want. Conservatives can see fault and conservative leaders do quite regularly work towards the changes that they and their voters think desirable -- but most conservatives just want to get on with their own lives. The typical conservative does not simmer with anger if his wishes for change are not implemented. The Leftist does. Conservatives are not anger-motivated
{Parenthesis: I am not sure that there are ANY people who are completely happy with the world as it is (I know of none) but, if they exist, they are not concerned about politics. So how they vote has to be speculative. It would make some sense to claim that they vote conservative when called upon to vote -- as they would not be able to find much in common with the constant complaint that is the mark of the Leftist -- but on the other hand perhaps they simply vote for whatever seems fashionable or popular at the time: Many of the Obama voters of 2008, perhaps?}
One marker of the difference just set out will be well known to anyone who reads blogs from both sides of the divide: Profanity is hugely more common on Leftist blogs. A systematic study of the matter found profanity to be TWELVE TIMES more common on Leftist blogs. Profanity is of course a form of anger and an attempt to express such feelings strongly.

The natural state of affairs

While defining Leftism in terms of their apparent drives and motivations is undoubterdly true and useful, it doesn't provide a really sharp differentiation of the Left from others. And I think we can improve on it. And to do that I think we have to refer to the natural state of affairs. "The natural state of affairs"? What is that? It is a concept sometimes used in both law and economics but I want to broaden its applicability. I think it is actually quite easy to define in a generally applicable way. It means whatever people would do in the absence of external constraints.

And Leftists are big on external constraints. They are continually trying to make laws and regulations that will move people away from doing what they otherwise would do. There is general agreement that some basic laws are needed -- prohibition against assault, murder, theft etc. but Leftists go far beyond that. In a celebrated case one of them (Bloomberg) even wanted to forbid you from buying fizzy drinks in a container that was bigger than a certain size. Leftist would regulate EVERYTHING if they could. And in the Soviet Union they went close to achieving it. Leftists are the ultimate authoritarians. They want to STOP people doing what they would do in a natural state of affairs.

So I think we can now make a pretty sharp distinction between the changes Leftists want and the changes that conservatives want. Leftists want change AWAY from the natural state of affairs while conservatives want changes TOWARDS the natural state of affairs -- or at least changes that respect the natural state of affairs.

For instance, in a natural state of affairs people would tend to discriminate in various ways. They would and do tend to give various sorts of preference to people like themselves. And conservatives generally understand that. But to Leftists discrimination is an offence deserving of severe punishment. They want to stop people doing what they are normally and naturally inclined to do. The need for change that drives them makes them the enemy of the natural state of affairs.

So I think the sharpest definition of Leftists is people who want to overturn the natural state of affairs -- a considerable ambition

Note that I do NOT use the word "liberal" for the Left side of politics. "Liberal" as a name for any left-leaning political party is just camouflage. Except in sex-related matters, liberty is in general a very low priority for them. And their attack on sexual mores arose only as a means of tearing down the status quo. Their advocacy of freedom of choice in sexual and reproductive matters soon breaks down if people make choices they disapprove of. The amazing attacks on Sarah Palin's decision to bear a handicapped child rather than abort it certainly showed no respect for her choice in the matter. And far-Leftists such as Britain's now resigned Harriet Harman make quite virulent attacks on prostitution under the guise that it "degrades women". And fundamentalist Mormon polygamy has no friends on the Left (though Muslim polygamy is OK).



So what is conservatism?

In brief, it is caution based on a perception that the rld is an unpredictable, dangerous and often hostile place. So change is not rejected. It is in fact, as just said, usually desired. But it is approached in a skeptical, step by step way to ensure that its effects are beneficial or at least benign. And an important criterion of what constitutes "benign" is how the change affects individual liberty. At a minimum, a conservative wants to ensure that change will not reduce his individual liberty.

Because the Leftist is angry rather than prudent, however, he cares not a bit for the conservative's caution. The most thorough-going Leftist just wants to smash everything that exists around him out of the feeling that it is all so hateful that none of it is worth preserving. And in the French revolution, the Bolshevik revolution, the Maoist revolution and many more minor revolutions, the Leftists got their way -- with results we all know about. Doing any sort of a good job of putting back together what they have smashed is beyond them. They are destroyers only. Hate is not constructive.

