by Pedro Gonzalez
Michael Anton recently joined Tucker Carlson on Fox News to discuss an American Greatness column, “The Gillibrand Standard.” Anton argues that the Left poses a grave threat to our institutions, our country, and to decency and truth itself. Toward the end of the segment, Carlson asked, what does it say about those who claim that impartiality does not matter?
“That power is everything,” Anton replied. Carlson concluded by remarking that the leftist drive for power for the sake of power is the product of a “secular worldview.”
But I do not believe that one can understand the Left as simply secular. Indeed, one might say that the Left’s outlook is profoundly religious. Zealously so, in fact.
Modern leftists could be said to be the illegitimate but filiated children of the Taborites, a faction of Radical Hussites, who destroyed churches under the military leadership of Jan Žižka in the early 1400s. They were also were also communistic, puritanical, and bent toward radical democracy and utopianism. But there is a far more sinister theology at play here.
The first words uttered by Satan in book IV, line 110, of Paradise Lost are nonsensical on their face: “Evil be thou my good.” The previous two lines place Satan’s outlook in the proper context: “So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear, Farewell remorse: all good to me is lost; Evil be thou my good. . .”
Renouncing all that is good, Satan embraced evil as his lodestar and set out to construct a parallel world from this premise. With this came parallel values and institutions, black doppelgängers of the good. In the words of C.S. Lewis, the devil made the “goods ‘bad’ and bads ‘good.’”
I cannot conceive of a more appropriate allegory than this antithesis of good with which to describe, understand, and combat the Left. It seems Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn couldn’t either.
Catholic political philosopher, polyglot, writer, wayfarer, and artist, Kuehnelt-Leddihn saw leftism for what it is, Religionsersatz—substitute for real religion. Though it often postures as atheistic, all strains of leftism, Kuehnelt-Leddihn wrote,
. . . and the parties representing them are secular “churches” with hierarchies, rituals amounting to a real liturgy, secular equivalents to the sacraments, “orders,” (general) confessions, ministries of propaganda, a system of worldwide missions, etc.
Traditional hierarchies—like parent and child—are laid low, replaced with a new order arranged into spheres of oppression by victimology. The younger one is, less (or not at all) white one is, the more non-male, non-heterosexual, and certainly non-Christian one is, the higher one’s rank will be in the choir of oppressed. To deny the tenets of victimology is to blaspheme, but to accept it means to embrace a system of social credit where, in the words of Robert Miller, “knowledge and experience is not part of a human condition so much as a tribal reality unique to each group.” This is truly terrifying.
Anticlerical though it may seem, clergy, too, makes an appearance in leftism.
Consider Maya Wiley, the “senior vice president for social justice” at the New School for Social Research in New York City, wearing a silly hat, preaching the People’s Crusade to throngs of raving lunatics champing at the bit to throw their “bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus” of the civilization they have rejected. Then there is pulpiteer C. Christine Fair, “distinguished” associate professor in the Peace and Security Studies Program at Georgetown University, who extolled the faithful to “castrate” white men’s corpses and “feed them to swine.” No one expects the feminist inquisition.
The Left has not only rejected Western Christian civilization, it has emphatically and explicitly rejected decency and order itself.
A.J. Rice writes that through Democratic Party representation, the Left has made it their object to “upend more than 1,000 years of Western legal and moral tradition and replace it with something ominously contrary.” That is, replace it with something contrary to what is good.
Returning to Kuehnelt-Leddihn, who wrote that comparisons between puritanical leftism and the Vatican are usually made in the spirit of hostility, “but they are not without substance if we bear in mind that the various isms, as fundamental heresies, are indeed evil caricatures of fragments of Christian doctrine, of Christian institutions.”
To justify and institutionalize fundamental heresies, the Left has undertaken a neverending, all-encompassing campaign of hermeneutics.
The word hermeneutics comes from the Greek, hermeneuien, meaning “to act as Hermes,” the messenger of the gods to men. The meaning of hermeneutics, then, is not only to interpret one language to another, but also to interpret the meaning of signs and omens in a religious sense. Thus, literature, as Lenin said, “cannot be a means of enriching individuals or groups: it cannot, in fact, be an individual undertaking, independent of the common cause of the proletariat.”
Instead, through “critical” reevaluations of everything from the great writers, economic treatises, to the Bible itself, literature is interpreted by the Left into politically-conscious doctrine to make activist-acolytes of all.
Yet every -ism of the Left is consummated only by destruction. Be it the sterling name of a good man like Brett Kavanaugh, a thousand years of Western legal and moral tradition, unborn life, or the innocence of children whose sexualization the Left has made sacrosanct. To “liberate,” the Left must destroy. Marquis de Sade, Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler, Herbert Marcuse (to name the four Kuehnelt-Leddihn highlights in Leftism) all preached some perverse strain of liberation theology.
