The Democrats’ Dream World Keeps Collapsing Into a Nightmare
Let’s start with some heartbreaking news from my beloved hometown, New York City. Reading this I realize that Giuliani’s once-thriving, safe city has slid perhaps irreversibly back to the dangerous chaos I grew up in: the NYC of Law and Order, of Mean Streets, of Joker. From The New York Post:
Upper West Side residents say three hotels that are housing hundreds of homeless men during the coronavirus pandemic have turned the area into a spectacle of public urination, catcalling and open drug use.
Among those staying at the luxury Belleclaire on Broadway and the Lucerne on West 79th Street, and the more down-market Belnord on West 87th Street, are people who are mentally ill, recovering from drug addictions, and registered sex offenders.
Ten sex offenders are staying in a single hotel — the Belleclaire, which is just one block from the playground of PS 87.
“It doesn’t feel safe anymore,” nanny Michele McDowall, 39, told The Post.
Just One Anecdote of Hundreds
Now this little snippet from the willful destruction of a great city finds echoes across the country. Visit the burned out storefronts of black-owned shops in Minneapolis. Talk to the citizens who were ruled by political gangs in Seattle’s “CHAZ” enclave. Look at the federal courthouse still under siege in Portland. Or spare a thought for the nursing homes where tens of thousand of old people died alone and were cremated like shelter pets, thanks to Democrat governors dumping COVID patients there.
And yet millions of our fellow citizens are still considering electing the senile shell of Joe Biden, and handing the Democrats complete control of the Congress.
Destroy the Division of Labor
Most of my readers are busy building things, making things, or selling useful services that make their neighbors’ lives easier. That’s what a market economy makes possible. I don’t have to grow my own potatoes, raise my own hogs, or perform my own prostate exams. Economics, that is the science of human cooperation, calls this happy fact “the division of labor.”
And it’s something the left objects to. (So does a tiny, reckless segment of the nostalgic, LARPer right). Marx’s final fantasy, the heaven on earth he promises after decades of worldwide conflict, the destruction of all religions, and hundreds of millions of dead, centers on one promise: Perfect equality, and no more division of labor.
Somehow, by History’s magic, once no one owns anything and the state distributes all wealth, that all-powerful state will magically wither away. (You know, the way immensely powerful institutions just naturally do. That happens, right?)
And mankind will no longer need to specialize in things. Everyone will be a dilettante. We’ll happily dabble in things, but still be amazingly good at them. Your neighbor who farms and writes novels, but also tinkers in dentistry, will fix up your lower right molar. You will switch back and forth between designing airplane engines, and translating Lesbian memoirs from Portuguese into Swahili.
“Heaven” on Earth
Does it sound like I’m making this up? Read Marx himself:
[I]n communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, shepherd or critic.
Because that would totally happen, right? It doesn’t sound at all like some adolescent fantasy, papered over by clunky jargon, and relabeled “scientific socialism.” Not a bit. Trust us. We’re reporters at CNN, or lit professors at Harvard.
Just Trust Us with Absolute Power
So perfect equality, true freedom, the super-power to specialize in nothing but be good enough at everything — all these things will rain from the skies like manna from heaven. All you have to do to get it is … turn over absolute power over every aspect of life and culture to a tiny elite of ideologues. They will run the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” They’ll manage everything for you. They’ll decide when you’re ready to waltz down the yellow brick road into the communist Land of Oz.
Now it’s time for me to practice my specialty, for your sake. It’s my job to read complicated books and sum them up in clear, common-sense language. So you can get the gist of them, without taking too much time away from … what you specialize in, which is probably more urgent. (That air-conditioning system isn’t going to install itself.)
New, Man-Made Religions
One of the most useful books of the 20th century is Science, Politics and Gnosticism, by Eric Voegelin. A refugee from the Nazis, detested by the Communists, Voegelin specialized in something quite distinctive. And a little bit abstruse. But really important. He traced (in a long series of quite complex books called Order in History) the connection between mankind’s religious impulses, and our civilizations and governments. Anything he wrote is tough going, but really worth reading.
In this one little book I’ve mentioned, however, Voegelin tries to understand why sophisticated people and complex societies succumb to simplistic, fantasy politics such as the Nazis and Communists practiced. Why do Ivy League professors pretend that Antifa’s hooded thugs in body armor are “peaceful protesters”? What makes teachers unions embrace a crude conspiracy theory like the 1619 Project? (To get the real gist of that project, imagine that its real title is The Protocols of the Elders of Jamestown.) Why do people smart enough to make it in Manhattan vote for mayors like de Blasio, who shove their cities toward chaos?
Promulgating a Fantasy World for Fun and Power
Voegelin theorized that modern people without religion still see the fallenness of the world, the wickedness that exists. But they’ve been taught that the Christian explanation for evil (human sin) is not allowed. It’s off the table. Embrace it, and you’ll be labeled a rube, a dupe, or a dangerous “fundamentalist.” So you must grasp for an alternate theory. What else explains human suffering? You must find a scapegoat to blame, and a movement that promises to hunt it down and kill it. The latest target is “systemic racism,” of course.
But it really doesn’t matter what made-up villain gets blamed. You could just as easily choose “the Jews” or “capitalism.” What’s really powerful about this new, secular form of politicized religion (Voegelin called such systems “Gnostic) is that it offers a simple, black-and-white answer to complicated questions. It locates the source of evil “out there,” and not in your own heart and soul. And it lets you pile up virtue points by bashing other people. In other words, it’s almost the opposite of Christianity, but it taps into much of its power. It hijacks the scriptures, if ever they come in handy. It even promises a New Jerusalem, albeit one built by human hands on piles of corpses, and no sign of Christ.
Voegelin said that believers in these new, artificial religions don’t mentally dwell in the real world. They inhabit, instead a “secondary reality.” Their ideology filters out conflicting information, and helps them ignore basic laws of logic such as cause-and-effect. Highly intelligent people can make themselves seem stupid, when their filters block out too much. And then they do crazy things, like spoiling posh neighborhoods whose taxes keep the subways running, by dumping hundreds of druggies in fancy hotels. Or a thousand other policies which a rational person, living in the real world, could tell them would prove disastrous.
Spiritual Warfare at the Ballot Box
But we’re not dealing in logic here, people. We’re dealing with a religion, and a false one supported by principalities and powers. Expect the same blank denial from hard-line Democrats today as you’d have found in Jonestown, Guyana. That socialist, atheist enclave linked to big California Democrats tried out on a small-scale what the left has in mind for us on a grand one.
Then we’ll live in one big homeless shelter, and squabble among the ruins. But only if we drink the Kool-Aid in November.
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream, and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”