(This article was written for the academic journals in 1990 but was not accepted for publication. It was one of several articles written in 1990 to see if more outspoken articles would be accepted. None were.)
LIES AND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF LEFTIST POLITICS
John J. Ray
University of N.S.W., Australia
A large variety of evidence is marshalled in support of the view that true Leftists (Communists, Marxists, Trotskyists, "fellow travellers" etc) are people who are driven by narcissism to seek extreme power and that denial of reality is the main characteristic of their thought. Their "idealism" is simply the necessary cloak over their own lust for power. It is also suggested that they are basically intellectuals who lack creativity -- theologians rather than philosophers. They are to be distinguished from their followers by the followers having only the denial of reality and not the extreme lust for power.
The initial thesis of the present paper is that there have now accumulated many important data about the extreme Left (Communists, Trotskyists, Marxists, "Fellow travellers" and their ilk) that are in need of integration and theoretical explanation. Such a theory will be presented below. To assist readers to judge whether they wish to read any further, the theory, in outline, is that the Leftist is primarily driven by the related forces of narcissism and need for extreme power, that his/her "idealism" or claim to care for the welfare of the people is a brutal fraud which he/she adopts as a cloak over his/her real goals and that the Leftist never lets any concern for the truth restrain him/her in seeking to attain his/her concealed goals of obtaining ultimate power for him/her or his/her clique.
The "Glasnost" revelations
This paper has been much influenced by Campbell's (1976) contention that the data coming out of normal psychological research techniques is inherently of fragile generalizability and that psychologists should therefore devote more emphasis to cross-cultural and historical evidence in their deliberations over psychological processes. See also Sears (1986) for another commentary on the limitations of most psychological research.
The catalyst for this paper, however, was the revelations made possible in the Soviet Union by President Gorbachev's policy of "Glasnost". From what has been revealed, there can surely now be no doubt that for most of this century the Soviet system literally floated on a sea of lies. This was so extreme that even the maps produced by official Soviet cartographers were fraudulent. Even an accurate Moscow street map was unavailable! And note that the great cartographical capacity that U.S. spy satellites have had for many years renders any explanation of this in terms of defence considerations quite laughable.
This chronic and pervasive lying by Communists is then the first datum in need of explanation. And note that it is not confined to the Soviet bloc and China. I myself remember well the pre-Khrushchev times when most Western Leftists dismissed accounts of Stalin's mass murders as "inventions of the capitalist press". There are none so blind as those who will not see.
The Cambodian holocaust
The second datum is the Cambodian holocaust of Pol Pot and the murderous nature of Leftist revolutionary movements all around the world.
Nazism and Fascism as Leftist sects
The third datum is that, surprising though it may seem to those who do not know their history, both Hitler and Mussolini had basically Left-wing credentials. This is perhaps clearest in the case of Mussolini -- who was in his early years one of Italy's most prominent Marxist theoreticians and an intimate of Lenin. His well-known appellation of Il Duce ("the leader") was gained while he was still a member of Italy's "Socialist" (Marxist) party. He broke with the Socialist party in 1914 only over the issue of whether to join the war against Austria and Germany. Mussolini correctly foresaw that the Austrians could not win and wanted parts of Austrian territory for Italy after the war. He therefore advocated joining the Allies, which Italy soon did.
He never renounced his Socialist convictions, however and put forward an extremely Leftist election manifesto in 1919. He also came to power by essentially revolutionary means (the march on Rome) and even in power never ceased inveighing against "plutocrats" and the like. He also introduced into Italy many advanced features of a welfare State, leading to a steep decline in Italian infant mortality, tuberculosis etc . Also, Mussolini's famous slogan Mussolini ha sempre ragione ("Mussolini is always right") may seem merely comical now but at the time it embodied a definition of the truth that is as convenient as any Leftist could wish.
It is true that Mussolini was rather rapidly won over by the Italian establishment of his time so thus did not reorganize his country's economy as ferociously as Hitler and Stalin did and it is true that his interventions were probably of little or no net benefit to the workers in the long run but this in effect simply showed his normality. Like most politicians, he soon broke unrealistic promises that got him into office. Besides, if we were to judge a politician's degree of Leftism from the degree to which he was of net benefit to the workers when in office, how many politicians who are supposedly of the Left would in fact qualify as Leftist? Given the poor living conditions still prevailing the Soviet Union, it is doubtful if Stalin would.
The case of the British Fascist leader, Sir Oswald Mosley, is also striking. Despite being a Baronet of high social rank in the England of his day (the King and Queen attended his wedding!), he was for many years prominent on the Left wing of Britain's major Leftist party (the Labour Party) and left the Labour Party to found the British Union of Fascists only because, when it attained office, the Labour party was not willing to translate into any meaningful action its policies of helping the poor (Skidelski, 1975).
