It is a central dogma of the Left that we, the Right, are mentally inferior, uneducated and ergo morally corrupt. Please stop laughing. This is precisely what they think, and it is neither a pose nor a rhetorical flourish. This absurd inflation of self-esteem is indeed the core of the political neurosis called Leftism.
In olden days, when kings and emperors ruled nations, courtiers hungry for power were forced to flatter whatever head, wise or foolish, upright or degenerate, the roulette wheel of birth or war had cast a crown onto. Nowadays the multitudes are sovereign, the people as a whole wear the crown called democracy, and so the modern version of a courtier can only feed his hunger for power by flattering a multitude of heads.
(It is, of course, easier to flatter a multitude of heads if those heads are foolish, degenerate and empty. This explains all we need to know about tax-supported, federally-controlled public schooling… but that is a topic for another day.)
The quickest way to power in a democracy is to flatter the people into voting ever fewer officers ever more power, and the cheapest flattery of all is to tell them that they are smarter than those who vote otherwise.
The yearning for centralized totalitarian government is the sum of Leftist thought; hence the centerpiece of this flattery is the insistence that each voter who votes toward the Left is an intellectual giant. Ergo those who vote against the Left must have no reasons and no philosophy to justify their worldview, merely narratives, that is, merely self-serving fables and falsehoods.
The strategy here is to accuse your foe of flaws possessing you, so that if the foe should object, any unwary onlooker is tricked into thinking the foe has descended to an unimaginative schoolyard taunt (namely, “I know you are! But what am I?”) or the psychological error called projection. This second deception is just as useful to the Left as the first, because if both wrestlers in the sewer-puddle are coated with the mud and dung of scandal, the onlookers turn away in disgust and stop thinking about the issue. In the environment where thought is absent, commotion, shrieking, propaganda and lies prevail, and emotion wins the vote.
So the Left accuses the Right of being stupid.
The reverse is true.
This is not because Lefties are naturally stupid; many are naturally quite bright; but their philosophy of life requires them to abandon the good ideas of conservatism in favor of appallingly stupid ideas.
The only way to defend a stupid idea is either with a stupid argument cleverly constructed, or with a clever argument stupidly constructed. The first type of argument ignores evidence, and the second one ignores logic.
Why the Left use their intelligence to ignore facts and logic and in other ways make themselves purposefully stupid is a question requiring considerable time and effort to explore. For now let us merely accept – as a working rule of thumb – that they consider it to be an act of discrimination, that is, a hate crime, to distinguish between right and wrong, fact and make-believe, truth and nonsense. This undiscriminating philosophy requires them to flee from honesty, evidence and logic.
The truth here is that the Rightwing is more intellectually accomplished, particularly in the central matters of war, law, economics and public decency (which are the issues of public policy to which a sober government will limit itself). Rightwing philosophy is not a weak-minded nostalgic sentiment, nor a case of indigestion, nor a love of sadism, nor a sentiment favoring domination over the weak.
It is not a sentiment at all.
Conservatism is a culmination of all the experience of human history, that is, of far more wisdom than one man howsoever brilliant could possibly obtain in one lifetime. This wisdom is combined with a set of propositions so pellucid, plain and painfully clear that any man can confirm their truth for himself by the diligent consideration for an hour; if that be the hour he puts aside passion, interest and emotion.
It is grounded on self-evident truths. And we know the truths to be self-evident when we see even those who seek to dispute them use them in the disputation process, hence tacitly admitting them.
These are wise and rational and sound ideas which the Left rejects in favor of unwise and irrational ideas as rotten as tooth decay; which are, in order:
1. Solipsism: The assertion that each man has the godlike power to establish his own truth for himself, but no power to communicate that truth to others, without it being a sly act of aggression and oppression. For the Left, objectivity is not possible, nor would it be desirable even if it were possible.
2. Moral Relativism, also called Anomie: The assertion that no one man, no one philosophy, religion nor worldview, and no one culture can or should establish a rule of ethics for everyone, nor, indeed, for anyone. For the Left, virtue and vice cannot be measured by any real and solid yardstick. Only “values” are real, as arbitrary and personal as one’s taste in ice cream. To uphold virtue and vice is a sly act of racial discrimination and oppression, a subtle chauvinism of First World civilization over and above the helpless lesser races.
3. Subjectivism: The assertion that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; and even if it were not, that the purpose of art is to subvert, to shock the bland-minded bourgeoisie, to express one’s dark and tormented inner self rather than the serene beauty of nature, to be raw, jagged and authentic, and above all nonconformist and new.
4. Irrationalism: The assertion that human thought processes are not driven by reason, but are irredeemably tainted by genetic and cultural distortions, biases, bigotries and self-serving impulses that distort the thought and render it unreliable. To believe in discriminating reason is to encourage discrimination; to believe in judgment is to be judgmental.
5. Pervertarianism: The assertion that any sexual act between two or more consenting adults is licit and harmless, if not admirable, and ergo should not only be allowed at law, but celebrated in custom with intemperate adulation; and children at as young an age as possible should be taught to think and to do likewise.
6. Totalitarianism: The simplistic and childlike faith that government experts are not only more skilled than you or I at deciding the particulars of how to run our lives, but that there is nothing – neither in business nor family life nor in private conduct, speech or thought – which is not the proper business of the government and hence should be brought under control of the government. This is not a democratic government, but rather officers, commissars and czars immune to the will of the majority.
Even sexual matters (see above) are not truly private, since the government has a proper role, for reasons of public health, safety, civil rights and enforcing toleration, to destroy Christian marriage, encourage divorce, fund contraception and abortion, and protect, celebrate and spread sexual aberration.
7. Nihilism: The paradoxical assertion that there is no absolutes, no truth, no virtue, no beauty, no sense, no romance, no freedom and no salvation in this life, and nothing in the next life, because there is no next life.
This doctrine of utmost despair is usually presented in egalitarian and optimistic terms, as if the lack of truth and meaning in life grants each man the godlike power to ordain, each man for himself in his own private reality, whatever truths please him, arbitrarily. It is masked as empowerment, and called liberation, but it renders all speech dumb and all reasoning vain.
Nihilism is the default philosophy of our age. It is a venom that spreads to the other seven bad ideas that form the core of Leftist thought.
John C. Wright is a retired attorney and newspaperman who was only once hunted by the police. He is a graduate of St. John College (home of Mortimer Adler’s “Great Books Program“). In 2004 he foreswore his lifelong atheism and joined the Roman Catholic Church. He has published over 10 SF novels, including one nominated for a Nebula award, and was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “this fledgling century’s most important new SF talent.” He currently lives in fairytale-like happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter, and their four children.