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  • The Left’s Power of Self-Delusion

    Posted by Shannon Love on October 10th, 2010 (All posts by )

    The single most dangerous thing about leftists is their capacity for self-delusion. Most leftists really do believe that they personally know what is best for everyone.

    Beyond their personal intellectual and moral hubris, leftists think they know best because they believe themselves to belong to a line of ideological descent which has always been altruistic, benevolent and always proven correct in the long run. The reason they believe that is because leftists know nothing of their own history. Instead, they take a simplified, cartoonish view of their ideological predecessors that can only be described as hagiographic. Any mistakes or evils perpetrated by anyone that leftists identify with are simply written out of leftists’ history.

    The cult of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, whose face still shows up on non-ironic t-shirts, as well as the leftist history of the Kent State shootings, shows how this hagiography gets perpetuated.

    Here is a representative example of Guevara’s hagiography from the current (as of today) Wikipedia entry for him.

    Following the Cuban Revolution, Guevara performed a number of key roles in the new government. These included instituting agrarian reform as minister of industries, serving as both national bank president and instructional director for Cuba’s armed forces, reviewing the appeals and firing squads for those convicted as war criminals during the revolutionary tribunals,[10] and traversing the globe as a diplomat on behalf of Cuban socialism. [emph. added]

    Contrast this with eye witness accounts of Guevara’s role[h/t Instapundit] in the mass executions that followed the communist victory in Cuba:

    “When you saw the beaming look on Che’s face as the victims were tied to the stake and blasted apart by the firing squad,” said a former Cuban political prisoner Roberto Martin-Perez, to your humble servant here, “you saw there was something seriously, seriously wrong with Che Guevara.” As commander of the La Cabana execution yard, Che often shattered the skull of the condemned man (or boy) by firing the coup de grace himself. When other duties tore him away from his beloved execution yard, he consoled himself by viewing the slaughter. Che’s second-story office in Havana’s La Cabana prison had a section of wall torn out so he could watch his darling firing-squads at work.

    Compare the hagiographic Wikipedia entry on the Guevera’s infamous “Motorcycle Diaries” with some of what Guevera actually wrote:

    “My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any vencido [surrendered/captured enemy] that falls in my hands!” [bracketed text added]

    Guevera’s military tactics were ruthless and vile. In Bolivia, he perfected the strategy of “fighting to the last peasant” by intentionally forcing peasants into the line of fire in order to “radicalize” them. He conducted fighting retreats through peasant villages intending that the following army would destroy the village and kill villagers in pursuit of his forces. Worse, he committed atrocities against military personnel, even killing their families, and then framed innocent peasants for the acts for the sole purpose of drawing down a horrific vengeance down on the innocent peasants. Needless to say, he had no compunctions about killing any peasants in his zone of control who did not kowtow to him.

    Guevara was a vicious, megalomaniacal sociopath who wanted to be the next Stalin or Mao. (Indeed, Stalin in his younger days was a figure very much like Guevara.) He overtly and clearly stated his desire to destroy America and to exterminate millions of Americans in the process.

    Yet today he is considered to be a figure worthy of admiration by the far (20% most) left in America. Go to any college campus and you will see admiring posters and t-shirts. Even Robert Redford, one of the few leftists who actually spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money on charitable causes, made a hagiographic movie about Guevera.

    The vast majority of leftists, however, know nothing about the real Guevera. All they know is the hagiography that came straight out the Cold War-era Soviet propaganda mill. Worse, they don’t even bother to question the hagiography at all. If you try to confront them about their mindless adoration, they will reflexively change the subject to some real or imagined evil of non-leftists somewhere in the world’s history. They are emotionally incapable of thinking about Guevera in anything but positive terms.

    Richard Cohen’s vile little diatribe attempting to link the Tea Party to the 1970 Kent State shooting is saturated with leftist hagiography. This is his central thesis:

    Bullets had killed those kids, sure — but they were fired, in a way, from the mouths of politicians. The governor of Ohio, James Rhodes, demonized the war protesters. They were “worse than the Brownshirts and the communist element. . . . We will use whatever force necessary to drive them out of Kent.”

    There are two things that are delusional about Cohen’s perspective on Kent State. First, he assumes that the National Guard opened fire because they hated the college students’ ideology and not because they feared violence. Second, he leaves out the fact that the protesters were actually acting like Brownshirts and were protesting in de facto support of totalitarian communist superpowers. Indeed, many of leaders of the Kent State and other protests considered themselves to be communists fighting for world revolution.

    In the leftists’ hagiography, the Kent State protesters were completely peaceful. They “performed a sit-in” in college campus buildings and were singing and putting flowers in the barrels of the Guardsmen’s guns when the Guardmen’s ideological hatred of the pure and noble leftists finally overwhelmed the Guardmen’s humanity and they brutally opened fire. All those killed at Kent State are martyrs to the evil of the American right. Therefore, Cohen argues by implication, since the left is so good, wonderful and infallible in all things, anyone who argues with leftists today is just as evil and hate filled as the governor and the Guardsmen were back in 1970.

    Unfortunately for Cohen and his hagiography, the shootings at Kent State were preceded by a month of increasing violence. The “peaceful sit-in” of the ROTC building was violent with doors kicked in, desks and filing cabinets destroyed, burned or tossed through windows. ROTC officers and students as well as school officials were physically attacked. All this culminated in a riot the night before the shootings in downtown Kent, that resulted in broken windows, arson, stonings and beatings that overwhelmed the Kent police force. That pattern of increasing violence and destruction, not the governor’s ideological opposition to the protesters’ support of communist goals, caused the governor to call out the National Guard. The violence continued the day of the shootings with rock throwing and shouts of “kill, kill, kill”. The Guardsmen were on edge because of the violence, not the ideology.