Hitler also called himself a Socialist and friend of the "workers" ("Nazi" is a German abbreviation for the name of Hitler's political party -- The Nazionalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partei or National Socialist German Workers Party) and advocated a wide range of extreme-Left policies in his election campaigns, policies such as: Limiting all incomes to a maximum of one thousand Marks per head, the nationalization of trusts (business conglomerates) and Department stores, confiscation of war profits, the elimination of "unearned income", agrarian reform and employment for all. How Right-wing does that sound?
When in power he gave substance to his socialist aims by adopting a whole range of socialist measures: from enhanced spending on public works projects (e.g. The Autobahnen) to worker welfare policies (e.g. the Kraft durch Freude movement). And, after all, what is the difference between the Hitler Jugend and the Komsomol? Only, perhaps, that the Hitler Youth were more fanatical.
It is true that both Hitler and Mussolini did receive financial support from some big businessmen and other "establishment" figures but this simply shows how radicalized Italy and Germany had become at that time. Hitler and Mussolini were correctly perceived by establishment figures as a less hostile alternative to the Communists.
Hitler was even initially a revolutionary. When his revolution (the Munich Putsch) failed, however, he was flexible enough to turn to more conventional (democratic) means of gaining power. That his appeal was primarily that of a rather extreme Social Democrat can also be seen from the fact that Germany's Social Democratic party (orthodox democratic Leftists who controlled both the unions and a large Reichstag deputation) repeatedly refused appeals to co-operate against Hitler from Germany's Communist party. The Social Democrats obviously felt more affinity with Hitler than with the Communists.
The convention of referring to Nazism and Fascism as Right-wing fails to take into account not only the matters mentioned above but also that Hitler and Stalin were for some years allies. They co- operated in the conquest of Poland and it was Soviet fuel that powered Hitler's tanks in their Blitzkrieg through France. The alliance ceased only when the Wehrmacht invaded Russia (and note that not only alliances but also hostilities between extreme Leftists are well-known elsewhere -- e.g. the Mensheviks versus the Bolsheviks, the fatal rivalry between Trotsky and Stalin, China-Soviet rivalries and border clashes, China's "teaching a lesson" to Vietnam, the suppression of the Khmer Rouge by Vietnam and the endless and often mutually hostile sects that seem to characterize far-Left politics in the contemporary Western world) and that the person who opposed Hitler long and hard -- long before Stalin and the U.S.A. did -- was Winston Churchill, the arch- Conservative British leader. Hitler had Stalin as an ally as long as he wanted him but Hitler could never at any time wring even neutrality out of Churchill.
On all these facts Hitler has to be seen as much more Leftist than Rightist. It is true that he did not nationalize all German industry but there was extensive compulsory reorganization of it and party control over it and even in the Soviet bloc the degree of State control has always varied greatly from country to country (e.g. compare the mostly private Polish agricultural sector with the mostly State-run Soviet agriculture). It is true that Hitler was a racist as well as a socialist but not all racists are Rightists. In fact, modern-day general-population surveys in at least some Western countries reveal that racism is equally common among Leftists and Rightists (Williams & Wright, 1955; Ray, 1984b; Hanson, 1979) and the repression of Jews in the Soviet Union is well-known. Furthermore the great bastion of support in Australia over many years for the notorious "white Australia policy" (designed primarily to prevent Asian immigration) was the Australian Labor Party, Australia's major Leftist political party. It was the Labor leader, Arthur Calwell, who became famous for coining the saying: "Two Wongs don't make a white". The policy was eventually abolished by a conservative government! Also, in the United States, the racism of American Communists has been documented by a former Communist insider (Brown, 1966).
If, then, racism does not disqualify Hitler as a Leftist leader, what about his use of nationalism and patriotism to motivate his people? Does that set him apart from other socialists? Hardly. When the Nazis invaded Russia, the Soviet defences did, as Hitler expected, collapse like a house of cards. The size of Russia, however, gave Stalin time to think and what he came up with was to emulate Hitler's nationalism. He reintroduced into the Red Army the ranks and orders of the old Russian Imperial Army to make it simply the Russian Army, re-opened the Russian Orthodox churches and stressed patriotic themes (e.g. defence of "mother Russia") in his internal propaganda. The effect of this is perhaps best seen in the fact that to this day Soviet citizens normally refer to what we call the Second World War as "The Great Patriotic War". Stalin may have started out as an international socialist but he became a national socialist as soon as he saw how effective it was in generating popular support. Even in more recent times, it is not hard to find nationalism being practiced by Communist regimes. The Juche (national self-reliance) doctrine of North Korea's Kim Il Sung is perhaps the most obvious example.
The most important difference between Hitler and Stalin therefore probably is that Stalin got assistance from the more conservative countries (Britain and the U.S.A.). He therefore succeeded in setting up a European empire whereas Hitler failed. Hitler was more Rightist than Stalin in that his control over Germany was less totalitarian than Stalin's control over the Soviet Union (Unger, 1965) but this is not, of course, to say much. To be Rightist only from a Soviet point of view would make many Leftists Rightist!
