The Historical Undertow of Constitutional Envy
One wonders what, aside from sheer ignorance, animates people to adopt doctrinaire leftist ideas when they have proven time and again to not only be ineffective, but to generally make matters worse. At a certain point, you have to begin wondering whether there is actually an unconscious desire to do just that -- perhaps something reflecting Freud’s idea of a death instinct in human beings.
In taking the long view of history, it is almost necessary to posit such a soph-defeating anti-evolutionary or anti-divine force in the world, if for no other reason than to have an explanatory “place holder” until we discover what this force actually is. It’s the same with the notion of satan, or the old Zoroastrian idea that cosmic history is a battle between Ahura Mazda and Ahriman, or light and dark respectively. If it’s not, then it might as well be.
Even Democrats used to see things this way. For example, President Truman once remarked that “God has created [the United States] and brought us to our present position of power and strength” in order to defend “spiritual values -- the moral code -- against the vast forces of evil that seek to destroy them.”
The war against Islamic jihad is nothing other than a struggle against pure, unalloyed evil. But what if you are too sophisticated to believe in the primitive idea of evil? Then you are probably too sophisticated to survive your own magical ideology. In naively embracing “peace” you are ensuring your own doom, which frankly wouldn’t bother me if I and my friends and family and beloved cosmonauts didn’t have to go down with you.
It's too bad we can't conduct a controlled experiment between Red America and Blue America. Then, once and for all, we could have a true test of which ideas are the more functional and create more economic prosperity and moral goodness.
In Blue America they would have high taxes, a mammoth, intrusive federal government, economically crippling Kyoto-style restrictions, government enforced racial discrimination, open borders (except into our country -- to preserve the integrity of the experiment we’d have to have a big fence to keep the Blue meanies from escaping into our beautiful Red America), a permanent ban on vouchers to ensure the stranglehold the Teachers Union has on education, a religious test to keep people of faith out of public life, no guns, no smoking, lots of abortions, inefficient and insanely expensive "free" healthcare, even more special rights and protections for criminals and terrorists, a ban on evil places like Walmart which provide vital goods to people of modest means at rock bottom prices, college at someone else's expense for everyone, no matter how stupid, and a high minimum wage to suppress employment and spur inflation.
As I mentioned a couple of posts back, if your conception of human nature is faulty, then your political philosophy is going to be dysfunctional. One of the reasons leftism is so inherently dysfunctional is that it revolves around the appeasement of perhaps the single most spiritually destructive human emotion of them all, constitutional envy. In the formulation of the brilliant psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, envy is the primary mode of expression of the death instinct. It is present in everyone, but can be exacerbated by early childhood experiences so that later in life it becomes a crippling barrier to psychological health and happiness. For envy prevents one from appreciating what one has. It can only attack the person or system believed to possess what one lacks. In this regard, it is the polar opposite of gratitude, which is one of the prerequisites of human happiness. As a matter of fact, Klein’s most famous book is entitled Envy and Gratitude.
At the heart of leftism is envy. Now, I am not a libertarian. I do not believe we should rid ourselves of all leftist ideas even if we could. But this is not because I believe leftist ideas work. Rather, it is because I believe that the force of envy is so strong in human beings, that the culture must have some means to channel it in an officially sanctioned way, or the society will implode from within. But the question is, how much should we appease envy? Because if you go too far, as they have in Europe, then you will reach that tipping point where the society begins to spiritually rot from within, because envy is an intrinsically sick and unhealthy beast that can never be made healthy.
In America we try to appease envy by tolerating such odious things as trial lawyers, overtaxing the wealthy and productive, racial quotas, and a general relaxing of standards in every arena so that people might feel “special.” The problem is, none of these things work to eliminate envy, for the simple reason that you cannot eliminate envy. The leftist thinks that the solution is to further appease envy, which simply leads to a vicious cycle of more and more envy, until no one is allowed to have any more than anyone else.
