Post by Ashland Henderson Post by Gleeful *Stargis
Watching the left go slowly insane is one of the greatest pleasures of
You need to get out more and reconnect with reality.
I've waited decades and I'm enjoying the meltdown.
Just like the collapse of the Soviet Union. Puts a big wide
smile on my knuckle draggin' vast right wing conspirators face.
I get out plenty, too much really. More then you can imagine
groundpounder. I've seen things from a unique vantage point
in more then one way.
Post by Ashland Henderson Post by Gleeful *Stargis
Get used to it lefties. Were just getting started. And were
going to "steal" more elections from you and with greater margins in
Well, you aren't unless the future belongs to the uneducated. Of course
it may be so but hopefully to someone who knows the difference between
we're and were.
Condescending to the last. LOL
You really have no clue why you guys lost do you?
Despite all the touchy feely leanings of liberals, self introspection
is not one of them. You completely demonstrate again the refusal
to self examine your failures to win. The freedom to FAIL. That is
what liberals do not understand. That is one of many reasons this
country is great. You LEARN more from your mistakes.
Yet the left refuses to accept that this election was about the
REJECTION of liberalism by most Americans. Why?
Here is where you fill in your "excuses".
or in your own words "uneducated".
All these things are excuses and if you continue to believe these
reasons my predictions will hold. You WILL continue to lose again
But you go on your merry way thinking its all that and not liberalism
Heres a clue for you. Start paying attention to people like Zell
Miller and Lieberman.
Post by Ashland Henderson Post by Gleeful *Stargis
You will continue to LOSE and FAIL if you keep blaming everything but
YOURSELVES! You dont know HOW to lose. You dont learn from it. Very
typical of liberalism.
I love silly predictions like that. Combined with an admission that
you know nothing about liberalism it is really quite funny.
control the White House, AGAIN.
Control the majority of the Governorships. (Hint, one time the south
was dominated by democrat governors. no more.) Isn't that a red flag
Control the house and INCREASED their numbers.
Control the Senate and INCREASED their numbers.
Kicked OUT Daschle.
Know nothing about Liberalism?
I know the enemy intimately.
First rule of war. political or otherwise.
The complete defeat of liberalism will never happen.
But I will fight like hell to keep them from the drivers seat.
They are of best use as the nagging back seat driver, or
for a more modern analogy. C-3P0 in the back nagging
Han Solo. Too bad libs dont have an off switch too.
The Psychology Underlying "Liberalism"
By John J. Ray
FrontPageMagazine.com | September 12, 2002
What is Liberalism?"
In my previous article in Front Page Magazine, I argued that people
who describe themselves (and are described by others) as "Leftists",
"socialists", "social democrats", "Communists" and (in North America)
"liberals" do have some things in common. And that is important.
However unsatisfactory and apparently simplistic the Left/Right
division of the political world may be, there is any amount of
research showing it to be a powerful, ubiquitous and perhaps
inescapable way of identifying both people and political parties (e.g.
Budge et al., 1987; Ray, 1982; Bobbio, 1996).
An important part of what I proposed was that what Leftists basically
want does not have to be the exact opposite or mirror-image of what
Rightists basically want and vice versa. This may seem at first
surprising but does have some precedents. Kerlinger (1967) suggested
that Leftists and Rightists have different "criterial referents" and
even thought that he had found in his survey research a complete lack
of opposition between Leftist and Rightist attitudes. Kerlinger's
reasoning is interesting but that he misinterpreted his research
results has previously been shown in Ray (1980 & 1982). Whether
Leftist and Rightist objectives are opposite or just simply different,
how Leftists and Rightists go about achieving their different basic
objectives certainly generates plenty of conflict and opposition
between the two sides.
My basic proposal, then, is that most (but not all) Leftists/liberals
are motivated by strong ego needs needs for power, attention, praise
and fame. And in the USA and other developed countries they satisfy
this need by advocating large changes in the society around them
thus drawing attention to themselves and hopefully causing themselves
to be seen as wise, innovative, caring etc. Rightists by contrast have
no need either for change or its opposite and may oppose change if
they see it as destructive or favour change if they see it as
We will see below why one of the most consistent themes to emerge from
the Leftists love of change is the claimed need for "equality". And
the belief in "equality" also tends to lead to support for such things
as redistribution of wealth generally, heavily "progressive" income
taxes, inheritance taxes, foreign aid, feminism, gay rights and
socialized medicine. Again for reasons explored below, Leftists also
tend to oppose religion and the churches and this in turn tends to
mean that they favour abortion and oppose or obstruct religious
schooling in various ways. So let us now briefly look at some of these
characteristic Leftist/liberal themes to see how they relate to basic
Something that Leftists have had in common from the beginning is the
rejection of any idea of "human nature". Basically, Leftists seem to
believe that "education" can change almost anything in human
behaviour. This root and branch rejection of heredity was of course
what underlay Stalin's support of Lysenko's otherwise thoroughly
discredited theory of evolution the idea that characteristics
acquired in one's lifetime can be passed on to one's offspring. So how
do such views flow from a yen for change?
Quite obviously, any idea of human nature says that important things
about human beings just CANNOT be changed and that does not suit the
change-loving Leftists at all. So Leftists simply reject what does not
suit them regardless of the enormous evidence in favour of inherited
characteristics. The entire discipline of behaviour genetics should
not exist from a Leftist point of view.
Conservatives, by contrast, not only have the view that there are
important and essentially ineradicable inherited human characteristics
but they share with Christians the view that those characteristics are
of a "fallen" kind: characteristics of selfishness, aggressiveness,
untrustworthiness etc. That Christians and conservatives share such a
central belief about human nature is of course a large element in the
general compatibility between Christianity and conservatism and the
frequent opposition between Christians and Leftists (e.g. "Godless"
Communism versus the Roman Catholic church).
This conservative (and scientific) rejection of the Leftist idea that
human beings are infinitely malleable does of course pose a major
threat to the Leftist's assumptions, theories and programmes and it is
one that the Leftist cannot really rebut so the usual Leftist response
is simply an ad hominem one: To abuse and demonize conservatives for
lacking "compassion". Abuse takes the place of argument (Krauthammer,
For many people, one of the great attractions of Communism (and to a
lesser degree the Left generally) in the late 19th century and for
most of the 20th Century was its opposition to the churches and their
moral codes. Since the Leftist wants to tear down all existing
authorities and centres of power, Leftists tended to oppose such
strong existing authorities as the churches. This antagonism was of
course particularly notable with the Roman Catholic Church the most
powerful of the Churches. And the best weapon with which to defeat the
churches was to attack the discomfort inflicted by religious moral
Religions generally use their influence over people to help enforce
conventional morality, including sexual morality. They do this
because, like conservatives generally, they see moral codes as
essential to the function of a civil society. If sexual impulses
cannot be controlled, for instance, fathers would be in great doubt
about which progeny are theirs and would be less likely to support the
progeny concerned economically and in other ways with disastrous
results for future generations. Before the welfare State came along,
fathers were virtually essential for the survival of children.
But moral codes are onerous and Communism offered an escape from them.
If all men were to become brothers and all resources were to be shared
freely, fathers would not be needed for anything more than the act of
procreation itself. This vision was of course a great attraction for
both men and women and Leftists were always in the vanguard of sexual
liberation. Sex sells and it certainly sold Leftism to many.
Thus Leftists were well-prepared when the advent of the contraceptive
pill kicked away the practical foundations of conventional sexual
morality. They were ready to justify what had just become practical
irresponsible sex. So they seemed to have come into their own at that
time (in the 1960s).
The pill soon caused libertinism to spread very widely, however, and
sexual permissiveness soon therefore ceased to be characteristically
Leftist. The longer term effect of the pill was in fact to deprive
Leftists of one of their strongest sources of appeal. They are no
longer the only libertines. Effective contraception has in fact
changed social mores so much that it is now permissiveness which is
What human beings are, however, is dictated more by a million years of
evolution than by any religious or political doctrine so the inborn
needs for stability, fidelity, trust, affection etc that evolution had
attached to human procreative activity ensured some survival of family
stability and cohesion. This too meant that the churches became less
relevant. It became clear that neither religion nor the church were
essential to the survival of a civil society. The family survived with
or without the church and with or without externally enforced moral
codes. Only some churches and some conservatives have as yet adapted
to that new reality, however.
