Coffee House

The laughing lefty

16 January 2012

16 January 2012

What a shame the Christmas literary recommends season is over: otherwise I would have loved to draw this to your attention as quite the funniest book of the year. In The Reactionary Mind political author Corey Robin pretends to analyse the psychopathology which
drives conservatives to think and act the way they do. I say "pretends" because obviously the whole thing is a sustained exercise in hilarious, spot-on pastiche of just how shrill, absurd
and ludicrous the liberal-left can be when it tries too hard to be clever.

Robin’s comedy spoof thesis goes like this: conservatives are power-crazed bullies who just love to oppress; they are a self-perpetuating elite who’ll stop at nothing to put subordinate groups down
be they women, ethnic minorities, or the workers; and this is why they so love war and violence — because they exist in a perpetual state of counter-revolution, desperately trying to regain
ground which enlightened progressives have stolen from them, constantly striving to crush their opponents.

As an example of this instinctive aggression which courses through all conservatives, Robin cites something Churchill once wrote in 1930 recalling the excitement he felt while reporting on the
Cuban war of independence in 1895.

‘The minds of this generation, exhausted, brutalized, mutilated and bored by War, may not understand the delicious yet tremulous sensations with which a young British Officer bred in the
long peace approached for the first time an actual theatre of operations.’

See? Well DO YOU? Churchill was a conservative. Churchill wrote those very words clearly showing that he loved war. QED.

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Of course, had any serious author thought about this line of argument just a little longer he would have been struck by at least a couple of tiny flaws. First, though he became a conservative,
Churchill also served in a reforming liberal government. Second, is it not possible that war is just as exciting for young men of a left-wing persuasion as it is for evil, red-meat right-wingers:
Ernest Hemingway, say?

But let us not forget, Robin is only pretending to be this silly and lightweight as a kind of jeu d’esprit. So when he airily declares elsewhere "If the ruling class is to be vigorous
and robust, the conservative has concluded, its members must be tested, exercised and challenged," he doesn’t really believe that these are peculiarly conservative traits because how could
anyone be that stupid? (Didn’t, eg, the Nazis major on physical exercise? Does that mean they were conservatives too?) No: he’s just having another laugh at the left’s expense, that’s all.

Robin succeeds with equal brilliance at capturing the left’s dreary earnestness with prose so stolid it might almost have been typed in porridge:

‘Marching out of the family, the factory, and the field, where unfreedom and inequality are the flip sides of the same coin, they have made freedom and equality the irreducible yet mutually
reinforcing parts of a single whole. The link between freedom and equality has not made the argument for redistribution any more palatable to the right.’

I’m not actually sure what the first of those sentences actually means. (Deliberate, surely). But the second is absolute genius in its caricature of two of the liberal left’s preferred rhetorical
techniques: the unsupported assertion and the reverse projection.

This "link" between freedom and equality has been plucked from thin air: is, for example, a company compelled by equality laws to employ people on grounds of sex or race rather than
suitability for the job more or less free? As for the notion that conservatives are in any way against freedom: this is, of course, the exact opposite of true. It’s mainly the left which wants more
government control, more regulation, not the right. How else, after all, are you going to achieve the "redistribution" the author feigns to believe is desirable except through
state-sanctioned coercion?

Mind you, it’s just as well the book is satire, because if it weren’t it might be rather scary. Take its suggestion, near the end, that ‘With the exception of the gay rights movement there are
today no threatening social movements of the left.’ Whoa! Just imagine if this were what hard-core leftists really believe. Here we are, living in the age of Occupy, where Gramsci’s ‘long
march through the institutions’ is almost complete — where our schools, our universities, our media, our science establishment, our governments, our supranational bodies such as the UN
and the EU — are all in thrall to the values of the liberal-left. They don’t seriously think, do they, that conservatism has won?

Naah. This book is a joke. An elaborate joke. And I particularly like that lovely touch in the cover design where the author has deliberately chosen a picture of himself wearing an expression of
the most infuriating kind of left-liberal smug, almost as if, just off camera, Noam Chomsky and George Soros have let rip the most fragrantly right-on farts and the author is inhaling the bouquet.

Nice work, Corey. Such a pity so few of your readers will be clever enough to appreciate your ribald humour.


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Show comments
  • Petlock

    He bullied a relation in his sordid Telegraph blogging column, just as my aunt was very seriously ill. Just bullying! Why dress up as a soldier, James? Your bullying is frankly disgusting and your blogs poison.

