A glimpse into the beloved utopian world of historical progress -- that sparkles just beyond the mountains of dead bodies.
Editor's note: The essay below won one of two runner-up $500 prizes for our essay contest launched on April 5, 2013: "Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out." The winner of the $1,000 first-place prize was N. A. Halkides (see his essay here). We will run the other runner-up essay, written by Daniel Greenfield, in tomorrow's edition.
There is a reason why snobby elites on the Upper West Side of Manhattan generously donate to leftist causes and support leftist politicians. Snobs and radicals often act in accord because they are not opposites, as some believe, but rather spiritual cousins - equally despising "the bourgeois," sharing a low view of humanity as herd animals, and sorting people not on their individual merits but by color, income, occupation, ethnicity, gender, and any other characteristic except the content of their minds.
Elitists share the presumption that people of the world cannot think for themselves and have no room in their souls for individual ambitions and achievements outside of what the government is giving them. Short of stating it explicitly, elitism implies that "the masses" are mindless, spiritless creatures without free will, always in need of the largesse of the state, and for their own good the state ought to nationalize the country's resources in order to feed its subjects.
While the road to tyranny is paved with elitist beliefs, it still takes a nation to take this road, and a self-appointed vanguard to convince, organize, and lead them.
The term "elites" doesn't do justice to such a vanguard, which in addition to powerful snobs has its share of drug addicts, bohemians, housewives, union workers, and students, drawing its members from all classes, ethnicities, and professional backgrounds.
The trait that unites this diverse demographic is their smug and prejudiced belief in the superiority of their own ideology, often accompanied by malice and hatred towards those they deem inferior. Perhaps, it's time to introduce a new term to the national discourse: Progressive Chauvinism.
My empirical observations have led me to conclude that Progressive Chauvinists are almost completely devoid of self-awareness, assuming the right to control the lives of others out of confidence in their higher mission to help the welfare of less fortunate, "backward" people who have miraculously been left without any ability to govern themselves.
In this sense, the United States has for some time consisted of two parallel nations: those who think of themselves as "progressives" and those who don't.
Progressive Chauvinism is marked by a strong belief in the divine right of their kind to hold all key positions in society for society's own sake, forcing the "lessers" to comply with superior progressive ways. Believing that their condescension and pity towards the lower beings are a sign of benevolence and compassion, they ignite with righteous anger whenever those ingrates dare be displeased with their enlightened dominion.
An example of such a malicious lack of gratitude is the existence of non-progressive blogs, talk radio, and Fox News - a threat to the progressive hegemony in the media, which is an inalienable part of the Progressive Chauvinist cosmology.
Remember Barack Obama's secretly recorded "bitter clinger" remarks at an exclusive San Francisco fundraiser in 2008? The controversy that followed was mostly focused on his "guns and religion" comment, even though a much more disturbing glimpse into our future president's mind was Obama's condescending assessment of the source of the bitterness itself: government neglect.
"You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion, or antipathy to people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment, or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
In other words, the silly little people need enlightened benevolent masters to lead them to happiness. Without a powerful central government plugging every proverbial crack in every wretched small town, no one can ever be happy or achieve self-fulfillment. Rejoice, for if I'm elected, everyone will be issued approved guidelines, complete with permitted activities and instructions of what to do with their worthless lives in their degenerate little towns. But don't you grow bitter: the federal government can make you happy, or it can make you unhappy. What's it gonna be?
Progressive Chauvinists say the damndest things when they think they are among their own. The private fundraiser included the richest and most powerful people in San Francisco, all very different from Obama and complete strangers to him. How had he quickly become so intimate, saying things he'd never have said in public? Apparently, there was something in the air - the aura, vibrations, ambience - that screamed, "We're Progressive Chauvinists just like you!"
Meanwhile, the rest of us can't help but bitterly cling to our guns and religion in bewilderment: how can these people possibly function, let alone win elections, with minds so devoid of logic and jam-packed with inconsistencies, contradictions, and straight out absurdities?
How is it possible to hold so many mutually exclusive beliefs? To preach tolerance and be so intolerant? To grieve for terror victims and justify terrorism? To stand up for workers and destroy their jobs? To march for peace and defend the militants? To denounce corruption and vote for the corrupt? To espouse non-violence and commit violent acts? To speak of liberties and promote government dictate? To bolster feminism and deride successful women? To cheer gays and aid the gay-bashers in the Middle East? To champion minorities as a group and hold them down as individuals? To care about the children and condemn them to intellectual mutilation? To denounce guns and hire armed bodyguards? To support the troops and side with their murderers? To demand love and be full of hate?
