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What is the Metaphysics of the Left? Part Two

[1]

The face of today’s Left

4,645 words

Part 2 of 2 (Part 1 here [2])

2. A Will to Nothingness: The Essence of Leftist Metaphysics

We are now in a position to step back from these observations and draw some general conclusions about the metaphysics of Leftist ideology. I trust the reader understands, however, that I am identifying the metaphysics that underlies Leftist ideology. Not all the tenets of this metaphysics are explicitly espoused by Leftists, though many of them are. In some cases, I will identify implications of Leftist positions which many Leftists would strongly deny and recoil from. Nevertheless, I am confident that my observations correctly identify the deep premises and ultimate logical consequences of Leftist ideas. I should also say up front that I have found it impossible to disengage a discussion of Leftist metaphysics from a discussion of Leftist psychology. In this, I am in broad agreement with Nietzsche – as on a number of other issues, as the reader will shortly see.

In the foregoing discussion, we have seen two elements crop up again and again: (1) a radical, egalitarian denial of difference and insistence upon sameness (coupled, bizarrely, with a rhetoric celebrating difference); and (2) an insistence on the primacy of subjective states over facts. We can call these the first two “postulates” of the Leftist metaphysics. But what gives rise to these unusual “postulates”? I believe that the underlying reason for the attack on difference, and evidence that substantiates difference, is a rebellion against hierarchy. In other words, the Left is allergic to difference because recognition of difference leads to recognition of superiority and inferiority. In order to see difference, we must make comparisons – and a good deal of the time this leads to judgments regarding rank or worth. For example, that men have penises and women have vaginas is not (in the minds of most people) an issue of better and worse. On the other hand, if we (honestly) compare men and women as chess players, it is impossible to avoid ranking one group above the other.

To the mind of the Right-winger, hierarchy is simply a natural part of life. What could induce someone to deny it or rebel against it? This is where Nietzsche is most helpful to us. It was Nietzsche’s position that Leftist anti-egalitarianism arose from what he called ressentiment: resentment of the inferior against the superior. “Envy” would be another way of putting it. This theory is so well known to most of my readers I need not elaborate it in detail. The basic idea is that those who are somehow weak or inadequate in body, mind, or spirit tend to hate those who possess the virtues they lack. This hatred can express itself in many forms. One form is what Nietzsche called the “transvaluation of values,” in which “slave types” declare the virtues of their betters to be vices. In other words, the slaves deal with the fact that they do not (and perhaps cannot) possess certain virtues by declaring that, in fact, those virtues are vices.

Nietzsche is clearly onto something here, and his theory of ressentiment and “slave morality” does give us a powerful tool for understanding the Left. Many expressions of feminism, for example, seem to be straightforwardly moved by ressentiment. As has often been noticed, the tremendous irony of most forms of feminism is that they deride femininity and implicitly uphold masculinity as an ideal women should strive for. Of course, this is done while attacking masculinity at the same time. The Nietzschean psychology seems pretty obvious here: radical feminists regard their feminine sex as a kind of affliction and resent men for possessing qualities they can never fully or naturally develop. The same is true of effeminate, feminized, or simply insecure men who deride aspects of masculinity (e.g., the bookworm who disparages “jocks” but secretly envies them). Another obvious example is the recent phenomenon of fat people claiming that fat is beautiful (and even healthy!), and that “thin” is oppressive and hateful.

Where Nietzsche is absolutely correct is in linking Leftist ideology to weakness and insecurity. Virtually every doctrinaire Leftist I have ever known has been somehow lacking, physically or spiritually, in at least some of the qualities that make one well-equipped to deal with the challenges of life. This is also a subject with which my readers are already well-acquainted. It has been much discussed on the Right, often with a great deal of mirth. There have even been well-publicized scientific studies showing that Leftists tend to be physically weaker and less attractive than self-identified conservatives.

Of course, sometimes the weakness is not immediately apparent to the eyes. Virtually every Leftist I have studied up close, even if they were not visibly misshapen or unattractive, has exhibited high neuroticism, a tendency to recoil from some of the tougher facts of life, a squishy aversion to (other people’s) strong moral judgments, a tendency to over-empathize (often with those least deserving of empathy), a lack of physical courage, and (in the men) a lack of masculine self-confidence and capability. (If not all of these, then some combination.)

Ressentiment is not always obvious in these Leftists. But it is usually there, simmering beneath the surface. And how can it not be? Leftists always do make the sort of comparisons between individuals that they explicitly condemn. (Making such comparisons is simply an unavoidable facet of human nature.) And they find themselves wanting. Thus, to return to our original question, the Leftists’ denial of difference stems from an aversion to hierarchies, which in turn stems from their (conscious or subconscious) recognition that they have everything to lose when hierarchies are recognized. And at least some of their compassion for others is an expression of the fact that they have a tendency – owing to their own deep-seated sense of inadequacy – to identify with misfits, underdogs, rejects, and even wrongdoers.

