Daniel Fernald at American Thinker discusses the creation and application of political myths and narratives by the left. While he doesn’t say it as such, he very ably identifies what I consider to be one of the major failings of leftist though: the supremacy of theory over reality.
Karl Marx, the original voice of “hope and change,” said it best in the eleventh of his “Theses on Feuerbach”: “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”In this, he was merely extending the logic (such as it was) of others who had come before him, including René Descartes and Immanuel Kant, who made the human mind — rather than the world — the starting point for scientific inquiry.The goal of these earlier thinkers was, broadly speaking, scientific rather than political. Even so, Marx would later use a Hegelian variation on Kant’s position to make the political argument that external reality is an obstacle to be overcome, rather than a fact to be objectively, dispassionately, and scientifically understood. The good Marxist knows that the world is but raw matter to be reworked into the shape predetermined by the ideological mind.Of course, putting ideas first and remaking the world in one’s own image can be a good thing. Such is the story of the American Founding. Much later, the seemingly unreachable dream of true racial equality was “midwifed” from the realm of ideas into flesh-and-blood reality by the heroes and journeymen of the civil rights movement. The nation responded to Dr. King’s words because he challenged the American people to live up to their ideals. He also drew from the deep well of our shared cultural and religious heritage.What, then, distinguishes the Founders and Dr. King from the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his Alinskyite White House protégé?In a word: Memory.What has historically distinguished conservative (or what used to be called “classical liberal”) political thought from that of leftists is that conservatives remember their mistakes and consequently can learn from them. Conservatism adapts its ideology to contrary evidence; liberalism reinterprets contrary evidence to fit its ideology.For example, our Founders crafted our Constitution using the failed Articles of Confederation as both inspiration and object lesson.In contrast, no matter how many times statism fails, the left mystically assures itself — and us — that “this time” it will work, somehow.Historical ignorance and misology — i.e., the hatred of logic and reason — are part and parcel of the liberal mindset. Remembering the past spotlights the left’s repeated failures. Logic demonstrates the inevitability of those same failures.The left is stuck in an endless cycle of error because it rejects negative feedback on its ideas. Like Kant and Marx, they know that their ideas are correct (even though they aren’t). Thus, if the available data contradicts the ideas that they know to be true a priori, then reality must be wrong. If it weren’t for liberals’ insistence on inflicting their ideas on the rest of us, their devotion to repeatedly debunked notions would almost be funny. Almost.We are living in the midst of the topsy-turvy spectacle of these absurd ideas come to life.How many times have you heard someone utter the ludicrous, self-contradictory but commonplace “Well, Communism may not work, but it’s a great idea”?