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Does The Left Even Believe Its Own Lies?

September 21, 2019 Frontpage No Comments

By CHRISTOPHER MANION

Sixty years ago, James Burnham asked a simple question. “Do liberals really believe in liberalism?”
Burnham had every right to ask. He’d been a leftist himself, even a fan of Leon Trotsky. He was thoroughly trained in the dialectic. But by 1960, he’d been a founding editor of National Review for five years. The time was ripe for Burnham to write a book describing what the Left was all about. His title succinctly described liberalism’s goal: The Suicide of the West.
When it comes to liberals, or indeed to adherents of any ideological system, Burnham wrote, “very few . . . bother to inquire into the logical foundations of their day-by-day judgments and rules of conduct, nor is there any reason why many people should.”
Sure — why bother? Such an inquiry, then and now, would merely expose the sad facts at the foundation of leftism. At the heart of it all lies the necessary and indispensable principle of contradiction. What the Left said yesterday might differ radically from what the Left says tomorrow. That’s part of the plan.
Burnham wrote sixty years ago, but the truth doesn’t change. That’s especially true of the dialectic, which insists that everything, including truth, can change whenever the ideologue finds it convenient. Today we are witnessing the dreary, predictable spectacle once more. After 2,500 years, liberal humanity has “progressed” to the point that we can now prosper by sending Aristotle’s principle of non-contradiction to the dustbin of history.
Orwell calls this principle the “Memory Hole”: The Left demands that you forget what they said yesterday. After all, they’re going to contradict it today. If they can’t change it, they’ll deny it tomorrow.
In 1960, Burnham carefully parsed the liberalism of his day. On inspection they boil down to one: “We liberals are superior and we should be in charge so we can change things for the better.”
For today’s liberals, it doesn’t matter how much liberalism has succeeded in polluting American life in the past 60 years. Like Karl Marx, today’s liberals hate the past, condemn the present, and promise a better future. They will bestow that better life upon us, of course, only if they are allowed to acquire power and keep it. Naturally, they have to deny reality to do so.
Lyndon Johnson’s massive expansion of government was everything that liberals demanded, yet it changed nothing. Why? Half-measure socialism hasn’t worked, today’s liberals insist, so we need full-blown socialism that will.
LBJ’s Great Society programs spent 23 trillion dollars getting us to the state of affairs that this generation of liberals condemns today. That sum happens to be pretty close to the amount of our country’s national debt, but they don’t want to talk about it. That’s because, when its principles are put into action, the actual results of the liberal agenda are invariably a miserable failure.
In fact, the Left’s failure was so unpopular with the American people in the years since Burnham wrote that liberals had to change their very name. They realized that the term “liberal” itself had become an epithet.
Meanwhile, more Americans than ever began calling themselves “conservatives.”
What’s a leftist to do? Why, change things, of course. So the American Left reached back to the age of Woodrow Wilson to baptize themselves anew as “progressives.” And why not? Like Wilson, they promised to save the world. Wilson promised to “Make the World Safe for Democracy,” but our leftists today are more humble: They simply want to make the United States safe for Democrats.

We Support The Constitution — Except When We Don’t

To see how the dialectic works in action, consider the Left’s view of the Supreme Court.
First, a brief history.
“We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is,” said New York Gov. Charles Evans Hughes in 1907 (Hughes later became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court). This view was affirmed in 1958, when Chief Justice Earl Warren could confidently declare it a “settled doctrine” that not the Constitution, but the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution, is the “supreme law of the land” (Cooper v. Aaron).
Liberals cheered, while Ike later called his nomination of Warren his “biggest mistake.”
But the cheering had just begun.
In 1962, the Court declared that voluntary, nondenominational prayer in public schools was unconstitutional (Engel v. Vitale).
In 1963, the Court declared that school-sponsored Bible reading was unconstitutional (Abington School District v. Schempp).
In 1973, the Court declared that state laws banning abortion were unconstitutional (Roe v. Wade).
In 1980, the Court declared that posting the Ten Commandments on the wall of public school classrooms was unconstitutional (Stone v. Graham).
In 2003, the Court declared that state laws criminalizing sodomy were unconstitutional (Lawrence v. Texas).
In 2015, the Court declared that state laws defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman were unconstitutional (Obergefell v. Hodges).
Every one of these decisions rejected the views of the majority of Americans, defied the natural law, and offended the civic virtue of a moral population. Yet the Left cheered — even as they pretended to be the vanguard of “democracy.”
But wait, there’s more. In recent months we have learned that the “Progressive Left” wants to destroy the American constitutional republic altogether. Presidential candidates are falling over one another advocating the abolition of the Electoral College, ballot security, and even laws restricting voting to American citizens.
How to achieve these goals? The Supreme Court, of course. That’s why the new best bright idea of America’s Democrat Left is to pack the Supreme Court, and then cheer when the Court nullifies the Constitution.
What to do until then? Nullify the Supreme Court.
After all, packing the Court can happen only after the Left takes over the House, the Senate, and the White House. In the meantime, in one of the most dramatic dialectic maneuvers in recent history, the American Left has turned against the United States Supreme Court.
Last year, Christine Blasey Ford accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault so she could put “an asterisk next to” Kavanaugh’s name before he “takes a scalpel” to Roe v. Wade, according to Ford’s lawyer Debra Katz. The Daily Caller published a video of Katz making this allegation in a public appearance. In the meantime, The Federalist reported that Ford’s own father strongly supported Kavanaugh’s nomination. Would he have done so had he believed the nominee had assaulted his daughter?
Yet the revolutionaries speak as one: Forget the “asterisk” — off with their heads!
So the Left — call it Liberal, call it Progressive, call it Socialist — cheers the Supreme Court for the sixty years since Cooper v. Aaron — until suddenly it doesn’t. What was true yesterday isn’t true tomorrow. It isn’t lying, it’s just the dialectic.
In 1984, George Orwell describes Winston’s bewilderment at a rally culminating the celebration of Hate Week. A leader of the Inner Party has whipped the crowd into a frenzy of hatred against Eurasia, Oceania’s permanent enemy. Halfway through the tirade, he is handed a slip of paper. Without missing a beat, “in midsentence, not only without a pause, but without even breaking the syntax,” he continues his rant, but suddenly Eastasia is the enemy, while Eurasia has been Oceania’s steadfast ally forever.
The crowd rages on to new heights. Where did the “Hate Eurasia” signs surrounding the crowd come from? Why, they must be the work of the enemy’s saboteurs!
This is the plan. “We never said that the Supreme Court has the last word,” they will howl. “Kavanaugh and his agents are saboteurs! Say no to the Supreme Court!”
No, for the Left, Hate Week never ends.

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