The Marxist Left: Turning America Upside Down (III)
A Foreign Ideology Makes Its Way in America
The United States was exceptional in its founding compared to the states of continental Europe because it had no direct experience of feudalism. As Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in Democracy in America:
The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin, their exclusively commercial habits, even the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the pursuit of science, literature, and the arts, the proximity of Europe, which allows them to neglect these pursuits without relapsing into barbarism, a thousand special causes, of which I have only been able to point out the most important, have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the American upon purely practical objects. His passions, his wants, his education, and everything about him seem to unite in drawing the native of the United States earthward; his religion alone bids him turn, from time to time, a transient and distracted glance to heaven. Let us cease, then, to view all democratic nations under the example of the American people.
Americans have always been a practical, industrious, and moral people, more preoccupied with living their own humble lives than pursuing power or some vain dream. But intellectuals grew frustrated with the tendency of average citizens to ignore grandiose ideas, to suspect abstraction and philosophizing as idle pursuits, and to esteem doers and creators more than academics and technocratic managers.
The left, driven by envy, narcissism, and an ahistorical hatred of the evils of the past could only see America, the national embodiment of capitalism, as a failed system. The country was an incubator of past sins because of its “flawed” Constitution rather than a liberator; as such it was not the standard bearer of an ideal gradually emancipating peoples according to the inherent dictates of the Founders’ philosophy, but a let-down according to the otherworldly standards of utopian socialism. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” as the Obama campaign once put it. Because if an ideal articulated by a nation’s founders was leading the world into the light, what room did that leave for the egoistic radicals who sought their own “fair share” of worldly glory?
The left thus began to teach aesthetic critiques of capitalist “society,” twisting the practice of using capital as a way to voluntarily exchange goods and services between people into the source of all evil in the world. But imagine a world without capital. What has changed? Without real capital, a method of protecting, exchanging, and transporting property value, people are at the mercy of the state. This is the kind of pure power the left secretly craves.