We didn’t need a new poll from The University of Virginia Center for Politics and Project Home Fire to tell us that many Democrats see fascists when they look at Republicans and many Republicans see Communists when they look at Democrats. Forty-one percent of Biden voters and 52 percent of Trump voters at least somewhat agree that the time has come to split the country into red and blue states. There is a widespread feeling on both sides that we are not friends but enemies. All this, we could have guessed.

That our divisions have their origins largely on the left has nothing to do with the number of righteous people on either side. It’s simply a question of cultural power. The Left dominates the news industry, Hollywood, the academy, social media, big tech, and the minds of corporate leaders. Leftism commands all the heights that shape our culture, except the besieged and dwindling redoubt of reality.

Because socialism is the Left’s ultimate goal and because socialism is immoral and can’t be rightly argued for, the leftist shapers of culture peddle hatred and division instead.

Socialism is immoral because it rests on a benign fantasy that masks a malignant truth. The fantasy is that a nation’s production, distribution, and wealth can be entrusted to a benevolent state dedicated to the common good. There is no such state. There are only people with power. Long centuries of constitutional restraints have schooled these naked apes in the habits of decency. But as the restraints weaken, the habits fall away. Not sometimes—always. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Socialism, which centralizes power, leads to oppression and human misery. Like the t-shirt says, you can vote your way in, but you have to shoot your way out.

The results of socialism’s immorality have been lived out again and again—in the murderous Soviet slave state, in the homicidal tyrannies of Communist China, in Cuba, and in various other South American, African, and Asian debacles. Even in the far milder social democracies of Europe and Scandinavia, many of the destructive outcomes of top-down economies have been papered over by the fact that America’s capitalist wealth has provided the nations there with much of their defense, not to mention their technical, energy, and medical innovation. Even so, parts of both Europe and Scandinavia have dialed back their social largesse with positive results.

Because of socialism’s repeated failures, the supporters of this bad idea are left without arguments. Instead, they have retreated into “critical theory,” insult, and violence. Critical theory, generally speaking, is the dishonest strategy of relentlessly criticizing the flaws and history of freedom and capitalism in the hope that listeners will conclude that solutions must come from a more powerful central government. Insult silences reasoned arguments with name-calling. If you disagree, you’re racist, sexist, phobic, or otherwise hateful and must be shunned and canceled. Violence comes in the form of riots (“mostly peaceful demonstrations,” in corporate media-speak), Maoist street thuggery (“anti-fascism”), and the hobbling of the police, which ensures spiraling crime (“racial justice”).

A culture dominated—monopolized, really—by such leftist malfeasance inspires, elevates, and amplifies the angriest and most obnoxious voices on the right, who then seem to justify the left’s criticisms, insults, and violence. And on we go, the worst of us at each other’s throats, the best of us silenced and sidelined. “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

Toward the political center, where I suspect most American hearts reside, conservatives and liberals have valid points to make. Conservatives know the Burkean truths that liberty rests on tradition and morality and is of such great value that it is worth allowing individuals to do and say some evil rather than attempting to transform them into “mere machines and instruments of political benevolence.” Liberals understand that traditions and traditional morality can sometimes amberize historical injustices, and that wholly unfettered capitalism can lead to extremes of inequality, cronyism, and corruption.

For these conflicting truths to yield a golden mean of political action, they must be opposed in goodwill debate. But we can barely even speak to one another if we don’t first concede a common ground that gives us shared purpose. We have been bequeathed that common ground in our founding philosophy: We are each of equal value and each endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—and the purpose of government is to secure those rights, legitimized by the will of the people.

This founding premise rules out centralized power and therefore socialism. Instead, it validates our Constitution, and the history that produced it and which it produced. And it leaves us with much room for discussion among friends.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images


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