Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Leftists Love Humanity and Hate Humans

 

I used to live on top of a mountain in Tennessee, surrounded by National Forest. When we moved there, like an idiot, I drove to the local National Forest Service office, about 45 minutes away, as if I was introducing myself to my neighbor, which I sort of thought I was. I asked what the rules were for me on government land since it was now 50 feet from my back door. The very nice lady behind the counter started listing all these rules, going on and on, until I interrupted her, “So I really can’t be on government land at all?” She said, “It’s not government land. It’s the people’s land.” I said, “I’m a people.” She said, “No, the people in general.” I asked, “Who, exactly?” The previously very nice lady was now a little irked. She just looked at me for a moment and then said, “Not you.”

That was the last time I interacted with the National Forest Service. Until about two months later, when they needed permission to cross my land to get their trucks to a place up there that needed repairs. You can imagine how that conversation went.

Now, I understand that interactions between government and individuals in settings such as this can leave people like me with a bad taste in our mouths, and that’s ok. But I was taken aback by her term, “the people’s land.” What a strange thing for a middle-aged Tennessee woman like her to say. Her accent sounded like Reba McEntire, but her word choice sounded like Hugo Chavez. Had a Marxist view of the proletariat been adopted by, well, by the proletariat? In the mountains of Tennessee, for Pete’s sake? I will guarantee you that this lady’s husband has a blue-collar job, they go to their Baptist church three times a week, they drive a pickup, go to NASCAR races in their fifth-wheel camper, think abortion is a sin, go deer hunting with their sons … and she talks like Hugo Chavez. What on Earth?

The genius of Christianity is its emphasis on the individual. Jesus taught that each person, even a pauper or a prostitute, is important to God. I believe that Martin Luther played an important role here, as well. He emphasized that your relationship with God was a personal one and that it need not be endorsed or controlled by any organization of men here on Earth. I hope that my Catholic friends will indulge me on this point (and no, that’s not a bad joke about indulgences…). The Catholic Church of today is not the same as the Catholic Church of the early 1500s, and you don’t necessarily have to agree with Martin Luther on his view of an individual’s relationship with God to see the power of the concept. If an individual is important to God, simply as an individual, then that individual must be extremely important. Jesus was a radical for promoting such craziness. You can understand why the Romans feared him – he was directly challenging the sovereignty of the Roman Empire over the people they sought to control. What if Jesus is right, and we’re all that important? Surely that will have an impact on the nature of government. Perhaps our Founders were on to something.

It has been observed that Marxism is a religion masquerading as political theory, and Islam is a political theory masquerading as religion. It is revealing that both of these organizations view the United States as their greatest enemy. I hope they’re right because that would reflect well on the United States. Because what those movements have in common is their efforts to harness the power of groups of people. This creates two major problems, in my view. First, when you are working upstream against human nature and against God, there’s likely to be significant difficulties. Second, when you set groups of people against each other using anger and envy and so on, what you’re doing is you’re creating mobs.

I like people. Even people I don’t like, in most cases. I could enjoy a meal with nearly anyone. But when people form mobs, they become unpredictable, immature, irrational, prone to violence, and, well, inhuman. A group of people that is fighting against what they perceive as evil for the good of mankind – that is a force that is capable of good, but also of enormous destruction.

Any collectivist organization will naturally tend to de-emphasize the importance of the individual. The most important element of you as a person is not who you are as an individual, but what group you belong to. This is why leftist and other collectivist organizations so brutally repress individualism. Try being a gay intellectual in Castro’s Cuba, or Stalin’s Russia, or Mao’s China. Heck, try being a black conservative on a college campus. If your group is there to save the world (and they all are), then dissent is not just disagreement, but a sin against humanity.

I also find it interesting that collectivist organizations tend to wear uniforms (Communists and hippies), masks (Islamists and Antifa twits), and other things to hide their individuality. That’s not a coincidence.