Because we all know of those dismal results, Leftist activists and politicians in entrenched democracies have to be more careful. Expressing the full extent of their feelings and advocating revolution would simply marginalize them and they know that. So they have to find ways of undermining society in more subtle ways. And they are greatly aided in that by the complex nature of modern society. Most people have only the vaguest notion of how society works so the Leftist politician can propose various changes that sound good but which will be disastrous in practice -- with "share and share alike" being the classic example of that. And when the disasters unfold the committed Leftist cannot lose. He will get an internal glow of satisfaction from the suffering and disruption unleashed on all those fools around him that he hates but will be excused from blame because he "meant well".

I say much more about the nature of conservatism here

Varieties of Leftism

So what motivates a Leftist to be so full of negative emotions toward the surrounding world? Many things. There is no one cause of Leftism. But there are nonetheless two major sources of Leftism and understanding them explains most Leftist policies and positions. The first is the motivation most common among Leftist voters and the second is the motivation most common among Leftist leaders. It would be nice if we could identify just one sort of motivation common to all Leftists but, as with so many other things in life, reality is more complicated than that. And I am not alone in seeing a dichotomy. Many years ago, that great political observer, Tocqueville, had a view very similar to that which I set out below. In his "Recollections", he saw socialism as a combination of passion in the people and illusions in men of letters, with their "ingenious and false systems" -- still a good description today.

And although the motivations of leaders and followers are in general very different, there is of course some overlap between the two. Some people who express their Leftism only at the ballot box are similarly motivated to Leftist leaders and some Leftist leaders are similarly motivated to Leftist voters.

Followers:

So, to start with the average Leftist voter: It could be that the Leftist was born into a subset of society that is in general hostile to the larger society. Miners are a common example of that. Mining towns were once bedrock Left-voting places. Why that was so is beyond the scope of what I want to say at the moment, however.

And Left-voters may simply be upset that they personally are not getting a very good deal from society as it exists and be generally critical of society for that reason. A person who is born ugly, for instance, might well be critical of society for its "false" beauty ideals.

But the biggest category of Leftist voters by far would appear to be genuinely well intentioned but shortsighted people who are strongly emotionally affected by suffering in others. They see other people who are not doing well in some way and urgently want that fixed by whatever means it takes. They are angered by what they see as "injustice". And that emotion dominates all else. And it is the strong negative emotions evoked by the surrounding society that unites these people with Leftists of other stripes.

And that, I believe is how politics works: It is particularly the people who are especially sensitive to the suffering of others who make us all suffer, paradoxical though that may seem. Without their numerous votes, the destructive and irresponsible Leftist politicians would never gain power. And the converse of that is that a little bit of heartlessness can be desirable. Balance is needed in fellow-feeling, as in many other things.

That the fellow feeling of the Leftist follower is unbalanced and immature can be seen from its sheer immediacy. Leftists can rally (and did rally) to shield vicious murderers like "Tookie" Williams from the rightful consequences of his actions because the Leftists concerned see only the immediate prospect of the offender's execution. That a failure to punish severely the reprehensible deeds that people like Williams commit will excuse and encourage more such deeds by others is just not within the tiny time-horizon of the Leftist. Any fellow-feeling for Tookie's innocuous but long-dead victims was notable for its absence in the vigils designed to "save" Tookie.

Another sort of immaturity that infests the Leftist's emotional life is the childish need to be looked after. How wonderful it would be if the protective parents of one's childhood remained forever present, shielding one from all threats and providing all needs. The Leftist passionately wants that and fools himself into thinking that the state can fulfil that role. It never does, of course, but such Leftists just never grow up emotionally. They continue dreaming their childish dreams.

