In Europe some time during the 17th and 18th centuries the class of people who were known after 1789 as “the left” made the shocking discovery that the world is not perfect: not even all it might be but should be and, indeed, can be. To the leftist mind, this imperfection was unnatural, and therefore rectifiable. Since human nature is naturally good and fair, the left reasoned, something or someone bad must have corrupted it; and that something or someone needed to be identified, named, and blamed. That was the first necessary step toward setting the world to rights. The second was to remove the evil agency from power, punish it, and substitute for it an agency for good—“the people”—to recreate the lost paradise on a basis of universal goodness and justice.
Whom, then, to blame? An obvious candidate—the first one, actually—was the Roman Catholic Church that for nearly two millennia had taught the primary doctrines of Original Sin and man’s radical dependency on God the Creator, both of which directly denied the proto-liberals’ assurance of mankind’s innate goodness and man’s ability to function, indeed to thrive, unaided by a Deity. Yet the Roman Church had already been challenged, and in some countries replaced, by other churches—and still all was not well, let alone perfect. The Protestants had not succeeded in bringing down Heaven to Earth, or taking Earth up to Heaven. Perfection was still to be attained. So who was to blame for that? Clearly, another evil lurked behind the Vatican. And Who Else could this Evil be but God—and the primitive and backward belief in Him? Thus in 1789 the left in France dethroned God, destroyed His cult, and replaced both with the worship of Man and his Rights. But Republican France was canceled a short time after and succeeded by the Empire, which ended in the restoration of the Bourbons and the return of the ancient French nobility. (Napoleon had made a separate peace with the Church.) All this was a setback, and a hard one; but in no time at all the Restoration was un-restored, and a series of republican governments—and another Napoleonic empire—succeeded the Bourbon kings. Meanwhile, the left had been making progress elsewhere on the Continent, even against the hoary constitutional monarchy across the English Channel. Its success was the result of several continuing developments. The first two were the scientific and industrial revolutions that encouraged a materialist view of the world and the universe and a reciprocal decline in religious sensibility and religious belief. The third, directly related to them, was the growing realization that Church and Throne, and more generally the aristocratic class they represented, while deplorable, were the secondary or even tertiary causes of the world’s manifold imperfections, miseries, and injustices. More than symptoms, they were yet far from lying at the root of a deformed world, which necessarily owed its deformation to far broader and more generalized agencies. To understand why the world was the terrible place it was, one had to consider what categories of persons had really ruled it since the beginning of recorded time, who had been its chief directors and operators, and who had benefitted most throughout history from the enjoyment of full control and the power and money that control confers on the controllers. The most empirically obvious answer to hand was “Men”; and so the 19th century had not progressed very far before, in the more enlightened countries (the young United States and England in particular) of the West, a proto-feminist movement was underway, demanding female suffrage and the moderation and eventual abolition of “paternalism,” partly in recognition of the equal “dignity” of women but also to alleviate a range of evils—from war to slavery (including the sort of slavery called prostitution) to domestic violence and intemperance—it attributed directly to the male sex.
Active people are the people who do things, and males, for biological and temperamental reasons, have played a notably more active role in history than females have. But to act is to produce some effect in the world, and to produce an effect of any kind is to invite, in addition to praise, honor, and glory, criticism, dishonor, opprobrium—and blame. History is the record of human actions, and hence predominantly the record of male activity. So much to hold men accountable—to blame men—for: in the premodern era war, rapine, looting and plundering, slavery, genocide, repressive religion and intolerance, patriarchy, sexism, polygamy and the harem; in more recent times imperialism and genocide, industrialism, capitalism, white male science, arts, and learning, the environmental destruction wrought by male ideas of progress, and still, after so many millennia, sexism! And there is more: Because history is action, and because intellectually, scientifically, and socially advanced societies are more adventurous in the world than passive ones, they have made, as they continue to make, a historically greater impact on the more quiescent, less innovative, and less adventurous societies than these have made on them. Finally, as the active societies have typically been (following the period of empire building by Eastern, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Near Asian civilizations) European societies and their extensions across the New World, in their case the left has narrowed, rather than widened, its range of historically blamable people from all males everywhere to white European males, living and dead.
The God of Israel held the whole of Israel—men, women, children, and even animals—accountable for her misdeeds, and wreaked vengeance upon an entire nation, not a portion of it. Not so Sarah Jeong, the young Korean-born immigrant recently installed on the editorial board of the New York Times who tweeted in 2013-14, “oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men”; “#CancelWhitePeople”; “White people have stopped breeding. you’ll all go extinct soon. that was my plan all along”; and “I open my mouth to politely greet a Republican, but nothing but an unending cascade of vomit flows from my face.” Because justifiable blame points, does it not, to justifiable vengeance? (Except among Christians, of course.) And vengeance is what the left has always sought, relentlessly and unremittingly, against what it views as the historically oppressive groups, categories, and classes. (The superadded prejudice against “old men” reflects their special culpability for having been born in a pre-enlightened era whose values they perpetuate, and for presiding for so many of their allotted three-score years and ten over a world that is allegedly the wicked work of mature males. President Franklin Roosevelt’s condemnation of the “nine old men” on the Supreme Court was more than a half-century ahead of its time; while Joy Behar’s complaint on The View that “white men, old, by the way” in the Senate were protecting a man “probably guilty” of sexual assault 36 years earlier conveniently, but in her eyes no doubt reasonably, overlooked her own age—she is three years older than President Trump, who is 13 years younger than Dianne Feinstein. Had liberals no other reason to hate God and announce His death, the conception of Him as an old white man would be sufficient.)
