Lefties can make ideas sound good, but then it takes decades to show they are bad

Lefties can make ideas sound good, but then it takes decades to show they are bad, by Matthew and Daniel.

While the right is usually better at working out what needs to be done — it is often said that everyone is a conservative on matters they know really well — the left is usually better at selling an idea.

The left seems to attract those who are good at presentation, showmanship, and verbal pizazz, those who are more skillful and willing to organize politically. But they tend to be weak at content and thinking things through — leave those details to others or the future, because right now what matters is progress. (Oh, and by the way, these ideas we are selling today just happen to suit us personally.)

The right tends to accumulate those who are strong on seeing which ideas work and those that won’t, but tend to be weak at explaining or selling their ideas. They tend to figure reality will prove them right, and isn’t it obvious? They often put no effort into selling their ideas, assuming that everyone will arrive at their conclusion in time. Perhaps, but that can take a while, and in the meantime there might be a high price to pay for leftist “progress”.

A recent example is the idea of organizing industrial production along socialist lines. After WWII, in the West generally but especially in Britain, the idea of nationalizing industry took hold. Wouldn’t it be more efficient, the left explained, if there was just one company — which would eliminate  wasteful duplication. Socially justice would be improved if everyone — via the government — owned the company, rather than some fat greedy capitalist boss or shareholders. Oh, and by the way, it would just so happen that fellow leftists — bureaucrats — would run the company, and would have the responsibility and therefore the high paying jobs. What could possibly go wrong?

This seemed like a convincing argument to many, to most, and in much of the west there was nationalization of businesses like transport, or building cars and aeroplanes, from the late 1940s on for a few decades.

Well we all know how that turned out. Those un-trendy conservatives — who pointed out that competition was necessary to spur innovation and superior performance, that people work better with incentives and scarcely work at all if the means to improve themselves are taken away — were boring and largely ignored. “Progress” sounded much more exciting than the voice of experience, and in any event was much better sold. All the trendy, clever people were on board, or so it seemed in the media!

But the conservatives turned out to be right. Industry floundered under socialist rule. By the 1970s Britain was in a huge mess, and scarcely worked anymore, as unions used their muscle to squabble over the scraps from a decaying and unproductive system. In 1979 the British elected Margaret Thatcher to change course and clean up the mess, with widespread privatizations — which the leftists and unions have neither forgiven not forgotten.

An even more extreme case is the Soviet Union, which implemented socialism with such zeal that they murdered 40 million of their own citizens who didn’t get with the new program with sufficient enthusiasm. But after 70 years the Russians acknowledged that the evidence was too obvious to deny any longer — socialism was rubbish at building wealth and a high living standard. In 1989 they simply gave up on socialism and went back to the old ways of organizing production.

The left doesn’t talk about those failures. To trendy people, despite fighting tooth and nail for socialism for decades, it’s like it never happened. You can get away with that if you own the media, to frame the public conversation. Even when the conservatives are proved right in spades, they are still boring and not hip — urgh says the media, stay away from those awful people and vote for us!

Bob Hope on Zombies and Democrats

In the present day West, social engineering has recently attracted the zeal of the left. Take gay marriage, for example. When framed as “equality,” the idea seems obvious. Why hadn’t his be noticed in all human history until now?!? Conservative voices who point out that marriage is about reproduction rather than equality are drowned out. Gay marriages would be just like traditional ones, say the progressives. The experience of millennia was boring and discarded by most. “Progress” is here, and people before us were backward and ignorant! Hooray for us!

Now we are doomed to waiting several decades to see what damage the new marriage arrangements will bring, before going back to the old ways.

hat-tip Scott of the Pacific, Joanne