Saturday, May 21, 2011

Perpetual Adolescence of Leftists

Dean and others have posted this Reason video on the definition of socialism. It is worth viewing to gain a better understanding of the meaning of socialism. However, the real money quote comes around 4:20 in the video where Kevin Williamson ascribes the continuing romance with socialism to "perpetual adolescence."

I think that he is right in more ways than he even knows. I previously discussed the psychology of leftism and some of that bears repeating in this context. The adolescent, is by definition, immature and dependent, despite outward appearances. Dependence is a form of powerlessness that pervades the psychology of the left. The result is a desire for the Mommy state to take care of everyone, because on their own, the leftist doesn't believe that individuals can overcome the challenges of life. These challenges can be due to circumstance, the need for health care, the need to overcome poverty or racism for example. Or the challenge can be to have the work and life skills to navigate the workplace and marketplace of corporate America. The leftist believes that since those adults in corporate America don't really love them, they need a surrogate Mommy or Daddy, in the form of the government to protect them from life's vicissitudes and from the exploitation of strangers.

The key to the leftist mindset is that they cannot imagine adult to adult relationships, hence the "perpetual adolescence" and immaturity in both political tactics and rhetoric. Libertarians and most Conservatives imagine the world in terms of adult relationships, so we can't understand their mind set. Voluntary transactions require a level of maturity beyond adolescence where life is dominated by the welfare from one's parents and frankly from the school system. Fortunately, in America the rewards that accrue to transcending this childish world view provide incentive so that a minority of Americans are leftists.

Among the leftist elite, there is also a view of powerlessness of a different variety. The leftist elite would like to fill the parental role because even though they are the smartest and most moral, in their view, America's unfair capitalist system reward the filthy grubby skills of entrepreneurs, engineers, managers and anyone else whose skills let them rise to the top of society. Such injustice can only be overcome in a society that elects the elites to rule over the "little people" for their own good. A dictatorship of the proletariat elite, to coin a phrase. You see this in Obama who doesn't understand that doctors don't amputate legs for profits, who thinks businesses aren't hiring just to hurt his administrations chances of re-election, and wants to rule businesses through labor rules because businesses can't be counted on to even pay workers without government oversight. Obama thinks he is the smartest professor who knows what's best for everyone and can't understand why not everyone else agrees. You see this in the mediscare ads, where of course, seniors are too weak and helpless to select their own form of health insurance. Granny is in a wheel chair and the metaphor isn't lost on those of us who think seniors are still citizens, not wards of the state.
From my previous post, where I am quoting another source:
Leftists tend to hate anything that has an image of being strong, good and successful. They hate America, they hate Western civilization, they hate white males, they hate rationality. The reasons that leftists give for hating the West, etc. clearly do not correspond with their real motives.
. . .
His feelings of inferiority are so ingrained that he cannot conceive of himself as individually strong and valuable. Hence the collectivism of the leftist. He can feel strong only as a member of a large organization or a mass movement with which he identifies himself.
What this means in practice, I am still working out. But a start would be to consistently point out how the left conceives of citizens as subjects, children or wards of the state. That is not the self image of most Americans and appealing to their inner adult seems a winning proposition.


  1. First off, I've got his book and I would not recommend it. He comes across as strident and desperate to prove his point. If you apply his standards, I think everyone except Nick Gillespie is a socialist.

    This interview is realy good and shows what the book could have been - much shorter and much more restrained.

  2. KT,
    Thanks, I had no idea.
    As we have both discussed on your blog, it is worthwhile to distinguish between actual socialism and over-regulation.