    Cohen and other leftists always dehumanize non-leftists such as the Guardsmen, turning them into caricatures. In the minds of Cohen et al, the Guardsmen are evil Nazis salivating to kill the pure and noble leftists. In reality, the Guardsmen felt exposed and frightened. They did not have full anti-riot gear or support and could not have withstood the human wave attack of an enraged mob. They were all too aware of how easy it would have been for the mob to overwhelm part or all of the Guard’s line and pull out and beat to death individuals. Worse, they all knew they were tightly bunched together making them an easy target for anyone with a firearm in the crowd or surrounding buildings. Given the previous pattern of escalating violence and the frothing anger directed at them, they had every right to expect they might be attacked with lethal force.

    The Kent State shootings should have never happened but the moral onus for the deaths ultimately lies upon those who initiated the violence in the first place. Had the protesters not tried to impose their will on the governance of the university by force, had they not attacked people and destroyed property, the Guard would have not have been called out in the first place and would have never been in a position to overreact and make a mistake.

    In the end, the idea that the Guard opened fire out of ideological hatred of all that is good and pure is really just a manifestation of the left’s own narcissism and megalomania. They are so convinced not only of their rectitude but of their critical importance to the world that they convince themselves that they are actually important enough for non-leftists to want to kill them. The thought that the Guard saw them not as world changing revolutionaries but just as spoiled, violent children just doesn’t play into the self-hagiography of the individual leftists.

    In the end, the real story of Kent State was that of radical leftists directing violence on their fellow citizens in order to advance and inflate their own egos, and as a side effect to advance the interests of totalitarian, communist superpowers. Their egoism, moral blindness and self-delusion caused them to create circumstances in which lethal mistakes where probable. That is the reason, and the only reason, that five people died at Kent State.

    Why are leftists so prone to self-delusion? Why are they so ready to believe that they themselves and their predecessors never make any mistakes?

    Firstly, leftists always want quick and easy answers to problems like poverty which have dogged humanity since the dawn of history. They don’t want to hear that such problems can’t be really “solved” but simply mitigated or improved slightly. They would prefer to be sold the fantasy of a quick and easy fix whose implementation is blocked only by the selfishness and outright evil of non-leftists.

    Secondly, leftists have powerful need to view themselves as intellectually and morally superior to everyone else. They have the need to see themselves as the heroic protagonist in the story of the modern world. Since they use the same methodology today to arrive at their justifications as did the leftists of the past, they must create a narrative in which the leftists of the past were always proven correct and infallible.

    To this end, every event, every history, every fact is shaped and bent by the aggregation of the emotional need of millions of leftists to view themselves as infallible, crusading heroes. This emotional need creates a niche in the free market of ideas which the professional intellectuals of the far left are all too glad to fill with stories of leftwing hagiography. After a few generations, what started as an emotion-driven market niche evolves into a distinct subculture whose tenets become unquestionable. It becomes a secular religion whose tenets are unquestionable and where virtue becomes defined as believing in those self-same tenets.

    Guevara must have been a hero because most contemporary leftists believe he was too much like them not to be. If Guevara was a villain, what does that say about them? Likewise, if the protesters of Kent State were selfish, arrogant and gullible what does that say about leftists today who mimic their positions in contemporary context?

    Why don’t leftists ever recognize their fantasies as self-serving delusions? I believe it is because most leftists, and certainly the professional intellectual leftists who fabricate and sell those fantasies for money and prestige, live in a nonempirical world. Empiricism is the final test of any idea. This is the fundamental idea of science but it holds true in all fields of human endeavor. An idea must manifest in a physical form and interact with the material world before its truth can be truly verified. Business people have ideas of businesses all the time but the only real test of the idea is to create the business and see if it thrives. Generals create weapons, tactics and doctrines only to see them all disintegrate when real war breaks out. Engineers build objects and machines that must work.

    Leftists, however, live in a world isolated from physical consequence. They pay no material consequence for the failure of the ideas. It is not as if any of the leaders of the Kent State rioters ever ended up with hands bound, kneeling in the mud of a Cambodian rice paddy waiting for a raped and brainwashed 12 year old to suffocate them by wrapping a plastic bag tightly over their heads. No radical leftwing radical professor of the era lost his job for failing to predict the psychotic nature of the Khmer Rouge or the consequences of the horrific rule of Cambodia. No American leftists has ever paid a serious material consequence for any error, no matter how sweeping. It is always someone else who pays.

    It was the Kulaks, Ukrainians, idealistic communists and others who paid the price for Stalin, not the legions of western leftists who ignored his crimes and cheered him on. It was the Chinese peasants who starved to death during the Great Leap Forward and not the college student with the “Mao more than ever” t-shirt. Less dramatically, it is the poor of America who suffered from crime, permanent joblessness and the disintegration of families because of leftists’ policies, not the ivory-tower intellectuals who created those policies.

    In the specific case of Indochina, the “peace” movement failed catastrophically to bring peace to anyone. The people of Indochina suffered horribly. However, since the “peace” movement ended with the far left dominant in American politics and culture, American leftists see it as a great victory and seek to recreate it at every opportunity. Why shouldn’t they? They personally or collectively don’t expect to pay any material consequence for their selfishness and self-absorption.

