For those who have made it to this site and can read it as something other than a cross between a hate crime and a philosophy project, the enduring popularity of the Left comes as an illusion.
We — people who make our way through the world by function — find such a worship of dysfunction baffling. Other than having a few beers on a weekend, why would anyone want to become inept at understanding their world?
They can do this because at a certain level of complexity (not size) human societies become entirely delegated. That is, you need other people to do things for you, and so socializing becomes important.
In a social group, it does not matter if you speak unrealistic nonsense so long as it is popular. The others will back you up, and defend you against anyone who knows better or knows more.
As was cited here some days ago:
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge. – Isaac Asimov
Civilization after a certain stage means that popular ignorance is seen as superior to knowledge, and that knowledge is persecuted for the crime of being unpopular. It threatens to break apart the group, you see.
This means that people can elect to be unrealistic, except in a few key ways like jobs and taxes, without any consequences, therefore they will because doing so increases their sensation of power.
But why choose Leftism? It is a simple philosophy, based on the idea of equality, which translates into the notion that once there was a golden age where everyone shared equally, this was taken, and the only moral good is achieving it again.
On one level, it provides an awesome sensation of power. All of the complexity of morality, history, economics, religion, and polite socializing is replaced by a simple yes/no question. Either someone is working for equality, or they are bad.
This alone has appeal, but we are now in the late stages of democracy. Leftism has had power for most of the years following WW2, and most of our programs, policies, and institutions are mostly Leftist. These are not doing so well.
So why would people cling to it?
Leftists follow an insect hierarchy based on stimulus-driven response to the world, or extraversion, more than an internal direction. They are like people who may not have souls attempting to create a simulation of soul.
Their philosophy emphasizes external stimulus so that the individual is not responsible for adaptation, change, maturation, and most of all, self-discipline, which enables them to stay in a navel-gazing narcissistic world of themselves.
People who have no hope of making much of their lives find this very comforting. It blames external stimulus, or lack thereof, for their failings; it posits a magical day when the right external stimulus arrives, and these peasants can be kings.
Psychologically, this approach is highly addictive. Like heroin, it takes all the bad feelings away for awhile; like playing the lottery, it promises that everything will become good with this one act, if the cards are just right.
In general, Leftism appeals to anyone who feels “stuck” in life and has no idea how to help themselves. Like all bad things, it makes a friend of doubt and negativity, portraying them as positive.
Doubt might be a good replacement for Satan in our mythology of evil. It consists of the feeling that options are limited to what is on offer right now, and that new directions cannot be created. It suggests external choice controls us.
When we give in to doubt, we have rejected the infinity lurking just under the face value of appearance in life. We have seized on what is right now as if it were tangible and eternal, when in fact it is part of a continuity.
People without doubt see that new possibilities come all the time, and that those who organize their minds to adapt to the world can see these possibilities. Those who refuse to self-discipline in order to adapt remain slaves of doubt.
For those who experience doubt, they have two choices: first, fight back just as they do against disorder, entropy, death, and all other accumulations of waste in life; or, second, give in and try to rationalize their doubt as “progress.”
Liberalization by its nature consists of loosening or abolishing time-honored standards so that the individual can be more solipsistic. It is the Garden of Eden (or ring of the Lydian) over and over again: people want to be gods.
Actual gods do not consider whether they are gods or not; they simply are, and live entirely through expression of that being. Humans want to be gods, which affirms that we are not, and this paradox torments us.
Leftism inverts our relationship to power. Instead of bemoaning our inefficacy, we make an ideal of it, and celebrate being powerless members of a destructive herd, claiming that the resulting narcissistic liberalization is somehow “good.”
On top of this, different groups have different reasons for being Leftoids.
Among the leaders, the desire seems to be for sociopathic manipulation of the herd. These bourgeois shopkeepers realize that Leftism is a product that sells itself wherever people are miserable, like booze, lotteries, and drugs.
These people have no hope for anything except that comforts and convenience of wealth, power, and social esteem. They seem entirely unconcerned by the destruction they create. Hugo Chavez, who died a billionaire as his country starved, serves as an archetype here.
Among intellectuals, Leftist provides compensation for not being wealthy. They believe themselves smarter than the businesspeople around them, but business brings in the big bucks, so academia creates a culture of asceticism and self-sacrifice that masks a desire for power.
Among the weak, hatred for the strong drives them to Leftism. If they can be strong, they tend to move that way, which leaves two groups: those who can accept being weak and maximize it, and those who adopt an impulse to destroy instead.