One test of the claim that most Leftist voters are chronically emotionally disturbed and dissatisfied is that Left-voters should be more unhappy than conservatives -- and that has been borne out in almost all the happiness surveys that I have seen. For some discussion of that, see here. Because they are calmer, less emotional and not as easily upset, conservatives are happier and more level-headed -- and so are not as easily stampeded into foolish actions by emotional appeals. Most of them don't even believe in global warming!

So, for most Leftists, their Leftism mostly dwells deep within the personality. Which is why, from age 2, I could tell that my son would be a conservative. His favourite "joke" at that age (and indeed for some years afterward) was: "The boy fell in the mud". He was able to see the funny side of a minor mishap that would have been seen as a tragedy by an emotional Leftist.

And the soft-hearted Leftists have much to thank conservatives for. The conservative element in the population protects them from the consequences that they wish for. Nowhere is that better seen than when the revolution succeeds. Among the first people to be "liquidated" by the hard men of the revolution are the soft-hearted revolutionaries. Stalin eliminated most of the old Bolsheviks.

Fortunately, time also plays a part. Many of the well-intentioned Leftists do over time come to see that simplistic solutions to society's ills don't work and end up voting for more complex and balanced solutions. They become conservatives. Even the once very Leftist George McGovern sounded remarkably conservative in his latter years. Many of the most vocal conservatives started out as Leftists and have become quite evangelical as a consequence of learning from experience that Leftist policies are destructive. They have the same benevolent aims as before but have grown wiser about what will best serve those aims. And the older they get, the more chance they have to see the counterproductive nature of simplistic Leftist "solutions". Which is why aging is normally accompanied by a drift rightwards -- with Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan being stellar examples of that.

Leaders:

In absolute numbers, Leftist activists and politicians are very few but their impact is large -- so understanding them is the big challenge.

They generally appear to be narcissists, high on self-love. And that may well be the whole of it in some cases. And I dwell on that pattern in the third part of this essay. But the basic need that drives the policies that leftists adopt is the need for camouflage. They really want to destroy or damage the societies about them but nobody would vote for them if they came out and said that. Such Leftist leaders -- intellectuals in particular -- are out-and-out rage-filled haters who want to smash everything in a world that does not fit in with their simplistic theories. So to cover up their evil motivations they have to appear righteous and compassionate. They hide behind a big lie. But there is a perhaps regrettable tendency for people to take others at face-value. The Leftist false front tends to be believed to be genuine. So in politics the Left are always careful to push proposals that are destructive but yet look good.

So Leftists are big on the appearance of righteousness for a very basic reason. They need it to gain influence. And others who are keen on the appearance of righteousness for other reasons will tend to jump onto the leftist bandwagon, even though their motivations may be different. And a major reason why others may want an appearance of righteousness is ego need. Some people are emotionally insecure for whatever reason so have large but weak egos. They think very highly of themselves but reality can be abrasive of such feelings so they are in constant need of having their self-esteem propped up and pumped up. And the proclamations of righteousness that constitute Leftist politics go a long way towards providing that.

So the weak-ego man loves himself but needs validation for that self-love. He craves attention and praise. He needs to be perceived as wise and righteous -- and he tries to achieve that by pretending to be all heart and condemning the world for its many faults and imperfections. But, whatever lies behind the false front, Leftist leaders are driven by anger -- even if it is only anger that the world does not accord them the prominence and praise that they need and which they feel is their due.

But anger is a very bad frame of mind in which to make decisions and craft policies so the policies advocated by Leftist leaders are usually simplistic and very poorly thought-out. The Leftist leader is so keen to smash the status quo that detailed thought about the alternatives and their consequences is rare. And the basically good people who are the Leftist voters are angry too, for different reasons, so they don't think things through or pay much attention to detail either, and as a result, they will often be lured into voting for some unscrupulous Leftist politician who promises to fix everything -- but who is sufficiently involved in politics to know deep down that the cure will be worse than the disease. But if offering false hope gets the leader/activist into a position of power and glory, too bad! And the poor old conservative who knows how things work and says that there is no easy fix will be ignored -- and called "heartless".

Envy?

