July 27, 2005
Nice people and the Howling Dog LeftBy James Lewis
I know a college professor who keeps a picture of Che Guevara in his briefcase, so that he can look at it adoringly whenever he pops open the lid. This bright and friendly fellow has a lifelong admiration for Fidel's Cuban prison state, no matter how much its people are deprived, while being forced to listen to yet another six—hour rant from El Jefe. Where is his common sense? I just don't know.
It gets even more baffling when I try to understand what friends on the Left really believe. One person I know claims to be a convinced Marxist, and a devoutly religious person, and also a global skeptic, depending on the day and his mood. Another honestly believes that fundamentalist Christians are like Nazis, showing stupendous ignorance both about both Christians and Nazis. I have even met successful capitalists who pride themselves on "really" being Trotskyites. The wife of a liberal clergyman I know once expressed the hope that somebody would assassinate George Bush.
In their normal lives, these are all good and decent family people. But in their political beliefs they are profoundly out of touch with reality.
Are these nice people mad? Not clinically. They don't fit any diagnosis in the manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM—IV). But they cannot tolerate much reality. In fact, they are life members of a messianic cult, the cult of socialism. They are the Jim Jones followers of our age: otherwise sane and sensible people who have been drawn into a paranoid belief system, in which every event in the world is an apocalyptic battle between the Children of Light and the Children of Darkness.
The Children of Light are good—hearted pacifists. They are the nice people who love flowers and children. Their greatest hope in life is the establishment of a United Nations to govern all of the world, peacefully of course, with free food, clothing and medical care for all.
It is a vision of a Messianic Age. To achieve such a perfect future, almost anything is justified. The goal of the Messianic Age justifies the means ——— the Soviet Union, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, the lot. The Children of Light have a lot in common with jihadi terrorists, who also kill for a different Messianic Age in which all the world will convert to Islam.
Anybody who undermines this messianic vision must be evil or ignorant. They are the Children of Darkness who do not understand that the nation—state is doomed, that the United Nations is the only hope for mankind, that capitalism is evil, and that Republicans are likely to start a nuclear war just for the sadistic fun of it. Reality has no impact on such beliefs; it is a pure messianic faith.
That is why Karl Rove must be destroyed. It is why the Neocons have to be demonized. It is why Republican after Republican has been scapegoated by the media mob, ever since the GOP won the House in 1994. It is emotionally intolerable for liberals to believe that Karl Rove is just an ordinary human being, with normal, kind and decent intentions, who simply holds a different point of view.
The everyday members of the Howling Dog Left are frightened beyond measure by simple open—minded debate. If conservatives have good intentions and are right about the nature of the world, the deepest faith of the Left must be wrong, and their lives meaningless. Like the jihadis, rather than abandon their secular Faith, they would kill and perhaps even die.
Cults do this to people.
It is how the charismatic Reverend Jim Jones was able to talk hundreds of well—meaning San Francisco liberals to Guiana, and talk them into drinking poisoned Kool—Aid. Cults have been studied for fifty years, and it is well understood how they work. Many cults have charismatic leaders, but not all. However, all cults persuade their members that they have a special insight into reality, and that the world can be made wonderful if only everyone in the world understood the Truth.
Because cult members are so na�ve and eager to trust the "good guys," they are easy fodder for con artists like Jim Jones. In the last three decades we have seen the rise of political con artists galore, from Al Sharpton to Bill Clinton. It is a sad thing to say, but liberals are natural suckers. They are always searching for new Saviors, like Hillary, just as they also need new satanic Demons to despise.
Most of all, cults need to control the flow of information to their members. Only in that way can bizarre beliefs be sustained. That is why the Left finds it so essential to control the media, the educational system, and as a last resort, their own minds. If you've ever tried to debate with a liberal you can see their self—censorship kicking in as soon as you mention any fact that doesn't fit their faith. They simply cannot open up to rational debate. It is too emotionally disturbing. That is why all the liberals I know still believe that John Kerry was a war hero. Self—censorship filters out inconvenient facts.
Try to convert a jihadi to modern thinking, and you'll see exactly the same phenomenon. Censoring oneself and others is key to all cult beliefs.
Normal, sane and decent human beings can and do behave insanely. All it takes is a constant flow of disinformation. That is why today's struggle between the Old and New Media is so critical. The New Media are not just reporting censored facts. They are conducting national Reality Therapy. That is why it is so emotionally charged, why the Left keeps falling back into its old bizarre beliefs, and why progress is so agonizingly slow.
The more the New Media can contribute to "reality—testing" on the Left — the more honest facts liberals are compelled to face — the faster progress will be. In the jargon of therapy, liberals need to falsify their pathogenic beliefs. This is never easy for individuals, and almost impossible for groups.