Amusingly, the normal Leftist rejection of conventional Western
religion does not seem to apply to primitive religions. American
Indian beliefs, for instance, are normally treated with great respect
and held up as wise by Leftists. Why? Presumably as just another way
of attacking the churches. We are asked to believe that the Protestant
Christianity which created the modern world is somehow inferior for
some unknown reason. Powerful religion has to be attacked but
non-threatening religion is OK.
This might also explain how Leftists have come to infiltrate many of
the more orthodox churches in recent years. The Presbyterian,
Anglican, Methodist and Catholic churches in particular would appear
to have suffered considerably from the secularism of the modern world
and appear in consequence to have largely lost their way. They have
certainly lost much of the power and influence they once had and no
longer seem very sure of what they should stand for. So Leftists now
see such churches as more of an opportunity than a threat and have in
fact in many cases managed to enter such churches and replace the
Gospel of Christ with a pseudo-Christian gospel that exploits
traditional Christian teachings of love and compassion to justify the
usual Leftist goals of destroying the normal differences and
differentials that exist between people in the wider community.
Modern-day Leftists have an obsession with racism and fiercely
attribute all racism to their political opponents and deny it in
themselves. This is however utter nonsense. Take this description of a
political programme: A declaration of war against the order of things
which exist, against the state of things which exist, in a word,
against the structure of the world which presently exists. You could
hardly get a more change-oriented or revolutionary programme than
that. So whose programme was it? Marx? Lenin? Stalin? Trotsky? Mao?
No. It was how Hitler described his programme towards the end of Mein
Kampf. And the Left pretend that Hitler was some sort of
So virulent racism CAN exist on the Left. Most Leftists are just
dishonest about acknowledging it, that is all. They think that by
relabelling it they perform some sort of magic trick that makes it go
It might be noted, moreover, that Leftists seldom seem to live among
the minorities that they ostensibly champion. They are "limousine
liberals" in Spiro Agnew's memorable phrase. What most Americans
really think of at least some minorities is shown graphically by the
phenomenon of "white flight" (US whites normally abandon suburbs that
acquire more than a 5% Negro population) but we do not seem to see
Leftists rushing to fill the houses left vacant by that. If deeds
speak louder than words, this would tend to point to the Leftist's
anti-racist advocacy as being mere empty rhetoric.
And there is much more in history to show that the current Leftist
opposition to racism does not go very deep:
Before World War II, anti-racism was certainly NOT the mainstay of
Leftist doctrine that it is today. Who was it who said: "What is the
worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God?
Money."? No. It was not Adolf Hitler but Karl Marx himself (Marx,
1844). See Blanchard (1984) for a full discussion of Marx's
And who was it who wrote this? Not until my fourteenth or fifteenth
year did I begin to come across the word 'Jew,' with any frequency,
partly in connection with political discussions.... For the Jew was
still characterized for me by nothing but his religion, and therefore,
on grounds of human tolerance, I maintained my rejection of religious
attacks in this case as in others. Consequently, the tone,
particularly that of the Viennese anti-Semitic press, seemed to me
unworthy of the cultural tradition of a great nation. Some kindly
liberal wrote that, no doubt? Some anti-racist? Some Leftist? The
sentiments are certainly ones that anti-racists could only applaud,
are they not? But those words are actually the words of Adolf Hitler,
writing in Mein Kampf. And we all know what he ended up doing!
And from 1901 to 1966 the Australian government had an official policy
known as the White Australia policy a policy which forbad
non-white immigration into Australia. In other words, for most of the
time that slegs blankies ruled as the guiding policy in South
Africa, its English equivalent (whites only) ruled in Australia too.
And who were always the most ardent supporters of that policy? The
Australian Labor Party Australias major Leftist party. It was an
Australian Labor Party leader (Arthur Calwell) who became famous for
his remark that, "Two Wongs don't make a white". The policy was
eventually abolished by a conservative government under Harold Holt.
So Leftists can be as racist as anyone else if it suits them.
This is also shown by the way Jews were heavily oppressed up until
quite recently in Russia under the Soviet system. The Soviet Gulag may
not have been as regularly fatal as Hitlers concentration camps but
that is about the best that one can say of it.
It is also a matter of historical record that, after the Nazi-Soviet
pact, Communists worldwide immediately became vigorously pro-Hitler.
So Leftist principles are obviously very flexible. It is reasonable
to conclude therefore, that, if Hitler had won and Stalin lost the
war, Leftists would now be justifying their constant clamour for
change and their bids for power as furthering Nazi ideals rather than
Nonetheless, the way contemporary Western Leftists constantly hurl
the labels Nazi and Fascist at anybody they disagree with suggests
almost an obsession with Nazism. Such an obsession is also suggested
by the way TV programs about Hitler and Nazism always seem to be
available from our Left-dominated media. Programs about Stalins
Russia are as rare as hens teeth by comparison.
This continuing Leftist obsession with Nazism might make some sense if
Nazism were uniquely evil but, horrible and massive though the Nazi
crimes were, they were anything but unique. For a start, government by
tyranny is, if anything, normal in human history. And both
antisemitism and eugenic theories were normal in prewar Europe.
Further back in history, even Martin Luther wrote a most vicious and
well-known attack on the Jews. And Nazi theories of German racial
superiority differed from then-customary British beliefs in British
racial superiority mainly in that the British views were implemented
with typical conservative moderation whereas the Nazi views were
implemented with typical Leftist fanaticism and brutality (cf. Stalin
and Pol Pot). And the Nazi and Russian pogroms differed mainly in
typically greater German thoroughness and efficiency. And waging
vicious wars and slaughtering people en masse because of their
supposed group identity have been regrettably common phenomena both
before and after Hitler (e.g. Stalins massacres of Kulaks and
Ukrainians, the unspeakable Pol Pots massacres of all educated
Cambodians, Perus Shining Path, the Nepalese Marxists, the Tamil
Tigers and the universal Communist mass executions of
class-enemies). Both Stalin and Mao Tse Tung are usually credited
with murdering far more class enemies than Hitler executed Jews.
It seems an obvious conclusion, then, that the constant Leftist
excoriation of Hitler and the Nazis stems not from the unique
horribleness of Nazism but has as its main aim an effort at camouflage
an effort to disguise or hide from public awareness the real kinship
that exists between Nazism and other forms of Leftism. They just
cannot afford to have people realize that ALL the great mass-murders
of the 20th century were the product of Leftism.
It might not quite be racism but the one group of people that all
Leftists love to hate is Americans. Even American liberals such as
Chomsky hate America with a passion. And the events of September 11,
2001 surely show that hatred of America (whether by Muslim fantasists,
Japanese Bushido fantasists, Leftist fantasists or any other
fantasists) can be as malign, mindless and dangerous as any other form
of prejudice. And it must be noted that Muslim fundamentalists are
very much like the Greens and the Left in their dislike of the modern
capitalistic world and in their dream of turning us all back to some
sort of an idealized primitive past. No wonder so many Leftists
condone Muslim terrorism! And if the Muslim fundamentalists want to
return us all to a feudal state, the various Communist regimes
actually did. Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung etc were as much God-kings in
their time as any Pharaoh of Egypt ever was.
That racism lurks just beneath the surface in Leftists is also shown
vividly by their constant adoption of double standards when speaking
of populations of European and non-European origins. There is always
an acceptance of barbarity among non-Europeans and a corresponding
expectation that people of European origin should know better. For
instance, Leftists constantly cast up the undoubted evils of
(European) Nazism so that there can hardly be anyone in the Western
world who is unaware of those evils. But how often do Leftists
excoriate the simultaneous and arguably greater Japanese atrocities
against the Chinese? I have never heard a single Leftist do so. And
Western countries are often criticized by Leftists for their harsh
treatment of illegal immigrants (treatment which rarely leads to any
deaths) but we hear hardly a word about the mini-holocausts that are
occurring all the time in Africa. Certainly no Leftist that I have
ever heard condemns such holocausts. If they do it is nothing compared
to the attacks that they mount on the much more benign countries of
European origin. Clearly, Leftists have an underlying view of the
difference between the civilized and savage races that is little
different from the views of such heroes of past British Imperialism as
A more general point in this connection is made by Dalrymple (2002):
Socialist and anti-Semite alike seek an all-encompassing explanation
of the imperfection of the world, and for the persistence of poverty
and injustice: and each thinks he has found an answer. There are other
connections between left-wing thought and anti-Semitism (usually
believed to be a disease of the Right alone). The liberal intellectual
who laments the predominance of dead white males in the college
syllabus or the lack of minority representation in the judiciary uses
fundamentally the same argument as the anti-Semite who objects to the
prominence of Jews in the arts, sciences, professions, and in
commerce. They both assume that something must be amiss a conspiracy
if any human group is over- or under-represented in any human
activity, achievement, or institution.
