The Self-Defeating Left: Will they Blow it Again?

The People’s Front of
Firedog Lake

In Monty Python’s Life of Brian (a left-wing Jesus), bitterly feuding splinter groups — the People’s Front of Judea, the Judean People’s Front, the Judean Popular People’s Front, and on and on — all hate each other more than they hate the Romans. The Self-Defeating Left (SDL) is nothing new and is so widely recognized it needs no introduction.

The SDL has plagued every Democratic president starting with Roosevelt — yes, even FDR. It gave us Bush & Cheney (remember Ralph Nader’s 2% share of the Florida votein 2000?), and it is about to usher in Romney and a T-Party Congress. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and in-fighting.

There are two types in the SDL:

  1. SDL extremists (like fireDogLake(1)For example see FireDogLake, where blogger Attaturk leads the attack on Obama's Sept. 8, 2011 "Pass this jobs bill" speech. His rant about how many people Obama has killed is accompanied by a poster suggesting mass-murderer Charles Manson would make a better president. The 48 following comments generally agree with him, and none disagree.) despise or even hate the most effective progressives.
  2. SDL regulars who are disappointed because of unrealistic views of the past and of present obstacles.

The self-defeating extremists view it as their job to demoralize progressives and, if possible, convert them to bitterness.

What You Can Do

First, don’t listen to the extremists. They are not progressives.(2)Spouting ultra-left slogans, like Stalin or Jim Jones, does not make you left. The test is, are you actually being effective at making the world a little better.  Second, if you are an SDL regular or know one, take heart. Many things that seem discouraging are actually signs of smarter thinking than we’ve had in the past. The first step is to see the past clearly — it was far less rosey than extremists claim, and by comparison Obama is actually doing better against heavier odds. For example, LBJ, that master of Congress, alienated his base so badly that he could not even run again (and his 500,000 troop escalation of the Vietnam war deserved that reaction).

Here are three important illusions to dispell: 

How Flawed Thinking Causes Self Defeat

A fundamental logica fallacy causes all the trouble. The “logic” goes like this:

  1. It would be good to have X (for example an end to war).
  2. Obama should just (1) say “I’m for X,” or (2) do X immediately.
  3. Obama is not doing (1) or (2), and he knows he should.
  4. Obama must be a Republican.

So what’s wrong with that? Usually #2 is wrong. Here’s why:

  1. Saying “I’m for X,” may have no effect. And doing X may be impossible.
  2. Either may cause a very harmful backlash.

The world contains many powerful and mean-spirited forces. Some are obvious, but many are stealthy. Although the left claims to know this, in practice they forget and assume that Obama could easily overcome all such forces if only he would speak out. This is the illusion at the heart of the flawed thinking. Evil is powerful, we need much more power before we can overcome it.

A Facing Reality Will Make You Happier

Strange as it may seem, admitting the power of the dark side, should make you happier.

If we face up to how tough the struggle for a better world actually is, and shed our illusions about the rosy past, we will be rewarded by the discovery that many are on our side who we thought had betrayed us. This is worth the candle. If you have the courage, click the three links above.

References   [ + ]

1. For example see FireDogLake, where blogger Attaturk leads the attack on Obama's Sept. 8, 2011 "Pass this jobs bill" speech. His rant about how many people Obama has killed is accompanied by a poster suggesting mass-murderer Charles Manson would make a better president. The 48 following comments generally agree with him, and none disagree.
2. Spouting ultra-left slogans, like Stalin or Jim Jones, does not make you left. The test is, are you actually being effective at making the world a little better.