Anger on the Left *UPDATED*

My father was a very angry man. At whichever job he had, he was pretty darn certain that management was out to get him. At stores, he knew he was being cheated. My mother always attributed this anger, not to the poverty and dislocation of his youth (placed in an orphanage at 5, refugee from the Nazis at 15, fighter in the RAF at 19), but to the Communism of his youth.

You see, my father grew up in the Dickensian Jewish slums of Berlin in the 1920s. Unsurprisingly, these slums were hotbeds of Communism and, while his mother was apolitical, his brother and sister were fervent Communists. Although they were much older than he was, they nevertheless managed to infect him with their political ideology, so much so that, while he eventually was a rock solid Democrat (until 1980) his world view was colored by the concept of class warfare — in his mind, anyone who was better situated than he was, was by definition out to get him.

My Dad and his siblings, therefore, were Communists in the perfect Marxist sense. They emerged from the underclass. They were genuinely downtrodden. The cards were completely stacked against them. Their class animus was understandable. It also made them very, very angry, and fairly dysfunctional in ordinary capitalist circumstances. His sister, indeed, was so hostile to Israel for adopting a mild form of socialism that she returned to East Germany to live in the Communist paradise. His brother was incapable of working in a capitalist system, or even a semi-socialist system, and ended his life in squalor, a low-level civil servant in Copenhagen, living in a one room apartment with his wife and child.

As for my Dad, he married my mom. My mom, too, had a life time of poverty and dislocation, but was never tainted by Communism. She is, indeed, to this day, perfectly happy with Capitalism in theory, although the fact that she was married to my father meant she never got to realize any real economic benefits from the system. Because of my Mom, my Dad completed his education, had children, and held down a job. He bought a home, and he became friends with rich people because, while we had no money, my Mom has class. He discovered that rich people, at least in America, weren’t evil parasites but were, in fact, very nice — and very hard-working. He moved right, so far, in fact, that he was one of the Reagan Democrats. I’m certain that he would be a McCain Demcrat too, were he still living. But he still would have been paranoid, convinced that the world was out to get him.

Believe it or not, there is a point to all of this biographical rumination and it’s anger. One could accuse my Mom of being guilty of amateur armchair psychology, with her certainty that it was Communism, not poverty, that fed my Dad’s anger. I think she’s right, though. We see even today that the Left is very, very angry. Despite the fact that life in America is, for most people, very good and certainly is, again for most people, better than it’s ever been at any other time or place in history, the Left sees America in only the grimmest terms. America is an evil oppressor. America intentionally hurts people. America lives to abuse people for racist reasons. You’ve seen DailyKos and the Democratic Underground and the HuffPo and the New York Times and the WaPo, and you know these feelings are out there.

What’s peculiar about this evil capitalist mantra is that it no longer emanates from the underclass. Think about the proponents of these theories: John Kerry, billionaire; Al Gore, multi-millionaire; John Edwards, multi-millionaire; Hillary Clinton, multi-millionaire; Nancy Pelosi, multi-millionaire; Jeremiah Wright, rich pastor moving into exclusive white enclave; the Obamas, products of America’s top education systems and, within the past few years, millionaires; Harry Reid, multi-millionaire; Barbara Boxer, millionaire. I’m stopping here, but you can add your own names to the list.

These people I’ve named are not, as my father was, social rejects who live in (or came from) squalor that is almost impossible to imagine now. They haven’t been kicked from pillar to post by the upper classes, nor have they been refugees, nor have they been denied opportunities. These people are the cream of the crop, the ones who have benefited most from America’s economic and educational opportunities. For those of us working gazillions of hours a week, holding two jobs, watching fuel prices tick up, wondering how we’ll pay for our children’s educations, and hoping no one gets seriously sick, they are the ones to be envied. They are the ruling class.

