The Transrealism of the Left
In the ongoing and infinitely tedious sex wars of our time, pitting women against men, women against women, men against women, men against men, and whatever seventy or so gender claimants lurk in between, it looks like the transgender brigade is winning the day. It represents, so to speak, the cutting edge of the intersectional fray.
Indeed, the trans phenomenon is perhaps the most interesting of the erotic variables that define the current wave of insanity, of which the transition from male to female, whether surgical, hormonal or cosmetic, appears to be the paramount factor in the venereal mix. Bathrooms in many establishments are no longer gender-specific. Women’s sporting events are increasingly dominated by biological males identifying as women. Corporations have climbed aboard the intersex, gender non-conforming and transgender bandwagon. Over fifty large companies, including Amazon, Coca Cola, ebay, Google, Microsoft and counting, have issued a statement affirming “the rights and identities of transgender people,” ludicrously claiming that “gender definition determined by birth anatomy fails[s] to reflect the complex realities of gender identity and human biology” and implying the virtue of biomorphic mutation. Many religious institutions have welcomed such gender anomalies into the fold. Even preschoolers are being subjected to the LGBT+ blitz and are taught the blessings of transitioning.
The internet as well is awash with articles, blogs, book titles and reviews all touting the wonders of transgenderism in a concerted effort to persuade a skeptical public and encourage those who have undergone sexual “reassignment” or “confirmation” surgery -- as if one could reassign what was never “assigned” in the first place. Literature of this sort studiously avoids the downside of treating gender dysphoria as a medical condition requiring drastic intervention and the immense unhappiness and well-documented suffering such treatment can and often does cause in later life.
Despite widespread resistance from parents, other members of the public and even some vocal feminists concerned about the weakening of their political bloc, it seems the trans movement can’t be stopped, irrespective of common sense and biological fact. For transpeople have become the “intentional community” du jour. The question that poses itself is: why? How has such an absurd satyricon come to pass in an advanced culture, in an information-rich and presumably enlightened age? How is such utter buffoonery even remotely possible?
Like feminism itself and the cultural drift toward identity politics, transgenderism is a child of the left. The answer to the question seems to lie in the socialist belief in limitless human perfectibility, in the political and technological capacity to change human nature in the quest to establish a utopian society, or, in the words of Joshua Muravchik in his takedown of socialist ideology, Heaven on Earth, to make “things that had been taken as fanciful suddenly seem possible,” which he associates with the secular program of the French Revolution.
In Lectures on Ideology and Utopia, French philosopher Paul Ricoeur defined the positive form of utopian thinking as the “exploration of the possible,” but understood that it is always vulnerable to fantasy, a gloss on Karl Mannheim’s Ideology and Utopia where Mannheim claims that utopian thinking is “not at all concerned with what really exists.” And utopian thinking is the definitive property of the political left -- that is, not only as the “exploration of the possible” but the attempted realization of the impossible. Human beings can thoroughly shed their private personalities, wealth can be equally distributed without damaging the social consensus, property can be seized by an all-encompassing state for the undeniable benefit of all its citizens, society can be happily and productively collectivized, class divisions can be eradicated, endemic corruption can be rooted out, and human beings and human societies can be manipulated to ensure peaceful coexistence, economic parity, pastoral tranquillity and a sense of universal kinship.
In other words, everything becomes possible in the socialist world-view. That is why a woman can become a man but, more importantly in the current milieu, why a man can become a woman. Biological sex can be transformed into voluntary gender. All that is needed is a bit of invasive tinkering and the right attitude. The transgender phenomenon is merely the latest manifestation of leftist postconceptions, the basic assumption that the impossible is possible, that everything can be transformed according to an ideologically inspired blueprint.
As Ryan Anderson writes in When Harry Became Sally, “Thoughts or feelings that disguise or distort reality,” especially sexual reality, will create “a culture of androgyny and confusion.” This pathology, which he describes as “severing gender from sex,” is a powerful strategy of the left in its project to abolish the natural and traditional joists of human societies in a bid to remake the world from scratch. That is why the transgender person is now the mermaid on the bowsprit of the socialist ship of state.
