This excellent article draws inspiration for Eric Fromm’s Escape from Freedom. It also echoes the thoughts of Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. They both espouse the idea that people with low self esteem further negate themselves by becoming “true believers” in a cause. In the end the cause is everything and they are nothing. Ted Belman
One of the most profound conundrums of our time is the passionate love affair carried on by the young inheritors of the liberal and presumably enlightened West with the totalitarian specimens of the Arab Middle East. They tend to be meltingly soft on Islam—the “religion of peace”—and, obviously, the chief beneficiaries of their misplaced adoration are the Palestinians. Our fellow travelers arrive in the Middle East’s ideological swamp where the terrorists eagerly await them, like crocodiles passing the mustard. Why Western advocates for justice, peace and democracy, as they like to style themselves, believe it could be otherwise almost beggars comprehension.
Is it a case of chronic and pervasive brain cramp among a media-and university-indoctrinated class of adolescent donzels, fueled by the faux idealism of miseducated youth? Today’s youth, as is common knowledge, is mainly oriented toward the dreamscape of the utopian left, which sees reality as a binomial construct: evil here in the world we inhabit, good there in the world to come. And the glorious world to come is already prefigured in Gaza and the West Bank where revolutionary “heroes” fight against tyrannical oppression in the name of freedom and justice. Thus a cohort of our young people, accompanied in many instances by their stunted elders, cluster under the banner of a spurious humanitarianism and sail away or troop off to join their imagined partners in the quest for a better future.
Or does it go deeper than merely arrested development? Is Jamie Glazov right in his analysis of the constitutive factors of leftist utopian thinking, which he regards as predicated on the loss of a sustaining identity or, essentially the same thing in its effect, the repudiation of an unwanted self? According to Glazov, there arises as a result a compelling need to fill the vacancy by committing to a large and powerful collective that promises to restore a sense of meaning, purpose and value to the empty shell of an absconding or rejected self. “This psychological dynamic,” Glazov writes, “involves negative identification whereby a person who has failed to identify positively with his own environment subjugates his individuality to a powerful, authoritarian entity, through which he vicariously experiences a feeling of power and purpose.” As Erich Fromm points out in his definitive study of the integrals of self-abdication, Escape From Freedom, what we are witnessing is the “craving for power over men and the longing for submission to an overwhelmingly strong outside power.” The paradox is only apparent.
More likely, the various elements we are considering are not mutually exclusive but readily combine in an explosive mixture of immaturity, ignorance, and surrender of the will, leavened by the illusion of noble self-sacrifice to a higher cause. And today that cause is chiefly associated with the blatantly false Palestinian narrative of historical innocence, brutal victimization at the hands of Zionist irredentism, and the justification of terrorism under the name of “resistance.” A potent and ever-serviceable strain of antisemitism, cloaking itself as anti-Zionism, also plays into this malignant amalgam of righteous vindictiveness. The callowness of youth prolonged, the emptiness of the self and the ancestral hostility toward Jews together form the principal ingredients of this devil’s brew.
Take for example the “martyred” 23-year-old Rachel Corrie, a member of the antisemitic International Solidarity Movement, who threw herself in front of an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza where she was protesting the demolition of a terrorist’s house. Corrie, recently the subject of a venomously anti-Israeli play co-written by Guardian editor Katherine Viner, has become the antisemite’s answer to Anne Frank, the new suffering heroine who, as the putative victim of the Jewish state, cancels out the Jewish claim to the world’s sympathy and understanding. The fact that Corrie’s death was self-inflicted in the service of a dubious and ill-considered cause, and under circumstances that have been cleverly manipulated to appeal to the uninstructed “morality” of a gullible public, is of no account to the antisemitic left. In fact, it is its modus operandi.
