Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Worm Ouroboros: Leftist Eating Habits

 

The title for this post is stolen from a novel of the same name by E.R. Eddison wherein the Lords of Goblinland, Impland, Witchland and Pixyland war with one another in unceasing plots and, like many Norse and Icelandic inspired mythologies, tend to rinse, lather and then repeat endlessly. It’s a great read if you can stomach the sometimes awkward writing style and thick language.

In any case, my post isn’t actually about that novel. The image of the worm eating its own tail is an old one, and one that in most cases references the endless and cyclical nature of time. There is nothing new under the sun, so to speak. The image in my mind recently has been of a creature devouring itself and complaining and moaning about how much each bite hurts.

A friend of mine (my Best friend too), with whom I have run a business for the last five years, and for whom I now serve on that business’s board of directors called me a few weeks ago to say hello. That, and a few other things. Among the first words he said to me were:

“This is how good liberals get turned into conservatives, isn’t it?”

Before I tell you what else he said, and the situation around it, I’ll tell you about him. I’ll leave his name out of things, but he’s a liberal Democrat and had been a Clinton apologist for as long as I’ve known him. We met in our graduate program at Harvard in 2005. He’s Canadian by birth and grew up in Jewish Orthodoxy, though he no longer practices. He’s about as liberal as the day is long: longer probably.

He’s not particularly progressive, but he is firmly entrenched on the left. He’s got a photo in his office of him standing with his arm around Al Franken’s shoulders at a political event he hosted back in the early 2000s, both grinning from ear to ear. He loves Franken and seeing one of his idols brought low recently has been a blow for him. He’s mostly good-natured about his politics and he and I have spent many a good hour arguing over beers about the best ways to “save” the country as we see it.

Anyway, he called to tell me that some weeks ago, several of our employees decided to hold him hostage over a perceived political grievance. You see, we own a theatre company in Los Angeles and had chosen a play called ‘The Front Page” for a group of actors to perform this fall. The actors had all been cast and were taken out of the company’s acting school for this purpose. They knew us very well, and we knew them (or thought we did).

This play, which was just on Broadway last year, was written in the early part of the last century and is about a hard-bitten newsroom full of smoke, drink, and hard and fast-talking fellas (the kind of office that I like to think James Lileks works in). The main action centers around an execution (hanging) at the jail across the street because the guy killed a cop. Political bigwigs keep coming in and out of the office to use the event politically to try and get votes from various groups in the city — Chicago in this case.

Because of when this play was written and what it’s about, the language in this play is … somewhat salty. Now, I’m a proponent of not shirking a bit of harmless profanity in the name of art and, in this case, we were also talking some racial slurs too (i.e., the N-word).

So, my friend, the director of this piece, decided to make some changes to make it more palatable for the actors. (the Broadway production did not change anything). The references to the black community were changed to make it Irish … and then Jewish. The roles of power in the play were all cast with Black and Latino actors. Furthermore, they were largely cast with female actors! He thought he had his bases covered. I’d like to note for the record that all the actors knew this was the play they were going to do several months in advance, had been given scripts to read, and were cast six weeks before the incident I’ll now outline.

So, he had is bases covered until the first rehearsal where four actors in the company staged a protest. They called for a meeting where they confronted my friend with his crimes. They accused him of insensitivity and white privilege because he chose a show that made use of the N-word. They said that the play was irredeemably racist and changing words here or there couldn’t fix it. They said the play was anti-LQBTQ because at one point a character makes reference to a “Dandy with a cane.” They accused him of creating a space that was unsafe for actors of color, women, minorities, babies, animals, perishable food items, the blind, flight instructors, gay gymnasts, and … well, perhaps I overstate a bit, but the point is made.

At one point, as trying to reason with them, an actor shouted in his face, “Black lives Matter! Black lives Matter! Black lives matter!!!” This was a young, 22-year-old, middle-class white girl. He eventually extricated himself from the room, saying that if they couldn’t be respectful of their director and teacher then he would wait until they could to come back in the room. A young black actor came to him outside, conflicted, saying that he wasn’t sure what to do because even though he had a professional obligation, he “didn’t want to let his grandparents down.” This actor was playing the mayor of Chicago, and the reference that his grandparents may or may not have had a problem with it (who knows at this point?) was now about the Irish. So, my friend asked him point blank if his grandparents were Irish. All he got was a confused look and no response.