The most succinct summary of what I have said above is that Leftism is basically the politics of rage. This contrasts with the usual summary that Leftism is the politics of envy. But there is no contradiction. Envy is a subset of anger: You are angered by the prosperity of others. But Leftists these days seem to be a generally affluent bunch. They are certainly not on average materially disadvantaged. So material envy is an implausible motive for most of them. Envy of status, prestige and position, however, is another matter. That is where Leftist leaders are big -- something discussed later below.

Neophilia

Although anger at the world seems to be the main driver of Leftism, there is another driver that seems obvious at times: Neophilia -- a craving for novelty and excitement. For some people almost ANY promise of change will be embraced. This would seem rather infantile but there is a lot of documentation of it. It was certainly a feature of the Italian Fascist and German Nazi versions of Leftism. I look in detail at the phenomenon here and I also give some examples of it in the third part of this essay.

For much of the 20th century, in fact, "new" was a worldwide code word for "Leftist". The New Theater and the New School, for instance, were in reality the Leftist Theater and the Leftist School. Leftists really thought they had something original to say. Stalin even thought he could create a "new Soviet man" and the French revolutionaries even tried to change the calendar. Neophilia is very visible in Leftism.

So a neophiliac likes the Leftist idea of ripping everything up and starting again, not because he is particularly angry at the world but because he is bored by it. One might reasonably expect to find neophilia in both followers and leaders at times.



Patriotism, nationalism and racism

Warner Todd Huston sets out at some length the simple but rather denied truth that American Leftists only pretend to be patriotic. In a patriotic nation they have to do that for PR purposes but their hearts are not in it and they manage the pretence only by claiming that they love what America COULD BE rather than what it is. Rather pathetic.

I have set out at some length above evidence that patriotism is not in general aggressive. There is however a related attitude known as nationalism. Nationalism can mean two quite different things: 1). A desire of a people for independent existence as a nation -- as in 19th century German nationalism or 20th Scottish nationalism; 2). When the lovers of their own country want to dominate other countries. It is meaning 2 that I am concerned with here. And all the examples of that which I can think of, from Napoleon to Hitler, have been Leftists. So my summary of the matter is that nationalism is a Leftist perversion of patriotism. No wonder Leftist leaders are so suspicious of patriotism! They judge others by themselves. They know how vicious they would be with an entire nation behind them and assume that others think similarly.

But, as already mentioned, both patriotism and nationalism are only one sort of group loyalty. Rotarians are often strongly attached to their club and even homosexuals feel "gay pride" apparently. And many church members are strongly attached to their religious denomination or local church. And religious identity can extend to something like nationalism -- with physical attacks on members of other denominations. There is still a faint remnant of that in Northern Ireland (though the enmity there is as much historic as religious) and in Islam there is a lot of it. Muslims are great slaughterers of other Muslims -- if the other Muslims don't subscribe to the "right" brand of Islam. But Islam is Fascistic anyway.

And then there is the great unmentionable. You CAN feel proud of your race. And if the pride is "black pride" that is just fine. But "white pride" is apparently a breath from the depths of hell. Yet history's most destructive example of racism was not concerned with whiteness at all. Hitler in fact allied himself with the non-white Japanese and attacked many nations that were just as white as Germans are. In fact there are proportionately rather more blue-eyed blondes (idealized by the Nazis) in Russia and in Poland than there are in Germany -- and Adolf slaughtered millions of both. Hitler's bag was -- following Woodrow Wilson and Houston Stewart Chamberlain -- ARYANS. And most Aryans are in fact brown (Indians).

So the Leftist suspicion of pride in being white has exactly no foundation in the place where it might be most expected! So when Leftists associate Nazism with white racism, it is just the normal Leftist ignorance of facts and history. So white racism as an oppressive thing is mainly an American phenomenon. And the KKK were overwhelmingly Democrats! Clearly, conservatives were not the problem there.

I can't resist noting here, however, that I quite like Aryans myself. I normally have three or four quite brown Indians living with me in my house and most days I fly the flag of the Republic of India from my flagpole. And I was kicked off the Majority Rights blog for constantly mocking the white racists who also blog there. So I imagine that it is by now pretty clear that Leftists would have an uphill job of tagging me as a white racist (though they will no doubt get to the top of that hill somehow). I just don't fit their simplistic black-and-white way of thinking. If we are more careful with our definitions than Leftists usually are, however, I think it should become clear that there are some forms of white "racism" that are perfectly reasonable, normal and harmless.

I refer in particular to my prior comments showing that patriotism is not in general necessarily aggressive, hostile or oppressive. And I see no reason why what we might call "white patriotism" should be aggressive, hostile or oppressive. In other words, a feeling of connectedness with other whites and a pride in being white does not necessarily imply a wish to oppress or attack people of other races. But when we come to nationalism, however (the Leftist specialty), it is a very different situation. White nationalism (the desire to conquer or control non-white races) is indisputably a very bad thing.

But white nationalism is also a very rare thing. Hitler wasn't moved by it nor was the British empire. The chief enemy of the British empire was the French, who are quite white. The KKK is about the only example of white nationalism that I can think of. And the KKK at one time were a major power at Democrat conventions (The 1924 "Klanbake" convention, for instance). Such acclaimed Democrat Presidents as Woodrow Wilson and FDR both had solid KKK support. So if we are careful with our definitions, white pride is only dangerous in the hands of Leftists. The very small band of modern-day neo-Nazis are probably an exception to that but there are small exceptions to most rules. And the modern-day political parties that are most often called neo-Nazi (Britain's BNP and Germany's NDP) do in fact have a lot of quite socialistic policies -- just as old Adolf did.

Note how easily everything falls into place once we have swept away the Leftist hokum about Nazism and the KKK being "Rightist".

Possible objections to the above account

1). A challenge to the account I have given above could be the fact that, right up to JFK, Leftists were patriotic too -- almost crazily so in the case of people like Theodore Roosevelt and the followers of Hitler. So have I misunderstood or misrepresented present-day Leftists? If Leftists were once patriotic, surely it is wrong to see lack of patriotism as characteristic of them.

I think Obama worship gives us the answer to that. Because Leftists are more emotional, their POTENTIAL for group loyalty generally and patriotism in particular is unusually great. But the more there are things that they hate in the world about them, the more they are inhibited from giving rein to any such feelings. But when something arises that they can give undivided loyalty to, they go overboard -- as we saw in Fascism, Nazism and in the Obama worship of 2008.

So the Leftist is in perpetual conflict: He WANTS connectedness but so many things in the world about him are unsatisfactory to him that he ends up as a rejectionist rather than as a participant. In the past, it was only "The Bosses" who were the focus of his ire and he could kid himself that most of the people around him were not responsible for the "injustices" that bother him so much. So he could be patriotic without conflict.

Now, however, when it appears to him that even "rednecks" and "NASCAR dads" are on the side of what upsets him, he is completely alienated. He once felt that "the workers" were on his side and appointed himself as a spokesman for them. That illusion is now gone and the whole country is on the wrong track from his viewpoint. So how wonderful for him it was when the Obamessiah came along to rescue him from that dreadful dilemma and offered the prospect of reshaping the country into his desired mould!

2). I have argued primarily from real-life examples above that patriotism does not imply hostility towards others. I might mention that there is a very large academic literature in psychology which assumes otherwise -- starting with the work of the Marxist Adorno et al. (1950) on "ethnocentrism". Leftist psychologists claim that patriotism and racism do go together. When I did survey research to test that assumption, however, I repeatedly found that the facts showed exactly what I have asserted above -- that patriotism does NOT in general go with hostilty towards others. See e.g. here and here and even here ("Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia: A Cross-Cultural Study" by anthropologist Elizabeth Cashdan. In Current Anthropology Vol. 42, No. 5, December 2001).

Reference: Adorno,T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. & Sanford, R.N. (1950). The authoritarian personality New York: Harper.



How do Leftist ideologues THINK?

I have set out the case for what the actual motivations of Leftist ideologues are -- but Leftists themselves would be very unlikely to salute any of it. It is of some interest therefore to try to see things from their own point of view.

