Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Why do I do what I do? Or, the Omnipotent Left

Good question to ask yourself: why are you doing what you're doing? Well in my case the answer is simple. I write what I write in the way I write because the left is sorely out of touch with everyday reality and it needs a swift kick in the hindquarters to get it back on track. Hopefully I can contribute to that process.

You ask yourself, why does the left not have more influence in American life? You see people living within their illusions, in their little lefty ghettos, believing that it's more important to believe in what people on the left have agreed are the important principles rather than connecting those principles with reality, and you get frustrated. I do at least. The reason the left doesn't have more influence in American life is that it does not understand American life, doesn't think critically of itself at all, and makes no effort whatsoever to connect it's own theories and understandings to what average people actually believe.

I really don't like that. I really don't. I actually believe in this stuff in more than an abstract, let's-bullshit-with-our-friends-and-think-that-we're-accomplishing-something sort of way. I'd like the left to have more influence, but at the same time I've seen, again and again and again, the same old self satisfaction, the same old contentment to live in a world which has little or no connection to anything but feel good intentions, and I won't stand for it anymore.

I simply won't. Which is why I rake the left and left liberals over the coals as much as I do conservatives. I had the good fortune of coming to the left from the outside; I didn't grow up in a lefty town, in fact I doubt that the left really existed in the town I grew up in. I don't think I owe people on the left a thing. I owe it to them to hold them to their words and to the principles they profess to hold but I don't owe them any favors.

Any favors which give them a break in places where they don't deserve breaks, namely in areas where they themselves profess to have some sort of concern.

If I came up to talk to you and said "I'm a progressive, but hey, I'm not really concerned with social justice, but won't you give me a break, I can't be as serious as you." what would you think? Would you be inclined to say that that's OK? That a person can declare themselves this, that, or the other thing, then not really believe it, then ask you to cut them some slack for not believing it?

That's how I see most of the left behaving.

Progressive change is great as long as it's not really progressive, as long as it doesn't make people personally uncomfortable, rights are ok as long as you really don't take them seriously, anti-war is ok as long as you're really not anti-war when it comes down to it, ignorance is strength, war is peace, two legs good four legs bad.

But, on the other hand, there are so many possibilities for truthful leftist discourse once you get beyond the whole honesty business that it's literally overwhelming. People don't see that because they never get that far, but it's true. This is not a restriction of people's options but something which would expand them greatly. I know this first hand, that if we can just cut through the hard shell of the established left that a world of possibilities will open up, but that to do that requires some sacrificing of things that people hold dear, namely the egoism which comes from living in a world where people basically agree with you and don't challenge you and your beliefs.

Once people are willing to think for themselves about these things then I think things will be better, but right now, when people are challenged it's like they're not used to using the muscles which participating in that dialogue really requires, and so it feels uncomfortable, possibly in the extreme. But it's necessary.

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