Sunday, December 13, 2009

Who's Next

Here's a great Michael Ledeen post about the intellectual journey of the Left from the heady days of "Liberte', Egalitie', Fraternite" to its current incarnation as a mask for state control and rule by the elites: The Left: From Progressive to Oppressive

(After the fall of the Soviet system) Their ideas were rightly rejected: Marxism and its various offspring had failed. Nobody believed in “from each according to his ability (or work), to each according to his needs.” What was left? The desire for power, legitimized by the conviction that the New Class should make the decisions for the rest of us. They realized that, since their ideology was rejected, the best way–perhaps the only way–to win was to demonize their opponents and run as the Party of Virtue.

The old ideas were replaced with Groucho Marxism: As the great man once put it, “I’ve got principles. And if you don’t like them, I’ve got other principles.” Just vote for us because we’re superior people. We’ll do it better. It is now all about power and control, not about some new version of “socialism.” There is nothing particularly “socialistic” about the ecodoctrines now put forward by the Al Gores and Carol Browners, nor about the Pelosi/Reid health care schemes. To be sure, they call for a “redistribution of wealth,” but, as we have seen with TARP, the wealth is redistributed to political cronies. It is not so much an ideological campaign as the appropriation of wealth and arbitrary power to fund themselves and consolidate their hegemony.

The Left has always been good at proclaiming the rhetoric of liberty, but I have to question whether there was ever a time when progressivism really represented a net increase in liberty. Ledeen invokes the French Revolution, but that went from revolution to execution and finally to empire with embarrassing speed. Wherever the Left has taken power, the end of the Old Order has usually been taken literally, as the ruling class, property owners, and even the insufficiently revolutionary are killed or worked to death.

The Left does not give voice to liberty; it never has. Instead, it gives voice to resentment, jealousy, frustration, and existential anguish. Yet its ideas persist - along with the cultural image of the "idealistic" progressive squaring off against the "oppressive" System - because it has so thoroughly captured the minds of the political, cultural and intellectual elite. Even so-called conservatives can become beholden to the Left's rhetoric and prescriptions. Lindsey Graham or Olympia Snowe are not literally "leftists," but they are willing to accommodate leftist ideas, and assist in their passage - whether its global warming, ending "torture," fiscal stimulus or whatever. And there is an entire cultural and media apparatus ready to support leftist causes, and demonize the opposition.

We have now the worst of both worlds; an elite that has grown wealthy and powerful off the system they claim to want to reform, but which would do so in a manner that would increase their wealth and power, and yet they also claim the mantle of "idealist" activists concerned for the common man. We need more than just elections in 2010 or 2012 to rid us of this burden.

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