And Olavo de Carvalho has done sterling work there. He deals principally with extreme Leftists ("Revolutionaries") but points out that the same mentality pervades Leftist "thinkers" generally. He says that Leftists are fixated on a view of utopia. They justify themselves as seeking the betterment of mankind according to quite Christian standards. They want everyone to be loving and sharing to one-another at some future time.

And the fact that they are fixated on this beneficent vision excuses everything that they might do and gives them huge psychic benefits. It allows them to see themselves as kindly and wise even while they lie, cheat and brutalize others in pursuit of their goals. The vision is all and excuses all.

Utopia is of course unattainable but the thinking concerned is a powerful form of self-deception.



Racism and some history of the changes in Leftist dogma

Before WWII, everybody was racist in the sense that they believed that racial differences are real and that some of those differences are more desirable than others. Both conservatives and Leftists agreed on that. And if they feel safe to say it, many conservatives still think that. I do.

But, exactly as I have pointed out above, prewar Leftists went a lot further than that. They carried their views to an extreme. They did not care how many applecarts they upset. They wanted either to breed out the inferior races (American progressives) or to exterminate them (Hitler). See here. Where conservatives just accepted a complex reality of long standing, Leftists KNEW what had to be done about it and so hurt a lot of people and did a lot of damage in the process.

When their old friend Hitler lost the war, however, Leftists had a desperate need to disavow all he stood for and so threw their whole rhetoric into reverse gear. They were still obsessed in their minds by race and racial differences but denied their previous destructive intentions towards other races. They now claimed benevolent intentions towards other races. Abandoning all interest in race was apparently beyond them. And in good Freudian style, they projected what they now disapproved of onto their opponents, conservatives. They accused conservatives of being what they still deep-down were. To see what's true of Leftists, you just have to see what they say about conservatives. They are too alienated from society to understand their fellow-man very well so they judge others by themselves

Leftist ostensible attitudes had flipped. But since conservatives had opposed Hitler and Leftism generally, conservatives for a long time just carried on with their existing moderate, balanced views. But for various reasons, what is moderate and balanced will change over time and conservative views do change to reflect that. Conservatives hold the middle ground. And while there is some change, there is also a lot of continuity in the middle ground.

For instance, a conservative today will most likely welcome Jews to his club where a conservative of the 1930s would not. But having separate clubs is hardly a major impact on civilization and the stability of society is not threatened in either case. Club membership and gassing millions are worlds apart in any objective evaluation of the matter

So in a sense Leftists are right to see that Hitler and conservatives have something in common -- some willingness to admit racial differences, for instance -- but are very wrong in their implicit claim that conservatives would carry such views to any kind of extreme. Extremes are for the Left -- not just theoretically but as a matter of historical fact. So Leftists are now as extremely anti-racist in their advocacy as they were once pro-racist. Conservatives by contrast just jog along trying to keep a firm hold on reality

So Leftists now say that what they once believed (until it became inconvenient) is "Rightist". Beat that!

Leftists take some generally accepted idea and carry it to extremes, hoping to be seen as great champions by doing so. Their extremism is a "look at me" phenomenon, a claim on especially great virtue. So whatever is conventional at the time will be something that leftists loudly champion, hoping to gain praise for doing so.

If it is eugenics that is a popular idea (as it was before the war) Leftists will energetically champion that. And they did up to WWII. Conservatives at the time also saw some sense in eugenics but did little or nothing to push it -- pointing out how eugenic policies would conflict with other values (Christian values especially) and could lead in unexpected and nasty directions.

Antisemitism is also a good example of how the Leftist decides on policy. Long before and up to WWII, antisemitism was virtually universal. Nobody liked the Jews and some degree of discrimination against them was normal and accepted. Not allowing Jews in your club was the commonest form of that.

