Why is the left so prone to physical violence? What is it about leftist ideology that makes its adherents so inclined to solving political disagreements with their fists?
I am a member of the Sweden Democrats. We’re a party represented in the Swedish parliament, which received 13 % of the vote in the last election (twice as much as in the election before). I won’t go into our policies too much as I’ve described them before, but basically we’re an economically centrist national conservative party. More importantly for this article is that 50 % of our political representatives have been physically attacked, received death threats, or otherwise been harassed (this is 3x the national average for politicians). Recently a Swedish Democrat politician was driven to suicide by a media witch-hunt, and two months ago another representative – a 70-year old man – was viciously beaten and robbed outside his apartment building by a gang of extremists.
While this kind of violence is rarely openly endorsed (though exceptions are becoming more and more frequent) by the establishment, I have never heard anyone condemn it without reservations.
In this article, I am going to discuss three reasons that I believe explain the left’s tendency for violence as well as other undemocratic political tactics such as slander, death threats, harassment, character assassination etc.
1) The Superhero Fallacy
The superhero fallacy can be summarized as the distorted self-image that is so common within the left: They think of themselves as heroes.
Listen to a leftist defend affirmative action, gay rights, environmentalism or any other of their numerous pet causes that ordinary people don’t really care about – they will frequently make parallels to historical injustices and historical movements. For example, the LGBT movement loves to think of themselves as successors to the civil rights movement (which is sort of funny when you consider that Afro-Americans are quite socially conservative). Or better yet, to the abolitionist movement. Leftists who support open borders love to think of themselves as the White Rose. And sure there isn’t really any difference between a union leader who starts a strike to get higher salaries, and Spartacus who led a slave revolt?
This inflated self-image would be funny if it wasn’t so dangerous.
You see, if you view yourself as a superhero, then by definition your enemies are super-villains. If you are Batman, then your political opponent must be the Joker. If you’re Lincoln, your political opponents must be slave-owners. If you’re the White Rose, then your political opponents must be Nazis.
And who would object to beating up a Nazi?
That is how the superhero fallacy can be used to justify violence: Everyone cheers when a superhero beats up the villain on the big screen. No-one considers Batman’s violence against the likes of Bane & the Joker to be excessive or unjustified. And since superheroes are allowed to use violence against their enemies, leftists consider themselves justified in using violence against their political opponents. I’ve actually had leftists tell me with a straight face that the violence they use is justified, because after all, “don’t you think the violent resistance against Nazi Germany was justified?”
This is also the reason why leftists are TWICE as prone as conservatives to state that they would refuse to be friends with someone who didn’t agree with them politically. If you view your political opponents as modern Nazis and slave-owners, then it’s understandable that you don’t want to be friends with them.
Conservatives are less prone to violence because we know that we are not superheroes – our ideology is founded in the Christian religion which teaches that there is only one superhero and his name is Jesus Christ. We are all fallen human beings – that includes us, and our opponents, so we have no excuse for getting cocky.
2) Victimhood mentality
The left loves victims. Their entire ideology is based on standing up for the poor and the exploited in society. However, the modern left not only loves victims – they love being victims.
This is a stark contrast to the old left, which was all about helping victims get on equal footing with their exploiters. While I disagree with the policies promoted by the left, I recognize that in their own misguided way, they were truly trying to help those who were too weak to help themselves. Today’s left however is all about being a victim – it doesn’t matter who you are, just find a way to turn yourself into a victim. If you’re a woman, you’re a victim of the patriarchy. Ethnic/cultural minority? You’re a victim of racism. Disabled in any way whatsoever? You’re a victim of ableism. Your sexual interests are out of the mainstream? You’re a victim of heteronormativity.
And of course, the perpetrators are always, invariable the capitalists. Never mind that the heteronorm, racism, ableism and patriarchy are all thousands of years older than the capitalist system (which is only a few hundred years old), as soon as you’ve found yourself a victim category that you can fit yourself into, you are entitled to throw rocks at the disgusting oppressors who dare to work harder than you.
Because that’s what victimhood mentality is all about in the end: Finding an excuse so that you don’t have to take responsibility for your actions (or at least not as much as you normally would have to). If you’re a victim, then your violence is really just self-defense. And so, if you’re a radical leftist with a degree in stone-throwing, you want to be a victim.
Combine victimhood mentality with the superhero fallacy, and you’ll end up with people who view themselves as victimized superheroes – and such people certainly can’t be asked to sit down and have a civil discussion as opposed to arguing with their fists.
Again, this should be contrasted with the conservative approach: We believe in people’s ability to change their own lives through the choices that they make. Hence, we are so much less prone to whine about being victims (there are a few shameful exceptions; see Palin, Sarah) and use that as an excuse for unjustifiable forms of political activism.
Finally: I am not denying that discrimination against the above-mentioned groups exist, but as a conservative I do not believe that this can be used to explain or justify every stupid action made by a member of any of those groups.
This is a topic I’ve covered previously, so I’ll only give a short summary here: The left believes that paradise on earth can be accomplished through politics, while conservatives generally believe that it will only be accomplished with the establishment of a “new heaven and new earth” that the Bible speaks of.
This may make us sound cynical from time to time, but history tells us that we are right: Utopianism is poisonous to the mind. Utopianism is how dictators such as Stalin have justified their infringements on human rights – “if we just limit freedom of speech a tiny bit, we’ll establish a worker’s paradise”. And then “If we just ban religion, we’ll get our worker’s paradise”, and then finally “if we just kill group X, our society will become a paradise”.
Utopia by definition is so wonderful that any sacrifice that is necessary to get there is going to be worth it. So if a few political opponents are standing in the way, then that is a problem that can certainly be solved with a few bullets or perhaps a car bomb or two. Why would you need to engage in political discussion – after all, paradise is around the corner, and every day people suffer because the world isn’t a paradise, so if a few people have to die to speed things up… well, then so be it.
When politics revolves around measurable goals (such as a 2 % increase in GDP, a 5 % reduction in inequality) we get a great platform for political discussions to take place, as we can all sit down, analyze our options, find the pros and the cons and then reach a compromise we can all be reasonably happy with. However, when one group claims to be able to make the world perfect, debate becomes a lot harder – in particular since these groups hardly ever go into details such as how their system will make the world perfect, or what “perfect” even means.
When you believe in utopianism, your political opponents aren’t just a bunch of people with different values and/or priorities; instead, they are satanic monsters and their very existence is the source of all evil in the world. You will never pick up a gun and shoot your opponent if you believe that by doing so you’ll achieve something modest and measurable – like a 1 % increase in GDP – but you may do it if you believe that by doing so, you’ll be removing the final obstacle that is standing in the path to paradise.
Now if we combine utopianism with victimhood mentality & the superhero fallacy, what you get is a person who believes that he is a victim and hence not responsible for his actions, who believes his opponents are a modern iteration of the Nazis and who believes that he through his actions can accomplish paradise on earth.