I propose an update to Hiram Johnson‘s famous line, “the first casualty when war comes, is truth.” The alteration I propose — the time is right for it — is: “The first casualty, when left-wing ideas are made to look good, is truth.” It doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, but has war ever had such a deleterious effect on truth as the slow news days of August, 2010?
Oopsie after oopsie. Taxicab stabbing was stirred up by anti-mosque fervor…bzzzt. Wrong. Tea party people must have firebombed Carnahan’s office — wrong again. Joe Miller is dead meat, and Sarah Palin along with him: Double-wrong.
Stimulus plan worked…summer of recovery…cash for clunkers saved us…you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan….your taxes aren’t going to go up by one dime. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong — my oopsie-buzzer is wearing out.
It might be profitable, before Labor Day comes and goes and our “real” lives begin again, to inspect how & why it is that truth is a casualty when one pursues ideological positions on the left wing.
But before we do that, we should define what “left-wing” is, since the term has been around for a long time and in just the last ten years or so, has metastasized into some kind of organism with a life and personality all its own. I submit that any definition we pull out of a book, is bound to be badly in need of updating in America, so we may as well start from scratch. Very well, here is my definition. The term describes not so much a catalogue of positions on issues, but a way of looking at the universe and the objects within it. It is a world-view that is dependent on a social structure. This last is easily demonstrated, since when an individual toils over a project in isolation and discovers some things about it, or thinks of some things, there is a trend involving lefties regarding this as a waste of time. It might as well not have happened. This trend is more durable than most other trends in human affairs.
By “durable” I do not mean to say long-lived. Once an individual creates a thing that produces taxable wealth, leftist antipathy is permanently cured: It happened, alright! But in terms of perceiving the world around us and figuring out what it all means, it seems nobody can impress liberals with what they’ve figured out, unless they were in some kind of conference, committee or village when the figuring was done.
But this is a symptom and not a cause. The left-wing, I have come to learn gradually, views such a gathering of multitudes as a stateful thing, possessing a health of blessing that can rise or fall, much the way religious right-wingers view the human soul. Maybe my perception is skewed in identifying this as the catalyst, since this is the point where they really lose me: The state of grace of our collective mind — our poitical party, our television network, our state or nation. The best example to offer of this, is the familiar “killing is wrong, killing to show killing is wrong, is wrong”; message here, being, that if we ban capital punishment it makes us a better people.
This is where the trolley leaves the tracks, and this is why when you try to make it all look sensible you start getting hoodwinked on a regular basis. This notion that the laws that bind a state, make the people who reside therein somehow more worthy of salvation. Leftists are so confused, that their two most important words — “right” and “wrong” — have lost all meaning. Do these terms refer to moral agreement & disagreement with regard to a choice someone has made? Or do they have something to do with accuracy, as in, it’s right to say two and two make four? Such an either-or inquiry is lost on the loyal leftist and so he can’t even see the conundrum. But if you’re anywhere outside their letist thought bubble, you can detect that a gear has been stripped. The accuracy of an answer dealing with “hard mathematics” shares such a great area of overlap with the agreement involved in an ethical decision, that the process of conflation is nearly complete. And with that, a critical distinction has been lost.
Right? Wrong? These are conditions to be reached by the moral loftiness of the things the community chooses to do. That there could be another layer to words like these, a “correctness” layer, in which such choices are validated by subsequent events, is eventually lost on the loyal lefty. It becomes, to use Sen. Johnson’s word, a casualty.