Later, my friend had to fire all the actors in the company who were causing trouble. I advised him to do so as well. One of the aggrieved penned a letter to our company at large accusing my friend of the most egregious of behaviors including being a white supremacist (was it the yarmulke that gave it away?), and said that she “wasn’t going to let another middle-aged, white man control her body and mind anymore.”

Needless to say, my friend is still reeling and dealing with the shattering of some of his worldview. On the phone, he couldn’t stop talking about how shocked he was. Within this group of people, there was no free speech. There was only the “right” way to think and believe and if he didn’t, he was an enemy. He remarked several times how fascist the whole thing felt to him. It was left for me to soothe his spirit and mind. I reminded him of what we’d talked about many times and how my conservative principles prepared me for interactions like those he’d dealt with. Mostly, we just commiserated about those “damned millennials and their stooopid tattoos and piercings!”

My main thought after all of this was that the left was eating itself, like the Worm Ouroboros. Perhaps it is doing so only in my friend’s life, but I think not. My other friends on the left (usually university professors) constantly remark about how they fear the new progressive, populist left (and right). And how they have to work so much harder today to teach their students how to think. I usually quote Thomas Sowell to them:

“The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling.”

This gives me perspective when dealing with progressives in riot mode. Thinking doesn’t even enter the conversation. They are feeling and, to them, that is all there is.

Now my friend now calls me at least once a week to bemoan some new event like the one I’ve described. It strikes me that every call is not unlike the complaints the worm utters with each new bite it takes of its own tail. For now, I’ll try to nurse him through this tough time and who knows … there may actually be a good conservative made out of this process. On some strange level, I fear that possibility. He’s already a good (my best) friend and I might miss our discussions about how to fix all the world’s problems!

What do you, my fellow Ricochet members, think? Do you have a similar experience? Is the Left indeed eating itself? Is the right to some extent too? If so, how is it different from the Left’s version — if it’s different at all?

There are 29 comments.

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  1. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Your story about trying to arrange for the production of that excellent play “The First Page” reminded me of how in George Lopez’s recent comedy sit com work, his character manages to get a production he is developing considered by someone managing one of the big TV networks.

    But then, to his dismay, all the character parts that George had hoped might be played by hispanic friends of his are booted out of the way, to be played by the Trans Gendered crowd! As the TG crowd is what is in these days.

    Some days you can’t win, even when you win!

    • #1
    • December 8, 2017, at 4:57 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  2. PHCheese Member

    Not only does the worm eat itself but at some point the worm will turn.

    • #2
    • December 8, 2017, at 5:03 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    As far as the confused look the African American gave your friend, as he pointed out that the people being made to look bad were now the Irish – I am most familiar.

    I remember trying to tell a progressive young person, back when we both we working for the Bernie Sanders’ efforts, that she needed to make her writing more concise and easier to understand.

    I spelled out what I meant. (I think I did this gently.) She kept looking over my shoulder and I got the feeling that the only way she might have been able to reply to me in any manner at all was if there had been a balloon of emoji figures she could have pulled down out of the clouds to tell me how she felt.

    • #3
    • December 8, 2017, at 5:06 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  4. Doug Watt Moderator

    An old symbol indeed, the Canaanites used the symbol and the serpent in the Garden of Eden in Genesis is a subtle dig towards the Canaanites.

    • #4
    • December 8, 2017, at 6:01 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    I repeat, my old refrain:

    Conservatives THINK; Liberals FEEL. That is why you simply cannot argue with a liberal about anything. They cannot listen or respond to reason.

    • #5
    • December 8, 2017, at 9:20 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  6. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Intellectuals are always surprised when they are second up against the wall.

    • #6
    • December 8, 2017, at 10:11 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  7. DocJay Inactive

    Nice article. Sorry about the mass lunacy. They’ll push it even farther but most of the older left recognizes the insanity.

    • #7
    • December 8, 2017, at 11:00 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  8. GrannyDude Member

    In answer to your question: oh, yes. I think red pills are beginning to sprinkle and will soon become a deluge as Good Liberals find themselves on the receiving end of the same, shrieked, tiresome slogans. Perhaps the saving grace of progressivism is how wearing it is on the otherwise-sympathetic souls.

