Victor Davis Hanson[h/t Instapundit] asks:
In other words, why cannot liberal defenders of Obama simply say, “Government, much more wisely than a selfish private sector, can ensure a vibrant economy. When people are assured of comprehensive government entitlements they use that security as a base for renewed work and investment. Deficits create consumer demands, spread money around to those who need it most, and spur economic prosperity. And when business provides society with over half its profits in income, payroll, and assorted state and local taxes, the resulting redistributive change and spread-the-wealth equality ensure aggregate economic growth”?
Part of the problem is that leftists can’t actually back up the general claim that government makes better economic decisions than the people do acting as individuals. After the collapse of the Great Lakes states, once the industrial heartland of not only America but the free world, they can’t plausibly claim that spreading the same policies to the rest of the country will make everything better. The same is true in regard to the current plight of California and other similar deep blue areas.
However, the real problem is simply that, as elitists, leftists don’t believe they have any obligation to respect the opinions or experiences of any non-elites.
Instead of that honesty, what do we get? Court action to nullify passed ballot propositions in California; efforts to hijack a Defense Appropriation bill unless it ends “don’t ask, don’t tell” and gives amnesty in exchange for military service and good grades in college. Again, we see here a weird recognition that most people apparently don’t know what is best for them, so they must in some fashion be deluded into accepting what will make them better.
Why can’t they treat others with respect? Why can’t they clearly state what they believe is best and then accept the people’s judgment?
They cannot because they are elitists and elitists do not respect the ordinary person in society. They believe that non-elites are easily led astray by evil elites and therefore that the judgment of non-elites simply cannot be used as a basis for setting public policy. Instead, leftists believe they must consciously manipulate everyone else in society for the benefit of all.
A concrete example: Leftists support compulsory unions, i.e., they support forcing people to join unions if they want to have jobs. They believe it okay for unions to spend compulsory union dues on political activity. They believe that unions don’t even have the obligation to tell union members how much of their dues are being spent on political activity. They vigorously oppose the basic fairness of refunding the political part of dues to individuals who disagree with the unions’ political stances.
Leftists honestly see nothing unjust in this state of affairs. (Of course, were business to force employees to donate to political causes as a condition of employment, they would be outraged.) When you ask them why they tolerate such unfairness they have a simple answer: The union represents the best interests of all workers whether individual workers believe that or not.
They approach all issues from that perspective. Owing to their elitism, leftists don’t believe they have any obligation to take the beliefs of others into account when making decisions. As long as the leftists sincerely believe they act in individuals’ best interest, they give themselves moral permission to ignore the beliefs of those people.
As a consequence of this elitist hubris, leftists do not see the political system of liberal democracies as a mechanism for puzzling out the best polices by integrating the various perspectives of a diverse people. Instead, they see democracy as a mechanism for granting moral authority to an elite to impose the policies that the elites have already determined are best.
Tellingly, books like Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals don’t have chapters on how to figure out the best policy. Instead, all such books begin with the premise that the “radical” already knows the best policy and instead the books provide marketing strategies that will let “radicals” assume power for the good of all.
When you talk to a leftist, you are talking to someone who does not respect you and who believes they have not only the right but the positive moral obligation to manipulate you for your own good. This applies to not just the actual politicians (all politicians lie) but to everyone who holds to the elitist doctrine. All leftists view you as someone to be managed, not someone to be respected or someone whose experiences can make public policy better.
Ironically, most rank and file leftists don’t appreciate that the most powerful leftists, the creme de la creme, the elites of the elite, don’t respect rank-and-file leftists anymore than rank-and-file leftists respect anyone else. They never seem to realize that the leftist creme de la creme targets them with political marketing just like they do everyone else. You can see this in the documented, intentional, coordinated campaign to convince rank and file leftists that the Tea Party is composed of violent racists. You can see it in the way that leftists are very proud of the fact they never listen to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck or any other popular non-left spokesperson. They’ve been manipulated into believing that their ignorance is a virtue and that they should instead rely completely on the filtered and distorted reports by the leftist elite-of-elites.