The bad news is that these are not contradictions. Worse yet, sensible people will keep losing ground to those whom they shrug off as bumbling sacks of absurdities, for as long as they don't understand that the above paradoxical statements aren't, in fact, oxymorons, but contain a very consistent logic.
In this sense, the best key to unlocking the mystery of the Progressive Chauvinist mind, breaking the leftist code, and discerning their collectivist morality is a statement attributed to Karl Marx, which, regardless of whether he wrote it or not, is perfectly aligned with the moral philosophy of Progressive Chauvinism:
"The meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to socialism"
Let's start with the last item on our list: How is it possible to demand love and be full of hate?
Love and hate are merely two sides of the same coin: one can't love something without hating that which threatens to destroy the object of affection. Just as there can't be a coin with one side bigger than the other, the amounts of love and hate in any given person are always equal - because these two are, in fact, not separate but one and the same natural human emotion, only with different integers. Thus, the bigger the love, the bigger the hate. Conversely, the smaller the hate, the smaller the love. A complete absence of hate would also mean a complete absence of love: the apathetic indifference of a vegetable.
The typical leftist appeals for greater love and the elimination of hate are easy to dismiss as well-intentioned naïveté and politically innocent melodrama. They wouldn't seem so benign, however, once we realize that such demands originate in the leftist concept of the human mind as a pliable social construct, resulting in a compulsive obsession to improve human nature by criminalizing normal human behaviors.
Although such pleas for obligatory love may seem broad and generic, they have very specific targets. It's always about the reduction of hate and the opening of the hearts towards people and notions that are by and large found within the socialist frame of reference. I have yet to hear a plea to stop hating and start loving enemies of socialism.
At the same time, the "love crowd" shows no restraint in hating anyone and anything they perceive as a threat to their mythical notion of "progress," wielding conveniently subjective terms like "hate speech" and "hate groups," and coordinating their efforts to demonize and dehumanize their opponents.
Given that the difference between love and hate is the matter of a subjective integer, it may as well be argued that one man's "hate group" is another man's "love group," one man's "hate speech" is another man's "love speech," one man's "hate fest" is another man's "love fest," and so on.
This may seem like an exercise in moral relativism, but it's not. While moral standards exist on both sides, they are direct opposites of each other. That doesn't mean that one side's "hate crime" is another side's "love crime." According to the objective moral standards on the conservative right, a crime is always a crime, regardless of the motive. In contrast, the subjective moral standards on the left, make a distinction: if there are "hate crimes" that require additional punishment, that means there can also be "love crimes" that call for a lighter punishment, or can be excused altogether - for example, Bill Ayers' youthful terrorism in the 1960s.
So then, is moral relativism a substitute for the leftist moral and ethical standards? Not at all.
Moral relativism is more of a logical trick the leftists are using to a great advantage in any discussion on culture, education, or foreign policy to undercut and discredit the other side's moral standards while covering up their own, as well as to confuse and demoralize the unprepared.
As soon as the tables are turned and the left gains political power, all moral relativism ends - as it happened in the USSR and all other Marxist dictatorships. The trick they used to subvert the existing authority quickly becomes a liability, since it can be just as effectively used against their own power. The Soviet propagandists, who furthered the idea of moral relativism in the West, stamped it out at home. Collectivists have always been thorough in protecting their cultural hegemony, which cannot be said about their carefree individualistic opponents.
The left's actual moral standards, whether or not their bearers realize it or are prepared to admit it, are consistent with the logic and ethics of class struggle as outlined in Marxist moral philosophy: anything is good and moral that benefits the revolutionary cause, while anything that hinders it is evil.
There are no moral absolutes except this revolutionary cause, which can be summarized as the historically inevitable transition of humanity from the unfair, individualistic capitalist system to the collectivist bliss of socialism, eventually evolving into the altruistic paradise of communism. This process, which leftists also call "progress" or "history," is the only standard against which all things are tested and all values are judged. Thus, nothing that furthers "progress" can be evil, and nothing that stands in the way of "history" can be good.
