Weaponizing the Poor

Over at RightNetwork, Thomas Sowell, with laser-like precision, cuts contemporary leftist intellectuals apart piece by piece. Every paragraph of the article could stand alone as a gem of accurate and devastating critique of the destructive acts of leftist intellectuals.

I wish I could write with such concise precision. I am going to bookmark the page and simply copy and past paragraphs into discussions as needed. Read the Whole Thing.

Three paragraphs in particular caught my attention.

Intellectuals encourage people who contribute nothing to the world to complain and even organize protests, because others are not doing enough for them.
They have put the people whose work creates the goods and services that sustain a rising standard of living on the same plane as people who refuse to work, but who are depicted as nevertheless entitled to their “fair share” of what others have created – this entitlement being regardless of whether they observe even common decency on the streets or in the parks.
They have encouraged the poor to believe that their poverty is caused by the rich – a message that may be a passing annoyance to the rich but a lasting handicap to the poor, who may see less need to make fundamental changes in their own lives that could lift themselves up, instead of focusing their efforts on tearing others down.

For nearly 300 years, leftists and their ideological predecessors have been urging the “poor”* to rise up and take from the “rich”. The intellectual justifications for why the poor have a moral and practical right to rise up continuously shift while the practical outcome of who actually ends up with the most benefit remains a constant. Clearly, the constant drives the creation of the justifications and not the other way around.

The constant is clear: manipulative intellectuals, i.e., people whose primary skills lie in manipulating the thoughts and emotions of others via persuasive communication, always end up on top of the new social and political order when the “poor” rise up.

Robespierre used a justification very different in detail than those used by Lenin, yet both were manipulative intellectuals and both ended up on top, however briefly, of their respective revolutions. We can see the same pattern today, even in America. No matter what the subject at hand — the economy, foreign policy, the environment, etc. — the leftwing manipulative intellectuals always argue for a solution which leaves them with more power, influence and status. Others may or not benefit from any particular solution proposed by the Left but the manipulative intellectuals always benefit. Any solution that might benefit the poor but which does not directly benefit manipulative intellectuals — e.g., school choice — gets shot down.

When leftist intellectuals argue that the poor should “rise up” in any manner, they just seek to exploit the travails of the poor for their own selfish benefit. The intellectuals take the anger and resentment of the poor, justified or not, and shape those emotions into a political tool to drive a change which will first and foremost benefit the leftist manipulative intellectuals.

In short, manipulative intellectuals seek to weaponize the poor.

Weaponizing the poor is easy. All social mammals, including humans, are no doubt genetically programmed to seek to subvert those who possess more status. We all face the temptation to take instead of make. Everyone can be tempted by an argument that we deserve something someone else has. The manipulative intellectuals simply direct our base impulses like an engineer diverting a river.

Leftists don’t actually care much about improving the lot of the poor. When they advocate some shift of resources to the poor they are just paying their troops. Pre-industrial aristocrats paid their armies primarily by giving them the opportunity to loot. Even when they paid their troops directly, they did so with money and land taken from their adversaries. War paid for war.

Leftists use the same technique. They “pay” poor people to fight for the interests of the manipulative intellectuals by creating moral, legal and political justifications for why the poor can loot the political and social rivals of the manipulative intellectuals. Just as with the aristocrats, the weaponized poor get just a notional chance of a small material improvement in their lives while the manipulative intellectuals get to dominate society.

Just as the nobles of old did not care how much damage they did to the communal wealth during a war as long as they personally came out ahead, manipulative intellectuals don’t care if society as a whole or the poor specifically come out the worse as long as the lot of the manipulative intellectuals improves. That is why we get places like Detroit or 1970s Britain. The manipulative intellectuals drove those regions into the ground while improving their own fortunes.

When the Left does provide an improvement in the lives of the poor, it does so largely by accident. Just as a stopped clock is correct twice a day, the Left’s continual weaponization of the poor does sometimes by sheer chance align with the poor’s actual best interest.

However, the Left will always try to turn such improvements into power for themselves by arguing for the creation of a system of perpetual dependence upon the manipulative intellectuals. For example, the Left did improve people’s lives with the first phase of the Civil Rights Movement, but they quickly mutated it into a system of perpetual dependence upon leftists themselves. To hear leftists tell it, nothing in race relations has improved in the least and nothing but the heroic and constant efforts of leftist manipulative intellectuals keeps us from sliding back into segregation and slavery. The Left argues that the formerly oppressed need the Left today more than ever.

As Orwell noted, for the Left wars are never won and they never end. The need for weaponization and for leadership by manipulative intellectuals are constant no matter how great were past victories.

