The love-hate dichotomy rears its ugly head again in the wake of the Paris attacks. The attackers, we are told, were motivated by Hate, and Hate can only be defeated by Love. Thus, the peoples of the West must not respond to the atrocity with Hate, but with Love. Whatever that means.
Concretely, what Love seems to demand is mostly inaction: we must not engage in reprisals against Muslims; we must not abridge the freedoms of Muslims; and we absolutely must not at all abate the importation of more Muslims from abroad. In terms of positive action, we must “come together,” sing “Imagine,” and overlay the French flag on our profile pictures.
With respect to ISIS itself, the consensus is that it must be destroyed. The attack in Paris was not the work of human beings but of Hateful monsters; ISIS is Hate incarnate. The main differences of opinion on this matter concern precisely how ISIS is to be destroyed and whether this should happen before or after giving whiny college students more money and privilege.
In one respect, ISIS must be congratulated: to have raised the ire of the Left so much as to be officially dehumanized. Not even Dylan Roof or Anders Breivik, the Ku Klux Klan or Westboro Baptist Church has done something worthy of dehumanization. As a rule, the Left protests against dehumanization, but it will make an exception for sufficiently Hateful brown people after they have murdered a sufficient number of people who believe they are white.
I’m personally not holding my breath for anything positive to come out of this whole debacle, but at least the Left is going on another of its Love-Hate rants, which provides additional data for interpretation. The more insanity they spout, the easier it is to understand their psychology, so by all means let them spout on!
The radical dehumanization of ISIS is a particularly interesting development. According to the Left, all peoples, ideologies, and movements in history touched by Hate—which is to say, everyone except the Left—throve and continue to thrive on the notion of the Other. The Other is less than human, which is to say that it is permissible to kill him. The Other defines the in-group by opposition; the Other and the in-group constitute a dichotomy.
Any observation that Leftism is exactly the same as what it decries is completely inapt. The Left claims that there is nothing worth killing anyone over. Driving them out of society and into poverty or throwing them in rape cages for years, those might be acceptable ways to deal with the Hateful, but killing is never acceptable. In the abstract the Left makes some exceptions to this rule—racist Southerners in the 1860s and racist Germans in the 1940s—but the present form of Leftism emerged after those people were dead or otherwise subjugated, so these exceptions never had a chance to become concrete. Come to think of it, there’s about eighty years between those two moments, and the Nazis were defeated almost eighty years ago; we seem to be due for another group the Left is willing to kill.
Islam is a natural enemy for the Left: Leftism is a supremely Western ideology, and Islam is supremely anti-Western. The Middle East was the only part of the world the West did not conquer before the 20th century. Islam opposes the Left on almost every single issue: feminism, homosexuality, democracy, Science, etc. The main point of agreement between Islam and Leftism is hostility toward Christianity.
At this point in the conflict between East and West, the only remaining institutions Islam can attack are Leftist ones. This leads to two disheartening conclusions: on the one hand, the defense of the West is now completely in the hands of people whose hearts aren’t really in it; on the other, defense of the West now consists in defense of the Left. The only bright side is that, one way or another, Leftism cannot survive such a situation.
Leftism as an ideology is grounded in, as Schmitt would put it, the denial of the political. Universalism is one way to describe this principle; anti-thedism is another; the upshot is inversion of the in-group/out-group dichotomy, the privileging of the Other over one’s own people, the forming of a new identity through conscious rejection of one’s natural identity. It is not hard to see why a society ruled by Leftists is incapable of self-defense: they can only gin up hostility against their own people, not against outsiders.
Getting back to Love and Hate, let’s look at a quotation people have been throwing around: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Who said this? If you guessed the 19th century abolitionist Theodore Parker, you’re not far wrong; MLK was engaged in a bit of paraphrasing when he made this utterance. In terms of succinct expressions of Leftism, it is hard to find a superior specimen. Let’s break it down, shall we?
“[T]he moral universe”: somehow, in the completely physical universe started by the Big Bang fourteen billion years ago, there is also a moral component that takes interest in the affairs of humans. As implausible as this may sound, it is the principle behind the notion of soulmates. There exists a unique person for you whose present in your life will bring perfection and sublime happiness. Fortunately, the implausibility of this whole notion means that virtually no one actually believes it.
Rather, the universe, including the moral universe, is only a few hundred years old, if that. Precisely when it began depends on whom you ask, but candidate dates include 1964, 1789, 1776, and 1517. These dates are all of significance in Western history because, according to the Left, the West made the past and made it awful, while the future belongs to everyone else.
This is all in the realm of theory, of course. Most people live in a world that is younger than they are.
With this truncated view of history, the notion that the moral universe takes its time at anything means in practice that you shouldn’t expect results immediately. That is about as strong an imperative toward delaying gratification as the Left can muster. Don’t worry; eventually we’ll get to our utopia. Eventually.
Leftists like to claim a monopoly on Love. As tempting as it is, as enemies of the Left, to plant our banners on the opposite side, that of Hate, we would only thereby guarantee our irrelevance. For the Left will pass away. Either it will surrender to Islam and be extirpated by its conquerors, or its adherents will adopt an ideology more suitable to maintaining a society. Either way, the Left is doomed, and the Love-Hate dichotomy along with it.
In other news, I’d like to announce the launch of my own blog, The Katabasis. There I will be publishing additional pieces that for one reason or another just don’t fit here on Social Matter.