That means that if, in the course of events, a certain idea, activity, person, or a group of persons stop being beneficial to the cause of "progress" and become a hindrance, they stop being good and become evil - and vice versa. With the rise of Progressive Chauvinism in the 20th century, that notion had been extended to entire classes of people, ethnic groups, and even nations, whose elimination was deemed beneficial for "human progress" and "the greater historical good." The end always justifies the means.
Granted, not everyone on the left is a communist. Many of them would love to settle for a democratic socialist system with elements of private economy (they would just as much hate you explaining to them why such a system is yet another unsustainable utopia). In the meantime, they always end up siding with Marxist fanatics, whom they see as a powerful engine pulling in the same direction and capable of taking them to their destination sooner.
Such fellow travelers suit communist goals just fine. According to Marx, true communism cannot be built while the world is still polluted by capitalist exploitation, inequality, greed, and need. There has to be a transitional period of socialism - and it has to win globally, with all countries having more or less homogenized and equal economies, peacefully sharing the same ideas, and coordinated by one global governing body - an ideal construction site for the builders of communism. (The troubled European Union is a living proof of why this is a terrible idea, but don't tell that to a Progressive Chauvinist).
Accepting the Marxist concept of "historical progress," Progressive Chauvinists inevitably share the militant morality that comes with it - starting with Karl Marx himself, who once answered someone's question, "What is your idea of happiness?" with one word: "Struggle."
A grand utopian fallacy that inspires with a high moral purpose while absolving of the responsibility for one's actions is a deadly mix. In the days of the Cold War, the notion of "historical progress" as a moral obligation of everyone in the global community enabled the Soviet Union to engage in exporting the revolution - with all the accompanying gore, violence, and depravity, in violation of international norms and agreements - enjoying the support of the advocates of "international peace," which in the book of Progressive Chauvinism is defined as uncompromising attacks and subversion until any opposition to socialism is vanquished.
Reimagining Marxism in the 1960s, American radicals coined the phrase, "The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution." The militant message remained the same: the revolution is the only absolute moral value, with all other issues relative and subordinate to it.
A typical war cry at any American "anti-war" rally starting with the 1960s has been "No justice, no peace!" This isn't a contradiction: war is only to be opposed if waged by the enemies of socialism. The vision of peace in this case only includes the defeat and surrender of the United States, while the other side is free to invade and murder without a peep from the "world community."
The brainchild of Joseph Stalin, the Western "peace" movement of the Cold War era was organized, trained, coordinated, and financed by Soviet intelligence with the purpose of weakening the worldwide resistance by the U.S. and its allies to the Soviet interference in world affairs. Every time a Soviet-backed Marxist group staged a coup, a terror act, or a guerilla attack against a legitimate government anywhere in the world, the "peace" movement would spring into action, denouncing the U.S. or NATO efforts to defend their allies. On command, the streets around the world would erupt with self-righteous "anti-imperialist" protests and the demands of "peace" - or, more precisely, the end of the opposition to Progressive Chauvinism.
The plan succeeded, most famously, with the U.S. abandoning South Vietnam. America was defeated, not on the battlefield, but in its own streets filled with leftist protesters, with the help from Progressive Chauvinists in the media who willingly promoted made-in-the-USSR propagandistic narrative. Soon afterwards, the Communist North, backed and financed by the USSR, invaded South Vietnam, slaughtering, jailing, and sending to re-education camps millions of formerly free people who opposed their brutal dictatorship. That, in the language of the leftist "pacifists," was peace - something they celebrated by "making love, not war." One of them was John Kerry, the former "peace" activist who is now in charge of America's foreign affairs. Hopefully, this clarifies his idea of peace and, for that matter, of war.
Today's Democrat Party seems to be re-enacting the old Soviet playbook, practicing the tactics and strategies developed by the Soviet Communists during the Cold War. This includes proactive, relentless, and simultaneous attacks on the opposition in multiple areas; preemptive demonization of the resistance; advancing the notions of "change" and "historical progress" as a moral obligation of every well-meaning citizen; spreading the perception that the opposition is standing in the way of history; using the media to disseminate prepared supportive narrative; planting disinformation; rewriting history; acting through allegedly neutral proxy organizations; discrediting "enemy" media sources; promoting class warfare; stirring strife and division among citizens; provoking conflict while blaming the opposition for a hostile reaction, and so on.