Like Mussolini, Hitler was also unlike Stalin and his ilk in that he pitched his appeal so widely and broadly. Leftists normally antagonize big sections of society. Hitler was clever enough to get much more of society on-side. Fascism and Nazism might therefore be characterized as broad-appeal socialism, as distinct from socialism that appeals to workers and intellectuals only. If that makes him Rightist, it is something of a compliment to Rightists.
Hitler's broad-appeal ploy was in fact remarkably successful. Pre-war anti- Nazi writers such as Roberts (1938) concede that Hitler was quite simply the most popular man in Germany at the time. The old Marxist claim that his appeal was only to the lower middle class is a myth (Madden, 1987). Mussolini, too, found supporters and adversaries in all social classes (De Felice, 1977, p. 176). It may also be noted that when Hitler did come to power as Reichskanzler on May 3rd, 1933 he gained a bigger share of the popular vote (44% for his Nazi party and 8% for his Nationalist allies) than Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher usually managed.
This basic popularity of Hitler did mean that he had less need of lies to retain power. When needed, however, this stratagem was resorted to with characteristic Leftist readiness. It was, after all, Reichsminister Goebbels who spawned the "big lie" doctrine ("Tell a big enough lie often enough and people will believe you").
Nonetheless, it should be recognized that their nationalism in the end made the Communist idea of class-war fundamentally repugnant to both Hitler and Mussolini. What lover of his own people could countenance the idea of one section of that people making war on another section of it? It is the consideration of just that question that made Hitler and Mussolini so popular with pre-war democratic anti- Communists (such as Neville Chamberlain). The Fascists, like modern democratic Leftists, saw no need to murder vast tracts of their own population in order to help the poor. Their ruthlessness towards those who were seen as opposed to the new order, however, cannot in any way be doubted or excused.
The strong affinity between Nazi and other far-Left movements certainly makes Hitler's murderous similarities to Pol Pot and Stalin suddenly much more intelligible. There is in fact not even much difference in the people that Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot targeted for mass-murder. Certainly in Germany's case the categorization "Jews" (Hitler's categorization), "The bourgeoisie" (Stalin's categorization") or "Intellectuals" (Pol Pot's categorization) would have caught many of the same individuals. The major difference probably is that Hitler's categorization was somewhat less sophisticated intellectually (If it is conceded that Pol Pot's targeting of intellectuals was itself paradoxically intellectual. It could be maintained that Pol Pot really targeted only "intellectuals who might disagree with me"). This lesser intellectual sophistication may have aided Hitler's general appeal, however, and could, as such, be seen as simply smarter. There is certainly no doubt that Hitler was a brilliant propagandist.
Nothing that has been said so far should be taken as claiming that only the Left can be authoritarian. A monarchist Catholic loyalist such as Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde of Spain was obviously Rightist by many criteria but also suppressed most political opposition. It may be noted that although Hitler helped Franco in the Spanish Civil War, German monarchists were among Hitler's victims on "the night of the long knives". It was only Franco's anti-communism that earned him Hitler's help. It may also be noted that Franco did not join with Hitler in World War II. Lumping Franco in with "Fascists" is therefore most uninformative.
Fascist behaviour of student Leftists
The fourth datum in need of explanation is the utter Fascism and devotion to violence of student Left activists, "anti-Fascists" or "anti-racists" in the present-day Western world. This could be shown by way of almost untold examples but is perhaps best shown in the case of the treatment regularly meted out to the eminent, but quietly-spoken and retiring German-British psychologist, H.J. Eysenck. Professor Eysenck was until his death a few years ago the world's most cited living psychologist (Current Contents, 1977 Dec. 12th) but when he appeared in public to give a talk he was often drowned out by prolonged shouting and has also been physically assaulted by students. Bookstores who stock his books are also attacked and as a consequence many stores do not now stock his books, thus partially censoring him (Eysenck, 1972). The parallels with Nazi book-burning hardly need to be drawn. Any claim by those who harass him to believe in free speech and democracy are certainly laughable.
So who harasses him and why? They seem mostly to be students of the more extreme Left, Trotskyists and the like but many less extreme students seem to be drawn in by the fancy that they are being "anti-racist". And that is why he is harassed, because he is seen as someone who gives comfort to racists. Even that, however, is a lie. Eysenck has studied racial differences in intelligence but has never advocated any form of racial discrimination and himself fled Germany to escape Hitler's excesses. He also often makes the point that even if blacks are found to be generally less intelligent than whites then this should really cause us to target our help to them more effectively rather than cause us to despise them (Eysenck,1971). Do decent people despise the disabled?
I myself am a most caustic critic of many of Eysenck's theories (Ray, 1986; Heskin, 1988) but I cannot even begin to imagine any justification that would cause a decent person to treat Eysenck in the way that he has been treated.