To Nietzsche’s theory I would add one other observation. In notes to myself, I have formulated a theory I like to call “the unbearable aloneness of the white race.” This is a cumbersome designation for a still-rather-inchoate theory, but I can’t find a better way to sum it up. It refers to a tendency I have noticed in white liberals. When the subject of racial and national differences comes up, some seem to be moved by a peculiar desire to believe that their own nature is the nature of all. This is, of course, in direct tension with their claims to celebrate “diversity,” as well as their self-proclaimed “critical distance” from their own whiteness. But the truth seems to be that many Leftists, at some deep level, want to believe that underneath surface differences everyone is really the same – which works out to meaning, in effect, that everyone is really white.

[3]One sees this in the dogged, optimistic faith with which white liberals hold on to the ideal of multiculturalism – which would only work if all peoples exhibit a typically white, Western devotion to tolerance, the rule of law, religious freedom, and other ideals. It is also apparent in the faith they exhibit in the never-ending, highly expensive efforts to “raise up” blacks into being simulacra of whites (though, of course, it is never put this way). The idea that differences between peoples might be radical, and that whites might be very much alone in certain respects (unique, in fact), seems to be absolutely intolerable to these Leftists. It is this tendency in white liberals which leads me to call Leftism, as I noted earlier, “the last gasp of Western imperialism.” This time, the imperialism is re-branded “multiculturalism”: all peoples will be converted to white, Western ways not by exporting those ways, but by importing those people, who will then manifest their inner whiteness and happily live together ever after. If one considers this point carefully, it is hard to escape the conclusion that, ironically, it is Leftism that is the real white supremacism.

Needless to say, the denial of difference and hierarchy is not a tenable position. The evidence against it is too abundant. As we see all the time these days, Leftists try to deal with this fact by dismissing the evidence against their views, and by intimidating critics into remaining silent. This is not a very effective strategy, however, since the evidence is still out there. And so Leftists have developed an ideological response to the problem posed by the fact that their views do not accord with reality. Their response is to deny that there is any such thing as reality. Here we arrive at the further postulates of Leftist metaphysics.

The “reality” denied by Leftists would better be described as “nature.” For our purposes here, we can define nature simply as that which exists independent of human thoughts, intentions, feelings, and beliefs. (I am not suggesting that there is nothing “natural” about human subjectivity; I am simply distinguishing what exists from what we think exists, or hope exists.) It is this reality that is, for all intents and purposes, denied by the Left. I once had a conversation with an academic feminist who did indeed claim that there is no such thing as nature; that nature is a “construct.”

Leftists do not deny nature or reality in the manner of phenomenalists or Berkeleyan idealists: they do not literally deny that something is out there, something of which we are aware. Rather, they deny, in effect, that what is out there possesses identity. (I am tempted to say “fixed identity,” but this is actually redundant.) Everything that exists possesses identity, in the sense of having certain traits and not others. Things can acquire new traits (or lose ones they already have), but this is because their identity includes certain potentialities and not others. It is the possession of definite identity that, in fact, makes things real. The very distinction between what is real and what is imaginary (or a creation of human subjectivity) is formed from our encounter in infancy with what resists our intentions, because it possesses an identity we cannot completely manipulate or control.

Leftist metaphysics is the most extreme expression of the general metaphysics of modernity, which holds that everything is wholly manipulable by human beings. As another Counter-Currents author [4] has put it:

Nature seems unreal to moderns because to them it is unfinished: it waits upon us to put our stamp upon it; to ‘make it into something.’ Natural objects always therefore have the status of mere potentials: potentials for being made over, improved upon, or re-used or re-arranged in some fashion.[1] [5]

This denial of identities that exist independent of human designs is the root metaphysical assumption behind a whole host of Leftist follies. The doctrine of “social construction” is directly and obviously dependent upon it. Everything is “fluid”: men can become women and women can become men; race is an illusion, and there are no inherent racial identities. Leftist arguments for these positions depend upon appeals to borderline cases and the assertion that “everything is on a spectrum.” Borderline cases exist, but the conclusions Leftists draw from them are non sequiturs. As Greg Johnson has pointed out elsewhere, according to the logic of Leftism, since colors are on a spectrum, there is therefore no such thing as green, blue, yellow, and so on. One could extend this sort of logic to argue that there are no “natural kinds” at all, even with respect to what we call species. And some Leftists, especially academics, actually do make this claim. Those same academics will charge any believer in real identities with the sin of “essentialism” (where “essence” is understood to mean “inherent identity”).