And yet every single one of the people I’ve named, and all of the similarly situated people I didn’t think of but that you did, share something in common with my down-trodden, refugee father — they’re really, really angry. So I have to think that this overarching, paranoid anger does not arise because of someone’s economic situation or their vertical position in the social hierarchy. Instead, my Mom was right all along: Communism, or whatever form of Leftism is currently in vogue, is attractive to those who are angry, and it breeds anger in those who otherwise might avoid that emotion.

And while anger is a universal trait, and clearly operates to help us survive in dangerous situations, those of us who have lived with chronic anger know that its long-term effects can only be harmful. For the angry individual, the results are ill-health, as the heart and guts rebel against the streams of bile flowing through the system. For the person living with someone angry, the downsides run the gamut from stress, anxiety and depression, to actual physical danger (a situation that my father, bless him, never created). And for those who live in a country powered by the angry, one sees political self-loathing, which leads suicidal behavior when it comes to both the economy and national security.

One of the things I’ve come to like about John McCain is that, while he definitely has a temper, that seems to be a generic trait. That is, he suffers from situational anger. He has what, in the old days, used to be called a quick temper. He is, in other respects, a sunny optimistic soul, and that despite his years as a POW. What McCain clearly lacks is the brooding, paranoid anger that characterizes the Left, and for that reason I believe that, his temper notwithstanding, he’d definitely be a sunnier presence in the White House than his embittered opponents.

I also think that Americans share McCain’s more sunny optimism. I can’t imagine that, over the long run, they’re going to be attracted to professional paranoids who live in the mansions on the hill, sucking every bit of wealth they can from the system, all the while castigating ordinary Americans for being greedy, embittered fools.

UPDATEHere’s something to chew on regarding the basic decency and optimism that characterizes John McCain.

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  • socratease

    It struck me recently that liberal rage and Islamic rage have similar roots: Both groups feel entitled to power and stature by virtue of the obvious correctness of their belief system, and are convinced that the only reason they have not achieved it is that their enemies are conspiring to cheat them out of their due.

  • http://expreacherman.wordpress.com ExPreacherMan

    Book,

    In my long study of Communism, Socialism, Nazism, Leftism, etc I find that anger is a factor for the zillionaires.

    But more than anger, POWER is the motive.. They have the wealth usually at the expense of the public in one way or another, but they want to be the Elites in the Socialist power structure.

    ExP(Jack)

  • Ellie2

    I’ve always viwed the anger from the Left as similar to the anger of a 2 year old when mom says “no.”

    It has been observed on this forum before that the Left can’t make an arguement (refutation), so they just yell til their face turns red. They are *furious* that you just won’t agree with them, dammit!

  • Ellie2

    Oops! I hope I didn’t just rack up points for you in the potty-mouth ratings (sorry ;(

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    Good post…..I want to offer just one clarification.

    “Despite the fact that life in America is, for most people, very good and certainly is, again for most people, better than it’s ever been at any other time or place in history”

    In America, even our poor have it good, BW – as I’m pretty sure you know. They are “poor” only in comparison to their more fortunate (or hardworking) countrymen. Compared to the poor in 90% of the rest of the world, they are incredibly wealthy.

    Which is why people from everywhere are knocking down our doors to get in.

  • Deana

    I hadn’t thought about that before – that communism (and socialism) attracts those who are angry and breeds anger in others.

    I think your mom is right – I’m going to have to think about this some more.

    Deana

  • Ymarsakar

    What’s peculiar about this evil capitalist mantra is that it no longer emanates from the underclass. Think about the proponents of these theories: John Kerry, billionaire; Al Gore, multi-millionaire; John Edwards, multi-millionaire; Hillary Clinton, multi-millionaire; Nancy Pelosi, multi-millionaire; Jeremiah Wright, rich pastor moving into exclusive white enclave; the Obamas, products of America’s top education systems and, within the past few years, millionaires; Harry Reid, multi-millionaire; Barbara Boxer, millionaire. I’m stopping here, but you can add your own names to the list.

    The reason is very simple, if you wish to consider a simple explanation for such.

