A Brief Intellectual Genealogy of the Totalitarian Left

A discussion with commenter Theo over at Morgan’s place got me wondering how far back the totalitarian left’s intellectual pedigree actually goes.  I’m not seeing much on the internet, and of course there’s very little academic work on it.  Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism is great for the 20th century, but doesn’t go much further back than that…

….so I guess it’s up to me.  I don’t claim to be an expert on the whole sweep of history (and I’m certainly not a capital-E “Expert” in anything), but I know a bit.  And since a lot of Rotten Chestnuts’ mission statement involves collating resources to challenge what “everyone knows,” I hereby present a

Brief Intellectual Genealogy of the Totalitarian Left*

Joachim of Fiore (c.1132-1202): As Goldberg writes somewhere (I think), his work inspired certain excitable folks to try “immanentizing the eschaton.”  It’s not this column, but here’s a quick vernacular definition:

So: Immanentize means to make part of the here and now. Eschaton, like eschatology, relates to the branch of theology which deals with humanity’s destiny. You know, the end times, when all of that wacky, end-timey, Seventh-Seal stuff happens (oceans boil, the righteous ascend to heaven, Carrot Top is funny, etc). Hence “immanentizing the eschaton” means, in effect, trying to make what is reserved for the next life part of the here and now. You can see why all sorts of cults, heretical sects, Scientologists, and various flavors of Mother Jones readers — including the Fighting Illuminati — would be accused of doing precisely that.

Like Marx and his beloved Revolution, Joachim thought the Angelic Pope would come whether or not anyone did anything.  His followers, though…

The Brethren of the Free Spirit  (13th-14th centuries): Took Joachim’s ideas to mean that Christ could be moved to return sooner if they simply killed all the sinners.  They were radical egalitarians, but like all radical egalitarian movements, the “taking stuff from the rich” part was way more important than the “giving stuff to the poor” part.  They were also sexual libertines par excellence (if such a thing as a conservative “gender studies” professor were possible, he/she could write a killer dissertation on leftism/utopianism as one long quest to get losers laid).

The best exposition of this stuff is still Norman Cohn’s The Pursuit of the Millennium (1957).  I’ve even seen it cited in academic works, though Cohn was not a conventional academic historian by any means.  Because he saw ex-Nazis and refugees from Stalinism firsthand, he was able to draw “immanentizing the eschaton”-type parallels from these medieval heresies to socialism and communism.  It’s a fascinating read.

King Henry VIII of England (r.1509-1547): The capital-T Truth is what the government says it is.  Henry VIII was a staunch supporter of the Papacy, even writing a book attacking Luther (Assertio Septem Sacramentorum; here’s a translation if you want to scope out the royal prose)…. until he wasn’t, because it was politically inconvenient.

John Calvin (1509-1564): Protestant theologian who developed the idea of predestination.  His ideas combined with the ferment of late Tudor politics to produce the Puritans, the world’s first ideological murderers.  Michael Walzer’s The Revolution of the Saints argues that the Puritans in fact invented ideology itself.  I’m told this is a central tenet of “Moldbuggery,” a very popular — ahem — ideology on the “dissident right:”

Progressivism (also called Universalism) is responsible for the vast majority of the world’s problems today. It is a non-theistic religion descended in a direct line from the various Dissenter sects of England. Although the belief in God was dropped during the religion’s evolution in order to improve its ability to spread, the core of progressive beliefs are very similar to the Quaker beliefs of a few centuries ago. In short, progressives are dangerous and creepy religious maniacs who don’t need to believe in God but that makes them no less dangerous, creepy or maniacal.

I don’t know if this Mencius Moldbug cat got it from Walzer (hell, this is the internet; he might actually be Walzer), and frankly I’m scared to go looking for it, but The Revolution of the Saints is the academic version.  It’s definitely deep, academic history, though, so unless you’re a specialist in this stuff (I’m not), just read the reviews if you want to know more.

Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658):  The first successful ideological revolutionary.  Executed Charles I in 1649 for treason. To the country he was king of.  Which makes as much sense as anything else the Left does.

John Locke (1632-1704): Theo’s got this one covered:

John Locke, generally regarded as the father of modern liberalism, developed the then radical notion that government acquires consent from the governed which has to be constantly present for a government to remain legitimate. Locke also defined the concept of the separation of church and state, based on the concept of a social contract. He also formulated a general defense for religious toleration, the right to private property and freedom of speech. John was much influenced by ideas of John Milton, who was a staunch advocate of freedom in all its forms. Milton strongly argued for the importance of freedom of speech – “the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties”.

Locke was, overall, a good guy.  His aim was to protect English liberties while avoiding Cromwell-style excesses.  He wasn’t a totalitarian, but watch what happens when the “social contract” idea ends up in the wrong hands…

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778):  The social contract requires communism, because social justice.  From Discourse on Inequality, 1755:

The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said “This is mine,” and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.

Developed further in The Social Contract (1762), which introduces the concept of “The General Will:”

Rousseau argues that freedom and authority are not contradictory, since legitimate laws are founded on the general will of the citizens. In obeying the law, the individual citizen is thus only obeying himself as a member of the political community.

That this argument is more circular than the Indy 500 didn’t bother anyone, because it meant that in practice, whoever seized the levers of power could murder his enemies with a clean conscience — since, you know, they were really guillotining themselves. For instance,

Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794): ‘Nuff said.  If Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao had plush toys they slept with when they were kids, those toys were Robespierre dolls.

G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831): A philosopher with a major chubby for Napoleon, he proposed the famous thesis-antithesis-synthesis form of “dialectics” that has been baffling undergraduates ever since.  As you might guess from his Boner-parte, he was a state power fetishist, who argued that the State was the ultimate synthesis.  His baffling prose style, outright government worship, and intellectual pretensions were the direct inspiration for

Karl Marx (1818-1883): Y’all know about him, and since we’re on familiar turf now, I’m going to stop with

The Social Gospel (late 19th-early 20th century): Big-government Christianity.  Everything the “Progressives” wanted to do, the Social Gospelers did first.  But since “Progressives,” then as now, could never quite figure out the difference between “Evangelical Christians” and “their daddies,” the Proggies dropped the whole Gospel bit and replaced it with the Cult of the Expert.

I hope this helps!


*Please feel free to add / correct in the comments

Misunderstanding the Enemy

Drew M. at Ace of Spades, contemplating whether Republicans should go full Obama:

It’s hard to see how the solution to lawlessness is more lawlessness.

Conservatives are pretty big on the Constitution. The idea that you can break it to save it, strikes me as nonsensical as anything a liberal like Ezra Klein would say about the Constitution.

Yes, it’s hard and sometimes unpopular to use the legitimate constitutional processes (the power of the purse) to correct the use of illegitimate ones…Embracing the Obama view would mean we would no longer be a government of laws but of men. Sure we’d be throwing away our birthright as free people but hey, at least we’ll get ours next time!

Au contraire, it’s very easy to see how the answer to lawlessness is more lawlessness.  Forgive me for quoting myself, but it needs to be repeated:

Cultural Marxism is corrosive.  It degrades everything it touches.  In fact, it’s radioactive — not only does it destroy what it touches, it poisons the environment, the atmosphere.  If your enemy politicizes everything, then you, too, must politicize everything.  If your enemy engages in ideological purges, and uses the machinery of government to destroy opposition and reward friends, then you must do these things, too.  There’s no such thing as principled opposition to Cultural Marxism, because Cultural Marxists have no principles, and because they don’t, you can’t.  It’s a race to the bottom, and the last one down gets stuck with the tab.

…Inquisitions only end when the Inquisitors get the rack.  Make Cultural Marxism painful enough, and it will stop.  That’s the only way it will stop.

Principles are slow suicide when facing the amoral.  If the rules say you can only fight with a knife, but a gun is lying right there, then the guy who breaks the rules wins, every single time.  Because leftism is really nihilism, “politics” with them is the prisoner’s dilemma.  They will betray you; the only logical move is to betray them first.

Drew is right, of course — this will result in out-n-proud Caesarism.  But so what?  We’re already there.  Don’t delay the inevitable.  Make Cultural Marxism so painful that the Inquisitors (temporarily) stop.

And then the survivors can (temporarily) have principles again.

Management Theory

This series is fascinating.  I don’t know how it applies to anything yet, as I haven’t finished it, but if you’re looking for a good think during your next downtime, check it out.

I will note that the McLeod Hierarchy seems to apply to politics, in that this was the organizational structure of the Third Reich:

Hugh MacLeod’s cartoon is a pitch-perfect symbol of an unorthodox school of management  based on the axiom that organizations don’t suffer pathologies; they are intrinsically pathological constructs.  Idealized organizations are not perfect. They are perfectly pathological.  So while most most management literature is about striving relentlessly towards an ideal by executing organization theories completely, this school, which I’ll call the Whyte school, would recommend that you do the bare minimum organizing to prevent chaos, and then stop. Let a natural, if declawed, individualist Darwinism operate beyond that point. The result is the MacLeod hierarchy. It may be horrible, but like democracy, it is the best you can do.

One of the major problems the Allies had at Nuremberg was figuring out the Nazis’ org charts (this befuddled military intelligence during the war, too).  The whole system was designed to encourage cutthroat competition among the various islands of authority inside the Reich, with the added bonus that nothing utterly incriminating never made it into paper — the Fuhrer would make a suggestion, seemingly off the cuff and definitely off the official record, which everyone knew was an order… and then his subordinates would fight it out to implement it most effectively, enhancing their own power in the process.

[This is the key weapon in Holocaust deniers’ arsenals, by the way — of all the millions of pages of surviving Nazi documentation, there’s nothing in Hitler’s hand (or Himmler’s, or Goering’s, or Goebbels’s either, I think) that actually orders killings.  The mass of evidence is overwhelming, of course, but there’s no smoking gun.  See Richard Evans’s Lying about Hitler for all the details].

This would certainly seem to explain Conquest’s Second Law — all organizations not explicitly and constitutionally right wing will eventually become left wing.  If you assume that organizations are pathological from the start, the indisputable sociopathy of the Social Justice Warriors guarantees that they’ll climb to the top, with predictable results…

I look forward to everyone’s comments.

D3: Colonel Jessup Moment

Methinks the SJWs are about to have a Colonel Jessup Moment.

You want me on Twitter.  You need me on Twitter.

You want me on Twitter. You need me on Twitter.

Vox Day notes that the rabbits have come up with a “block list” for Twitter users they find offensive, with, it seems, a matching block-bot.  This is something I thought they would’ve come up with years ago, but now that I think about it, it makes sense.  You see, they need Vox, and Adam Baldwin, and above all #GamerGate.  It’s the only way they know they’re special.

There’s an analogue in the art world.  As David Thompson points out so frequently (and hilariously!), there is no “art” these days but state-subsidized art.  This is because our modern “artists” have embraced “transgression” — épater les bourgeois, if you want to be snooty about it — as their only value.  Which only works if les bourgeois give a shit.  Which they don’t, having been continually epatered (feel free to correct my French, humorless internet pedants) by the entire cultural establishment since about 1912.  When nothing’s shocking, then shocks don’t sell, and “art” is reduced to petitioning the government for a handout.

What the art establishment needs, in other words, is a truly influential Jerry Falwell type.  Someone who knows, and very publicly appreciates, the old forms, and is willing to pay to see them restored.  If the Koch Brothers went looking for a modern Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of their Führerbunker — that kind of thing.  If that happened, oh, the appreciation of “art” we’d see!  There’d be lines stretching halfway to Brooklyn outside MoMA’s doors.  You wouldn’t hardly be able to see Piss Christ for all the ironic facial hair clogging the galleries.  It’d be the best thing to happen to art since HUAC.

I’m calling the recognition of this reality a “Colonel Jessup Moment.”  You know Nicholson’s famous speech from A Few Good Men:  “You want me on that wall!  You need me on that wall!”  Without les bourgeois to épater, there is no art.  With no #GamerGate to tweet bile at, you don’t get to be special.  No #GamerGate, and the whole social justice crusade turns into Work 227.

“If I can make something without adding any objects I feel more comfortable. It’s like, if I can’t decide whether to have the lights on or off then I have them both on and off and I feel better about it.”

Is that not the entire rabbitschauung in two sentences?  Semper fi, baby.

Communism <– Fascism <– Conservatism

These guys get it. Vox Day, quoting Eric Raymond of Armed and Dangerous:

I think there is still an excellent chance that the West can recover from suicidalism without going through a fevered fascist episode and waging a genocidal war. But to do so, we have to do more than recognize Stalin’s memes; we have to reject them. We have to eject postmodern leftism from our universities, transnational progressivism from our politics, and volk-Marxism from our media.

The process won’t be pretty. But I fear that if the rest of us don’t hound the po-mo Left and its useful idiots out of public life with attack and ridicule and shunning, the hard Right will sooner or later get the power to do it by means that include a lot of killing. I don’t want to live in that future, and I don’t think any of my readers do, either. If we want to save a liberal, tolerant civilization for our children, we’d better get to work.


The reason idiot liberals call fascism “right wing” is because all the idiots in academia do.  And the reason they all say that is because fascists are, indeed, to the right of them.  It’s the political science version of the lefty’s lament that the mainstream media is biased in favor of the right — when your baseline for media bias is Pravda, then yeah, The New York Times is not left-wing.  Of course, in reality the NYT is a bunch of bleeding-heart liberals, just as Nazis were national socialists.  But both are not-to-the-left of the Gramscians (nice to see that word escaping the ivory tower), that is to say, communist internationalists, and therefore get labeled “right wing” by idiots and fellow travelers.

Here’s a handy guide for telling the difference:

  • Marxist-Leninists want to take away the means of production from everyone, on behalf of the proletariat everywhere.
  • Fascists want to control the means of production in their own country, to the benefit of their countrymen exclusively.

Either way, you’ve got a thuggish police state.  The difference is, as Marxists are so fond of saying, cui bono?  Nazis hate Commies, NOT because their means are different, but because the ends are so very, very close together – national socialism vs. international socialism.  It’s the narcissism of small differences, with slave labor camps.

[Of course, in practice, all socialism is national socialism.  You could do a blind taste test on Hitler’s economic policies versus Stalin’s and find no appreciable differences.  This is, indeed, the main reason Stalin had Trotsky whacked — Stalin favored “socialism in one country” as the only possible means of hanging on to power, while Trotsky was an internationalist true believer to the end].

In making this mistake, though, the hardcore internationalist left’s useful idiots are also the hardcore nationalist right’s useful idiots.  As Vox Day puts it,

Many, if not most, #GamerGaters would rather drink the blood of every single SJW than submit to them. In the same vein, many Americans would rather see a ruthless pro-white, pro-Western government led by the hard-eyed likes of Vladimir Putin than watch their nation continue to vanish in a swarm of third world immigration. The Left, for all their drama queen antics, doesn’t realize how many Men of the West are never, ever going to submit to them.

Just so.  Many on both sides of the political aisle are having great fun pointing out that lots of the American “right” are infatuated with a despotic, communistic, ex-KGB thug.  This, they claim, is hypocrisy.  But they don’t realize the infatuation is because of the thuggery, not in spite of it.

American liberty can be preserved if our government became truly conservative — that is, committed to individual liberty.  If it doesn’t, fascism is the order of the day.  Both will be not-to-the-left of the Gramscians, who will still be shouting about “right wingers” as they’re being handed their last cigarette by the firing squads.  They’ll keep shouting it, even as those “right wingers” who are truly committed to individual liberty and free government are being lined up right next to them.

They’re that stupid, but we don’t have to be.  Learn the difference.

You Fools! You Blew It All Up!

Charlton Heston, playing a Social Justice Warrior in some movie

Charlton Heston, playing a Social Justice Warrior in some movie

I have to admit, I still find this #GamerGate thing hilarious.  So now feminists have appointed themselves the Twitter police.  I really hate the modern argumentum ad .jpeg tactic, but I really can’t say it any better than this:

The internet left be like, "Banzai!"

The internet left be like, “Banzai!”

There are many, many reasons I don’t do social media.  There are 10x more reasons I don’t do online gaming, but in both cases, a common thread is: I just don’t have any patience for being called “noob” and/or “fag” 284,987 times an hour.

Those people live for that stuff.  It gives teenage boys, Aspies, neckbeards, and assorted other basement-dwellers indescribable joy to shit on people online.  Their lives are meaningless — meaningless — unless they can belittle your knowledge of comic books while teabagging your corpse in an online death match.

And y’all have just issued them an open invitation to fuck with you.

spock_fascinating2I predict that internet misogyny will increase approximately 32,000x the minute these chicks go live.  And not fakey-fake “misogyny,” either, where some 12 year old boy calls another pimple farm a “pussy” for not achieving Ultimate Grand Paladin or whatever in World of Warcraft and some chick in Birkenstocks with dubious hygiene gets the vapors.  I mean the real, full-on, disgusting shit, stuff that would make a Japanese tentacle porn enthusiast ask you to tone it down a bit.

And when the self-appointed Twitter police complain about that, it’ll increase 32,000,000x.  Because that’s what these people do.

So, really: Good luck with that, ladies.  You’re about to make your first contact with reality.

Among the Rabbits, Part II

indexAnonymous Conservative nails it.

Notice how the amygdala-deficient do things which should provoke anxiety. It would be mush easier to adjust reality to not stimulate their amygdala by altering behavior, but they can’t do that because their amygdala cannot predict consequence. As a result, they will seek to portray normal behavior as defective in some regard, so they can see their own defectiveness as normal by comparison. As a result, all normalcy must be given a clinical name to make it sound pathological.


If you spend any time around ivory tower types — or slog heroically through their works, as Stacy McCain has done (good God, man!) — you’ll soon get the impression that not a few academic “disciplines” are just rationalizations for professors’ pathologies. Just as weak, shy, socially awkward little boys often develop unhealthy fixations on comic book superheroes (or, these days, spend 15+ hours a day becoming level-99 orc paladins in World of Warcraft), so do weak, shy, socially awkward professor types develop unhealthy fixations on despots, revolutionaries, and the criminal underclass.  I’d bet the full deductible of an ObamaCare gold plan that no “African-American Studies” professor lives within a hundred miles of a vibrant neighborhood.  I’d bet the same that no “gender studies” professor was ever asked to the junior prom.

Meanwhile, the desire not to be assaulted and robbed by a vibrant, or to engage in biologically-appropriate sexual relations, must be labelled something grandiose, so that it can be demeaned by people who are, frankly, scared stiff of reality and do everything in their power to avoid it.

Among the Rabbits

Vox Day’s Dread Ilk, the Anonymous Conservative, and others have a term of art I really like: Rabbitology.  “Rabbits” are the brave keyboard warriors of the Social Justice cult, the r-selected devotees of point-and-shriek; “rabbitology” is the study of their habitats and behaviors.  Since I live in a college town — the ur-warren from which so much cunicular nonsense comes — I present a few observations of Lepus Academicus as a public service announcement.

indexAmong the rabbits, words are currency.  Nearly every college has its “faculty ghetto” nearby.  Often these are gated, but if they’re not, you can tell when you’re in one by the cars.  You know you’re there when you see stickers extolling socialism and revolution on the bumpers of brand-new, top-of-the-line sport utility vehicles and minivans.*  Visitors from the real world are amused, baffled, and often more than a little angry at the apparent hypocrisy.  But to the rabbits it’s all very logical and just (rabbits are nothing if not just) — when words are currency, the best talker gets the highest pay.

There are two methods for determining the warren’s best talker.  The first is, how closely does his or her talk mirror the real world?  But since professors are “the 1%” by every meaningful metric, that can’t apply; otherwise the short-haired lady with the “¡Viva la Revolución!” sticker on her 2013 Cadillac Escalade would have already been shot by a pissed-off campesino.  So it has to be the other: how well do his or her words signal status to the rest of the rabbits?  And this, of course, is accomplished by taking the loudest, most radical line.  What we see as hypocrisy is actually more like a mating display.