Sade offered liberation from morality. Marx preached liberation from capitalism and the bourgeoisie. Hitler promised liberation from the Untermensch. Marcuse, through a program he called the “Great Refusal,” sought liberation from all social rules, “logic, mathematics, the empirical sciences,” and liberation from tolerance from all things coming from the Right, or considered traditional. As history has shown, the international “liberation” promoted by the Left has always come at the cost unspeakable human suffering.
It would be foolish and mistaken to say every person who is a leftist is evil per se. An individual person persuaded by evil logic may otherwise be a perfectly wonderful human being, but this does not make the force of the logic moving him any less evil any more than flawless logic can make a person good. Habits do shape a person’s character, however, so a person persuaded by an evil logic is in danger of falling into evil habits.
Charles Baudelaire once said that “the finest trick of the devil is to persuade you that he does not exist.” Likewise, the finest trick of the Left, is to persuade so many that its ideology is anything short of pure evil. However, I do believe that many leftists have gone beyond the pale of reason—there is no turning back for the mob.
But the Right should not hesitate to condemn the leftist intelligentsia as evil, if not by intent then by their folly, for their “talk begins as foolishness and ends as evil madness.” They include elected officials, academics, research staffs, literary intellectuals, actors and entertainers, artists, scientists, teachers, journalists, broadcasters, lawyers, and, yes, clergymen. If this premise seems to toe a fringey line, or to leap right over, the truth of what I say here is not diminished by whether or not it is palatable. Moreover, the Left will not reciprocate decency, but will instead identify it as weakness.
“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about,” Hillary Clinton told reporters recently. “That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.”
The only thing the Left cares about is power and it will stop at nothing in its pursuit and consolidation of it. “Michelle [Obama] always says, ‘When they go low, we go high,’” former Attorney General Eric Holder told the crowd at a campaign event in Georgia this week. “No. No. When they go low, we kick them,” Holder finished.
Recently surfaced footage of Democratic Senate hopeful Kyrsten Sinema shows her telling a crowd that the biggest problem with Arizona are the Republicans. “Here are some ways you can stop your state from becoming Arizona,” Sinema said to laughter and applause. Sinema currently represents Arizona’s the 9th congressional district, and yet this is the kind disdain in which she holds her state and its Republican voters. Why was anyone shocked when Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo said that America was “never that great”?
Nothing short of absolute political, legislative, and cultural hegemony from the Right can end this descent into leftist madness. It is what the Left has been lurching toward for decades, and what they would have consolidated had not President Trump successfully upset the 2016 election. As it stands, through Republican Party representation, the Right has political power, but the Left maintains a cultural hegemony.
The Kavanaugh showdown was instructive: essentially the Right had the power to appoint the Supreme Court justice of its choosing, but the Left, though represented by the minority party, was nearly able to thwart a legitimate political process through cultural apparatus—employing “grievance studies,” specifically feminist “rape culture” theory, to turn the public against Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
If the Right should prevail over the Left, it must understand leftism for what it is, not merely an alternative political theory, but a totalitarian ideology that sleeps, eats, and breaths revolution with an inexorable impulse to crush the nonconforming. It therefore becomes necessary to forge a new rightist ideology, just as Fusionism was conceived out of necessity by the threat of the Soviet Union—the need for reforging along political, philosophical, and spiritual lines was touched on by the much-abused Darren J. Beattie during the annual conference of the H.L. Mencken Club in 2016.
Indeed, the alliances of yesteryear are no longer viable and the problem is exemplified by the state of The Weekly Standard, Commentary, and National Review in the Trump era. The Standard has been complicit in the Left’s evil crusade to upend the outcome of the 2016 election, while Commentary and National Review (with a minority of notable exceptions) remain somewhere between ambivalent and cold when it comes to these questions. Neoconservatives only seemed “conservative” against the backdrop of Soviet Communism, without which, as Bill Kristol has confessed, the “inner socialist,” the “inner feminist,” the “inner liberal” emerges.
If Lucianne Goldberg’s son gets one thing right, what comes next will be the escalation of the cold civil war. Knowing what evil the Left has in store should it succeed, does the Right have the will to defend what is good? Will it cut away “allies” who are now functional enemies? Will it stand for family, country, and God? Will it fight for order and “the permanent things” against the chaos and permanent revolution of the Left?
In the Trump era this object, once unimaginable, may pass toward the horizon of possible. But only if we are brave enough to want it.
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Pedro Gonzalez is assistant editor of American Greatness and a Mount Vernon Fellow of the Center for American Greatness.