Also from 1789 onward, the left has ushered a great and devouring hatred into the world, drawing from a bottomless well of implacable resentment and anger that produced the Terror in the final decade of the 18th century (the “Age of Reason,” they call it), the many murderous totalitarian regimes in the 20th that killed hundreds of millions, and now in the early 21st century a mass mania supported by lies, unreason, hysteria, and the denial of objective human and metaphysical reality—oddly, by people who idolize science and technology. What explains this hatred? Modern liberals are hardly Frantz Fanon’s wretched of the earth, members of the downtrodden international proletariat, the victims of existing societies and of history. The large majority of them, rather, are middle- and upper-middle-class persons, comfortably off and with good jobs, educated at good schools, well-paid, and well-positioned in society. Hitherto in history, revolutionary rage arose from deprivation. But of what have enraged postliberals—so “post-” they hardly qualify as liberals at all—been deprived? And who are the villains who deprived them of it? The answers seem to be, in their minds, first their humanity, and, second, all the principal actors across the untold socially warped and twisted generations who created, shaped, and dominated the world into which they were born and which they despise because it is not the world they would have made, had they happened to be walking about during previous millennia.
The truth is, the left has been its own despoiler from the beginning, and with increasing fervor and efficiency as it grew, developed, aged, and matured into infancy. Infants know nothing of the world they arrive in; leftists less than nothing by the time they depart it. Historically, leftism has been a global educational apparatus whose project is to inspire, teach, and midwife revolution (violent, if necessary) and whose curriculum is the incitement and cultivation of envy and resentment and the progressive discovery and exploration of a glorious unreality, the more so for its being an imaginative triumph over the true imagination that is grounded in an unshakable sense of reality. Over nearly three centuries, the left has deliberately divested itself of everything real, beginning with God, and going on to everything human that depends on, and is inseparable from, Him. Driven by metaphysical hatred, the left has created a wasteland and called it Paradise. Wastelands are happy places for nothing but scorpions, lizards, snakes, and vultures. And so, out of this Great Hatred arose the Great Unhappiness, the Great Despair that is the dominating mood of the postmodern world—especially perhaps in America, once considered by Americans to be God’s Country but today the Land of the School-Shooter. Unhappiness begets anger, anger hatred, and hatred indulges itself for solace and weaponizes itself as an imagined cure. Self-deceiving and self-serving assurances from liberal politicians and intellectuals that the world is better off, more fulfilled, and happier than at any previous time in history, and that the “progress” ensured by liberal-democratic-capitalism will inevitably make it better still, are only lies, and everyone with the exception of liberal politicians and liberal intellectuals knows it. It may be, indeed, that the world has never been unhappier than now, in the postmodern age, when utopian leftism has cynically encouraged hopes and desires it can never satisfy, and made promises it can never fulfill.
It is quite possible that we do not live, mentally, in a future world of our collective imagination, a science-fiction world, but rather in the present one—yet not as this world actually is but as we, under the influence of the liberal lie, falsely imagine and perceive it to be today: alive and swollen like a pregnant belly with the fanciful potential the liberal dream invests it with. If that is so, then contemporary leftists’ furious frustration may well result from the disconnection they perceive between the world of experience that remains fundamentally real and unchanged in its essentials despite liberals’ best efforts to replace them with something else, and their misperception of the world as having been substantially liberalized already—partially transformed into the actually unrealizable liberal image of it. Naturally, they resent the gap between the two that liberals can only attribute to the continued resistance by the dinosaurs (white, male, and old) who owned and operated the old unredeemed world and whom they hold responsible in a deeply personal way for preventing the new one from emerging rapidly and completely. (Their famous historical dialectic has always concealed how very personal and emotional for Marxists Marxism really is.) Modern liberal society, in the positivist United States especially, assigns personal blame for every bad thing that happens; quite logically in its view, since it believes the world and everything in it are naturally good, no vengeful God exists to persecute His subjects from on high, and therefore good things only should happen to good people. And personal blame cries out for a very personal punishment, whether individual or collective. This is what the left means by “social justice,” which implies the politics of retribution and revenge: revenge for alleged crimes committed by certain classes of persons and their representatives against “the people” and against “humanity” that, having no historical force or human reality, are really only demonic lies.