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“What they really want”: three posts back, I spoke about a leftist I talked to who had depression—showed me his medications—and was very angry that I attacked the NHS, which he regarded as his “security” or his “helper”. I said that I ended up trying to manipulate him into the view “the marginal suffer most under socialism, the real victims are victims of the NHS”.


While I think that’s true, what interests me is that I fell into this dynamic “leftists are the real victimisers”. I was actually playing a variant of “Democrats are the real racists” with him—which is what the right commonly does. In Britain it’s more common to hear something like “Conservatives are the real egalitarians, they defend grammar schools—which help people rise up the social ladder”.


The reason this doesn’t work is that, in the first place, it’s an attempt to manipulate people—and an attempt to “flip the script” as far as victimiser-victim goes. Even though I think the facts are true—that there is a “Communist rat-fight” that is more savage than free-market capitalism—the facts never connect because of the context within which they are adumbrated.


The right is non-rhetorical—that’s the problem. The left is rhetoric, is the media—is what Schopenhauer called “eristic reason”, which is where you just use language as a club to beat down the other side (to deny reality) and not as a means to unveil reality. Hence if you try to play the same game you will always lose, because you can never do it as well, because you hold on to a minimum aspect of reality your opponent dispenses with—you can never adequately reproduce the meta-context.


The problems stated by the left are not the real problems. This man had depression, felt victimised, felt the need to be helped—thought the NHS would help him, protect him. The stated arguments by the left—about equality or fairness—are not what they are really angry about.


Their problem is that they can’t self-actualise. They can’t take an independent self-directed stand—they can’t “push off from the river bank” and just say, “Well, that’s what I think and feel about it and if I’m damned, so be it.” There’s a residual aspect in them that’s like a Christian who thinks, “Can I say this, can I do this? If I do, I’ll go to hell,” or like an adolescent who is always looking back to “what my dad always said, what my mum always said”.


It’s connected to academics and “permanent students” because it’s about always “referencing completely”—you always check back to reference “the authorities”, you don’t just say “well here’s what I think” (where are your references?).


So it’s not about equality, unfairness, or victimisation. The “helper” this man looked for in the NHS was “his own truth”—his own voice (which he had lost, he’d lost himself). If you have that, it doesn’t matter if you’re physically strong or financially successful—because to speak with your own voice is freedom (most conservatives don’t speak with their own voice, either—otherwise they’d never be in politics in the first place).


This is why arguments about “equality, justice, fairness” and so on don’t really work—the person on the other end doesn’t want “equality, justice, fairness” (those are just surrogates—like “depression”). What they search for is not “equality”—nor are they motivated by resentment, as Nietzsche thinks. What they search for is “self-authorisation”—to “say what I say, and let the chips fall where they may” without reference to a church, to their parents, to Foucault or Marx, to an academic supervisor, to a news report.


Their ambivalent relationship to authority—which they both fear and desire—reflects the way they’ve run away from themselves; they want their own authority, and anyone who self-authorises is delegitimised by the usual tricks (splitting, projection)—which are appeals to public approval, and attempts to make the other person into “a thing” that can be controlled and become dead like them.


They can’t say “here I am, this is what I think—even if I’m going to hell”. And that’s connected to narcissism—social approval. Because they’re afraid of what other people think of them, they’ll never say what they think—ironically, the leftist slogan “speak your truth” is true; and the problem for leftists is that they don’t do it (that’s why they talk about it all the time). They’re always watching their backs to see that they said “approved things” (this is a general problem for humans always, even on the right, but is particularly apparent on the left).


The complaints are always surrogates—hence the right’s ripostes never make contact. These men are dead inside—they are obsessed with “goodness” (“good people”, the left says) because truthfulness transcends goodness, it is life. It also requires courage, because if you say it as you see it you will not be liked—but you will not feel the need for an external “helper” because it exhilarates to be alive, it exhilarates to live on the edge, it is not safe.


These people do need help, but the help they need is not “support”—it is to find the truth inside and speak it; and you cannot tell them that—if you say “Jesus is the truth that sets you free” they will think “I need to copy Jesus” and then try to do that and find they can’t. But they need to learn the meta-lesson from Jesus, Muhammad, and the Buddha—which is to speak frankly as you see it, to crush hypocrisy in yourself, and, in the old Greek dictum, to “know thyself” and to that self always be true.


This will bring life, not death in life—but you can’t argue people into that realisation, it’s not help you can give them like you can give a cold person a blanket and make them warm. This is the great difficulty.  



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