Public Advocacy and Hypocrisy

I saw a headline from Fox News (where else?) declaring that Mark Levin — former “conservative radio firebrand,” now Republican establishment populist for cash — has said that Joe Biden is the closest thing to a dictator that America has ever had. That’s rich, coming from a man who, just five years ago, publicly sold his soul and his former Tea Party audience down the toilet to increase his personal profit margin as a shill for the most doltish and sociopathic demagogue America has ever had. Demagoguery, for those as ignorant of classical political philosophy as Levin has proved to be, is tyranny’s gateway drug. Levin has spent the past five years pushing that drug. He has about as much credibility criticizing Joe Biden’s authoritarian instincts as a brothel madam has lamenting the death of female modesty.

The Twitter account of Garry Kasparov, the Soviet chess grandmaster cum “democracy advocate,” has become a kind of guilty pleasure for me of late, as he twists himself into a soggy pretzel trying to reconcile his anti-tyranny messaging with his tribal infatuation with the Democratic Party. In general, he shares the essential folly typical of contemporary Euro-style advocates of democracy, namely a naïve belief that freedom means nothing but everyone being allowed to vote in a “fair election.”

Today, in response to a graph showing that in California’s gubernatorial recall election, eligible voters in the 18-34 age category have returned their ballots at a very low rate, Kasparov offers this cleverness:

And if all those young Californians did avail themselves of their right to vote, what would be the result? Freedom and democracy?

Most young people today, if we may be generous in interpreting motives, do not vote because they themselves know, at least vaguely, that they lack the knowledge and experience required to make a rational choice. 

“But that’s the point,” the democracy advocate would say. “They ought to care enough to get informed so they can make their voices heard.”

And how, I ask, are they supposed to do that? They have been raised by the government in progressive schools, force-fed Democratic Party talking points and neo-Marxist moral attitudes for most of their young lives. Their historical awareness, if any, consists in being told that their country is racist, that capitalism oppresses the workers, and that in the ugly old days women were owned by men, and people were systemically denied their right to express themselves in the form of random and continuous physical pleasures. The strongest inclinations in their souls were formed by entertainment aimed at aggrandizing adolescent sexual feelings, and nihilistic dependence on drugs and alcohol to fill the gaping void in their hearts. And now these addled and mangled children are supposed to “get informed” so they can vote in an election? What would that mean in practice, for such utterly incapacitated intellects, other than finding out which candidate represents the neo-Marxist attitudes they have had drilled into them, or which candidate is promising to give them more “free” goods and services, and then voting for him?

Of course, Kasparov would not understand the point I have just made, because he is completely moved by hatred for Republicans and the corresponding faith that the Democratic Party represents what its name says. As I have asked of the chess champion before, how does he reconcile his lust for Democrats with the simple and obvious fact that his favorite party — and nowhere more clearly than in California — is owned and operated by socialists of both the Marxist and Maoist varieties? Why is this not a fundamental indictment of the Democrats in his mind?

The answer to this question is also simple and obvious, and it is the same answer we must give to the question as to how a vocal advocate of constitutional republicanism like Mark Levin cannot see that what he is supporting now is the very opposite of those former principles of his: Kasparov, like Levin, is driven above all by a corrupting combination of convenient tribalism and a desire for personal influence and profit. Such men cannot see past their egos and their audience numbers to recognize what would have been the most self-evident thing in the world to them, had they not sold everything to their dreams of power and fame, namely that the people and movements they are promoting will be — or rather already have been — the death of all the freedoms these self-promoters claim to believe in.

The hypocrisy of these prominent public voices provides one of many good answers to the question, raised by Socrates in his trial, as to why the philosopher abstains from public life and active participation in the political arena. The only freedom possible today, and the highest kind available in any era, is not amenable to the many distorting veils and self-seeking attractions of political engagement. And if, by some great act of will, the philosopher managed to hold onto his truth-seeking soul amid the stresses and pulls of political life, he would soon find himself universally hated, shunned, and perhaps killed for his refusal to bend to the rules of the game.

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