The American Revolution was a remarkable event. The concept of inalienable rights for each individual, that were granted by God and acknowledged by government (not granted by government) was so radical at the time that many political leaders around the world expected this new startup to last 10 years, tops. Some of our founders initially supported the French Revolution, until they saw what happened – the power of mobs. We are fortunate that they learned from that example.

Before the American Revolution, most political movements seeking freedom were groups of people trying to achieve “Freedom for us from you” rather than “Freedom for me from everyone, including my own government.” You can see why politicians of the time thought that it would be difficult to control a bunch of uppity peasants under that concept. You can imagine how astonished the world’s tyrants were when such an impossible system thrived. For a long time. Progressives and other tyrants still don’t understand what happened.

Today, policies that damage Western societies (big government, slavery, government schools, welfare programs, the DMV, and so on) tend to focus on groups of people rather than individuals. Progressives dismiss conservative policies as uncaring – “you’re on your own” policies of negligence designed to hurt the less fortunate. But paradoxically, the progressive, collectivist policies are the ones that do real harm to the underclass, and everyone else. Progressives say we should work together to help those in need. They have a point, but how we do that is extremely important. Welfare is not the same as charity, and the difference is critical.

When someone has a serious problem, it is important to emphasize to that person that he is important to his friends and family, he is important to God, and his actions are important – he can fix this, and there are people who will help him, but he must fix this. Most self-help programs like Alcoholics Anonymous focus on this very concept. But telling him that he is simply part of a disadvantaged group and that it is the responsibility of some other group to fix his problems is poison. Telling someone who has a serious problem that their individual initiative has no impact on their future is worse than mean – it kills their soul. Progressive policies dehumanize people. Welfare systems lead to drug abuse, the breakdown of the family, and loss of social mobility. This is not a coincidence, and I would argue that it’s not an accident, either. The progressive movement needs angry mobs to be effective. If it can’t find them, it creates them.

We need leadership that recognizes the sovereignty of the individual. Leaders who judge the next budget, or a proposed bill, or a decision of a court, simply by asking themselves, “Does this increase or decrease the importance of the individual?” There will be other factors in their decision making. But that should be a central question to any political decision.

It seems counter-intuitive. But if an organization of individuals emphasizes the importance of the organization but neglects the importance of the individual, then that organization will come to an end.

And when it ends, it’s explosive.

There are 20 comments.

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  1. Ralphie Member

    Eric Hoffer’s “True Believer” seems to be one of the best explainations of mass movements, and the protester.

    Conservatives generally don’t march and protest. I don’t see the sense in it, except it seems more than anything today as a childish temper tantrum. If there really was something to protest about it is government, and it seems the protesters want government to be bigger and more powerful.

    Bureaucracies’ missions are furthering the bureacracy, not the mission stated. The local lady who works there is probably a model employee. Her disconnect of the people is the same as those who post on facebook to complain about their disability checks and how hard it is to live on them. It doesn’t seem to dawn on a lot of them, that they have friends who pay taxes to support those programs. 

    I think Hoffer said it is easier to love humanity as a whole, than to love one’s neighbor.

    I think God holds me accountable for what I’ve done and left undone, and he holds those in leadership roles accountable also.

     

     

    • #1
    • March 25, 2018, at 12:13 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  2. MarciN Member

    A really outstanding essay. It is profound.

    I’m reading C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and he would agree with you that Christ elevated the individual to importance. (Of course, that also means one cannot hide in the crowd. :-) )

    I’ve been wondering if the other major world religions do so–Hinduism, Islam, or Buddhism. I suddenly wish I knew more about them.

    • #2
    • March 25, 2018, at 1:54 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. low key Inactive

    Dr. Bastiat: If an individual is important to God, simply as an individual, then that individual must be extremely important. Jesus was a radical for promoting such craziness. You can understand why the Romans feared him – he was directly challenging the sovereignty of the Roman Empire over the people they sought to control.

