The left often view conservatives as living fossils who simply haven’t got with the modern beat and are stuck in some feudalistic, tribalistic time warp because they have neither the brains nor the virtue to rise above such primitive ideas. On this view, conservatives haven’t yet evolved to the inevitable next stage of social and political sophistication that liberals have reached.
Conservatives on the other hand see the left as a load of trendy narcissists who have grown up in a comfortable bubble, free from war (at least war that affects them) and believing that the idea of ‘an enemy’ is something dreamed up by neoconservatives. They assume that the rest of the world is ‘developing’ towards their own model of society and given enough time, money and education, everyone in the world will become like them and believe what they believe. That’s when the End of History will come about, given that history is really the story of conflicts between classes, races, nations and the sexes. All of these groups will be subsumed into an equal-classed, coffee-coloured, mixed-gendered homogenous loving oneness and then there will be nothing left to fight about.
One of the problems with the leftist view is that people of other races just don’t think like that. They still think in a mainly tribal way. Obama is black so they vote for him. And black people and Mexicans also vote for the Democratic party, not because they share the beautiful vision of the left, but because the Democrats give them more free stuff.
Once the Democrats have had their way and imported a lot more immigrants who will vote for them, and the old white males – who are now being ridiculed for having lost another election – have become a tiny, beleaguered, hated minority, America will have lost the very people who actually drive the economy. It will then be interesting to see whether blacks and Mexicans share the left’s beautiful vision or whether they will take revenge on a white race that oppresses them (or so they have been taught be Leftists). Mexicans who support La Raza will then be able to do what they claim to want to do, namely, take back a continent that they feel by rights belongs to them.
Of course, this whole scheme to make all white people feel guilty for the so-called sins of their forefathers – which are in reality no worse than the sins of all forefathers, regardless of colour – is just a scam to make money. If we made all black people responsible for the sins of other blacks this would be viewed as simple racism. Innocent people would be guilty simply because of their colour. So why is it not racism when black people try to make all whites feel guilty? And it’s interesting that this whole shakedown movement started after blacks had gained equality by law in 1965. Once they saw that whites were feeling penitent and in the mood to give concessions, the guilt felt about their slave-owning became a wonderful opportunity to make some easy money. And rather than pushing against this claim, liberal whites gave in.
Conservatives believe that the beautiful vision thing is all very well, but if other groups are not playing by the same rules, you quickly begin to look foolish when you stick to your ‘We are better than that” attitude. It’s like the way the old England football team used to try to play hard and fair while the South Americans, Italians and Spanish were diving all over the pitch trying to con the referee into giving them free kicks and penalties. And it usually worked! After the match England players could always feel good about themselves for playing fairly but they always lost. (It must be said that diving might not have been the only reason they lost. Yet the point is that it was silly to go on acting all superior and losing while others are doing everything they can to further their own interests).
Liberals don’t seem to have noticed that blacks and Mexicans vote en masse for the candidate and party that best represents their own selfish interests. Many black people voted for Obama simply because he is black, and both blacks and Mexicans felt that Obama would advance their interests, which indeed he has done. Neither of these voting blocks care much about what America has traditionally always been, or even about its future prospects. They are more focused on themselves, in a way that their white liberal allies are not. White liberals tend to vote against their own interests in the name of equality.
Conservatives suspect that liberals have a deep-seated intuition that the political right is to blame for most evils in the world. In a world of murderers, rapists, thieves, burglars, muggers, terrorists, fraudsters, embezzlers, gangsters, ethnic cleansers etc., some liberals see men like George Bush as the real criminals and all the aforementioned criminals as mere victims of the system, puppets to be moved around by Bush and co. Despite Bush’s avowed reason for the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, namely, that these countries harbour and train the terrorists that attack America and other western countries, some liberals claim that, if Bush were honest, he would admit that he only attacked the vulnerable, dark-skinned, non-Christian people so as to rob them of their natural resources.