The left’s response to the fate of Corrie’s successor was equally “correct” and opportunistic. When, on August 10, 2006, 24-year-old Angelo Frammartino was stabbed to death by a Palestinian Arab in East Jerusalem, the NGO he worked for, ARCI (or Active Citizenship Network), issued a statement describing the incident, not as “a terrorist attack, or a manifestation of ethnic hatred” but as “a worrying symptom of the ever-worsening socioeconomic crisis in the marginalized areas of East Jerusalem.” The idiocy of this whitewash was only enhanced by the irony of a letter Frammartino had sent to an Italian newspaper several months earlier in which he regretted, among other things, “the blood of Palestinian youths from the first intifada.”
Similarly, a group going by the name of The Palestinian Civil Society Organizations exonerated the killer by laying the blame on Israel, rehashing the usual boilerplate of “massacres against Palestinian and Lebanese civilians” and “grave human rights violations committed by the Israeli Occupation.” The killer was plainly so upset by the Israelis that he decided to murder an Italian. These muddled equations constitute standard reasoning in the minds of the Palestinians’ besotted suitors.
Whether they are fabricating the death of Mohammed al-Durah, or beatifying the foolish Rachel Corrie, or blaming the so-called “settlements” for the butchering of the Fogel family in Itamar, or holding Israel responsible for the murder of Juliano Mer-Khamis, shot dead in Jenin by the very Palestinian “militants” whom he ardently befriended, or denouncing the Jewish state for the killing of Vittorio Arrigoni, strangled by the terrorists whose cause he had dedicated his life to promoting, the celebrants of Palestinian terror will not be easily persuaded to end their infernal festivities and spare the one sliver of genuine democracy in the region. As David Hornik says of Arrigoni, a summation which applies to the vast contingent of “young, Western-bred totalitarians” of which Arrigoni was a part, it is “unacceptable that there should be a haven or a state for Jews anywhere in the world.” It is, rather, the death cult of the Palestinian Arabs that represents the desired shape of the future.
Clearly, the generation now in place will prove largely inadequate to the layered complexity of global politics and the refractory nature of the conflicts that confront them. More and more, these young people give the impression of inner lack, of hosting a vacuum where an identity should be. They are thus prone to what we might call landfill enthusiasms, compensating a void by absorbing the extraneous. Of course, this is an old story—when has it ever been different?—but in today’s intensely politicized world, characterized by the Gramscian rise of the New Left in the media, the entertainment industry and our institutions of “higher” learning, permeating the entire culture, the dilemma has assumed alarming proportions. It is perhaps for this reason these kids are so hard to reach and seem utterly inured to, let’s say, learnable moments. There is no independent center of reflective judgment that can be addressed. To put it metaphorically, our progeny tend to marry young, seeking a dominant partner to give direction and content to their expatriated lives.
With few exceptions, then, they can be expected to make all the wrong decisions, driven by sentimentality, lack of historical awareness, simplistic diagnoses of the world’s ills, and the pro forma and consuming hatred of Jews. This is the legacy of the contemporary left, pursuing in an access of misguided romanticism what David Horowitz has called an “unholy alliance” with a cunning and ruthless enemy. The left’s deluded epigones are the child brides and grooms of the West voluntarily entering into an abusive relationship from which they will not emerge intact, if they emerge at all. Indeed, they bear an eerie resemblance to young Pippa Bacca, the Italian performance artist who, wearing a wedding dress, set out in March 2008 on a “Brides on Tour” pilgrimage through southern Europe and the Middle East, only to be raped and murdered in Turkey.
Believing that a kind of conjugal alliance with an alien and exotic guerrilla culture will relieve them of their anomie and lead to conjoined bliss, the children of the left have formed an intimate relationship with Islam and especially “Palestine,” amounting to an ideological betrothal. But they are in for an unwelcome surprise. The old saws have never been more pertinent. Beware who you get into bed with. Think twice before plighting your troth. A demonic nuptial is surely to be avoided. For in this case, once the alliance is consolidated and the marriage solemnized, no divorce is possible.