by Brad Nelson
I’ve struggled with understanding the Leftist mindset, everything from their love of Stalin to their hatred of free speech. America’s college campuses, for example, are a hive of restrictions on free speech, which is far from the stated goal of “academic freedom” that the Left pretends to love.
And even today, the Left’s love of tyrants is alive and well. Democrats and nitwit Hollywood types regularly make visits to Castro’s Cuba and return with fawning praise. It’s all so bizarre and seemingly inexplicable, as is the mountainous scorn heaped on, say, George Bush or Sara Palin, and not just by hardened Leftists but by many “average” citizens who have picked up this infection.
Well, Jamie Glazov’s book, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror, is filling in a lot of the blanks. It is the best explanation I’ve heard yet for why the Left is the Left. And it all comes down to — yes, that’s right — feelings; or, more specifically, feelings of alienation.
It’s a bit more than that, but let me first recommend Jamie Glazov to you. He’s David Horowitz’s right-hand man, and I would say a man of equal moral, analytical, and intellectual weight to Horowitz. His story is a good one. His parents were refugees from the Soviet Union and were actual fighters for freedom within the oppressive society that naive types, such as Obama, often see as places that are a dream come true.
I’ve read many of Glazov’s articles and interviews at Front Page Magazine and I consider him one of the best. This is the first book of his I’ve read and I really shouldn’t have waited so long.
Here’s a good sample. In the following, Glazov is quoting American sociologist Paul Hollander in the course of making his overall point:
[T]he restlessness of estranged intellectuals and the hostility of the adversary culture are in all probability generalized responses to the discontents of life in a thoroughly modernized, wealthy, secular, and individualistic society where making life meaningful requires great ongoing effort and remains a nagging problem—at any rate for those whose attention does not have to be riveted on the necessities of survival.
In other words, it seems human beings (much like Agent Smith complained about regarding humans in The Matrix) just can’t live easily with plenty. They must invent their own problems.
Well, that is the Left in a nutshell. It is often the struggle itself that brings genuine good meaning to life. And if you remove that struggle, you might end up with an entire generation of people who just don’t know what to do with themselves. Whether it is because they have too much time on their hands and/or that they just have it too easy, many people do suffer from this sense of alienation. Instead of doing the work privately to deal with this, they instead take the shortcut and take it out on all of society. They insist that society be changed because it is to blame for their bad feelings.
And this is a known and widespread phenomenon. After all, fascism, socialism, Communism, and “Progressivism” all are seductive and are quite popular movements because they promise the true believer a sense of purpose and meaning in life. A guy such as me would say that that is something best pursued privately in one’s religion, hobbies, family, business, friends, and/or private organizations. But many others simply stomp their feet and demand that the rest of society change so that their uncomfortable feelings go away. And this is one of the malignancies that leads to the ills of collectivism and fascism.
It’s always, of course, a real danger zone when one pyschologizes one’s opponents. That is, after all, a prime tactic of the Left. They are the ones who say there is something wrong with you if you don’t believe as they believe. They are the ones who had (and have) re-education camps. (Both colleges and corporations are filled with them today. They are often called “sensitivity training” or some such thing.). Be that as it may, and with the dangers of such an approach noted, I think Glazov is onto something:
The believer’s totalitarian journey begins with an acute sense of alienation from his own society – an alienation to which he is, himself, completely blind. In denial about the character flaws that prevent him from bonding with his own people, the believer has convinced himself that there is something profoundly wrong with his society – and that it can be fixed without any negative trade-offs. He fantasizes about building a perfect society where he will, finally, fit in. As Eric Hoffer noted in his classic The True Believer, “people with a sense of fulfillment think it is a good world and would like to conserve it as it is, while the frustrated favor radical change.”
The above and following excerpts are from the chapter titled “The Believer’s Diagnosis” in which Glazov does indeed present a very plausible analysis of what makes the Leftist tick. He’s peering into the cultish, religious-like mindset of the typical Leftist (which he more than once deems a dysfunction or type of mental illness…something Michael Savage would surely agree with). It contains some wonderful insights that pertain not only to those who adored Stalin, but who today adore Mao, Castro, or anyone who loves any of the world’s dictators enough to bow down to them.
Here Jamie is basically describing the psychology of how those who live in such affluent, fair, and just Western nations can come to hate them so much, and sustain this hatred with denial and other mental shenanigans. Basically, a Leftist thinks everyone is as miserable as they are. And if they appear not to be, it’s because they’re being fooled. Talk about silly narcissistic overkill, but that is the Left.
