I thought I was done with these theories, but another one emerged the other day during an email conversation with an anonymous reader of this blog. I wondered why any leftist would not be horrified by the way that the new theocracy in Iran had slaughtered so many leftists back in 1980, so I casually suggested that maybe they were rich and that being rich made them feel insulated from such violence. Coming from the lower-middle class, my reaction was quite different. I was horrified and took my reaction to be the natural one. My correspondent replied:
It would be the natural response if you considered them really part of your group. That’s why I believe you are correct about “rich people’s leftism.”
Rich leftists tend to live and work in what is pretty much a bubble, the people they know all tend to think the same way (or don’t want to make waves), they’re pretty much insulated from the dangers that poorer people face daily (violence, money problems, etc.), and while they commiserate vaguely with the plight of whomever is oppressed at any particular moment, they are more often than not rather contemptuous of them. I’ve known plenty of people like that (my own background is upper-middle class) and the main impression you get is “the horrible things” happen to “people out there” who one feels certainly very sorry for but in no way would welcome to the table for Sunday lunch. In other words, for the rich leftist, it’s a lot of talk and outside “volunteering” (in safe areas, of course), and the proper donations (which can grant and/or enhance social status), there’s not much walk.
Or if there is “walk,” it tends to be from the young of such families, and they tend to go straight to violence. I think just about all the members of the various terrorist groups of the 60s, 70s and 80s in Europe (Baader-Meinhoff, red brigades, Action Directe etc.) came from well-to-do families. Bin Laden himself was no poor, oppressed Arab.
However, you also have the ideologically committed which can come from a variety of backgrounds, but they might as well be religious fanatics when it comes to understanding reality; and remember, to ideologues, like religious fanatics, the death of a few of one’s own (and a much larger number of whoever the enemy is) is often considered to be a normal price to pay to gain paradise (be it earthly or otherwise).
Neither the rich nor the ideologues have any interest in really condemning radical Islam. Now if radical Islamists were killing leftists in support of free trade in the Middle East, we would probably have a different reaction.
So, my thesis is that leftism is nothing but Rich People’s Leftism, and rich leftists just can’t take seriously the killings of leftists in Iran. Those killings don’t mean anything to them because they themselves have never been threatened with death in such a way, and so they ignore them. It’s hard to believe that anyone would ignore the killings of their own group, but that seems to be the case. As a famous author said, the rich are different from you and me.
So, call this the Rich People’s Leftism theory of the leftist alliance with the Muslims. The other theories are listed here.
It should read, "coalition destroyed most of the missiles of the Houthis in Yemen." I admit this isn't a big mistake compared with some of the others I've seen. The meanings of the words are all correct, and the only problem is putting one word in the wrong place. But in doing so, it made it seem as though the coalition had killed tens of thousands, maybe even millions, of people, when in fact the destruction was of missiles.
According to this news report, Hezbollah’s leader Nasrallah is declaring that the Saudi airstrikes against Yemen are “Saudi-American aggression.” Is he serious? Has he taken a look at what the White House is saying? Sure, we are nominally on the side of the Saudis, or maybe we aren’t because Obama seems to rooting for the Iranians, who back the Houthis. Whatever the case, to insist we are part of this is nothing but using tired propaganda from the past in the hope of inflaming opinion against it, as well as forcing the Saudis, the Egyptians, and everyone else who wants to support it into showing that they aren’t being mere puppets of America. Nasrallah also claims the operation is doomed to fail. That remains to be seen.
What we can say about this conflict is this. The left’s insistence that Muslims are besieged and that they have every right to use violence to lash out at others hasn’t helped this situation at all. Instead of promoting peace, leftists have always excused Muslim violence. Sooner or later, these people will turn on each other, but that is only to be expected when one encourages aggression. One group decides another group is insufficiently committed to the cause, for example. Or that they are really working with the enemy, etc. The left doesn’t need to invade another country to be partly responsible for the chaos there. Their rhetoric can do the job, too.