    This isolation from physical consequence lets leftists swim through life in a haze of self-delusion. Without physical consequence, absolutely everything in their lives become just a fictional story. This is why leftists are so keen on the idea that everything is a “narrative”. In their world, everything is just a narrative.

    The left’s specific narrative explains everything for them because the market forces in the free market of ideas evolved a story custom-fitted to feed the left’s own emotional needs. In this custom-fitted narrative, they are virtual super beings, free of the moral and intellectual failings of lesser beings and therefore always correct and always deserving of power and dominion over lesser beings for the good of all. Who wouldn’t like to buy such a flattering image of themselves?

    Non-leftists are saved from delusion only because the material world impinges on those of us who live and work outside of the ivory tower. We can’t believe anything we want, because we have to make things function. We pay a heavy and immediate price for our self-delusions.

    But perhaps the era of the left’s isolation from physical consequence has ended. During the Vietnam era, the military they despised protected them from the communists they lionized, but today’s military cannot protect them from the terrorists who filter across borders. It is not inconceivable that the left’s de facto support of various terrorists may someday literally blow up in their faces. The vitality and uniqueness of America once protected them from the consequences of their economic ideas (such as runaway unions), but today America is not so vital nor so unique and must fight for its place in the world economy. As a result, leftwing-dominated areas of the country are imploding economically. The poor and marginalized are growing weary of promises of betterment that never arrive. They have begun to try and escape the fantasy by seeking non-leftist solutions like voucher schools.

    The left will either grow up and leave the world of childish fantasy or fade into history. Until then people like Richard Cohen can sit on our collective cultural couch in nothing but their underwear and their Che t-shirts, eating Cheerios while watching yet another episode of “Leftist Hagiography Today” on the TV.

    The rest of us can do nothing but shake our heads as we pass by on the way out the door to another day of real work and real consequences.

     

    56 Responses to “The Left’s Power of Self-Delusion”

    1. Marie Therese 1 Says:

      I, too, was amazed to find the wikipedia site’s Marxist glorification of him with no reference to his barbarity. This is another example of ‘changing truth of historical facts/people’ to fit liberal idealism that I have discovered in wikipedia articles.

    2. Marty Says:

      Well, it’s not as if Wikipedia has any standards as to truth (as opposed to form).

      “Vile” is precisely the right word for Cohen’s column, and most of his production is little better.

      The idea that leftists live in a nonempirical world seems incomplete. Maybe it helps explain what we see on campuses and in foundations, an extension of Barone’s “Hard America, Soft America” thesis, but historically it doesn’t seem up to explaining Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, etc. There’s something else going on, something to do with a view that people are almost infinitely malleable, and can be forced to fit the leftist’s ideas or wishes, and if they resist it is for evil purposes

      I rather suspect Stalin was quite empirically grounded, ditto the others on my list. Perhaps in the American experience the “nonempirical” left has been more obvious than in Russia, China, Germany, etc., but even so, the concept seems unable to explain teh whole phenomenon.

      Of course, the academic intelligentsia were among the first to be brought to heel by those regimes… the ones who didn’t support their taking power in teh first place, that is.

    3. Brett_McS Says:

      So, the Kent State students fired first, after all! How (not) surprising!

      (via the great Kathy Shaidle: http://www.fivefeetoffury.com/).

    4. stuhlmann Says:

      I don’t think leftists have a monopoly on self-delusion and thinking they know what is best for others. Just look at the neo-cons who thought that foreign armies could create democracies and market economies with the wave of a magic drone. Read Chandrasekaran’s “Imperial Life in the Emerald City”. The author was not describing the work of leftists.

    5. Shannon Love Says:

      Suhlman,

      Just look at the neo-cons who thought that foreign armies could create democracies and market economies with the wave of a magic drone.

      Germany, Japan and South Korea are not democracies with largely market economies?

      You are correct that the left doesn’t have a monopoly on self-delusion, however, the scale and persistence of the left’s self-delusion is much, much higher largely because they simply never face empirical test of their ideas.

    6. Shannon Love Says:

      Marty,

      I rather suspect Stalin was quite empirically grounded, ditto the others on my list

      Actually, I would argue the exact opposite all the leftists dictators you mentioned made colossal blunders over long time scales attempting to blindly follow the narratives imposed by their ideologies. Indeed, I would argue that all enemies of liberal-democracies are driven by powerful but delusional fantasy narratives.

      In Stalin’s particular case, collectivism, the gutting of the military, the imprisonment of his technical talent, his pact with Hitler, his refusal to listen to Churchill’s warnings, his suppression of computers and Lysenkoism etc all resulted from his blind faith in Communist ideology.

      A similar list could be created for every other dictator you listed.

    7. onparkstreet Says:

      Sthulmann was probably referring to Afghanistan given the drone remark, but I’m just guessing.

      Both the Right and Left in the States seem to have very odd ideas about Afghanistan, or rather, Pakistan. I couldn’t believe what I heard Sen. Graham and John Bolton (!) saying on Greta Van Sustern.

      It seems we will fund our own anti-proxies, so to speak….human beings are prone to error. All human beings. It’s a function of being human.

      – Madhu

      (That is not my way of saying I am for or against anything. If the naughties have taught little ole’ nobody me anything, it’s extreme humility in all of this. I read about Afghanistan to teach myself, not because I think I could possibly have any answers.)

