In the last few days we have seen examples of the ugliest aspect of the left, its growing totalitarianism. Radicalism is no longer seen only in the Communist or other fringe parties of the left, but has now infected the Democrat Party.
First, the Obama campaign threatened TV stations with legal action because they carried ads criticizing their candidate. Then they tried to use the Justice Department to shut down GOP donors. Then they tried to stop a radio show from interviewing Stanley Kurtz, who is examining documents to discover the extent of the relationship between Obama and former Weatherman terrorist William Ayers.
Second, since the announcement of Sarah Palin as McCain's VP, the left and the MSM have gone into a frenzy, attempting to assassinate her character. The effort climaxed with a bizarre, completely unfounded rumor that Palin's fifth child is not actually hers, but is her teenage daughter's baby.
Third, "demonstrators" have been using force to terrorize citizens traveling to the Republican National Convention.
The most shocking events are described by Jim Hoft, who was on a bus that was attacked from above when a group of protesters dropped sand bags on to the top of the bus. This is attempted murder: if the protesters had succeeded in hitting the windshield, a sand bag would have crashed through and killed the driver. The resulting accident would have killed or injured others on the bus. To my knowledge, the left-wingers/would-be murderers were not caught.
A little later, a busload of Cub Scouts were en route to the convention, where they were to present the colors to open the convention. A group of protesters--liberals, Obama supporters, or whatever--blocked the road, surrounded the bus, and attacked it, rocking the bus back and forth, denting and scratching the sides, and generally terrifying the children trapped inside. The left-wing protesters attacked a number of buses in the same way, but there is something especially despicable about attacking a group of Cub Scouts.
Stopping free speech, intimidation, character assassination and the thuggish initiation of force are all aspects of totalitarianism. (One aspect we have not yet seen is cheating on elections, a trend John Fund has been following. We should see plenty of this on November 4th.) However bad the right might be in potential, the left is actually there now.
If I had to find one fundamental reason for the corruption of the American left, I would say that the left is the party of modern philosophy. Universities are dominated by the left and vice versa. Modern philosophy has long been radically subjectivist, teaching that there are no absolutes and reason is inefficacious. Postmodern philosophy is irrational and even nihilist.
What happens when a faction no longer has confidence in reason? The void is filled with force. The left regards argument and persuasion as games to be played in the pursuit of power. But they have no confidence in these games. They really believe in force, and force's handmaidens, lies and smears. Reason is just a game, but the need for force has a metaphysical reality to them.
In the pursuit of power, the left holds that the end justifies the means. Saul Alinsky taught this creed in his book Rules For Radicals. Among the young New Leftists who absorbed Alinsky's teaching were Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
I have to think that America is fortunate that the last 40 years have seen only two Democrat presidents. Had it been reversed and the Republicans had been out of the White House most of the time, freedom would be gone today.
The nihilism of the New Left is the one thing that makes me uncertain to this day of Leonard Peikoff's position that our greatest danger is the religious right.
In essence, the Democrats stand for socialism, or at least some ambling steps in its direction; the Republicans stand for religion, particularly evangelical Christianity, and are taking ambitious strides to give it political power.
Socialism—a fad of the last few centuries—has had its day; it has been almost universally rejected for decades. Leftists are no longer the passionate collectivists of the 30s, but usually avowed anti-ideologists, who bewail the futility of all systems. Religion, by contrast—the destroyer of man since time immemorial—is not fading; on the contrary, it is now the only philosophic movement rapidly and righteously rising to take over the government.
Given the choice between a rotten, enfeebled, despairing killer, and a rotten, ever stronger, and ambitious killer, it is immoral to vote for the latter, and equally immoral to refrain from voting at all because “both are bad.”
The right is in perilous decline; it's worse than it was 20 years ago. So far Republicans have been protected by their relative non-intellectuality. I would not say they have been protected by religion, but they have been protected by having another belief system to turn to instead of modern philosophy. But religion cannot protect them forever from philosophy. We will see America's religious people become more irrational and more willing to use force.
Republicans are, I think, beginning to lie and smear more -- I detect unfairness among their radio propagandists -- but they still have much to learn from the left here. The left, after all, invented Borking. Sarah Palin is currently suffering the left and its propaganda arm, the mainstream media, in full frenzy, attempting to define her according to their "narrative." (Postmodernism holds that there is no truth, just competing narratives.)
But if Leonard Peikoff is correct and religion is the only growing long-term threat, then we should see the left become more religious -- especially if it concludes that power cannot be won in America without religion. I think we're beginning to see this in some of the ways Obama has respected religion. My nightmare scenario is the Great Rapprochement: religion and environmentalism join forces in a movement dedicated to sacrificing happiness on this Earth. It would be the ultimate anti-capitalist movement.
One of the Republican Party's most statist politicians, a man who thinks everyone should sacrifice for something greater than himself, is about to accept the nomination for President. The idea that the individual should sacrifice to the collective is a fundamental premise of totalitarianism. The decline of the right is about to accelerate. Fasten your seatbelt.
UPDATE: Welcome Two-Four readers. I would disagree with Billy Beck that the religious right can never be as bad as the nihilist left because they hold some values. Their values are intrincicist, not grounded in reality. Their values and their more fundamental premises of God and faith will lead them to oppose reason and freedom; in the end they will use force to impose their values on the rest of us -- because that's God wants.
Just look at history. The Inquisition, the divine right of kings, the Aztecs, the regime of the mullahs in Iran -- religious dictatorship can be a lot worse than today's Democrats, although the Republicans are not that bad yet. At this moment in history the American left is much farther down the road to dictatorship than the right. But things can change fast.
What makes religion potentially a powerhouse is that socialism has lost its messianic fervor. Religion is filling the black hole of postmodernism -- with the wrong values. In the long run I think Peikoff is right, but I am uncertain if his philosophic point of view applies to the election of the moment. For instance, if Obama was running against Goldwater, then it would be clear that the Republican was superior and for the next four years at least, we would be better off with him in office. Of course, Goldwater is long dead and the Republicans have embraced big government, so things are not simple at all in 2008.