This, of course, was the ideal of communism, which ended up creating the most petty and envious population you could imagine. It wasn’t just in the Soviet Union, but even in the idealistic socialist experiments of the early Zionists. They had the idea -- contrary to all scripture and all understanding of human nature -- that the kibbutzim would eliminate the problem of envy and create heaven on earth. But the opposite happened. Envy could not be appeased, and found ever more minute and destructive ways to express itself. Today very few kibbutzim remain, as Israel eventually adopted American ideals of free market capitalism, which unleashed tremendous creativity, innovation and economic growth because it tapped into its most critical natural resource: Jewish culture.
Since leftism is a magical belief system that is no more effective in the long run than a kooky religion that keeps predicting the second coming or the landing of aliens, one must conclude that its benefits are mainly psychological and emotional. Based on my past flirtation with leftism, I think this is pretty much on the mark. It is also no coincidence that I wasn’t particularly spiritual back then, so it obviously tapped into that archetypal dimension that was going unused at the time. In other words, leftism rides piggyback on properly religious impulses from which it derives so much of its energy and fervor. Leftist ideas may be ineffective in the world, but they are highly effective (in a perverse way) in transforming the psyche of the person who believes them, and that is the point.
A religious person knows that the world is corrupt and fallen. In fact, this banality falls under the heading of something one cannot not know. However, depending upon whether or not one is religious, one will respond very differently to this realization. For the leftist, it means that the present social arrangement (not man as such) is corrupt to the core and must be torn down -- with extreme revolutionary prejudice if necessary.
It is no accident that leftists believe that there is some unique “culture of corruption” among conservatives, when the most generous analysis will demonstrate that the corruption is spread about equally between left and right, because the problem is within the human heart, not with ideology per se. But I’m pretty sure that if you conducted just a little investigative research, you would find that the corruption is much more common and pervasive on the left. People must have very short memories, because the Clinton administration was possibly the most corrupt in history.
Let’s look at a recent example of corruption, Mark Foley, who was denounced by Republicans and forced into retirement as soon as his naughty IMs became known. But Democrat Gerry Studds, who actually raped (assuming the age of consent was 18) an underage male page? Here’s how the liberal media eulogized him last year. See if you notice any difference in treatment of the two cases:
“Gerry Studds, the first openly gay member of Congress and a demanding advocate for New England fishermen and for gay rights, died early Saturday at Boston University Medical Center, his husband (sic) said....
“[H]e was also a leading critic of President Ronald Reagan's clandestine support of the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. He staunchly opposed the Strategic Defense Initiative, which Studds once described as ‘the Edsel of the 1980s’ -- overpriced and oversold.
“His homosexuality was revealed through scandal. In 1983, he was censured by the House of Representatives for having had an affair 10 years earlier with a 17-year-old congressional page. For Mr. Studds, formal and dignified, a model of old New England reserve, the discovery sparked intense anguish, friends said.
“Once outed, however, Mr. Studds refused to buckle to conservative pressure to resign.... [H]e never apologized. He defended the relationship as consensual and condemned the investigation, saying it had invaded his privacy....
“And in addition to speaking on the House floor on behalf of same-sex marriage, he set an example. In 2004, he and his longtime partner, Dean Hara, became one of the first couples to marry under a Massachusetts law allowing same-sex marriage.
“Though his name had barely been mentioned in Washington since he retired, the resignation late last month of Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., revived interest in Mr. Studds' dalliance with a teenage page in 1983.”
So let’s get this right. Foley is a vicious homosexual pervert and child predator that corrupt Republicans knew about and condoned merely because they wanted to hold on to political power. But Studds was a courageous openly gay congressman who was outed and persecuted by Sandinista-hating conservatives who invaded his privacy merely because of a dalliance with an underage page.
I think I get it. If a Republican homosexual asks a page for a photograph, he’s a pervert and a pedophile. But if a Democratic homosexual rapes an underage page, he’s a champion of gay rights. Any questions?
To be continued tomorrow.