But how do we explain the fact that it only in relatively recent times
that anti-racism has become a mainstay of Leftist agitation? Again
some history helps: The "Levelling" idea that has always characterized
Leftists had a very long history before Marx espoused it. Such
different people as the Christian fundamentalist Levellers in Oliver
Cromwell's New Model Army and the slave-owning gentlemen who framed
and espoused the American Declaration of Independence were attracted
by the idea of equality. The latter therefore even incorporated into
their Declaration an assertion that it was an obvious truth that "all
men are created equal".
"ALL" men? So blacks and whites are equal too? No. Believers in
equality have always had to be good at ignoring reality and the
American declarers had little trouble in reconciling equality with
slavery with what most people might think was its diametric
opposite! How did they and others after them do it ? They did it quite
easily: Long before Hitler made it his central policy, the people of
the world were for many thinkers divided up between "Menschen" (men)
and "Untermenschen" (sub-men) and equality obviously did not apply to
"Untermenschen". So when the Hitlerian catastrophe thoroughly
discredited and made obnoxious the idea of classifying certain races
as being sub-human and hence outside the magic circle of "equality",
Leftists found it expedient to hop on to the anti-racist bandwagon
no doubt with some relief. It did make their advocacy a lot simpler.
Clearly, however, their anti-racism is nonetheless mere opportunism:
History shows that they have no intrinsic committment to it. When
racism was generally regarded as sound and reasonable they were for
it. Now that Hitler has made the very word obnoxious, they are against
it. They oppose racism today solely as a way of making a claim that
they are the good guys.
Edmund Burke (1790) has some claims to being the founding theoretician
of conservatism and he claimed that loyalty to one's group, tribe,
nation etc is a basic human instinct. And the famous military
theorist, Von Clausewitz (1972) noted over 150 years ago: that "Even
the most civilized of peoples, in short, can be fired with passionate
hatred for each other" (p. 76). So what does modern social science
Let us look initially at the literature of academic psychology in
particular: Brown (1986) surveyed the large body of extant
psychological research on the question and concluded that group
loyalty and group identification are rooted in "universal ineradicable
psychological processes". In other words, group loyalty is not only
normal but universal. And another psychologist particularly active in
research into feelings of group identity concluded: "Not only is
ingroup favouritism .... not related to outgroup dislike, it also does
not seem causally dependant on denigration of the outgroup" (Turner,
1978, p. 249). See also Brewer & Collins (1981, p. 350) and Brown,
Condor, Mathews, Wade & Williams (1986).
And this is moderate compared with what can be found elsewhere in the
social science literature. For instance, Hechter (1986) claims that
all racism is rational while the prominent French anthropologist
Levi-Straus (1983) not only claims that ethnocentrism is universal and
inescapable but also claims that it is desirable on the grounds that
it promotes cultural diversity. And the sociobiologists, of course
(e.g. Mihalyi, 1984/5; Van den Berghe, 1981) regard ingroup
favouritism as universal not only to man but to all social animals.
Perhaps most extreme of all, Volkan (1985 & 1988) says that we all
actually NEED group enemies and allies.
But few Leftists are interested in such findings and therefore often
carry their condemnation of people's thinking about groups to a
ridiculous and unfair degree. They tend to characterize as racist
almost anyone who is honest about his or her perfectly normal feelings
of group identity however harmless and non-malevolent those feelings
may be. In other words, present-day Leftists tend to find racists
under every bed. They are so wedded to exorcising the demons in the
world about them that an imaginary demon will do if a real one cannot
They do so because it is in fact just a ploy for them a ploy to
obtain kudos. The reality that we all like our own group and our kind
best (Park, 1950) is simply ignored by Leftists. A simple blanket
condemnation of all manifestations of group awareness is the usual
limit of their intellectual prowess. Leftists must need all of their
talent for denying reality to avoid condemnation of the vast passions
generated worldwide by international soccer matches!
First, a little history: The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 under Lenin
has had immense significance for politics since then but there were
also three prior political revolutions that still have some modern
lessons, The English revolution of 1642, The American revolution of
1776 and the French revolution of 1789. The British and American
revolutions were essentially "conservative" revolutions designed to
preserve traditional democratic rights and liberties and remove
tyrannies but the French revolution was very different:
The French revolution is probably the earliest clear example of
Leftism at work a vast social change that attempted to destroy all
that went before it (even the traditional calendar!) and replace
traditional arrangements by totally new ones that were grounded only
in theory and which in fact very rapidly turned out to constitute a
new and terrifying tyranny. Certainly the French revolution is the
earliest clear example of high-minded ideals being used in some almost
incomprehensible way as an excuse for a long and bloodthirsty reign of
terror a reign of terror that consumed not only the enemies but also
many of the friends of the revolution.
And "equality" was of course one of those high-minded ideals. The
French revolutionaries would appear to have the distinction of being
the first to show that in some mysterious way one can at the same time
believe in equality and practice tyranny! And, in an omen of Lenin and
Stalin to come, that great child of the revolution, Napoleon, saw no
contradiction in running a vicious police state while at the same time
going to the trouble of actually enshrining in law the principle that
all men are equal!! So why this obsession with equality?
Of all the things that their "equality" doctrine enables them to
attack and perhaps change, nothing is more attractive to the Leftist
than the rationale the doctrine offers for attacking the existing
power structures, authorities, hierarchies and centres of influence
that already exist in society. In the name of bringing about equality,
Leftists get an excuse to tear down the whole existing structure of
society something that they need to do to give themselves any chance
of fulfilling their dream of taking over all power for themselves. It
is the fact that he/she is not in charge of everything that the
Leftist most of all wants to change. So "all men are equal" is a very
handy doctrine indeed for the Leftist.
Procrustes and Moral Equivalence
The Leftist's ceaseless agitation for equality often makes him/her
into a modern day Procrustes. In Ancient Greek mythology, Procrustes
was an innkeeper who had beds of only one length so if a wayfarer came
in who had legs longer than any of Procrustes' beds, Procrustes would
cut off the legs of the wayfarer until they fitted his beds. Similarly
today, if anybody is clearly not equal the Leftist is determined to
force him to be equal or at least is determined to deny his
inequality. Stalin, of course, made Procrustes look like a wimp.
Anybody in Russia who looked unequal such as the kulaks (rich
peasants) Stalin simply had executed.
Thankfully, Leftists in the economically successful "Western"
democracies have never gained the power that Stalin had. Just as the
anarchic savagery and bloodlust of the French revolution made the idea
of revolution obnoxious throughout the rest of Europe for over 100
years (until 1917), so the murderous brutality and oppressiveness of
Lenin and Stalin immediately fostered great and reasonable distrust of
Leftism in aware populations worldwide and thus placed some limits on
further Leftist access to power. Its inherent destructiveness makes
Leftism self-limiting and self-defeating in many ways but only if
people take note of what Leftist ideas actually lead to.
Despite that, however, Leftists in the Western world are still
numerous and vocal and thus still do an impressive Procrustean job in
many ways. Perhaps the best known example of that is the way they have
succeeded in "dumbing down" our educational systems.
More generally, their constant refusal to acknowledge any differences
between people or groups of people tends to obstruct society from
dealing in any way with those differences, no matter how important
they may be. This constant lack of realism makes Leftists significant
enemies of rationality.
A rather clear example of the current insane pursuit of at least
nominal equality is the way that almost all students in some places
now pass their final high-school examinations. In Britain in 2002, for
instance, 94% of A-level students passed and the UK educational
authorities, far from being embarrassed, asserted that they hope soon
to get 100% of students passing (BBC Thursday, 15 August, 2002, GMT
04:29). This does of course achieve the Leftist ideal of Procrustean
equality but at the expense of making an A-level pass completely
uninformative, meaningless and useless. Despite such cosmetic and
obscurantist nonsense, reality still asserts itself of course. As the
bare certificate has now become meaningless, students subsequently
have to be assessed in more difficult and complicated ways either by
use of additional tests or by use of the relative marks each student
got within the examination.