    8. onparkstreet Says:

      As for the other? I’ve spent my entire life in academic surroundings and I will never understand why people talk such rot about Che and the rest. I suppose it’s because they’ve been propagandized and don’t even know it.

      – Madhu

    9. Shannon Love Says:

      Onparkstreet,

      I suppose it’s because they’ve been propagandized and don’t even know it.

      Well, that and they don’t care in the least about the truth. For the left, life is story. Che worship lets them live in the story they want to live in.

    10. mlyster Says:

      A superior monograph on the mass delusion of the left. Thank you.
      Stalin, to address the above, was not ’empirically grounded’ in the way that we might think. He was a violent, paranoid sociopath (I’m not a psychiatrist, but I think that’s a fair approximation). He kept the Soviet Union in his grip by spreading the paranoia—and fear of one’s closest friends and neighbors—throughout society.
      While it is, of course technically a fictional novel, one would be well served to read The First Circle, by Solzhenitsyn. Indeed, just about anything by Solzhenitsyn. The madness and utter hypocrisy of the Soviet system is as good a counterargument to anything foisted upon us by the leftists as one could describe—which is why, in part, Soviet history has been airbrushed out of academic and popular consciousness like Trotsky was airbrushed out of official photos after his ouster.
      The facile ability of the current Dear Leader to throw his own minions under the bus is no new wrinkle. The leaders of the USSR, and China have done it for generations. Just a necessary component of the Class Struggle, comrade. Nothing personal: it’s just ideology. Stalin would be proud.

      I despise these people. I’ve nothing against rich or poor, tall or short, or any group EXCEPT the willfully ignorant. And leftists are just such willfully ignorant, antidemocratic coconspirators. They go against every principle upon which this country was founded.
      I’m starting to hear/read, in scattered editorials and in the conversations by liberals/leftists (do they differ?), that people are too ‘hung up’ on this Constitution nonsense, and this uncontrolled and dangerous ‘free speech’ thingy, and all this obviously incorrect and failed free enterprise tomfoolery, and…
      They want nothing less than a socialist paradise. Paid for, and built upon the backs, and if necessary the ruins of you and me.

    11. David Foster Says:

      Shannon,

      What were you referring to with Stalin’s “suppression of computers”?

    12. Shannon Love Says:

      David Foster,

      What were you referring to with Stalin’s “suppression of computers”?

      After WWII, computers were largely cybernetic i.e. analog. They relied on systems of feedback patterned on those used in biological systems. For some reason, Stalin took it into his head that the idea of a self-regulating, self-balancing system that worked without an external governor, violated the precepts of Communism. He outlawed the entire field of study and the teaching of cybernetics. The Soviet counterparts to Turing, Von Neuman, Vanderbush et al, all ended up in the Gulag and their work destroyed. Soviet technology never really recovered.

      Of course the Soviet engineers, had to use cybernetics for 1950s electronics but the damage was done. Going forward, they had to rely on stolen western technology to keep up, which eventually they could not do.

      Stalin went even nuttier after WWII. He fired up the oppression of scientist again and especially targeted non-physicist especially. Biologist, chemist, geneticist even mathematicians were attacked for failure to produce results Stalin decreed consistent with Communism.

      I’ve acquired but not have yet read, “The Perversion of Knowledge” by Vadim J. Birstein which is a history of Soviet Science. I think it will go into the matter in more detailed.

    13. John W. Says:

      “The left will either grow up and leave the world of childish fantasy or fade into history.”

      I think you have underestimated the allure of childish fantasy.

    14. Michael Kennedy Says:

      A very important prop of the left is magical thinking. If it is important, it should work. This goes into things as simple as teaching reading. My ex-wife got caught in the first wave of this in the 50s when “whole word” reading began while she was still in school. She never did learn to spell very well although she has gone on to teach herself. These people convince themselves that because something “should be” it can be. The “Homeless” is another example. I have spent a lot of time with the homeless and in the shelters in Los Angeles. The people who run the shelters will tell you that 60% of the homeless are psychotic and 60% are addicts of alcohol or drugs. Obviously there is overlap. They estimate that, in times like these, about 10% are situational. The advocates never tire of building more homes for the homeless, many of whom would prefer to sleep in the street. The left never learns because they do not follow the same rules of logic they we do.

    15. Richard H. Says:

      Excellent post! Readers with a deeper knowledge of history may find various points with which to argue in your posts, but I find your understanding and insight to be remarkable. Having lived through this period in our history, your words ring true with my experience of the perceptions and beliefs of fellow students as well as the “narrative” that was being promoted in the only media available at the time. I’m not sure how I avoided becoming a part of the groupthink at that time, but I recall arguing out loud with the evening news on a daily basis.

      I agree with your notion that those on the left have an apparent unlimited ability to engage in self-delusion. And, it has always appeared to me that this skill rests fundamentally on two pillars that you describe above: their inadequate understanding of human nature and psychology, and their insistent belief that they know what is best. But, isn’t this the story of humankind in so many ways? Hubris and Pride? Believing we know what is best, and that we can perfect ourselves? The right is not immune, and we have witnessed plenty of evidence for that as well. However, the left seems to be particularly susceptible. Without an empirical basis for decisions, we will go in whatever direction our emotional wind is blowing most forcefully. And, when we fall under the sway of the so-called post-modern structuralist epistemology, we can create whatever narrative we need at the moment, and whatever justification necessary. After all, since there is no finally verifiable “truth”, all that matters is to construct the story in a way that supports our views and beliefs.