    I was listening to Jordan Peterson’s new book (Chapter 8) today and he emphasizes how truly revolutionary this concept was. I love Thomas Sowell’s comment that poverty (historically normal) does not need an explanation, wealth (the exception) does. Peterson makes a similar remark that Christianity, and it’s emphasis on the individual, was responsible for replacing slavery (a fact of life for all of human history) with freedom for all individuals (not just the powerful, rich, etc).

    • #3
    • March 25, 2018, at 3:05 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  4. JoelB Member

    Outstanding essay. It sounds as if the concept of “the people’s land” does not differ much from that of the “Royal Lands” where a peasant could be executed for poaching the king’s game.

    The state hates the idea that a person could hold allegiance to a higher authority which could call its actions into question. That is behind much of the hatred against Christians, the Bible, and Jews as well.

    • #4
    • March 25, 2018, at 4:01 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  5. Brady Allen Member

    This could become Chapter One of a very heavy book entitled “Leftists Hate”.

    Followed by Leftists Hate Prosperity

    Leftists Hate Responsibility,

    Leftists Hate Freedom, and so on.

     

    • #5
    • March 26, 2018, at 6:59 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  6. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    Brady Allen (View Comment):

    This could become Chapter One of a very heavy book entitled “Leftists Hate”.

    Followed by Leftists Hate Prosperity,

    Leftists Hate Responsibility,

    Leftists Hate Freedom, and so on.

    Haters gotta hate…

    • #6
    • March 26, 2018, at 7:11 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Ralphie Member

    Brady Allen (View Comment):

    This could become Chapter One of a very heavy book entitled “Leftists Hate”.

    Followed by Leftists Hate Prosperity,

    Leftists Hate Responsibility,

    Leftists Hate Freedom, and so on.

    The book called “Leftists Love” would have one chapter and be a one word one pager.

    Themselves

    • #7
    • March 26, 2018, at 7:14 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  8. TempTime Member

    Excellent! Thank you.

    • #8
    • March 26, 2018, at 7:17 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. Pony Convertible Member

    Dr. Bastiat:

    When someone has a serious problem, it is important to emphasize to that person that he is important to his friends and family, he is important to God, and his actions are important – he can fix this, and there are people who will help him, but he must fix this. Most self-help programs like Alcoholics Anonymous focus on this very concept. But telling him that he is simply part of a disadvantaged group and that it is the responsibility of some other group to fix his problems is poison. Telling someone who has a serious problem that their individual initiative has no impact on their future is worse than mean – it kills their soul.

    I think this is the biggest problem I have with Progressive policies, social justice, or whatever name you call categorizing people into victim groups. If you tell a kid from the time he is an infant that he cannot get ahead because of something he has no control over, why would the kid ever try to improve his situation? Why study? Why start out with a low paying job when you will never move up?

    If you teach them that taking responsibility is hopeless, why would they take responsibility?

    You are right, it is poison, and it’s killing our society.

    • #9
    • March 26, 2018, at 8:41 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. Larry3435 Member

    What a beautifully written post, Doc!

    If I may paraphrase Robert Heinlein, “A mob is a life form with a hundred bellies and no brain.”

    • #10
    • March 26, 2018, at 8:46 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  11. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    The Left likes to transform individualist into selfish egoist, aka a Randroid. That is false, and something we must constantly reject. Individualists care about other people as individuals, not at as groups. I do not care about the amorphous group called “blacks”, I care about the many individual black people I have interacted with. This involves some element of moral judgement of the person. Are they decent, upstanding people? What have they done in the past? Have they been trustworthy in their interactions with me?

    Everyone has some general stereotypes that are useful in initial encounters. Is this person likely rob or harass me? Do they look crazy? The left, for all its talk, stops there. That is why they are always astonished that conservatives act like human beings, and is outraged when black people are conservatives.

