Ouroboros

Liberalism Is Eating Itself — Jon Gabriel

The Ouroboros is an ancient image showing a large serpent consuming its own tail. Venerated by Greeks, Egyptians and Norsemen of yore, it serves as an apt metaphor for modern American liberalism.

The Democratic coalition was largely built on grievance politics. For decades, progressive leaders divided Americans into subgroups based on race, gender, class, age and sexual orientation. Political leaders were the first to stoke this fire, but educators soon joined in, as did the media, NGOs, big business and popular culture.

This coordinated strategy finally bore fruit with the arrival of the Obama era. Democrats had finally convinced the majority of American voters that Republicans are rich, old, white males who couldn’t possibly care about the poor, the young, women or non-whites.

As President Obama assumed power, his Alinskyite past served as the template for a renewed politics of envy, personal grievance and payback. The One Percent must be punished for their wealth. Traditional marriage supporters are hateful bigots on the wrong side of history. Mitt Romney gave old women cancer and locked the younger ones in binders. “The Cambridge police acted stupidly” and “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

As one blogger notes, “Barack Obama thinks his job is to lead the mob, not the country.”

But as is often the case with politics, the Left’s success bore the seeds of its own destruction. Any ideology that stokes anger and  neo-Jacobin tactics is innately unsuited to popular governance. It’s a grand time sticking it to The Man until the moment when The Man is you.

And The Man isn’t only in charge of the White House and Senate. He owns a controlling interest in the television industry and movies and technology and classrooms and music and art and sports. What’s a self-styled revolutionary to do once he has eliminated his most prominent enemies?

Create new enemies, of course.

In the Bay Area, Leftists are blaming Silicon Valley’s best and brightest for rising rents. Protestors smashed the windows of a bus owned by rabidly pro-Obama Google and blockaded its departure. Last week, they stormed a bus full of Yahoo! employees and vomited on the windshield. Instead of seeing these companies as proponents of green mass transit for a multiracial staff, activists demonized them as the rich Other.

Liberal icon and occasional comedian Stephen Colbert told an insanely racist joke which he claimed was told ironically. Asian-American activist Suey Park attacked the odd double-standard that allows racial humor by entertainers with D’s after their names. #CancelColbert trended for two days on Twitter as angry leftists demanded the ardent Obamaphile’s well-coiffed head. Eventually, other liberals came to Colbert’s defense. Race-baiting webzine Salon publicly shamed Park for employing the same grievance politics they usually instigate.

Today, amid Obama’s cynical push for fair pay for women, Washington Post reporter Nia-Malika Henderson turned on the White House patriarchy. Dusting off her degree in cultural anthropology, Henderson inveighed against Democratic clip art showing two women in dresses and high heels, demanding to know why neither wore pantsuits, hard hats or lab coats. “‘Mad Men’ comes to mind,” she sniffed.

Grievance, outrage and victimhood were wildly successful tactics when fighting Republicans; is it any wonder Democrats are using them against intraparty rivals? Even in victory, the perpetual victim needs a victimizer. Big Brother needs to hate Emmanuel Goldstein; so what if he once was a party leader?

As Obamacare fails, the economy slumbers, and the world burns, Ouroboros is growing hungrier. And, as in the legend, it will increasingly feed upon itself.

  1. Martin Venator

    May there be more 1968. The only way we get the culture back is to let them show the non-political people how nuts they really are.

  2. Roberto

    Here in California it goes further than street level grumbling , disagreements on how to divide the spoils goes all the way up the ladder.

    Weeks after some Asian American lawmakers killed a measure to restore affirmative action in California’s public colleges by withdrawing their support, backlash from Democrats who supported the effort is surfacing in the Capitol and on the campaign trail.

    Repercussions of the Legislature’s decision last month to shelve Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 appear to be pitting some African American and Latino Democrats against their Asian American colleagues…

    On Monday, several members of the Legislature’s black and Latino caucuses withheld their votes on a non-controversial bill, killing a measure by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi. Last week, six black and Latino Democrats sent Sen. Ted Lieu a letter withdrawing their endorsement in his race for Congress. Muratsuchi and Lieu are both Asian Americans and Democrats from Torrance……SCA 5 ran into an opposition campaign promoted largely by activists who said the measure would hurt Asian American children’s chances of getting into the most competitive colleges. They threatened to campaign against Asian American politicians who voted in favor of the measure and urged Asian American voters to register as Republicans.

  3. Totus Porcus

    If we had a media that were not overwhelmingly biased to portray liberalism favorably, we would be hearing daily stories about “The civil war in the Democratic Party.”  Instead, we read about them occasionally on Ricochet while the MSM pounds its “Civil war in the Republican Party” narrative.  Let’s see who’s singing what tune in November 2014.

  4. Tuck

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people.

  5. Sabrdance

    Yes, yes, yes, it’s wonderful to watch the Jacobins go after each other.  The end result is still a restored monarchy followed by 3 defunct Republics before you get a government that still doesn’t respond to the people, but at least has a constitution not filed under “Periodicals.”

    This is a far cry from what we had.

  6. Joseph Eagar

    People in the Bay Area do have a point about rents, though the culprits are environmentalists more than techies (it’s not like there’s a shortage of land in Northern California).  I’ve always thought this would be a great issue for the GOP.  There is a definite class conflict in the Democratic party between wealthy liberal environmentalists and poorer voters who can’t afford housing.  It’s a perfect wedge issue.

  7. DrewInWisconsin

    Unfortunately, in the process of eating themselves, they are destroying everyone else with their scorched earth tactics.