Extremist rejection of any role for authority
The fifth datum is one that I have been commenting on for a long time (Ray, 1972, 1973b, 1983, 1984b & 1985): That although Marxist political regimes tend to be extremely authoritarian, Leftists who answer attitude surveys always strongly reject any justification for authoritarian behaviour. There is a complete mismatch between their authoritarian behaviour and their ostensibly anti-authoritarian attitudes. That this mismatch could be caused by a need to suppress admission of their real motives seems highly likely. A Shakespearean comparison would be to say "Methinks the lady doth protest too much" but a comparison of a more contemporary kind would be the absurdly high majorities that contemporary dictators tend to arrange for themselves in rigged elections. Both the Leftists and the dictators strain so hard to present themselves as something that they are not that they go to absurd lengths in the opposite direction. Once again the politics of the lie come into action.
Hypocrisy over morality
The sixth datum is more arcane and refers to a study I carried out many years ago during the time of the anti-Vietnam war movement. In Ray (1974, Ch. 53) I found that Left-wing student activists tended to reject moral absolutism (i.e. they strongly tended to agree with statements such as "there is no such thing as right or wrong") but also could be shown (via correlations between a Moralism scale and a lie scale) to see moral absolutism as being highly socially desirable. In other words, a Leftist who is "faking good" says "There are universal moral laws" or some such. When he is being honest he says "Right and wrong is a myth" and the like. In other words, a Leftist says whatever is expedient. If he is trying to persuade people of the justness of his cause he uses any lever at all that might work -- he even makes statements that he personally regards as absurd. If people can be (for instance) persuaded to support the anti-Apartheid movement by arguments that Apartheid violates the inalienable human rights of blacks, the radical will use such arguments, even though he himself believes that there are no moral absolutes or basic rights. The radical "fakes good" by lying about his own most basic beliefs. In short, we cannot believe what he says about his own beliefs.
The sixth datum is then explicit experimental confirmation of the inferences arising out of datum five.
Narcissism and need for power among Leftists
The seventh datum is the extensive series of studies by Rothman and Lichter (e.g. Rothman & Lichter, 1982) to the effect that Leftist activists of the sixties and early seventies had unusually high scores on narcissism and need for power. Although the work by these authors was extensive I have seen no critique that challenges it. Probably because they themselves mostly tend toward the Left (McClintock, Spaulding & Turner, 1965) psychologists generally seem simply to have ignored it. I understand that the book setting out this work sold poorly.
Other researchers collaborating with Rothman and Lichter have, however, also found Left activists to be characterized by a high need for power and low interest in intimacy (McAdams, Rothman & Lichter, 1982) and one commentator on the latter finding (Hagan, 1983) seemed to think the poor intimacy interest of Left activist males was common knowledge. Even further, Brink (1985) shows that, for all his noted anti-war campaigning Bertrand Russell (the distinguished philosopher) was at heart an angry and hostile man. Once again we find that the words preached publicly are a poor guide to the underlying motives.
Advocating the economically absurd
The eighth datum is the great absurdity of the policies that Leftists have long advocated. Policies such as rent-control and nationalization of the means of production have a superficial attraction that guarantees that they will be tried but who could advocate them once it is apparent how badly they work? Certainly not a person who had the welfare of the people at heart. Such policies have only ever delivered poverty and housing shortages. Thanks to General Secretary Gorbachev's policy of perestroika, however, such policies have now at last generally been abandoned by Leftists.
Why did Leftist advocate such nostrums for so long? If their motives were benevolent, it would make no sense to advocate so much misery. If their real motives were, on the other hand, a need for power and a desire to concentrate in the hands of their clique extensive power over the lives of others it makes very great sense indeed. Thus datum eight gives real-life support for the findings that constitute datum seven. The theory being put forward here explains very well a perversity that would otherwise seem very hard to explain at all. As the humorous American conservative columnist, R.E. Tyrell put it an Australian newspaper (The Weekend Australian" of July 22, 1989, p. 21) "The fact that there are still grown-ups who call themselves socialists after seeing what an inferior economic system they espouse is proof that socialism is not seriously concerned with economics".
"Affirmative Action" in education
One of the more incredible frauds perpetrated by Leftists is their success in getting more access to higher education for blacks by the device of discrimination against whites at admission and at assessment time. How they can possibly be proud of such a racist and self-defeating policy beggars the imagination. Its major effect is to devalue all black qualifications and to bar able blacks from ever being able to prove themselves. Blacks have certainly not been fooled. Black enrollments in Graduate Schools have been falling steadily in recent years, even given their initially low levels (The Economist, May 20, 1989, p. 41). They do not want to work for what will inevitably be seen as only a "black" degree. "Well-done!", one might ironically say to the Leftists.
Why, then, do Leftists persist with a policy so inimical to blacks? Once again, because it expands their political power. It gives them power over people's lives. Once upon a time admission and grades depended only on performance on examinations. Now it can be manipulated politically. "I got you in, so go along with me. Be nice to me" is the implicit message. Black clients are created. Had there been any genuine motivation towards helping blacks, effective measures (such as providing them with financial support while they studied) would have been taken instead of the quite plainly anti-black measures now in force.
