Saturday, April 27, 2024

Caleb Anderson: What's bugging the left? Why are they sometimes so very nasty?

Politics doesn't always bring the best out in people, but have you ever wondered why, or how, the left has made such a fine art of being nasty.  While they don't have a monopoly on nasty by any means they seem, quite simply, to have refined the art.

I recall, as a child in the seventies, the Labour Party (or the left generally) as being less vicious than the left today.  In those days a good number of Labour MPs had come from working-class backgrounds, and they seemed to have a sense of what it was to be decent, they played a hard game but there were rules.  At least that's how it seemed to me.

George Orwell, well known for his socialist leanings, made the following comments about the socialists of his time:

The typical socialist is not a ferocious working man in greasy overalls and a raucous voice. He is either a useful snob or a prim little man with a white-collar job - usually a secret teetotaler and often with vegetarian leanings, with a history of non-conformity behind him and a social position he has no intention of forfeiting.

In addition to these two types is the disquieting presence of cranks. Socialism draws into itself by magnetic force every juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex maniac, Quaker, Nature cure quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.

These groups alienate decent people.

And there are the middle-class socialists who talk about a classless society but will never give up their own social prestige.

And further:

You have the warm-hearted unthinking socialist, the typical working class socialist, who only wants to abolish poverty and doesn’t understand what that implies. On the other hand, you have the intellectual book-trained socialist, who understands that it is necessary to destroy the current civilization and is quite willing to do so. And this latter group is drawn almost entirely from the middle class and from a rootless town-bred section of the middle class at that.

Orwell noted the disdain the party of the left had for the very workers it purported to represent. 

It might also be noted that Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao all had a pretty dim regard for the working classes. Lenin, Stalin and Mao sacrificed them in large numbers in pursuit of ideological cleansing.

It is difficult not to read Orwell and think immediately of the three parties of the NZ left ... whose conduct and privilege often belie inherent inconsistencies, even hypocrisy.  In many respects, the left has become the most ardent purveyor of disinformation, racism, social division, and hate speech.  

For all of these, they have left the right in their wake.

So what drives middle-class, relatively privileged, people to turn on those most like them, and champion the causes of those with whom they have little in common, whom they little understand, and whose lives are vastly different from their own?  Do these people simply have a heart for others, a deep and genuine concern for the underprivileged,  a special calling?  Or is something else at play? 

I think the reasons are often (although not always, nor entirely) personal.  

It is generally estimated that 99% of our actions are automatic.  In short, we very often do things for reasons of which we are not remotely conscious, and often to reconcile inner conflicts (or tensions) of some sort.

In analytic psychology you can ultimately boil internal conflicts down to three primary things  ...  all acts of denial  ...

1.  Denial of the fact that we are less nice than we would like to think (so we convince ourselves the problem is others and not us, or at least others by degree)

2.  Denial that our conscience continually bears witness to this fact (so, to feel better we point the finger at someone or something else)

3.  Denial that the ways in which we deal with these conflicts often make things worse (but denial is easier than facing our conflicts, so we keep on doing and saying the things that make things worse).

Remember this is automatic ...  most people have no awareness that this is what they are doing.

You really wonder don't you if the left today, in a paradox of monumental proportions, are as willing to sacrifice the working class battlers (and the nation-state in fact) as were the socialists of old  .... because it was never about the working class (or minorities) anyway  ...  it was always about the cause ...  and causes often render people (and national identity) quite dispensable.

Quite simply, it is easier to wrap a tea towel around your head, march down the main street of your nearest city, call for the annihilation of the Jewish state, and charm a compliant (and like-minded) media with a well-worn ideological word salad,  than it is to pop next door to mow your elderly neighbour's lawn.  

For the former you are noticed, you have socked it to the unenlightened, you have proven beyond doubt the purity of both motive and doctrine, and you have covered a multitude of your own shortcomings ... for the latter you simply have the genuine satisfaction of doing something decent.

It is relevant to note that survey after survey in the United States has shown that those of the centre-right are significantly more likely to give time and money to social causes, to man the soup kitchens etc. than those of the centre-left.  

Food for thought?  

It seems to me that Orwell had it pretty right.

Caleb Anderson, a graduate history, economics, psychotherapy and theology, has been an educator for over thirty years, twenty as a school principal


Robert Arthur said...

I am not entuirely comfortbl with the modern Right. Shareholders, many not local citizens, above all else. Absurd salary levels for mny postions, where the severance seems to be the main attraction. And hourly charge rates far beyond the realms of ordinary citizens. Determined lobbying for advantageous laws and rules.

Anonymous said...

The twin culture of envy and sloth - a toxic cocktail.