The dysfunctional find Leftism appealing because it justifies their dysfunction. Being useless makes them harmless, therefore socially acceptable, and by joining the Left, they turn their uselessness into conformity to the accepted “good.”
These groups are specifically drawn to Leftism because it provides an excuse for their dysfunction, a cover story for them to continue it, and a way of styling their life failures as victories.
Others are drawn to for a simple reason: they are simple creatures. Most people now lean in a Leftist direction because our society has been leaning Left for some time.
This means that if you offer an opinion, you are mostly likely to find support if it is Left-leaning. Leftist cultural and political ideas are accepted as “normal,” therefore do not get you thrown out of any bars or deplatformed anywhere.
People like to bet on sure things. That way, they can be part of what is succeeding, and from that, infer that they are successful. For the same reason, people follow trends and popular culture, trying to be relevant and “in the know.”
Much of the appeal of Leftism, however, comes from bourgeois denialism. We can see the hidden elephant in the room in every aspect of life, which is that this is a dying culture and a collapsed civilization headed toward third-world status.
No one wants to confront that. Endorsing Leftism allows us to convert all of that fear and doubt into a story in which we are triumphing. Yes, everything has fallen, but we are moving toward progress! Therefore, all is not just well, but better than any other option.
Back to Tom Wolfe’s “fiction-absolute”:
Even before I left graduate school I had come to the conclusion that virtually all people live by what I think of as a “fiction-absolute.” Each individual adopts a set of values which, if truly absolute in the world–so ordained by some almighty force–would make not that individual but his group . . . the best of all possible groups, the best of all inner circles.
What Wolfe refers to as “status” means membership in something succeeding, and the presence of external forces that make this the best possible option. That is: one succeeds as much as external forces allow.
This shows us why democracy is a fatal step: it is prole-rule. The prolefest that is our current society has designed itself around the worker, or someone who follows external rules and conditions because he has low agency.
It rejects the person who is capable of independent action, and tries to style independent action as “individualism” so that the selfish can rationalize their behavior as good.
However, in the end, the solution to prole revolts that our society has discovered consists of making everyone into a prole, with a job and a cage of rules and taboos, so that the proles quiet down and stop overthrowing leaders.
Status, in the Wolfe sense, is closely tied to solipsism, or the need to consider oneself the supreme actor in one’s own life:
Not long ago, in New York, a drug dealer named Pappy Mason was out of prison on parole standing on the sidewalk in front of a bar with a group of his buddies, drinking a beer. A police detective happened to be driving by in an unmarked car and recognized him. He stopped, got out, and said “Mason, you know what stupid is? Stupid is what you’re doing right now, drinking in public. You get your ass back in that building — or I’m taking your ass in.”
Now here was Mason, in front of his buddies. He had a terrible decision to make. Taking his ass in meant taking him to the precinct station and booking him. Drinking on the sidewalk was — a — Mickey Mouse — misdemeanor but it was enough to violate his parole and put him right back in prison. On the other hand, just caving in to some pig of a cop in front of his posse and slinking back into the bar was unthinkable…On the other hand, maybe it was thinkable…To go back to jail — so he did think…slinked back into the bar…
You did what you had to do, Pappy — but the humiliation! the humiliation! A day passed, two days passed — the humiliation! Day after day it festered…festered…Eventually he found himself back in prison for an unrelated offense…and the same old humiliation…slinking back into the bar that night…festered… Finally, it became too much. He got a message out to one of his boys on the outside: “Go kill a cop.” And the guy said, “What cop?” And Mason said, “Any cop.”
And so three members of his posse drove about…looking for a cop, any cop They came upon a young patrolman alone in a police car in front of the house of an immigrant from Guinea who, as it tuned out had been threatened by drug dealers. They had already tried to burn down his house because he had reported their activities to the police. The young cop, named Eddie Byrne, had been assigned to protect him. It was now late at night, quiet, and the three assailants came up behind the car and assassinated the young policeman. It became a cause of public outrage. It had taken the life of a young man, Eddie Byrne. Yes, but the cops…they had trashed Pappy Mason’s status picture of himself.
This was from the post-1960s crime explosion in NYC:
Byrne’s brother, Edward, was assassinated on the early morning of Feb. 26, 1988 while he was sitting in his police car, guarding the home of a targeted witness in a drug lord’s trial. He was 22.
Howard “Pappy” Mason, who ran a drug gang in the neighborhood, had instructed other gang bangers to kill a cop as a way to “intimidate law enforcement and send a message,” Byrne recalled on the radio.
