David Thompson
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August 08, 2011

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Sam

Yay, you're back. (I missed my Friday fix.)

Here's one.

"when a state run by a communist party tells the USA to spend less on... welfare, you start to get some idea just how strange the world has become and just how screwed the US actually is."

http://www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/2011/08/samizdata_quote_860.html

Sam

PS – I'd forgotten about Jeremy Irons ("deeply socialist") and his seven houses. Hilarious.

David

Sam,

“…you’re back.”

And much as I appreciate my readers, it was good to be away. Not a Guardian in sight. I even have an accidental tan. There’s now a very small chance I could be mistaken for a labourer.

“Here’s one.”

Related to that, see also Darleen Click on “pragmatic” conservatives:

“The starting point, the only starting point in any of this ‘debate’ should be: What are the legitimate functions of the Federal Government? No conservative or libertarian should let any Leftist proceed past that point until it is answered… The Left demands we all accept, without question, the legitimacy of every agency, every regulation, every paper-pusher that is more likely to die in office rather than [be] fired — a ‘workforce’ that has grown almost 12% since Obama took office.”

“I’d forgotten about Jeremy Irons (‘deeply socialist’) and his seven houses.”

To be fair, it’s Mr Irons’ wife who calls herself “deeply socialist.” Mr Irons himself is undeeply socialist and merely wants other people to “drop their standard of living” and “spread [their] wealth about.” Perhaps he hopes to observe this noble redistribution from his private castle, which affords the perfect view.

AC1

I'm sure Mr and Mrs Irons would like my Georgism (Adam Smith capitalism would tax his viewing monopoly, not labour) even less than your libertarianism!?

sk60

"EU demands that Britain admit immigrants intending to go straight on to benefits."

rjmadden

When students objected that they were being forced to say things they didn’t mean, the [resident assistants] told them that they were saying what, deep down, they really thought.

These people are actually scary. It's pure Stalin. They really do want to be 'engineers of the human soul'.

David

“They really do want to be ‘engineers of the human soul’.”

It would seem so, yes. But if these people want to be “change agents” - if they feel it’s their job to fix humanity, once and for all - then isn’t that the obvious endpoint? As one commenter puts it, keeping your head down won’t do; mere compliance isn’t enough. The students have to voluntarily sacrifice their probity. They have to love Big Brother.

As Theodore Dalrymple noted,

“The purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect, and is intended to.”

TDK

I think there has to be different reasons why each of the groups Artists, Politicians and Academics take up left wing positions.

For politicians it ends as a career. They fell in love with the idea that if only clever people like them were in charge all the problems would go away. That doesn't really explain Jeremy Irons, Alec Baldwin or Sean Penn. I would guess that, their beliefs originate in guilt about how they made their wealth - they work in an industry where thousands struggle but only a minority achieve untold wealth. They must compare themselves with the people they met on the way up who had had equal talent but never got the breaks. They imagine that the whole world works like that. That any person on an assembly line is capable of being the CEO, just they didn't get the breaks.

Rich Rostrom

"Left-wing + wealth" is a phenomenon going back to the early 19th Century and the Industrial Revolution.

In a society with dynamic development going on, such as is generated by rapid technological change, a large share of wealth will go to innovators, changers, upsetters of the status quo.

People of that sort are not conservative. In the 1800s they were "liberals", as opposed to the "throne and altar" conservatives, or the "squirearchy". Many were outsiders - Jews for instance. Residual hostility to old racial, religious, or heredity elites is a factor.

Today a lot of such people are profound "social liberals", and the welfare-state politics goes with that. There's a lot of theophobia on the left - people who have a profound discomfort with religion, and express it hostility toward the "Religious Reich" etc.

Many tech millionaires fall into this group. Others are very individualistic, and hostile to traditional morality. They are innovative and independent in business, and in personal life as well, which puts them at odds with traditional constraints.

In the U.S., there has been an organized effort by wealthy homosexuals to fund challenges to Republican state legislators who were effective opponents of same sex marriage. These were individuals who made 9-figure fortunes in the IT boom or entertainment, and could now collectively drop several million $ into, say, an Iowa state senate election. (They have a perfect right to do so - but note that the issues which decide where their loyalty and their money goes are not economic.)

Another factor is that these people are already rich. Short of an actual Bolshevik Revolution, there is no chance of their not having as much money to spend on themselves as they could ever want. The negative consequences of their economic policies never affect them, and they perceive only the claimed benefits to the deserving.

mollie

Great blog. Bookmarked!

Jim

Had not heard about the University of Delaware. Wow. Just wow. What is really fearful is imagining the infrastructure, culture, and the number of conversations by thousands of people required to produce this curriculum.

As to the Leftist Hollywood elite, I believe it begins as a psychological reaction to cognitive dissonance.

Marx was fantastically, absolutely wrong. But he was simple. And almost paradoxically, he gives an explanation to a wildly compensated actor the reason for their virtually undeserved fame, self-indulgence, and riches. If you aren't going to feel guilty or grateful and humble enough to feel lucky about your success, you can at least become a socialist and call the whole system unfair.

I assume the same argument goes for a certain type of person who is born with a spoon in their mouth. I know of several trust fund kids worth upwards of $100 Million. For those that think about it, life is a little tough for them. For there is no reason at all to believe they deserved it. It is difficult to imagine such a life, for those of us who have earned who we are every step of the way.

The whole life experience is otherwordly, with little sense of accomplishment or self-validation. No wonder the attraction to a simplistic socialist life view is so attractive. Their exposure to real America, both corporate and Main St. is both inherently rejected and by unfamiliarity, shallow.

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