By combining an opposition to free enterprise with an opposition to industrialization, the left has adopted not one, but two platforms that doom the economic survival of their host societies. Even the Soviet Union and Communist China, systems which were the worst embodiment of leftist economic ideology did not throw out the industrial baby with the capitalist bathwater. Had they done so both countries would still be hopelessly feudal today, instead of crony capitalist mafia states with a lot of available consumer goods that create jobs and make life easier.
The Western left did not just adopt a system which insisted that all economic activity had to be tightly regulated and centrally planned in order to remedy inequality, it also adopted the anti-industrial back to nature rhetoric of those who believed that factories and cities were a mistake and that a harmonious society could only be an agricultural society.
While the hippie elements of the left have dabbled with buying farmhouses and growing occasional crops that are not cannabis, they are not serious about return to a nation of family farms or even collective farming. They have adopted the pollution paranoia and the twaddle about the dehumanization of machinery without actually having a fallback plan.
If all that wasn’t bad enough, the left has not championed agriculture, but a purity of nature cult that demands that we leave the environment “unspoiled”. That means seizing land that farmers might put to use and declaring it protected land. It means cutting off water supplies to agriculture and attacking any attempt at bringing industrial efficiency to agriculture. Instead the left celebrates a boutique agriculture which relies on hipsters buying overpriced organic and locally grown produce.
It does not take much to crunch the numbers and see that locally grown is a formula for starving some 60 percent of the country, denying children basic nutrients and driving the price of foodstuffs so far through the roof that Africans will start sending us aid.
This brand of militant individualism might be somehow defensible if it was being practiced by actual rebels, instead of by collectivists dressing up their latest meme and fad in the rebel’s red shirt. While the left objects to the collectivism of the factory and the corporation, they are replacing it with a sonorous collectivism of the soul that pervades every aspect of society and demands total conformity. Instead of Charlie Chaplin caught in the gears of the great machine, we all find ourselves trapped by the demand that we all care about the same things, laugh and sneer at the same things, and buy the same things.
The left’s moral consumerism elevates scarcity over plenty. It is hostile to mechanical organization that is not ideologically derived. Communism married the order of industry with ideological collectivization and the Nazis attempted to do the same thing. But the modern left only wants the ideology with no actual plan for how it will all work. Its approach to the market is elitist. It would rather have a few expensive products, than a great many cheap products. It would rather have a few million government jobs, than a few hundred million real jobs.
Had the left managed to get all this regulatory power before global transportation became cheap and simple, and other countries managed to hit their own industrial marks, then it is likely that our experience would have been similar to that of Venezuela under Chavez, with an economic implosion, spiraling prices and a civil struggle that would have left us a banana republic or shattered the left for a generation.
Instead the production shifted overseas, and subsidies and tax breaks protected the tail end of what had once been the industrial and agricultural engine of the world. The slow death of American industry put millions out of work, but that only made them into ripe territories for the candidates of social justice to plow. The more the ranks of the poor increased, the more the left could denounce the injustices of a society where there was such a gap between the rich and the poor, while disregarding the fact that they were the rich and their policies had set that gap in stone.
Not satisfied with having outsourced much of America’s industry and jobs to totalitarian countries, the left set out to politicize food at every stage of the process, from water supplies to calorie counts. We now live in the peculiar area where the authorities are obsessed with what we are, staring into our plate as if we were the ones gorging, while they starved. Our diet is now officially a national security issue which means it is only a matter of time until Ronald McDonald is the new Osama bin Laden. And all through this there is less to eat and it costs more.
Looking over this spectacle it behooves us to ask what kind of society the left would want? What sort of life do they foresee in a civilization where everything is expensive and hard to come by? This scarcity was an accidental byproduct of a broken system in Soviet countries, but in the West it is not incompetence, it is policy. And what specifically happens to the middle class in such a system?
The Western lifestyle has been made viable after the death of its industry by its high value currency and lack of equivalent competition. That grace window is now expiring. The dollar and the Euro are endangered, and it is only China’s razor sharp salesmanship that keeps its own currency artificially low. The day when that changes is the day that Wal-Mart becomes a luxury goods store.
Even the Western corporation which has helped maintain the illusion of economic power is likely to fall not to the left, but to the logic of the marketplace, as its foreign suppliers cut out the middle man and buy it up or bypass it selling directly to Western consumers. For anyone who has brought a Lenovo computer or an HTC phone, has already picked up a product created by a Chinese manufacturer of famous American brand name products which either brought up the business on the American end or just bypassed it.
When the Western corporations go, then suddenly the United States will just be another third world market for goods made by the actual economic superpowers in the East.
The left’s adoption of a series of increasingly outdated and unworkable ideas that make Communism seem downright forward looking brought us this far. The left has combined central planning with an opposition to industry, which amounts to the captain dividing up the last food supplies on the raft. It is hostile to agricultural revolutions that can affordably feed an expanding population. It opposes any exploitation of the natural environment that would provide food, jobs and shelter for the people.
This utterly inhuman ideology is the sort of thing that decadent intellectuals like Rousseau or Tolstoy might have engaged in, but has frightening consequences on a national and international scale.It is both elitist and clueless, embracing the diploma as the only tool that matters in a postmodern age where the old verities of supply and demand no longer apply. Stripped of its rational tones, this is the elevation of the advanced degree to a measure of national enlightenment which will solve all our problems.
There is nothing rational about this mystical progressivism, a techno-luddite elite that believes unpaid cooperative efforts by degree holders can provide for a society better than the industrial and agricultural mechanisms that made the society whose cliff’s edge they are approaching possible.
The fixation on problem solving by a technocratic elite comes down to nine people discussing how a machine should ideally work and a tenth man trying to actually make it work. The class of entitled problem solvers who have degrees in everything but living in the real world are incapable of understanding that they are the problem. That no amount of social tinkering can make people run the way they want to and that the day when the social tinkerers got the authority to remake the real into their ideal is the day when everything began to go downhill.