Ultimately, the utopian, or transreal, dialectic embraced by the left is doomed to eventual failure, as the historical record has proven time and time again, without exception. But in the meantime, what inevitably ensues is political tyranny, economic misery, the breakdown of social truth, and -- the inescapable result of forced assent to a collectivist lie -- the humiliation of the individual person. Theodore Dalrymple’s brilliant aperçus in Our Culture, What’s Left of It is pertinent: “When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity… A society of emasculated liars is easy to control.”
Life then becomes a prolonged act of pretending that what cannot or should not be is acceptable and even glorious. The lie seeps into every crack and facet of everyday existence. Both intellectual reason and civil autonomy have been sacrificed to a mirage. As Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski wrote in Main Currents of Marxism, to imagine “that we can design some plan for the whole society whereby harmony, justice and plenty are attained by human engineering is an invitation to despotism.” It is, in short, an invitation to disaster.
One notes so pernicious a program at work in Barack Obama’s pledge to “fundamentally transform America,” a significant chapter in the Left’s operational manual and an act of political transrealism. It is, as Paul Kengor writes, “the textbook definition of totalitarianism…[which seeks] to fundamentally transform human nature via some form of political-ideological-cultural upheaval.” (Italics mine.) As Kengor points out, Obama’s fundamental transformation involves the “sexual-gender-family front” and the promotion of “LGBT rights at home and abroad.” One might say that America, or a large sector of the country, has transitioned, that its republican tradition has been reassigned as “democratic socialism,” that is, as a fledgling totalitarian state. This is the left’s wet dream.
There is, of course, a much larger stage on which the sociopolitical play is being mounted, namely, a world from which God has been banished and that sees the ascension of what Nietzsche in Thus Spake Zarathustra called the ubermensch (or “overman”) to occupy the now empty throne. This is both a human temptation and a historical reality that has been discussed and analyzed for centuries, going back to the Book of Genesis and St. Augustine’s City of God, and has culminated since the time of Robespierre in a major theme of modern political, philosophical and religious discourse.
The conversation has taken many forms with respect to human agency and the plenary autonomy of the will. Liberation theology, for example, is a self-avowed transformative mode of socialist dogma and practice, profoundly influenced by Marxism and committed to the ideal recreation of society, by violence if necessary. Major theologians like Paul Tillich in Political Expectations and Martin Buber in Paths in Utopia have entered into the perennial debate, recognizing the plus and minus sides of the utopian prepossession, but they remain cautious. Reinhold Niebuhr for his part is far more unflattering, devoting portions of his two-volume The Nature and Destiny of Man to condemning “The utopian illusions and sentimental aberrations of modern liberal culture,” stemming from “the basic error of negating the fact of original sin.” The concept of original sin may be interpreted as the theological understanding of intractable human nature, which socialist doctrine refuses to admit. Such refusal surrenders the theater to the radical playbill of the leftist dramaturge, who is sufficient only to himself and who can reinvent the world on his own terms, morality be damned. “Communists do not preach morality at all,” lectured Karl Marx in The German Ideology.
“If God does not exist, then everything is permitted,” said Ivan Karamazov. By which he meant that in the absence of reason, morality and humility, man in his overweening pride could do as he wishes despite the consequences, and would seek to enact the impossible: the perfectly egalitarian society, the advent of socialist man, and the multigender human being as the latest sign and accomplishment of the left’s political sorcery. “Ye shall be as gods,” as the serpent promised. In effect, you can be anything you want to be, in defiance of mind, nature, biology, history and spirit. There are no rules, no boundaries, no limitations. Reality is malleable. You can unmake and remake the world at will. This is the core philosophy of the Godless left.
In the beginning of the Transreal Age, there was AdamEve, a transgender being formed from the dust of ideology who sallies forth as the harbinger of a sinless future.
Transgender symbol by ParaDox