So Leftists took antisemitism to extremes and became the leading critics of Jewry, culminating in the holocaust, which was the work of the National Socialist German Worker's Party. Leftists transformed minor discrimination into mass murder. Leftists don't present new ideas. They just push existing ones to extremes.. See here and here and below for more on that. Richard A. Koenigsberg, a psychoanalyst and long-time student of Hitler's record, also saw Hitler as not unusual ideologically:

In terms of the ideology Hitler put forth, he was not unusual. What Hitler did was to embrace and promote certain very popular, conventional political ideas—and carry them to a bizarre fulfillment.

When Hitler lost the war, however, antisemitism suddenly had bad associations so Leftists abandoned it forthwith and became, for a while, great champions of Israel. Democrat President Truman recognized the state of Israel within minutes of its being proclaimed and the Soviet Union was only three days behind him. Popular sentiment had changed so Leftists became energetic champions of the new sentiment.



The document above signed by Truman gives a vivid contrast to what his Democrat predecessor BEFORE the war did. FDR is of course well known for sending a shipload of German Jewish refugees (aboard the MS St. Louis) back to Hitler, rather than allowing them to disembark when they arrived at Miami.

For another example of "how we were" (or how prewar Leftists were) read the following from the Old Grey Lady (NYT) herself:

"In so far as Mexican immigration is concerned, it would be idle to deny the economic usefulness of Mexican laborers. But it is essential to face the fact that the great mass of Mexican immigrants is virtually not assimilable. For the most part Indian in blood, their traditions as well as standards of living are very different from ours." [Immigrants From The New World, Jan 16, 1930]

So the default meaning of "Right" or "Rightism" in the following essay will be: "committed to stability". That is only a minimum meaning, however. There is a lot more to conservatism than that. And I hope to present below extensive historical evidence to show what conservatism is and to show continuity in how conservatism works out in practice.

Flavors of Leftism

At this stage, however, I think I should flesh out my contention above to the effect that the beliefs that would be described by the Left as extreme Right are in fact just another flavor of extreme Leftism -- perhaps a broadly old-fashioned form of Leftism but Leftism nonetheles.

Leftists would decribe that identification as patently absurd. They would say say of the "extreme Right" that "they stand for everything we are against: antisemitism, capitalism, patriotism, eugenics etc."

That is a rather amusing list but before I go on let me introduce you to the People's Action Party, long-time rulers of Singapore. At first glance, the identification of the PAP as extreme Right would seem easy. They are arguably the most pro-business party in the world. They are a shining example of the economic triumph of capitalism. And they are also very authoritaraian, with strict limits on free speech and control of even minutiae of Singapore life.

So surely the PAP is a prime example of "far Right"? Just one niggling little detail, though. They were for many years a member of the Socialist International. Their origins are on the Left and their authoritarianism is what all Leftists try for -- as is the PAP's regulation of the private sector, activist intervention in the economy, and its welfarist social policies. And its self-identification as a "People's" party is in fact characteristic of the far-Left. And for a bit of color say what the party symbol below reminds you of:



Singapore is a long way from being Nazi but it illustrates that Leftism is a house of many mansions and that support for capitalism is no bar to being Leftist. The PAP was joined in that not only by Hitler but also by 20th century Sweden. And even the U.S. Democratic party gives at least lip-service to it when in campaign mode.

The PAP even has a eugenic program. It subsidizes and otherwise supports well educated women to marry and have babies.

And then we come to antisemitism. I feel I hardly need to say anything about Leftist support for antisemitism. It goes at least as far back as Karl Marx and, under the thin disguise of "anti-Zionism" is as virulent among the modern-day Left as ever. Truman represented only a short-term blip in Leftist antisemitism. So antisemitism is certainly no bar to being Leftist.

What about patriotism? Leftist intellectuals scorn it as a weakness of simple minds so can you be a Leftist and a patriot at the same time? Again I don't think we need to go far to answer that. The U.S. Democrats claim to be patriotic and the pompous challenge, "Are you questioning my patriotism?" always seems to come from Democrat politicians. Democrat patriotism does seem to be mostly a hollow charade these days but we only have to go back to the revered JFK to find it breathing unaided: "Ask not what your country ....". And the popular patriotic song "This land is my land" was written by Woody Guthrie, a Communist. And Stalin referred to his war with Germany as "The Great Patriotic war". Yes. you clearly CAN be patriotic and Leftist.