  8. Fricosis Guy

    The progressives are merely realigning who is in the Inner Party (Colbert and white, liberal entertainers), the Outer Party (Suey Park and Asian-Americans), and the Proles (the Trolls). Jay Caspian Kang had a piece in The New Yorker where he noted Park’s real intent in pursuing #CancelColbert: to stop Asians from being the “safe” part of the progressive coalition to make jokes about. In other words, she wants them to be more Inner Party, for they really get few tangible benefits from being progressive. Asians must have a hand in driving policy and discourse or what’s the point?

    I have no truck with her politics, but I believe Miss Park reads the correlation of forces within the progressive front correctly. Without a radical change, the Asian role will be akin to the Jewish role. Its place at the table will be dependent upon swallowing huge chunks of pride, taking policy positions against the interest of its group, and hoping that its fellow coalition members don’t burn down its businesses.

  9. Yudansha

    You wish!  How many purges went on within the various incarnations of the Communist Party?  I’ll tell you…. many, many, many.  They still haven’t lost credibility anywhere in Europe.   The only thing these theatrics are about is which sub-faction gets to eat all the pies.

  10. Hartmann von Aue

    Well, let’s hope that this bit of prognostication turns out to be right. More anecdata supporting you: On The Five today (I was at the YMCA, the only place we see TV), Bob ‘yes, I worked for Mondale’ Beckel weighed in on Brandeis’ cowardly and foolish decision to rescind its award of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. His was the most intense, over-the-top condemnation of both Brandeis and CAIR. If a dyed-in-the-wool leftie is willing to shout “Fatwa THIS!” and call CAIR a hate group, maybe there is some hope … that the forces arrayed against decency, goodness and reason will actually destroy each other and leave some nice pieces for us to pick up….or not.

  11. Chris Campion

    The direct result of identity politics is a body politic sporting a lot of competing identities.

    In large part, though, I don’t think that’s going to change voting trends enough to tip any scales.  It may be simpler than the demographic buffet the Democrats offer – it could just be that if you’re in the half of the country that doesn’t pay taxes, you’re a Democrat.  And everyone else owes you something.

    There.  Fixed that Ouroboros problem for the Dems.

  12. Merina Smith

    I think Jon is really on to something.  It’s like the French Revolution, though fortunately without actual heads rolling.  Well, so far.  They grow ever more radical and divorced from reality.  And their grievance politics asks for childish, selfish and entitled behavior.  The problem is that there are no grown-ups left in the progressive room to restore order.  Let’s just hope that grounded conservatives have enough clout left to restore order after they have cannibalized themselves.

  13. Michael Brehm

    “When [the Moderns] wish to represent eternity, they represent it by a serpent with his tail in his mouth. There is a startling sarcasm in the image of that very unsatisfactory meal. The eternity of the material fatalists, the eternity of the eastern pessimists, the eternity of the supercilious theosophists and higher scientists of to-day is, indeed, very well presented by a serpent eating his tail, a degraded animal who destroys even himself.” 

    -G.K.Chesterton, Orthodoxy

  14. Fredösphere

    It just occurred to me that the metaphor can be seen in an opposite way, with the meaning remaining completely relevant to current leftist thinking: the snake is defecating into its own mouth.

  15. Fricosis Guy

    Fricosis Guy:The progressives are merely realigning who is in the Inner Party (Colbert and white, liberal entertainers), the Outer Party (Suey Park and Asian-Americans), and the Proles (the Trolls). Jay Caspian Kang had a piece in The New Yorker where he noted Park’s real intent in pursuing #CancelColbert: to stop Asians from being the “safe” part of the progressive coalition to make jokes about. In other words, she wants them to be more Inner Party, for they really get few tangible benefits from being progressive. Asians must have a hand in driving policy and discourse or what’s the point?I have no truck with her politics, but I believe Miss Park reads the correlation of forces within the progressive front correctly. Without a radical change, the Asian role will be akin to the Jewish role. Its place at the table will be dependent upon swallowing huge chunks of pride, taking policy positions against the interest of its group, and hoping that its fellow coalition members don’t burn down its businesses.

    BREAKING: Colbert has been tabbed to replace Letterman.

    Inner Party: 1  Outer Party: 0.

  16. Eeyore

    As Drew at #8 and Yudansha at #10 touch on, this Ouroborus can take quite a while to complete its meal to a lethal point. It feels like we are at a just-pre-1917 point with the American Left as the Bolsheviks in Russia. There was a 70-year consumption cycle until there was enough digestive upset to disrupt the meal. And it even appears that Russia may well be getting hungry yet again.

  17. Richard Fulmer

    Eeyore:

    As Drew at #8 and Yudansha at #10 touch on, this Ouroborus can take quite a while to complete its meal to a lethal point. It feels like we are at a just-pre-1917 point with the American Left as the Bolsheviks in Russia. There was a 70-year consumption cycle until there was enough digestive upset to disrupt the meal. And it even appears that Russia may well be getting hungry yet again.

     The 70-year cycle comes up again and again in Socialism’s history as documented in the book, Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism.  The author argues that the cycle is based on three generations: the first is full of hope and idealism, the second accepts the status quo, and the third is completely cynical and disillusioned.

  18. J Flei

    And they say the Republicans are like a snake eating its own tail.  I would love to believe that liberalism has finally gone too far and are about to lose in 2014 and 2016, but I am afraid to get my hopes up.  2012 was just too sad and disappointing for me, so I am bracing myself for things to get even more ridiculous and frustrating. 

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In