Moral Agents And Leftist Strategy

     I slept late this morning – that’s right, I snored on until the unGodly late hour of 4:30 AM — so I’m a bit behind on my news-reading. Nevertheless, our favorite Bookworm’s latest piece has stirred my mental cauldron, and I must “write it out” before it can divert me from my other duties.

     Bookworm draws two compelling analogies between Leftist “thinking” and other phenomena. The first:

     We’ve been installing new vinyl flooring over the broken, ugly tiles in the bathroom. The process requires that, after placing the board in position, you get a large mallet and strike the edges really hard to lock the boards together. My dog recognized that this hammering was an act of violence but, instead of attacking the person wielding the mallet, he kept attacking the mallet itself.

     It occurred to me that leftists have the same primitive thought process as dogs when it comes to guns. Guns, like mallets, are just a tool. It’s the person wielding the gun, whether carelessly or malevolently, that takes an inanimate object and transforms it into something dangerous.

     As Robert A. Heinlein said, “There are no dangerous weapons; there are only dangerous men.”

     This is not because Leftists can’t comprehend what’s actually happening. It proceeds from other sources. Starting in the 1960s, it became au courant for left-inclined judges to attack traditional justice. They preferred to blame crime on “society” in one guise or another. A vogue arose, especially among judges from the school of “Critical Legal Studies,” to treat perpetrators as largely not responsible for their own actions. Sentences shortened and softened drastically. Paroles became ever easier to get. And crime rates soared.

     But the Left never, ever admits a mistake. In the case of crimes of violence, it swiftly redirected its ire toward guns. Why attack the perpetrator when it’s so much easier to attack something that can’t fight back? Especially as that averts the need to admit that they’d been wrong.

     Bookworm’s second observation:

     My second analogy came about because of the madness attendant upon San Francisco attacking Lowell High School, the oldest school west of the Mississippi, one of the best public schools in America, and a school that requires high academic standards as a prerequisite for admission. In my day, you had to grade into Lowell from junior high school. Nowadays, kids have to test into Lowell.

     The problem for the left is that black students don’t get into Lowell at the same rate as other students….Flush with the success of the Black Lives Matter movement and the Wuhan virus to move all the meters in America, several San Francisco commissioners put together a resolution aimed at ending Lowell’s special academic status and turning it into just another lousy San Francisco public high school.

     This destructive impulse, of course, is typical for leftists. Rather than raise people up, they tear everything down.

     But of course! The Leftist mantra is “equity:” i.e., equality of outcomes rather than of opportunities. But as William E. Simon noted in A Time for Truth:

     Egalitarianism is a morbid assault on both ability and justice. Its goal is not to enhance individual achievement; it is to level all men. There is, of course, only one way to level men. One levels them downward; mediocrity does not stretch.

     For it is just as impossible for Leftists to admit an unpleasant fact about one of their coalition-constituencies – in this case, Negroes – as to admit to having made a mistake about crime and justice. The typical Negro public-school inmate studies far less than his white and Asian counterparts. He has, on average, a lower degree of innate intelligence with which to approach scholastic material. Perhaps worst of all, his home situation is frequently indifferent or antagonistic to concentration and study. But these facts cannot be permitted to intrude into a discussion of why Negro youths are “under-represented” in elite schools. It’s much more profitable politically to blame it all on “racism.”

     The strategy these approaches delineate could hardly be plainer. The effect is to take moral agency – the responsibility for one’s own decisions and their consequences – out of the picture.

     If men are not moral agents, then we can be reduced to clients of the State. We can be relieved of all responsibility for ourselves. Of course, that entails surrendering all freedom of choice. Our lives can be arranged for us from the first to the last detail. Nor need the State attend to our complaints about the consequences.

     Virtually the whole of this strategy for attaining and maintaining power rests on the rejection of verifiable facts. Unpleasant facts must be excluded from all public discourse. Anyone who dares to mention them must be excoriated unto utter silence…preferably, an imposed inability to speak. The approach combines a form of political solipsism with a heavy admixture of ad hominem assaults on those who seek to violate the Left’s constraints on discourse.

     As I wrote at Bookworm’s place, Leftists like to define “problems” – in actuality, conditions arising from human nature itself – in a fashion that renders them absolutely insoluble, and then demand that they be “solved:” by the State, that Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnibenevolent Father that’s replaced God in their conceptions. When their “solutions” fail, they’re amplified, broadened, and given more money and other resources. It’s a perfect formula for the indefinite expansion of government and government power: the Leftist goal that trumps other goals.

     Sadly, we in the Right have a share of the blame to bear. We speak of “compassion” where there is none, and “virtue signaling” where virtue is absent. We speak of “good intentions gone wrong,” when the true error was to imagine that the Left had any intentions other than increasing its power. And we speak of “economic ignorance” and “historical ignorance,” when in point of fact the Left’s strategists know perfectly well what they’re doing. All these exculpations are attempts by good-hearted people to persuade themselves that the Left is no less good-hearted than are they.

     Whether we are willing to admit the malice of our adversaries is a test of our own moral agency. To this point, we have failed it.