The idea that a gathering of minds produces a state of spiritual health that is bigger than the sum of the individuals in that gathering, unavoidably results in a hissing hostility toward, even a resentment against, the concept of the individual. This is inevitable. In a gathering of five, or fifty, or five hundred million, every minority voice carries a possibility of becoming a new majority. Such an event would involve a revolution of some kind, and revolutions are uncomfortable. Such a thing would have to diminish the state of spiritual health of the collective, and must be avoided. The paradox here, though, is that this “soul of the collective” becomes supercharged when it is in possession of some kind of purpose — everybody likes to have a purpose! — and so a curious thing starts to happen. This gathering of the minds, which will tolerate no dissent in its ranks at all, since it might lead to a revolution that would diminish the collective spiritual health…begins to dedicate itself to engineering a revolution within a larger collective, or gathering of minds. Each enthused lefty, neglecting any serious thought about his individual position, starts to jealously work toward a common, convoluted locus: I happen to be a member of the majority, inside this collective, which is “right” to do the things it does because the majority agrees with me, and in turn exists in a larger collective, which is “wrong” because my smaller collective is in a minority within that larger one. But there’s going to be a revolution and we will win.
Quite a mouthful, eh? But all leftist thought seems to lead right to that situation. Me and my friends are right, we know this because we all agree with each other; we’re in the minority in that larger thing, but we shall prevail.
Right about now, you’re thinking one of two things: That Freeberg guy is full of baloney. Or, if you see so much as a grain of truth in the foregoing, you might be thinking: What a morass of contradictions, no wonder they get embarrassed so often. If you’re in that last group, and this is new to you, then you’ve figured out something big.
You cannot be a loyal leftist without learning to be an agile fair-weather friend to things. The notion that a collection of people can be a stateful, moral being, bigger than the sum of its parts. Here and there I’ve met some pious, church-going leftists, and they are relatively at peace because they labor under no contradiction here. But that is the exception that proves the rule, because a lot of leftists are secularists. Nobody put us where we are, we evolved to be what we have become, and now we’re going to build our groups and achieve our spiritual grace therein. It’s hard to avoid questioning this arrangement, but for the sake of civil companionship, we must avoid it. They don’t tolerate well any discussion of it.
Majority-viewpoint is another big problem. The leftist envisions himself as a member of a community, which agrees with him (since he agrees with it), is for all practical purposes unified, and right; it exists within another community that is even larger, dis-unified, disagreeing with the smaller community, and wrong. A revolution is coming. This twisty, pretzeled thinking will not permit logical consistency, so the lefty has to have an on-again off-again love affair with populism, the notion that when six in ten people think a certain thing it might as well be, and should rightfully become, ten in ten. Now, if that is to be an absolute truth then chaos will certainly ensue — the leftist, along with his unified, right-thinking smaller community, would be burdened with an obligation to assimilate properly, put off the revolution indefinitely, and swallow their pride where they have been out-voted. This would be intolerable.
It really comes down to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Practice that, and it is quite unavoidable you will become a right-winger. Oh yes, much is said to the contrary, but think on it for a few minutes. Go down the list of issues. Abortion — I don’t even need to go into details there, it should be self-evident. Progressive tax policies: It just amazes me how much money a liberal can make, while still claiming the rich, which means someone else, should be paying for everything. On this issue, it is the conservative who is capable of “nuanced” thought. He can pull in twenty thousand a year, or less, and still naturally say “If that guy’s going to start a business and hire me, then lose it all to the tax man in the end, why would he even bother?”
Building the Victory Mosque? Liberals, suddenly, have discovered a sacred right to exercise “religion” publicly. How adorable! All you clergy who are worried about being sued someday when you refuse to conduct a gay wedding ceremony, don’t count on them being around to help you out when the time comes.
Foreign policy, defense, detente, peace-through-strength, sitting-down-to-talk-to-our-enemies, all that jazz: Again, it’s about the Golden Rule. Right winger says, “If I’m that nutjob and I tell the United States I’m building nuclear reactors for power and not for weapons…and I see them go ‘oh, okay, alright’ and head home…it really wouldn’t matter if what I said was true or not, I’d take that as a green light.” See, the Golden Rule isn’t always friendly. Sometimes it’s about just putting yourself in the other guy’s shoes. What does the left winger say about it? It’s Underpants Gnome time: “Step 1, sit down and talk to our enemies…Step 2, ???…Step 3, Profit!” That hackeneyed phrase about sitting down and talking — it never changes. But the lefty never seems to go into details about what’s going to get said.