One would think that the political focus of a university in the Appalachians, insofar as it is concerned about privileges, would be class privilege. And one would assume that most students there, being poor whites, were victims of that privilege. Finally, one would assume that the main goal of the university would be to help guide their students out of poverty and into the middle class by informing them of jobs to steer clear of because there is no point in even trying – like, for example, elite law firms in New York City or Boston – and telling them which majors are most likely to help them get out of poverty.
But no. Instead, the talk is of white privilege. See here.
Let’s say you are from the bottom half economically, and you live in the region of Appalachian State, and you end up going there because for people in your economic bracket, getting into a classier place is unlikely to happen. What sort of campus will you find? Will you find one that is kind to people of your class, or is it indifferent to your concerns? The latter, definitely.
Let’s take a look at the specialties of some of the professors in the liberals arts. In philosophy, there are six professors. Three have specialties in non-political areas, a fourth includes philosophy of race along with the others, a fifth includes environmental ethics, while the sixth’s specialties are “Feminist Theory, Ethics, Continental Philosophy, Critical Race Theory, Environmental Philosophy, Disability Studies, and Queer Theory.” If you are lower class or lower-middle class, it is hard to see why any of that is appealing.
In Religious Studies, which is paired with philosophy, there is nothing on class. One actually wouldn’t expect them to do anything on class because their focus isn’t even on politics, but in fact one faculty member lists these as her areas of expertise: “History of Christianity, Women in Religion, Religion and Colonialism, Post-Colonial Theory, Religion in Latin America.” Of her five areas, at least three are political, and one isn’t even specifically about religion.
The political scientists are part of a Government and Justice Studies department, but again there is nothing about class. Or let me correct that: if you were a student looking for someone whose specialty was class issues, you probably wouldn’t find them because their interest is described as “critical theory.” Another does “urban politics.” Really? In Appalachia there is a professor whose specialty is urban politics? Why?
In history there is no one whose specialty is labor or class conflicts, though a few deal with gender or environmental issues. In sociology, there is someone who does labor movements, and maybe one or two others who could be counted on to talk about class issues.
There is also a Department of Cultural, Gender, and Global Studies. Obviously, no one there would be interested in class issues.
One might expect more from the Appalachian Studies department, but it seems to be more interested in sustainability than in the poverty of people in the region. Here is the first sentence of their welcome page:
Offering a Master of Arts in Appalachian Studies with concentrations in Sustainability since 1997, Culture since 1978, and Music since 2006 and a Bachelor of Arts since 2008, the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University continues to grow and build its longstanding commitments to social justice, regional sustainability, and cultural heritage.
Why is sustainability so important to these people, while class issues seem to have no importance whatsoever? And are we supposed to infer that what they mean by “social justice” will include class and not just race, gender, and sexual orientation?
What is pathetic about these professors is that some of them probably come from the bottom half economically, yet they tolerate an intellectual atmosphere that pays no attention to their class background.
What about student services? Does it do a better job than the professors do of helping those from modest backgrounds? Not as far as I can see. There is something called the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Compliance, but there is nothing in the description of what they do that specifically says they deal with class issues.
In short, if you are a lower-class or lower-middle-class white person who is interested in your class situation, there is very little in the way of resources that will help you. There are no organizations to join for solidarity. The research interests of the faculty are generally not going to help you understand your situation, and even if they are interested in class issues, they probably have a perspective that is wildly wrong. If you are a white male, you will be told endlessly how privileged you are for being white or male, but no one will acknowledge that you are underprivileged economically.
The first thing the poorer students there should do is to demand that tuition be lowered, even if it means ditching some of the administrators. Next, they should demand that affirmative action include class background. Another thing is that the white males who are from modest backgrounds should start an organization for themselves. Once they do that, then they can start making demands on others, the first of which is that the university as well as other students need to stop ignoring their class background. The second is to insist that their lack of class privilege outweighs whatever other privileges they do have.
Well, it is not very likely that this will happen. But it is astounding and bewildering and angering that a university that probably caters mostly to people in the bottom half economically should be so indifferent to what their lives are like. I blame the left.