    16. David Foster Says:

      Shannon…Stalin & cybernetics….A good ideologist should have been able to easily argue this either way:

      1)Cybernetics is completely inconsistent with the Marxist-Leninist philosophy, because it justifies the possibility that market capitalism could be a self-regulating system, not requiring the wise guidance of the Party.

      2)Cybernetics is entirely consistent with Marxist-Leninist philosophy, because the idea of a self-regulating system is totally in sync with the idea of an inevitable dialectic of history.

      (This skill set becomes increasingly valuable in our own society, as all aspects of life are more and more politicized.)

    17. tehag Says:

      “Why are leftists so prone to self-delusion?”

      Because they deeply and intimately connected with human nature, which is anti-rational. They understand it, its desire for evil, and how to indulge it to their advantage. Symbols, not reason, motivates people to act. Their “self-delusion” is called “winning.”

    18. TBlakely Says:

      To prop up their delusional world view, libs/progressives have devalued the concept of ‘good character’ (too judgementle/christian) and even reality itself (Post Modernism).

    19. Marty Says:

      Shannon,

      I think Stalin and the others were very empirically grounded in terms of what they were doing and its immediate consequences—their delusion was that somehow in the long run the ends justified the means, and that those ends were attainable. And failure just meant you had to try harder, whether it was Stalin moving from tinkering with ethnic relocation to starving the Ukraine and the Red Terror, or Obama’s approach to health care reform. I would also question whether their ends are even desirable, but that’s a different argument.

      There was/is certainly a large element of delusion in there, but it is mostly the delusions of post-modernist relativity and deconstructionism. If those are the delusions to which you refer, rather than a disconnect from proximate causes and effects, we agree.

      As for things like Stalin’s “gutting of the military,” the Axis-Soviet Pact and Churchill’s warnings, I suggest you read “The Chief Culprit” by Viktor Suvorov. When I read it, many such things about Stalin’s policies, which make no sense in the common understanding, suddenly made sense. The history of the late 1920s to 1941 is not at all what we all have been led to believe.

    20. RustyR Says:

      Eric Hoffer described the radical left perfectly back in the 1940’s (!). Does no one read him any more?

    21. Shannon Love Says:

      Marty,

      I’ll check the book out but I think that a lot of Stalin’s blunders had to do with ideology. I am certain that a lot of his weird technological and scientific decisions resulted from ideological.

    22. David Foster Says:

      Tehag/symbols–

      “Men will die for a slogan who will not stir for a conclusion”

      –John Cardinal Newman

    23. Nick Jihad Says:

      I don’t disagree with the article, except that I suspect it is possible to infer to much from the popularity of
      that single iconic image. To most, it is not a political statement, any more than one of Warhol’s paintings
      of a Campbell’s soup can – just an echo of another time that was both the best and worst of times.

    24. Craig Says:

      These are perfectly valid examples of Leftist self-delusion. I also agree that the Left is largely disconnected from observable reality, especially when it has to do with market forces.

      But an important thing to keep in mind is that all humans are prone to self-deception. It not only lets us cling to our ideology, but our religion. This is a human failing that all people share, and the reason why things like critical thinking skills and science needed to be invented. Left to our own devices our hyperactive agency detection, confirmation bias, etc. will leave us completely superstitious.

      Of course, a lot of what this post is about is really historical revisionism.

    25. Shannon Love Says:

      Nick Jihad,

      To most, it is not a political statement, any more than one of Warhol’s paintings
      of a Campbell’s soup can – just an echo of another time that was both the best and worst of times.

      Yeah, that’s not a lot of mitigation in my book. They don’t make a cultural icon out of Hitler or Stalin. Guevara’s status as an icon ultimate depends on his hagiography.

    26. MarkD Says:

      “they believe themselves to belong to a line of ideological descent which has always been altruistic, benevolent and always proven correct in the long run.”

      It’s kind of tough to reconcile this belief with the fact that the red states are more generous with their contributions to charity. Al Gore’s donations were frankly pathetic, and he was not alone. Perhaps they count donations made by the government with other people’s money.

    27. mockmook Says:

      As John W. said, the left’s (man’s) fantasies will continue.

      Into each generation, legions of useful idiots and sociopaths are born.

    28. Luther Blissett Says:

      This is a purely ideological exercise. At Kent State, what happened physically is that four students were shot dead by the government.

      Now by using words like “de facto support of totalitarian communist” you provide an ideological justification for state violence. But you are doing the same thing, engaged in the same rhetorical manipulation, as Hitler, Stalin and Mao. More so than the students, who, whatever their beliefs about tyrants and ideology, or not, didn’t actually, physically, kill anyone.

    29. DDW Says:

      One of the things that most people miss is the class factor involved with the Kent State and other college protests. The Guard was made up of mostly Blue Collar men who had been drafted, (the people the Left say they are standing for) while Kent State was (is) a rather expensive college for the upper middle class.

      ROTC was one of the was that the ways the less well off could afford college.

      The same goes today for the Ivy League schools that block the ROTC and discourage the former military on the GI Bill. They are blocking the very people (class) that they say they are supposedly working for.

