Monday, October 11, 2010

FLG Demurs

Prof. Mondo links approvingly to a post by Shannon Love on Che and the Leftist conception history. FLG strongly disagrees. Not with the symptoms Love articulates, but the underlying causes.

Love commences thusly:
Beyond their personal intellectual and moral hubris, leftists think they know best because they believe themselves to belong to a line of ideological descent which has always been altruistic, benevolent and always proven correct in the long run. The reason they believe that is because leftists know nothing of their own history. Instead, they take a simplified, cartoonish view of their ideological predecessors that can only be described as hagiographic. Any mistakes or evils perpetrated by anyone that leftists identify with are simply written out of leftists’ history.

FLG's intellectual radar went off when the words "long run" appeared. Leftists don't actually care about the long run. They care about NOW. If there were problems with previous left wingers, then 1) sins in the pursuit of expeditiousness are to be overlooked and 2) those particular problems don't apply to the current NOW.

Love continues:
Why are leftists so prone to self-delusion? Why are they so ready to believe that they themselves and their predecessors never make any mistakes?

Firstly, leftists always want quick and easy answers to problems like poverty which have dogged humanity since the dawn of history. They don’t want to hear that such problems can’t be really “solved” but simply mitigated or improved slightly. They would prefer to be sold the fantasy of a quick and easy fix whose implementation is blocked only by the selfishness and outright evil of non-leftists.

Secondly, leftists have powerful need to view themselves as intellectually and morally superior to everyone else. They have the need to see themselves as the heroic protagonist in the story of the modern world. Since they use the same methodology today to arrive at their justifications as did the leftists of the past, they must create a narrative in which the leftists of the past were always proven correct and infallible.

To this end, every event, every history, every fact is shaped and bent by the aggregation of the emotional need of millions of leftists to view themselves as infallible, crusading heroes. This emotional need creates a niche in the free market of ideas which the professional intellectuals of the far left are all too glad to fill with stories of leftwing hagiography. After a few generations, what started as an emotion-driven market niche evolves into a distinct subculture whose tenets become unquestionable. It becomes a secular religion whose tenets are unquestionable and where virtue becomes defined as believing in those self-same tenets.

Again, FLG doesn't disagree with the symptoms. Quick, easy solutions. Intellectual and moral superiority. But the thing is that history, ulitmately, doesn't matter to Leftists. It's an eternal NOW. If there's some problem, then it can be explained away as particular to that NOW, which in turn has little relevance to the current NOW. Historical narratives might be used as a part of persuasion, but ultimately it doesn't matter.

This probably sounds wrong to some of you. For example, you might ask, aren't many socio-economic problems explained as the product of a long line of discrimination that goes back to slavery? Yes. Well, then don't leftists care about history? No, says FLG. Imagine a counterfactual world in which slavery never happened, but there's still economic disparity along racial lines. Do you think people on the Left would still object even in the absence of that historical explanation? It's the situation right NOW that's the problem for the true believer on the Left, not the history. The historical narrative perhaps bolsters the case, but isn't the real driver.

Now, in fairness, there's stuff on the right that's similar. There's never a bad time for tax cuts in the Republican view.

But the reason that Leftists have a warped history is that they ultimately don't care about it vis-a-vis current policies. They live in an Eternal NOW. If they did care about some continuous history and the long run, then they'd be conservatives.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure y'all (you and Love) are irreconcilable on this one. I suspect that the Left's lack of interest in anything beyond the immediate is part of what renders their myth so easily whitewashed. If all that matters is the NOW (an example of short-to-nonexistent time horizons), then the "historical myth" is, and in fact must be, malleable in order to accomplish whatever the exigent demands may be.

Perhaps I'm syncretizing here, but as I said, the difference I see here between you and Love seems less paradigmatic than terminological.

FLG said...

Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Anonymous said...

Dang. Did I sound that loony?

FLG said...

No. You didn't. In fact, you made a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

And Withywindle SCORES with the double dactyl!

FLG said...

Withywindle wrote previously:

Higgledy-piggledy, Love's diagnostic is
Merely symptometry says FLG;
No, says Prof Mondo, that's terminological
Word-chopping, blogger-boy, take it from me.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.