Although much is made of the political and cultural left, few realize that this creature is long extinct. Once it stood for stronger unions, economic equality, better working conditions and organized labor. Such was its root, its reality, from which it has fully severed itself.
This means that the left now chases utopias — from multiculturalism to environmentalism and green initiatives, from the “rights” industry and intersectionality to gender-fluidity, from anarchism and communism to ever-morphing liberalism, from abortion and euthanasia to the cult of Trump-hatred by self-styled sophisticates. In each case, the logic is the same: Shoehorn reality into theory, and mold humanity into the confines of ideology.
And, because it is now rootless, the left is all things to many agendas, and thus stands for nothing. The only coherence it possesses is progressivism, whereby all that ails society is to be cured by economics and technology, whose anodynes are doled out by politicians in thrall to “experts,” who in turn cannot help but contradict each other.
For example, race and culture are declared inseparable (hence multiculturalism and its handmaid, cultural appropriation). But “race” is also said to be a social construct used to dominate the underprivileged. Which is it? How can cultures be the sacred property of ethnic groups when races don’t exist?
Likewise, gender is declared a social construct but gayness is said to be natural. But if gender is artificial and fluid, there is no basis for gayness, since neither masculinity nor femininity exist. Gender-fluidity also destroys feminism, for women cannot be oppressed because they can simply become men.
As for abortion, it is justified via legalese (body ownership and the definition of a human). But if a body belongs solely to the individual, why do others own the body of the unborn (no matter how it is defined)? And, if a fetus is killed because it is not human enough, then environmentalism, which seeks to protect all life, is contradicted. Even if legality denies the fetus its humanity, it is still life (since non-life cannot flip into life).
Then, there is the left’s penchant for the great “Freetopia” — free healthcare, free education, free childcare, a universal basic income, paid leaves and guaranteed work. All these grand plans are blissfully detached from the reality of economics. An old saying gives the best perspective: “Money does not grow on trees.”
In effect, the left is structured for failure because it always pursues the imaginary and then justifies everything by manipulating language.
Such abuse of language is made possible because absolutes, or primary ideas (truth, meaning, goodness, beauty — and their opposites, evil, falsehood, moral ugliness) are reduced to linguistic categories. Absolutes become mere words that can be interpreted in any way possible, because words no longer embody truth but are arbitrary symbols meant to keep things moving along, without purpose. Words can become anything you want them to say. Hence the ever-shifting re-definitions of reality (gender pronouns, climate change rather than global warming, no nations, no borders and so forth).
The left, therefore, possesses a degraded philosophy that has nothing to do with life (or being), because it extols what life should, or could, be (or becoming) – rather than what it really is.
If language manufactures reality, and life is merely word-play, then humanity is subjected to all kinds of tyranny: Control words and you control people’s behavior, thinking, expectations and their will (the strategy of corporate media and its news narratives).
This “logic” derives from the notions of Michel Foucault, whose influence, sadly, has been more profound than his scribblings warranted. It was he who popularized the “end of mankind” by arguing that there is no such thing as human nature because it is “constructed” by socio-cultural conditions. Change those conditions, and you change man. Foucault was hardly being original, for he was rehashing La Mettrie (machine-man) and Condilliac (man as a statue).
The left fiercely embraced Foucault as an oracle of the contemporary world, so much so that humanity itself has now been degraded to a linguistic category that can be rewritten, manipulated and refashioned to fit or justify socio-cultural whims, or even political needs. Mankind has been shattered in order that it might be built better by ideologues. The old dream of the New Man.
It might appear that the left is dominant. But notice its dominance depends only on its ability to spread its bad philosophy via the media-entertainment-education complex. Take away that dependence and the dominance collapses, for the left is not an organic growth from life itself, as all proper culture should be. Instead, it is an imposition by experts. Because agendas need the agency of institutions to sustain them, they have already failed.
This means that the left is hardly a threat, despite its bluster. For how long can reality be denied, and what civilization has mendacity ever built? Many have tried to fabricate the better human, the New Man. And they have all failed — and will always fail — because life is greater than theories, and humans are more than ideology.
“There are only two forms of conduct for people who are truly uprooted: Either they fall into a spiritual lethargy, much like death, or they hurl themselves into action, often violent, designed to uproot those who are not yet uprooted.” These words of Simone Weil sum up what the left is — rootless and unhinged from reality, promoting either lethargy or a violent hatred of those rooted.
Because there is no life without a root, the left is dead.
Nirmal Dass is a former university professor specializing in the Early and High Middle Ages. His areas of research are philosophy, history and ancient languages. He has written several books and is actively engaged in literary translation.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.