And how they are joined is neither political nor philosophical. It is entirely psychological.
This is important to understand, because Karl Marx’s original followers were all academicians. It would be at least two generations before they would begin spawning little bratlings (David Horowitz can explain this better than I can) who would grow up to teach English 101 at State College, or maybe only sweep the parking lot at SeaWorld, but who would be the vanguard of that exaggerated self-love first taught at their cradles then later transposed into the public school indoctrination we know today.
Know this, the original love affair with Marx was psychological, not philosophical, and has gone forward in that order ever since. If you don’t understand this you know nothing of Marxism or the modern Left, or of the other-worldly unreality of the universe in which they exist.
And if you can’t understand this psychological phenomenon, you’ll miss just how many (but not all) libertarians are joined with the Left, and where how of the conservative intelligentsia, post 2006 or thereabouts, has finally become joined as well.
The big question then, which I’ll only touch on here, as I haven’t yet collected all my notes, is why are some able to resist this demon seed, while others are not? Is it home life? School? Peers? PopCulture? Generational?
Libertarians, the gnostic constitutionalists
If you don’t know the Gnostics, they were a 2nd Century Greek Christian movement. And if you don’t know the Greeks of the early days of the Roman Empire, they had only recently lost their own empire (Alexander’s) as Rome was building hers. At that time, the Greeks fancied themselves the only true intellectuals in the known world, and looked upon the Romans as philistines who had the temerity to take one of classical Greece’s greatest artistic creations, Mathematics, and turn it into a pedestrian tradecraft called Applied Science, that actually defined how the sandals Pythagoras wore could be manufactured for profit, or water could be carried from miles away over giant stone chutes to bathe dirty Romans while rich Greek still used a bucket brigade from the river.
(For real pleasure, watch Boris Johnson and Mary Beard debate here the virtues of both, and vote among yourselves.)
Worse, Greek bitterness ran deep since they lived under both the protection and thumb of the Romans. They hated having to look up to their lessers. (Hold onto that thought for it goes to the heart of both the primal libertarian and resulting conservative treason.)
When Christianity began to spread around the near east, these Greeks assessed it, liked it, then tried to restate it in such a way that was more pleasing to their own intellectual sensibilities. In other words, the Gnostic gospels were reconfigured so as to be almost impossible to grasp for the ordinary Ioe the Plvmber in Rome, Gaul or Alexandria.
And that was the point.
The Gnostics wanted a Gospel only their initiated could understand. For you see, the Greeks had a big, big problem with Christ’s admonition that one must come to God as a child in order to see His Kingdom of Heaven. “Suffer the little children…” was an idea they just couldn’t swallow for it meant they must accept an equal station with, you know, C-students. So they reconfigured Christianity in another way, with themselves as the intellectual shepherds of the Church.
(We see this all the time. Even the tea parties have been invaded by this thinking.)
Hold that thought, too, for that is precisely how many libertarians see the Constitution today, for they have an equal difficulty in accepting the Founders’ proposition, “Suffer the common man to come unto liberty…all by himself.”
To give them some credit, historically libertarianism is an intellectual discipline of self-attainment. It’s a personal ethos, which is why it should never translate into national policy, or even a real political party. Still, as such, it is a very good (self-) discipline when viewed through the prism of the Constitution. I know and admire many Libertarians, none of whom carry any of the condescending arrogance and hubris we see today among the younger practitioners, yet are still bona fide A-students.
And Libertarians and Conservatives both cling to the Constitution, only the former sees it in terms of “my” rights (and interests) being protected, while the latter historically have considered the rights of all men. The “other guy” lay at the heart of conservatism. Or once did.
The Founders were clear on this point, just as Christ was clear about coming to God as a child. Each Founder was an elite in his own right, but they wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights with the “other guy” in mind; the little guy, the common man. Jefferson made it known that it was the Homer Simpsons of the world he had in mind when he wrote that “self-evident” clause into the Declaration, that all men can pursue life, liberty and happiness…without the permission of the state or the un-asked-for supervision of their betters.
