The Central Conceit Of The Progressive Left

CentralConceitThumbby Cato   9/5/14
The central conceit of the progressive Left is that true democracy can only arise from the political left. The assumption underlying this conceit is that if only “the people” understood and voted their true interests the Left would have overwhelming majorities in every election. It is only the ignorance of the masses to their true interests, the conceit continues, that allows the Right to ever triumph. This ignorance in the masses is instilled and maintained, the Left’s conceit avers, by the unending propaganda efforts of the malignant Right.

The political will of the Left, therefore, even if that is only anchored in the votes of a minority of citizens, is always “true democracy.” The political will of the Right, even if that is anchored in the votes of a majority of citizens, is castigated by the Left as “fascism.”

The MSM is more than happy to insert these labels into every news story and opinion piece it publishes, and nowhere is this more evident than in Europe at Caiani & Parenti case_Caiani & Parenti casethe moment. One can’t read a European paper or blog that doesn’t insert the words “extreme” or “radical” before the phrase “right wing.”

The European progressive Left has set a course for the establishment of a grand union of all European nations, the EU. It is a curiosity to those outside Europe that every time the 420 million people of the nations composing the EU have been given a vote on the grand union one or more of the nations have voted “no.” It’s gotten to the point that having a popular vote on anything related to the EU is considered by the Left to be counter-productive; an assault on the grand design and a political mistake. Nations seeking to hold a popular referendum on an issue are threatened or punished.

Still, that is only because the people are ignorant to their ‘true interests’, or so the EU Left’s conceit would have it. Consequently, the EU is being installed by an increasingly autocratic group of political elites, with a diminishing chorus of voices decrying the “democratic deficit.” The clearest among those voices and therefore one of the most maligned by CrisisEuropeanUnionthe EU Left is Jürgen Habermas, one of the most respected of EU founders and thinkers. Still, he and all these other deluded people simply don’t know what ‘true democracy’ is, or so the Left’s central conceit proclaims. Opponents to the EU are all “fascists.” Aren’t we?

What follows naturally and reasonably in the progressive Left … clearly evidenced in Europe as noted but also well along here in the US … is the conviction that “the people” must 1) be led by a minority of correct thinkers in the short term, leaders who will herd the deluded masses in the direction of their true interests and 2) be educated in the longer term to what those true interests are. That the Left works through unelected bureaucrats and Left-appointed judges, and has taken over the entire education system is, therefore, good strategy.

Strategy requires tactics if strategy is to be implemented, of course, which leads in turn to the actionable tactics the progressive Left has become famous for, usually by reference to Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals. Key among those tactics is labeling.

In the mind of man, what you gain the power to define you control. Defining what is mainstream and what is not, what is reasonable and what is not, what is moral and what is not, is the goal. For instance. “Extreme right wing” … meaning any political philosophy to the right of Hillary Clinton … ideas must be equated with evil intent, greedy purpose and foul politics. Once done those ideas can be suppressed, on the grounds that all such ideas are propaganda, a sort of right wing political pornography. The MSM provides the repetition which becomes knowledge, then wisdom, then secular dogma.

The wise Left as sole guardians of ‘true democracy,’ by the suppression of “radical right wing” thought … so continues the conceit … is just protecting the deluded liberaldefinition_xlargemasses from themselves. It’s from this basic idea that the in loco parentis attitude of the Left, with the Left as overseer and “the people” as easily misguided and beguiled children, arises. The “Nanny State” is the common term applied.

The level of self-assuredness, the level of arrogance … of the absolute certainty that they possess eternal Truth, indisputable perfection in all matters social and political and cultural … necessary in a progressive to think like this is astounding. This is at the root of the central conceit. The progressive Left doesn’t merely opine: it irrefutably knows.

It requires a narcissism of immense proportions to hold oneself in such godlike admiration. It requires a certainty that verges on total blindness as well. This last requirement is why, IMHO, the progressive Left has failed steadily and repeatedly to install it’s perfect vision into the real, imperfect world; why the world keeps frustrating their conceit; why nation after nation subjected to their RadicalsInRobesabsolute certainty either rebukes them or fails under them. Maoist China and the USSR are large examples of the former. Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal are smaller examples of the latter.

Closer to home, the resistance to ObamaCare is seen by the Left as arising out of the ignorance of the masses to the true interest ObamaCare represents. This resistance is to be overcome by “education” eventually. In the interim, ObamaCare will be shoved down the throats of “the people” like a worm pill down the throat of a resistant puppy, with subsidies and waivers and massive amounts of money serving as the “spoonful of sugar” that makes the medicine go down. In loco parentis. Nanny state. Because you don’t know what’s good for you.

Whether ObamaCare survives or not will go a long way toward informing Americans whether the central conceit of the progressive Left is, in fact, justified. If ObamaCare survives, it is justified. You can then look forward to being treated as a child the rest of your life … disciplined and “educated” … while the US devolves economically into France and culturally into Spain and politically into Italy.

Your choice in 2014 and 2016, fellow citizens. Confirm the central conceit of the progressive Left or deny it. Choose well.