“He called his gang and said, ‘We have to send a message to the cops — they take one of us, we take one of them. You have to kill a cop,’” Byrne said.
Pappy Mason ran a massive drug network, and the anecdote that Wolfe cites became a symbol for lawlessness in the anarchic time:
Drinking a beer on a South Jamaica street corner, Pappy was confronted by an NYPD cop. “Do me a favor,” the officer said, “don’t drink beer in front of me.” The stunned Pappy asked, “Do you know who I am?” “Yeah, the guy who’s going to put his beer in a paper bag,” the officer answered. “Fuck you!” Pappy screamed, shoving the cop. After a brief melee, Pappy walked off in a rage, his beer spilled all over the sidewalk. “That cop has to die,” he muttered to himself, according to Cop Shot, by Mike McAlary. “He dissed me.”
A week later, Pappy was back at Rikers Island on a gun charge for the derringer he liked to keep in his boot. The cop he’d threatened was pulled off his beat after police received word that Pappy had instructed his underlings, members of a gang called the Bebos, to send a message to the NYPD. The announcement? That even from prison, Pappy was still giving the orders. He sent out a brief but chilling missive: “We lose one. They lose one.” Pappy wanted a cop hit, and his followers were more than willing to comply.
When the South Jamaica crack wars turned New York City into a killing field, Pappy held court in the streets and reigned supreme. He was the crazy guy that other crazy guys feared, and the baddest man on the block.
To a solipsist, any external stimulus which does not affirm self-image is a threat, so the solipsist retaliates. Attempting to change the external in order to bolster internal self-image seems to be a human failing.
When a society shapes itself around “equality,” the only source of pride that people have left is their individual status. If you are the scariest gangster in the borough, you cannot be cucked by a cop for drinking a beer in public.
Leftism appeals to the same sense of retaliation. Any higher standards imposed by society, including the judgment of history and your betters, seems like an assault on the self, so you have to lash out and destroy it.
Those who are simply trying to get by go along with this because, at first, it liberalizes rules by relaxing standards, ideals, aesthetics, and social mores. They can get away with their little sins, and even sell them in their shops.
The rest follow along because, in an egalitarian society, the liberalization of rules produces decay. Nothing holds together without tacit understanding of how to behave, which makes society into anarchy with a police state to rein it in.
At that point, people face an ugly choice: either admit that their society is failing and become alienated, or accept it at face value and champion it as not just not-failing but in fact succeeding.
The latter allows them to feel good about themselves and their future, and to keep their self-image of success — status — secure.
Bourgeois denialism of this nature enables people to think that no better option exists, therefore they are not fools and servants for trotting off to their pointless jobs, wading through red tape, and shopping like crazed idiots.
It also provides the best of activities for the status-obsessed, namely the symbolic act, like a politician kissing babies or giving a few bucks to the poor. They can appear to be doing good without spending much time and effort on it.
Supporting Leftism does not require that you go labor at attempting to solve the hard problems, tasks at which you can fail. Instead, you vote for tax money — paid mostly by someone else — to fix eternal problems through bureaucracy.
These eternal problems — poverty, alcoholism, crime, corruption — are tar babies. They exist in every society, and the more we fight them instead of simply removing those who perform them, the more they breed.
However, one cannot fail in fighting them. If poverty still exists, the answer is to double down on fighting it, not admit that it is endemic and eternal to humanity.
Leftism makes people feel empowered against a world that they do not understand which threatens their navel-gazing narcissistic self-image. It offers easy “solutions” which, when they fail, do not require us to change our approach.
This provides the ultimate in armchair activism. By supporting the Left, people can portray themselves as good and charitable, all while doing very little, and obscuring whatever it is they fear that others will judge.
In turn, that explains why Leftism is so unstable: it consists of image only. When someone shows that Leftism does not work, the image of its supporters as altruistic demigods evaporates.
By the same token, when some society, group, or individual thrives without Leftism, it reveals that Leftism is not necessary and therefore irrelevant. That erases the notion of “being relevant” by being Leftist.
Consequently, Leftism tends to be a paranoid and intolerant viewpoint, despite styling itself as the opposite, because it sees any deviation from Leftism as competition which invalidates the illusions upon which Leftism depends.
Popular illusions of this nature fail once they stop working for people. Everyone bought Beanie Babies until someone out there started reporting they were unable to sell their Beanie Babies for the expected high premium for their rarity.
Then, the trend collapsed, and people fled from it en masse. The same will happen to Leftism as soon as one society escapes from its hold, sets up a thriving non-Leftist civilization, and frees itself from the neurosis of solipsism.