Idolatry, Ingratitude, Pride, and Other Left Wing Virtues
The post, if you will recall, was about the Ten Commandments of the left, which are -- and this was just off the top of my head, so it may need some tweaking -- Relativism, Idolatry, Ingratitude, Theft, Vanity (or Pride), Patricide, Lies, Adultery, Murder, and anti-Slack (which will require some explanation, but it has to do with the opposite of sabbath-think; it is why leftists can never stop their dreadful activism, why they can only do and never be, and most problematically, why they can't stop doing it to us, the persecuted minority of Cosmic Slacktivists).
The first section of the book is called Culture Wars, and consists of twenty essays, nearly every one going to what is for the left a commandment, and for us a sin.
Well, the book begins with a quote by Eliot to the effect that half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. Bam! Pride. But why pride? Pride must be a reaction to some counter-trend in the soul, AKA shame or low self-esteem or emptiness or separation from God.
The Poet continues: "They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves (emphasis mine).
Next to that passage I put a little note to myself, "bho." That is my customary shorthand for Barack Hussein. There will be many more as we proceed.
In the preface, Sowell, with characteristic understatement, talks about one of the most important distinctions between left and right, having to do with one's locus of control. For the left, the locus of control -- at least for authorized victim groups -- is always outside the self, i.e., "various external circumstances" that compel them "to do this or that."
Note that this never applies to non-victims, white males being the uncaused cause of all victimization and therefore the only people with free will. No liberal has ever searched for the root causes of, say, "corporate greed." No, in that case, it's just greed, pure and simple.
Thus, "one of the most overlooked explanations is that various internal drives" motivate victims to do what they do. This is why the left won't acknowledge the simple fact that blacks have more encounters with the police because they engage in a disproportionate amount of criminal activity.
For the same reason, Asian Americans have fewer encounters with the police. Are the police racist against whites in favor of Asians? The question is absurd. As absurd as the left, precisely. Imagine going through life imaging that Asians hate and control you just because you're Caucasian.
One commenter yesterday suggested that Pride is the Master Commandment, the one that conditions the rest. Sowell provides support for this view:
"The desire of individuals and groups to puff themselves up by imposing their vision on other people is a recurring theme in the culture wars.... Such attempts at self-aggrandizement in the name of noble-sounding crusades are too often called 'idealism' rather than the narrow ego trip it is."
You guessed it: bho.
As we have discussed in many posts, without envy and ingratitude the left would be out of business. The very first essay touches on this, in that "Nothing is easier than to take for granted what we are used to, and to imagine that it is more or less natural, so that it requires no explanation."
But America is the great exception, as reflected in our prosperity, our freedom, and our ideals. Other crappy nations and cultures require no explanation, because they are what always happens. Syria? Iran? Cuba? That's just humans doing what they do. It's the default position.
Likewise, the left always imagines that poverty is the condition that requires explanation, when it is the universal. They think that wealth somehow just happens, and that it is simply a matter of divvying it up. They have no earthly idea that doing so destroys the very incentives that made the wealth possible.
Sowell shows again and again how the Sacred Vision of the left trumps reality. But "a casual glance around the world today, or back through history, would dispel any notion that good things just happen naturally, much less inevitably."
Therefore, "Once we realize that America is an exception, we might even have a sense of *gratitude* for having been born here.... At the very least, we might develop some concern for seeing that whatever has made this country better off is not lost or discarded -- or eroded away, bit by bit, until it is gone."
Not if you're bho. He's better than America!
Indeed -- and this was written BC, before the Great Change we are living through -- "To be for generic 'change' is to say that what we have is so bad that any change is likely to be for the better" (emphasis mine). Think about that one, for that is bho's implicit assumption.
In reality, change is inevitable, but in a healthy organism, we change in order to continue living. The only complete change is the radical discontinuity of Death. When an organism dies, you know that the Revolution succeeded.
The fact that something exists proves that it was at least possible in reality. But the idealists of the left imagine that just because something is possible in the imagination, it can exist. This is why they cannot learn from reality (as in the case of the unteachable bho.)
Left wing revisionists spend so much time denouncing the Crusades that you'd think they were against crusades as a matter of principle. Wrong. "Many crusades of the political left have been misunderstood by people who do not realize that these crusades are about establishing the identity and the superiority of the crusaders."
Thus, we're touching on something even deeper than pride, i.e., identity. Now man, in the absence of God, is precisely nothing. At least existentialists have thought this through and realize that this must be the case.
But leftists don't think anything through, much less something this deep and fundamental. As a result, they engage in the existential defense mechanism of idolatry, i.e., substituting something relative for the Absolute and then worshiping it. The cult of global warming is just the most recent example.
This is why it is naive to ask a warmist to give up his idol, because his entire existence is structured around it. You are taking away his meaning, his identity, and his moral superiority.
It's the same with bho vis-a-vis Iran. You can't ask him to see that he's dealing with untrustworthy genocidal monsters, because that would detract from his morally superior idealism. Forget your lying eyes. The reason why peace is breaking out all over the world is because of the Change brought about by bho. Besides, he's got that Peace Prize to prove it.
True, the left "loves" peace. But they deeply resent any good, including peace, that isn't achieved through their methods. Thus, they love Obama-style "peace," just as they hated the real thing brought about by Reagan.