When we see people like the odious Frances Fox Piven praise violent riots in Europe and hope they occur in America, we are seeing a manipulative intellectual weaponizing the poor for the benefit of herself and her ego-identity group. Piven made a career and fame for herself back in the ’60s by trying to weaponize the poor to destroy America, and she is still at it today to the wild applause of all the others that benefit from her weaponization.

The attempts by the Left to weaponize the poor (and anyone else they can convince) will never end. Every generation will see yet another rationalization for why it is morally permissible to attack and loot the economically productive and the economically creative, because the lust for wealth, power and status that drives the manipulative intellectuals will never wain.

The struggle for individual liberty and the associated communal prosperity is eternal.

[* For the sake of brevity, the “poor” means anyone the Left defines as justified in taking implicit or explicit violent action to improve their lot. Virtually always, those are people on the bottom half of the income distribution.]

9 thoughts on “Weaponizing the Poor”

  1. Lefties are actually the true conservatives. Union rules prevent changes to job descriptions and work rules or content. Laws protect the current balance of nature. Laws forbid climate change.

    Conservatives are the true liberals. Change happens every second in a free market because the climate constantly changes, raw materials constantly change in availability and quality, money changes in value, consumer tastes changes. The market changes faster than an intellectual can write a book about it. Conservatives manage change, understand change, grow rich because of change and everyone is fat, healthy and lives longer than Methuselah.

    Lefties want the world to stop, they want change to stop so that they can make sense of everything, write a monograph, get it reviewed and accepted. Lefties affect noblesse oblige because it adds to their own consequence. They never deal directly with the unwashed masses.

    Socialism is what happens when businesses are not allowed to change and adapt to the market. Gradually everyone gets poor, gets hungry, gets sick and dies — except the lefties in charge. Even when change is illegal the harvests in some years are bountiful and some years are bad; sometimes winter comes early and sometimes there is no rain. Sometimes a mine peters out, a well runs dry, a forest gives up its last tree, all the bee hives collapse and usually the rulers make a bad decision and order the wrong change.

    The secret of a free market is when a 1000 people make a 1000 different decisions, one of them gets it right and the more society benefits the richer he gets. The other 999 lose. Under socialism 1 guy decides and he has 1 chance in 1000 of getting it perfect.

  2. The secret of a free market is when a 1000 people make a 1000 different decisions, one of them gets it right and the more society benefits the richer he gets. The other 999 lose.

    Exactly, and (the important) upshot is that the 999 also win by being able to “purchase” the results (in one of several ways) of the one who got it right. INNOVATION that leads to progress is possible with a free market (as you ably point out).

  3. I must point out to the previous commenters that they are missing the point of both Shannon’s and Dr Sowell’s articles.

    While what you both say is generally true, it is irrelevant in the sense that the focus of the discussion is on the unending and insatiable lust for power of the collectivist elements in society.

    Whether their policies succeed or fail economically is immaterial to them, as long as their political power is enhanced.

    Whether their policies stifle innovation or encourage it is immaterial to them, as long as their power is strengthened.

    These are the forces in our society who can literally wave away mass starvation, mass murder, pogroms, purges, show trials, the wide spread misuse of psychiatry to justify imprisonment, and aggressive war if any or all of these appear to suit their purposes.

    And their only purpose is increased political power. All else is trivial, marginal, and irrelevant.

    Until the average person can be educated and informed as to their various tactics and misdirections, the relentless accumulation of power and control by the collectivists will continue.

    They will not stop until they are stopped.

  4. This is just a thought that needs further development—it strikes me that the idea of the full-time professional intellectual is related to Taylor’s insistence on the separation of *thinking* from *doing* in industry.

  5. Great post!

    Conservatives tend to deal in “real” economic decisions where goods, services, money, or power change hands. I work and make decisions for my benefit and in my best interests.

    Leftists do the same thing only with political and/or social power as the currency. Veryretired is correct the means used are immaterial, only the advancement of their interests and accumulation of power matters.

  6. Yes, my main point was that the manipulative-intellectuals are just using the current manifestation of Leftism to advance their own interest. Turning the poor into weapon is just one means of doing that.

    If they could figure out a way to use the free-market to make themselves the top dogs, they would drop collectivism instantly. However, they really can’t because all they can do is manipulate others. They can’t actually produce anything of great value that people will voluntarily pay for. Their only route to power, wealth and status is through controlling the political system by manipulating the people.

  7. Capitalism is good because it takes a base urge, the lust for wealth, and turns that urge into a productive force that results in goods that people need and want.

    At the present time, the base urge that is the lust for power turns into something good when, for instance, a person enters into a competition for political office, wins that office and engages in actions that result in the maintenance and development of community-wide good. An example of the lust for power turning into something productive would be a person becoming mayor of a city and running it efficiently and effectively in a way that actually does benefit its citizens.

