When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (1st Corinthians, 13:11)
One of the most distinctive marks of adolescence is a relentless self-centered view of one’s place in the world. Work, with its often tedious, routine and time-demanding nature, is not readily embraced by highly self-centered creatures like adolescents. Full time work is something that Leftists devoutly believe other people should do since they have higher callings like dismantling the corrupt old order and installing a regime of virtue in its place – grandiosity being another stage of late childhood. Karl Marx spent his adult life dodging gainful full time employment. His wife, Jenny, and the Marx children languished in squalor while Karl scribbled away and sponged off his pal, Engels. Stalin as a young, ambitious Bolshevik robbed banks. Mao wrote poetry. Sartre lounged about in Paris cafes affecting a distinctively French anti-bourgeois style while producing reams of unreadable bilge that that aspiring sophisticates in college dorms and faculty lounges could flaunt as deep Existentialist thought. Bill Ayers tried to blow up the Pentagon before he settled into his sinecure as an “education” professor and aging celebrity-radical.
The “Occupy Wall Street” youngsters a few years back, with the encouragement of their Hope and Change President, squated in public places and railed and fumed at “rich, greedy bankers” ignoring a couple of seemingly obvious questions: why would anyone want to be a banker if he couldn’t be rich? Presumably, they don't object to poor bankers, but why would any sane person trust their savings to one? “Greedy,” by the way, is “adolescent-speak” to describe “someone who makes more money or has more than you think he should.” I believe that it is safe to conjecture that in the history of the world it would be exceedingly difficult to discover many examples of individuals confessing, themselves, to being greedy. No one on the Left would ever make such a confession. Greed is the cardinal sin for the Leftist, and its application is most flexible. George Clooney, Michael Moore and Hillary Clinton have more money than most of us could dream of. Yet, I have never heard of anyone calling them greedy.
As well, adolescents also tend to be know-it-alls. They gaze around at the world observing and deeply resenting all of its injustices and pettiness. They know exactly what is wrong and how to fix it -- If only they were allowed to. Most pass through what their elders patronizingly and euphemistically call the “idealistic” stage, come to terms with the imperfections, live out their imperfect lives, in this most imperfect world.
However, we have the amply sad history of permanent adolescent know-it-alls, professional Leftists, in charge of fixing things. One word is sufficient to summarize the state of the paradise that two of the more ambitious adolescents promised would unfold if they were put in charge – “starvation.” The world’s two most populous countries, Russia and China were run for decades by a couple of men widely proclaimed to be “geniuses” and paragons of virtue. No field of study or body of wisdom was beyond their mastery. No aspect of the character or personality of either leader was sullied by self-interest. Both Stalin and Mao went on to engineer famines that killed tens of millions of their own countrymen. Mao, whose real forte was poetry, untrained and wholly ignorant of agronomy and basic science, nevertheless overturned traditional Chinese agricultural practice, and inserted his whims and fantasies as law. The Great Leap Forward is the ultimate demographer’s challenge to this day as researchers try to determine how many millions of Chinese people perished as the result of Mao’s policies.
In addition to starving a sizable portion of Ukrainian farmers in the 1930s Stalin put the ignorant know-it-all, Trofim Lysenko, in charge of Soviet agronomy who managed to damage it even more than Lenin and Stalin. One single statistic that forcefully expresses the staggering ignorance and incompetence of the adolescent know-it-alls that governed the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1991 is the following: “In 1917 Russia had been the world’s largest exporter of grain; by 1989 it was the world’s largest importer.” [Quoted from John Mosier, Hitler vs. Stalin: the Eastern Front, 1941-1945, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2010, 11.]
When adolescents do not get their way those who disappoint them are made to feel the extreme effects of their resentment. At the hard rock bottom of all Leftist ideology is the premise that social conflict and struggle both underlies and explains all human interaction. Leftists are perennial grievance-mongers. The social world is always and inevitably about one group exploiting and dominating another. All that is wrong with the world becomes the doing of the unfairly advantaged Exploiter-Dominators (ED's) who pummel the lowly Exploited-Victims (EV's). Being an EV means that there is always an ED to resent and to blame. An EV in good standing must have a grievance to polish and villains to excoriate. EV's are heroes (Marx, Che, Joe Hill). ED's are villains (Capitalists, Bankers -- the latest, Donald Trump). EV's are virtuous – compassionate, selfless and wise. ED's are greedy, selfish and mean-spirited.
This stark, Manichean, hero-villain picture of the world is perfect for the adolescent theorist-moralist. With it he can feel down-trodden, virtuous and special, all at the same time. The source of his discomfort always redounds to those self-centered adults (projection) who lack the insight and knowledge he does (more projection). From this picture flows what Bertrand Russell called, “The Doctrine of the Superior Virtue of the Oppressed,” which means that whatever the EV's do to the ED's is morally justified. Lies, character assassination, bombing the Pentagon – all can be justified because the ED's are all the moral equivalent of Adolf Hitler, even though they pretend not to be. When everyone who opposes you is some variety of Nazi, Fascist or Klansman your toolbox of weapons is quite expansive.
In 2018 we will celebrate the 200th Birthday of the original adolescent- philosopher. Happy Birthday in advance, Karl. You would be pleased to see that so many of your “children” rule.