Why the Left doesn't argue honestly
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Obama says recovery depends on healthcare | Markets | US Markets | Reuters.
For the sake of argument, let's accept people on the political Left are sincere. Let's forget for the moment our suspicions that many of them use politics to win wealth, power and privilege their meagre talents could never otherwise secure. So why are they so dishonest in their arguments? For example, President Obama (story linked above) is no fool. He knows full well that his reform of America's healthcare system (however desirable) has nothing to do with economic recovery. Still less is it "critical" to that recovery.
I had a discussion yesterday with senior colleagues in China, triggered by someone jestingly calling us "the Gang of Four." I joked about "taking the capitalist road" and an earnest colleague began a debate about whether Chiang Ching and chums were really "capitalist roaders" or "ultra leftists". As someone who was a Maoist during the "Gang of Four" episode, I tried to explain how this missed the point. The Gang became Mao's enemies. As a consummate leftist politician, the Great Helmsman therefore blackened them with every bad name (before having them killed).
To a practical Leftist, the words "capitalist", "racist", "sexist", "islamophobe", "Tory" or whatever are simply useful insults. They use such words to associate their enemies with bad things in order to neutralise them. To engage rationally by debating their choice of words is to miss the point. Similarly, when a Leftist wants something, he associates it with things he thinks the masses will like, such as "fairness", "investment", "economic recovery", "an end to boom and bust", "stability" or whatever. You waste breath in challenging the rational basis for that. It's just agitprop.
So when President Obama says his healthcare reforms are "critical to US economic recovery", he just means he wants them. Like my political opponent at university who argued that "there could be no proper sex until the revolution", he is associating things he wants with things you like. To counter him, you must associate the thing he wants with things people won't like (like working much of the year as government serfs to fund them). Disputing his logic goes over the heads of the masses, as he well knows.
Much of the frustration in the non-left, anti-statist political blogosphere is precisely because we are trying to engage on rational terms. Language to the non-academic Left is not a vehicle for communication or analysis. It is - like everything else - a political weapon. As for the academic Left, their job is to fabricate new agitprop constructs. They are their arms manufacturers.
Speaking in China Daily today about the People's Liberation Army's website, a spokesman commented that "In war, Mao Zedong placed as much value on posters as guns". Quite so. Propaganda wins wars. The Left is permanently at war with capitalism and is rational to that extent. The "virtuous" end justifies the dishonest means. Analysing or "fisking" the Left's arguments is mere displacement activity for counter-revolution. The apolitical voter (who is only half-listening anyway) hears the exchange as follows:
If our society is ever to return to a rational path, the liberty-minded must learn dark arts. The challenge is not to be consumed by them.
Leftist "Bad man, bad thing"
Anti-leftist: "Man they say is bad says difficult words"