In doing this, the Founders established the “theology” of liberty, incorporating a “psychology of liberty” which is one of reciprocity, for they set aside their own high opinions about themselves in order to create a system of government that would provide hundreds of different roads for men less educated, less clever, less read, to pursue, already knowing where the roads led. Jefferson was considered a traitor to his class, in fact, just for believing that someday Tom the Tinker’s kids could grow up to be just like him.
Which some of Tom’s kids in fact did.
Enslavers and Liberators
The psychology of liberty is diametrically opposite to that expressed by the original Marxists. Consequently it requires a codicil about the Golden Rule toward thy neighbor be incorporated into the body of the body of conservatism that cannot be found in libertarianism, and certainly not the Left.
This Golden Rule codicil is what distinguishes Left from Right, more than mere policies, a fact totally lost at National Review these days. Libertarians are meists by definition, #OnlyIMatter, and the only time they ever seriously engage in party politics is to cause harm to true conservatism, because of that silly notion about the “other guy”. Forever joined at the heart with the Left in mutual disdain for the Homer Simpsons of the world, who, should they be disenfranchised , would do the world no great loss, they are psychologically compelled to resist any politics that would empower him.
Harkening back to the Greeks, one has to wonder why it is they were wired this way? Genetics? Is there an “elitist gene”? I doubt it. What we know is since we’ve seen this phenomenon under so many different intellectual and social banners, from Greeks to Gnostic Christians to French royal houses, to Karl Marx to Yale’s Psychological School…
…and modern little “l” libertarians, elitism has to be one of the hardest itches to scratch man has ever borne. Therefore Conservatism is probably the most elite (vs elitist) intellectual pursuit known to mankind, for its practitioners must abjure the most compelling reason to be intellectual in the first place, and that is to be able to pee on the shoes of those who are not. Instead, he must love them…in a political sort of a way.
As we now know, with some, it is a compulsion to be elitist, impossible to control, like Bill Clinton’s itches, a true psychological impairment, learned somewhere between the cradle and 5th grade. A powerful force, even more than sex, I’d wager.
It is this condition that joins at the heart the modern elitist with the leaders of the Left, for it was that same inner vanity that compelled Marx to perpetrate his bait-and-switch in the first place; that wealth-creation is the only evil in the world, and that greed for it was the only road to power…while he dreamed of the other road to power, the dictatorship of the smart.
His gimmick was to portray a deep hatred for wealth and money, which I genuinely believe he despised, and to argue that men who sought after it were the most disgusting of humans. Think Donald Trump here. In order to destroy Trump’s kind of wealth the system that rewarded him had to be destroyed first.
Only Marxists, nor the Left, nor the Democrats have to do this hard labor to convince voters these days. They have National Review; Rich Lowery, David French, Jonah Goldberg, Kevin D Williamson, or Erick Erickson, and his “unctuous platitudinizing eunuchs” (h/t Doc Martin) at RedState.com to say these things for them.
Whatever itched Marx now itches these fellows too, only, as I noted among a couple of Central Committee members in the USSR just before it fell, just four generations after VI Lenin founded it, in the end it wasn’t any longer only the power, but also the money, the status, the perquisites that drove them.
On this one thing, elitism, libertarians were joined with the Left at the hip from birth. I can only guess that why conservatives were so late to this realization were those 50 years of William F Buckley stood watch at the helm of the movement, which is why National Review’s now standing at the helm of the Ship of Fools, managing conservatism’s retreat, steering the “resurgence” (sic) of elitism, is such a tragedy.
I’d like to put my finger on that trigger once again,
And point that gun at all the prideful men.
All the voyeurs and the lawyers who can pull a fountain pen,
And put you where they choose,
With the language that they use,
And enslave you till you work your youth away,
(Don McLean, Bronco Billy’s Lament)