A century ago, Austrian novelist Robert Musil wrote a masterpiece, “The Man Without Qualities,” describing the “second reality” that the ideologue creates out of his imagination so he can settle in comfortably in his web of lies and never have to live in, or even look at, reality again. This serves the purpose both of self-deception and of mass deception and manipulation.
The construction of an “alternate reality” with a different logic and different content is required for the successful ideology. Why? Because reality poses a problem for the power-hungry politician. Reality recognizes the power-lust as a vice, as old as Satan. In order to turn it into a virtue, the ideologue must jettison large parts of reality — human nature, history, tradition, natural law, logic, and religion, to name a few. Marx does this with ease: the past is evil, the future (beyond the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat) is good.
When this conversion of reality is complete, the ideologue can be comfortable, even celebrated, his power-lust unscathed. Why do we hear so often from the left about the “decade of greed,” but nothing about the century of power-lust? Because greed is bad, and the ideologue attacks it in order to foment envy. Power-lust, however, is fine. Necessary, even (but now a good, not a necessary evil).
Once the ideologue destroys the traditional content of reality, he must replace it with something new. Try as he may, he cannot destroy morality — so he must make his argument in “moral” terms (terms that he privately hates). The “dream world” that he creates uses language that once had a solid meaning, but in the “second reality” it acquires another, contradictory meaning.. This is vexing but necessary. Ever since Confucius, civilized men have understood that, when words lose their meaning, chaos ensues.
Well, for the ideologue, this is progress. He thrives on chaos.
Even the most hardened ideologue possesses a human nature that he cannot cast off (even though he defies it). Thus he possesses a moral sense of what our founders called “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” He rebels against it, of course. When the revolutionary, like Prometheus, roars, “I hate all the gods,” he is defying divine law while being unable to escape from it. He is forced (by the reality he hates) to replace the entire structure of nature and creation with an artifice that fits his revolutionary ends, yet uses language that his ideological victims will swallow. But his goal is destruction of all that he hates.
In order to achieve this goal, the ideologue must acquire the throne of power — the one that was once occupied, in the natural law, by “Nature’s God.” Satan, the first revolutionary, put to Eve the temptation in its classical form: “You shall be as gods.” As the father of lies, he later surveys all the powers of the world for Christ in the desert, and promises, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” (Luke 4: 5—8)
The temptation has not lost its luster over 2000 years. In modern times, Kant, Hegel, and Marx have bestowed upon the preening revolutionary the intellectual roadmap for his seizure of power. The notion of “consciousness-raising” is taken literally here: the revolutionary embraces the ideology, and, in doing so, is imbued with a consciousness that is of a higher order than that of everyone else (Orwell put it this way in Animal Farm: “All pigs are equal, but some pigs are more equal than others.”) Armed with the authority of a higher consciousness, the revolutionary is empowered not only to lead, but also to critique, caustically and contemptuously, all the lower classes and their modes of thinking. For the Marxist-Leninist, this also requires devastating attacks on the real enemy — the members of other competing leftist movements. Why? Because, while the “laws of history” (which replace the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God) will make the disappearance of the bourgeois state inevitable, they will not make this or that particular ideologue’s triumph inevitable.
Just ask Trotsky.
For the left, the real issue is power. For the old regime, the issues were an ordered society, one that reflected its sense of truth, tradition, and virtue. For the revolutionary, all that is literally “unreal.”
The revolutionary, with his super-human consciousness, has the right to kill at will. His entire life boils down to tactics aimed at achieving power, not truth. Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and Mao made it clear that bloodthirsty, violent revolutionary conquest could alter the truth whenever the “correlation of forces” required. The first order of business, however, was to seize power, the better to destroy all competition by killing most of one’s competitors and terrorizing the rest.
Frank Meyer once explained how his former American communist colleagues took over labor unions by staying at the meetings until the normal working folks had to go home. Finally, long after midnight, those who stayed, including all the communists, would vote (Frank was a famous “night person”). They then spoke in the name of the “working class,” but in the meantime would brook no dissent from Lunchpail Joe.
