April 14, 2012
The Tribal Hypocrisy of the LeftBy Jon Bishop
The left seems to be in love with preserving every culture in the world but our own. Prominent elements of the cultural left love to preoccupy themselves with remote peoples in distant places like Papua New Guinea and the deepest recesses of the Amazon rainforest.
James Cameron's Avatar was wildly popular, and it will spawn sequels. Richard Gere and Colin Firth make passionate pleas for the West to leave the tribes alone. They -- the actors, as well as various non-profit organizations -- argue that these people deserve to have their traditions remain intact. And rightfully so: all people, regardless of location, deserve to maintain their ways of life, their institutions, and their traditions. For removing such institutions will crush their essence and identity, not to mention their humanity.
It would be nice if leftists argued that these remote peoples should be exposed to the modern world, though. That way, said peoples could have access to education, clean water, and medical supplies. But that is beside the point.
All people, again, should have the choice -- and the duty -- to maintain their traditions and their institutions. And if remote peoples wish to reject the modern world and live in the form of the tribe, then so be it.
Why, though, would the left argue for the preservation of the peoples of Papua New Guinea, when leftists desire the systematic destruction of our own institutions?
Two reasons -- and they're simple.
First, the left still loves the idea of the noble savage. It assumes that all people who live outside Western civilization engage in a kind of dreamlike, innocent, idyllic state. This is untrue. Leftists should travel to a place like New Guinea and note that tribes exist in a state of constant warfare, and they always live in fear. Such an existence is the closest thing to Hobbes's "state of nature."
But the left would deny that. They would ignore that this is man at his worst. In such a state, man cannot rise above his animalistic lower passions. Nay, he succumbs to them. Therefore, his existence, as Hobbes stated, is truly "poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
Still, there is something to admire about such peoples, because they know tradition better than we do.
And that is reason number two: the left assumes that all of our institutions are dangerous. Leftists view republican government as a threat; they see it as destructive. So they counter it by using the state to engulf the order of things. According to their thinking, the danger, then, would melt away.
To wit: once, during a documentary, a member of the Kombai tribe of Papua New Guinea was asked why his people built houses in the trees. He responded that they did it because their fathers did, and their grandfathers before them.
The left, upon hearing that, would coo. They would say, ah, look! These people are brilliant. They are honorable. And they are not -- the left's biggest fear -- unequal.
And, in a sense, the left is right. But leftists don't see the inconsistency. The problems of our modern age are caused by the self-imposed destruction of our glorious Western traditions.
The left, of course, would counter that these institutions created much of our misery. It's why the French Revolution was more of a remaking: it destroyed all of the things of the past, in order to begin anew. And, soon after, the rest of the West followed suit. The United States has taken awhile to catch up, but with this current president, we're making quick strides.
Our educational system no longer teaches the tenets of the Founding. Our educational system stopped being serious a long time ago. Thus, students -- and citizens -- cannot say much about the world, let alone about our Founding.
And this is problematic. As Aristotle taught, "the greatest of all the things that have been mentioned with a view to making regimes lasting -- though it is now slighted by all -- is education relative to the regimes" (The Politics, 1310a13).
If the citizenry no longer understands the meaning of the regime, then politics, and the state, begin to wither away. One must ask if the regime can survive.
Plus, our institutions and traditions are what ground us. They help us stifle our lowest passions and work to achieve virtuous greatness. But we are eliminating all of this knowledge from our history. We are destroying the meaning of our way of life.
And before long, we will be a people adrift, and our humanity will be at stake.
The natural order will simply become an arm of the state. And there will be no benefit concerts, no organizations, no museums created to remind others what a danger it is to destroy tradition.
And this is because the left is naïve. Leftists don't have the will to look within. And as they practice what Dickens called "telescopic philanthropy," the West will continue to erode away.
It may be too late for the left to understand its hypocrisy: defending other traditions while maligning our own.
Our self-destructive journey will likely continue.
Unlike the Kombai man, we won't know anything about our grandfathers, because we will have forgotten it all. The past will be meaningless. We will be meaningless. We will be nothing.
We will be trapped in the abyss, without anything to guide us.
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