    • #8
    • December 9, 2017, at 6:49 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  9. Doug Watt Moderator

    Ideological purity is a minefield. Perhaps an original work such as Death Comes For Trotsky, the entire play could take place in his study in Mexico. Think of it as My Dinner with Andre, with an ice ax. Both the hunters and the hunted in the cast and audience might find enough to satisfy them.

    • #9
    • December 9, 2017, at 9:10 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. Chris Lang Member
    Chris Lang

    @dougwatt – What’s funny about that is that we do at least one original piece in each season we plan, and have never had any problems like the one I outline in my post. We’ve tackled tough subjects like the nature of faith in our Joan of Arc (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJ7uhEe9VTo), and were very explicit with our Judeo/Christian references and themes, and we got fantastic responses… never a word from the supposedly oppressed. As an artist, I’m really interested in sparking conversation and thought in my audience. The Front Page would have done just that and those who wanted to have those kinds of conversations (or said that they did) kept them from happening in the end. Irony. Dramatic Irony.

    • #10
    • December 9, 2017, at 9:42 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Chris Lang Member
    Chris Lang

    @katebraestrup – where have you seen the ‘red pills’ being taken in your circles?

    • #11
    • December 9, 2017, at 9:43 PM PST
    • Like
  12. Chris Lang Member
    Chris Lang

    @docjay – Thanks! I wonder if the old guard of the left is realizing the lunacy of its progressive side too late. Will they (if they even want to) be able to stem the tide?

    • #12
    • December 9, 2017, at 9:45 PM PST
    • 1 like
  13. Chris Lang Member
    Chris Lang

    @robtgilsdorf – It’s interesting because I’d also classify myself as an intellectual. I wonder if that term is misused, or has been applied to the common epithet of “elite” which has been thrown about these last few years. For my part, conservatism has always been an intellectual pursuit and those like my friend who also use intellect to clarify their worldview, are perhaps realizing that they have only had misapplied priorities rather than intentions, principles, or logic.

    What do you think?

    • #13
    • December 9, 2017, at 9:50 PM PST
    • Like
  14. Chris Lang Member
    Chris Lang

    @rushbabe49 – I agree with Rush and you… for the most part. The left – and nearly all my close friends are on the left, so I feel (ironically) I can speak with authority on this – does actually think… I think. It’s just that they use, as justification for their arguments, the subjective feelings and life experiences that they are living within at the moment. or for the majority of their lives. So maybe I’ll dare to amend Dr. Sowell’s quote to:

    “The problem isn’t that Johnny can’t read. The problem isn’t even that Johnny can’t think. The problem is that Johnny doesn’t know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling. Or more precisely, he only thinks about his feelings!”

    Have I hit the nail on the head? Or am I in the vicinity at least?

    • #14
    • December 9, 2017, at 9:57 PM PST
    • Like
  15. Chris Lang Member
    Chris Lang

    @phcheese – I’m curious. Where does the worm turn for my friend, do you think? Where does it turn for the majority of the left? Maybe only for progressives at some point?

    In his book, Witness, Whittaker Chambers begins to feel the worm turn for himself as he begins to see communism as an evil force in the world. A force completely at odds with the motives and intentions that drove him to it in the first place. This process led to his eventual conversion to Christianity and his writings are some of the most compelling apologetics for not only the Christain faith but also conservative principles. For much of his life (as I read it, at least) his feelings were ever strong, and present as a guiding force in his thinking, but his thinking was that the feelings were a product of his nature and the self-evident logic of the nature of the world, and that is what ultimately drove his actions.

    What do you think?

    • #15
    • December 9, 2017, at 10:03 PM PST
    • Like
  16. Chris Lang Member
    Chris Lang

    @caroljoy – Lopez’s experience is often repeated, and, I think, is one of the most ironic things to happen to those on the left. Their ‘good work’ is turned against them, and they have to come to terms with the end to which their goals and principles must ultimately come. Play the tape to the end, and the outcome is inevitable… mostly.