Because the believer possesses so many of these dysfunctions and adopts so many embarrassing political dispositions to safeguard them, remaining in denial takes on a life-and-death importance. Everything is at stake when a political or social reality is confronted. More than anything, the believer must constantly rationalize the annoying presence of human happiness around him. Common people who are happy with their circumstance, and who do not see themselves as victims, pose a serious threat to the believer’s imagined community membership and thus to his personal identity. In response, the believer must tell himself that these individuals are content with their own society only because they have been brainwashed. In other words, they think they are happy, but in fact they are not. A “false consciousness” that capitalist forces have instilled in them rules them, and they can only be liberated from this mental enslavement by the revolution that the believers have appointed themselves to lead.
For the radical, experiencing joy means succumbing to this false consciousness and becoming distracted from the constant vigilance necessary to launch a revolutionary battle. [Is that why Hillary Clinton is always so bitch? Why, yes.] This is why Lenin refused to listen to music, since, as he explained: “It makes you want to say stupid, nice things and stroke the heads of people who could create such beauty while living in this vile hell.” For Lenin violent revolution was the priority – a priority endangered by the emotions music could induce.
Needing to remain angry and full of gloom no matter how comfortable and joyful life in a free society might truly be, the believer invariably holds his own society to full moral accountability, but never does the same for enemy societies. The clear implication is that his society is actually superior, since it must be held to a higher standard. But the leftist must assiduously deny this implication, lest he be forced to confront the bigotry on which his own belief system is based.
To keep this toxic mindset in place, the believer must convince himself that he knows something that ordinary human beings do not. He is above ordinary human desires and affairs. As Hollander shows, left-wing intellectuals have perfected the procedure of appointing themselves the moral antennae of the human race. Once again, we come full circle to the dark forces that make the progressive gravitate toward genocide: because believers consider themselves higher life forms, their inferiors become not only expendable, but necessary waste. They are nothing more than obstacles to the creation of Ground Zero and the subsequent rebuilding.
Glavoz is describing the “radical” Leftist. But it doesn’t take much imagination to see these core traits, if in a less virulent form, all throughout the culture and shared by people who might not travel to the Soviet Union to sing Stalin’s praises but who might vehemently show their dislike for this country in oh so many ways.
Another interesting point that Jamie Glazov makes in United in Hate is that “totalist” (totalitarian) regimes are always about rubbing out the emphasis on individual identity. (And some screwballs are attracted to that, but that’s another story.) Part of rubbing out that identity is getting rid of the pleasure of sex for the sake of pleasure. And in “any totalitarian regime, every act and word has political implications, including sex. All acts and words must be for the glory of, or furtherance of, the state.”
In China during the Cultural Revolution (I’m not sure what the state of affairs is today), couples were not allowed to be seen holding hands in public or any other display of affection. In another Communist country (it was either Vietnam or North Korea), it was illegal to cry at a funeral. To express such emotion was to show that the individual had some meaning. And Glazov points out that numerous laws in Islam are about wiping out sexual identity in order to de-emphasize the individual.
Perhaps there is some consistency here with the modern Left’s desire in the West to disconnect sex from families and reproduction by promoting any sex, all sex, all the time. There is a similarity if you consider that the Left does not like it for anyone to have their own ideas about sex. The Left spends a great deal of time trying to sexualize children, for instance, in the same homogenized attitudes about sex that they have. As Dennis Prager has noted, it would take about fifteen minutes to explain the actual basics of sexual reproduction to students. But what we get instead is a decade-long diatribe of indoctrination into a monolithic sexual attitude, the one that is supposedly right and proper according to the Left. It’s the same totalitarian instinct where sex can’t just be sex, it has political implications.
Many have been taken in by this ruse thinking that it’s about sexual liberty rather than conformity. But the Left’s first goal is to tear down the existing order, and if that means promoting sexual promiscuity, they will do so. Glazov tells a very interesting story of the Weather Underground and William Ayers where that Leftist order made people engage in orgies in order to break the love of one man for one woman which is anathema to those who demand that all allegiances should go to the state or the Cause:
The Maoists’ unisex clothing finds its parallel in fundamentalist Islam’s mandate for shapeless covering to be worn by both males and females. The collective “uniform” symbolizes submission to a higher entity and frustrates individual expression, mutual physical attraction, and private connection and affection. Once again, the believer remains not only uncritical, but completely supportive, of this totalitarian puritanism.