  • ryan

    “Thanks to JD for ploughing through this patronising shite so we don’t have to. Had a glance at Amazon’s “see inside” sampler and quickly lost the will to live. Buggered if I’m going to put any money in this sanctimonious twat’s pocket, even to get a laugh as per James’s take.
    And yes, “fragrant farts” … wonderful!”

    So…you haven’t read it? Hmmm..

  • Kauai John

    Wow, this “critique” so completely, spot-on, describes the right-wing mind clearly to me.

    Under the premise that “it takes one to know one”, JD has actually bared his soul to us. The thing that he is most afraid of, the base of all his motivation. So conservative theory is draped around this ugliness so thickly, that the source cannot be discovered. Corey took a whole book to describe what JD put into a single paragraph.

    I’m sending this quote on to everyone I know! Thanks JD.

  • colin powis

    Patricia…there’s enough psychobabble and hot air coming from you Leftists to generate your own wind farm

  • Patricia Shaw

    Delingpole, you just keep scribbling away about the political climate and don’t be economic with your wind.

    We know you’re a sensitive, thin skinned sort, easily infuriated and riled, but even easier to ridicule.

  • colin powis

    Enviromentalism is a secular religious substitute and the third ”ism” of the 20th C after the failure of communism and fascism and combines elements of both …the anti capitalism of communism and the pagan anti humanism of nazism
    Enviro twits are all anti human and see mankind as the cause of all of nature’s problems and have a romantic view of an eden like world before homo sapien showed up and ruined it
    Very few practicing xians or jews are enviro twits because they already have a religion ..it’s secular /atheistic countries like aust/new zealand that have the fastest growing enviromentalist movements and seem to go hand in hand with ”animal rights” groups that attempt to elevate animal life to equal status with humans …in a political sense , it’s a form of cultural marxism and parody of Orwell’s animal farm that ”all animals are equal ”

  • colin powis

    In a broader sense , the pseudo scientific cult of GW is a frightening display of the power of ”soft propaganda ” on a lazy thinking population of a democracy …the folks promoting this semi religious scam should be shouted down and laughed out of town …they are a discrace to science , and to politics
    If we were living in a Leftist dictatorship the ”climate deniers ” and skeptics would be sent to a RE_EDUCATION CAMP and spokesmen like Delingpole would be made an example of, and put in a showtrial and forced to admit the error of their ways ”in camera”

  • colin powis

    because it’s NOT a science issue …it’s a quasi religious and emotional issue and you cannot talk people out of their religious /emotional beliefs …no amount of evidence/facts will convince them if they desire to believe it
    Here in the UK we have just had the most miserable summer for 15 years preceeded by 6 ft of GW last winter , but who are you going to believe , the ”climatologists” , or your own lying eyes ?

  • David Cockerham

    Well said James. The more you write on AGW the happier I’ll be. Why do these people keep behaving as though AGW is proven science rather than a hotly disputed theory with equally qualified experts on both sides of the argument? Their arrogance is quite breathtaking, going far beyond the norm for academics. One wonders what it is about their particular specialism that causes them to behave in this way. They seem to spend as much time on PR smear campaigns against their opponents as on academic research and scholarly debate.

  • James Delingpole

    @Ed. I am sorry to have to say this to someone who so greatly admires me but you really don’t have a clue, do you? If you’d been following at all the stuff I’ve been writing on climate change for the last year instead of making assumptions based on what some bloke from the Guardian/RealClimate/the Independent/the BBC told you to think, you’d understand that this is not fundamentally a scientific issue. Indeed, it’s about anti-science. You don’t need to be a scientist to understand this: merely someone who can read and research. Which is what I do. Please spare me any more of your doltish received ideas until you’ve at least read my book Watermelons, out in all good bookshops from Feb 17.

  • colin powis

    haha….we can expect the G W cultists to become more irate and shrill as their apocalyptic predictions don’t pan out …they have cried wolf waaay too many times are are now fated to be finally ignored …we can now expect them to become hysterical , like an ageing french actress who cannot accept that she’s just not wanted anymore …haha …the Bridget Bardot of climate change

  • colin powis

    ED…you don’t need to be a scientist or a ”climateologist” to recognise a scam like GW….it’s LYSENKOISM …science corrupted by politics

  • Adam Nixon

    “As for the notion that conservatives are in any way against freedom: this is, of course, the exact opposite of true”

    That goes for your kind of conservative (and mine). But remember who introduced clause 28? Anti-freedom Tories.

  • eyesee

    Excellent James. In fact, almost as good as your clear lead on the global warming scam. It only takes a check on the facts, but someone has to do it and you either do, or help promote others that do. A proper use of the internet as a servant of the people. Particularly when vested interests are paid so much to ignore their scientific ‘duty’ to tell the truth.