So really it was all about oil, though quite why Bush didn’t simply buy the oil, as did Chirac of France, and save himself the financial cost of an invasion, stationing tens of thousands of soldiers in far-off foreign countries for over a decade with the foreseeable loss of American soldiers’ life, is never answered.
Liberals also hate women like Margaret Thatcher, who, through her policies, apparently created a poor underclass of vulnerable, dispossessed men and women, who in their desperation and anger turned to crime. Thatcher apparently did this, not by withholding free health care, free education, free welfare payments and free housing where necessary. No, she kept those going. What she failed to do was to change stupid people into clever people, and lazy people into industrious people. For this she could never be forgiven. You see, as long as liberals believe that everyone can rise to the top of society given enough tender loving care from government organisations, and as long as they believe that everyone tries equally hard to succeed at school and find a job, then the reason that some people don’t achieve these things must be due to either a malign or an incompetent government. Liberals suspected Thatcher of the former. And what else other than bad government could explain why some people fail to achieve anything?
So according to some liberals, if the Bushes and the Thatchers would just get out of the way and give the Obamas and the Milibands a clear run at things we could all start to enjoy the End of History and The Brotherhood of Man (not the 1970s group).
My own belief is that the right understands the left but the left doesn’t understand the right.
Most people in the West who were born during or after the 1960s and emerged into a world with a liberal, cultural Marxist, slant. During and after the 1960s most teachers belonged to a generation who read the Guardian, agreed with the left-slanted politics and social views of the BBC, supported multiculturalism, were suspicious of Israel, excused Palestinian terrorism as ‘understandable’, were generally supportive of the unions, thought that gender was mainly a construct, explained away crime as a simple consequence of poverty and inequality and adhered to various other shiny new ideas. These ideas were then passed on to the children of the Western world through public education who now take these bizarre, historically unprecedented views to be obvious facts of life. To the left this looked like the passing on of good values to our children, to the right it looked like indoctrination. Young people born into this state don’t realise that they are part of a huge, but very modern historical experiment that started in the 1960s as a counter-culture movement but which has now become the dominant culture. Many people warned long ago that this would all end badly and they are now being proved right. Yet this failure must not be admitted by the people who supported the liberal agenda, and is pretty much invisible to the young people who were born into this strange upside down world and who breathe in its ideas as they do oxygen – unthinkingly.
The reason the right understands the left better than vice versa is because many of the right’s best thinkers started off on the left. They had once belonged on the inside and now, like escapees from a cult, are well placed to criticise the liberal mainstream culture. Liberal beliefs had, after all, been part of the air they had breathed for many years, beliefs they had accepted until, as Kant would have said, something had ‘woken them from their dogmatic slumbers’. Whatever this ‘something’ was, it caused them to take a fresh look at the world, then at their beliefs, then back again at the world until they started to doubt that the one accurately reflected the other.
The neoconservatives are a good illustration of this. Many of them started out on the political left until they became disillusioned by it. As Irving Kristol said, ‘A neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality’. And just as it takes more thought to end up a convinced atheist in a country populated by the religious, so it takes more thought to end up a conservative in a society slanted towards liberalism.
Conservatives are often characterised as wanting to live in a glorified past, while liberals are accused of being obsessed with fashionable ideas. I think both characterisations are partially true. After all, wanting to conserve the past is what being ‘conservative’ means and the past does often look rosier than the present, especially to those who know little about history or who have a very poor imagination.
But I think the accusation aimed at the left, of being both fashion and image conscious, is even more pertinent. When discussing politics with liberals I often feel that what I’m arguing against is not a realistic program of workable ideas, but a presentation of a virtuous self-image. Their political views – often not really views at all since they have simply taken them on without much thought – are less an attempt to find a solution to the world’s problems and more a presentation of the self as a virtuous, self-negating Robin Hood figure. In short, liberal views can sometimes be the expression of unfettered narcissism.