Another illustration of the quite foul depths to which the equality
doctrine can sink is the repeated claim by Leftists of "moral
equivalence" between very disparate people and groups. For instance,
at the height of the Cold War, Leftists would routinely claim that
Communist regimes and the economically successful "Western"
democracies such as the United States were morally equivalent that
neither was more blameworthy or praiseworthy than the other. When
President Reagan called a spade a spade and described the USSR as an
"evil empire", this was regarded as shocking and ignorant by US
liberals. How anybody can see any equivalence between systems that
murder millions without trial because of their suspected political
views (as Stalin did in the USSR and Pol Pot did in "Kampuchea") and
countries that either have no death penalty at all or agonize over
every such penalty that they inflict (even when the penalty is for the
most heinous crimes) defies imagination.
If it shows nothing else, their assertions of moral equivalence show
the utter amorality of Leftists. Stalin's heirs are among us. His mass
murders certainly appear to be regarded by many Leftists in the
economically successful "Western" democracies as merely awkward from a
PR point of view rather than wrong. In psychiatry, amorality is the
mark of the psychopath the "moral imbecile" who just cannot tell
right from wrong and who commits murders and other heinous crimes with
a clear conscience as a result. "Moral equivalence" would therefore
appear to be reasonably described as psychopathy in politics.
New Leftist Directions
The demise of the Soviet Union left a large gap in what Leftists could
advocate. Nobody now believes in the old Leftist mantra that the
government should own the means of production (i.e. run businesses).
This has by and large simply meant a redirection of the Leftist's
energies into other well-established equality-seeking causes such as
anti-racism, radical feminism and treating criminals as simple
unfortunates who can be set on the right path with a bit more
"education" (Criminals are equal too, it seems). There has been an
attempt, in other words, to move the focus of agitation away from
economic reform towards social reform. As well as such old ideas,
however, there have also arisen various new foci for Leftist
discontent and agitation.
One of these is the "political correctness" movement. This movement
functions in two major ways: It attempts to change the way we think
about less fortunate groups in the world by altering the words we use
to describe them, and, in good Nazi bookburning fashion, it also
attempts simply to suppress knowledge and debate.
How heavily the Leftist obsession with equality (and their consequent
procrustean unwillingness to handle the complexities of the real
world) influences the political correctness movement can perhaps be
seen most clearly in the actions of a British welfare agency who
banned a job advertisement because it discriminated against UNFRIENDLY
PEOPLE! A company placed the advertisement looking for a "friendly
person" for a catering-related job but the local Job Centre rejected
it because they said it "may discriminate against certain applicants".
See the Bolton Evening News of June 7th., 2002.
Less of a laughing matter is the way political correctness can
actually endanger lives. Take, for instance, the case of a UK surgeon
reported in the UK Daily Telegraph of July 23rd, 2002 who had to stop
in the middle of surgery because the immigrant nurses employed by
Britain's cash-strapped National Health Service could not understand
enough English to follow his instructions. He filed a complaint
claiming that patient's lives were being put at risk by nurses who do
not understand English. The immediate result? A threat of disciplinary
action against the surgeon for racism!
In addition to their devotion to political correctness, Leftists
have also forged alliances with the Green movement to the point
where Reds and Greens are often largely the same people. Even
mainstream Leftist politicians see environmentalism as something of a
life-saver for themselves. As Robin Cook, a senior member of the
British Labour party put it in "The Observer" of October 8th, 1989:
"The new environmental concerns could put Labour's ideology back in
business. The politics of the environment are the politics of
intervention firmer regulation, tighter planning and collective
co-operation." No ambiguity there about what a Leftist wants.
Few people can be unaware of the violent attacks made by Leftist
demonstrators in Seattle, Davos, Genoa and elsewhere on organizations
that foster globalization of the world economy. These demonstrations
obviously gave the Leftists concerned the attention and publicity that
they crave but also showed vividly their hypocrisy.
If Leftists were sincere in their advocacy of the interests of the
poor, they would in fact be urging MORE globalization. The biggest
single remaining barrier to globalization in the world today is
agricultural protectionism preventing farm products being imported
by way of tariffs, subsidies and other barriers. Such protectionism is
practiced principally by rich countries (Japan, the USA and the
European Union) and hurts most the poor countries of the world who
rely principally on primary production and exports for their
livelihood. One of the few ways poor countries could get richer is by
producing and selling primary products to us but it is the LACK of
globalization in agriculture which prevents them from doing so. But
when did we hear Leftists arguing for more globalization? That they do
not shows the hypocrisy of their claim to care about the poor.
It also shows something of Leftist motivation that their opposition to
free trade generally puts them in league with big business and
conservative farmers groups that they would normally anathematize.
Obviously, being protestors matters more to Leftists than whom or what
the protest is in aid of.
The main reason why Leftists have recently become such opponents of
globalization would appear to trace back to their traditional ties to
the labor unions. Globalization does tend to relocate simpler jobs to
poorer countries and the Leftist's union allies tend to oppose the
changes to employment that this brings about. Unlike other Leftists,
unions generally dislike change. They dislike change because it
requires workers to find new jobs and that is understandably
distressing to the workers concerned even if at the end of the day the
cheaper goods now coming from overseas mean higher living standards
for all. The Leftist however feeds on discontent so conveniently turns
a blind eye to the longer term benefits of globalization and assists
unionists in opposing it. The change-loving Leftist assists
change-hating unionists! The corrosive discontent and hatred of
existing power centres that motivate the Leftist enables him to ignore
the incongruity of this alliance. Again we see that leading a protest
of any kind is far more important than what the protest is about.
The Making of a Leftist
The appeal of Leftism to the average person is simple: The Leftist
offers something for nothing. And that is always hard to resist
fraudulent though it usually is. If the Leftist offers to redistribute
somebody elses wealth into your pocket, that is one hell of an
appealling scam to those who stand to benefit from it.
But the Leftists advocacy of equality is not all it seems. The
Leftist's passion for equality is only apparently a desire to lift the
disadvantaged up. In reality it is a hatred of all those in society
who are already in a superior or more powerful or more prosperous
position to the Leftist and a desire to cut them down to size.
Leftists really aim at (and sometimes succeed at) the equality of
making everyone poor rather than the equality of making everyone rich.
This explains the common puzzle of why it is that modern-day
liberals are still indulgent about the old Soviet system. As Amis
(2002) points out, the many people in literary and academic circles
today who once supported Stalin and his heirs are generally held
blameless and may even still be admired whereas anybody who gave the
slightest hint of support for the similarly brutal Hitler regime is an
utter polecat and pariah. Why? Because Hitlers enemies were only
the Jews whereas Stalins enemies were those the modern day Left still
hates people who are doing well for themselves materially. Modern
day Leftists understand and excuse Stalin and his supporters because
Stalins hates are their hates.
Much the same explanation applies, of course, to the similar puzzle of
why the French military dictator, Napoleon, is to this day generally
regarded as a hero even though practically every family in the France
of his day lost a son in his wars. The figures for Napoleons Russian
campaign alone are horrendous. He took 600,000 men into Russia but
brought back only 70,000. In terms of loss of life, Napoleons wars
were every bit as bad for France as Hitlers wars were for Germany but
Hitler is universally (and justly) reviled whereas Napoleon is still
admired! Napoleon, however, justified all his actions as extending the
French revolution to other lands and this explanation still resounds
favourably with todays Left-leaning intellectuals.
Such vast egotism and hunger for power and attention does of course
make a mockery of the Leftist's claim to be in favour of equality.
Like the pigs in George Orwell's "Animal farm", the Leftist wants to
be "more equal than others". He wants to rule or at least dominate.
Beneath his deceptive rhetoric, he is the ultimate elitist. He
actually despises most of his fellow men and thinks that only he and
his clique are fit to run everything. The last thing he wants is to be
lost in a sea of equal people. This was of course amply shown in the
Soviet Union, where membership of the Communist Party became the only
pathway to the good life conferring on the member all sorts of
privileges and access to goods and services not available to other
Guilt, Compassion and "Limousine Liberals"
Another psychological motivation for Leftism that is sometimes
mentioned is one that I have always had severe doubts about: Guilt.