    30. ConservativeWanderer Says:

      An excellent monograph, but I must inform you that it’s not the first to analyze the left’s worldview and find it mostly self-delusional. The first one I recall seeing was Dr. Thomas Sowell’s excellent The Vision of the Anointed in which he takes apart those who self-anoint as “elites”

      It’s been around for quite a while, but it rings just as true today.

    31. alcuin Says:

      I’m surprised that no mention was made of Stalin’s promotion of Lysenko and the suppression of genetics. This was a prime example of ideological meddling on his part.

    32. Tom DeGisi Says:

      This description of leftists sounds like it would also describe aristocrats, particularly those who believe in the divine right of kings. They lived in a nonempirical world with no accountabitlity.

      It also sounds like it would many describe Senators and Congresspersons, many people who lead political parties of all kinds and even many pundits. The only empirical measurement important to a political party is a vote total, and the things which effect vote totals are almost magic. Pundits only care about numbers of readers, and again, readership does not seem to be influenced by how often you are dramatically wrong. Magic!

      For politicians, either swing votes or base motivation seem to be governed most importantly by the economy, since we can predict Presidential outcomes very well by economic measures alone. Weirdy, politicians have almost no positive control over the economy – they can mainly screw it up.

      Yours,
      Tom

    33. Buck O'Fama Says:

      “Empiricism is the final test of any idea. This is the fundamental idea of science but it holds true in all fields of human endeavor.”

      Very well said. It’s why “climate science” is self-destructing as well as Obama’s agenda. Soap bubbles crushed by the boulders of reality.

    34. pst314 Says:

      Luther Blissett just reinforces Shannon Love’s point.

    35. Anonymous Says:

      i am afraid some problems have no solutions, just contingencies to deal with the situation. there is no utopia, just trying for the best, making mistakes, learning from the mistakes.
      no great ideology other than liberty, no ism, no 5 year plan or revolution.
      entering middle age makes me believe less in plans and ideologies, more in individuals.

      fuck Che

    36. Josh Reiter Says:

      This is a perfect example of how gradualism is used to slowly erode away the truth. Of course, it wouldn’t be so bad or happen so suddenly if there wasn’t a progressive around to come along and every so often pluck out a bit of that truth. At first it starts with the small details that get little attention. Before you know it whole swaths of Che’s monstrous history have vanished. Keep up the good work in the fight for truth and integrity. We need a serious dose of that in the country; now more than ever.

    37. Joe Corlett Says:

      Shannon:

      I don’t ususally resort to ad hominem, but you’re a fucking asshole. The kids at Kent State were protesting the escalation of the Vietnam war into Cambodia. The very useless war that took the life of my brother, Gerald Corlett, two months earlier. Listen dickhead, when the United States government starts feeding your family to a sensless war machine, you can talk to me about politics. ‘Till then, go fuck yourself.

      Joe

    38. David Foster Says:

      Tom DeGisi…”This description of leftists sounds like it would also describe aristocrats, particularly those who believe in the divine right of kings. They lived in a nonempirical world with no accountabitlity”…I’d say that depends on the aristocrat and his time period. Aristocrats who lived on their land, administered local justice (such as it was), conducted military campaigns in support of their sovereign or just for aggrandizement…lived in a world in which their actions did have some feedback. But when they lost their social function and became purely decorative (as at the Court of Versailles), their success and sometimes their survival became more a matter of sucking up to those in higher positions.

    39. Robert L. Mayo Says:

      The word “Hagiography” is used 13 times in this article.

      Ms. Love has exhausted her quota and may not use it again until the year 2023.

    40. Robert Speirs Says:

      J Corlett,

      Millions of Cambodians might argue with the propriety of allowing the Communist takeover of Cambodia. They might, but they can’t because they’re dead, thanks to the likes of Hillary Clinton and Jane Fonda and the students at Kent State, who, according to the latest news, fired on the troops first. Your brother was a warrior fighting for truth and the right, not a useless sacrifice.

    41. Shannon Love Says:

      Luther Blissett,

      This is a purely ideological exercise. At Kent State, what happened physically is that four students were shot dead by the government.

      Wow, you didn’t read the post at all.

      Now by using words like “de facto support of totalitarian communist” you provide an ideological justification for state violence

      Thanks for the pure demonstration of leftists’ self-delusion. You are trapped by the narrative. It’s all a story for you: pure and noble leftists murdered by the evil capitalistic government.

      In reality, the fact that a bunch of spoiled brats were doing the dirty work of the communist had nothing to do with their deaths. The same thing could have happened without any political involvement at all. A lot of people have been accidentally killed by the authorities during various riots and disturbances. There was absolutely nothing special about Kent State in this regard.

      People died because the “protestors” resorted to intimidation and violence. End of story.

    42. mlyster Says:

      Thank you, Gerald Corlett for answering the call of your country.
      Those veterans that I have the honor to know and care for as patients do not regard their experience as a waste. Nor do I. My brother is a Marine serving in Afghanistan as we speak. God forbid anything should happen to him; it would punch a hole in my life that would be impossible to fill. I appreciate his service; he accepts his risk.

      Afghanistan is a battleground against world terror; Vietnam, mismanaged though it was, was at the time a battleground against communist expansionism. For all its ‘failure’, declassified documents from the USSR and China, if I recall correctly indicate that their experience with us in SE Asia soured their mutual appetites for similar adventures in other venues.

      Gerald Corbett’s life was a tragic loss. It was NOT a waste. To regard it as such is to dishonor him, and the service of others.