  • Simon Denis

    I don’t suppose he’ll have any readers.

  • Dimoto

    Ed – on the contrary, Delingpole should have stuck to AGW, where he speaks good sense, rather than unnecessarily bringing this nonsense to our attention – or don’t you care about all those poor sacrificed trees ?

  • Nicholas

    Count on Thuckwit to comment on a comment. Count on him to comment on mine.

    Keep guessing.

  • Ed

    good analysis, James. You are much better when you write about topics that you understand rather than banging on endlessly about global warming.

    You are not a scientist, your views on global warming are driven by your ideology and not by facts. Stick to book reviews?

  • Heartless Curmudgeon

    Thank you James, – always the greatest pleasure to read your pieces, – and thanks for the Speccy piece last week, – hope house hunting works out OK, – and that you find a non-trendy vicar, – very difficult nowadays.

  • Michael Roberts

    Thanks to JD for ploughing through this patronising shite so we don’t have to. Had a glance at Amazon’s “see inside” sampler and quickly lost the will to live. Buggered if I’m going to put any money in this sanctimonious twat’s pocket, even to get a laugh as per James’s take.
    And yes, “fragrant farts” … wonderful!

  • Thucydides

    Brilliant stuff from ol’ fish face. ‘This book is a joke’ is actually itself a joke!!! How post-modern, or something, is that?

    There is no such thing as ‘a company compelled by equality laws to employ people on grounds of sex or race’. They mustn’t discriminate unfairly, but that’s not the same thing. To pretend otherwise is intellectually dishonest.

    As for Nicholas’ strange comment at 4.16 pm:
    does the first sentence refer to the book or the review? As for the second sentence, what group are you talking about, and what on earth does the second half of the sentence mean?

  • Nicholas

    It’s a polemic isn’t it, a grotesque caricature intended to reinforce prejudice? Having embraced capitalism and shifted the centre ground to the left, their mythic denouncement of Thatcher-style villainy is an attempt to put the boot in.

    Pathetic.

  • On Benzos

    Noam Chomsky and George Soros’ fragrant farts, Mr Delingpole. You excell yourself!

  • ryan

    “Thanks to JD for ploughing through this patronising shite so we don’t have to. Had a glance at Amazon’s “see inside” sampler and quickly lost the will to live. Buggered if I’m going to put any money in this sanctimonious twat’s pocket, even to get a laugh as per James’s take.
    And yes, “fragrant farts” … wonderful!”

    So…you haven’t read it? Hmmm..

  • Kauai John

    Wow, this “critique” so completely, spot-on, describes the right-wing mind clearly to me.

    Under the premise that “it takes one to know one”, JD has actually bared his soul to us. The thing that he is most afraid of, the base of all his motivation. So conservative theory is draped around this ugliness so thickly, that the source cannot be discovered. Corey took a whole book to describe what JD put into a single paragraph.

    I’m sending this quote on to everyone I know! Thanks JD.

  • colin powis

    Patricia…there’s enough psychobabble and hot air coming from you Leftists to generate your own wind farm

  • Patricia Shaw

    Delingpole, you just keep scribbling away about the political climate and don’t be economic with your wind.

    We know you’re a sensitive, thin skinned sort, easily infuriated and riled, but even easier to ridicule.

  • colin powis

    Enviromentalism is a secular religious substitute and the third ”ism” of the 20th C after the failure of communism and fascism and combines elements of both …the anti capitalism of communism and the pagan anti humanism of nazism
    Enviro twits are all anti human and see mankind as the cause of all of nature’s problems and have a romantic view of an eden like world before homo sapien showed up and ruined it
    Very few practicing xians or jews are enviro twits because they already have a religion ..it’s secular /atheistic countries like aust/new zealand that have the fastest growing enviromentalist movements and seem to go hand in hand with ”animal rights” groups that attempt to elevate animal life to equal status with humans …in a political sense , it’s a form of cultural marxism and parody of Orwell’s animal farm that ”all animals are equal ”

  • colin powis

    In a broader sense , the pseudo scientific cult of GW is a frightening display of the power of ”soft propaganda ” on a lazy thinking population of a democracy …the folks promoting this semi religious scam should be shouted down and laughed out of town …they are a discrace to science , and to politics
    If we were living in a Leftist dictatorship the ”climate deniers ” and skeptics would be sent to a RE_EDUCATION CAMP and spokesmen like Delingpole would be made an example of, and put in a showtrial and forced to admit the error of their ways ”in camera”

  • colin powis

    because it’s NOT a science issue …it’s a quasi religious and emotional issue and you cannot talk people out of their religious /emotional beliefs …no amount of evidence/facts will convince them if they desire to believe it
    Here in the UK we have just had the most miserable summer for 15 years preceeded by 6 ft of GW last winter , but who are you going to believe , the ”climatologists” , or your own lying eyes ?

