What an opportune time, on this national day of liberal pandering, to review one of the best books on the spiritual pathology of liberalism I have ever read, The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class.
Wait a minute: "spiritual pathology?" Isn't such bobnoxious language just going to guarantee no liberal takes the book seriously? Well, first of all, those are my words. Thus far, Siegel hasn't used the word "pathology," although he does often touch on the deranged and displaced -- what I would call gno-nothing -- spirituality at the sclerotic heart the liberal project.
But what do you call someone who will accuse me of racism for merely pointing out the elementary truth that liberal elites pander to various interest groups -- they all know it -- in order to garner their support at the ballot box? And at the same time, smear as racist anyone who points out this elementary truth? That's right: deeply sick.
The world created by such pandering slanderers is called hell, for hell is anyplace where truth cannot be uttered, or where one is punished for expressing it. Such hells can appear anywhere from the childhood home to the politico-media-academic complex (although one suspects the latter is rooted in the former, for what kind of living human being would want to cash in his humanness in exchange for membership in a zombie cult of politically correct hell?).
Lately we've been discussing the confluence of high and low, abstract and concrete, psyche and soma, that we see in Catholicism and developmental psychoanalysis. We see something similar in contemporary liberalism, albeit in a perverse way, with the alliance of ideological malefactors of great wealth -- the deserving rich, e.g., entertainers, global warming alarmists, trial lawyers -- at the top, and what used to be called the proletariat, or working class, at the bottom, leaving out the eighty percent of the restavus -- that would be the middle class referred to in the title.
But the left doesn't really bother with the proletariat anymore. Rather, it is simply a coalition of the willing-to-be-victimized, and one needn't be poor to be a member.
Homosexuals, for example, are more affluent than the average, and girls do much better than boys on most measures, e.g., high school graduation, college, health, mortality, mental illness, drug abuse, suicide, imprisonment, etc. Latinos who hit the jackpot by making it to America have to be taught to think of themselves as victims, and what's up with Jews? This book provides some clues to that canaandrum, but I still plan to read Podhoretz's Why Are Jews Liberals?
Likewise, Obamacare actually discriminates against the young-and-poor, regarding them as selfish malefactors of great health, i.e., ATMs for authorized victims.
Siegel's book is short but extremely rich. There is hardly a wasted word, and there are provocative insights on nearly every page. Among other virtues, it provides a real history of 20th century liberalism, to counter the fraudulent, self-flattering one invented by themselves. Remember, most history is written by the winners. Of tenure. The rest is written by the whiners, e.g., feminist history and all the other subhumanities.
Siegel notes that the top-bottom coalition alluded to above didn't start with pre-WWI progressivism -- which was another beast entirely, a coalition of Democrats and Republicans such as TR, mostly rooted in the Christian "social gospel" -- nor did it begin with FDR's extra-constitutional statism.
Rather, the bitter roots of our contemporary liberalism are distinctly smelled "in the wake of the post-World War I disillusionment with American society. In the Twenties, the first writers and thinkers to call themselves liberals adopted the hostility to bourgeois life that had long characterized European intellectuals of both the left and the right."
Very much contrary to their autoerotic self-image, this hostility revolved around an undisguised contempt for those they would presume to rescue via the creation of "an American aristocracy of sorts, to provide the same sense of hierarchy and order long associated with European statism."
So the story of how we have arrived at our liberal aristocracy is a long one, but Obama is its logical endpoint. Note that the aristocrats are by their nature contemptuous of anyone who isn't a member, but they are not permitted to express this toward the voting groups they need in order to retain power. Thus, it seeps from their every pore when discussing any group they don't need, e.g., "bitter clingers," or just white men (accent on both words) in general. White male grown ups supported Romney, just as they did McCain. Such a banality (and inevitability, given male nature) must be converted into a "war on women," or various other smears.
But liberals -- including auto-castrated white males -- can't even use the term without sneering. You will never hear a liberal strategist wondering how to garner more support from men, because not only do they not need it, they need to cling to their dehumanizing caricature in order to fire up one of their key constituencies, i.e., losers with a father complex.
Speaking of aristocracy and contempt, it is interesting to me that we actually see these on both sides of the political spectrum. For example, our good-natured contempt is directed at, say "LoFos," or college students with skulls full of mush, or tenured mediocrities, whereas liberal contempt is directed at white males (and male virtues in general), or Kansas dwellers ("what's the matter with them?"), or conservative blacks, or any woman who likes being one.
As for the aristocracy, the left's is again a combination of high and low, of properly overeducated fools at one end, and sanctified victims at the other. Thus, even a smart cookie as grotesquely undercooked as Rachel Jeantel can join the club, at least for 15 minutes: Oprah for a day!
But just because one is an aristocrat doesn't mean one has to be an affected, contemptuous, sneering snob, right? In fact, when one of these aristos comes off this way, one suspects that something else is going on. If I were a psychologist, I might suspect that the brittle snobbery is a defense mechanism against some sort of insecurity -- for a secure person doesn't need others to see him as special.
There are true aristocrats in this world -- people of Light -- and it has nothing to do with class, money, or education. Rather, one may discern them by the manner in which they tie their shoes. And the way they treat the help.
Can you even imagine liberalism without snobbery? I can't. It seems to be an addiction for them, and I can understand why, since I used to be one. All one has to do is affect the required intellectual posture in order to put down the Other -- something like, "can you believe that in this day and age, there are people who don't believe in global warming?" There is a 99% chance that such a person knows precisely nothing about global warming, and yet, by saying it, he is able to feel a charge of self-righteousness and intellectual superiority. That's a cheap high, and it is difficult to give up.
Likewise, what a thrill to call someone a racist! It's a thrill because one is really boasting of one's own non-racism, but what morally sane person would boast of his rudimentary decency? There's no thrill there, which is why the projection of evil is necessary in order to create that extra frisson, for hatred is more bracing than mere decency.
This ended up not being a review, just a standard-issue rant. I will get more deeply into the book tomorrow, and ratchet up the rant.