Rank-and-file leftists should remember the old grifter’s axiom: If you see a scam but can’t spot the mark, you are the mark. When you see a leftist saying something that doesn’t appear to manipulate non-leftists, they are manipulating other, lesser leftists.
Leftists are the most dangerous of con artists. They have persuaded themselves they have to scam us for our own good. Don’t ever expect a straight answer from them. They feel no guilt for manipulating you.
[Update (2010-9-25 11:25am): Just to expand the theme. One of the very common tactics by the left is to create Potemkin organizations that claim to represent the views of this-or-that segment of society but in reality are just facades for the left’s political marketing. In the old days, communist created a vast array of front organization even going so far as to found unions and start/support companies e.g. Arm & Hammer. Contemporary leftists usually just create an activist organization of some kind. George Soros, who probably was an actual Stalinist in his youth, is often associated with this kind of activity.
J-Street claims to be a geniune organization of concerned leftwing American Jews who merely want to offset the “rightwing” views of other Jewish organizations. However:
The [Soros] contributions represent a third of the group’s revenue from U.S. sources during the period. Nearly half of J Street’s revenue during the timeframe — a total of $811,697 — however, came from a single donor in Happy Valley, Hong Kong, named Consolacion Esdicul.
Whoops. So, 80% of contributions come from two people only one of which is definitely Jewish (but who equally definitely does not represent the views of most American Jews) and the left claims the organization represents a wide swath of American Jews.
The other story concerns Soujourn a magazine:
Jim Wallis is the president of Sojourners, a magazine and organization whose “mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice.”
Wallis, when confronted by an accusation that the organization was supported by Soros, said:
An interviewer recently asked Wallis about Olasky’s assertions. Wallis gave a carefully wrought, turn-the-other-cheek response: “It’s not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I’m sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don’t receive money from Soros.”
The Open Society Institute’s tax returns show that it made three grants to Sojourners between 2004 and 2007, for a total of $325,000. Either Sojourners is drowning in money or Wallis is succumbing to dementia, because he says, fessing up, that the “OSI made up the tiniest fraction of Sojourners’ funding during that decade–so small that I hadn’t remembered them.
The leftist inside and outside both J-Street and Soujorn had to have known that the organizations are fronts but they all lied smoothly and with a clear consciences. They did so because they believe they are acting in the best interest of most people and are therefore justified in lying for the greater good.
On the left, lying for the cause isn’t a character flaw but rather a statement of commitment to all that is good and just. You can’t ever trust them.
14 thoughts on “Why the Left Manipulates with a Clear Conscience”
“Tellingly, books like Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals don’t have chapters on how to figure out the best policy”…the Assistant Village Idiot has observed that Republican candidates tend to say “I’ll *work* for you,” whereas Democratic candidates are more likely to say “I’ll *fight* for you.” Of course, the fighting the Democrat has in mind is strictly internal to the society, which he sees as a neo-Hobbesian war of group against group.
A few specific examples of issues and con artists would be appreciated.
I would offer Amory Lovins and “green energy” lately taken up by Al Gor and his global climate diruption crowd. “They” know better what type of light bulb we need in our homes and that is best to let the state set your thermostat for you, remotely.
When a political faction embraces ends-justify-the-means relativism as a feature, not a bug … this is what you get.
I wonder how much this elitism is just the leftists escaping from the fact that their ideas don’t work? They put themselves above the intellectual fray, ostensibly because they are superior, but in reality because they know they would get hammered.
In my experience, most garden variety leftists don’t know enough to realise they’d get hammered on the issues, because leftism is primarily a moral ideology and so the “issues” of the real world are not their main concern. So long as others are forced to obey their moral viewpoint, as enforced through government and culture, the actual effects are beside the point. I have never met a leftist who could even explain basic market economics, yet they all felt they knew enough to make pronouncement on what the government should do to fix the economy. Ignorance is irrelevant so long as moral righteousness is on their side.
Well, yes, the common or garden leftist is a follower and/or poser with little or no intellectual heft. That’s the case with the bulk of followers in most movements. It’s the leaders of the movement that characterize it, and seems to be the case that the leaders know enough to have retreated into elitism as a psychological protection mechanism. That drone leftists adopt the same elitist pose without any idea why is another issue.