  • David Cockerham

    Well said James. The more you write on AGW the happier I’ll be. Why do these people keep behaving as though AGW is proven science rather than a hotly disputed theory with equally qualified experts on both sides of the argument? Their arrogance is quite breathtaking, going far beyond the norm for academics. One wonders what it is about their particular specialism that causes them to behave in this way. They seem to spend as much time on PR smear campaigns against their opponents as on academic research and scholarly debate.

  • James Delingpole

    @Ed. I am sorry to have to say this to someone who so greatly admires me but you really don’t have a clue, do you? If you’d been following at all the stuff I’ve been writing on climate change for the last year instead of making assumptions based on what some bloke from the Guardian/RealClimate/the Independent/the BBC told you to think, you’d understand that this is not fundamentally a scientific issue. Indeed, it’s about anti-science. You don’t need to be a scientist to understand this: merely someone who can read and research. Which is what I do. Please spare me any more of your doltish received ideas until you’ve at least read my book Watermelons, out in all good bookshops from Feb 17.

  • colin powis

    haha….we can expect the G W cultists to become more irate and shrill as their apocalyptic predictions don’t pan out …they have cried wolf waaay too many times are are now fated to be finally ignored …we can now expect them to become hysterical , like an ageing french actress who cannot accept that she’s just not wanted anymore …haha …the Bridget Bardot of climate change

  • colin powis

    ED…you don’t need to be a scientist or a ”climateologist” to recognise a scam like GW….it’s LYSENKOISM …science corrupted by politics

  • Adam Nixon

    “As for the notion that conservatives are in any way against freedom: this is, of course, the exact opposite of true”

    That goes for your kind of conservative (and mine). But remember who introduced clause 28? Anti-freedom Tories.

  • eyesee

    Excellent James. In fact, almost as good as your clear lead on the global warming scam. It only takes a check on the facts, but someone has to do it and you either do, or help promote others that do. A proper use of the internet as a servant of the people. Particularly when vested interests are paid so much to ignore their scientific ‘duty’ to tell the truth.

  • Simon Denis

    I don’t suppose he’ll have any readers.

  • Dimoto

    Ed – on the contrary, Delingpole should have stuck to AGW, where he speaks good sense, rather than unnecessarily bringing this nonsense to our attention – or don’t you care about all those poor sacrificed trees ?

  • Nicholas

    Count on Thuckwit to comment on a comment. Count on him to comment on mine.

    Keep guessing.

  • Ed

    good analysis, James. You are much better when you write about topics that you understand rather than banging on endlessly about global warming.

    You are not a scientist, your views on global warming are driven by your ideology and not by facts. Stick to book reviews?

  • Heartless Curmudgeon

    Thank you James, – always the greatest pleasure to read your pieces, – and thanks for the Speccy piece last week, – hope house hunting works out OK, – and that you find a non-trendy vicar, – very difficult nowadays.

  • Michael Roberts

    Thanks to JD for ploughing through this patronising shite so we don’t have to. Had a glance at Amazon’s “see inside” sampler and quickly lost the will to live. Buggered if I’m going to put any money in this sanctimonious twat’s pocket, even to get a laugh as per James’s take.
    And yes, “fragrant farts” … wonderful!

  • Thucydides

    Brilliant stuff from ol’ fish face. ‘This book is a joke’ is actually itself a joke!!! How post-modern, or something, is that?

    There is no such thing as ‘a company compelled by equality laws to employ people on grounds of sex or race’. They mustn’t discriminate unfairly, but that’s not the same thing. To pretend otherwise is intellectually dishonest.

    As for Nicholas’ strange comment at 4.16 pm:
    does the first sentence refer to the book or the review? As for the second sentence, what group are you talking about, and what on earth does the second half of the sentence mean?

  • Nicholas

    It’s a polemic isn’t it, a grotesque caricature intended to reinforce prejudice? Having embraced capitalism and shifted the centre ground to the left, their mythic denouncement of Thatcher-style villainy is an attempt to put the boot in.

    Pathetic.

  • On Benzos

    Noam Chomsky and George Soros’ fragrant farts, Mr Delingpole. You excell yourself!

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