      Somehow, it always degenerates into a string of obscenities with the left, doesn’t it? Poor impulse control. And, it would seem, an inability to discern the broad expanse of history beyond its immediate personal impact, as deciphered through one’s own narrow, flawed lens.

      Oh, and you shouldn’t threaten groups of armed Guardsmen with physical harm. Bound to get a few .223 rounds through your midsection for the trouble. Any idiot would know that.

    43. Shannon Love Says:

      Joe Corlett,

      The kids at Kent State were protesting the escalation of the Vietnam war into Cambodia.

      No, they were protesting the pursuit of North Korean regular army units that had been violating Cambodian neutraity for years. The Cambodians were unable to enforce their own neutrality and so to protect South Vietnam from overt, cross-international border attacks from the regular military of foreign country.

      There was no “escalation” at all. The argument that it was America that was “escalating” the war was nothing but pure communist propaganda that the protestors swallowed wholly uncritically. Most likely, because it gave them an excuse to be pissed about something.

      The very useless war that took the life of my brother, Gerald Corlett, two months earlier.

      So of course you identify with the people who called your brother a baby killer and accused him and thousands of other service people of routinely committing war crimes. Makes sense.

      I’m sorry that your brother’s death brought little good. Just think. Had it not been for people like the protestors you lionize, South Vietnam would have never fallen and 165,000 Vietnamese would not have been executed outright. Another 250,000 would not have died from neglect in “reeducation” camps. Another two million would not have been made refugees with an unknown loss of life. 1.5 million, 1 in every 5 living, Cambodians would not have died under Pol Pots insanity. The region would not have suffered from brutal continuous war until the early 90s. Today, South Vietnam and Cambodia would look more like South Korean than the impoverished and backward disasters they are.

      I didn’t know your brother but if he was like most good men, they would have gladly sold his life to protect so many others, to protect people from almost unimaginable horror and tyranny.

      Your brother did in the end die for little but that was not because of the war itself. It was because we through it all away. 49,000 dead Americans, two million Vietnamese and for what? It was just as if we went through all the death and destruction of WWII but then in late 1944 decided to just give the whole thing up and come home.

      You have made you brothers death meaningless by accepting the fantasy narrative of those who in fought to see the communist win. Of course, they told you the war was pointless, meaningless and unnecessary. They could very well have said, “We’re fighting the worst evil mankind has ever scene and should they win millions of people will die but I don’t want to be drafted,” now could they?

      The real history of our abandonment of the people of Indochina and the revelations after the end of the Cold War proved conclusively that the “anti-war” protestors where absolutely wrong about everything. They did not make a single factual claim that has withstood the test of time.

      Don’t dishonor your brother by falling for their self-serving delusional narrative. They understood nothing, cared little and hurt many. Your brother shouldn’t be one of their victims.

    44. Shannon Love Says:

      Robert L. Mayo,

      The word “Hagiography” is used 13 times in this article.

      That was intentional. I wanted to drive home the point.

    45. Marty Says:

      Shannon,

      I have no real argument with you regarding things like Lysenkoism.

    46. Jay Says:

      when the United States government starts feeding your family to a sensless war machine, you can talk to me about politics. ‘Till then, go fuck yourself.

      Hysterical.

      I love the indignation! I love how you create the silly “only if” scenario.

      Hey, how about the fact my grandfather lied about his age in order to join the Navy in World War II, and my Dad volunteered to join as well, do I get a say?

      You’re a flaming moron.

    47. bandit Says:

      Richard Cohen went in the hot tub time machine and the Tea Partiers went with him back to 1970. Or something like that.

    48. Jamie Says:

      Luther whosis: “Now by using words like “de facto support of totalitarian communist” you provide an ideological justification for state violence. But you are doing the same thing, engaged in the same rhetorical manipulation, as Hitler, Stalin and Mao. More so than the students, who, whatever their beliefs about tyrants and ideology, or not, didn’t actually, physically, kill anyone.”

      Beg pardon? Does nobody call Godwin anymore? Shannon Love is “doing the same thing, engaged in the same rhetorical manipulation” as the man who convinced a nation that an entire ethnicity, plus various other groups, were evil and degenerate and should be excluded from its borders and ultimately murdered? Doing the same thing as the man who ordered the starvation/privation/execution deaths of, what, ten million citizens of the nation of which he was head of state, to satisfy the needs of his own paranoia? Doing the same thing as the man whose “Great Leap Forward” was a great leap for his own ego and the immediate cause of death of another HOW many millions of citizens of the nation of which he was head of state?

      Luther, even if what you claim were true (please note subjunctive), have you NO sense of proportion? Wow. You really do make Shannon’s point. Live in the real world – it makes a lot more sense.

      MarkD, I’ve figured that many – not all – on the Left appear to believe that “collective” action, as in the form of gifts to charity, actually happens without individual involvement. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were so? We could all just will poverty out of existence, and the magical collective would take care of it for us. Whatever “it” is.

    49. flataffect Says:

      It’s occurred to me numerous times since the the Dems went nuts, some time during Clinton’s Monica Scandal, that liberals, when I read their blogs and columns, seldom made any real arguments. Most of their rhetoric was either spewing bile, name calling or focusing on irrelevant details. Conservatives to a lot of this, as well, but they can defend their position from ground principles. Liberals seem to assume that their concept of social justice is self-evident, although history doesn’t bear that out, except for rare periods when people have built societies by their own free choice where they shared voluntarily and worked together for their common good. The difference is always freedom. Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, was once asked how he was able to govern such a burgeoning people (Nauvoo was at one point the largest city in Illinois). He replied, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.” That is the true religion of America, to understand correct principles like self-reliance, work, neighborliness, thrift, and the duties of citizenship. If we could instill that in our children, assuming we choose to bear and raise them, most other problems would solve themselves.