In the meantime, the Republicans are forced to play the role of the anti-communist Western governments: they are constantly caught unawares, ducking the accusations, hectically putting out fires, rushing around and trampling their own, trying to avoid taking the blame but taking it anyway.
On top of it all, the White House, State Department, and DOJ overtly and covertly export revolutions and arm insurgents in world's hottest conflict zones, with John Kerry playing the role of U.S. Secretary of State.
The Democrats may as well change their name into a Progressive Chauvinist Party.
The game of "War and Peace" however, is only the most immediate, literal implication of their chauvinist moral principle. Tolerance is similarly a one-way street. Progressive Chauvinism assumes that everyone must be tolerant of their opinions and actions, while they retain the right to self-righteous intolerance. Even questioning such a right in polite company is inadvisable lest one be treated as a lower being.
Progressive Chauvinists have thus been able to establish their dominion over all aspects of civil society - from forcing unionization on individuals and private companies like Wal-Mart to intimidating the banks into issuing subprime mortgages to boycotting Fox News channel to humiliating donors so they would stop supporting non-progressive politicians and organizations - all without any significant pushback. I have yet to hear of an angry mob picketing the front lawn of a Chicago community organizer.
The chauvinist attitude, of course, is not limited to the left, but it is characteristic of any expansionist totalitarian ideology throughout history. A force that rivals Progressive Chauvinism in today's world is Islamic Supremacism - also known to its victims as the "religion of peace." The attitude is almost identical: in the book of Islamic Supremacism the meaning of peace is the absence of opposition to Islam.
Islamic Supremacists similarly dream of an ideal, egalitarian society of the future - a global caliphate that will govern over a peaceful world populated by a Muslim majority, while the remaining non-believers would be too intimidated to oppose their Muslim superiors and prefer to pay the jizya - a special Muslim tax on non-believers, or "protection money"- as a condition that they be left in peace.
This allows the Islamic Supremacists to claim with truthful self-righteousness that they stand for peace. An appropriate modifier - "eventual peace" - would give a more complete picture, however, of what they hope to achieve after the holy jihad wipes out all opposition to Islam.
The worst murderers in recent history didn't think of themselves as evil men; they were devoted to their mission and believed that violence was justified by the common good. The real question, after all, is not as much the amount of love as the object of affection.
The National Socialists of the Third Reich were driven, not just by their hatred of Jews and other "Untermenschen," but by an equally strong love of the fairy-tale narrative of the Aryan Supremacy, which inspired them to a higher mission of ruling over the "inferior nations" for their own good. The eventual plans to exterminate some of the Slavs and drive the rest of them out of Europe were caused "only" by their "ungrateful" resistance to the benevolent gift of Germanization.
Today's Islamic Supremacists are motivated, not only by hatred of the nonbelievers in general and Israel in particular. They have just as powerful love of their religion, which inspires them with a higher mission of bringing peace to humanity by subjugating it to Islam and ruling over the less fortunate, backward people, who can't correctly govern themselves since the only correct form of government is by Sharia law. The terrorist acts and violent jihad are merely an indignant reaction of the righteous and a punishment to those inferior ingrates who have rejected the light of Islam and no longer deserve to live.
Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Che Guevara, and other notorious communist mass murderers all believed in historically inevitable progress; it justified their right to control the lives of others and sent them on a higher mission to help the welfare of less fortunate by means of dictatorship. Millions of their victims were merely human obstacles on the way to a beloved utopian world of historical progress that sparkled just beyond the mountains of dead bodies. It was the victims' own fault; no one can stand in the way of history and live.
Different stories, one common denominator: a fairy-tale collectivist narrative that inspires its adepts with a higher mission, relieves of personal responsibility, and brings forth a messianic superiority complex complete with narcissistic, chauvinist attitudes. The stronger ones love this mythical vision, the stronger ones hate the real world with its lowly material concerns that threaten to deflate and discredit the dream.
It's the chauvinists' world, we just live in it.
Oleg Atbashian, a writer and graphic artist from the former USSR, is the author of Shakedown Socialism, of which David Horowitz said, "I hope everyone reads this book." In 1994 he moved to the U.S. with the hope of living in a country ruled by reason and common sense, but he discovered a nation deeply infected by the leftist disease of "progressivism." His writings and illustrations regularly appear in FrontPage Mag, American Thinker, PJ Media, and other popular conservative websites. He is also the creator of a satirical news forum ThePeoplesCube.com.
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