The totalitarian impulse of the Left and the craving to be in control

From the earliest days of this blog, one of the topics that has been of great interest is the distinct frameworks through which the Left and Right see the world. It continues to be remarkable to us that there is so little overlap between the two. One sees victory, the other defeat, one sees progress, the other chaos, etc; we won’t replay the list here. However there does seem to be a rather broad group of issues on which conservatives agree, involving liberty, markets, the scope of government, and perhaps religion; whereas on the Left we observe a number of policy views which look to us often like spokes of a wheel whose hub is government. What explains the differences in the perspectives and paradigms of the Left and Right — differences that we see widening rather dramatically today?

We have devoted quite a few hours and posts to thinking about the subject, among which are these:

The narcissism of the godless Left
The ruined dictatorship of the intellectuals
Utopia and its enemies
The personal feeling of oppression of people on the Left

We want to make a rather modest observation, but one which we feel has some potential explanatory meaning. In the world of conservative thought, somebody else is often in charge. For the businessman, it is the markets; for the religious person, it is God; for the deciding of important issues, it is the will of the people as expressed in elections and referenda; for the general roles of men and women in the world, it is human nature.

In the world of conservative thought, somebody else is often in charge, and that is just fine; in the world of the Left, if somebody else is in charge, that is the problem.

We often note on the Left: the need to make human nature conform to certain behaviors through speech codes and political correctness; the insistence on numerical quotas and the erasing of differences between men and women; the idealizing of the Supreme Court; the dissmissing of the markets and the attributing of evil intent to corporations; the conclusion that voters are stupid or elections are rigged if results do not go their way. And each of these problems has the same solution: that the man or woman of the Left be put in charge to make the rules for us all.

We are not saying, by the way, that the problems identified by the Left are not real problems; in many cases they are. But often the solution for the Left is not the markets, or God, or elections, or letting human nature sort itself out; it is rather to put the Left in charge so that they can create the best of all possible worlds.

We observe that on the Left, the need to be the smartest person in the room and the need to be in control have a different quality from what we observe on the Right. Don’t misunderstand: we are not saying that people on the Right are any better; nor are we saying that conservatives do not love wealth and power every bit as much as do those on the Left (who often hide these desires), and are often willing to do very unscrupulous things in order to achieve and maintain them.

We are not equipped to give a definitive description of why many on the Left are this way, though we are pretty sure that it begins with an inner feeling and works its way out to the world. We think that many on the Left have a deep, personal sense of oppression, that there is something very wrong with the way the world is set up. The oppressor takes the form of the corporation, or Christianity, or racism, sexism, bigotry, homophobia, or some other -ism of which they are the victim. Things will not be right until the man or woman of the Left is In Charge! — what they fail to understand is that things will not feel better when they are in charge, but that is another matter. They feel driven to gain the power to impose their will and their vision on others.

That the craving is so raw is evidenced for us by the need of many on the Left to conceal their motivations. By now everyone knows that when a cause is “for the children” they had better grab their wallets and run. How much more pathetic is it when a man like Dan Rather, who achieved the pinnacle of success in his industry, insists to this day that his fake memos are real, and that people won’t pay attention to the truth of the underlying story.

Nobody likes to lose power, and the MSM and the Democratic Left have been losing power for well over a decade now. That is maddening enough. However, we believe we are witnessing something more dramatic in 2005. For example, the attacks on America’s Iraq policy have become completely unhinged, portraying a decent, potentially incredible, victory as a humiliating defeat. The smart thing would be to climb on board the victory train, but the Left and the MSM cannot bring themselves to do so.

What happens when people who feel oppressed and crave power over others see that power slipping irretrievably away? That perhaps is something we shall be able to observe, first-hand, in 2006.


It is not suprising, given this analysis, that many on the Left would come to admire the authentic men of violence like Yasir Arafat and Fidel Castro. They are the direct, unashamed men who kill their enemies in the name of the oppressed. To many an intellectual of the Left, such men are a kind of role model, though in reality if such a dictator came to power, the intellectuals would be the first people taken out and shot.

One Response to “The totalitarian impulse of the Left and the craving to be in control”

  1. max Says:

    “in the world of the Left, if somebody else is in charge, that is the problem.”

    The reason the left rejects God is because it doesn’t like the competition.

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