Shaking Off the Leftist Philosophy

The whole Progressive, Leftist enterprise can be characterized as the astonishing practice of trying to improve things by making them worse. It has always been so.

A hundred years ago, half of Moscow, at one time or another, languished in jail, while the other half feared being arrested. The Muscovites who were still at large were forced to wait in long lines for provisions that remained in short supply. Agriculture had been disrupted by cockeyed regulations. Soviet industry was desperately in need of capital goods but the regime had nothing to offer in trade. Meanwhile, according to Lenin, all was well because the workers had lost their chains and were advancing toward communism.

Today, Lenin’s heirs insistently promote equity and anti-racism, even as the results of their policies look like chaos. Public schools, having abandoned discipline, fail to graduate students who can read and calculate at grade level. Their alumni nevertheless gain admission to colleges and universities that segregate them and offer majors in rage and insurrection.

Border control is non-existent, vagrancy is explained away, crimes have been de-criminalized, and everyone must be injected with substances that are not entirely safe or effective. But rejoice brothers and sisters in the struggle, for we’re eradicating inequalities and disparities.

How is it, though, that despite the wretched examples of Soviet Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, and other experiments in political and social ruin, up to and including the Biden administration, we can’t shake this ever-failing philosophy?

To get a handle on the matter, we need to delve into the mentality of the “social justice” movement. The non-profit sector is a good place to start because almost all the foundations that fund human services are run by progressives. How do they operate? What do they require of the organizations applying to them for money?

To get a grant from these charities, first, you must lay out your progressive objectives. Then you must specify the outcome indicators that you will use to measure your progress. By “outcome indicators,” they mean a number. The number of people or the percentage of program participants who will benefit in this way or that. You are often required to prepare a “logic model.” This is a chart or diagram that depicts in schematic form what you propose to do, how you will go about doing it, and what you predict the results will be.

Do you see how analytical they are? Perhaps I should say, how left-brained they are? They’re like physicists. Physicists run experiments in particle accelerators. What occurs in the cyclotron may confound expectations. Physicists then posit the existence of a theoretical particle to explain what happened. Similarly, progressives observe far more Black people in prisons and far fewer in corporate boardrooms than one would project from their proportion of the general population. They then invent a theoretical construct—“systemic racism”—to explain the matter.

Professor Victor Davis Hanson calls the progressive mentality “deductive.” He says they’re not “empirical.” What he means is that they impose their theoretical constructs on a complex reality and proceed to carry out the dictates of their theories with the brutal logic of a doomsday machine in a science-fiction movie.

Anything that doesn’t fit the construct—for example, pathologies within the Black underclass arising from fatherless families or associating success in school with White culture—is dismissed, ignored, and discarded.

The important thing to notice here is that we’re all taught to use our minds in this way. We’re trained to look for “systems.” To categorize. To construct explanatory, predictive “models” and be guided by the results. It’s not that this is altogether bad. It’s just that we are not taught that this is but one way of employing our minds, one approach to operating in the world.

Contrast this with the approach of the Inuit hunter whose ability to navigate a bleak wilderness of tundra, snow, and ice often amazes visitors from the temperate regions. “Listen to the story the land is telling you,” the hunter will say. The hunter’s mind isn’t cluttered with theoretical constructs. He is entirely empirical, even a bit intuitive. He must be—otherwise he’ll starve.

Western civilization cannot rid itself of leftist philosophies because the mentality of the left is the bastard child of our left-brained, hyper-analytic mode of thought. It is western intellect through the looking glass, a wild caricature of the western mentality.

To put a stake in the heart of progressive doctrines will require a thorough reappraisal of what it means to educate. This would go far beyond the recognition that indoctrination is not education. In the meantime, we can introduce two correctives into K-12 and higher education to lessen the propensity of our teachers and students to be deductive rather than empirical.

These are concepts that have been preserved for us in religious traditions, though they really have nothing to do with religion. One is humility. Humility does not mean piety, timidity, or submissiveness. It means allowing for the possibility that you may be wrong, that your assumptions might be faulty, or that you have drawn a conclusion prematurely. It means suspending judgment, broadening your inquiry, surveying the here, there, and everywhere of your field, and waiting to see how it all adds up.

The second concept is repentance. Repentance does not mean whacking yourself on the head with a paddle or rending your garments. It means having the flexibility to turn back from a mistaken notion. It means rethinking, regrouping, and reassessing your position, rather than trying to improve things by making them worse.

Sheldon Bart of the Foundation to Illuminate America’s Heroes ( is writing a book about intrigue and upheaval in Europe and Asia in the aftermath of World War I.

Image: Tolka Rover

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