The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

It’s Almost as If Freddie deBoer Never Read ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’

Posted on | March 5, 2023 | 1 Comment

Freddie deBoer, future Republican?

If you don’t know who Freddie deBoer is, you should. He is one of those leftists who, a la Christopher Hitchens, refuses to follow the herd, to ignore facts and common sense, or to forgo necessary criticism of his own side of the aisle. Which means that sooner or later, by the inexorable logic of American politics, Freddie will eventually be forced to give up on his socialist vision and become a Republican. Make book on it. Perhaps his rightward journey will take years, and I may not live to see Freddie finally declare himself a conservative, so that when it happens, it will be up to my friends to celebrate my posthumous vindication: “Stacy called it!”

Pity poor Freddie, forced to toil endlessly alone in his apartment to keep his Substack going when, if he played his cards right, he could be in Boca Raton or Palm Beach, dining on prime beef and washing it down with fine wine, at the expense of hedge fund billionaires who’d pay him to be a Senior Fellow at some free-market think tank, and all he’d have to do to earn that generous bounty would be to put on a suit and tie and show up at a monthly seminar, maybe make occasional Fox News appearances, give a few campus speeches sponsored by the Young America’s Foundation, etc. (Get in touch, Freddie — I could make some introductions.) But in the meantime, there’s Freddie in his grubby T-shirt, alone in his apartment, staring into his laptop and, like Sisyphus pushing his boulder up a hill, trying to talk sense to his fellow leftists.

Wednesday, our trip to National Harbor for CPAC took about two hours. My brother was driving, so I had time to read Freddie’s cri de coeur about the dumbed-down quasi-anarchism of his fellow leftists. The jumping of point for his essay was a woman who “started a Twitter storm, somehow, by publicly wishing that she could take her child onto the subway without exposing them to secondhand smoke”:

She was beset by a certain online species of ostensible leftist who is against ever trying to enforce any kind of rule, anywhere, ever. See, rules are the hand of oppression, or something, and since most of society’s rules are meant to be enforced by the police, trying to enforce them (merely wishing that they be enforced) is an endorsement of the police and their violence….
I find this attitude has become inescapable. . . .

DeBoer is shocked by the unreasonableness of his comrades in the same way Captain Renault in Casablanca was shocked to discover that gambling was going on at Rick’s. He knows damned well that you can’t have a mass movement on the Left without the type of kooks, misfits and ax-grinders whom Eric Hoffer described in The True Believer. If the animating principles of your movement include, e.g., an unlimited “right” to abortion, for any reason or no reason at all, even in the third trimester, certainly you should not be surprised to find yourself surrounded by people who are, to use a clinical term, emotionally labile.

Surveying the kook-swarm, deBoer laments that “contemporary left-of-center discourse” is afflicted by “total ideological poverty”:

Nobody has read anything, so nobody knows anything, so you’re constantly getting yelled at by self-described radicals who have no solid footing in any systematic approach to left politics at all. . . . They think that to be a socialist means to disdain all rules because there is no substance to their socialism at all.

Cheer up, my fellow neofascists! However bad things may be for us on the Right — and, objectively, they’re pretty bad — at least we’re not doomed to Freddie’s fate, alone in an apartment cranking out Substack laments about the unavoidable reality that most “self-described radicals” are just plain kooks. Sic semper hoc — ’twas ever thus.

“One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist, and feminist in England.”
George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, 1937

Why has this quote remained so epigrammatic? What accounts for the endurance of socialism’s “magnetic” appeal to kooks? Probably I could rattle off 1,500 words without exhausting the explanatory possibilities, but a theory about why kooks are attracted to socialism is unnecessary to the simple observation that, like Mary and her little lamb, wherever socialism goes, the kooks are sure to follow.

Something in this paragraph of Freddie’s lament caught my eye:

This backdoor anarchism that a lot of people have fallen into has no content. I understand: people don’t want to be elitists, don’t want to gatekeep, and don’t feel like they have the background knowledge to police anyone else anyway. I also understand that socialism just needs warm bodies, that we have to have converts if we’re ever going to make any kind of inroads into real power. But at this point, a dozen years after Occupy and seven years since Bernie’s peak, I feel confident in saying that the influx of people into socialism who had no interest in doing the work to understand socialism has become an albatross. We’re suffering from a profound information deficit and it’s impeding our growth. I genuinely feel that the recruiting efforts of the past decade-plus have proven to be a net negative. What’s the value of an army of new self-described socialists who can’t be bothered to do little things like “have a coherent vision of change and how to achieve it”?

Who could forget the smelly hippies of “Occupy Wall Street”? It was my misfortune to be nearly trampled by a mob of them when they tried to storm a Koch-funded event I was covering in D.C. in November 2011. Reeking of sweat and bad economic ideas, this disorderly mob inspired a friend who is a Republican consultant to remark to me, “I’ve never seen so many losers in my life.” As I observed in 2015:

What has resulted from this modernistic idolatry of democratic Progress — the utopian fantasy of an imagined future where we all live in absolute equality, free of “old-fashioned” beliefs — is a sort of social epidemic of bipolar hysteria, in which minds unmoored from cultural tradition constantly shift between utter confusion and radical certainty. Anyone who paid close attention to the “Occupy” protests of 2011 saw evidence of what kind of disordered personalities this progressive epidemic has produced. Young people who were clearly incompetent to manage their own lives nevertheless felt themselves entitled to dictate to the rest of us how “society” must be changed so as to “empower” these mobs of emotional unstable misfits. Refusing to take responsibility for their own failures, the Occupiers believed they were supremely qualified to pass judgment on the “system” that served as an all-purpose scapegoat onto which they could externalize blame for their misfortunes.

This isn’t merely my opinion, it’s a self-evident fact, and one which even a committed leftist like Freddie deBoer cannot ignore.

The saddest part is that deBoer is apparently such an idealist that he can’t turn his back on the socialist cause that magnetically attracts all these nudist sandal-wearers and sex maniacs, as Orwell categorized them. One wishes Freddie could muster sufficient cynicism to think about what he’d gain by going Right. Saturday at CPAC, I stood outside our hotel across the street from the Gaylord convention center and watched the Trump supporters making their way toward the conference, the well-groomed young men in sharp suits, the shapely young women in dresses and heels — a much better class of people, all around, than the smelly anarchist scum who comprise the leftist mob. All it would take for Freddie deBoer to become part of this well-dressed (and gainfully employed) Republican crowd is to admit that socialism is a failure, a utopian pipe-dream, a “strong delusion,” as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians.

Bookmark this post, friends. Freddie may be deluded, but he’s just too smart to remain deluded forever. As night follows day, eventually he’ll wake up and ask himself why he’s stuck there in his grubby T-shirt cranking out Substack posts for an ungrateful bunch of socialist kooks, when he could be collecting a fat six-figure salary as a Senior Fellow at a public-policy institute funded by hedge-fund billionaires, and giving foundation-sponsored speeches to crowds of sharp-dressed College Republican boys and their shapely young girlfriends.

When it happens, don’t forget it was me who prophesied it.




One Response to “It’s Almost as If Freddie deBoer Never Read ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’”

  1. What DeSantis Must do to be Taken Seriously | okrahead
    March 5th, 2023 @ 4:25 pm