Non-leftists spend a lot of time these days telling leftists that the leftists are “elitist.” Leftists usually respond with something like this:
But somehow these born-into-wealth aristocrats get away with calling people who advocate for, say a living wage, or universal health care, or decent public education “elites.”
Translation: We leftists are not elitist because we do things for the economically non-rich that we leftists believe to be in the best interest of the non-rich. Elitists only do things that leftists believe to be in the interest of the rich.
By the leftist definition of elitism, we could live in an absolutist, hereditary aristocracy and still not have an elitist government as long as the aristocrats made decisions that, in the opinion of leftists, benefited the poor.
The leftists are wrong. Elitism isn’t defined by who benefits, elitism is defined by who decides.
The very idea that a subset of society gets to decide what is in the best interest of everyone is intrinsically elitist.
Ideologically, both communism and fascism invest totalitarian control of entire societies in the hands of a tiny subset of the governed society. They both define membership in the subset solely by an individual’s advocacy of a single, pure version of their respective ideologies. Even minor deviations cause ejection from the subset, often with lethal consequences. In societies controlled by these doctrines, individuals have little input into the major decisions that most affect their lives. Indeed, individuals can often be killed on the barest whim of the subset. In no other modern political system has so much arbitrary power over others been invested in the hands of so few.
However, according to leftists, neither communism nor fascism are elitist ideologies because, in the opinion of both communists and fascists, they each sought to benefit the ordinary citizens at the expense of the wealthy and historically privileged.
The leftists’ definition of elitism is clearly stupid and self-serving. It allows leftists to arrogate to themselves virtually all decisions about the most minute aspects of an ordinary individual’s life, while still claiming they are not elitist, based entirely on their own estimation that their decisions will best improve the individual’s life. In other words, they adopt the same rational that every elitist political system since the dawn of civilization has used to justify its power.
An ideology is truly egalitarian and its proponents truly anti-elitist only if the ideology invests legal, decision-making authority in the hands of individuals. In an egalitarian system, individuals make the primary decisions about their own lives. Whether others believe those decisions to be the best choices for the individual is irrelevant.
A glance at a few policy differences between the contemporary American right and left shows clearly that the right invests individuals with the authority to choose while the left wants to keep that authority in the hands of small number of government agents who think like leftists do.
Right: Believes that mature, law abiding individuals can own and wisely use firearms for the defense of themselves, their loved ones and their communities. Advocates laws that let individuals decide whether or not to assume the responsibility of owning and using firearms.
Left: Believes that even mature, law abiding individuals cannot be trusted with firearms and that all firearms should be restricted to government officials or a small number of private individuals whom the government decides can be trusted.
To highlight this difference look at the varying predictions back in the ’90s when concealed carry was first being seriously debated. The right, being non-elitist, predicted that individuals would use weapons wisely. The left, being elitist, predicted that individuals would use weapons unwisely. They predicted that minor traffic incidents would erupt into gun fights and that our communities would turn into “Dodge City.”
The right’s predictions proved correct. The overwhelming majority of ordinary people use firearms wisely.
Right: Believes that individual parents can be trusted with spending the money the community allocates for their child’s education. The right advocates a voucher system that lets parents choose schools and directly manage their children’s education.
Left: Believes that individual parents cannot be trusted at all with their children’s education. Advocates all education spending be allocated by politicians, education “experts” and judges. They prefer that all education decisions be made at the highest level of government possible, with the weakest input from parents.
Right: Advocates giving individuals the widest possible authority in managing their own medical care. Advocates removing mandated policies and providing vouchers and medical savings accounts.
Left: Wants to centralize primary medical decisions in an unelected federal medical bureaucracy. Panels of “experts” will decide what treatments individuals will receive based on a cost/benefit analysis. Individuals will be free to choose from a list of allowed treatments and doctors. If individuals are allowed to purchase private insurance, the government will strictly mandate what coverage every individual must purchase.
Right: Believes that individuals should be free to negotiate pay and conditions of employment. Believes that no one should be forced to join a union and forced to donate part of their dues to leftwing political parties just to have a job.
Left: Believes that the “experts” should determine pay and conditions for all but the highest paid. Believes that the government should set a minimal pay threshold below which no one is allowed to work regardless of individual circumstances. Believes that as a condition of employment individuals can be forced to join unions and can be forced to donate part of their dues to leftwing political parties.
And so on…
In every issue, down the line, with the exception of matters relating to sex (and, increasingly, recreational drugs) the right advocates allowing individuals to make the decisions that profoundly affect their lives while the left advocates having a small elite make the decisions and imposing those decisions on everyone by the violence-based power of the state.
Leftism is built on the principle of elitism. Its great emotional appeal to intellectuals is that very elitism. Leftism seduces intellectuals and their wannabes with a vision of the world in which they are not only saviors but justly the most dominant, highest status members of society as well. Scratch a leftist and you find a philosopher-king.
This fact is obvious to all but the leftists themselves. That so many leftists seem genuinely unable to see their own elitism speaks volumes about their capacity for self-delusion.
In the end, it is that capacity for self-delusion that makes leftists truly dangerous. They grind their boots in our faces while deluding themselves that they do so out of pure altruism. There is no greater danger than individuals who see their own base selfishness as the greater good.
The 20th Century proved that conclusively.