This is exactly why, forty years ago, the Weather Underground not only waged war against American society through violence and mayhem, but also waged war on private love within its own ranks. Bill Ayers, once of the leading terrorists in the group, argued in a speech defending the campaign: “Any notion that people can have responsibility for one person, that they can have that ‘out’ — we have to destroy that notion in order to build a collective; we have to destroy all ‘outs,’ to destroy the notion that people can lean on one person and not be responsible to the entire collective.” In this way, the Weather Underground destroyed any signs of monogamy within its ranks and forced couples, some of whom had been together for years, to admit their “political error” and split apart. Like their icon Margaret Meed, they fought the notions of romantic love, jealousy, and other “oppressive” manifestations of one-on-one intimacy and commitment. This was followed by forced group sex and “national orgies,” whose main objective was to crush the spirit of individualism. This constituted an eerie replay of the sexual promiscuity that was encouraged (while private love was forbidden) in “We,” “1984,” and “Brave New World.”
It’s interesting to note that the Left are consistently puritanical, far more so than the actual Puritans, or at least as much. That’s a constant theme running through Glazov’s examination of the Left.
Freedom is not just the ability to say what you want and live without overbearing government interference and coercion. It’s about finding meaning for your life for yourself. And it’s the responsibility to do so. Private religion is one way people do this. But it’s very tempting for some to try to find this meaning via government. They take their existential angst and, rather than pursuing their life’s meaning via the freedom they have, they pursue it via trying to form the entire state into an entity that has deep meaning for them.
That is, more or less, the draw of “Progressivism” and Communism. And in many cases, it’s a child-like wish to dispense with all life’s unpleasantness and return to some perfect state of humanity before the supposed “greed” of capitalism tainted us all.
In this next passage from United in Hate, Jamie Glazov explains how the Left (Communists, Marxists, socialists, and “Progressives”) went from bashing capitalism because it didn’t work to bashing it because it *did* work:
Whereas capitalism had momentarily appeared to be a failure in the early 1930s, by the 1960s it had clearly established itself as a tremendous success, generating massive wealth and distributing it better than any other economic system. The New Left, therefore, faced a serious crisis: since its entire raison d’étre depended on hating capitalism and rejecting the society on which it was based, it had to come up with a new rationale. And it found it: capitalism was evil not because it failed, but because it worked.
The ingredients of the Left’s rejection of capitalism now directly contradicted the ones exploited by the earlier generation of believers. While the older believers had rejected capitalism because it had not provided enough jobs, the new generation rejected the system for providing the wrong kind of jobs. A job now allegedly had to help a person find purpose in life and cure his feelings of alienation. As the Port Huron Statement — the founding document of the quintessential New Left organization, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) — put it, “…work should involve incentive worthier than money or survival. It should be educative, not stultifying; creative, not mechanical; self-direct[ed], not manipulated, encouraging independence, a respect for others, a sense of dignity and a willingness to accept social responsibility…” Held up to this ideal, almost every job could be seen as being oppressive. Capitalist society could be seen as evil because it forced people to work; in the future earthly paradise, believers envisioned no one having to work — there would just be wealth and equal redistribution of it, plain and simple.
This philosophy was in perfect line with Marxism, which sees all work as an evil. Marx himself hated manual labor; he never worked a day in his life and never actually knew a single worker — except the unpaid servant in his own house. As historian Paul Johnson has made clear, Marx lived his whole life sponging off others, especially Friedrich Engels, and he developed his hatred of capitalism precisely because of his own laziness and inability to manage his finances or pay back any of his debts.
Ungrateful for being the luckiest generation in world history, sixties New Leftists agonized about how affluence and security created “empty human values” and, worse still, competitive individualism. To be materially comfortable meant to be empty and selfish. And because believers themselves were among those who were materially comfortable, they became plagued by guilt, which they attempted to assuage by working toward a solution that would rid the world — and themselves — of the system that gave them all the luxurious time to think up everything they hated about it. All in all, as analyzed in the believer’s diagnosis, the believers found a way to fantasize that they too were victims, and to absolve themselves of their guilt by joining an imaginary community of victims.
