DAVID SOLWAY: DIAGNOSING THE LEFT
Diagnosing the Left Posted By David Solway
URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2011/07/25/diagnozing-the-left/
It should be clear by this time that there is no medium of intellectual exchange with the left, that facts do not matter, that logic is helpless to convince or to prompt even the slightest reconsideration, and that practically every counter-argument can be turned on its head and interpreted as confirmation of the original idée fixe. As I wrote in The Big Lie, this is a tendency or disposition that bespeaks the resurgence of a political romanticism wedded to motives rather than consequences, unachievable ideals rather than practical values. It consists largely of the cryogenized remnants of an antique crusade for unperturbed happiness and tranquility, actuated by a child-like desire for transcendence that is the curse of liberal political civilization, and that, in various spiritual and revolutionary forms, has caused untold harm and suffering in the past.
Ultimately, it amounts to a prepossession that resembles a species of clinical paranoia, associated with symptoms like unbridled hostility where disagreement is perceived, extreme sarcasm often rising to livid vulgarity, an intense need for control and the belief in personal infallibility. It is, in effect, a squalid amalgam of hubris and the herd mentality. Obviously, the disorder is not exclusive to the left, but it is on that side of the political spectrum where it manifests most prominently and insistently.
Let us briefly examine three of the hot button issues of the current historical moment as illustrations of the closed and irrational mindset of the “progressive” left: global warming, universal health care and Israel.
Evidence is piling up to suggest that the human contribution to global warming—assuming it exists—is far less than originally assumed and that a meteorological calamity is highly unlikely. Fully two-thirds of the scientists attending the 33rd International Geological Congress in Norway in August 2008 were hostile to, even contemptuous of, the UN’s IPCC reports on global climate catastrophe, which had been shown to be fatally compromised by glaring errors, false predictions and spurious sources. The science is not only not “settled” but demonstrably fraudulent, whether we are considering Michael Mann’s now infamous “hockey stick” graph and tree-ring manipulations, Al Gore’s exploded theories, the Hadley email dump, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri’s melting Himalayas (and other absurdities since discredited), the hopelessly astray IPCC computer models, the deliberate and methodical suppression of findings that indicate the planet has been cooling since at least 2002 and probably several years before that, James Hansen’s underwater New York, the Goddard Institute’s specious data—we can exceterize indefinitely.
Yet our climatophrenics soldier on, utterly indifferent to the mounting wave of countervailing evidence that threatens to swamp, not New York or the islands of the Pacific, but their own rickety constructs. The hermetic mind, in whatever form and at whatever stage in its evolution, is a monstrous thing, and climatophrenia is one of its most arresting contemporary manifestations. The truth is that Global Warming, to quote Philip Stott, professor emeritus of biogeography at the University of London, “has become the grand political narrative of the age, replacing Marxism as a dominant force for controlling liberty and human choices” (Global Warming Politics, May 18, 2009). This is not to say that GW proponents do not believe in their delusion; many plainly do and will act to criminalize their adversaries and blithely reject any incontrovertible data which challenges their position. Their ideas are vacuum packed.
When it comes to universal health care, the facts are already in. It is undeniable that the single payer health care system is an unmitigated disaster wherever it has been implemented. The British experience with socialized medicine has been sufficiently traumatic to deter any responsible reformer from going the same calamitous route. The Canadian system, from which I and my fellow citizens suffer, is little better, subject to an acute shortage of doctors and nurses, massive overcrowding, interminable wait times and bloated bureaucracies that swallow up half the operating budget. Yet when the evidence of systemic failure is presented to the governing elites—the Obama administration is a conspicuous example—it is simply ignored or, as in Michael Moore’s propaganda film Sicko, distorted to suggest the opposite. Moore gives the Canadian health care industry the thumbs up; I live in this country and know that he is doctoring the truth.
Of course, there may be another agenda at work here, namely, as with the great global warming scam, the covert statist intention to assume increasing control of the economy and social life. Nevertheless, the statists for the most part are convinced they are right in proceeding as they do despite the clear repudiation of their congenial tenets furnished by the real world. The counterfeit narrative must be maintained at all costs, its opponents and critics demonized, and every antithetical detail or circumstance reinterpreted as elements in a nefarious plot against the integrity and well-being of the innocent and at-risk.