    Arab societies are all essentially Prime Divider societies:

    These societies are based on the political axiom “rule or be ruled” and permit even require the use of violence to defend one’s honor. They contain following main features.
    #

    legal privilege for the elites (including exemption from taxation, lighter sentences for their misdeeds and heavier penalties for offenses against them).

    * self-help justice in which clans defend their members regardless of legal issues like intent (blood revenge, vendetta, feud, duel)
    * mystery surrounding political authority (e.g., monarchy above the law)
    * commoner populations illiterate, controlled by intimidation (Machiavelli’s: a ruler should be feared not loved)
    * manual labor stigmatized, vast majority (masses) excluded from public sphere except on choreographed occasions
    * elites with a monopoly on literacy, weaponry, rapid transportation, and political power

    Prime Divider societies are societies built upon scarcity. In Prime Divide societies, wealth, status and privilege are considered zero-sum quantities. If one person’s wealth, status, or privilege increases, it must come at the expense of someone else whose wealth, status, or privilege diminishes commensurately. This is the type of system that typically arises and is maintained when material wealth is highly constrained.

    Modern capitalist societies have succeeded in breaking that paradigm; wealth is increasingly becoming a positive-sum gain, with one person’s wealth (capital) enhancing the wealth of all. (While this has been denigrated as trickle down economics, in point of fact, capitalism has brought great wealth to even the poorest members of Western society, who now have their own cell phones, color TVs, multiple video game systems, and many more calories than they need for nutrition.) Status and privilege are democratizing but remain much more limited, but material wealth has done more than any other development to create a middle class which then forms a large enough cohort to eventually create more egalitarian societies. This is the basis of Tom Barnett’s thesis that greater connectivity will inevitably lead to greater moderation.

    -Shrinkwrapped

    http://shrinkwrapped.blogs.com/blog/2008/04/the-arab-mind-m.html#more

    The simple explanation is this. It is even more simple than guilt for rich people, in a fashion.

    When wealth is no longer finite, Book, then how can you acquire power in order to control people? How does a John Kerry convince people to bow down to him and worship him as King-Narcissist when anyone and everyone can see themselves in the mirror and feel a point of pride about their upward social or economic mobility?

    Easy. They convince people by convincing them that there is a threat of scarcity or that there are looters and thieves in the community which must be caught using “emergency laws” that will require “sacrifice” of the community, BOok.

    If there aren’t enough people afraid and destitute, then you sure as hell must make them exist if you wish to have a throne and create a new aristocracy.

    Instead, my Mom was right all along: Communism, or whatever form of Leftism is currently in vogue, is attractive to those who are angry, and it breeds anger in those who otherwise might avoid that emotion.

    Anger doesn’t lead so much to the dark side as the Dark Side makes you angry at the wrong things.

    Many Democrat supporters have themselves seen problems with government and events. But they blame the wrong causes and are angered, because they blame the wrong causes, by the wrong things. When that happens, there is no natural and efficient outlet for anger. It just builds and builds in a forever feedback loop, since the more you become angry at the wrong things, the more damage you will do and the worse your situation will become. The worse your situation, the more you become angry at the injustice of it all.

    People who have recognized that their anger is a self-feedback loop designed to control them, often successfully rebel and convert to something like the Reagan Democrats.

    But you don’t necessarily need anger, Book. Any emotion is grist for the war mill. Pity, guilt, hatred, the good intent to do the right thing, goodness, mercy, compassion, etc. are all grist for the mill.

  • Ymarsakar

    Look at New Orleans. Anger and fear of guns or crime or Bush or whatever led to the election of New Orlean’s governor and mayor. Which led to Katrina and the disaster, which leads to more anger and fear, which leads to more Democrats in power.

    This is the cycle of power and it is totally counter to the Cycle of Justice or the Circle of Justice taught to Persians by the nobility back before Islam came around the scene.

    The Circle of Justice, as taught in Zoroastrianism lands, was this.