    How did you come to be working for the #FeelTheBern movement? I’d love to hear that story in its fullness. Please share!!

    • #16
    • December 9, 2017, at 10:07 PM PST
    • Like
  17. Chris Lang Member
    Chris Lang

    @roblong – Any similar experiences in your work as a writer or showrunner?

    • #17
    • December 9, 2017, at 10:14 PM PST
    • Like
  18. Chris Lang Member
    Chris Lang

    @andrewklavan – same question I asked @roblong goes to you too!

    • #18
    • December 9, 2017, at 10:21 PM PST
    • Like
  19. Annefy Member

    I am from a family of five – 10 when you count spouses. All of us save two have our own business or work for small to medium size companies.

    Youngest brother is a NCAA couch and his wife is a teacher. Out of 10, the only lefties.

    He was falsely accused of hazing a few years ago, and last year barely dodged being fired thanks to a false accusation of racism. It’s a long story, but three days of diversity training was required to set things right.

    But some of his athletes coincidentally failed a few classes

    He’s 10 years younger than me and I am sympathetic to his struggles. But yes, the snake is eating its own tail.

    I’m not sure he gets it; maybe another few years would do the trick. And my laugh will be a fake one when he retires before any of his much older brothers and sisters …

    • #19
    • December 10, 2017, at 12:21 AM PST
    • 1 like
  20. Full Size Tabby Member

    Not answering your question, but the aspect that actors (or at least people who seem to want to be actors) are complaining about playing characters that are not them, and not wanting someone else to control what they do is fascinating. Do they not realize what acting is? And that actors play characters in works written by other people and directed by other people?

    [Edited to correct a grammatical error.]

    • #20
    • December 10, 2017, at 2:08 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  21. Full Size Tabby Member

    I think (or maybe wishfully hope) that the Left is now eating itself to the point where its flaws become obvious. But, given the Left’s remarkable ability to brainwash youth, I’m not sure we’ll ever get there.

    In the meantime, though, the Left can no longer persuade others to join the Left by reason, as it is clear to almost anyone not already of the Left that meeting the demands of the Left is impossible.

    I am today much less likely to consider some demand of the Left than I would have been ten years ago. No matter what I do, it will not be enough, so why bother trying. Particularly since I am a Christ follower who is financially well off, professionally successful, and a 61 year old white male. So, the Left will make less progress trying to convince me. And I don’t think I’m alone.

    • #21
    • December 10, 2017, at 4:06 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  22. aardo vozz Member

    TBA (View Comment):
    Intellectuals are always surprised when they are second up against the wall.

    Sometimes, as with the Cambodian Genocide, they’re among the first.

    • #22
    • December 10, 2017, at 5:31 AM PST
    • 1 like
  23. Chris Lang Member
    Chris Lang

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    Do they not realize what acting is? And that actors play characters in works written by other people and directed by other people?

    [Edited to correct a grammatical error.]

    It is odd… One of the first things you have to make your peace with as an actor is playing characters with whom you disagree, or who behave in abhorrent ways. I myself have played an in the course of a season an abusive husband, a rapist, a patricidal murderer, a kind-hearted mentor and leader of men, and an alcoholic communist strong arm trying to coerce a good man into informing on his friends. My power as an artist is to tell the story and, as Hamlet illustrates to us, hold a mirror up to nature so it may see itself and thereby know itself better. The idea that because I’m playing a rapist or murderer or racist that I must then approve of that kind of behavior in real life is absurd. We try to train our students to know this, but when their zeal to virtue signal and protest is too hot, we get burned and they really lose all ability to reason. It’s a sad state of affairs!

    • #23
    • December 10, 2017, at 8:01 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  24. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Chris Lang (View Comment):
    @robtgilsdorf – It’s interesting because I’d also classify myself as an intellectual. I wonder if that term is misused, or has been applied to the common epithet of “elite” which has been thrown about these last few years. For my part, conservatism has always been an intellectual pursuit and those like my friend who also use intellect to clarify their worldview, are perhaps realizing that they have only had misapplied priorities rather than intentions, principles, or logic.

    What I meant by ‘intellectuals’ in my post was the sort that support liberal or communist uprisings, helping organize and fire up mobs. Once the mobs are done destroying and replacing the wealthy and powerful, they start the purge. That’s when the professors get it, or some of the party leaders who fail a newly minted purity test; intellectuals.