So there is nothing incongruous at all in identifying the so-called "extreme Right" as just another flavor of Leftism. Anybody who has had much to do with the far-Left will be aware of how fractious they are and the ice pick in the head that Trotsky got courtesy of Stalin is emblematic of that. Leftists can hate one-another at least as much as they hate conservatives and the rivalry between the "far Right" and the modern-day Left is sibling rivalry -- just as it was in the days of Hitler and Stalin.



The sudden eruption of mania about transsexualism

Up until around 2020, effeminate men and butch women had mostly found a happy home among homosexuals. And they had flown quite under the radar. They were mentioned only in passing. By 2023, however, a new rage-filled religion had emerged around such people. Out of the blue, they changed from being ignored by the Left to becoming the great new cause of the Left. How come?

It's not hard to understand once you realize that the Left are the angry people and angry people need something or someone to be angry about. They need someone to shout at and tear down and attack. They need a "cause"

And their old causes have mostly lost their steam. The workers now mostly vote for Republicans so there is no longer any joy in patronizing them; The battle for gay rights has been won and pitying blacks has become too obviously a failure. But more on that:

The Left once thought that the very low average economic success of blacks was the result of them being badly treated by the educational system. The "gap" between black and white success is huge there. But no matter what Leftist educators tried, the "gap" between black and white school results remained quite immovable.

And affirmative action was not much of a remedy either. Blacks put into jobs for which they were poorly qualified tended not to do those jobs well and their children tended to do no better than other black kids. So equalizing blacks and whites was frustratingly elusive. All the anger about black disadvantage clearly achieved nothing of substance. Trying to equalize blacks became simply frustrating and boring. Leftist anger changed nothing

But the fact that blacks could not often be lifted up economically still cried out as a gross breach of the fundamental Letist faith that all men are equal. If the black/white "gap" could not be changed it had at least to be explained. So critical race theory was born. It says that hidden white prejudice is responsible for black failure.

But telling whites that they are secretly prejudiced does not do much. You cannot easily aim your anger at something hidden. And whites seem generally not too moved by the charge against them. It is hard to make whites suffer for their invisible evil. Most whites simply ignore the accusation and that is that. Some weirdos may self-flagellate but they are too few to be satisfying.

So the left had simply run out of things that they could make into a great cause for their anger. They needed a new enemy. And all that pent up anger is now directed at people who think that there are only two sexes. It's absurd but absurdity has never held the Left back. Their core belief that "all men are equal" is absurd.

And policies born out of anger are seldom wise or constructive. And the latest obsession is no exception. Who would ever have thought that cutting of a young girl's breasts or a young mans penis would ever be seen as virtuous and in need of encouragement? One almost pines for the day when all that Leftist anger required was a mandate to give High School diplomas to illiterate blacks

But who are these angry people? What makes the Left seethe with anger? Have you ever seen anyone seethe with anger the way the Left did when Donald Trump was elected President? Leftist anger was a great foaming torrent at that time -- completely unrestrained. We saw then with crystal clarity the anger that was behind the mask of doing good

All the studies of it show that the Left/Right political polarity is strongly inherited genetically -- so to a large extent the Left are just born in their unhappy state. The world just looks all wrong to their eyes. But there may of course also be life events and circumstances which generate chronic anger. Failing to get much of the rewards that life offers might well make one an unhappy person. Black anger is explicable that way.



Wait! There's more!

At this stage I want to go on to look in more detail at examples of Leftism. We will see various ways in which the generalizations so far work out in real-life practice. Carrying out surveys of Leftist attitudes (and I have done many of them) is all well and good but it is how Leftists repeatedly behave that is the best evidence of what they are and why they do what they do. We now go on to some case-studies, if you like. And in looking at those cases, I show how the various Leftist claims and causes hang together and support what I have said so far. You can find that file here.

After that I have another file in which I look at the motivations behind Leftism, with particular attention to one major motivation: Narcissism, where a weak ego leads to a constant need for praise and approval. That file is here


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