You Don’t Know What’s Good for You, But the Left Does
Joe Biden, Merrick Garland, the Democrat Party and the U. S. Left have wormed their way into the bosom of the Romantic radical Rousseau.
Dear friends and supporters,
Observing Attorney General Merrick Garland’s willingness to classify as “domestic terrorists” parents who oppose public school teachers inculcating their children with Critical Race Theory, and Joe Biden’s drumbeat campaign to coerce employers to coerce their employees to get the Covid vaccination under pain of termination reminded me of one of the most pernicious thinkers in the Western tradition, perhaps the most pernicious, the French Romantic radical Jean-Jaques Rousseau.
Rousseau’s depraved genius was to posit a distinction between “false consciousness” and the “authentic” individual. Social relations and institutions like the family and church and business cultivate in citizens a way of thinking that obscures one’s self-interest and creates a self-injuring mentality. They must be enlightened in order to throw off the chains of their self-enslavement.
Institutions and “False Consciousness”
For instance, from the family you might assimilate the idea that the basic structure of life is a husband and a wife and, in most cases, parents of children, all arranged in a loving hierarchy. But you were not taught the alternative: radical anti-hierarchical autonomy — no one gets to tell you what to do. The family has created in you a false consciousness that has prevented you from living the good life, meaning, the life unencumbered by family loyalty and responsibility.
Similarly, the church teaches that human life begins at conception. If you abort your pre-born baby, you are committing homicide and might carry guilt with you the rest of your life. The problem is this doesn’t leave room for individuals who wish to engage in sexual promiscuity without adequate birth control. So ecclesiastical society conspires to simply not recognize your own self-interest. The church has convinced you against your own best interests — radical sexual autonomy.
Moreover, from your employer you might assimilate the notion that promptness, diligence, courtesy, and economy are important virtues, when in actuality it might be better for you not to care about being on time, not to work hard, not to treat people in any way except the way you feel you should treat them, and not spend within your means. Free-market capitalism has created a psychological and sociological climate hostile to your own self-interests.
In each case, some external factor, and generally a widely recognized institution, has fostered in you a “false consciousness.” As Anthony Daniels recently observed of the prominent Cultural Marxist Herbert Marcuse:
In essence, Marcuse is a Marxist aesthete and snob. That is why he is able to say that the consumer society in which he prospered and had a pleasant bourgeois existence was hellish, and why he so airily dismisses the lives of millions as essentially dreadful even if they don’t experience them as such. Indeed, their failure to do so appalled him all the more, the only explanation being that they suffer from false needs, false consciousness, and false happiness. They are, above all “inauthentic.”
“Authenticity” and the Ruling Class
A few bright, gifted, virtuous individuals (like Marcuse) can see past this false consciousness and assume the high and holy calling of liberating their fellow citizens from it so that they can be “authentic.” This is what Angelo Codevilla called The Ruling Class. A chief reason it’s necessary for them to rule is that they alone are able to detect and ferret out false consciousness.
Not only that. They must be vested with the coercive authority to obliterate false consciousness from the citizenry. Citizens don’t know what they don’t know, and it is the responsibility of the ruling class to enlighten them. When they finally realize that they have been embracing ideas and habits inimical to their own interest, they will rise up and revolt against their social oppressors, like the family, the church, and business.
This is a book about what revolution is, how it came about, how it is transpiring right before our eyes, and what Christians can do to arrest and overcome it. This book presupposes the necessity of Christian society, not just Christian families and churches, foundational though they are. It addresses topics as diverse as the culture war, the separation of church and state, the altered meaning of liberalism, the true objectives of progressivism, the human types that make statism necessary, and the blight of political soteriology.
Get the e-book here.
Karl Marx and the Marxists were Rousseauian to the core, and for them false consciousness was principally the belief that the economic free society in which people could sell their labor was far inferior to alternative social arrangements. The alternative, of course, was coercive state socialism. In places like the old Soviet Union and Maoist China, it turned out the false consciousness wasn’t all that false, and that after getting a taste of the “authenticity” of radical socialism, most people preferred the liberty of the free society to the murdering rampages of utopian justice to be accomplished before breakfast next Thursday.
The Horrors of Enforced Authenticity
Few have articulated as eloquently as Isaiah Berlin the intellectual havoc that Rousseau unleashed on the West. Because in the end, what Rousseau was saying is that because the ruling class knows what is best for us, and we do not, and because if we only knew what they knew, we would do anything to gain that knowledge, that class is justified in doing anything to get us to know what they know. Our own obtuse intransigence keeps us from knowing what is best for us, and, therefore, anything that the ruling class could do to make use see it is something that we would want them to do, if only we what knew what they know — that is, what we really need.
This means, horrifically, that they are justified in deception, fines, imprisonment, torture, and even killing in order to emancipate a mass of citizens from their false consciousness and expose them to “authentic” human existence. No price is too high to pay for authenticity.
This is been a tenet of hard-core Leftism throughout the 20th century, rooted in the 18th century French Revolution, and it is gradually becoming a part of today’s mainstream Leftism, including the vast majority of U. S. universities and media centers and almost the entire Democratic Party.
When Merrick Garland classified anti-CRT parents as domestic terrorists, he was really saying that he knows what’s best for their children, and they do not. When President Biden bullies businesses into requiring Covid vaccines that their employees resist, he is in essence declaring that he knows what’s best for individuals, and they do not. Therefore, Garland and Biden and a host of other Leftist feel justified in contra-constitutionality, law-breaking, and ethical deviance.
When you’re on the right side of history, presumably you may employ any tactic to win.
This is the Rousseauian credo, and it has become an indelible mark of the American Left.
Last Friday Sharon’s Covid test required for entry into Canada to see our son and daughter-in-law came back negative, but mine came back inconclusive, almost certainly the result of an extra long testing stick being placed in the testing container. This means that she entered Canada but I was not permitted. I stayed in a hotel near the border and she returned to pick me up Monday. This episode further steels me against the evil politics related to this virus.
I’m very sad not to have visited our dear son and daughter-in-law, but we had prayed about this, and we are certain this is a part of God’s plan. Thank you so much for praying.
On Sunday, October 31 and November 7 I’ll be preaching at City Church, Corpus Christi, Texas. I hope to see many of you Texas friends there. The sermons will be live-streamed.
Several books are coming soon. Please support CCL if you can. God uses you to keep us expanding.
Yours with gratitude,
Saturday, December 4
Center for Cultural Leadership Annual Symposium in San Francisco
9 AM — 3 PM
Includes catered lunch in a four-star hotel on the Bay
“Un-Virtuous Economics: Political Interventionism, Woke Capitalism, and Church Pietism”
“David L. Bahnsen: “Politicized Economics in One Lesson” and “Pietized Economics in One Lesson”
Jerry Bowyer: “The Maker and the Takers”
Brian G. Mattson: “Alarmed by Cultural Marxism? Don’t Forget Real Marxism!”
P. Andrew Sandlin: “Creational Economics versus Contra-Creational Economics”
Jeffery J. Ventrella: “The Anthropology of Judicial Economics”
Since this isn’t a talking-head conference but a symposium, every attendee will get a chance to comment and share his views.
Hotel rooms available for early registrants. Airport hotel with easy, quick 24-hour shuttle.
This event is free, but it isn’t open to the public. It’s by invitation only. You get invited by contacting me (P. Andrew Sandlin) privately.
Seating is limited, but I hope to see many of you there.
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