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12 Responses to The Central Conceit Of The Progressive Left

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    My way of looking at it is that the Left uses language in a way similar to the ants in T. H. White’s The Once and Future King. (The sequence originally appeared in The Book of Merlin, which wasn’t included in the omnibus volume, so White added a slightly different version to the omnibus The Sword and the Stone.) There, the ants had all sorts of favorable and unfavorable adjectives — but White notes that in reality, they only have two — “done” and “not done”. The left reverses this, but basically everything good translates into “agrees with me” and everything bad means “disagrees with me”.

    The obvious reason for the failure of the Left to accomplish their (at least nominal) goals when given the chance is that you can’t learn from your mistakes when you refuse to admit that you can make mistakes (and ignore any critics as evil). This is also a lesson we on the Right should remember, since there is nothing the Left does that we are immune to.

  2. Glenn Fairman says:

    Rousseau’s notion of the “General Will” in his book The Social Contract sowed the seeds of Statist arrogance and Allen Bloom understood him as the great political turning point in Modernity. His General Will is not a majority will but the “rational interest” of the population. If, to borrow from Marx, a retrograde “false consciousness” is embedded in the masses who fail to see what is good for them, men could be forced to be free: contrary to their wills. This is the totalitarian impulse of the utopian reformer/zealot class.

    Democracy, while inherently unstable, can amass a healthy aggregate wisdom. It has been the collective wisdom of the masses that concentrations of power are subject to suspicion. Therefore, subtle and not so subtle attempts at homogenizing thought, and the use of propaganda to educate a population to accept the template waiting for them from above, are being unapologetically utilized in the West. The current incarnation of liberalism’s third wave of rule via technocratic managers would substitute the power of an intransigent democracy for a top down imposed egalitarianism that views itself as the sole voice of reason in the world. That people have yet to succumb to their masters is a good thing. As busy as the devil’s hands have been, still, there is much left to do in the grooming of pliable sheep for market.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      This sort of attitude shows up in a lot of places. I seem to recall that Franco’s Nationalists planned to replace elections with some other way to determine the national will. But no matter how they phrase it, it always comes down to the dictator proclaiming himself the embodiment of the People’s Will (my phrasing and capitalization there are deliberate, of course).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Well said, Glenn. I think you’ve captured the dynamic in concentrated form. There are entire books written on this subject that don’t ever get to the heart of it (but then, there isn’t much marketability in two paragraphs or an essay as there is with a full-length book where the assumption that if you say a lot, you must be saying something).

    • Cato says:

      “The current incarnation of liberalism’s third wave of rule via technocratic managers would substitute the power of an intransigent democracy for a top down imposed egalitarianism”

      This is a wonderful sentence. Concise. On point. Insightful. I shall steal it!! LOL

  3. Glenn (the lesser) says:

    I used to think the left simply had a reality scotoma that could be “filled in” through honest dialogue. But dialogue requires a common language underpinned by a common understanding of right and wrong, and that does not exist between the left and right. The left has been unmoored from reality as the right understands it. There is no common ground on which to meet. There can be no compromise with the left. No middle ground to peacefully co-exist. The left must be vanquished – thoroughly discredited and run out of town on a rail.

    At least as it seems to me.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The reason you can’t compromise with the Left is that no such compromise is ever final with them. It’s merely a means of moving the Overton Window to the left in preparation for the next push. They have no intention of sacrificing any portion of their ultimate goal.

  4. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    The wise Left as sole guardians of ‘true democracy,’

    The vanguard will always be the vanguard in their own minds.


    Cato – you’ve got some good observations here, but if you want to understand the psychology of the Left, at its root it is simply the will to power – the desire to rule one’s fellow man by brute force. The rest of the makeup of the Leftist mind consists of the rationalizations and equivocations necessary to avoid facing what he is. The Leftist does not say, “I wish to rule you” but “I wish to make the world a better place”. Not only is this unobtainable by the Leftist program of totalitarianism, it isn’t true: the Leftist doesn’t care about making the world a better place for any real, living human beings (notice the evident lack of concern with individual lives), he cares about power.

    But he cannot admit to himself that at bottom, his hatred of free society boils down to people making personal decisions of which he does not approve, so he concocts elaborate rationalizations to hide this fact from his conscious mind. It is these rationalizations and evasions that are the source of the Leftist’s cognitive dissonance, and this is why he has to be “sure” about his program – to admit error, which is tolerable to us Conservatives, is intolerable to him because it causes the entire house of cards to fall and reveals him to be a petty power-luster rather than mankind’s savior.

    Thus Global Warming must be happening, and all evidence to the contrary must be ignored; those “fake but true” memos condemning George Bush must be true because GWB is no good; the IRS was evenhanded, treating progressive groups the same way they treated Conservative ones; etc.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      This is why the liberal worldview requires the conviction that they are morally and intellectually superior to everyone else, thus justifying their exercise of power (which basically means making people either not do what they want, or doing what they don’t want). And of course, the leftist concern is always The People as an amorphous group (or collections of groups) rather than the people as individuals.


        Yes, they see that amorphous group, for example the pitiful number of “uninsured” who will now have insurance under Obamacare (at our expense!), but the millions who will lose the insurance they were happy with don’t even register. And there is of course abortion, where the unborn baby is treated as though he were an inanimate object. This is of course the triumph of collectivism over individualism.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          The leftist worldview can’t accept that their plans (like all plans) have negative as well as positive consequences. That would lead to the possibility that, on balance, their ideas are more harmful than helpful, which is emotionally unacceptable to them.

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