Whether in the United States or elsewhere, far-left philosophy is a citadel of delusion.
Communism and socialism have never worked (Scandinavia included). At a structural level, by transferring power from individuals to government autocrats, the far Left destroys opportunity, restrains human ingenuity and embraces inefficiency. And even today, after centuries of failure, the far Left still cannot recognize its own ugly reality. Indeed, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s popularity among a plurality of Democrats illustrates how the Left’s delusion is thriving.
How does the far-left escape its culpability for perpetual failure? By blaming others.
It’s an old strategy that first took root in France’s revolutionary terror of 1793–94. Assuming power over an impoverished people, Leftist revolutionaries chose to embrace authoritarianism and economic delusion. In doing so, they deepened France’s economic crisis. But as their failure of economic credibility became clear, Robespierre and has radicals blamed the deposed aristocracy and business owners for conspiring against the people. Put simply, they used innocent victims as scapegoats for their own failures.
This far-left tradition also found fruition in the aftermath of Russia’s October 1917 revolution. To purge Russia of any challenge to his Marxist morality, Vladimir Lenin established a secret police organization called the Cheka. The Cheka imposed political purity on the Russian people using ruthless rapists, torturers and murderers. Yet the Cheka — and its NKVD and KGB successors — encapsulates the connection between far-left notions of morality and political purity. Believing themselves the ordained masters of human morality, far-leftists have a special tendency towards visceral hatred for their political opponents.
Of course, this hatred is immensely hypocritical. Consider, for example, how Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci shaped enduring far-left notions of capitalism as an ideology sustained by artificial class hatreds against “others” in society.
At its very worst, the far Left’s morality-purity arrogance helps explain Stalin and Mao’s collectivization and starvation campaigns. The posture also helps explain the current rotten state of affairs in Cuba and Venezuela, where leftist leaders imprison dissenters and make private interests patsies for immense socialist failures. But at the least-malicious level, it also explains the rhetorical arrogance with which contemporary far-leftists attack conservatives in democracies.
This is where the Bernie Sanders enters the picture. Just watch a Bernie Sanders speech. The central premise of his presidential campaign is rooted not in ideology, but in anger. Bankers, corporations, the wealthy: the targets of Sanders campaign are easy, broadly defined and facilitate populism. And although Sanders’ proposals are fantastic in the sense that they’re pure fantasy (and would be a nightmare in reality, especially for young Americans), his anger works. If it didn’t, Hillary Clinton wouldn’t be trying to co-opt the populist message of his campaign. As she undergoes a metamorphosis from crony capitalist to avowed leftist, Clinton clearly believes she must persuade liberal voters that she shares their simplistic notions of anger and blame.
Ultimately, the Left Wing’s lie that their ideas have practical merit for society has survived against the judge of reality for three reasons. First, because blaming others is easier than honest responsibility. Second, academics sustain the mythology of Leftism with each new generation. And finally, because too many influential figures — whether politicians, media officials, or pontiffs — are unwilling to call out socialism’s evident and proven absurdities.
But there’s hope. Opportunity lives.
Tom Rogan is a Senior Contributor for Opportunity Lives and writes for National Review. He is a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and a senior fellow at the Steamboat Institute. Follow him on Twitter @TomRtweets.