The claim is that affluent people feel bad (guilty) when they see how
poorly others are doing and want to rectify that by getting handouts
for the disadvantaged (but not from their own pockets of course). They
are "limousine liberals". I have always seen this as just another
Leftist hoax: They may sometimes explain their motives in such a
high-minded way but if they really felt guilty there is plenty they
could do to help others rather than agitating to tax them to the
The undoubted fact that Left activists and agitators (from the
Bolsheviks on) tend to come from affluent families does not to me
point to guilt as their motive at all. Rather the "limousine liberal"
phenomenon shows me that those who have all that they want materially
then seek other luxuries: such as self-righteousness, praise, power
and excitement particularly the excitement of being demonstrators in
the case of "rich kid" Leftists. And if the young limousine liberal
can have praise and self-righteousness along with his/her excitement
what a good deal it is! It is much the same motivation that causes
self-made rich men (such as Bill Gates) to become highly
philanthropic. Bill Gates has power and wealth so he now seeks praise
Various US writers whose opinions I respect (e.g. Levite, 1998) do
however disagree with me about the genuineness of the Leftist's guilt
so maybe I am missing something. I can only say that all the Leftists
I have met in Australia have seemed to me much more angry and hostile
than guilty. So maybe guilt politics is mainly an American phenomenon.
Why? Perhaps because the USA was founded by religious fanatics whereas
Australia was founded by convicts. Cultural attitudes could be
There is however one variation on the Leftist guilt theme that might
have more weight to it: The idea that some people want to be
compassionate or believe that they should be compassionate but know
that they really are not. This could perhaps arise from pressures put
on them during their upbringing or from formal and informal pressures
exerted on them by those they associate with in (say) their churches.
Knowing that they themselves lack compassionate feelings, they do the
next best thing and advocate loudly that the State (i.e. the taxpayer)
should be more compassionate and thus absolve them from having to do
anything compassionate personally. They might also hope that by loudly
proclaiming their "compassionate" political views, their lack of
personal compassion will be overlooked. This could explain the Leftist
politics of many clergy in the Church of England (and in associated
Anglican churches worldwide). Some "limousine liberals" could also
fall into this category.
There is some support for this idea in the survey finding that the
Americans who give the highest percentage of their income to charity
are the very rich whereas those who give least are Leftists and
liberals (Cooke, 2002). But this should not be surprising. From the
French revolutionaries to Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, Leftist
"compassion" has never been evident in their deeds!
Anyone who thinks that claims of compassion necessarily indicate
compassion might also consider the example of California's Rev. Jim
Jones with his Leftist "People's Temple". The Rev. Jones was much
opposed to racism and devoted to equality and compassion for the
disadvantaged but still managed to massacre hundreds of his followers
in Guyana (http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~remoore/jonestown ). Jim Jones'
actions make no sense as indicators of real compassion but make a lot
of sense as indicating a frustrated love of power: Very Leftist!
And the many Leftists, even US Leftists, who, in the name of
"anti-imperialism", actually voiced approval for the murderous
onslaught on New York's World Trade Centre on Sept. 11, 2001 certainly
showed their degree of compassion clearly enough. The great influence
that US culture undoubtedly has on the rest of the world is seen as
sufficient to justify the murder of thousands of US citizens
innocently going about their business. It is again clear that a hatred
of any power but their own is what drives Leftists, not compassion.
Leftism as a Religion
For some people, Leftism appears to work as a sort of religion for
atheists. There would appear to be a strong inborn need for religion
in human beings. Even in the present skeptical, scientific and
materialistic age about half of all Americans are churchgoers and
years of indoctrination into atheism by the Communists seem to have
left the Church stronger than ever in Russia and Poland. And even
among people with no formal religious affiliations, very few are
outright atheists. Christians such as Billy Graham sometimes say with
some cogency that there is a God-shaped void in people. They would
have to admit, however that some pretty Satanic things can get packed
into that void sometimes.
So Leftism could be seen as a Godless religion something that meets
the religious needs of those who for various reasons are dissatisfied
either with other religions or with supernatural ideas in general. Not
all religions have a dominant God or father-figure at their centre
(e.g. Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto) and a religion that dispenses with
the supernatural altogether does not therefore seem impossibly
paradoxical. The identification of Leftism as a religion has often
been made and the ability to believe in things that sound good but
have very little supportive evidence would certainly seem to
constitute a common core between Leftism and other religions. Both
Leftists and the religious could, in other words, be seen as the
wishful thinkers of the world: A very large throng. And, as a religion
originally emanating from the economically successful "Western"
democracies, Leftism is typical in being very proselytizing and
intolerant of competing religions.
And, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, some might argue that Leftism
is now more than ever a secular religion. In other words, now that it
is crystal clear how awful really Leftist governments are, only faith
could keep anyone still believing in the desirability of Leftism.
And anyone who has spent much time among Leftist intellectuals (As I
have. I spent 12 years teaching in a School of Sociology at a major
Australian university) will be aware of how the writings of Marx are
treated as a form of holy writ. Leftist thinkers constantly involve
themselves in nitpicking debates about What Marx really said, just
as Christian sectarians constantly argue about What the Bible says.
In our universities, Marxism is undoubtedly a form of theology. So
Leftism can even meet peoples need for theology! And anyone who knows
their mediaeval history or the history of the Byzantine empire will
know how overwhelmingly important theology can sometimes be to human
From a Christian point of view, of course, one could well see the Left
as the Devils religion. It denies God and wears the compassionate
clothes of Christ to cloak the black and hating heart that its
destructive deeds reveal.
Interestingly, the most powerful form of Leftist religion would appear
to have been Nazism. Nazism was Leftist in that it was explicitly
socialist, in that Hitler justified everything in the name of the
people (Das Volk), in that the Nazi State was all-powerful, in that
the Nazi party supervised German industry minutely and in that Hitler
and Stalin were initially allies (It was only the Nazi-Soviet pact
that enabled Hitlers conquest of Western Europe. The fuel in the
tanks of Hitlers Panzers as they stormed through France was Soviet
fuel). And like any Leftist, Hitler did not like sharing power with
the churches or anybody else.
But Hitler was smart enough to make good use of peoples religious
inclinations rather than simply oppose them. He did this in two ways:
He eventually made peace with the churches as long as the churches did
not visibly oppose him. His concordat with the Pope is of course
famous in that connection. His own Catholic education and
often-expressed Christian beliefs obviously helped with that. So you
could eventually be both a good Catholic (for instance) and a good
Nazi. And secondly, Nazism itself was also self-consciously religious
in that it promoted its celebrations of Germanic traditions as an
improvement on and alternative to the churches.
And it did that well: Hitler often appealed to God so that was no
cause for alarm (unlike atheistic Communism); Nazism had its holy book
in the form of Mein Kampf; It had saints such as Horst Wessel; It
had magnificent religious ceremonies such as its constant torchlight
parades, huge rallies and impressive loyalty oath ceremonies; It had
inspiring marching songs by way of hymns. It had its Messianic and
undoubtedly inspiring leader in the person of Hitler. And the way the
Hitler Youth and the Volksturm fought to the bitter end in Berlin is
certainly the sort of committment that most churches could only envy.
Other Causes of Leftism
There are, however, many other reasons for Leftism:
Because of its pretensions to standing up heroically for various
difficult causes, Leftism can seem "cool" to many of the unthinking
young and not so young. Particularly in the worlds of academe, the
media and entertainment, being Leftist means being "in" with the
"smart" crowd. Not to be Leftist is to be left out. How awful! Even if
such people can see faults in Leftist thinking, they are afraid to
come toward the Right for fear of losing the approval of others around
Some people become liberals because they are genuinely outraged by
things that they do not understand and are unwise enough to want to
change those things willy nilly. In particular, they may be genuinely
grieved by the unhappy experiences of others and want to fix that ASAP
without being wise enough to seek for means of fixing it that have
some prospect of working or that are not self-defeating. They might,
for instance, be disturbed by the impact of rising rents on the poor
and propose rent-control as a quick-fix solution though a few
minutes of thought or the most elementary inquiry should tell them
that rent control will after a time also have the effect of degrading
and shrinking the existing stock of rental accommodation and drying up
the supply of new rental accommodation, both of which make the poor
much worse off in the long run.
Some are Leftists because they are still young and unaware of most of
life's complexities so that the drastically simple "solutions" and
mantras proffered by the Left simply seem reasonable. Leftism has the
appeal of simplicity.
