Friday, June 1, 2012

Commissar Complex: The "Winning Side"

A famous anecdote from the 1848 socialist upheaval in Paris has a coal-carrier accosting a gentlewoman, saying, "Yes, Madame, everything's going to be equal now. I'll go in silks and you'll carry coal." Though it cannot be verified owing to time and the lack of attribution, as an illustration of the sort of "equality" left-leaning types truly cherish, this one is unparalleled.

I've called this the Commissar Complex in other writings: the conviction that one will be rewarded for his support of a leftist movement with a position of power. The other side of the coin, of course, is that the sufferer cannot imagine the opposite outcome: that he will be under the heel of commissars in whose selection he had no voice, and whose power he cannot oppose.

But among those infected with the Complex are a few whose visions of eventual power have a firmer base than others:

    "Yes," said Feverstone, bringing his hand down smartly on the table. "That's just the point. People like Curry or James think the violent resistance of the other side ended with the persecution of Galileo and all that. But don't believe it. It is just beginning. They know now that we have at last got real powers. They're going to fight every inch. They'll stop at nothing."
    "They can't win," said Mark.
    "We'll hope not," said Lord Feverstone. "That is why it is of such immense importance to each of us to choose the right side."
    "Oh, I haven't any doubt which is my side," said Mark. "Hang it all-the preservation of the human race-it's a pretty rock-bottom obligation."
    "Well, personally," said Feverstone, "I'm not indulging in any Busbyisms about that. The practical point is that you and I don't like being pawns, and we do rather like fighting-specially on the winning side."...

    "No good, Sonny," said Miss Hardcastle shaking her head. "You don't know enough facts yet for your point of view to be worth sixpence. You haven’t yet realized what you're in on. You're being offered a chance of something far bigger than a seat in the cabinet. And there are only two alternatives, you know. Either to be in the N.I.C.E. or to be out of it. And I know better than you which is going to be most fun."

[C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength]

There are always some whose aspirations to rule will be satisfied. In keeping with Friedrich Hayek's analysis, it is overwhelmingly more likely than not that they will be the most ruthless and least scrupled of all the forces of darkness. In a struggle over political power, those are advantages.

Very seldom have political upheavals not elevated the very worst to the very highest positions. Moreover, the "very worst" are aware of this, which is why one finds a disproportionate number of the unscrupulous -- the liars, the thugs, the embezzlers, and miscellaneous other blackguards -- in the strategy councils of left-oriented movements. Search as long as you like; you will never find anyone resembling Saul Alinsky among conservative or libertarian thinkers. Such a person would rebel against the promotion of individual liberty; he'd seek to undermine it at every opportunity, such that no one on the Right would listen to him.

No, it's on the Left that you'll find the Rahm Emanuels and the David Axelrods, the Jeremiah Wrights and the Al Sharptons, the Tony Rezkos, the Rod Blagojeviches, the Alex Giannoulias, the Bill Ayerses and Bernardine Dohrns.

Have a gander at political strategy from that point of view:

    Zlugy fitted his fingertips together and frowned down at his lap.
    “All the trend lines are solid, Mr. President. Sumner is an attractive and eloquent candidate. He’s winning the affections of every identifiable group in the country, union members and hard-core environmentalists excepted. His message is simple and unchanging, and people are resonating to it.” He sat up straight. “Unless something wholly unanticipated should arise between now and election day, he’ll take between two hundred seventy and three hundred electoral votes. Lowry will be fortunate to win a single state.”
    The president stood, eyes downcast and hands thrust into his pockets.
    “What sort of ‘wholly unanticipated’ somethings are you thinking of, Adam?”
    Zlugy smiled thinly. “The usual, sir. Personal scandals. Extremely bad turns of health. Assassination.” He paused and looked off into the corner of the Oval Office. “Or a fatal revision of his message to accommodate some interest group he feels he must win over.”
    Coleman’s expression sharpened. He looked Zlugy full in the eyes.
    “What on Earth would induce him to do that?”
    Zlugy shrugged. “One cannot know, sir. But it’s happened before. Candidates are human. They respond to events in human, and therefore unpredictable, ways. An attack of hubris. A downtick in the polls. A caustic pronouncement from some prestigious commentator. Or,” he said with a slight smile, “strongly put advice from the most respected political strategist in the country.”

This, above all other things, is what makes it imperative that conservative candidates for office be the most carefully vetted, ruthlessly prepared, fearlessly outspoken persons we can find.

At this time, the Left is in control of many of the critical levers of power. Note that almost as soon as Barack Hussein Obama took office, he began to elevate the worst of his lieutenants to the highest positions available -- in the case of his many "czars," even bypassing Congress to do so. They will work like madmen to assure his continuation in power. No tactic will be considered too low to employ. They understand that ejecting Obama from the Oval Office will cause their downfall as well: no more ukases to the unwashed; no more Washington high life; no more endlessly importuning reporters.

Removal will invest them with a slavering need to rise to high positions once more. No one has a taste for power to match that of a former commissar. Beware.


Moneyrunner said...

Excellent analysis.
Human history is filled with strong, ruthless, bloody minded men grasping for power. And if they are successful, they found dynasties in which the fifth and sixth generation wear furs and silks instead of swords and spears after the founder’s sons and grandsons destroy the opponents who are left. Search the history of anywhere in the world and you will find the same pattern, with a few, a very few exceptions.

One of these is the United States. The unique aspect of the founding of this country is not the revolution. It was only a matter of time. What was virtually unparalleled was that the leaders of the revolution actually enacted the ideals. Instead of setting up a monarchy – keeping in mind that monarchies were the norm – they abolished hereditary government, gave up power when elections were lost and abided by those simple rules enshrined in the Constitution.
The American experiment is just that, an ongoing experiment with no guarantees that history will end well for it, unless people are willing to stand up against the worst in the highest positions. There are many in this country who willingly give up their independence for their daily bread, and others – from Nanny Bloomberg who wishes to rule in little things, to Obama who wants to rule in all things and ho entice us to give in … and we won’t get hurt.
My understanding of the human condition and the realization of the fragility of human institutions explains why I am a Conservative, not a Libertarian. Libertarians believe that we can fundamentally alter and abolish the rules, the fences we have slowly and painfully established to arrive at a virtually unique culture. The Libertarian world removes the barriers that keep the thugs at bay by atomizing a culture. Once it ceases to exist, once there is no over-arching Weltanschauung that the overwhelming population believes in, the door is open for the liars, the cheats and the men thirsting for power and willing to do whatever they can to attain it.

David N. Narr said...

I think it was Angelo Codevilla who made the comment that Lenin spent every waking hour of every day plotting about how to overthrow the Czarist autocracy and seize power. We need a Lenin for Liberty spending every waking hour thinking about how to restore our freedom.

David N. Narr