     

    • #11
    • March 26, 2018, at 10:54 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  12. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Very pleased with your essay overall. And thrilled to read the sentence that today’s Catholic Church is not at all as it was in the 1500’s.

    There was a discussion on a youtube video about life back in King Edward’s time, right before he died and Queen Mary took the throne. A young woman postulated that she couldn’t understand why people had been willing to kill each other and to die due to differences between the Protestants and the Catholics. On its face, that now seems like a reasonable attitude.

    But back in the day, the Catholics were decadently sinful. The priests and monks in England had a flourishing economy based on their extracting wealth from every level of society. The pauper paid his cent at Mass; the nobleman or lady paid their indulgences to wipe out X amount of days that otherwise would have been spent in Purgatory. (this would cost them a small fortune.) It was not unusual for a group of seven to nine monks having 20 servants or more. Court life abounded with adultery and far worse.

    The Catholic Church clergy and followers were even more extravagant in the court of the kings of France. And the French wars over religion went on far longer and were far more bloody than even what the English experienced. All in all, not a good time to be a human invested in either faith. (Especially given that the situation was always so porous – one year the Catholics were in; the next year they were out and their heads were “Off” and vice versa with the Protestants.)

    • #12
    • March 26, 2018, at 1:22 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    The Left likes to transform individualist into selfish egoist, aka a Randroid. That is false, and something we must constantly reject. Individualists care about other people as individuals, not at as groups. I do not care about the amorphous group called “blacks”, I care about the many individual black people I have interacted with. This involves some element of moral judgement of the person. Are they decent, upstanding people? What have they done in the past? Have they been trustworthy in their interactions with me?

    Everyone has some general stereotypes that are useful in initial encounters. Is this person likely rob or harass me? Do they look crazy? The left, for all its talk, stops there. That is why they are always astonished that conservatives act like human beings, and is outraged when black people are conservatives.

    And so few on the liberal side of things understand that although the Democrat Party slogans are so wonderfully caring about all ethnic groups, in the end, the Dem leaders have been far more likely to veto a 1960’s Civil Rights Act. Also, Dem business owners are reluctant to actually hire people of color when someone who is not white shows up at the door of the firm they own.

    • #13
    • March 26, 2018, at 1:26 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. DrewInWisconsin, Ham-Fisted Bu… Coolidge

    I’m reminded of the outcry when President Trump announced reductions in the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Monuments in Utah. The complaint was that the President was “stealing our land!”

    Image result for Donald Trump Bear EArs

    So apparently, when the government takes land from the people, that’s the same as giving it to the people. But the government returning the land to the people is now “stealing” from the people.

    War is peace. Freedom is Slavery. We have always been at war with Oceania.

    • #14
    • March 26, 2018, at 1:38 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  15. Larry3435 Member

    CarolJoy (View Comment):
    But back in the day, the Catholics were decadently sinful. The priests and monks in England had a flourishing economy based on their extracting wealth from every level of society. The pauper paid his cent at Mass; the nobleman or lady paid their indulgences to wipe out X amount of days that otherwise would have been spent in Purgatory. (this would cost them a small fortune.) It was not unusual for a group of seven to nine monks having 20 servants or more. Court life abounded with adultery and far worse.

    Carol, I’m far from an expert on this, but I have heard a different account which I would like to share. After the Roman Empire fell, depriving medieval Europe of its civil authority, the Church stepped in to take over those responsibilities. The Church was, in many respects, the civil government. In becoming that, it fell prey to the many ills that inevitably afflict civil government, starting with the need for ever more money. It’s hard to blame the Church for that. That always happens. No civil government in the history of the world, whether it be tyranny or democracy, has ever decided that it needed less money to carry out its functions. And, of course, with more money and more power, corruption follows. That was inevitable.

