They don’t, not really, although one could be excused for thinking so.
I think the old observation that, “when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail,” better explains the Left’s unremitting criticism of, and apparent animus toward, the free world.
The hammer-and-nail effect bedevils us all. Everyone tends to view problems from the perspective of the conceptual tools they have to fix the problem. For example, I am a techno-geek. When presented with a problem, I always think of some technological fix first. Business people tend to see free trade and commerce as solutions. People with military or police backgrounds think in terms of force and security, etc.
Even worse, the hammer-and-nail effect seduces us with the vision that our little cultural or social subgroup will get the glory, status and power that comes from solving the problem du jour. We choose models of problems not only based on our experience-driven world-view but also based on our egotistical need to have others see us as the problem solvers.
Articulate intellectuals affect the world solely by the use of persuasive communications. They produce nothing material such as food, clothing or shelter. They do not organize or manage production or distribution systems. They do not fight. They do not heal. Instead, they talk. They express. They influence the world by altering the behavior of those who do all the things that articulate intellectuals do not.
They tend to see every problem as one solvable by using persuasive communication to alter some actor’s behavior. However, in any given situation, some actors are easier to persuade than others. Articulate intellectuals can most easily persuade people of their own culture and those with the most access to various means of communication. Therefore, a western articulate intellectual can exert enormous influence over his fellow citizens of the free world but comparatively little influence over members of non-free and non-western societies.
The ability to alter the behavior of free, western societies and governments is the articulate intellectuals’ hammer. Consequently, the “nail” they see in every problem is the behavior of someone in the free West. When faced with a conflict between a western, liberal democracy and some form of autocracy, they compulsively seek to place the blame squarely on the liberal democracy.
Leftism as an ideology criticizes western society because leftism is overwhelmingly the politics of articulate intellectuals. All the tenets of leftism function to create a society in which the articulate intellectual occupies the highest positions of status and power in society. (Marx famously described his predicted communist utopia as a society in which individuals would be differentiated only by their innate intellectual ability.) So the hammer of the articulate intellectual becomes the hammer of the Left and the nail of the articulate intellectual becomes the nail of the Left. To lay claim to the ability to solve a problem, leftists must define that problem as arising from a negative behavior of liberal democracies.
For example, during the Cold War people could choose between two basic models of the conflict: 1) The conflict originated due to the internal dynamics of communist states whose ideology told them they would be in permanent conflict with all non-communist societies, or 2) that the fearful and irrational behavior of liberal democracies drove communists to act aggressively out of self-defense. If the non-communist Left in the free West chose Model 1 they would have basically defined themselves out of having any influence over the events of the Cold War, because western articulate intellectuals had very little influence over a society with state controlled communications. However, if they choose Model 2 they suddenly became key players in the drama. In fact, Model 2 implied that only articulate intellectuals could save the world by altering the destructive behavior of the free West.
The Left’s take on the Arab-Israeli conflict follows the same dynamic. If the Arab autocracies are the main drivers of the conflict, then leftists will have little to contribute to the resolution, but if the problem is Israel’s liberal democracy, then again the leftist articulate intellectual becomes central to the solution.
The Left’s opposition to the liberation of Iraq also results from its hammer-and-nail delusion. They can only inject themselves into the conflict by seeking to undermine the liberation and democratization of Iraq. Their ability to influence the anti-democratic forces is negligible, so any positive role that articulate intellectuals could play would be very small. They would fulfill the same role as articulate intellectuals did during WWII. Articulate intellectuals played a very minimal role in WWII because as group they overwhelmingly supported the war regardless of their political persuasion. They contributed a little bit here and there but no one sees WWII as a conflict in which articulate intellectuals played a key role. By contrast, the history of the Vietnam war is largely one of the actions of leftist articulate intellectuals. Contemporary leftists see the horrific results of the “peace” movement in that era as a triumph, not because they approve of the terrible fate that befell the people they abandoned, but rather because it represented the social and political domination of the articulate intellectual in western society.
The same dynamic underlies leftist explanations for other problems of the modern world, such a poverty, crime and the environment. Leftists desperately need the world’s problems to spring from the behavior of elements within liberal democracies, so that they can feel important and control events.
So in the end, the Left’s incessant and blanket criticisms of liberal democracies, and their de facto allying with despots of all stripes, result not from hatred of their societies but from the narcissism of leftists as individuals. This narcissism has compounded over the generations into a terrifying force supported by massive libraries of baroque rationalizations.
It would be funny if it didn’t get so many people killed.