Some Leftists, again particularly the young, are idealists who find
the imperfect state of the real world unsatisfying. That there is some
genuine idealism even among extreme Leftists is shown by the exoduses
from Communist Parties in the economically successful "Western"
democracies that followed the violent Soviet suppression of the East
German, Hungarian and Czechoslovak uprisings against Communist rule in
1953, 1956 and 1968. Once the real nature of Communist regimes became
too clear to be denied, honest decent people whose wishful thinking
had led them to believe Communist protestations of benevolence and
good intentions saw the light and abandoned Communism. In the USA (in
New York particularly), some liberal intellectuals even saw enough in
the Soviet actions of those times to cause them to abandon
"liberalism" and found neo-conservatism. Similarly in Australia of the
1950s and '60s, the Andersonian libertarians of Sydney were also
intellectuals who might otherwise have been Leftists but who were
united by realism about Soviet brutality.
Some Leftists know that they themselves are weird by general social
standards so preach change towards greater tolerance for all weirdness
out of sheer self-interest. As George Orwell apparently once said long
ago: "There is the horrible the really disquieting prevalence of
cranks wherever Socialists are gathered together. One sometimes gets
the impression that the mere words 'socialism' and 'communism' draw
towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist,
sandal-wearer, sex maniac, Quaker, 'nature-cure' quack, pacifist and
feminist in England."
Leftists in academe
As the Luntz poll recently and dramatically showed (Horowitz, 2002),
there is one area in the USA where Leftists have almost achieved a
monopoly of power over at least hiring policies: The humanities and
social science schools of the universities and colleges. An overt
conservative finds it almost impossible to gain employment in such
places and the message to the wider community emanating from such
places is almost unfailingly "liberal". So Leftists in power are once
again seen to be very jealous of their power, intolerant of diversity,
opposed to free speech and oppressive and discriminatory in their
employment practices: All things that they would normally try to deny
but which in fact simply make them typical Leftists.
Fortunately, the best brains in America have always gone into business
first rather than into any form of teaching. And the fact that the US
has survived as a thriving and generally healthy society is proof that
it does not need its nutty "liberal" professors. They have only a
message of hate to purvey anyway mostly hatred of America and most
people are decent so few of them will be long persuaded by such a
So this monopolization of academe by Leftists ought perhaps to be of
some concern but its main effect is probably that it simply makes our
universities boring. The message emanating from them is so predictable
that it is hardly worth attending to. And in a pluralistic society
there are many alternative sources of information and influences on
attitudes. The internet and Right-wing radio commentators such as Rush
Limbaugh in the USA and Alan Jones in Australia spring obviously to
mind as alternative sources of information and countervailing
influences on the public mind.
Another possible countervailing influence that some Leftists are
beginning to notice (Bates, 2001) is the amazingly popular Homer
Simpson. It seems to me that although Homer is merely a cartoon
character and ostensibly an object of ridicule meant to evoke disgust,
his great popularity is due at least in part both to his believability
and his grossness. And one reason why he is believable and why people
are amused by his grossness is that ordinary people can often see, to
some degree, an uncensored or more honest version of themselves in
him. So it seems to me that a more subtle and accurate reading of him
would see him as a strong and believable character with Rightist views
whom many people identify with or even envy to some degree precisely
because he is unapologetic about his failings failings (such as
greed) that are in fact common and normal ones. His utter lack of
political correctness must be refreshing where people are so often
(and so boringly) being urged to be goody-goodies. And an example that
one can identify with will always have infinitely more influence than
any amount of preaching, nagging and exhortation. It might not be
drawing too long a bow to say that, for many ordinary people, Homer,
makes at least one form of Rightism at least attractive and maybe even
lovable. Homer could, in other words, have much more influence as a
model than is immediately apparent or generally realized (See also
Pinsky, 2001 and Appleyard, 2002).
Even if all that is completely untrue, however, Homer has undoubtedly
given high visibility and exposure to one type of Rightist view and
kept such views very much on the mental agenda of ordinary people at
the same times as Leftists have been trying so hard to get them off
the agenda. It is after all commonly said that there is no such thing
as bad publicity. Because of Homer, total political incorrectness
constantly spends long periods pervading perhaps hundreds of millions
of living-rooms worldwide and does it in an entertaining and
pleasant rather than a boring way. It is amusing to speculate that
Homer Simpson might well be a greater influence on the public mind
than the influence all of our universities put together. So low the
relevance of our universities would appear to have sunk now that they
are in the hands of the Leftists. So in our universities and
elsewhere, Leftists are a good example of Lord Acton's axiom that
power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
It must be acknowledged, however, that many conservatives would not
identify with Homer in any way at all. His attitudes are mainly
Rightist in that they completely defy the unnatural and oppressive
political correctness that Leftists have managed to make dominant in
other media sources. By constantly engaging in politically incorrect
behaviour in so many peoples living rooms, he shows that politically
correct behaviour is not as compulsory and as universal as other media
sources would like to pretend. He shoots down the artificial liberal
Leftist Egotism as a common human failing
Egotism has been pinpointed in this paper as a major psychological
source of a Leftist orientation. It seems reasonable therefore to have
a more searching look at egotism in general.
There is no dispute that thinking well of oneself is in general
healthy, normal and desirable. But it is very difficult to point an
optimum level of self-satisfaction. That ego can very easily go beyond
an optimum is nonetheless surely clear. It could even be argued that
excess ego is the besetting "sin" of the human race, that people
generally are far more in love with themselves than is wise. By this I
mean that many if not most of our troubles can be traced to people
thinking too highly of themselves. Let us consider some examples:
As perhaps the most obvious instance of egotism, crime involves the
criminal thinking that he alone matters and that (for instance) the
person who has worked to earn possession of certain assets is not
nearly so entitled to those assets as the criminal (thief) who wants
them. The thief is putting his wants far above any consideration for
In the post-Soviet world, one of the most pernicious forms of
excessive ego is nationalism and racism. We all know how Hitler's
incredible ego gave birth to the notion that he and his fellow Teutons
were a superior race and thus justified and brought about the
slaughter of some of Europe's best and brightest (the Jews). But even
in the last decade of the second millennium there were Hitlers
everywhere, from Serbia to Rwanda. Everywhere the folly of believing
that those like oneself (i.e. those of one's own group, tribe, nation
or race) are somehow better or more worthy is leading to mass
slaughter of outgroup members. How much a little humility would do
towards preventing such evils.
Perhaps it is my Presbyterian upbringing but it seems to me that
another great egotistical evil that afflicts many in all societies I
know of is gambling. It causes significant losses to many and is quite
disastrous to some leading to poverty, broken marriages, crime etc.
Yet even vision-challenged Frederick knows that the house always wins
in the end and that 99% of gamblers lose in the end. Even those who
win big at the lottery etc generally seem to blow it all and rapidly
return to poverty. So why fight such extremely adverse odds? Why
devote oneself to fighting losing battles? Why destroy one's
hard-earned money so pointlessly? Ego. The gambler thinks he is
special. He must (almost by definition) think that he can beat the
odds. He thinks that he has special powers or special luck. What a
fool! Gambling could then be seen as a rather pernicious form of
mental illness if one did not understand that it is derived from our
dominant human folly of excess ego.
Religion is perhaps the most pervasive expression of ego. Ego thinks
that he or she is so important that he/she cannot really die and that
the creator of the universe is concerned about his/her every thought
and deed! How unrealistic! How ludicrous! How egocentric! If the
universe does have a creator, such a creator is surely far above any
human passions or concerns and has far bigger things to concern him/it
than worry about what some priest does with his penis (for instance).
And yet what evils have been perpetrated in the name of religion!
Without excess ego, we would, for instance, have no Islamic
And that secular religion known as Socialism or Communism is another
case of vast ego. Some middle-class academic theorists were
egotistical enough to think that they could with a little thought
remake all of mankind's economic arrangements for the better
overnight. They thought that they could repeal some of the deepest
human passions by legislation and "education". From Lenin to Pol Pot
they killed millions in their procrustean attempt to make humanity fit
their preconceived notions. What towering ego and what a vast evil!
Despite the now almost universally acknowledged failure of the
Communist experiment, however, the ego that drove the Communists and
their ilk has not gone away. In modern Leftists it still leads to
pervasive "equalizing" follies, but on a less ambitious scale.
One of the great virtues of capitalism is that, in capitalism, excess
ego is largely self-correcting. I may think I have this great idea
that will enable me to sell millions of products or services and put
everything I have into the project in the firm belief that I will make
millions out of it. But if I am wrong and I am not as clever as I
thought I was, people will not buy and I will go broke. I will learn a
lesson in humility the hard way.