    • #24
    • December 10, 2017, at 9:11 AM PST
    • Like
  25. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Nice article. Sorry about the mass lunacy. They’ll push it even farther but most of the older left recognizes the insanity.

    If I am any indication of the way things are going, the “Old Left” might well be the New Right.

    • #25
    • December 10, 2017, at 12:47 PM PST
    • 1 like
  26. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Chris Lang (View Comment):
    @caroljoy – Lopez’s experience is often repeated, and, I think, is one of the most ironic things to happen to those on the left. Their ‘good work’ is turned against them, and they have to come to terms with the end to which their goals and principles must ultimately come. Play the tape to the end, and the outcome is inevitable… mostly.

    How did you come to be working for the #FeelTheBern movement? I’d love to hear that story in its fullness. Please share!!

    As soon as I am fully recovered, I will probably embark on telling that story.

    But right now I am still, perhaps understandably, feeling slimed. There are a good number of people who feel like me. We got banned from Democratic Blogs for supporting Bernie. Then some of us were banned from “Progressive” blogs when Bernie turned his back on his initial stance on rampant immigration (He was opposed to rampant immigration, until “D” party leaders told him to switch or else.) And when he refused to walk across the street across from the Philly Convention Hall and start his own party, but instead wanted the Swine Lady to get our votes – well, that usually was the fatal blow that transformed us from Progressives into Free Thinkers.

    I have no idea how I put up with so much for so long. I experienced a lot of things that were wrong with the “D”s going all the way back to the 1970’s. But I believed the lib media way too much I guess. Even when I experienced first hand some lovely things that Reagan did for me, I still remained convinced the “R”‘s were demonic. Stockholm Syndrome? I can’t explain why I stayed a hostage so long.

    • #26
    • December 10, 2017, at 12:55 PM PST
    • 1 like
  27. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Chris Lang (View Comment):
    @dougwatt – What’s funny about that is that we do at least one original piece in each season we plan, and have never had any problems like the one I outline in my post. We’ve tackled tough subjects like the nature of faith in our Joan of Arc (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJ7uhEe9VTo), and were very explicit with our Judeo/Christian references and themes, and we got fantastic responses… never a word from the supposedly oppressed. As an artist, I’m really interested in sparking conversation and thought in my audience. The Front Page would have done just that and those who wanted to have those kinds of conversations (or said that they did) kept them from happening in the end. Irony. Dramatic Irony.

    Recently I mused on the idea that Roots would be re-made. It could no longer be a tale of the degradation of people over generations due to the legality of slavery. After all, that would simply be too demeaning to those actors and actresses chosen to play the parts of the slaves!

    Instead we would have to have the Southern slave owners serving Beyonce and some Barack Obama look-alike iced tea and mint juleps, while the two sit about in their designer clothes and occasionally break into song about the glories of being alive.

    • #27
    • December 10, 2017, at 1:05 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. Dorrk Member

    CarolJoy (View Comment):

    Recently I mused on the idea that Roots would be re-made. It could no longer be a tale of the degradation of people over generations due to the legality of slavery. After all, that would simply be too demeaning to those actors and actresses chosen to play the parts of the slaves!

    Instead we would have to have the Southern slave owners serving Beyonce and some Barack Obama look-alike iced tea and mint juleps, while the two sit about in their designer clothes and occasionally break into song about the glories of being alive.

    I hate to be the one to break this to you, but Roots was remade last year. IDK if any of your suspicions were confirmed.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3315386/

    • #28
    • December 10, 2017, at 9:34 PM PST
    • 1 like
  29. Henry Castaigne Member

    Chris Lang: Is the Left indeed eating itself? Is the right to some extent too? If so, how is it different from the Left’s version — if it’s different at all?

    The Trumper never Trumper thing is indeed eating much of the right. Philosophically there is a ton we don’t agree on: which is usually OK but whenever anyone takes offense at this or that policy the I.Q. in the room goes down twenty points. Passions are always the problem as Plato, Buddha and Marcus Aurelius noted.

    • #29
    • December 11, 2017, at 3:34 PM PST
    • Like

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