Monday, January 27, 2020

The Infantilized Left

Michael Lind, certified liberal--

a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Politico, The Financial Times, The National Interest, Foreign Policy, Salon, and The International Economy. He has taught at Harvard and Johns Hopkins and has been an editor or staff writer for The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New Republic, and The National Interest

has written a mildly interesting article for Salon. I'll admit I was mostly attracted by the title, although his theme is serious--even if it's not exactly news. He unfortunately doesn't get into the reasons why the left is susceptible to infantilization. My own view is that Leftism itself is a product of an infantile outlook on reality--a less than reasonable, adult worldview.

In any event here are some excerpts. Lind has written a book on this topic, but I won't be bothering. His overall goal is to somehow relegitimize the neoliberal managerial (read: progressive) elites, by waving the magic wand of "shared power" over them. My one substantive comment here is that Lind mentions only one "intermediary institution" that "neoliberalism" has destroyed: labor unions. In fact, he should have included two other significant institutions: mass education and the establishment religious bodies.

The debunked "Russian influence" nonsense is infantilizing liberals
The Russian money spent to influence the election was negligible. Its persistence as an explanation is bad for Dems

The populist wave in politics on both sides of the Atlantic is a defensive reaction against the technocratic neoliberal revolution from above that has been carried out in the last half century by national managerial elites. Over the last half century, the weakening or destruction by neoliberal policy makers of the intermediary institutions of mid-twentieth century democratic pluralism, particularly labor unions, has deprived much of the working class of effective voice or agency in government, the economy, and culture. Populist demagogues can channel the legitimate grievances of many working-class voters, but they cannot create a stable, institutionalized alternative to overclass-dominated neoliberalism. Only a new democratic pluralism that compels managerial elites to share power with the multiracial, religiously pluralistic working class in the economy, politics, and the culture can end the cycle of oscillation between oppressive technocracy and destructive populism.

That is the thesis of this article. It is a minority viewpoint within overclass circles in the US and Europe. A far more common view among transatlantic elites interprets the success of populist and nationalist candidates in today's Western democracies not as a predictable and disruptive backlash against oligarchic misrule, but as a revival of Nazi or Soviet-style totalitarianism. One narrative holds that Russian president Vladimir Putin's regime, by cleverly manipulating public opinion in the West through selective leaks to the media or Internet advertisements and memes, is responsible for Brexit, the election of Trump in 2016, and perhaps other major political events. A rival narrative sees no need to invoke Russian machinations; in this view, without aid from abroad, demagogues can trigger the latent "authoritarian personalities" of voters, particularly white working-class native voters, many of whom, it is claimed, will turn overnight into a fascist army if properly mobilized. These two elite narratives, promulgated by antipopulist politicians, journalists, and academics, can be called the Russia Scare and the Brown Scare (after earlier "brown scares" in Western democracies, with the color referring to Hitler's Brownshirts).

The reductio ad absurdum of this kind of mythological thinking is the adoption of the term "Resistance" by domestic opponents of President Donald Trump, which implies an equation between Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans and the heroic anti-Nazis of the French Resistance. The anti-fascist theme also provides the name for the Antifa movement which, like the earlier "black bloc" anarchist movement, is made up chiefly of the privileged children of the white overclass who abuse leftist ideology as an excuse to dress up as movie-style ninjas, vandalize property, and harass people.

It is no doubt emotionally satisfying for members of the embattled managerial overclass to identify antiestablishment populism with pro-Russian treason, fascism, or both. But this kind of paranoid demonological thinking has the potential to be a greater danger to liberal democracy in the West than any particular populist movements.

To begin with, both the Russia Scare and the Brown Scare betray a profound contempt on the part of members of technocratic neoliberal national establishments for voters who support populist causes or candidates. These voters are assumed to be gullible dimwits who are easily manipulated by foreign propaganda or domestic demagogues. Even worse, attributing populism to the irrational impulses of maladjusted voters prevents embattled establishments on both sides of the Atlantic from treating specific grievances of those voters as legitimate.