The I.Q. debate
The amazing thing about this debate is that the Leftist protagonists of the view that all races are equal seem to be unwilling to do even basic reading in the research literature on the topic. This is true even of noted protagonists. See, for example, the easy demolition of Schiff & Lewontin (1986) by Brand (1987). The Leftists quite clearly are not interested in finding the truth. Instead they seem to believe that there is a need for the public to be "conned" into believing that all races are equal. Only then, they seem to think, will people treat all races fairly. Once again we see that faith in the power of the lie. Dr. Goebbels would approve.
However, as many on the other side of the debate have pointed out, if negroes are not in fact equal, to treat them equally is most unfair. They would instead need special assistance and consideration. To the extent that Leftists persuade the public that negroes are equal therefore, they will make it harder and harder to justify and argue for special programs of assistance for them. In fact, the extensive opposition that already exists to equal opportunity programs may well in part be due to the Leftists having had some success in persuading the public that blacks are not really different. It surely follows in many people's minds that if blacks are not different then they need no special help.
Avarice among Leftists
The eleventh datum is that although Leftists seem to decry the scramble for private material possessions (conservatism is decried as "the politics of greed"), they themselves on the personal level seem to be just as keen for the scramble as anyone else. Various scales of materialistic achievement motivation have been shown to have little or no correlation with Leftism -- where a high negative correlation might on theory have been expected (Ray, 1981; Ray & Najman, 1987). Once again the Leftist emerges as being hypocritical and as not always being honest about his/her real motives.
Leftists as sensation-seekers
The twelfth datum is similar to the previous one in that it shows Leftists as having goals of personal satisfaction rather than the ones they ordinarily parade. It has been shown that Leftists are (more than others) sensation-seekers even when the sensations sought are the materialistic ones of the consumer society (Ray, 1984a)!
Manifest hostility among Leftists
The thirteenth datum is that sometimes the real hostility of Leftists towards others does break through the cloak of benevolence. This is when there is some slight veneer of justification for hostility. The actions of Leftist students towards Prof. Eysenck have been mentioned but anyone who has listened to members of the revolutionary Left speaking knows that the venom also shows only too readily when they are discussing "the bosses", "multinationals", "the establishment" or "Fascists".
The trouble is that this hostility is not merely situational. It is chronic. When the revolution succeeds and the bogeymen have all been banished, the anger does not go away. The society that the revolutionaries set up is just the sort of society that bitter, angry, destructive, hostile, power-hungry and avaricious people would be expected to set up. Anyone who threatens their aim of becoming a new ruling class is pitilessly destroyed.
Alienation and Leftism
The fourteenth datum is that Leftist students are routinely found to be high scorers on scales of alienation and alienation is equally routinely found to be associated with neuroticism and other forms of psychopathology (See e.g. Ray & Sutton, 1972). In other words Leftist students have the lack of fellow-feeling for those around them that we would expect of Stalin's heirs and this deficit is caused by their own psychological maladjustment.
During the Vietnam protest era there were various research reports which purported to show that Leftist student protestors were more psychologically healthy but the fraudulent methods used by Left-wing psychologists to produce such results have now been exposed by Rothman & Lichter (1982). Once again the ugliness of dishonesty was found rearing its head among Leftists.
Nazi psychology among Leftists
The fifteenth datum is the amazing career of the authoritarian personality theory (Adorno et al, 1950) among psychologists. I have written so often on this theory that only the barest summary of the relevant facts can be justified here. Readers interested in more detail can consult Ray (1973a, 1976, 1983, 1984b, 1985, 1987, 1988 & 1989).
The facts are that the theory originated in the writings of the pre-war Nazi psychologist, Jaensch. Jaensch felt that certain variables from the psychology of perception could be used to index the ideal Nazi personality type. Rather improbably (if one were unaware of the socialist nature of Nazism), after the war the theory was taken up by a group of Left-wing psychologists led by the prominent Marxist theoretician, Theodor Adorno. These authors accepted the substance of the Nazi theory but reversed the value judgments. Nazi characteristics were now bad rather than good.
Additions made to the theory were assertions that the Nazi personality type was also common to conservatives but was simply less extreme in them and that racism and authoritarianism were basically phenomena of the Right only. Once again, then, in typical Leftist fashion truth was thrown to the winds. The fact that authoritarianism was at least as common among Left-wing regimes as among Right-wing regimes was essentially ignored.
Also ignored, strangely enough, was the discussion by Engels (the Engels, of Marx and Engels) about what is "authoritarian". I have for some time (e.g. Ray, 1976) been submitting that "the desire or tendency to impose one's own will on others" is the inescapable core of any concept of authoritarianism. Engels says much the same (Engels, 1874). Furthermore, what does Engels see as the most authoritarian way of all of so imposing one's will? Armed revolution, no less. So to Engels, Leftist revolutionaries represent the highpoint of authoritarianism. This is not an odd or particularly insightful conclusion. It really shows little more than that Engels was lexically competent.