And then there is the left’s propaganda offensive against the Jewish state along the entire continuum from the religious to the secular, from the Likud administration to the settlers in Judea and Samaria, and of course we must not forget the denunciation of the so-called “occupation.” When it is indisputably demonstrated that the definition “occupied territories” is legally and historically wrong, that there are no 1967 “borders,” and that since 1917 the territories were “disputed” but not sovereign, the left merely covers its ears. When it is mentioned that the Palestinian Authority fully controls 94% of the “West Bank” and that the remaining 6% is monitored by the IDF to prevent terrorist infiltration, the topic turns to the “separation wall.” When it is pointed out that the “wall” is mainly fence and that its purpose is to keep out suicide bombers (and that several other nations have erected far more extensive dividing barriers for security purposes, without the slightest international reproof), the subject moves to the “occupation” of Gaza.
When it is observed that Israel withdrew entirely from Gaza in 2005, it is then duly condemned for the “blockade.” When one objects that the blockade is intended to impede weapons smuggling, that it is wholly legitimate according to the provisions of international law since Hamas is demonstrably at war with Israel, that Israel allows hundreds of thousands of tons of material supplies annually into Gaza, and that the Hamas-dominated enclave is actually flourishing compared to other Muslim nations in the region, the subject is either closed off or the focus shifts to the Golan Heights. When it is shown that…by now one gets the picture. For the denizens of the left, we can be sure there is always a scheming Israeli lurking about somewhere in the whorls of their delirium. David Mamet gets it right in The Secret Knowledge: “The price of admission to the extravaganza is indictment of the State of Israel, which is condemned and scorned regardless of the facts of history, the exercise of reason, or the recognition of cultural affinity.”
The syndrome at work is one of absolute conviction based on the transformation of objective stimuli into subjective impressions via the baleful alchemy of a private obsession. Theory supersedes existence. The delusion is plausible because it is rendered seamless and coherent although it has no application to things as they are. Internal consistency, however strained, replaces external correspondence. Paul Hsieh memorably compares this “willful blindness to facts” to a driver following a malfunctioning GPS rather than “real-world landmarks,” leading to what is called “death by GPS.”
Thus, the hallucination can persuade because it appears intelligible even if it is discontinuous with reality and because every incompatible fact is either discarded or re-valued. As John Le Carré writes in Smiley’s People, “The more one has paid for a forgery, the more one defends it in the face of all the evidence to the contrary.” And, naturally, it is open season on conservatives, whose plausible rebuttals and marshalling of countervailing evidence must be rejected outright and who must therefore be denounced and ostracized. Whether on the personal or collective levels of belief, the system is unassailable. It cannot be defeated; it can only be quarantined.
The epitome of the sealed worldview is represented by the political phenomenon of socialism, in whatever form it adopts. As has often been demonstrated, socialism, however it may be defined, has failed wherever it has been tried, from the reverberating implosion of the U.S.S.R. to the Peronism of Argentina to current European states like Greece and Spain (and others) sinking into unsustainable debt and heading toward fiscal default. “Progressive ideology,” remarks Bruce Thornton, expressing a truism of the ages, “reflects a narrative founded on unexamined ideas long exposed as unworkable.” No matter. The harder reality pushes, the harder the mind committed to its illusion pushes back, impenetrable and resistant.
Admittedly, for some on the left, their concern with humanity and the health of the planet is a brazen scam. As H.L. Mencken reminds us, “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule,” at least among the commissariat. But for many others, likely a majority—especially among the rank and file—we are dealing with a cognitive and emotional infirmity that has assumed the proportions of a social epidemic.
The etiology of this psychological disease is complex and not entirely understood, but it remains a compulsion that garbles and disfigures the world. There can be little doubt that committed socialists and Marxists are immune to reality and will favor policies that deform rather than advance communal benefit, turning the world into an ideological cul-de-sac in which misconceptions multiply and neighbor is set against neighbor. The left toils in the grip of a persistent fantasy that is utterly impervious to logical refutation. Its adherents, all chanting together the formulae of epistemic solidarity, will not be influenced by such frivolities as objective data and sober reasoning.
It is, in short, sheer madness on a planetary scale.
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