After the 1960s, in Mr. Steele’s reading, authority was undermined and “authenticity” put in its place. Authenticity, he writes, “meant the embrace of new idealisms and new identities that explicitly untethered you from America’s notorious hypocrisies.” Through rebellion, antiwar activity, dissent, civil and uncivil disobedience, and dropping out before selling out, authenticity rendered one innocent of all the old evils associated with American power, domestic and international; authenticity also gave one the right to view “traditional America as a fundamentally hypocritical society.”
From the review of a travel book by Albert Podell:
Elsewhere he writes about how the do-gooder staffers of humanitarian non-governmental organizations who swarm developing countries like Macedonia, Kosovo and East Timor convulse the local economies. They can spend $60 for dinner in a land where most people don’t earn that much in a month, he reports, pushing prices out of reach of the poor they are supposedly there to help.
Ouch. Let me add that if they can afford $60 dinners, they probably come from a wealthy background. Their joining such organizations is probably, then, the result of guilt, and since they are hurting rather than helping poor people, we can say it is nothing but Rich People’s Leftism.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Essay on Islam
Ali, the colleague of murdered Theo van Gogh, observes in a long essay on the front page of the Review section that she was brought up as what she calls a Mecca Muslim, referring to the fairly peaceful stage of Muhammad’s life when he lived in Mecca. The people who are causing so many problems in the world are Medina Muslims, because they prefer to model themselves on Muhammad’s violent Medina phase. Then there are the heretics or dissidents. Ali wants a reformation of Islam, and thinks that the dissidents will help lead such reform with help from the West. She lays out several things that must be reformed, but alas, she never gets into how difficult it will be to get support from the West, given that our elites seem to side with the Medinan Muslims. It doesn’t matter how often one tells them that the Muslims they are supporting are dangerous and anti-leftist, the information just doesn’t penetrate.
This article from Soccer America suggests that opposition to a publicly-financed Minnesota soccer stadium is not really public opposition. I can’t speak about that, but Mark Dayton’s opposition to public funding, after supporting many other sporting venues that were publicly funded, is a familiar story to me. He is yet another liberal politician in Minnesota who doesn’t give a lick about soccer.
It is true that I have been away for a number of years, and maybe I missed something, but as far as I know, the Minnesota politician who has been the strongest supporter of the sport of soccer was Charles Stenvig, a very right-wing mayor of Minneapolis in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1972, when a massive demonstration at the University of Minnesota got out of hand, or maybe someone thought it was going to get out of hand, the administrators called for the Minneapolis police to intervene, and Stenvig (himself a former policeman) was happy to oblige. I was there and had a tear-gas cannister land at my feet. And what was I to think when a mere four years later, Stenvig often showed up at Minnesota Kicks soccer games while the liberal politicians I preferred stayed away?
Let me be clear, though, that I think teams are better off when they pay for their own stadiums. The Columbus Crew saved itself a lot of grief by doing just that.
And the left is to blame since they have more control over it than anyone else. The proof is in the number of people running off to join ISIS. No one in the West should be running off to join such a barbaric group, and the fact that large numbers of people are doing so – large, that is, in comparison with the numbers running off to help ISIS’s victims – is proof that something is dreadfully wrong.
This column (hat tip: Mark Spahn) talks about a young Australian, Jake Bilardi, who ran off to join ISIS, even though he was raised in a “high-achieving atheist household.” Think about that. He came from a background of atheism. When I was young, atheists didn't join religious cults. There were other young people who were susceptible to joining some religious cult, but as far as I know, they had been raised in households that belonged to mainline Protestant denominations. I never heard of any atheists who wanted to join Christian cults, and they would sneer at those who did. (It is possible that some joined cults associated with eastern religions, of course.) When atheists take up a barbaric religious cult, something is wrong.
So, blame the left. The cultural atmosphere these people grow up in is a poisonous brew of Islamophilia, cultural relativism, and multiculturalism. They hear little or nothing about how much more progressive the West is than Islam, and so they see no reason to perpetuate that progressiveness.