Humility versus Self-Esteem
So in the end I am again struck by the insight of that much quoted but
little heeded wise man Jesus Christ in his preaching of humility
and concern for others (e.g. Matthew 5:3-5; 18:4; 23:8-12). It does
seem to be just what the human race needs. The "self-esteem" gospel
that passes for wisdom among present-day psychologists is the
antithesis of this in that it positively fosters the growth of ego. In
Christian terms this psychological credo could perhaps well be
characterized as the Devil's gospel. In my own personal terms, I would
simply say that for the good of us all we need less self-esteem, not
The self-esteem gurus would no doubt argue that Hitler had to have LOW
self-esteem to perpetrate his anti-social evils. If, however, the
self-proclaimed "leader" (Fuehrer) of the "master-race" (Herrenvolk)
was short of self-esteem, what meaning could the concept have? If
Hitler had low self-esteem, how would we ever recognize high
self-esteem? We would need some pretty circular definitions, I
This does however highlight the seeming paradox that many of those who
seem to have very high self-regard also often seem to a have high need
for that self-regard to be reinforced. The person with excess ego also
seems to have a high ego-need. This is hardly surprising, however.
There is much in the world and in life that tells each of us about our
inadequacies, failures and mistakes so any person who has a high level
of self-love has a lot of attacks on that self-love to fend off,
counteract and defend against. The higher one's self-love, the more
there is to attack and the more one will have a need to get it
justified in some way. Humility would make life a lot simpler and
realism a lot easier. It is no wonder that the inflated ego of the
Leftist makes him/her an habitual denier of reality.
The Biology of Egotism
From the viewpoint of theoretical (evolutionary) biology, high
self-esteem was probably once necessary and adaptive. In pre-modern
times, when human life was generally "nasty, brutish and short" (to
misquote Leviathan by Hobbes), it took a lot of ego to carry on and
think that one could survive and do well. Without a lot of ego, a
rational man might well have been tempted in such times to "drop his
bundle" (give up, cease the struggle, lie down and die). Only
unrealistic egotism could support in him the belief that he could do
better than the common lot of man at that time and thus keep on
struggling and surviving. Now that survival and a good lifespan is for
most of us more or less guaranteed and boredom is a far greater
problem than enough food or other material basics, excess ego has lost
its point and has only negative consequences as outlined above.
Denial of reality
"The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the
palpably not true. It is the chief occupation of mankind." (H.L.
There would seem to be some possibility that excess ego can be curbed.
The traditional Christian preaching of humility certainly assumes
that. It is doubtful, however, that another underpinning of Leftism
can be much influenced: Denial of reality.
Denial is perhaps best known through the work of Sigmund Freud as a
classical neurotic symptom or coping mechanism. Instead of dealing
with uncomfortable truths, the neurotic acts as if those truths simply
do not exist. This is, of course, very maladaptive and creates at
least as many problems as it solves.
Sadly, however, it would seem that reality denial is far from limited
to psychiatric cases. Denial would appear to be in fact much more
common even than excess egotism. Human beings generally do not handle
reality well. That is why humans are such a drug-using species.
Whether it be alcohol, cannabis, opiates, Khat, cocaine, nicotine or
merely caffeine, few of us seem able to face life without chemical
crutches. Straight reality is generally too much for us.
Religion too is essentially a reality denying exercise. As Marx
famously said, it is the "opium of the people". Those of us with
ultimately Judaic traditions delude ourselves into believing that
somewhere there must exist some real counterpart to the omnipotent and
benevolent father we thought we had in our early childhood and those
of us influenced by Eastern religions generally believe that our elder
family members continue to be able to help us even after death. We
invent imaginary helpers and benefactors to replace the lack of real
But WHY are human beings so uncomfortable with reality? Why do they
use so many means to "escape" it? Again it probably goes back to more
primitive times when reality was very oppressive and dispiriting. Only
those who could escape reality in some way had the heart to carry on.
So a talent for ignoring unpleasant truths was adaptive. In the modern
world, however, reality is much more benign and, as Freud saw, denying
it can easily descend into the psychopathological.
So any attack on the reality-denying habits of Leftists would appear
doomed to failure. Even such an overwhelming reality as the utter
collapse of the world's 70 year experiment with Communism caused them
not at all to abandon their equalitarian mania but only to change
their focus somewhat.
So what are Rightists?
The prime focus in this paper has been on defining and explaining what
Leftism is. It would nonetheless be remiss not to give also at least a
skeletal outline of what Rightism is so I will now do that. If Leftism
and Rightism are NOT mirror-images, as this paper asserts, some such
account does appear necessary in order to complete the picture. I
have, however, written one book and many previous papers for those who
wish to study conservatism at greater length (See Ray, 1972b, 1973,
1974, 1979 & 1981).
In the late 20th century, it was a common rhetorical ploy of the more
"revolutionary" Left in the "Western" world simply to ignore democracy
as an alternative to Communism. Instead they would excuse the
brutalities of Communism by pointing to the brutalities of the then
numerous military dictatorships of Southern Europe and Latin America
and pretend that such regimes were the only alternative to Communism.
These regimes were led by generals who might in various ways be seen
as conservative (though Peron was clearly Leftist) so do they tell us
anything about conservatism?
Historically, most of the world has been ruled by military men and
their successors (Sargon II of Assyria, Alexander of Macedon, Caesar,
Augustus, Constantine, Charlemagne, Frederick II of Prussia etc.) so
it seems unlikely but perhaps the main point to note here is that the
Hispanic dictatorships of the 20th century were very often created as
a response to a perceived threat of a Communist takeover. This is
particularly clear in the case of Spain, Chile and Argentina. They
were an attempt to fight fire with fire. In Argentina of the 60s and
70s, for instance, Leftist "urban guerillas" were very active
blowing up anyone they disapproved of. The nice, mild, moderate
Anglo-Saxon response to such depredations would have been to endure
the deaths and disruptions concerned and use police methods to trace
the perpetrators and bring them to trial. Much of the world is more
fiery than that, however, and the Argentine generals certainly were.
They became impatient with the slow-grinding wheels of democracy and
its apparent impotence in the face of the Leftist revolutionaries.
They therefore seized power and instituted a reign of terror against
the Leftist revolutionaries that was as bloody, arbitrary and
indiscriminate as what the Leftists had inflicted. In a word, they
used military methods to deal with the Leftist attackers. So the
nature of these regimes was only incidentally conservative. What they
were was essentially military. We have to range further than the
Hispanic generals, therefore, if we are to find out what is
It might be noted, however, that, centuries earlier, the parliamentary
leaders of England led by Fairfax, Cromwell etc. did something
similar to the Hispanic generals of the 20th century. Faced by an
attempt on the part of the Stuart tyrant to abrogate their traditional
rights, powers and liberties, they resorted to military means to
overthrow the threat. There is no reason to argue that democracy
cannot or must not use military means to defend itself or that
Leftists or anyone else must be granted exclusive rights to the use of
force and violence.
What modern-day Rightists of the English-speaking world are, then,
traces right back to the German invaders who overran Britannia around
1500 years ago and made it into England. They brought with them a very
decentralized, largely tribal system of government that was very
different from the Oriental despotisms that had ruled the civilized
world for most of human history up to that time. And they liked their
decentralized system very much. So much so that the system just kept
on keeping on in England, century after century, despite many
vicissitudes. Only the 20th century really shook it.
Where the English get their traditional dislike of unrestrained
central power is not the main point or even an essential point of the
present account. Nonetheless, tracing that dislike to the ultimately
German descent of most of the English population might seem colossally
perverse in view of Germany's recent experience. Was not Hitler a
German and was he not almost the ultimate despot and centralizer of
power in his own hands? One could quibble here by saying that Hitler
was NOT a German (he was an Austrian) and the Israeli historian Unger
(1965) has pointed out that Hitler was much less of a despot than
Stalin was but neither of those points is really saying much in the
The important thing here again is to see things with an historian's
eye and realize that recent times are atypical. Right up until
Bismarck's ascendancy in the late 19th century, Germany was remarkable
for its degree of decentralization. What we now know as Germany was
once always comprised of hundreds of independent States (kingdoms,
principalities, Hanseatic cities etc.) of all shapes and sizes: States
that were in fact so much in competition with one another in various
ways that they were not infrequently at war with one-another.
