Understanding the Socialist Delusion
Democrats are nuts, and their violence will get worse - but to help them back to sanity we must understand what's going on with them.
We can observe the left's behavior without understanding or judging it. In general that behavior can be summarized as a collective response to two conflicting imperatives: shout allegiance to basic Christian, and thus American, values; act at every opportunity in opposition to those values. That's insane, but it is happening all around us, every day -- ask any of the screaming harridans who protested the Kavanaugh confirmation and they'll tell you they're committed to the ideals of freedom, human rights, truth, and the rule of law -- and yet their actions showed them spitting in the face of all they believe in, all that's good about the American judicial and political system.
Their behavior has to change, but we can't help them make that happen without first understanding it, and understanding starts with honest description. Although many highly visible leftists are so politically focused they're intolerable, most ordinary democrats seem like sane, sensible, superficially educated (i.e.they present as literate, but have little or no factual knowledge of science, history, or western culture), and reasonably intelligent people you'd be glad to have as friends or neighbors -- until the conversation touches on politics and you realize they've placed themselves beyond the reach of reason in this one area of their lives. You get together for a nice dinner: their oldest is in university but won't study, yours drives too fast, their dog isn't quite as gassy as yours, and everyone agrees the Twins will make it to the playoffs this year - but then someone brings up politics and it turns out they voted for Clintons every time; think Kavanaugh a rapist, see Trump as a Hitler wannabe, adore John Kerry and Jane Fonda, and think Cuba a successful democracy with great medical care for everyone.
That behavioral dichotomy demonstrates a limited, but very real, form of insanity in which the person's actions in the political context absolutely contradict their own values and most deeply held beliefs. Thus they really do believe in civilized values and human rights, but instantly sever relationships with old friends who admit to thinking that the words "Peace and Love" don't belong on posters of Mao Tse Tung and Che Guevara; abhor political violence and think the Nazis epitomize evil but excuse and even support Antifa; hate racism but insist on racial quotas; value American rights and American freedoms but see nothing wrong with jailing Nakoula Basseley Nakoula on a pretext; demand rational analysis and reasoned argument from everyone on everything, but respond to almost any factual political statement you make with a vituperative ad hominem attack either on you or on some other conservative somewhere or somewhen.
The behavior is insane but typical for cultists in the later stages of delusion -- exactly that chronicled by Leon Festinger and his colleagues in their study of believers who seem perfectly normal in their everyday lives, but repeatedly double down to the point of violence and suicide on loyalty to a prophet whose earlier prophecies have undeniably failed.
So, for the progressive left, which prophet and what prophecy? Not Thomas Malthus as he actually was, but Malthus as misread, misinterpreted, and misused by nineteenth-century European cafe intellectuals like Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Marx, Frege, and Heidegger.
Scratch any leftist and you'll find the foundational belief: there are too many people, the world has limited resources, and we're all going to die. It's nonsense, it's the lifeboat earth fallacy, and it's not what Malthus actually thought, but the belief identifies the prophet and the source of the prophecy that failed, that continues to fail: the future the progressive left both most fears and most assiduously strives to create.
At base the prophecies driving today's progressive movement grew from the social needs and limitations of 19th century, mainly German, cafe intellectuals using unintelligibility as a kind of emperor's clothes to claim and maintain a symbiotic relationship with those whose goodwill and credulity they depended on for their livelihoods. In reality, Malthus was a hardworking English vicar fascinated by human behavior under stress who ultimately understood the role of markets in individual behavior well enough to come away fairly optimistic about humanity's future, but that isn't how he was understood by the self-proclaiming elites of the day. Those people generally struggled through some early translations of his writings, stroked their collective beard, and announced to the gathered pretenders that everything Malthus ever said or thought was about the allocation of, and thus the struggle for, limited resources -- and then, after several decades of profound thought and good living, added a little oversimplified Darwin to derive their survivalist programs for the most brutal forms of eugenics and "scientific" national socialism in which the concept of ownership is done away with and the leadership, which owns nothing, controls everything and everyone.
Thus, the prophecy that fails holds that the socialist ideas developed on the assumption that everything is ultimately about access to resources should provide a better life for those who attempt to implement them -- a consequence reality consistently denies. Think of the history of modern progressives from Marx to Soros as Jim Jones and apostolic socialism writ large: not just 900 dead in Guyana after thirty years of disappointment and re-entrenchment, but as over 100 million dead and ten times that many lives destroyed in a century of worldwide disappointments and retrenchments ranging from the Bolsheviks in Russia to Antifa in Berkeley.
Normally, of course, cults die out as their prophecies fail, the less committed fade from sight, and the more committed eventually take what's left of the movement with them when they die. In this case, however, colleges and universities referentially teaching ideas derived from poseurs like Hegel, Nietzsche, and Marx continually churn out new Bernie Bros -- and the obvious failure of any form of socialism to ever produce the promised result merely separates the true devotees, who double down on their earnestness each time there's a new Pol Pot or Maduro, from those willing to face reality.
To put all this in a more current context, there may be as many as sixty million people who routinely vote Democratic in the United States, but only a small proportion of them actually invest significant physical and emotional resources in working for the party and an even smaller group, possibly numbering no more than a few thousand, truly understand and support the progressive left's use of the party in its attempt to remake the American political and economic system in its own totalitarian image. Thus there may only be a million or two true useful idiots -- committed believers who have no idea that the leadership is wearing the Democratic party like an Edgar suit but teeter on the edge of sanity as an ever increasing proportion of their refusal to face reality expresses in hatred for conservatives and conservative causes.
Unfortunately, small as the numbers of the true believers may be, they're big enough: as of July 5th, 2018 John Nolte's Breitbart list of media approved acts of violence against Trump supporters ran to 613 items -- and new reports of significant violence against conservative candidates and organizations are now a daily occurrence.
Worse, I hope to see a massive red wave in November but if that happens many of these people will have their belief in the social support available to them, a belief the mainstream media fosters at every opportunity, suddenly destroyed -- and when that happens many will fall away, but some will go over the edge and head straight for the proverbial clock tower to attack, not the ideas or institutions representative of conservatism and constitutional law, but the persons representing those ideals. I expect, in other words, to see a serious escalation of liberal violence against individuals after the midterms.
Author's note: Back in mid 2014 I drafted a short book under the title "Useless Eaters: Understanding the Socialist Delusion" which expands on the themes of this essay. At the time the core testable prediction: that we would see a dramatic increase in political violence as groups like Black Lives Matter and Obama's Organizing for America morphed into modern day brownshirts seemed almost indefensible. Now we're seeing evidence of that change underway everyday -- and your comments on the draft, available on telearb.net, are invited.