The Left's Romance with Violence

The political Left is a dangerous place for the free expression of ideas. Its activists immediately assume bigotry in anyone who disagrees with them, and that automatic opinion has poisoned every attempt at a national dialogue. Liberalism has declined into a closed system of thought and behavior -- a plantation of unfinished minds in service to an ideology of force. But as the experience of freedom makes us unfit for slavery, so the experience of knowledge makes us unfit for handbooks of liberal instruction. The idea of a freedom-loving and self-governing America is lost upon social theorists; and it is quite possible that there is no solution to the liberal problem in America, for the freedom that leftists desire for their own political activity includes the license to deny that same freedom to others.

Activists within the Democratic Party no longer find any political value in the principle of freedom. What is it, then, about federalism and self-governance that threatens the Left? Freedom is so fundamental to the character and growth of nations that one wonders why liberals are so intent on limiting it only to the few who govern. Let them step forward and tell us -- without riot and without throwing stones at the questioner -- why they have diminished their core principle of "liberty" to an archaism, to a relic and curiosity of times past, to be shelved in academic reformatories and studied and scorned under moonlight. Let them explain the benefits of totalitarianism. Let them tell us why they have chosen to occupy the lesser world of the bureaucratic state that would enforce an equality of condition upon all persons beneath the state; and then let them tell us why history should not regard them as the victims of their own delusions.

Progressivism attracts the intellectually malnourished, and the appearance of that movement deceives us; but there is greater progress in standing upon a principle of justice than in running forward to embrace an evil. Deceptive, predatory, and extortionate, its message of "inclusion and social justice" is given over to the pursuit of power, entitlement, and satisfaction of political greed. Its scripture is not of the world but of social theory, demanding a sacrifice of both intellectual honesty and individual conscience. Modern liberal culture has built an educational system politicizing every study of nature and human value, a system of intellectual slavery that is good only for the master.

The system binds generations of students to an ideological post; and their ability to reason effectively extends no further than the length of their chains, for their instruction is the only truth they need to know. It is the same for every cultish belief, whether religious or secular, and followers of the liberal faith exhibit their knowledge of that "truth" by memorizing and repeating the catechism in the protected spaces of university campuses and social media ghettos where no one may question his received wisdom. Their handbooks tell us that self-reliance is now considered anti-social; that intellectual honesty serves only to weaken one's commitment to the new liberal order, and that a personal sense of right and wrong can only stain the collective purity of correct thought. The new doctrine of forcible equality seems a prologue to any number of post-apocalyptic tales that reduce humanity to its most fundamental tribal instincts. But in the progressive's dictionary, this is what the Left mean by "democracy."

The British author and socialist, H.G. Wells, famously remarked in the conclusion to his Outline of History, "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe." Mr. Wells, following the unspeakable ruin of the First World War, often remarked upon the perpetual contests of ignorance from which mankind has suffered periodic turns of civilization and collapse. But if the new liberals of our era cannot learn from the history of real events, if they believe that its lessons do not apply to them, if they lack the courage to inquire into the nature of their own beliefs -- then what have they to teach another? To forfeit intellectual honesty for the rank perception of political identity is a moral offense. If our teachers win honor only in classrooms and exhibit their corruption by persuading students to believe in the false doctrine of social justice, if we learn only the reformulated prejudices of failed ideologies, if we must receive our instruction by rote from revisionist handbooks of correct thought, if we are to learn value from the profligate and truth from those whose hearts are full of deception -- then education is catastrophe!

There can be nothing more harmful to the idea of America or to her people than the experiment, emerging from the new Left, of an institutionalized culture of revisionism; and if we continue to think and act along the ideological lines of force generated in our schools, then our capacity to reason, to comprehend, to ask the right questions and to prepare ourselves for the duties of civil and open society will regress further into an argument to justify our indoctrination. Democracy itself is at risk under the revised arts of liberal instruction, for there is not sufficient reason in all our language to adopt measures that elsewhere have contributed to the destruction of free societies.

America's democratic system of elections has been sufficient thus far to break the hold that party ideologies have had on the administration of government. But national sentiment has now swung the pendulum of power urgently to the right, and there it must remain until the liberal puts down his arrogance, his fundamentalist doctrine, and his tribal compulsion for revenge. If power is the only object worthy of pursuit for the liberal establishment, then let their fallen angels reign in the hell prepared for them by their defeat. And should it take a hundred years in hell for the incestuous relationship of the Democratic Party, its entitlement culture, and a virulently dishonest press to end, then that will be a century of justice.

An informed citizenry is the only true government. It is the direction of knowledge over force, for that virtue alone separates the autonomous genius of human society from the coercive genius of the state. We hear the Left in their final agonies, vexed by howls and pinches in defeat -- understanding now, a world too late, that they let America slip through their fumbling hands. But when Democrats who were elected to represent the people's interests have calculated instead to bring them harm with new laws that served only to advance a determined ideological agenda, it is best to remove from them all hope of returning to their instruments. President Trump has shaken the political earth, and anything made of the Left's weak argument will fall of its own corruption. In the aftermath of a transformative election, the American people have torn liberalism open to the bleeding center, and we are hearing the screams of a dying animal. When those who have abused their power begin to act like victims -- when the guilty cry foul -- we know we have done a good thing.

Philip Ahlrich can be reached for comment at phahl@icloud.com.