    • #15
    • March 26, 2018, at 1:42 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    Larry3435 (View Comment):

    CarolJoy (View Comment):
    But back in the day, the Catholics were decadently sinful. The priests and monks in England had a flourishing economy based on their extracting wealth from every level of society. The pauper paid his cent at Mass; the nobleman or lady paid their indulgences to wipe out X amount of days that otherwise would have been spent in Purgatory. (this would cost them a small fortune.) It was not unusual for a group of seven to nine monks having 20 servants or more. Court life abounded with adultery and far worse.

    Carol, I’m far from an expert on this, but I have heard a different account which I would like to share. After the Roman Empire fell, depriving medieval Europe of its civil authority, the Church stepped in to take over those responsibilities. The Church was, in many respects, the civil government. In becoming that, it fell prey to the many ills that inevitably afflict civil government, starting with the need for ever more money. It’s hard to blame the Church for that. That always happens. No civil government in the history of the world, whether it be tyranny or democracy, has ever decided that it needed less money to carry out its functions. And, of course, with more money and more power, corruption follows. That was inevitable.

    Any organization of human beings is likely to struggle with the fundamental flaws of human beings. The church is a group of men. Men are flawed. No further explanation needed. 

    • #16
    • March 26, 2018, at 1:55 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    So apparently, when the government takes land from the people, that’s the same as giving it to the people. But the government returning the land to the people is now “stealing” from the people.

    This is all so confusing. I’m not smart enough to be a progressive.

    • #17
    • March 26, 2018, at 2:27 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Ralphie Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    Any organization of human beings is likely to struggle with the fundamental flaws of human beings. The church is a group of men. Men are flawed. No further explanation needed. 

    After I served as a church treasurer, I decided I like going to church services better. Meetings can become tests of will, and mainly the work is done by volunteers who have different levels of abilities. Trying to get others to understand tax issues or why the organist is not a contract laborer, is tiring.

    • #18
    • March 26, 2018, at 8:01 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. RansomReed Coolidge

    brilliant! excellently articulated! 

     

    • #19
    • March 27, 2018, at 10:49 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Larry3435 (View Comment):

    CarolJoy (View Comment):
    But back in the day, the Catholics were decadently sinful. The priests and monks in England had a flourishing economy based on their extracting wealth from every level of society. The pauper paid his cent at Mass; the nobleman or lady paid their indulgences to wipe out X amount of days that otherwise would have been spent in Purgatory. (this would cost them a small fortune.) It was not unusual for a group of seven to nine monks having 20 servants or more. Court life abounded with adultery and far worse.

    Carol, I’m far from an expert on this, but I have heard a different account which I would like to share. After the Roman Empire fell, depriving medieval Europe of its civil authority, the Church stepped in to take over those responsibilities. The Church was, in many respects, the civil government. In becoming that, it fell prey to the many ills that inevitably afflict civil government, starting with the need for ever more money. It’s hard to blame the Church for that. That always happens. No civil government in the history of the world, whether it be tyranny or democracy, has ever decided that it needed less money to carry out its functions. And, of course, with more money and more power, corruption follows. That was inevitable.

    Well I am recounting historical events in an effort to stem the more popular meme alive today that “well, the religions today are so similar – why would anyone have died for this faith or that one?” The fact is that when King Henry blamed the Church for these matters, which includes wide spread corruption and the Church’s alliance with armaments makers, a large part of the population supported him. Hardly surprising when a person looks at what was also happening on the Continent, as populations there broke with the Church in support of the teachings of Martin Luther.

    The fact that while even though many of the previously Faithful did support the Reformers, many didn’t and that led to how so many places in the 16th and on into the 17th Centuries experienced what were continual Civil Wars. The various religious purges allowed for a huge loss of life due to the animosity between the groups.

    Whether “I” blame the Church or not is not the point. The historical fact is that populations in many countries were tired of the decadence and corruption surrounding the Church. And hardly a single soul in our modern culture would consider agreeing that the Spanish Inquisition was the proper and noble course of action.

    • #20
    • March 27, 2018, at 12:32 PM PDT
    • 1 like

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