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The so-called “socialist revolution,” which the collapse of the Soviet Union and the implosion of the European welfare state should have soundly discredited by this time, is still running its course. This is the case not only in Latin America, where it seems to be embedded in the national psyche, but, despite recent electoral setbacks, in the United States as well. So counter-intuitive a phenomenon is partially explained by the lust for power among political strongmen and numinous redeemers who understand that socialism enables them to consolidate the power they crave in their own hands. But it also requires the backing of intellectuals and academics who naively believe that socialism opens the way to a juster and more equable society. History teaches that such a chimera is catastrophic in the application. It is generally embraced as an ideal by an intellectual class isolated from the lives of ordinary people and therefore immune or indifferent to reality.
Paul Johnson observes in a 1987 article, “The Heartless Lovers of Humankind,” a blueprint for his 1988 book Intellectuals, that instead of allowing their ideas to emerge from the people, “intellectuals reverse the process, deducing their ideas first from principle and then seeking to impose them on living men and women.” Insulated in their cerebral bunkers, they are “library socialists” in love with an idea, who regard human beings, whom they profess to cherish, as obstructions to the unfolding of their master plan.
Most of these theoretical prodigies, Johnson shows, live in the gated communities of the left and have little knowledge of the actual conditions under which people struggle, legislating down to the masses from their positions of authority and ostensible moral elevation. Eva Hoffman expands on this notion in her memoir, Lost in Translation, as the ability to think “privileged thoughts…thoughts that cost nothing and that weren’t produced by the labor of their own experience.” These princelings are, in effect, Lenin’s predatory “who” to his submissive “whom.” They permit no opposition to their supposedly enlightened diktats, which may go some way to accounting for one of the strangest political marriages of modern times, namely, the entente between liberal-left cultural relativism and the Islamic theo-political imperative.
This curious affinity of the political and intellectual left for a rejuvenated Islam is by no means as paradoxical as it may initially seem. Authoritarians tend to get along when they have a common enemy. Like to like. And the common enemy is a free and open society built on enlightenment canons and the sanctity of the individual. A graphic illustration of such demagogic tendencies, much in the news these days, comes from the European Union and its unelected, de facto politburo, whose “Council Framework Decision on Combating Racism and Xenophobia” of November 28, 2008 and recently passed into law allows for the extradition from one country to another of anyone deemed to have offended its prescriptions. It has also mandated a “European Gendarmerie Force” to carry out its decisions.
Thus halcyon Denmark’s article 266b of its penal code allows for the incrimination of outspoken citizens like MP Jesper Langballe for vigorously protesting Muslim honor killings and family rapes. As journalist Lars Hedegaard comments, “Under Danish jurisprudence it is immaterial whether a statement is true or untrue. All that is needed for a conviction is that somebody feels offended.” (Hedegaard as well is facing criminal prosecution for his remarks on honor killings.) Speaking truth must be censured in the faux Utopia in which giving offense is a cardinal sin. Canada, too, which seems to many a happy, analgesic country, has its Human Rights Commissions in which hearsay is admitted as evidence against anyone indicted under the nebulous rubric of “hate speech”—which in practice often means holding an honest discussion about worrisome social and political trends. The defendant, who is presumed guilty and must somehow prove his innocence, is severely restricted in summoning witnesses—as in pacific Holland, a fact to which Geert Wilders can attest—or in tabling supporting documentation. He must also defray his own legal expenses while the plaintiff—generally an offended imam or Muslim organization—is funded by the State (i.e., the taxpayer).
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