Have you ever had to deal with a child that needed lots of attention, and who was determined to get it at any cost? If they couldn’t get your attention by being a good child, they would seek other ways. Often they would become destructive as even negative attention was better than being ignored. Their behavior could even extend to things that were harmful to themselves and others if that was what it took.
Now imagine that child physically grown, but still holding that needy child inside. Angry and resentful now that no-one listens to him, no-one takes him seriously, no-one gives him the admiration and recognition he feels he deserves, he looks for opportunities to wreak his anger on all those who unjustly deny him the attention he craves. Never having developed any useful skills, feeling that he is superior to those peons who actually work at producing things, he is both contemptuous and envious of those who get recognition for simply being productive.
The value of attacking values
Still seeking attention, but having learned to be more circumspect, he carefully observes those who are withholding the vital supplies of admiration he craves. He notices that those hated others have things they call values – irrational beliefs like marriage and self-determination and belief in an imaginary big daddy in the sky. He learns that these “values” are important to these others and that by attacking them, he can get them to pay attention to him in very satisfying ways.
Misery loves company
Moreover, he can find others like himself who also feel unappreciated – who have had their beautiful ideas rejected and declared impossible when it is manifestly obvious that if everyone would just agree, whatever the mind imagined, the hand could create. These deplorable others claimed there was some sort of objective reality that limited what was possible when they were simply justifying their unfair rejection of what could be done if people would just do the right things – the things he and his friends knew could be made to work.
The value of a good label
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Obviously, anyone who disagreed with those wonderful plans was just being defiant and should be punished, just like he had been punished as a child for seeking the attention that was rightfully his. In the meanwhile, he would have to be satisfied with provoking those inferior others by attacking the things they valued. If they objected, he could use the power he had to label them as racist or homophobic or bigoted or transphobic or white supremacist, or some other pejorative term. It didn’t matter if the label was correct, he knew, in fact, that it wasn’t, but there was satisfaction in seeing those others try to defend themselves and show the label was false.
Another way to provoke a response was to attack children. He himself had not produced any as they would take attention that he needed, but those hated others were quite fecund and very protective of their little brats. Public school systems concentrated those children and made them vulnerable tools to use in his quest to provoke and punish those obstinate and dismissive others. It was a perfect opportunity to turn children against parents, to teach them how racist and bigoted their parents were, and even to create confusion about whether they were boys or girls. Such actions were guaranteed to provoke a satisfying response from disapproving parents – parents who were otherwise helpless to interfere.
Does this sound familiar?
Today we have a Left that seems determined to attack and denigrate every institution and value that has made this country an exemplary nation. At every turn, we hear how racist we are, how we built the country on the backs of slaves, how our capitalist economy exploits ordinary people, how oppressive are our ideas of men and women and relationships, how Christianity is a tool of Fascism, and how our cherished freedoms of speech and assembly only support white supremacy.
We have a Left that seeks to implement Socialism here despite its failure wherever and whenever it has been tried. Even China has had to relax its Socialist ideal in order to survive. It is still not yet certain that it will. Those of us on the Right understand that Socialism violates a number of fundamental constraints on how economies function and how humans relate to one another. It is only by denying the existence of an objective reality that Socialism can even be imagined to work.
To the Left, though, the existence of an objective reality is simply a concept that the Right has thrown up to block progress toward the Utopian ideal that the Left envisions. If there is no reality except what is agreed upon, then any conflict between Left and Right is simply a power struggle over who will have the best story.
War of magic
If there is no objective reality, then all disagreements come down to a war between wizards – who can weave the most powerful spell to create and enforce their version of the world. This is known as magical thinking, that we can make the world conform to our thoughts and feelings, and that there are no limits beyond our own imaginations.
Back to the needy child
So we come back to that needy child. Instead of accepting that there is a reality beyond his control that limits his world, he instead sees his unhappiness as the result of human agency – people withholding from him that which he desires. Instead of acknowledging reality and adapting to its limitations, he seeks control over others to force them to provide what he craves.
