Sunday, March 30, 2014

Heil, Stalin! Aka, Vodka vs Bourbon

Watching C-SPAN's book TV, as I do every weekend, I found an interesting presentation by a man named Ronald Radosh. I had never heard of him before, but found his presentation amusing and interesting. He was talking about his new book, "Commie". His presentation, in a bright and witty fashion, demolished the bizarre, idiotic and even insane pretensions of the radical left. I knew as I listened to him that I would need to report on this in my blog because he so deeply reflects why I have nothing but contempt for extreme liberals and will not call myself even a moderate liberal.

I found little or nothing to which I could object in regard to any of the points he made, in fact I find them exactly in agreement with the points I make about the radical left. However, being a skeptic born, I found myself wondering if, since he was presenting himself as a reformed addict, he was actually reformed, or if he had instead, as I so greatly feared, merely substituted an equally poisonous, equally mindless, equally bigoted, right-wing extremism.

It didn't take long during the question-and-answer period to determine that he had done exactly that. Mister Radosh, who is so proud of having finally freed himself from the poisonous ideology of extreme left-wing liberalism in which he was raised, has merely substituted the almost identical poisonous ideology of extreme right-wing conservatism.

To put it succinctly, he is so incredibly proud that he is now a reformed vodka drinking alcoholic, but somehow misses the fact that all he has accomplished is to change into an active bourbon drinking alcoholic.

In other words, he has only exchanged one addiction for another. He is just as mindless, just as bigoted, just as determined to refuse to face any facts or realities which contradict him as he ever was. There really is no difference in his condition. He remains as sick as ever. He is the same person he always was. He is a sad, unfortunate, and helpless man. What he is helpless to do is to think clearly. What he is helpless to resist is his own mindless, extremist way of thinking. He is a slave to his own hysterical emotions. He poisons his own intellect.

To use a different analogy, let us go to extreme focus. There was a time in European and American history when people were presented with a forced choice/false dichotomy. Either you were a Nazi because you were anti-Stalinist or you were a Stalinist because you were anti-Nazi. Obviously, there was actually a huge middle ground between these two extremes, but many refused to see it. It has been noted many times by historians there is little difference between a Stalinist and a Nazi in terms of how they treat their citizens or run their countries. The only difference is in the ideologies which provide the justification for their brutal, extremist actions.

It is so sad to see what is clearly a brilliant mind poisoned by ideology. However, I also find this to be quite normal. We find ultra liberals who say they have freed themselves from ultra conservatism as often as vice versa. The real problem never lay in the ideology which this person once believed was so true. The flaw lay in the fact that they were always what Hoffer referred to as True Believers. That is, deeply flawed personality types that are incapable of facing reality and prefer to live in their warped dystopian fantasies.

Perhaps Hoffer should have referred to them as true followers. Although many of them have the intellectual capacity to lead, all too often they lack the emotional security and confidence which is required to understand and think independently. They prefer to surround themselves with the mass of their fellow apes in the troop. Let someone else be the leader. They are only content to follow, securely surrounded by their fellow travelers.

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