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It's not what they believe--it's who they are

Reader comment on item: The Left's New Enemy: "Empire"

Submitted by Dan Simon (United States), Jun 22, 2010 at 16:39

In authoritarian countries, ideology may be a useful way to explain the motives and actions of dictators. But in democratic societies, "ideology" is simply a label attached to the agglomerated prejudices and interests of a coalition of political and demographic groups. Those prejudices and interests are nearly always local, domestic, fairly petty, and largely class- culture- or religion/ethnicity-based.

Leftist intellectuals may spout off about "Empire", "Authenticity" and "Sustainability", but what they really mean is to promote the tastes and interests of intellectuals--academic, bureaucratic or creative careers over commercial, industrial or military ones; stylish, bohemian lifestyles over popular, mass-market ones; and cultural influence over raw wealth or majoritarian political power. Together with others who share their aspirations, they have engaged in various mutual support swap deals with other groups, such as ethnic minorities, or unionized public employees, in which each gets leftist intellectual support for its own interests, in return for supporting the leftist intellectual agenda.

Something similar has happened on the right, of course, with business, military and culturally conservative interest groups mutually swapping agenda support. Trying to construct a coherent philosophy out of any of these pragmatic, self-interested coalitions is both pointless and misguided.

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