Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Moral Hysteria of the Left

I’m strangely fascinated by the blog of Ellsworth Toohey -- er, I mean James Wolcott. The man can write. For nasty, stinging wit, you have to read Dorothy Parker to find his equal.

The how of his writing is brilliant, but the what that it serves is hard to take. Wolcott is often unpleasant, sometimes creepy. He can write an entire post that has no deeper point than to smear conservatives. This makes him a hero on the left. The triviality of the issue makes no difference; leftists cannot resist anything that makes conservatives look foolish.

Wolcott was unhappy with David Corn for being involved with Pajamas Media.

Does Corn really want to be associated with fun blogs like Little Green Footballs and Gates of Vienna ("At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are in a new phase of a very old war")? I guess he does, because he'll be appearing on a panel at Pajamas' gala conference in November in Manhattan, where Roger L. Simon and company will break out the ginger ale and announce their new monicker. Then everybody will adjourn to invade Syria, if they can arrange transportation.


Corn is going to be seated at the Rainbow Room listening to keynote speaker Judy Miller justify her journalistic debauchery and his eyes will begin to wander the room, the faces of his fellow board members and new comrades swimming before him...

John Podhoretz...Roger L. Simon...Charles Johnson...Michael Barone...May...Ledeen...Glenn Reynolds...Mark Steyn...Larry Kudlow...Dr. Josef Mengele...the ghost of Roy Cohn, chewing on a chicken carcass...

And his soul will utter the silent cry, Sweet baby Moses, what have I got myself into?

It is a fascinating portal into the leftist mind. Wolcott thinks it's wrong for Corn to associate with right-wingers. Conservatives are not just mistaken, not just wrong, they are bad people. Wolcott has no problem lumping conservatives such as Michael Ledeen, Charles Johnson and Michael Barone with the famous Nazi, Dr. Josef Mengele.

What if a conservative writer, say James Lileks, joined a group of liberals such as Jeralyn Merritt, James Wolcott, James Carville, George Stephanopoulos, Duncan Black, Chris Bowers, Jerry Springer, Ana Marie Cox, Joshua Michael Marshall, Kevin Drum, Norman Mailer, Ramsey Clark, Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Al Franken? Would conservatives fear for James Lileks’s soul? Would they think it wrong for him to be in the same room with these people? No, not at all.

The left is in the grip of moral hysteria. They see their enemies as immoral and evil, way out of proportion to the facts. What has any conservative done to be smeared as a Nazi? Wolcott is highly intelligent, but he makes the association. Step into a fever swamp like Democratic Underground and you will see routine use of "Nazi" and "fascist."

The left's morality is entirely tied up with their collectivist and statist politics. Leftists can feel sympathy toward a cold-blooded killer such as Tookie Williams, but feel moral revulsion toward a conservative such as Michael Ledeen. In issues of individual ethics, liberals are relativists; in political issues, they are as moralistic as a Baptist preacher. You can blow people to bits with a shotgun, but if you speak out against socialism, watch out!

Ayn Rand always understood the importance of morality in politics. She understood that the side that gains the moral high ground in any argument is the side that wins. (This is why the anti-abortion right is on the offensive: they argue morality, whereas the left mumbles half-hearted practical arguments about how women will die in back alley abortions.)

Aside from personal value issues such as abortion, leftists have an uncanny understanding of the importance of morality in politics. Conservatives, however, are relatively clueless here; they understand private morality, but don’t see the connection between capitalism and morality. For decades they have argued rings around liberals on economics, showing in a thousand different ways why capitalism is more efficient and practical than socialism -- and they have not convinced a single leftist. The left does not care if socialism is impractical as long as it is the right thing to do.

This is why Ayn Rand’s philosophy is so important. She provided the first moral defense of capitalism. She showed that capitalism is the system that protects individual rights, the only system proper to man’s nature as a being whose life depends on the pursuit of rational self-interest.

UPDATE: I rewrote this post for clarity.

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