    The rise of a large class of credentialed academics and credentialed professionals in developed societies in North America and Europe provides a setting in which the intellectual’s base lust for power has extended from the relatively harmless venues of university classroom and academic journal to the broader society via the mainstream media and newly-invented channels such as community organizing. Unlike the adult consumer, who can say “no” to a product, the class of people that public intellectuals peddle their wares to is infantilized. The infantilizing of an entire class of people is carried out via a substitute religion, called collectivism, communism, progressivism, Black liberation, or other name for a party line. Intellectuals act as a kind of priesthood to the class of poor people.

    The lust for power in American intellectuals, in particular, is not acknowledged in the society as a whole, and is certainly not acknowledged by the intellectuals themselves. Until the lust for power is identified, accepted as a flaw, and understood to be a bad thing in intellectuals, and understood to be bad BY intellectuals, this lust will remain widespread and continue to harm American society.

    “Weaponizing the Poor” is an excellent first step in raising intellectuals’ awareness of this terrible lust in their own selves.

  8. Turning the poor into weapons.

    Revolutionaries study the art of radicalizing the proletariat. The “proletariat” is their term for ordinary citizens. If the police or the military torture, kill or commit atrocities against the proles, then the proles will be “radicalized” – which means they will hate their government and love the revolution.

    Step 1. Get a large crowd to turn out. The police will show up. Attack the police. Force the police to fire their rifles on the proles, club innocent proles, arrest and torture proles. The proles will get angry.

    Step 2. Repeat step 1 until there is revolution.

    Revolutionaries led the French revolution from the front of the crowd. You can see this in the paintings at the Louvre. When a similar tactic was tried in 1920 Hamburg the police merely arrested the vanguard and sent the proles home.

    After Hamburg, Revolutionary Theory evolved the concept of leading from the middle of the crowd. Now the revolutionaries use the proles as a human shield. From within the crowd the revolutionaries throw rocks, fire guns, toss firecrackers until the police lose discipline and return fire thereby radicalizing the proles. This procedure worked very well for almost 90 years until Egypt.

    In Egypt the army showed up in armored personnel carriers with no visible guns. They were not on foot. No clubs. No shields. No water cannons. No tear gas. No rubber bullets. The troops are protected from rocks, acid, small arms, and firecrackers by their armored personnel carriers. Next the soldiers offered rides to the proles. They made it look as though the proles had co-opted the army but actually the army co-opted the proles.

    Where were the revolutionaries? They were trapped in the middle of the crowd far from where the action was. The army made sure reporters got pictures of the proles co-opting the army and they made sure the internet was up and cell phones worked. Result: revolution failed.

    The Egyptian army has close ties to the American army because it uses American equipment and American spare parts. We share ideas with them. There is a certain American general who deals regularly with these types of problems. Perhaps he offered advice. No matter. This was a triumph for the Egyptian people.

  9. When I read the notorious Cloward-Piven Nation piece from 1966, I was struck less by the calls for violence and civil disruption (though they are there) than by the transparent scheming to create a dependent political constituency using public largess:

    The national Democratic leader-
    ship, however, is alert to the importance of the urban Negro
    especially in national contests where the loyalty of
    other urban groups is weakening. Indeed, many of the
    legislative reforms of the Great Society can be understood
    as efforts, however
    feeble, to reinforce the allegiance of
    growing ghetto constituencies to the national Democratic
    Administration. In the thirties, Democrats began to put for-
    ward measures to circumvent the states in order to reach
    the big-city elements in the New Deal coalition; now it is
    becoming expedient to put forward measures to circumvent
    the weakened big city mayors in order to reach the new
    minority poor.

    … legislative measures to
    provide direct income to
    the poor would permit national Democratic leaders
    cultivate ghetto constituencies without unduly antagonizing
    other urban groups, as is the case when the battle lines are
    drawn over schools, housing or jobs. Furthermore, a federal
    income program would not only redeem local governments
    from the immediate crisis but would
    permanently relieve
    them of the financially andpolitically onerous burdens of
    public welfare.

    …those seeking new ways to engage the
    should remember that public
    resources have always been
    the fuel for low-income urban political organization. If or-
    ganizers can deliver millions of dollars in cash benefits to
    the ghetto masses, it seems reasonable to expect that the
    masses will deliver their loyalties to their benefactors. At
    least, they have always done so in the past.

    Of course, it is all couched in the language of good intentions about public welfare and fighting poverty while conveniently ignoring the unseen forgotten man. But these sort of frank admissions of political machination are of exactly the sort that are routinely denied and mockingly dismissed by leftists when such charges are leveled at them. Yet they have chosen to rally around Piven and defend her as a grand-old-moderate in good standing.

    The more people that actually read this stuff, the better. Honestly, with friends like Piven, the Democrats hardly needs enemies like Glenn Beck.

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