Thursday, July 15, 2004
Who Are "The People?"
“We need more Laws to protect The People (from themselves). We need to feed more power to individuals and institutions who will 'address the needs of The People.' We need to eliminate the 'enemies of The People.'”
So, who exactly are The People? It seems that the further out a demagogue goes on the political spectrum, the greater likelihood that people (individuals) will suffer for the greater cause of The People.
For a politician to say what they really mean when using this euphemism would require acknowledgment that the people they speak of are just another special interest group no more noble or “deserving” than any other.
Are The People, farmers? Poor laborers? Wealthy inventors? Lawyers? Clerks? Rich liberal housewives and actresses? Do white, divorced, unemployed, and paraplegic men dying of cancer, “have all the power?”
The implication in every “...The People” rant is always that, somehow, successful or fortunate citizens are not The People. Of course, when a Statist demagogue speaks of The People, he or she is typically implying lower classes, the poor, or the “oppressed” (groups which are ultimately comprised of diverse and conflicting elements), but even this is not what they are really getting at.
If you're a medium or low-income blue-collar worker with a mortgage who happens to be conservative, try convincing a Social-Statist that you're one of The People. Whether black, Hispanic, woman, or poor; a conservative is a non-“People” in the eyes of those who love the state – or more likely, an “enemy of The People.”
The collectivists' obsession with philosophical word games has always insured that “enemies of The People” can be defined broadly. So it was that to Pol Pot, the wearing of glasses or speaking French could place one in a dangerous category as The People’s enemy. Even in the milder rants of the Democrat Left, successful and accomplished persons are “greedy,” selfish,” and “racist” when compared to “The People,” (who we are to assume are kind, gentle, sharing, and noble – like the Left-Wing ranter themselves, of course).
The People are always perfect, and the rest of humanity, being so flawed, must be shoved into a contrived and illusionary template so that a leader or party can claim they've changed all of human history out of their infinite compassion.
Even among moderate crusades for the collectivist ideal, the self-proclaimed spokespersons for common people have been, ironically, the uncommon elites of the intelligentsia, academia, the arts, and the media, all rallying in opposition to their common enemy, the people of creation and commerce – the business class. Those who apply themselves to practical innovation and achievement are not The People in the eyes of those who resent the most productive elements among us.
Realistically, The People, the Volksgemeinschaft (folk community), and the Village (to use Hillary Clinton’s euphemism) are ultimately mere abstractions – they mean nothing. Some form of these political clichés have been conjured regularly through history in the same way that “society” is now so often used as a rallying cry of both hatred and concern. “Society,” like “The People,” has been accurately described as a mystical concept that refers to no one in particular and everyone but one's self.
It often appears that the more obsessive one’s concern is for The People, the less likely one can relate to people individually, let alone recognize them as valid persons of diverse and varied interests.
Class envy and resentment toward successful individuals or groups has never accomplished anything but stagnation, self-destruction, political upheaval, and the establishment of varying levels of tyranny. In the final analysis, reference to The People is just another way to say, “Those who agree with me.”
There will always be some who believe a demagogue’s lust for power is mitigated by mock concern for some imaginary group abstraction, but there will also be others who see through such nonsense, resisting the perennial attempt to impose sacrifice in the name of Romantic notions about who The People are – but, what do they know, they’re probably “enemies of The People.”
Likewise, any Marxist worth his salt would praise the achievements of capitalism, as did Marx. They just think it can be done better.
Yes, it is true, Chomsky and Marx et at. have sometimes made brief -- and I think insincere -- statements to qualify their otherwise bitter hatred for free-market / open systems. As to thinking "it" can be "done better," Marx's clones certainly wouldn't be the place to go for that.
Many arguments can certainly be made as to planning a society differently but, being an selfish bourgeosie capitalist, I'd prefer to "plan" my own life.
All the Marxist or Chomsky-esqe arguments in the world can't "prove" that I, or anyone else, should submit to the designs of resentful intellectuals. All the posing rants of compassion can't justify the imposition of the socialist mega-state.