[6]If there are no definite identities, then there is no “truth,” since truth is the recognition of identities and states of affairs that exist independent of our minds. For Leftists, “Truth” can be retained only in the sense of “my truth” or “your truth.” Of course, this interpretation of truth retains the word, but guts its meaning: saying that something is “true for me” merely means that I believe it. There is thus no way for the Left to distinguish mere belief from knowledge. We must dispense also with appeal to “facts,” since a “fact” is simply something known to be true. Besides, facts are just tools of oppression – or so academic Leftists and SJWs claim. (In a certain sense, this is true: those whose ideology is at odds with reality must of necessity feel oppressed by an appeal to facts.)

Needless to say, logic is out the window as well. As Ayn Rand never tired of pointing out (correctly), logic rests on the law of non-contradiction, which in turn rests on the law of identity: something cannot possess property X and not possess it at the same and in the same respect; which presupposes that things have specific, identifiable identities that exist apart from our beliefs about them. The Left is now quite open in its rejection of logic, which is dismissed as a product of Western ethnocentrism or even white supremacism. Never mind that Leftists use – or abuse – logic in making such claims: If logic is a tool of Western ethnocentrism, and if that is bad, then logic must be rejected.[2] [7] Once again, Leftists are not likely to be persuaded by the observation that their views are self-contradictory. The rejection of logic is obviously one of the major reasons why Leftists are so comfortable with contradiction.

It follows from what has been said so far that the elimination of reality, identity, truth, fact, and logic is simultaneously the elevation of the subjective to absolute status. In other words, what is given primacy in Leftist metaphysics is subjective states: beliefs, feelings, sentiments, wishes, hopes, and dreams. Hence the constant emphasis on changing or manipulating the “messages” people receive (as if changing these will change reality), or the words they use. (Remember: the only reason women are not as strong as men is that they’ve been told they are not as strong.) Hence the Leftist faith that “education” (i.e., propaganda) will remove all inequalities.

Furthermore, for the Left, subjective states are not evaluable according to any standard independent of subjectivity, since that has been eliminated. For Leftists, the only thing that can check the subjectivity of individuals is the collective subjectivity of groups. Hence the emphasis the Left places on policing the thought, speech, and actions of everybody, especially its own. And hence the conformity of individual Leftists, their dread of censure, and their fear of ostracism. For the Left, the group or groupmind is the only reality.

I noted earlier that, given their metaphysics, there is no way for Leftists to distinguish mere belief from knowledge. We might also ask if there is ultimately any way for them to distinguish sanity from madness. Without a conception of an objective reality consisting of beings with definite identities, it is hard to see how one can make that distinction. In the last several years, it has become popular on the Right to speak loosely about liberalism as a “mental illness,” or of “libtards.” There is actually some truth to this. Given the Left’s rejection of objective reality and elevation of subjectivism, it stands to reason that it would attract individuals who are not entirely sound.

It also stands to reason that it would weaken or worsen mental health. How? Well, to adhere truly to Leftist dogmas, one has to deny the sensory experiences human beings have on a daily basis. For example, the significant physical differences between the races are perceivable directly, but social construction theory demands that I reject the evidence of the senses and, in essence, regard my experience as an illusion. “Sally” may seem to me, in every way available to sensory experience, to be a man, but again, I must deny the evidence of the senses and regard “her” as a woman.

Indeed, I spent so much time earlier dealing with the Leftist treatment of sex differences and of transgender because it is here that we really find the ultimate in the Left’s denial of nature, and its capacity to persuade others to deceive themselves. There is probably nothing more basic in our experience than our capacity to distinguish between the sexes. In order to be a consistent Leftist, one has to bifurcate one’s consciousness. Orwell wrote of this bifurcation – this “doublethink” – in Nineteen Eighty-Four:

To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed.[3] [8]

Leftism requires a kind of Kantian divide between “experience” (the realm of sensory evidence and facts) and the “moral realm” beyond actual experience. When confronted with inconvenient facts, Leftists seem to feel that they have a moral obligation to ignore them. It is not unlike Kant’s treatment of matters such as freedom of the will: though experience (and science) may give us no actual evidence of free will, we must nevertheless believe that we are free. Though experience may give us no actual evidence for racial equality, no evidence that “Sally” is a woman, we must nevertheless believe . . .

This gives us another reason for the Left’s high tolerance for contradiction. Ultimately, Leftists are uninterested in truth (real truth) or consistency. They believe that certain claims must be asserted – not because they are supported by facts, but because they are moral. It is entirely irrelevant to them if some of these claims contradict others. To take one example discussed earlier, Leftists can assert that race is a social construct and vilify an entire race (whites) because they feel that both stances are morally obligatory. That they contradict each other is simply not a consideration (“. . . to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them . . . ”).

