Left-wing Scaremongering is About Power

Scaremongering is now in vogue. The left is keen to utilize this to their advantage. Liberals, and leftists, all agree that “democracy” and “equality” is facing a challenge it hasn’t faced since the 1930s. While cries of “Nazis” and “brownshirts” and other epithets are hurled at will, there is an intentional image-based tactic the left uses in these rhetorical ploys.

Humans are image-based creatures. Images are the first grammar of the psyche. Thus, those who are deftly aware of this reality use language and mannerisms to their advantage -- crafting an image to impregnate the mind of listeners and audiences.

That the left constantly invokes the 1930s is no accident. The 1930s, at least for those on the left, was a time of tumult and terror. Fascism and Nazism were on the rise. Ignoring the brutality of communist revolutionaries in Spain and the purges of the Soviet Union, the left depends on the ignorance of the masses to think only right-wing forces in the 1930s were guilty of crimes leading to racism, eugenic laws, and the movement to the Second World War. No mention is given to the racism of the left; of those stalwart “progressives” from whom modern progressives take their inspiration.

Centrist liberals, who may occasionally refer to the dangers that the far-left posed in 1930s posed to liberal democratic societies, nevertheless have a more visible (yet invisible) target in mind: right-wing revolutionaries. Mark Lilla, a Columbia University sociology professor, is right to acknowledge that fascists, Nazis, and other “reactionaries” differ from mainstream conservatives. Conservatives, Lilla notes, are moved by an understanding of human nature. Reactionaries, principally those forces arrayed on the far right, while sharing common ground with conservatives on metaphysical issues like hierarchy, authority, and family, were more moved by visions of History rather than human nature. In this sense the right-wing reactionaries and left-wing hyperprogressives shared a commonality in historical imagination moving in opposite directions. Though this is not evidence, as others claim, that the far left and far right were identical to each other.

The scare tactics of liberals and leftists who invoke the eerie in-between decade of the 1930s is, undeniably, a conscious effort to paint the current political and cultural struggles as one between totalitarian dictators and genocidal maniacs on one hand, and the stalwart vanguard of liberty, equality, and fraternity on the other hand. (Again, ignoring the Terror that those partisans of liberty, equality, and fraternity unleashed in the 1790s when hundreds of thousands perished in the first mass purge and acts of political terror in modern history.) This tactic is aimed at scaring the supposed middle majority into the liberal camp in much the same way that George Orwell envisioned totalitarian regimes to work in 1984. The imminent threat of war and Emmanuel Goldstein propagated through Oceania’s “news” networks, ensured the power of the party elites.

Where liberals, in the 1930s, offered systematic and comprehensive political programs to assuage the anxieties of the millions suffering from the Great Depression, liberals today offer no such programs other than to double-down on the failed policies that have led to our current discontents. More globalism, more immigration, and more government centralization, they claim, will resolve our problems. There is a great deception in this tactic; rather than hope -- however flawed it was when offered by the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt and other 1930s reformers -- the left is also playing on the fear card to cash in their political chips. If they frighten millions into thinking Brexit, Trump, Salvini, and Le Pen are the moral equivalent of Adolf Hitler, then they do not need any comprehensive plan other than to double-down on the same policies and system from which hundreds of millions throughout the West are feeling alienated.

The far left is no different than the mainstream liberal establishment. They propose a doubling-down of the same failed Marxist vision of the last century. As I walk through London, I can see graffiti saying, “Karl Marx Walks,” and other references to the dead white male German political-economist who was wrong on all his predictions about the dialectical advancement of history. There is an odd irony in the left complaining about dead white males except for the dead white males that they like. These true believers, like the religious fanatics they are but in a secular guise, will seek to purge heretics of some blasphemous crime like abandoning the dogmatic tenets of the religion. “It hasn’t happened yet, but it will,” is their brain-dead universal retort. You can’t have a rational conversation with such people who pin their expectations to some future imagined event yet to be realized. All evidence to the contrary will just be met with the response, “it will.”

Moreover, the scare tactics of invoking the 1930s is deceitful because the 1930s was a decade of exuberant excitement for the far left. They sought to capitalize on the crumbling liberal order and usher in their utopia with bloodshed and violence too. The far left was not besieged in the 1930s, it was carrying out the besieging in places like El Salvador, Spain, China, and on the march in many European countries hoping to take power to enforce upon society its vision of the ideal community. Where the far left was in power, they resorted to murder, terrorism, and intimidation to try and create that ideal community.

There is no doubt that we live in tumultuous times. But the prophets of chaos and scaremongering overplay their hand in trying to link current movements of discontent with those of the 1930s. The next time you hear or read something about “the 1930s” or allusions to “brownshirts” and concentration camps, it would be best to see through the florid rhetoric to realize that those who are weaponizing apoplectic indignation do so for political expediency. They do not care about those whom they want votes from. They just care about getting those votes, however possible. And they’ve decided scaring people into voting for them is the best tactic to achieve, or hold, power.

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