    Cambâr-î Razvâriftîg (Circle of Justice)

    The Circle of Justice is attributed by Muslims to the Sassanian Persians, but its traces can be found in Mesopotamian sources dating to the time of Hammurabi and before. As early as the third millennium BC, the elements of the Circle of Justice appeared together in Sumerian royal inscriptions, as far back as 2350 BC. The conduct of a bureaucratic empire carried with a political and social morality, expressed as the circle of justice. There can be no government without soldiers, no soldiers without money, no money without prosperity, and no prosperity without justice and good administration. This concept of justice and provision was repeatedly revived in the ideologies of the Fertile Crescent after successive conquests by Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians, by Persians, Arabs, and Turks. The circle begins with the peasantry, who paid taxes into the treasury, which paid salaries for the armies which protected and expanded the realm of the king, who gave justice to peasants, protecting them from oppression.

    Justice is the treasury of kings, and divine favor and moral leadership will lead to victory, because of which the land experienced prosperity and fruitfulness under divinely-ordained leadership.

    Never let a fake leftist tell you that Arabs or Persians are the way they are because of their “culture”. It wasn’t their “culture” until Islam came and got rid of their original culture. Persians were very tribal, but they have had centuries of an honest attempt at Empire and nationalism. All gone after the Islamic conquests.

  • 1Lulu

    Socratease, I agree- and both gain adherents by disallowing dissent and demonizing those who believe differently.

  • Ymarsakar

    Khrusu the Just, ruled during the time of Belisarius, Rome’s greatest general of all time, was the Emperor of Iran and non-Iran.

    Few, if any, rulers in Arabia or Persia currently hold a candle to him.

    If absolute power corrupts absolutely, then it will sure as heck take a superior human such as Asoka to rule well and justly with such power. You don’t find such men anymore in modern times. Both because of the limitation of power and because the world is spoiled, at least the Western world is, and that spoils everyone else that comes into contact with the West.

  • Ymarsakar

    Socratease, I agree- and both gain adherents by disallowing dissent and demonizing those who believe differently.

    When an Arabic or Persian or Palestinian talks about peace or co-existence with Israel, they are called traitors (apostates) and then promptly killed. When blacks in America talks about co-existence and positive cooperation with Republicans, they are called Uncle Toms, Aunt Jemimas, and everything else they threw at Condoleeza Rice and Justice Thomas.

    When a black man becomes educated and learned in the white man’s economy and business world, he is seen as a sell out by much of the black community. An oreo, someone black on the outside and white on the inside, meaning a person that lives a life of deception trying to appease their masters with a cookie exterior.

    When a Muslim comes to America or the West and adopts Western practices, they are hounded by people just as Hirsi Ali has been hounded.

    When a Muslim terrorists comes to the US and indulges in lap dances and other Western practices before flying a plane into a building full of civilians, that Muslim is seen as pure and virtuous for having atoned and redeemed himself.

    When black pasters and people like Farrakan, Jackson, and Sharpton use white collar legal protections and ACLU powers to hit their political enemies, they are praised as pure and full of salvation for the black man.

    When Arab Princes use the oil wealth of their nation to oppress their people, fake liberals say it is just their culture and it wouldn’t be a problem if the West wasn’t full of pollution and sin and capitalism.

    When American companies go out to look for oil and petroleum in order to supply plastic life saving technologies to infants and people in need, not to mention heating and fuel to power the economy that sustains billions, they are labeled as evil corporations out to make a profit off of the backs and blood of the downtrodden.

    Human beings are full of foolishness, as you can see, and it is only through war that any human ever figured out which was the “wise” path to take amongst the veritable slew of possible opportunities to create mayhem and call it salvation.