... If most opponents of neoliberalism are Russian pawns or potential Nazis, then mere disagreement with neoliberal policies on trade, immigration, taxation, or other subjects can be equated with rejection of liberalism or democracy, if not outright treason. Confronted with peaceful challenges via the voting booth to neoliberal orthodoxy from outsiders on both the populist right and the socialist left, the instinctive reflex of many in the besieged establishment is to call for censorship and repression.

* * *


If the Russia Scare version of the establishment's anti- populist story line is to be believed, the government of Russian president Vladimir Putin successfully used Western social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to hypnotize substantial numbers of citizens of North America and Europe into voting against their natural inclinations for Brexit or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders in 2016. Even the French yellow vest protests and the gains made by Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party in the British general election of 2017 have been attributed to Russian machinations online.

The "Russiagate" scandal began before Trump's election as the Clinton campaign, some anti-Trump Republicans, elements in the Obama administration, and various members of the US law enforcement and national security establishments spread rumors of alleged links between Russia and the Trump campaign to the media, ...

In Spring 2019, after a two-year investigation, Special Counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election, leaving many Americans who had believed that the president would be exposed as a traitor disoriented and depressed. ...

Like any detective thriller movie or novel, this narrative seeks to achieve realism by weaving facts into a formulaic conspiracy-based plot. It is a fact that Putin, like many Russians, resents the treatment of Russia by the West after the Cold War, ... In addition, Western intelligence authorities claim that Russian intelligence operatives have engaged in trying to promote conflict in the US and other countries ...

Let us stipulate that this is all true. ... In contrast, influential members of today's American establishment, not only marginal conspiracy theorists, in order to absolve Hillary Clinton of blame for losing the 2016 election, have promoted the claim that the forty-fifth US president was installed by a foreign government and does its bidding. A Gallup poll in August 2018 showed that 78 percent of Democrats believed not only that Russia interfered in the election but also that it changed the outcome, denying Hillary Clinton the presidency.


To believe the Russia Scare theory of the 2016 US presidential election, we must believe that the staff of Russia's government-linked Internet Research Agency and other Russian saboteurs understood how to influence the psychology of black American voters and white working-class voters in the Midwest far better than did the Clinton and Trump presidential campaigns. ...

As it happens, the US election results can be explained with no need to posit the ability of the Russian government to alter the outcomes of US elections by brainwashing American voters, even if it sought to do so. In December 2015, the progressive documentary filmmaker Michael Moore told Busi­ness Insider: "Donald Trump is absolutely going to be the Republican candidate for president of the United States." In July 2016, after Trump won the nomination to become the presidential candidate of the Republican Party, Moore wrote an essay on his website, "5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win."

Russian meme warfare on the Internet was not one of Moore's five reasons. According to Moore, who had achieved fame by documenting the industrial decline of the Midwest, the most important reason why Trump would defeat Clinton was the regional economy:

Midwest Math, or Welcome to Our Rust Belt Brexit. I believe Trump is going to focus much of his attention on the four blue states in the rustbelt of the upper Great Lakes—Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Four traditionally Democratic states— but each of them have elected a Republican governor since 2010 (only Pennsylvania has now finally elected a Democrat). . . . Trump is going to hammer Clinton on this and her support of TPP and other trade policies that have royally screwed the people of these four states. . . . From Green Bay to Pittsburgh, this, my friends, is the middle of England—broken, depressed, struggling, the smokestacks strewn across the country- side with the carcass of what we use to call the Middle Class. . . . What happened in the UK with Brexit is going to happen here. . . . And this is where the math comes in. In 2012, Mitt Romney lost by 64 electoral votes. Add up the electoral votes cast by Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It's 64. All Trump needs to do to win is to carry, as he's expected to do, the swath of traditional red states from Idaho to Georgia (states that'll never vote for Hillary Clinton), and then he just needs these four rust belt states. He doesn't need Florida. He doesn't need Colorado or Virginia. Just Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. And that will put him over the top. This is how it will happen in November.