That’s a lot to ask out of any job, indeed. In fact, it’s a Utopian vision that isn’t satisfied with people merely working in order to put food on the table. The religious impulse of the Left is that it is society’s job (via government strong-arming, of course) to create meaning for people. Yikes. Talk about needing the separation of church and state. And compare the above to what Obama (and his various nutty czars, many of whom are self-ascribed Marxists and Communists) and Pelosi commonly are saying. You’ll see the same attitude. We can’t just have jobs. We must have the right kind of jobs. They must be “green” jobs, whatever the heck that is. And capitalism is most certainly under attack from the Democrats.
And our nutty former Speaker of the House voiced this same naive, child-like Utopian attitude when, in a clumsy (but revealing) defense of her further power-grabbing take-over of the health care industry said “Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance.”
Marxism. Pure utopian Marxism.
If you’ve always thought that those on the Left are typically angry, bitter, and unhappy, here’s another excerpt from United in Hate which speaks to that:
Herbert Marcuse, often termed the “father of the New Left,” outlined the rationale for the leftist hatred of the abundance of freedom in American society. Marcuse coined the term “repressive tolerance” to describe the way capitalism enslaves people by making them happy and free. Because capitalism satisfied its citizens’ material needs, it distracted them from what they should be enraged about: their captivity. Human beings under capitalism lived in a false consciousness, which made them unaware of the oppression quietly destroying their lives.
Leftist guru Noam Chomsky altruistically developed this theme, teaching his faithful flock that they were actually in agony even when they felt happy, since their joy was a false consciousness manufactured by capitalist elites. The capitalist oppressors used all forms of entertainment, therefore, including televised sports and movies, to distract the masses from their victimization and make them unwilling or unable to revolt.
In his book, Glazov makes the point that Leftists are never satisfied, and that they often say so themselves in their own writings. And, time and again, if they do achieve any success (such as North Vietnam defeating South Vietnam), they become dispirited and wonder now what to do with themselves. They are never happy. I had a vivid experience of this right after the election of B. Hussein Obama. A friend of mine — a rabid liberal — was a big Obama advocate (or, should I say, hated George Bush to the point of incoherence). After the election I figured he would be happy and upbeat. Wrong. Just the opposite.
What you most likely have is people projecting their own unhappiness and sense of alienation onto others. (George Bush is a prime target, and America-in-general is another.) But what happens when they actually gain a victory? Nothing. The same inner unhappiness and sense of alienation is still there because it ain’t about who holds office. Their anger unsated, they then move on to their next target. The Left is one big Freudian psycho-drama being played out in public and mostly at our expense and to our detriment.
I think that, overall, Jamie Glazov has done a very nice job of doing the near impossible, and that is explaining the perverse affinity that many on the Left have (repeatedly, and predictably) for the world’s thugs and tyrants. And as Jamie points out, the peak of their affinity is when the regimes (Castro, Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, etc.) are at the peak of their bloodlust.
Much of the time this book is surreal and I feel like I’m reading a cheap dime store novel full of implausible characters and plot points. But it’s real. It’s tragically real.
Glazov ascribes this behavior (as far as I can determine) to two things: guilt and alienation. Glazov could be excused if he could not successfully explain why people such as Jane Fonda —who live an extraordinary prosperous and free life due to the benefits of the political, economic, and social structure of the West — travel to countries hostile to America and are giddy about them. And such bizarre people overlook the fact that the regimes they are playing footsie with are everything they claim to hate. These regimes are murderous, savage, undemocratic, and definitely not free. These regimes routinely commit the most unspeakable human rights abuses.
But still people such as Fonda (or Michael Moore, or Jimmy Carter, or more than a few Democratic Congressmen) will travel to these places and come back not only gushing about how perfect these societies supposedly are, but at the same time telling everyone how horrible America supposedly is.
You’ll have to read the book because I can’t do Glazov justice in his explanation. (And please buy at least two copies — one for a friend — so I don’t get nailed for violating “fair use.”) This book is as relevant as ever as the Left continues to make a living by kissing up to the world’s tyrants (Hugo Chavez, Iran, Hamas, Islamic terrorists, the Muslim Brotherhood) while bashing the United States. Our president right now is one of these people. He bows to dictators overseas while making apologies for the U.S. That’s bizarre, but standard fare for the Left.
A book like this is not easy to read. It may leave you reeling just a bit. When you look into the eyes of darkness, deceit, and outright psychosis, it is tough to hold onto the idea that there is a path — a good path — out of deception toward freedom, goodness, and liberty. And you also realize that a great many people have imbibed some of this Leftist hatred for America, if in a more diluted form. It’s a shame. When we soil the best of who we are and what we have, we’re asking for real trouble. And we’re finding it.