I feel like I have been transported back to my college history courses, only this time I am living rather than reading Three Who Made a Revolution, the classic about the Bolsheviks.
The contemporary left is decidedly Leninist — there is false consciousness, revolutionary vanguards, agitprop, and all the other standbys of the committed Old Bolshie.
There is a problem, though — I am not a Marxist scholar, but my recollection is that Marxism is centered on the virtues of the workers (labor theory of value and all that) and is rather intolerant of parasites of all kinds. Contemporary leftism is dominated by the glorification of parasites and drones, and by their culture of entitlement. This seems like rather an internal contradiction, since it assumes the morality of the continued expropriation of the working class.
Even an Old Bolshie might wince at the idea of a ruling vanguard whose sole purpose is to maintain its own power — but that is probably why the Russians shot all the Old Bolshies in the 1930s and turned the enterprise over to the opportunists who lacked such qualms.
Superb writing. Can’t wait to read more.
There is a problem, though — I am not a Marxist scholar, but my recollection is that Marxism is centered on the virtues of the workers (labor theory of value and all that) and is rather intolerant of parasites of all kinds. Contemporary leftism is dominated by the glorification of parasites and drones, and by their culture of entitlement.
Leftists aren’t ideologically consistent because, well, Marxism is gibberish unconnected to real world. Trying to actually govern with Marxism is like trying to cure cancer with healing crystals or driving blindfolded and rely on psychic powers to steer.
Instead, Marxism gradually degraded from this all encompassing, detailed theory into a generic, limp, almost background argument for simple primitive redistributionism. In classical Marxism, charity would not need to exist. They did, however, keep ideas like false consciousness, revolutionary vanguards, agitprop but just renamed them.
Most leftists in America today don’t consider themselves Marxist but owing to the left’s general amnesia about its own history, they don’t realize how much of their world view comes straight out Marxism.
Very good post:
“Instead, Marxism gradually degraded from this all encompassing, detailed theory into a generic, limp, almost background argument for simple primitive redistributionism. In classical Marxism, charity would not need to exist. They did, however, keep ideas like false consciousness, revolutionary vanguards, agitprop but just renamed them.
“Most leftists in America today don’t consider themselves Marxist but owing to the left’s general amnesia about its own history, they don’t realize how much of their world view comes straight out Marxism.”
These two quotes are very descriptive of today’s left. The amnesia is due to a general disregard for anything that can before and lack of intellectual curiosity. Today’s left is motivated almost exclusively by the appeal to emotion (Dalrymple calls it sentimentality.) and concepts of “what is fair.” Further, the left has embraced the state as a religion—and is not satisfied to compete with religious institutions and their charitable acts, but rather engages in openly hostile conflict to anything that hints of a god other than Darwin and the state.
Howard Bloom, in his The Genius of the Beast, points out the irony of ironies that Marx was what he protested; a capitalist peddling an idea of wealth redistribution.
They lie with a clear conscience because, at least in my primitive understanding, conscience is rooted in a moral, primarily Judeo-Christian framework. Accept moral relativism and espouse atheism, and then: why should lying even count as an intrinsic wrong? To them, it is not.
Please don’t connect moral relativism with atheism as an attack on the left. Plenty of moral, liberty minded atheists exist on the right too, myself being one.
Yes, one can be an atheist and a moral individual. I’ve no disagreement. It does, nevertheless prop the door open a bit wider for those who choose to pursue moral relativism as a convenient refuge.
Find me a leftist who is willing to lie freely for ‘the cause’ and is, at the same time devout in a morally defined faith. Take your time; I’ll wait.
According to drsanity, the Left habitually employs psychotic defenses to communicate, while the Right uses less pathological neurotic defenses. THIS needs to be articulated as a full theory of mass communication bias, to complement the results of Groseclose and Milyo, their documented media bias studies (which go ignored by academics – despite being the BEST). Such a theory would give the right a means to argue against the Leftists – especially Marxists – who dominate academic study of mass communications.
This could both empower the Right and give non-Leftists leverage within the walls of academe for legitimacy of our many complaints, perspectives, and elite neglect. Level the “playing field,” ANYONE? Free-up the marketplace of idea? And its role in democracy?
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