  • Al

    Yes. BW this is a great post. And it was a gift to your father and all of us that he found your mother. There is no question that a fundamentally angry personality combined with the will to power spells tragedy of Homeric proportions. But I think there is another facet to this window on personality. And your link to Karl Rove’s piece on the private John McCain gave it to me.
    Why are some people chronically angry? Especially in light of a good material life. They feel someone is out to get them. Someone is controlling them. They feel powerless. But why do they feel powerless when there is no apparent person controlling them? They have ceded to someone else power over their own lives. Some unnamed individual or group. When John McCain endured the torture on the North Vietnamese, he was physically in the power of the torturers. But he did not give them power over his soul. He preached to his fellow prisoners “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s. Caesar put us in jail. Caesar will get us out.” McCain chose not to give his tormentors that power over him. You have to chose to surrender power over your life. And if you believe you are powerless, you become angry. Maybe that is what happened to your father. It helps explain the hatred that many on the left have for Bush. They have ceded power over their own lives to the evil Republicans, and GWB is the personification of that evil. It’s another example of the childish, benightedly foolish behavior of the Left.
    Al

  • Mike Devx

    In this discussion of the permanently angry, I’d like to add a note about Barack Obama.
    I ran across a post on another blog that I found compelling. Here’s the first and last paragraph of it:

    (First paragraph: A quote from one of Obama’s book)
    “To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist Professors and the structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.” – Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father, pages 100-101.
    [...]
    (Second paragraph: blogger’s summary)
    Americans do not like or trust marxist, race-baiting terrorist sympathizers, and it looks like Obama has gone out of his way in his own life (by his own admission) to keep that kind of company. Americans will never put that type of person in the White House. Obama’s charade is over.

    My own thought is this. Take another look at Barack Obama’s own categorization of who he chooses carefully to be eligible as a friend of his:
    – The more politically active black students
    – Foreign students
    – Chicanos
    – Marxist Professors
    – Structural feminists
    – Punk-rock performance poets

    Do you think he includes *Republican* politically active black students in his list? Or just the leftist ones? How many of them he chose do you think are permanently angry?

    “Foreign students” is very vague. Again I wonder… which foreign students?

    When he says, “Chicanos”, I wonder what that means as well. It doesn’t mean just Hispanics. I think it means politically leftist active Hispanics. Again: ANGRY!

    And the last three have only two things in common: They are leftists and they are angry!

    So what we have here is, basically, Obama choosing as his friends committed leftists who are angry all the time. This doesn’t speak very well of someone who wants to overcome divisiveness, who wants to be a uniter, who wants to heal, does it? Unless by unity and healing, he means, get everyone to accept the leftist and angry worldview, and marginalize those who don’t agree.

    Think I’m wrong? Consider what he specifically did NOT say: I choose my friends very carefully. Mostly I’m looking for all fellow travellers who seek to heal the divisions. I’m looking for those who work hard at creating common ground and unity. I find them among all categories of people, and that encourages me.

    No… he specifically does not choose friends who seek unity and healing. It explains why he was so comfortable for twenty years listening to Rev. Wright’s bitterness, anger and sarcasm. It explains why he’s so comfortable with black liberation theologians, who can also be described as permanently offended and angry. Where are the healers? Where are the uniters?

  • Ymarsakar

    To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully.

    There’s that oreo thing again that has the cost of death in Palestine if you are an Arab and found working with the Jews.

    So Obama, in order to save his own hide, sold out to a greater evil than simply the victimization of being seen as a sellout to his race or faction. How far will Obama go as President should America’s enemies call him a sellout and want him to atone for his sins?

    This is modern amoral familism all right.

  • benning

    That’s how you can tell who is a Leftist and who is sane. The Leftist’s face is usually screwed up in a scowl and is screaming in rage. The sane person is not.

  • expat

    BW,

    You’ve hit on the exact reason I cannot warm up to Michelle. I could probably match and raise her on her living situation as a child, but I find so many things to treasure. The things my parents couldn’t buy me have been forgotten, but I still remember the efforts they made for me. Where are Michelle’s warm and funny stories about her childhood? Was she always so resentful, or did she learn to be from some sort of leftist indoctrination? Can’t she pull out some story about a special thing she did with her mother that was more important than any material deprivation? All I feel from her is the anger at our country.

    I think my mother also had class. It didn’t cost anything, and it didn’t come from the government.

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