The point is that Adorno, though an eminent Marxist scholar, ignored it when it suited him. To him it was not the revolutionary Left that was the archetype of authoritarianism; it was the Right. He ignored not only the facts but even his own hagiography. And, as we have already seen, the idea that general population racism is characteristically Rightist is also pure fiction. Adorno, of all people, would at least have been aware of the antisemitism of Karl Marx himself (Blanchard, 1985) and of at least the "anti-Zionism" of the early Fabian Socialists. It is essentially only among the tertiary-educated that modern-day Leftists claim to be "anti-racist" (Sniderman, Brody & Kuklinski, 1984).
It was very soon pointed out how poorly the Adorno theory fitted the facts of the modern-day world and that the "research" reported by the Adorno group in support of it was, to put it bluntly, in various ways "fudged" (Christie & Jahoda, 1954; McKinney, 1973; Ray, 1973). One would have thought, therefore, that this retreaded Nazi theory would have been treated with some hilarity by academic psychologists who claim to follow scientific methods.
Anyone who expected that, however, would be unaware that modern-day academic psychologists are fairly reliably of a Leftist bent (McClintock et al, 1965) and could therefore be expected to be attracted to a theory which put Leftists into such an absurdly favourable light. Far from being laughed at, then, the theory almost immediately won enormous popularity and generated much research. The results of that research contained much that disconfirmed the theory but people who were not repelled by its initial failure to fit the publicly observable facts were not deterred by other disconfirmatory evidence either. To this day the theory receives much laudatory mention (e.g. Meloen, Raaijmakers etc, 1988; Van IJzendoorn, 1989) and psychologists who get results from their research that run contrary to the theory often engage in amazing contortions to present such results as if they really support the theory (See particularly the examples summarized in Ray, 1989). Once again truth and honesty were casualties at the hands of Leftists.
The defiance of the Moscow line by Yugoslavia's late President Tito earned him considerable kudos in the West. Yugoslavia's emphasis on co-operatively-run as distinct from State-run enterprises also contributed to making the Tito regime seem like the more acceptable face of Communism. The first major crack in this facade, however, appeared when vast numbers of Yugoslav "guest-workers" began to emigrate to the West. It became undeniably apparent that the risk- averse Yugoslav collectives were unable to provide employment for as much as a third of the Yugoslav workforce.
The final indignity occurred, however, when Tito died. His ex- wife made claim to his estate. The associated publicity made clear just what that estate consisted of: money, jewellery, houses, cars, country estates, yachts and practically every material desideratum that the human mind can imagine. Was this a man who loved humanity or was it a robber-baron? I am sure I need not suggest the answer.
To very many people throughout the world Tibet has long seemed a spiritual powerhouse. Whether one is Christian, Buddhist or just aware, the Tibetan system has always seemed a profound challenge. Why then have Tibetans paid such a terrible price for their priceless individuality? Various news reports suggest that the Communist Chinese invasion of Tibet resulted in as much as one sixth of Tibetans dying. What morality can justify that? The Dalai Lama appears from time to time on all our television screens with just such a message. What an honour to hear him! How much better it would be, however, if he were able to direct his energies towards ministering to his own beloved people!
After the horrific and undeniable massacre of large numbers of peaceful demonstrators for democracy in Tienanmen square in China's capital, Beijing, in June 1989 and the absurd lies (e.g. denying that any students had died) subsequently used to justify it what honest person can doubt that even the more rational Communists are ultimately brutal, power-mad and dishonest? Perhaps the most curious aspect of these events is that the lies used (at least initially) were not even clever. Denial must be a very powerfully entrenched defence mechanism for Leftists.
It will by now be obvious that the 18 bodies of data presented offer multiple confirmations for all points of the theory presented at the beginning of this paper. The only remaining task, therefore is to explore some possibilities about why the theory is right.
Leftists as intellectuals
The possibility that seems most promising seems to me to say that Leftists are basically second-rate intellectuals. They have the intelligence, breadth of interests and critical faculties that an intellectual needs but lack any spark of originality and creative thought. They are theologians rather than philosophers. Anyone who questions the "theologian" tag has only to look at explicitly Leftist and Marxist publications to see how every word of Marx, Lenin and other demi-Gods is hashed and rehashed over to get at "what Marx really meant" or to adapt Marx to modern day conditions that he did not predict. I myself was a Christian in my teens and I also spent 12 years teaching in a heavily Marxist School of Sociology and the only difference between Christian theologians and Marxists that I could descry was that the two groups favoured different holy books. Given an innate poverty of ideas, then, the ideas for human improvement that Marxist intellectuals manage to come up with are of the crudest and amount simply to "make people behave better". Brute force is favoured as the only means of causing change.
Intellectual poverty and dishonesty
Being an intellectual and having only the crudest of ideas to propose is, however, a most unhappy situation. The evil outcomes of such ideas are easily shown so what does the Marxist do when confronted with such refutations? If he is honest and basically decently motivated he will modify his ideas and beliefs in a more conservative direction. If he is dishonest and fascinated by the use of raw power on others (and given the amount of violence in our society, this would hardly be a rare condition), however, his only recourse is to lie, lie and lie again.