And it was of course only the fractionated and competing centres of
power existing in mediaeval Germany that enabled the successful
emergence there of the most transforming and anti-authority event of
the last 1000 years: The Protestant Reformation. Despite the almost
immediate and certainly widespread popularity of his new teachings
among Germans, Luther ran great risks and would almost certainly have
been burnt at the stake like Savonarola, Hus and his other
predecessors in religious rebellion had it not been for his (and our)
good fortune that he was a Saxon. His Prince, Frederick III ("The
Wise") of Saxony gave him constant protection. As one of the Electors
of the Holy Roman Empire, Frederick was strong enough and independent
enough to protect Luther from Pope, from Emperor and from other German
So only after Bismarck engineered the defeat of the French at Sedan in
1870 did most of Germany become unified with the Germans of the
Austrian lands remaining independent even then. And to this day
Germany has a Federal system very similar to that of their largely
Germanic brethren in the United States, Canada and Australia a
system of State governments which markedly limits central (Federal)
government power. So the German origins of the English do make their
historic dislike of concentrated power at the Centre just one part of
a larger picture.
In 1066, William of Normandy disrupted the traditional decentralized
and competitive power structure of England to some degree but by the
time of King John and Magna Carta it was back with a vengeance. Even
in the reign of that great Tudor despot, Henry VIII, there were still
in England great and powerful regional Lords and many less powerful
but numerous local notables representing local interests that the King
had to take great care with. Even Tudor central government power was
highly contingent, far from absolute and much dependant on the
popularity of the ruler among ordinary English people. And when the
Stuarts, with their doctrine of "the divine right of Kings", ignored
all that and tried to turn the English monarchy into something more
like a centralized Oriental despotism, off came the head of the Stuart
A Conservative Revolution
And the parliamentarians who were responsible for beheading King
Charles I in 1649 were perfectly articulate about why. They felt that
Charles had attempted to destroy the ancient English governmental
system or "constitution" and that he had tried to take away important
rights and individual liberties that the English had always enjoyed
liberty from the arbitrary power of Kings, a right to representation
in important decisions and a system of counterbalanced and competing
powers rather than an all-powerful central government. It is to them
that we can look for the first systematic statements of conservative
ideals ideals that persevere to this day. And they were both
conservatives (wishing to conserve traditional rights and
arrangements) and revolutionaries!
So right back in the 17th century we had the apparent paradox of
"conservatives" (the parliamentary leaders later to be referred to
as "Whigs") being prepared to undertake most radical change (deposing
monarchy) in order to restore treasured traditional rights and
liberties and to rein in overweening governmental power. So Margaret
Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were not at all breakaways from the
conservatism of the past. They had very early and even more determined
predecessors. Nobody who knew history should have been surprised by
the Reagan/Thatcher "revolution". And it was in deliberate tribute to
the parliamentarians of Cromwell's day and their immediate successors
that two of the most influential conservative theorists prior to
Reagan and Thatcher both described themselves as "Old Whigs" Burke
(1790) and Hayek (1944). Hayek described Whig ideals as "the only set
of ideals that has consistently opposed all arbitrary power" (Hayek,
Many influential conservative writers of the past (e.g. Burke, 1790)
have held that Christianity is an essential foundation for
conservatism though others (e.g. Hayek, 1944) disagree. A large part
of the reason for that is the traditional role of the church as
arbiter and enforcer of morality in general and sexual morality in
particular. Although suspicious of authority generally, conservatives
have never shrunk from the need for authority if they consider it
essential to the functioning of a civil society. And morality has
always to them seemed essential for any kind of civilization. And
morality generally has to be taught and to some degree enforced. It
does not always come naturally. And both the church and the State have
generally seemed needed for setting and maintaining moral standards.
In the modern world, however, it is clear that civil society and a
modicum of morality (both sexual and otherwise) can survive without
the church so the Burkean view that religion and its moral codes are
essential to a good life can no longer be reasonably maintained by
conservatives or anyone else. Christian conservatives still claim,
however, that traditional Christian moral standards make for a better
society than it otherwise would be and sometimes agitate energetically
for such standards to be widely applied. Their view of the benefits of
Christian standards may well be correct but if they try to have such
standards applied to non-believers they are simply mired in an
obsolete past. They are mistaken about what is essential.
Other theories of conservatism
Perhaps the best-known work on political psychology is that by Adorno
et al. (1950) who claim that conservatives are pro-authority whereas
Leftists are anti-authority. This vast oversimplification is perhaps
an understandable mistake given the characteristic opposition by
Leftists in the economically successful "Western" democracies to the
existing centres of authority and power in their countries and given
the characteristic acceptance by conservatives of those same
authorities but it once again lacks in historical perspective. What
Leftists oppose is not authority as such (or there would be no Lenin,
Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao etc.) but only authorities that they do not
control; and what conservatives favour is not any and all authority
but rather carefully limited authority only that degree of central
authority and power that is needed for a civil society to function.
See Ray (1988, 1989 & 1990) for a more extensive critique of the
The biggest mistake that has been made by psychologists (e.g.
Altemeyer 1981 & 1988) and others, however, is to identify
conservative motivation with opposition to change. Obviously, from
Cromwell to Reagan and Thatcher, change has never bothered
"conservatives" one bit but preservation of their rights and
liberties from governments that would take those rights and liberties
away always has. THAT is what has always made a "conservative" and
it still does.
One dimension or two? As is evident from the above, describing the
entire domain of political attitudes in terms of a single Right/Left
dimension does have its problems. For this reason various authors
(e.g. Eysenck, 1954; Rokeach, 1960; Kerlinger, 1967) have proposed
that an adequate description of world politics really needs two
dimensions. They propose, for example, that the Left-Right dimension
be supplemented by an Authoritarian/Permissive dimension. So that
democratic Leftists and Rightists are Permissive Leftists and
Rightists whereas Communists and Fascists are Authoritarian Leftists
Although such proposals have considerable intuitive appeal, they do
not, unfortunately, seem to coincide with how people's attitudes are
in fact organized when we do surveys of public opinion. It is very
easy to find people's attitudes polarizing on a Left/Right dimension
but nobody has yet managed to show in a satisfactory way any
polarization of attitudes on the postulated second dimension (Ray,
1980 & 1982).
The account of Left/Right attitudes given in this paper suggests why
this is so. For a start, the assumption that Fascists or Nazis are
Right-wing is false. Hitler himself energetically claimed to be a
socialist and Mussolini (the founder of Fascism) was a lifelong
Marxist. The evidence for this has been summarized at great length in
two previous papers (See Musso.txt and Hitler.txt on my website) so
will not be further elaborated here.
Historically, the core of conservatism has always been a suspicion of
government power and intervention and conservatives therefore accept
only the minimum amount of government that seems needed for a civil
society to function. So it is no wonder that there is no authoritarian
version of conservative ideology. If it were authoritarian it could
not be conservative.
Leftism, on the other hand, IS intrinsically authoritarian and
power-loving and will always therefore tend in the direction of
government domination. It is only non-authoritarian to the extent that
is thwarted by external influences (such as democracy) from achieving
its aims. Leftists in democratic societies do of course commonly deny
authoritarian motivations but that is just part of their "cover".
Deeds speak louder than words.
Although Leftists in the economically successful "Western" democracies
have (thankfully) never gained power on anything like the scale
achieved by Mao and Stalin, there have of course been Leftist
governments and influential Leftist politicians in the economically
successful "Western" democracies countries on many occasions and these
have certainly managed to lay the stifling and impoverishing hand of
bureaucracy on many endeavours. The twin disciplines of the ballot box
and constitutional constraints have however limited what such
politicians and governments can do. Their power has always been far
But in all cases, bitter experience has shown that Leftists in power
are very dangerous and destructive people. Where their power is
effectively unchecked, they generally seems to resort sooner or later
to mass murder (as in the case of the French revolutionaries, Lenin,
Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Jim Jones and many Communist regimes and
movements worldwide) and where they are partially thwarted by strong
democratic traditions and institutions, they at least bring about
large-scale impoverishment (as in post-independence India and
pre-Thatcher Britain). By contrast, conservatives just muddle along
with piecemeal reforms that don't require them to murder anybody. So
giving any power to Leftists is a most dangerous thing to do and
working to prevent that happening is a matter of no small importance.
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