When a Lefty Declared the Death of Narrative

I happened to pick up a book at Ophelia’s Books in the People’s Republic of Fremont, in Seattle, this week. Written by a grand old leftie academic, J.H. Plumb, The Death of the Past proposed, in 1968, that we are too sophisticated and scientific to do history as regime apologists these days. See my blog here.

Good pitch, Sir John, but I ain’t buying.

Now, Plumb did allow as how there was still a wisp of Macaulay and Whig history around, and some crazed Marxists doing history as moral narrative. But professional historians would be ashamed to write like that in 1968.

Fast forward to 2018 and it is clear that the opposite is true and the Narrative is everything, particularly on the left. Indeed, the problem with the gentlemanly right, which I say died in 2016, is that we have allowed the Frankfurt-School-inspired left to run narrative rings around us.

So J.H. Plumb persuaded me. Today’s right must own the Narrative, and make the left’s narrative as shameful and cringeworthy as any of the five-and-twenty KKK racists still extant in America.

Facts don’t matter. Science doesn’t matter. Logic doesn’t matter. Even feelings don’t matter. In the public square the Narrative -- the story we have cooked up to explain the world -- is everything.

Of course, we must be better at the facts, better at the science, better at religion, better at philosophy, better at culture, better at politics, better at media than our lefty friends. I mean that we should know more about all this and practice it better than any of the lefty woke-aholics that have been so carefully taught to hate everything about our Western tradition. That goes without saying.

But ultimately, we need to persuade the American people that the left doesn’t care about people like them, that their narrative stinks with the stench of 100 million graves, and their politics doesn’t work.  We will know when we have arrived because every Mean Girl in America will be saying to her friend that she can´t believe that her lefty classmate said that.

Yeah. That will be the measure of our success: when good little girls who have been carefully taught from year to year would think that an AOC is just, like, weird.

And J.H. Plumb has also taught me what I am doing. I am blundering around doing narrative spadework that better men than I will use to create a Narrative that will amaze us all.

My reductive Three Peoples theory tells how our society naturally has different folks with different ways of living and different needs: Creatives, Responsibles, and Subordinates. And that there is every reason that we make the effort to all get along.

If you turn my Three Peoples upside down as the left does, you make the Creatives into noble insufferable activists; the Responsibles into a basket of deplorables -- a snakepit of pejoratives, from racists to xenophobes -- and finally you make the Subordinates into helpless victims. If you do that you get the world according to the left’s current Narrative.

I call the left as I see it, a Great Reaction, where socialism is neoslavery, the welfare state is neofeudalism, and identity politics is neotribalism.

Everything about the left is at best a pompous conceit and at worst a crime against humanity. It is a conceit for privileged college students to imagine that their “peaceful protests” are the cry of the oppressed, and it is a crime that they appropriate the genuine rage of the oppressed in their fake Activism Culture. It is a vile calumny for the left to stigmatize the responsible middle class as deplorable racists, etc., when the record of the last century and more is that the middle class is almost always ready to yield to the just demands of the oppressed, even though things always seem to cut against middle-class values. It is a crime against humanity that the left has, again and again, led the Subordinates to marinate in their tribal culture instead of helping them migrate towards the bourgeois culture, patronizing them as Little Darlings for a season before they become unclaimed rescue dogs, discarded domestic pets of the left’s power project.

Eric Hoffer famously prophesied that “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” Maybe he should have said that the taste for political activism becomes, with the accession to power, a shameful addiction, a conspiracy of fake victims and regime enforcers ginning up “fake hate crimes” in a pathetic attempt to recreate that well-remembered first hit of naive idealism.

One day soon, some little kid is going to embarrass us all and say that the emperor of activism has no clothes.

Imagine the day of lefty Narrative collapse; you can do it if you try.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.

I happened to pick up a book at Ophelia’s Books in the People’s Republic of Fremont, in Seattle, this week. Written by a grand old leftie academic, J.H. Plumb, The Death of the Past proposed, in 1968, that we are too sophisticated and scientific to do history as regime apologists these days. See my blog here.

Good pitch, Sir John, but I ain’t buying.

Now, Plumb did allow as how there was still a wisp of Macaulay and Whig history around, and some crazed Marxists doing history as moral narrative. But professional historians would be ashamed to write like that in 1968.

Fast forward to 2018 and it is clear that the opposite is true and the Narrative is everything, particularly on the left. Indeed, the problem with the gentlemanly right, which I say died in 2016, is that we have allowed the Frankfurt-School-inspired left to run narrative rings around us.

So J.H. Plumb persuaded me. Today’s right must own the Narrative, and make the left’s narrative as shameful and cringeworthy as any of the five-and-twenty KKK racists still extant in America.

Facts don’t matter. Science doesn’t matter. Logic doesn’t matter. Even feelings don’t matter. In the public square the Narrative -- the story we have cooked up to explain the world -- is everything.

Of course, we must be better at the facts, better at the science, better at religion, better at philosophy, better at culture, better at politics, better at media than our lefty friends. I mean that we should know more about all this and practice it better than any of the lefty woke-aholics that have been so carefully taught to hate everything about our Western tradition. That goes without saying.

But ultimately, we need to persuade the American people that the left doesn’t care about people like them, that their narrative stinks with the stench of 100 million graves, and their politics doesn’t work.  We will know when we have arrived because every Mean Girl in America will be saying to her friend that she can´t believe that her lefty classmate said that.

Yeah. That will be the measure of our success: when good little girls who have been carefully taught from year to year would think that an AOC is just, like, weird.

And J.H. Plumb has also taught me what I am doing. I am blundering around doing narrative spadework that better men than I will use to create a Narrative that will amaze us all.

My reductive Three Peoples theory tells how our society naturally has different folks with different ways of living and different needs: Creatives, Responsibles, and Subordinates. And that there is every reason that we make the effort to all get along.

If you turn my Three Peoples upside down as the left does, you make the Creatives into noble insufferable activists; the Responsibles into a basket of deplorables -- a snakepit of pejoratives, from racists to xenophobes -- and finally you make the Subordinates into helpless victims. If you do that you get the world according to the left’s current Narrative.

I call the left as I see it, a Great Reaction, where socialism is neoslavery, the welfare state is neofeudalism, and identity politics is neotribalism.

Everything about the left is at best a pompous conceit and at worst a crime against humanity. It is a conceit for privileged college students to imagine that their “peaceful protests” are the cry of the oppressed, and it is a crime that they appropriate the genuine rage of the oppressed in their fake Activism Culture. It is a vile calumny for the left to stigmatize the responsible middle class as deplorable racists, etc., when the record of the last century and more is that the middle class is almost always ready to yield to the just demands of the oppressed, even though things always seem to cut against middle-class values. It is a crime against humanity that the left has, again and again, led the Subordinates to marinate in their tribal culture instead of helping them migrate towards the bourgeois culture, patronizing them as Little Darlings for a season before they become unclaimed rescue dogs, discarded domestic pets of the left’s power project.

Eric Hoffer famously prophesied that “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” Maybe he should have said that the taste for political activism becomes, with the accession to power, a shameful addiction, a conspiracy of fake victims and regime enforcers ginning up “fake hate crimes” in a pathetic attempt to recreate that well-remembered first hit of naive idealism.

One day soon, some little kid is going to embarrass us all and say that the emperor of activism has no clothes.

Imagine the day of lefty Narrative collapse; you can do it if you try.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also get his American Manifesto and his Road to the Middle Class.