Sunday, May 20, 2007

Anger and The Left--UPDATE

Far be it for me to disagree with Thomas Sowell, a mental giant, while little ole mouth-breathing me battles sinus drainage and struggles to put two cogent thoughts together, but I find that I must. This less a disagreement than a distinction. He writes that the Left is angry:

That people on the political left have a certain set of opinions, just as people do in other parts of the ideological spectrum, is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is how often the opinions of those on the left are accompanied by hostility and even hatred.
Well, yes. But why is the Left angry? Here's Dr. Sowell's theory:

Their greatest anger seems to be directed at people and things that thwart or undermine the social vision of the left, the political melodrama starring the left as saviors of the poor, the environment, and other busybody tasks that they have taken on.

It seems to be the threat to their egos that they hate. And nothing is more of a threat to their desire to run other people's lives than the free market and its defenders.

This could disintegrate into a chicken-egg argument, but I think that those who hold politically leftist views were angry first and found a home in leftist politics rather than picked politics and descended into perpetual, irrational anger.

Happy people don't tend to be drawn to leftist politics.

I'm reminded of the opening line by Scar in Lion King, "Life isn't fair, is it?" People with a philosophy of "life's not fair" and, and this is important, it's someone else's fault, look for a home. When life isn't fair, playing by the rules nets nothing. "Good guys finish last" is like unto the first belief. So to "even the playing field" sometimes "rules need to be bent" for the "greater good". Anyone who attempts to thwart this end-around proves the first belief--life's not fair. Anyone who tries to engage in a rational debate is dismissed as ignorant or elitist or racist or sexist or in denial. The world is a dangerous place, full of woe and only privileged people fat from living off the backs of the poor are too blind to see it. Oppressed, unite and fight!

Everyone looks for evidence to support their beliefs. This became crystal clear to me growing up in a wacked-out church. Were crazy people attracted to cults or do cults create crazy people? Crazy people are attracted to cults and the cult reinforces the crazy. A little bit of truth gets twisted beyond recognition and serves as fodder for the suspicious, the wounded, the fearful, those who want the home they never had--the guarantee, the slam-dunk for a very complicated and unstable world.

The political left is not so different from religious cultists (which makes it all the more ironic the way they scorn Christian conservatives as the Number One Threat facing mankind after global warming). That's why the Left so looks like a cult these days--they act like one. In the aftermath of 9/11, a psychologically trying time for even the most faith-filled, a good portion of the left went bonkers. The underlying fears, suspicions, unhealed wounds and instabilty surfaced and reminded them of that trapped, helpless feeling. Rather than recognize the threat burning in front of them, they chose denial and continue to try to push the experience through the cheese-cloth of victimhood ideology. But who to get angry at? The religiously diverse, "youth"-ful, brown people were vitims, too. Had to be. The killers couldn't be responsible. There couldn't possibly be a morally obvious situation on 9/11.

Life wasn't fair for the terrorists (an unfair term in itself) and it was someone else's fault.

Until those on the left let go of their own self-perception of victimhood, they will not let go of their political ideology. The philosophies go hand in hand. Their anger predates their political persuasion, it just found fertile ground to grow in the leftist dogma.

UPDATE: Gina adds this:
Another of the stages of grief is anger, and indeed the anger seethes and boils on the left -- not anger for true terrorist enemies who would destroy us all, but for those in America who were right all along about the primacy of national security and public safety. Very little of the frivolous agenda of the left makes any sense in a post 9/11 world. Hence the rush to retreat from Iraq and, more fundamentally, return to September 10, 2001.
And I would add that the new religion of Environmentalism has been created to try to counter-balance the real threat. "See, we see a real, true threat, too! And we're the only ones doing something about it while the Right lets polar bears DIE!" Regular Americans, though, see the silliness. A melting glacier seems like a distant problem when a box cutter is at one's neck.


David said...

I agree that there's a lot of anger out there on the Left, but it must be segmented by category to be properly understood.

One of the largest categories is the class I call the "intellectual lumpenproletariat." This consists of people who drank the academic Kool-Aid and got advanced degrees in soft subjects with little career potential..while developing very high opinions of their own worth and aprospects. Now they're working at Borders or Starbucks--often with student loans to repay--and they're mad as hell...but not at the academics who led them on, rather at American society as a whole.

Dathan said...

I'd be curious to know what subjects david considers "soft". Interesting thought.

Anonymous said...

Cults don't need to be based around specifically-religious belief systems -- we've had Political Cults before. Some of them even succeeded in taking over countries:

Remember National Socialism?
And Marxism-Leninism?
And the Khmer Rouge?
And Juche?

Gina Cobb said...

This is not only insightful, but quoteworthy. In fact, I'm off to my blog to quote you right now.

David said...

dathan, the "hardness" or "softness" of any particular course of study is a function of the subject matter and also of the specific program at a given university and of the high standards, or lack thereof, of the particular professors involved.

In general, I think hiring managers would believe that a person who had a degree in engineering / organic chemistry / cellular biology / etc had demonstrated the ability to do difficult things, even if the job had nothing specific to do with those fields. An *astute" hiring manager would believe that someone who had studied Aramaic and ancient Greek had demonstrated a pretty good level of intelligence and willingness to work. But if someone has a Masters degree in English or Sociology, things become more problematic. The degree *may* be from a rigorous program and may prove something about the individual's capabilities; on the other hand, it may have consisted of little but jargon and political posturing.

MaxedOutMama said...

And then there's always feminist epistemology, which I interpret as "Don't you DARE argue with me!"

Very interesting thesis on this post. It might explain why in many instances the rabid right and the looney left seem to end up hanging around the same toadstools.

Melissa Clouthier said...


You made my day!

There is definitely unhappiness all the way across the spectrum. For some philosophical positions, though, unhappiness is a requirement.

Anonymous said...

And then there's always feminist epistemology, which I interpret as "Don't you DARE argue with me!"

Simple solution for that, with compounded-interest payback: