As hard as it is to believe now, Leftists used to be formidable opponents. When Orwell described the typical Socialist of tremulous old ladies’ imaginations, he was arguing against a stereotype:
The typical Socialist is not, as tremulous old ladies imagine, a ferocious-looking working man with greasy overalls and a raucous voice. He is either a youthful snob-Bolshevik….or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaller and often with vegetarian leanings, with a history of Nonconformity behind him, and, above all, with a social position which he has no intention of forfeiting.
Old habits die hard, and old beliefs die harder, so it’s no surprise that people back then thought real Socialists were bomb-throwing rioters who were one strike away from seizing the factories. Radical politics was a contact sport well into the 20th century (The Road to Wigan Pier was published in 1937, when the Russian Revolution was barely 20 years old). One could be forgiven for thinking, even then, that the “prim little man with a white-collar job” had a few working-class bruisers he could call on if things got tough, because for quite a while, he actually did.
The Left was formidable on the other end of the spectrum, too. Back then, a college education meant something — hell, back then a high school education was an achievement. Have you ever actually read Communist literature? It’s dense, full of arcane jargon and Capital Letters, charts and graphs, facts and figures. Even that quintessential 20th century chimera, the New Soviet Man, seemed to have the imprimatur of science — we know now that psychoanalysis is bunk, but the Frankfurt School sure made it look like Socialism was the scientifically proven high road to mental health. When all you’ve got is a sixth grade education, when you can’t even pronounce things like “Oedipus complex,” you’re going to feel yourself at an insurmountable disadvantage going up against some egghead with a PhD.
The commies knew it, too, which is why the first thing they did when they signed you up for the Party was get you enrolled in some classes. I bet most of you don’t know that this is what “community colleges” were for, back when the movement got started at the turn of the 20th century. It’s no accident, as the Marxists back then liked to say, that schools designed to level up the skills of working men and grammar school teachers were immediately taken over by fellow travelers. The New Soviet Man was supposed to be something like a street-brawling longshoreman with a Master’s degree, and that’s what they set out to build, all over the West. And it worked, too, surprisingly well, such that intellectually gifted, courageous men like Whittaker Chambers could become high-ranking Communist cadres.
We all know what happened after that: The Baby Boom. David Horowitz is a good example of the change. A Red Diaper Baby, Horowitz got all the heavy intellectual training the Old Left invested in its intellectuals; Horowitz can still argue Dialectical Materialism with the best of ’em. But though he was technically born right before the Baby Boom (1939), he got swept up in its emotional atmosphere — the Ramparts crowd was interested in cultural revolution, not critiques of the forces of production. They were the leading lights of the New Left, and all the New Left really wanted to do was flip tables, break shit, and freak out the squares — overthrow “The Man” first; figure the rest out later.
Which is the same position we — Our Thing, the “alt-right,” whatever the hell we’re calling it this week — find ourselves in today, comrades.
The reason the Old Right was defenseless against the Old Left was that the Old Right, having facts, reason, and 5,000 years of intellectual history on its side, had no idea how to argue against the jargon-spewing fuggernauts trying to turn the whole world into a Worker’s Paradise. Leftism looks like an argument — a coherent set of propositions, backed up by facts and reason. It sounds like an argument, a formidable one. But it’s not an argument. It’s a set of tautologies.
That’s why the Old Right’s counterarguments fail so brutally. A tautology is true by definition — e.g. “whatever will be, will be.” We all know this is just a proverb, a nifty little reminder not to stress out too much about things we can neither predict or control. Nobody who says “whatever will be, will be” considers it a serious prognostication on a future state of affairs, so nobody considers techniques for refuting “arguments” based on it. Because what could those possibly even be?
Annnnnd that’s where the Left gets you, because ALL Leftist “arguments” are tautologies. We’ve all had a good laugh at things like “false consciousness,” or statements like “Sarah Palin isn’t a real woman.” They’re impossible to take seriously — Sarah Palin is, obviously and undeniably, a woman — so we don’t take them seriously, and we assume the people making them don’t either. But they do, my friends, they do. If you don’t believe me, dust off your old Logic 101 textbook and tell me how “Sarah Palin isn’t a real woman” differs from “false consciousness.” They both run exactly like this:
- All X are Y.
- Not Y, therefore not X (modus tollens).
All women (X) are pro-abortion (Y). Sarah Palin is not pro-abortion; therefore, Sarah Palin is not a woman. Or, all capitalist societies (X) are miserable (Y). The United States is not miserable; therefore, the United States isn’t capitalist… but since that statement contradicts the Scriptures, it must be the case that the undeniably-capitalist United States only seems not-miserable… false consciousness, comrade.
I know, I know, my brain hurts too, and once again, that’s how they get you. It’s almost impossible for a cognitively normal person to “think” this way, and because the falsity is so glaring, so painful, we assume that we must be missing something. Maybe if we just immerse ourselves in all that jargon — the “modes of production,” “intersectionality,” and whatnot — we’ll find out what we’re missing, so that we can go back and plug the proper terms into the deduction and prove to the Left that they’re being illogical.
It won’t work, comrades, because it can’t. You can’t argue against a tautology.* What ends up happening, of course, is that poring over their Scriptures infects you with Social Justice Toxoplasma, exactly as it’s designed to do. The Buckley, neocon, National Review brand of “conservatism” is really just Leftism with a few tax cuts attached, because they tried to argue with the Left.
What we need to do is to steal the tactics and worldview of the New Left.
Whatever you want to call them now — the New New Left, the CultMarx Cult, the Cathedral, the Poz — the inmates have been in charge of the asylum for generations. They’re in the same position the Old Right was back when this whole business started — they’ve been in power so long that they take “being in power” as the natural state of affairs. Not only don’t they have any arguments for their positions, they don’t know that there ever were any, because they don’t see it in terms of “positions” and “arguments.” This is just the way things are, and anyone who disagrees is some kind of “hater” — mentally ill; not to be taken seriously; to be treated, confined, or shot, as the situation dictates.
Rules for Radicals is a great book; we should carry it around the way the Red Guards carried Quotations from Chairman Mao. We should read up on Cloward-Piven, and put it into action. Cloward-Piven is an attempt to overload American social services by signing up as many people as possible, in order to collapse the economy and spark The Revolution. Thanks to Sen. Warren, aka Little Rounding Error, aka Pico-hontas, we now know that 1/1024th Mesoamerican (not even actual American Indian!) DNA is sufficient to claim all the Affirmative Action perks our Native brothers are entitled to. Let’s get every single college student in America on full scholarship — adios, higher ed bubble!
Don’t get caught up in heavy theorizing. Don’t worry about what comes after The Revolution. Do what the New Left did — at worst, you’ll end up with tenure at an Ivy League law school and have your name tossed around as a potential Democratic presidential candidate.
*Seriously, if you read nothing else in your life, read David Stove’s “Idealism: A Victorian Horror Story,” Parts I and II (available in The Plato Cult and Other Philosophical Follies, and yes, you’ll need to buy it, because you need to read both). Marxism is Idealism; Idealism rests — totally, completely, entirely — on a false “deduction” from a tautology (from “we can only know things as we can know them” to “we can’t know things as they are in themselves”). As every single flavor of Leftist nonsense is based on Marxism, this destroys every intellectual pretension the Left has ever had.
UPDATE: If you’re curious about how one lousy little tautology could generate so much murderous nonsense, I’ve attempted to lay it out on a separate page, here. I can’t do justice to either Stove’s thought nor his prose, but on the upside, it’s free.Loading Likes...