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.]