Moore was not the only observer who pointed out that Trump had a possible path to victory in the electoral college. ...


In 2018, Hillary Clinton told Britain's Channel Four News: "The real question is how did the Russians know how to target their messages so precisely to undecided voters in Wisconsin or Michigan or Pennsylvania–that is really the nub of the question." No, the real question is why so much of the US and European establishment accepted and promulgated Clinton's alibi for her failure to follow her husband into the office of president of the United States. A Clinton or a Bush was president, vice president, or secretary of state in every year between 1981 and 2013, an era in which working-class incomes stagnated, offshoring devastated US and European manufacturing, the world suffered the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and the US plunged into multiple disastrous wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. Trump became president by running against a Bush in the Republican primaries and a Clinton in the general election. The desire of many American voters to disrupt the quarter-century cycle of nearly identical versions of technocratic neoliberalism under alternating Bushes and Clintons is quite sufficient to explain the presidential election of 2016.


  1. 'In 2018, Hillary Clinton told Britain's Channel Four News: "The real question is how did the Russians know how to target their messages so precisely to undecided voters in Wisconsin or Michigan or Pennsylvania–that is really the nub of the question.'"

    If that quote by Clinton isn't infantilism, I don't what it is. Well, actually, I do. Denialism, lack of self-awareness. How childish of her not to accept that she is a nasty woman who blew an election that she was supposed to win.

    Her own husband told her to campaign in MI, PA and WI.

    Based on that statement, I have to believe that she really did turn to drinking as solace. My suggestion is to look in the mirror.

    1. Disgusting mendacious excuse for a human being.

    2. Joe wrote:

      >>JoeJanuary 27, 2020 at 4:30 PM

      'In 2018, Hillary Clinton told Britain's Channel Four News: "The real question is how did the Russians know how to target their messages so precisely to undecided voters in Wisconsin or Michigan or Pennsylvania–that is really the nub of the question.'" <<

      The highlighted Hillary quote is a classic example of the post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy. Just because a Russian troll farm runs social media ads that happen to include swing states that Trump subsequently won does not prove that the Russian troll farm ads were the CAUSE of Trump's victory in those states. It is a necessary, but NOT SUFFICIENT CONDITION, for causality.

      It requires a special kind of infantilism to make such allegation, and a similar degree of infantilism by the MSM to accept such childish excuses without so much as questioning it, let alone bursting out laughing in her face when she said it.

      Blaming others after the fact -- no matter how fallacious or unsupported by evidence -- rather than accepting responsibility for one's own failure, is the signature property of infants everywhere.

  2. Long post.

    Maybe they are infantile, but the reality is that they control a lot of things.


    Do you be normal Republican cucks or do you fight back?

    Romney is a normal Republican cuck. However, even this beta male is having issues.

    Democrats in the US of A today believe they are on the right side of history. It's time to show them for the racist, authoritian party that they are.

  3. Hillary is just one pathetic brat, but if
    "... the real question is why so much of the US and European establishment accepted and promulgated Clinton's alibi...."
    are Lind's words,and IF he's the first major liberal intellectual to write like this, then, indeed, what a bunch of infants, or frauds!

    Alan Bullock once wrote, of Der Oberbefehlshaber der Wehrmacht: "No man was more surely destroyed by the image he created...."

  4. I don't think anyone on the left will be swayed by Lind's observations, as he's mostly bought into all the assumptions of the left--except the explanation for Hillary's defeat.

    Lind's narrative implies Dems are still in denial about the election because they're still focused on how she lost, i.e. the details of memes, influence, outside players, excuse-making, blame-shifting--not why Trump won, i.e. he had a message that resonated with voters.

    Lind doesn't challenge or upset any the motifs, e.g. Russia Scare, Brown Scare--he endorses their actual existence by usage. Goodness, how many times does he interject "Nazi"?

    (And honestly, I'd never heard of the Russia Scare, or the Brown Scare--which I assumed was concerned with Hispanics. Brown shirts? Really? That is paranoia.)

