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The left, and the perfect incomplete model of our human condition

Reader comment on item: Why the Left Loves Osama [and Saddam]

Submitted by Jonathan Pfeffer (United States), Apr 1, 2003 at 22:54

Daniel Pipes,

Very interesting article, there is something that I have always sensed about the left that you make no mention of. To seek self importance, the easy way. Permit me to explain. I want to back up a little and look at the very sociological chemistry of the left. You assume that socialism is at the heart of left wing motive. I suggest that there may even be a more primitive instinct that may guide leftists to hate capitalism and admire socialism. The instinct may be the desire to seek admiration from those oppressed people whose need cannot be proven, misery cannot be traced, and predicament cannot be understood. If you want to study in a field where one is not bothered by the need to be accurate, articulate and testable, what better field then one based on socialist studies of the human condition. The socialist describes what you might call, the perfect incomplete model of our human condition.

Imagine if you will what is involved in achieving intellectual stardom in science, engineering, economics, medicine or as you yourself in middle east studies. You must not only study for years, but you have to prove your worth in direct competition with other intellectuals in results oriented fields.

The leftist sees an easier path. He believes he has seen the disorder in the world and knows how to fix it. His theories will never be tested, any technical criticism of his work can be fuddled into a political argument that so muddies the discussion that nobody can measure any kind of standard or test to measure his theories. And viola, after a couple of years as a professor, you are an instant guru. Writing theories few understand, yet attracting followers simply based on political alliances. You must know allot of these people Daniel, so I am sure you know what I am talking about.

Socialism, including the new third world brand that you speak of all, place the intellectual as the most important person in the ideology. In fact, historically, these socialist scholars rarely survive a socialist revolution. The irony is that these leftists thrive under capitalism and usually waste away under socialism. Where capitalism dominates, as in America and Europe, the socialist intellectual fancies himself at the vanguard of the struggle to help the oppressed. He surely feels that he has millions of oppressed poor people in his hands. The intellectual drives his greatest satisfaction from the love he receives from the oppressed people he represents. He articulates the poor man's problems, totally based on untested and often flawed theories. If you are going to have a flawed theory, it is better to do it in an un-testable discipline. Then the leftist labels all other antagonists as right wing, self indulgent, corrupt capitalists, again based entirely on untested incomplete theories, then describes the beautiful paradise of the people he claims to represent if he were only in charge. Of course, he never will be in charge, he's models never properly describe the environment the poor live under and his models will never be tested.

Let me indulge in one example. I read lots of theories these days, often by professors, about how the US is going to war over oil. Their proof is some concoction that traces Dick Cheney's ties to Halliburton or George Bush or his father's ties to the oil industry. Then they describe our leaders motives as if they understand the people they describe. Then they sift through some policy report by some quasi government committee, stringing together paragraphs out of context and voila. They figured it out. The United States Administration is exposed. Dick Cheney went into politics to steal Iraqi oil. It's bizarre, its loony, but its intellectual fuddle, supported by those people whom such arguments may benefit.
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