Adaption to reality and the limits it imposes is often painful, and something many avoid as long as possible. A belief in magic is something that appeals to children and is reluctantly relinquished in the process of maturation. Indeed, one of the essential tasks of becoming adult is to recognize and accept the limitations of reality. An adult will see not only limitations, but also the opportunities that are generated by operating in alignment with reality.
Some say that religions in general, and Christianity in particular, are manifestations of magical thinking – that expecting prayer to have an effect to change an outcome is ridiculous. Only what we humans do matters, and we are only limited by what we can envision. Yet what is that argument except a restatement of the conflict between a reality that exists independent of our human desires, and a concept of unlimited human power? Is reality just another name for God? Is there any wonder why the Left must not only reject religion, but destroy any belief in something that limits their power?
Resentment and envy
So now we come to the observation that those who operate most in alignment with reality are called Conservatives, or the Right, or Republicans, while those who do not acknowledge any external limitations are called Progressives, or the Left, or Democrats.
Those on the Right are typically employed in doing things that contribute to human welfare, such as farming, manufacturing, engineering, and other practical endeavors. Such work creates wealth for all to share. Those who create such wealth receive compensation generally proportionate to what they create. Even those who have become wealthy by creating and operating businesses have earned their wealth by creating new opportunities and employment for others.
Conversely, those on the Left are often employed in such things as education, law, government, and other occupations that, while often important, do not produce new wealth, but only redistribute it. Since these occupations do not create wealth, their compensation is typically less than that of wealth creators.
A university professor of Social Studies, might look at someone like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos and resent their wealth and social recognition. They might feel that they are smarter or morally superior to such crass businessmen and should therefore receive commensurately greater admiration, recognition, and compensation. They might teach their students how capitalism leads to unjust rewards and exploitation. They might express their resentment by creating theories of how business is racist and supports white supremacy, while hiding their motivations as being in the pure interest of social justice and equity.
Others might make claim to great virtue by pointing out how rewarding productivity discriminates against those who do not produce. They might claim that since all people are created equal, then all should have an equal share of production. They might propose that rewarding productivity is a direct result of colonialism with its attendant subjugation and enslavement of other races. They might assert that the entire system in based in injustice, and only such a system as Marx proposed can ensure that all people are treated fairly, and of course, those making such assertions are most qualified to decide what is fair and what must be punished.
Poking the bear
Of course, all these actions have the benefit of irritating the Right. They provide distractions that keep Conservatives too busy to address the underlying activities that give the Left the power to engage in such provocations. An old saying about alligators and swamps comes to mind. The unfortunate thing is that since the need for attention originates within the psyche of the Left, no amount of outside attention can ever fill the hole that resides within. Consequently, the Left will continually push for ever greater power, ever more control in order to force the Right to give them more and more of what can never be enough.
A world out of balance
The Left gives us many good things – art, music, literature, drama, and many other things that take life beyond the simple struggle for survival it might otherwise be. That so much of today’s Left is driven by a craving for attention that can never be satisfied is beyond unfortunate. It endangers our civilization and threatens to destroy all that has been accomplished over the thousands of years we humans have struggled to create a better world, always fighting to overcome our own limitations and understanding.
We need to find a way to address the Left’s need for attention that does not entail empowering their destructive and misguided behavior. How can we create the opportunity for the Left to reconcile themselves to the limitations of reality so that they may come to maturity? Right now, they see the world in conflict – that either the Right prevails, or the Left. In reality, there is a need and a place for both, but the key lies in cooperation, not the power of coercion sought by the Left, and projected onto the Right.
The question is open.
By David Robb
David Robb is a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative and a practicing scientist who has been working in industry for over 50 years. One of his specialties is asking awkward questions. A large part of his work over the years has involved making complex scientific issues clear and understandable to non-specialists. Sometimes he even succeeds.
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The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Blue State Conservative. The BSC is not responsible for, and does not verify the accuracy of, any information presented.
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