Minimum wage: Conservative says, if I’m going to hire so-many-people and I’m required to pay each a certain amount, I’ll probably hire fewer people. Like, DUH. What’s the liberal say? He goes into some emotional diatribe about “rights.”
And on that one, I might as well stop listing examples because we’ve identified the mindset that produces these examples, one after another. Rights. Conservatives and liberals both believe in them and cherish them. But when a conservative talks about “rights” and a liberal talks about “rights,” they are not talking about the same things.
The conservative believes the collective itself is inherently soul-less; in fact, its very existence is an inconvenient necessity, and not an altogether unavoidable one. The urban guy who is born into a collective, lives his entire life there, dies there, is just as glorious being as the guy who is abducted by wolves or apes or bears when he is a baby and lives out his life in the wilderness. They’re both Children of God. Getting into a collective doesn’t change your state of being, any more than getting into a crowded streetcar. All this does is make that Golden Rule a little bit more confining, due to the realities of the situation: The right to swing your arms ends wherever your neighbor’s nose is, and sometimes noses get a little bit closer together. “Rights,” therefore, begin to diminish, but somewhere there is a more concrete right with a tighter radius. Squeeze the man down to this size, and no further. Think of him as a raquetball who is compressed down to the size of a marble, and in those dimensions suddenly takes on the tactile feel of a marble.
Continuing that analogy, the liberal’s viewpoint of “rights” is one of incremental steps in making the raquetball bigger. And, as an added bonus, it always possesses the tactile feel of that marble. We form our collective, we look after the spiritual health it has which is bigger than the sum of us, we assimilate ourselves properly into it, we invent new rights…and then we look toward the parent collective and explore ways to conquer it. Good citizenship in the smaller, local collective, and a fomenting of revolution against the larger one. And a new right invented every single week. Every day, if you can manage it.
Again, you’re thinking: “Freeberg, you’re full of it.” Or…maybe you see there’s something to this. Again, if this is new to you, and you do see something to it, you have hit on something big here. This explains why conservatives talk about rights, liberals talk about rights, but they do not see things the same way. They aren’t talking about the same things. Left-wingers start talking about how important it is that we have a “freedoms,” and what they really mean is they’re about to take some of those away. How did Hillary put it? “We’re going to take things from you for the common good” or some such. That’s the enduring theme. Every single monologue they deliver on this — someone is always going to be stopped from doing something, or forced to tolerate something they’d rather not tolerate left to their own devices. An option, currently available, is to be ejected. That’s the bearing, that’s Polaris — the singularity that remains stationary.
And to be fair about it, right wingers have this in common with them: A right isn’t really a measurable right, if everyone feels good about it — we only need these things to be enforced as “hard” rights on those occasions when they make someone else unhappy. But the conservative mind sees this as a situation of last-resort, a regrettable necessity involved in observing the protocols that make it possible for us to live in proximity with each other.
With liberals, it is an objective in & of itself, this coercion against the face that occupies an inferior position on this Sympathy Totem Pole. You should have to pay this much. You should be forced to do this, you should be stopped from doing that.
The left-winger starts talking about Person A possessing a “right,” and because of this, Person B should lose choices. When they speak this way, the thoughts expressed do not cause me much concern or dismay. What I find to be really disturbing, is the tone of the voice as the speech unwinds. There’s not much excitement over the state of capability, or bliss, offered or restored to Person A. Not much enthusiasm for making people whole. No, the verbal pitch starts going all lilty when the subject turns to Person B, all the things he will not be able to do that he would want to do. Make. Force. Pay. Disallowed, prohibited, stopped. That is where the speaker’s eye starts twinkling happily. This where the giddy excitement starts to kick in the afterburners and hits a sonic boom. For people who are supposedly enamored of the concept of human “rights,” they share in common a curious primal urge to stop complete strangers from doing things those strangers would like to do.
I’ve had some girlfriends who loved me the same way liberals love “rights.” I wish I’d ended those relationships sooner than I did.
Cross-posted at Right Wing News and Washington Rebel.