Like Frank’s co-conspirators (yes, folks, that was a real conspiracy), the neocon left has hijacked the “conservative” Republican party without ever walking a precinct, running for the town council, or attending a convention (unless they were in the press box). Their dialectic is eminently suited to the temper of the times, and constantly changes as the times and the correlation of forces demand. Like Alice in Wonderland, we marvel at their dizzying dance: “Words mean what I say they mean,” says Humpty Dumpty — confirming Confucius’s worst fears.
George Bush might be sitting at the table, but it is fair to say he is not theoretically engaged in this enterprise. His habits of mind do not include the independent prudential powers and analytical tools necessary to descry the “second reality” that his chosen circle of ideologues have created, into which they want to drag America and, eventually, the rest of the world, kicking and screaming (and dying), if necessary. His inner circle knows well how to appeal to (that’s putting it mildly) his desire to appear resolute and unflinching, but, dare we observe, the dustbin of history is full of the remains of tyrants who demonstrated those qualities, along with a certain demonic urge that led only to violence and destruction.
Poor W. Our Ozymandias.
The left has always believed that progress emerges only through the dialectic of destruction. In short order, they have destroyed our Constitution, hounded our faith, traditions, and virtues out of public life, and installed their secular civil religion, complete with their own pantheon of secular saints. “All the better to eat you with, my dear.”
“You shall be as gods… worship before me.” Big Brother couldn’t do any better.
But the ideologue’s “second reality,” even though it boasts of inevitability, must crumble, as all falsehoods eventually do. Then the ideologue’s “dream world” becomes the people’s nightmare. In the brief time that he is in power, he must spin out an ever-expanding tissue of lies — and mayhem.
This explains the apparent contradiction of today’s leftist “big-government” conservative celebrated by the neocons. This new intellectual historical class — called forth by the latest “correlation of forces” — insists that our evil enemies “hate us because we are free, because we are so much more advanced than they are.” When he says this, he means it: he believes in inevitable progress, and that he is at the cutting edge of it. In his world, envy is the engine of revolution, and his superiority is so well-established in the ideology that no one can legitimately deny his claim. Of course our enemies envy us — we are so good, and they are so evil. Soon the whole world will envy us — no matter. They are evil too.
“If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” “They envy us, in our glory and our progress. What — they will not worship at our shrine of imperialist democracy? They shall taste our power.” The traditional concepts of limits, humility, and a fallen human nature common to every man — where every king was just as much a sinner as the lowest plowman, and just as susceptible to temptation — has to be destroyed. The revolutionary can admit no error, lest he be annihilated.
The critical element in the ideological vocabulary of the neocon “leftist conservative” is this: for Hegel and his Trotskyite progeny — the materialist secular leftists who constitute the neocon leadership — history is “the movement of the concept.” The concept matures, conjures up its negation, and both are then annihilated (the “negation of the negation”) by what Hegel called the “Aufhebung,” which means both destruction and lifting up.
This is often referred to (somewhat inaccurately) in the popular jargon as “thesis-antithesis-synthesis.” But the synthesis is the historically new dimension of reality made possible by the destruction of both the “thesis” and the “antithesis.”
My fellow Americans, we are the thesis, the concept, the idea that they intend to destroy with their imperial future.
In the view of the leftist conservatives, the free world — Christendom — conjured up its historical contradiction (its negation), revolutionary totalitarianism culminating in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union has now disintegrated. To the neocon “leftist conservative,” this is not sufficient. The “thesis” — our America of limited government, a thriving free market, and a virtuous, free people, respectful of others in the world — must also be negated, destroyed, just as the Soviet Union was, so that history can move forward — and inexorably upward. The “synthesis” — the new imperial world order — will emerge from the ruins with the victory of the neocon “second reality” — our nightmare: a secular, decadent, swaggering, cocky, plundering, sensual, immensely powerful worldwide imperial tyranny.
Humpty Dumpty had a way with words, but he also had a great fall. Like Ozymandias. Total destruction. Annihilation. “A new world order.” “Revolutionize the Middle East.” “Secular, decadent, imperial democracy.”
There is no peace at the end of these lies, only more lies. The neocon “leftist conservative” revolutionary, we must recall, does not seek peace, but destruction. Our destruction. Total destruction, followed by his acquisition of totalitarian power.
The revolution devours its own children, but it targets ours as well. As Solzhenitsyn said, “The truth will make you free, but falsehood always brings violence in its wake.”