On many occasions, of course, the lies are subtle and take the form of intellectual dishonesty. This is a form of dishonesty which makes all argument pointless. A good example is the old Leftist assertion that the mass-murders of Stalin were "inventions of the capitalist press". One can reply (as I often foolishly did in days gone by) that we have a free press, not a capitalist one. This, however, does no good at all. The mass media are generally business organizations and the idea that they may tend to promote their own causes has no little plausibility. Skepticism about the sources of information in one's environment is not at all unreasonable.
The dishonesty arises, however, when the skepticism is not evenly applied. Other news reports favourable to Leftists will be eagerly seized on as accurate accounts of the correctness and wisdom of Leftism. The credibility a Leftist attaches to any piece of information is entirely predictable by whether or not that piece of information suits him. Seeking the truth is just a luxury that he/she cannot afford.
Leftism as lived
This account of what the Leftist really is finds some support from the work of Johnson (1988). Himself a former prominent Leftist, Johnson explored the actual lives of various prominent Leftist intellectuals -- including Karl Marx himself. He found that while such intellectuals claimed to love humanity, their actual deeds in their own lives and their detailed exhortations to their followers suggested a loathing of and contempt for their fellow man. For them it was no joke that "I love humanity. It is just people I can't stand".
Narcissism and need for power
The postulate that Leftists are basically intellectuals of a sort (though not necessarily well-educated ones) goes a long way towards explaining their narcissism and need for power. Being an intellectual surely includes being intelligent and society rewards intelligence in all sorts of subtle and not so subtle ways. No child is more admired than one who is advanced for its years. Through all of his/her life, then, the intellectual has been given every reason to think well of himself/herself. That such experiences could in some cases lead to excessive self-regard is surely obvious. No wonder such people think that they are the ones who should be running things!
Leftism in academe
The theory advanced here is also heuristic: in that it can predict and explain why Leftism is normative mainly among University teaching staff of the humanities and social sciences (economics excepted). Originality or something new to say or contribute generally is just difficult in such fields. Where a biologist or chemist always has plenty of new things to explore, discover and report (most plants, animals and complex chemical compounds have not been anywhere near fully studied and finding out more about them takes only time and money), the social scientist is really stuck for something new to propose about people. People have been talking and writing about themselves for millennia so most of what could be said has been said. So it is mostly people-studiers who find themselves in the awful dilemma of being intellectuals with nothing new to say. In such a desperate pass it is tempting to appear different and defiant by advocating obsolete but not obviously obsolete Marxist ideas.
Even the exception (economists, though not every economist) can similarly be explained. Economics is a fairly well-developed science which can always use more data (i.e. economic statistics) because it has the techniques to use such data to build ever more accurate models (hopefully) of what is an inherently very complex field of study. Further, economics has a well-developed body of non-obvious ideas which work well if ever the politicians can be persuaded to implement them. Devising compromises which are both economically rational and politically acceptable is therefore a continual challenge and it is the exploration of different compromises which often makes economists seem all at odds with one-another when they speak in public. Such being "at odds" is, however, some proof that economists do characteristically have things to say and real new ideas to propose. (Theologians also have their disputations, of course, but these are seldom of any interest to anyone but themselves).
Furthermore, Marx's ideas were very largely economic ones (or at least were bent to economic aims) and to know even the basics about economics is to know where Marx's ideas fit -- firmly in the obsolete, ingenuous and superficial past. "The labour theory of value" may seem attractive to those who know no better but, from an economist's point of view, it was unsophisticated even when Marx first mooted it. The only social scientists who almost universally reject Marxism root and branch are those into whose specialty Marx's work most falls! In other words, Marxism is an ideology of the economically ignorant. Great poverty of ideas is needed to accept it.
It must, of course, be recognized that Leftists and their followers have to be distinguished. Leftists in the sense employed in this article are something of an elite band. Your average Joe would hardly know what a Trotskyite or Marxist was. In some countries, however, (particulary where people tend to be less well-informed -- i.e. underdeveloped countries) Marxists do sometimes seem to manage to get large numbers of ordinary people on-side. Where democracy prevails Marxist political figures can sometimes command as much as a third of the popular vote (e.g. Chile's Salvador Allende). How do they do this?
Lipset (1959) provides some perspective on this. Lipset shows that vote tends to be determined not by general ideology but by economic self-interest -- the famous "hip-pocket nerve". Economic and "cultural" conservatism are thus quite separate (See also Felling & Peters, 1986 and Himmelweit, Humphreys, Jaeger & Katz, 1981 pp. 138/9). Even a personally conservative person may vote for economically radical policies. So the lies and oversimplifications of Leftists do sometimes pay off. Occasionally (particularly in less well-informed societies) substantial proportions of the general population of a given society can be persuaded that expropriation of the rich will be a panacea for all social ills. The Marxist promises thus hit the "hip pocket nerve".
In such cases, however, the mass support is evanescent. As soon as it is shown to be disastrous Marxism will be as enthusiastically rejected by ordinary people as it was once acclaimed. Leftists therefore only ever have a very narrow window of opportunity. When they gain power they must at once ensure that any opposition to them or questioning of them is immediately and thoroughly crushed. That, of course, they routinely do. They know that their politics is the politics of the lie and they try to make sure that recognition of that is always too late.