Among the rabbits, in other words, hypocrisy is a virtue.

Among the rabbits, obliviousness is also a virtue.  As I pointed out in our little dust-up with the Gamma Rabbit himself**, it takes a lot of effort to avoid evidence against bedrock academic theories.  A mere trip to the grocery store should be able to convince a radical feminist that her ideas about “the patriarchy” making girls weaker on average than boys are way off.  But that never happens.  In fact, college towns offer endless opportunities to observe hominid behavior in the wild, and classes can easily be turned into little mini-experiments in group dynamics.  But even if there’s no incentive to actually test their theories — and there’s not; remember, words are currency — it’s still amazingly difficult to keep the blinders on when thousands of undergraduates are out there disproving your claims with their behavior every hour of the day.

Among the rabbits, viciousness is also a virtue.  This is so much of a given in academia that there’s a catchphrase for it: Sayre’s Law.  Every college has its stories about the legendary backbiting and underhandedness of certain faculty members.  The guy who failed a student’s PhD thesis — thus guaranteeing the student would never get an academic job — because he had a falling out with the kid’s adviser.  The lesbian professor who seduced her colleague’s husband because the colleague got tenure before she did.  The prof who to this day refuses to be in the same room with a faculty colleague because he asked a question about the guy’s work twenty years ago.  In any other line of work, these things would be major scandals, with seventeen HR drones and six layers of management scrambling to prevent lawsuits.  In academia, these people are campus legends.

Among the rabbits, finally, there is zero sense of how small the warren really is.  It’s a logical outgrowth of the virtue of obliviousness.  The townies have a joke: “What if they gave a war protest and nobody came?”  At any “radical” event — which, because words are currency, means pretty much any heavily promoted event — you see the same five or six people.  They might be nineteen, but they all look like they’ve been living the hippie lifestyle since about 1964.  And, indeed, many of them have; these days, protest is a parlor game for old maids.  But because obliviousness is a virtue, and because they can force the majority of students to parrot their opinions (or just shut up) in class, they have no idea that theirs are, in fact, not just minority views, but extreme, fringe views.  Not only do the students not care about “heteronormativity,” most of them don’t even know what the word means — not even if you made them memorize it in class (the purgative power of cheap beer on academic jargon is truly a wonder to behold).


*Examples here.  So many, many examples.

**Sorry for being cutesy with this, but he’s the type of guy who spends upwards of five hours a day Googling himself, and I just don’t want to deal with it.

“stupid in a way an honest man with a low IQ could never be”

This is about as perfect a description of Our Betters, the liberals, as you’re ever likely to read:

First, they believe that to think is a hate-crime, and so they avoid even the semblance of any rational or orderly cognition in their various word-emissions. They are not just stupid and illogical, they are really, truly, deeply, profoundly stupid, stupid in a way an honest man with a low IQ could never be, because they are arrogant jackanapes mimicking the surface features of smartness which they [have] seen and do not understand, such as the use of obscure words, pompous self-glorification, dismissive condescension, and all such behavior truly wise people (see, for example, Socrates) never actually employ.


I’m Confused…

So a “top administration official,” probably John Kerry, publicly called Benjamin Netanyahu a “chickenshit.”  And then there’s this:

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon traveled to Washington last week expecting to see top Obama administration officials.

Instead, he found himself with a lot of time on his hands.

The White House denied him meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Senior administration officials attributed the snub to numerous negative comments Ya’alon made earlier this year criticizing the administration in general and Kerry in particular

Which, ummm…. ok, I guess.  Insulting one of our oldest and closest allies is something of a hobby for this administration (though I’m sure Queen Elizabeth uses that iPod full of Obola’s speeches if she’s got insomnia).  But…. all those “dissident right” sites inform me that America’s foreign policy is actually Global Judaism’s foreign policy, and that the Pentagon can’t send a single memo without approval from AIPAC and an Orthodox rabbi.  Which makes telling the Israeli Defense Minister to go fuck himself a rather odd move, no?

Yeah yeah, I know — that’s just what they want you to think!!  All part of the dastardly master plan etc.  Maybe if I hold down my caps lock key it’ll all become clear.