Now, because this metaphysics essentially repudiates reality, its adherents find themselves actively in opposition to reality. They will attempt to eliminate, or lessen the disconnect, between their ideology and reality, which causes them significant cognitive dissonance, using both “internal” and “external” strategies. The “internal strategy” involves control of one’s own thoughts: refusing to entertain certain offending facts or to listen to opposing ideas; training the mind not to notice certain features of reality (e.g., common male or female traits; the behavior patterns of races, etc.); the “doublethink” described by Orwell.

The “external strategy” involves actually attempting to alter reality to bring it into accord with ideology. Familiar examples of this include suppressing opposition (deplatforming, intimidating, discrediting, imprisoning, or even killing opponents, and banning heretical books); seizing power over institutions; the imposition of “plans” for remaking culture or the economic sphere according to visions of what ought to be (Soviet “five year plans,” Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” and “Cultural Revolution,” etc.); re-education (the transformation of schools into indoctrination centers, the injection of political content into every area of life, the use of torture and brainwashing to “convert” opponents – for a classic example read about the “Pitesti Experiment [9]”); the ritualistic destruction of reminders of bourgeois/racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic culture (the pulling down of monuments; destruction of historical artifacts; desecration of graves; posthumous trying and convicting of alleged oppressors; the renaming of towns, cities, streets, schools, theaters [10], awards [11]), and so on.

However, the more psychologically interesting examples of the “external strategy” involve Leftists attempting to, for lack of a better term, “fake reality.” One form of this strategy involves manipulating situations or data so as to give the appearance that Leftists are making progress in achieving their ideals. (This could be called the “Potemkin Village Strategy.”) It is important to note that the primary objective of this is to fool themselves. Other manifestations of this tendency involve Leftists manipulating their surroundings so as to shield themselves from facts which, according to their ideology, are not supposed to exist. They may also manipulate their surroundings so as to protect themselves from being confronted with opposing viewpoints. Here are a few more specific examples (in no particular order), some of which are already very familiar to my readers:

Of course, many other examples could be given.

The outcome of the Leftist metaphysics is death. And what else could it be? This is an ideology that insists that nature, including human nature, is infinitely malleable. It denies difference and natural inequality. It loathes the strong and lauds the weak. It denigrates beauty and raises up ugliness. It denigrates family and celebrates the hedonism of the childless. It denies truth, while asserting what it takes to be absolute truths. It uses logic to reject logic. It moralizes, while denying morality. It promises a glorious future, while causing misery in the present. It demands we love strangers and hate our own. When the attempt is made to remake reality according to this nest of contradictions, the result can only be the destruction of life, health, happiness, civilization, and nations. It is absolutely deadly – and this is not, of course, mere speculation. The track record of the Left is one of murder, torture, tyranny, famine, poverty, and general misery unparalleled in human history. Leftism is the worst disaster ever to befall life on Earth.

[15]And we should not entertain, even for a moment, that all of this was the awful result of noble intentions gone awry. One need only look at the gleeful, shrieking, hate-filled faces of the misshapen creatures who call themselves the Left today. There is no question that at the root of Leftism is a virulent nihilism: a will to destroy, to profane, and to corrupt all that is strong, healthy, and decent. At some level of their awareness, all Leftists know that their ideals will not work – and they do not care. The real point of Leftism is not to improve the world, but to destroy it.

* * *

This completes my account of the metaphysics of the Left, and the psychology that seems to be inextricably wedded to it. In the next essay (which will follow in a few days), I will show how what we have learned about the fundamentals of Leftist ideology can help us discern what the metaphysics of the Right must be.

Notes

[1] [16] And see also my essay “Heidegger: An Introduction for Anti-Modernists [17]” in What is a Rune? and Other Essays [18].

[2] [19] The argument here could be expressed more rigorously either as a hypothetical or a categorical syllogism:

If logic is a tool of Western ethnocentrism, then it must be rejected.
Logic is a tool of Western ethnocentrism
Therefore, logic must be rejected. [Modus Ponens]

Or:

[All] logic is a tool of Western ethnocentrism.
[All] tools of Western ethnocentrism are things that must be rejected.
Therefore, [All] logic is a thing that must be rejected. [AAA-4]

My point, in case it is not obvious, is that Leftists use logic in the very process of rejecting it. This means either that logic is absolute (incapable of being coherently denied), or, at the very least, it means that Leftists cannot escape their own Western ethnocentrism. I tend to believe that both are true.

[3] [20] George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (New York: Houghton-Mifflin, 2017), 34.