To be a radical in the conventional sense of Western politics starts with a heavy dose of self-deception. Radicals are rarely from the subordinate class. Almost always they are from the ruling elite. They are intellectuals raised in leisure, but convinced they are the authentic voice of the masses. …
A glaring example of radical self-delusion is in this clip from the Jimmy Dore Show in which the host discusses the revolution with Chris Hedges. For those unfamiliar, Dore is a comic who has made himself rich doing left-wing comedy. Chris Hedges is an activist who caters to the NPR crowd. He used to write for the New York Times and got famous trafficking in conspiracy theories during the Bush years. He is the type who claimed Bush was a fascist and Iraq was the Sudetenland.
The clip is interesting because both men are convinced they are opposed to the system, when in fact they are products of the system. This is not an act. They truly think they are the avant garde trying to organize a revolt against the system. Further, both seem to think they are working class heroes, leading the proletariat in their struggle against the bourgeois oppressor class. There are times when they sound like a museum exhibit explaining the 1930’s union movements.
Jimmy Dore is a rich guy who lives in a two-million dollar home in California, while Hedges is a rich guy who lives in a mansion in Princeton New Jersey. That is one of the tonier neighborhoods in America. They owe everything that truly matters to them to the system they pretend to oppose. If there was a revolution, they are the on the first train cars heading to the gulags. The only thing more ridiculous than these two talking revolution is the fact that they seem to believe it. …
Why the governing class is so awful:
The typical person in mainstream politics suffers from the same sort of self-delusion. Few have ever done real work or known anyone who does real work. Their entire lives have been inside the world of make believe, where they struggle with other actors, pretending to care about the people outside the bubble.
Just as conservatism is a bone the system throws to middle-class white people to keep them busy; socialism is a bone tossed to upper-middle class white people to make them feel special.
One of the remarkable features of the Bernie Bro phenomenon is that it is whiter than a Klan rally. Scroll through the clips of the Jimmy Dore show or the Young Turks and it is nothing but palefaces. In no way does this brand of radicalism look anything like the people they claim to represent.
The self-delusion is not a one-way street. There are cynical people in politics, for sure, but most really believe what they are saying. Elizabeth Warren holds court in her mansion telling the wealthy hens in her circle about how she is fighting for working families and the victims of Wall Street. They all congratulate themselves on being the conscience of the people. All of these people are high on their own fumes, which is what keeps them from facing reality. …
Whether it is civic nationalists and their utopian fantasies about the Constitution or the middle-class socialists and their utopian fantasies about economics, radicalism requires the participants to live in a state of smug self-delusion. …
The true nature of things:
Perhaps it is the nature of all political systems to delude the beneficiaries, so they do not have to face the reality of their position. The king can know himself, but his court must believe they are acting in the name of honor. The crafty political operator can be as cynical as he likes, but his supporters must see him as a man of virtue, selflessly serving the republic. In liberal democracy, it is the narcotic of radicalism played out in the comfort of the gated mansion.
The delusions are especially strong on the left, which has always been more into self-serving theories that shield them from reality. Now that the left control almost all of the institutions, this is becoming a real problem.