    50. Anonymous Says:

      In 1923 the German communist party decided the time had come to end German inflation and unemployment by starting a revolution that would throw out the current German government and “establish an all-German workers’ and peasants’ government” (The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). This would lead to worldwide communism. Communism had to be worldwide because capitalist exploiters would never permit “socialism in one country” to succeed.

      Communist theory held that Communist party members should be the “vanguard of the revolution” — that means that party members carrying red flags would lead a crowd of angry peasants and workers in an attack on the German army, police, etc just like they do in the paintings of the French Revolution.

      On October 23, 1923 Communists leaders raised crowds of peasants and workers in front of each of Hamburg’s 23 police stations. Then the Comminst party leaders attacked the police stations. The crowds of peasants and workers did not follow. Instead they wandered off and went to work or continued looking for a job. The police clubbed down their Communist attackers and arrested them. The Communists tried again on October 24 and 25th with the same results.

      The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979) writes
      “The Hamburg uprising of 1923 showed that the masses of the working class of the country, as a result of serious errors by the leadership of the Communist Party of Germany, headed by Brandler and Thalheimer, were not sufficiently prepared for the uprising.”

      The Hamburg fiasco forced Communist revolutionaries to realize that the peasants and proletariat must be radicalized before they will revolt. The standard radicalization procedure is
      1. draw a crowd. Police will show up to watch crowd.
      2. Teach crowd basic cheers and chants
      3. Take position INSIDE crowd, NOT in front.
      4. Throw rocks at police, vandalize nearby cars, shops
      5. If needed, fire a gun
      6. Police will shoot at crowd and proletariat and peasants will be radicalized.
      7. Repeat as needed

      Worked at Kent State, Chicago Convention, Watts… many times in many places. Still works today.

      However there has been no revolution because Mao died and the Soviet Union collapsed. It’s as though all the Stepford Wives were divorced by their masters. Sadly these Stepford Wives still control the schools, the news media and the labor unions.

    51. sol vason Says:

      One of the marvels of a modern day capitalist society is the notion of market segmentation. Capitalists realize that a single product cannot be all things to all men and women. For example consider Dog Food. The market is segmented to
      1) people who feed their dogs human food (table scraps, or even set an extra place in front of the TV)
      2) people who feed only food tailored to a dog’s exacting nutrtional needs based on his/her age and medical history
      3) people who only feed food that has been proved best tasting in rigorous dog taste tests
      4) people who feed what’s cheap
      5) people who send their dogs out to forage and live off the land
      6)other smaller but no less exacting segements

      A capitalist may grow rich making products for just one of these segments, even the warrior dogs of segment 5. The same is true of cars, trucks, shoes, matresses, homes, travel, vacations, and life styles.

      Leftists are a very lucrative market segment. Indeed leftists only exist because capitalists sell them the clothes, books, magazines, web sites, computers, guns and explosives they need. Leftists realize this. Did not Lenin say “A capitalist will sell you the rope you use to hang him”?

      Leftists cannot exist without capitalism. And there are capitalists who laugh all the way to the bank because their leftist customers faithfully buy their products and services.

      In Soviet Union there was no capitalism (except black market) and it was very hard to buy things needed for revolution. Government tell Leftists revolution not needed in People’s Paradise. And so there were no Leftists in Soviet Union and 99% voted for the current government.

    52. eugene henderson Says:

      A better example: cat litter market for

      1) humans who train their cats to use toilets
      2) humans who provide organic biodegradable non-silica dust litter in boxes for cat voidings
      3) humans who buy “house” litter boxes and odor-control for their cat’s squatting and smells
      4) humans who dump off-brand non-clumping clay into boxes and change it once a fortnight
      5) humans who insist (and hope) their cat do it outside, only
      6) humans who don’t like both cats and people who call themselves “cats”

      There’s money to be made in anything. Leftists and rightwingers both make and consume product. Such causes as the rationale for war and war protest, for business deregulation and green controls, for individualism and redistribution, and for federalism and centralization, etc. all sound, look and feel like “product” in the political marketplace.

      I, myself, shop from the center of the aisle and grab a few things on the left, but the bulk of my purchases come from shelves on the right. The packaging is often glitzier on the other side but those products can be faddish, of poor quality and unable to live up to their hype; iow, not at all as advertised.

      During Nam, too many in the press, academia and then on the Hill sold the public bad goods, selling out our soldiers, too many SE Asians and their own humanity in the process.

    53. Peter A. Taylor Says:

      I see the difference between left and right as not so much that the left engage in quantitatively greater self-deception, as that they self-deceive about things that are of greater consequence than the things the right self-deceive about. Mormons have theology I find extremely silly, but it isn’t hurting me. Progressives are doing serious harm.

    54. Lazarus Long Says:

      “Guevara was a vicious, megalomaniacal sociopath”

      Don’t these people ever watch “Crimminal Minds”?

    55. Lazarus Long Says:

      Or “Criminal Minds”…….

    56. mlyster Says:

      Nah—that would get in the way of listening to NPR, watching Olbermann, and watching “Reds” on DVD for the 18th time.