The Left on the Move: Arrogance or Ignorance?


The message is clear. America’s Democrats are moving to the left. 57% of those that identify with the party prefer Socialism to a free-market economy.

With that, the USA might be marching against the larger trend which moves in the opposite direction. Oddly, by backing away from what is working ever better, America has a companion in the developed world. It is not causative but certainly interesting that, Switzerland is, given its system of government, more similar to the USA than to other European countries. For this reason, it is the only state in Europe that, being thereby non-EU compatible, is not a member. (The difference to America, whose system the Swiss copied, is that the “President” is a “Federal Council” of seven, and that the Supreme Court has no equivalent.) One may add that Switzerland is more stable and richer than is the US or the rest of Europe. In Switzerland, too, at least for now, having drifted when that was unpopular to the right, as in America, the signs point to a readjustment to the left.

What might be the moving force behind such atypical behavior? “What it is not” is easily stated. Capitalism’s version of “Bolivarian” self-destruction does not fly. Whereas in Caracas “nothing works” -except the printing press that can insert ample zeros on small pieces of paper- in America most things work, -regardless of the barking dogs that follow the caravan-, better than before. In Switzerland, things have always worked and that condition has not changed.

Become aware of reality. Frequently, the citizen has not only a bad memory but also a short memory. That means that if a party or a system overcomes the troubles -the promise which got it elected-, restored normalcy creates a new awareness. Time wipes out the recollection of earlier insufficiency and that diminishes the appreciation for the remedy. Furthermore, once security and its incremental upgrades is secured, that achievement becomes a new and self-evident normality.
When the notion spreads that “we are doing well” and that this is a natural condition of which nothing can deprive us, the ground becomes fertile for foolish adventures.

To the extent that they alert, crises can have an educational effect. In case that the somnolent identify the source of their calamity, the effect will be remedial. However, if the false enemy is chosen, the “solution” -as in Germany in 1933, Russia in 1917 – is devastating. Misread calamities provoke counter measures that bring disaster.
Doing well when the cause of earlier success is forgotten perils will be ignored, and that will lead to the wrong response. Long periods of bliss can be detached from the policies that have brought it about. An assumed guarantee of continued and secure prosperity is pregnant with erroneous judgments that are extrapolated from illusions that end in man-made catastrophe. If taken for granted, prosperity and freedom can result in amnesia that then nurtures mirages that bring ruin.

The intended point is that unearned, and seemingly “nature-willed” affluence, distorts perspectives. We like to forget that prosperity is not a “normal” condition, that wealth is created by an effort, and that so, most of mankind, being badly led has only marginal access to the globe’s riches. Through history man had been concerned to have enough to eat and to put clothing on his back. Our ancestors, threatened by famine, did not need miracle diets to escape obesity.

Our predecessors went barefoot when they had no shoes, and they wore torn jeans as they had no access to whole ones. Going barefooted and using artificially torn and faded clothing are fashionably “in” and are a luxury that mimics the genuine destitution. In some circles this “acting downwards” includes the cult of appearing dirty in pseudo-proletarian style. That desired condition is achieved by males’ long hair and a Guevara-type beard. In doing so it is comforting to know that at home to which one can retreat, there is a shower with warm water. Parents that finance the reentry from the pseudo- “lumpen” excursion to a chosen lifestyle adds to the unconcerned enjoyment of the visit into an episode of adventure.

A comparable mechanism might explain the resurgence of the Left. This year, the balding 68-ers celebrates their heroism in the service of an idea -actually, just aiding the Soviets. They were young, knew little, and had access to the opulence created by a generation that reconstructed Europe, especially Germany, after the war. That was a process of hardship in which the kids in pursuit of a utopia have not participated. By ’68 material security and liberty seemed to be unalienable, and so the search for exciting alternatives gained in attraction. Ignorance of real conditions in the socialist realm contributed to the desire “to slum it” with visitor status.

Revived socialism benefits of the ignorance of those that manage to forget even what they have avoided to learn in the past. The attraction of a tour in a collectivist heaven is supported by the simplistic image of the world war. Appearing to have been a right-left conflict, the conclusion is that “left” is always “good”, anything right of that is, “right wing extremism” and, thus,” bad”. However, the reassurance of the efficacy of socialist potions that cure what allegedly ails us, comes from another theme, too.

Its gist is that, even in the view of those that are cognizant of its failure in the Soviet sphere, socialism can work as its theory claims. This romanticism suppresses the information of documented material and ethic failure, and it ignores that this botch had been systemic and not accidental.

It would be wrong, unless one is a Nazi, to bring up as an excuse that national socialism has murdered only 12 million, while international socialism liquidated -and still continues to kill- about a 100 million. This is no excuse as seventy years make more possible than a local force can accomplish in a score of years.

Alas, invoking against the proponents’ ignorance the facts they dislike to remember is of no help. When what poses as a reasonable opinion expresses an infatuation, the facts, love being blind, are of no help. The past’s Soviet Gulag, the Katyns, make little impression, and the “Cultural revolution” that smashed culture does not count. The same goes for the empty shelves of Venezuelan stores or the shot protesters in Nicaragua. In case you wonder “why”, here is an attempt to explain.

To begin, while the nutty Nazi right shames the ignoramuses that plead for a “reset”, being “far left” is hardly damaging to reputations. Attribute that to the residual sympathies of the opinion makers -often ex-Maoists- and to the fact that the USSR has not been defeated militarily when it folded.

It is from these supportive factors that we are led to the major argument of those that “hawk” leftist opiates. For one thing, what these people advocate is not an “experiment” because, once implemented, it cannot be rolled back. Once you have opted in you cannot opt out without getting shot.

The main case made against left-collectivism’s advocates is the record of Marxist systems. Declining living standards, missed development, and poverty for all is what socialism has brought its victims. However, the case of the slaughtered mass that actually resisted or was suspected to want to oppose servitude, stands out.

To that confrontation with the theory’s practical consequences, the creed’s advocates have a retort. It is that the “Idea” has not been implemented properly. Interestingly, Nazi fossils make the same claim -which, in itself, does not invalidate the Left’s pretention. The excuse meant as a reassurance is that this time it will not be the way it has always been, is generally followed by a supplement. Earlier attempts to “build Socialism” were undertaken in backward societies. “Here”, given a progressive tradition and a modern industry, thanks to local conventions, socialism will not end in dictatorship but bring about justly disbursed plenty.

Faced by such arrogant allegations, one is surprised by the avowal of the superiority of the national tradition. Some time ago we learned that there is leftist anti-Semitism. This insouciance reveals that also a leftist chauvinism exists. Or is the claim simply an expression of so much ignorance of the past that its return is not feared?

The claim that the past either did not exist or that leftism’s repeated habit to jump off the tracks is not systemic, is not convincing. That is because the record created is dismal, its poverty debilitating, and the oppression by its prophets, crushing. And that is the case through a century of experimentation, on different continents, across dissimilar cultures, and in diverse countries. Therefore, proposing to try again what has consistently failed in the hope of better results is, to the rational mind, less than unpersuasive. It demonstrates that some of us confuse a theory’s promises with its performance while they refuse to recognize a failure even as a tide of the denied facts moves in. You should worry about yourself if you are inclined not to want to notice. And for good measure, fear for the society that submits to leaders that fall for the appeal of the irrational that delusional minds produce.

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