    Infantile behavior is not corrected, or influenced into more mature behavior, by logic and reason. (Children grow up--or not--by modeling the adult behavior around them, not by being talked into it.) The behavior is emotional, so the connection needs to be made on an emotional level. Lind misses on that front. He mostly gives them "red meat" confirming their feelings that voters can be influenced to vote against their natural instincts--a popular meme on the left since at least 2004's "What's The Matter With Kansa" by Thomas Frank.

    1. Oh, I don't think anyone on the Left will be swayed by Lind except for those few who saw what was coming ahead of it. I offered this pretty much for the entertainment value.

      Interestingly, Mark Steyn was triggered by a Don Surber blog and came out today with an article that says much the same thing about "establishment Republicans: Going Ape, Four Years On.

    2. I also don't think many on the Left will yet be swayed by Lind himself, but other rather likely events (e.g. Barr/ Durham bringing famous busts), such factors could shake some $$wealthy hearts to wonder how much $$ they still want to waste on a sinking ship.
      In this scenario, Lind's view could help these rich folks to defend their new-found sanity, to e.g. their colleagues, family, etc.

    3. "Barr/ Durham bringing famous busts"

      Certainly worth a try. :-)

  5. Recent events have helped make this special kind of infantilism far better known to the general public, than was previously so.
    Event-combo strike #1: the Kav/ #Me Too BS, + the Left's assault on Nick S (vs. N. Phillips), and (Jew) Praeger’s film No Safe Spaces (incl. much stuff from [Jew] Dershowitz).
    Event strike #2: This impeachment BS, esp. after the RussiaGate tantrums.
    The most likely would-be straw-breaking Event-combo #3 could be:
    if Barr/ Durham can make enough big busts, to prove that, as Lindsey has put it, the D.S. (pushed by Obama?) built a Criminal Conspiracy to frame DJT on Russia.

    If we see such a strike #3, my instincts tell me, that this Nov. will see stunning turnout for PJT from white Catholics, and (of course, w/ smaller numbers) from moderate, or very religious Jews. Or, if DJT loses, tens of millions thinking of Succession from a system dominated by Infants.

    When the Lefties teed-off on a Bush-style white Catholic male jurist, they rubbed in, to all Worldly (esp. Catholic) males, the magnitude of Lefty hate of "toxic masculinity".
    When the Lefties teed-off on a 16 year-old white Catholic male, they risked lighting a fire among those already fearing Lefty hate of “white male privilege” (esp. among Catholics, with many of whom I grew up).
    When Lefties are shown by Praeger/ Dersh, to wantonly style any opposition to them, to be attacks on their Safe Spaces, they express outright contempt for their foes’ Safe Spaces, leaving their foes no choice, but to look toward taking off all gloves.
    When Lefties go so far as to be seen, w/ the Whole World Watching, to push impeachment on laughably flimsy grounds, vs. a President who is very widely seen, as an all-but explicit defender (from the Lefty onslaught), vs. Western Civ, the white race, and the male gender, Lefties leave white males no choice, but to look toward taking off all gloves.

    If WB and JD can show, that the whole RussiaGate thing was a Leftist Criminal Conspiracy, then Deplorables, and those who care about them, will see no choice, but to turn out for DJT, and then, if he loses, take off all gloves.
    At such a point, the question to fence-sitters will be: if this mountain of evidence (of Lefty infantile hate vs. Western Civ, the white race, and the male gender) doesn’t at least move you, to take the time to vote for DJT (if not for other foes of the Left), how much more evidence do you need?

    I hope the length of this post isn’t too much, but something like this post is needed, for a fairly succinct map of the magnitude of recent events.

    1. I think all of the above played a much greater rule in 2016 than most people realize. Yes, economic factors were very important, but cultural factors were, too.

  6. Yeah, and there's much overlap between these two groups of factors, esp. seeing the extent to which Deplorables get hip, to upper-middle class Lefties' delight in pushing trade deals, which just so happen to impoverish "smelly" working stiffs.
    This class-hate is esp. prominent among feminists.