The political Left is a dangerous place for the free expression of ideas. Its activists immediately assume bigotry in anyone who disagrees with them, and that automatic opinion has poisoned every attempt at a national dialogue. Liberalism has declined into a closed system of thought and behavior -- a plantation of unfinished minds in service to an ideology of force. But as the experience of freedom makes us unfit for slavery, so the experience of knowledge makes us unfit for handbooks of liberal instruction. The idea of a freedom-loving and self-governing America is lost upon social theorists; and it is quite possible that there is no solution to the liberal problem in America, for the freedom that leftists desire for their own political activity includes the license to deny that same freedom to others.

Activists within the Democratic Party no longer find any political value in the principle of freedom. What is it, then, about federalism and self-governance that threatens the Left? Freedom is so fundamental to the character and growth of nations that one wonders why liberals are so intent on limiting it only to the few who govern. Let them step forward and tell us -- without riot and without throwing stones at the questioner -- why they have diminished their core principle of "liberty" to an archaism, to a relic and curiosity of times past, to be shelved in academic reformatories and studied and scorned under moonlight. Let them explain the benefits of totalitarianism. Let them tell us why they have chosen to occupy the lesser world of the bureaucratic state that would enforce an equality of condition upon all persons beneath the state; and then let them tell us why history should not regard them as the victims of their own delusions.

Progressivism attracts the intellectually malnourished, and the appearance of that movement deceives us; but there is greater progress in standing upon a principle of justice than in running forward to embrace an evil. Deceptive, predatory, and extortionate, its message of "inclusion and social justice" is given over to the pursuit of power, entitlement, and satisfaction of political greed. Its scripture is not of the world but of social theory, demanding a sacrifice of both intellectual honesty and individual conscience. Modern liberal culture has built an educational system politicizing every study of nature and human value, a system of intellectual slavery that is good only for the master.

The system binds generations of students to an ideological post; and their ability to reason effectively extends no further than the length of their chains, for their instruction is the only truth they need to know. It is the same for every cultish belief, whether religious or secular, and followers of the liberal faith exhibit their knowledge of that "truth" by memorizing and repeating the catechism in the protected spaces of university campuses and social media ghettos where no one may question his received wisdom. Their handbooks tell us that self-reliance is now considered anti-social; that intellectual honesty serves only to weaken one's commitment to the new liberal order, and that a personal sense of right and wrong can only stain the collective purity of correct thought. The new doctrine of forcible equality seems a prologue to any number of post-apocalyptic tales that reduce humanity to its most fundamental tribal instincts. But in the progressive's dictionary, this is what the Left mean by "democracy."

The British author and socialist, H.G. Wells, famously remarked in the conclusion to his Outline of History, "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe." Mr. Wells, following the unspeakable ruin of the First World War, often remarked upon the perpetual contests of ignorance from which mankind has suffered periodic turns of civilization and collapse. But if the new liberals of our era cannot learn from the history of real events, if they believe that its lessons do not apply to them, if they lack the courage to inquire into the nature of their own beliefs -- then what have they to teach another? To forfeit intellectual honesty for the rank perception of political identity is a moral offense. If our teachers win honor only in classrooms and exhibit their corruption by persuading students to believe in the false doctrine of social justice, if we learn only the reformulated prejudices of failed ideologies, if we must receive our instruction by rote from revisionist handbooks of correct thought, if we are to learn value from the profligate and truth from those whose hearts are full of deception -- then education is catastrophe!

There can be nothing more harmful to the idea of America or to her people than the experiment, emerging from the new Left, of an institutionalized culture of revisionism; and if we continue to think and act along the ideological lines of force generated in our schools, then our capacity to reason, to comprehend, to ask the right questions and to prepare ourselves for the duties of civil and open society will regress further into an argument to justify our indoctrination. Democracy itself is at risk under the revised arts of liberal instruction, for there is not sufficient reason in all our language to adopt measures that elsewhere have contributed to the destruction of free societies.

America's democratic system of elections has been sufficient thus far to break the hold that party ideologies have had on the administration of government. But national sentiment has now swung the pendulum of power urgently to the right, and there it must remain until the liberal puts down his arrogance, his fundamentalist doctrine, and his tribal compulsion for revenge. If power is the only object worthy of pursuit for the liberal establishment, then let their fallen angels reign in the hell prepared for them by their defeat. And should it take a hundred years in hell for the incestuous relationship of the Democratic Party, its entitlement culture, and a virulently dishonest press to end, then that will be a century of justice.

An informed citizenry is the only true government. It is the direction of knowledge over force, for that virtue alone separates the autonomous genius of human society from the coercive genius of the state. We hear the Left in their final agonies, vexed by howls and pinches in defeat -- understanding now, a world too late, that they let America slip through their fumbling hands. But when Democrats who were elected to represent the people's interests have calculated instead to bring them harm with new laws that served only to advance a determined ideological agenda, it is best to remove from them all hope of returning to their instruments. President Trump has shaken the political earth, and anything made of the Left's weak argument will fall of its own corruption. In the aftermath of a transformative election, the American people have torn liberalism open to the bleeding center, and we are hearing the screams of a dying animal. When those who have abused their power begin to act like victims -- when the guilty cry foul -- we know we have done a good thing.

Philip Ahlrich can be reached for comment at phahl@icloud.com.

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