One of the things that seems to unite Leftists and their followers is an ability for "magical" thinking, or, more prosaically "wishful thinking". This is perhaps humanity's most besetting form of psychological maladaptation. There is an enormous tendency among people in general to believe a thing not because of the evidence for it but because they would like it to be true. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is belief in God. The great majority of people cannot face the obvious truth that the purpose of all life is simply to reproduce itself. Their own sense of self-importance leads them to believe in some form of God or survival after death, even though there is absolutely no evidence for either. Leftists and their followers, however, seem to be people who have directed their ability in this direction to earthly beliefs. The process seems to start out with the thought: "Wouldn't it be nice if all men treated one another like brothers!" and then immediately leads to the asserted belief that: "All men are brothers!" -- despite all the everyday evidence to the contrary.
China's leaders after the Tienanmen square massacre exhibited an advanced form of this "magical" thinking. They seemed to think that by simply denying the deaths of any students that fixed things -- despite all the T.V. coverage to the contrary. It did not seem to occur to them that to deny reality in this way would make them look like fools. Other, cleverer lies could have been used (and people like Deng Xiaoping are surely clever) to much better effect (like: "The Army lacked riot-control training and over-reacted while attempting to restore order") but the Leftists just did not see the need (at least initially) for anything other than a denial. Saying that a thing was so made it so -- even when talking to Western T.V. crews who had seen the blood flow.
Nor are such barefaced lies the product of some mere temporary panic or confusion. There are many countries in the world that for years styled themselves as, "The People's Democratic Republic of...XYZ". With such countries one can of course be sure that there is no democracy there at all and that the place is run for the benefit of the rulers, not the people.
Leftist followers, then, seem to share at least some of this tendency to believe in verbal magic. In a degraded sense of the word, they are "idealistic". They do not seem, however, to share the murderous devotion to raw power that characterizes the true Leftist. They are generally horrified by and critical of things like the brutal crushing of the Hungarian, Czech and Chinese democratic movements. After each such outrage large numbers of Leftist followers renounce their former allegiances.
Leftists as conservatives
In reporting moves towards change in the Communist world, Western journalists quite commonly call the Communist die-hards "conservatives". One might therefore at this point reflect on why Leftism is conservative in the Soviet Union while Rightism is conservative in the Western world. There are still some social scientists (e.g. Altemeyer, 1988) who believe that Rightism equates with conservatism (in its basic sense of rejecting change). Such writers evidently do not read much journalism or take much notice of the nightly news. Neither as a definition nor as an explanation does attitude to change suffice in characterizing the Left/Right divide of the modern world. Quite clearly both Leftists and Rightists can be resistant to change -- depending mainly on whether their preferred state of affairs already exists in their country or not.
A recent study by Peterson & Lawson (1989) also confirms this. They showed that political "Conservatism" in the usual American sense (support for Ronald Reagan and the like) correlated very little with risk-preference. Conservatives were not much more likely to be wary in any way than were Liberals. It almost amounts to saying that Conservatives are not conservative any more!
"Leftist" and "Rightist" defined
So what do we mean by "Leftist" or "Rightist" generally? The considerations presented in the present paper surely provide an answer. A Rightist wants only a little State power, control, influence and intervention whereas a Leftist wants a lot of it, ostensibly in order to help the "poor" and disadvantaged.
The present paper has mainly been concerned with extreme Leftists but there are less extreme Leftists around us and it can be seen that the perspective of the present paper does assist in conceptualizing what they stand for. They may not aspire to as much power as Stalin did but extending State power and powers is still their basic aim. Both Marxists and more democratic Leftists give the same reason for wanting to extend State power (to help the poor and disadvantaged) and in the case of some democratic Leftists that may also be the real reason.
The reason why leaders such as Ronald Reagan or, more particularly, Britain's Margaret Thatcher are still commonly referred to as "conservatives" when in fact they have been active promoters of change (generally back to a former state or something approximating it) must then be seen as a habit carrying over from the time when extending State power was more in fashion. At that time it was conservative to oppose the current fashion. The mistake would be to conclude that change at that time was opposed simply out of a preference for the familiar or the status quo.
It may be protested that Conservative dictatorships do from time to time emerge. How are they low on demand for State power? In reply, it should first be noted that, from Spain's Franco and Japan's Tojo to Indonesia's Suharto, Greece's Papadopoulos and Chile's Pinochet (and other assorted Latin American dictatorships) these seem with quite extraordinary uniformity to be governments led by conservative senior military men, often propelled to power by the perceived need to avert a Communist takeover. It seems clear, therefore, that their authoritarian governments reflect what their military training and background tells them to be needed rather than what their conservative beliefs tell them.
This would seem to be borne out by the fact that such governments tend to keep taxes low, leave business pretty much to itself and oppress only their more energetic opponents. The fact that they all sooner or later lapse into reasonably genuine democracy is also surely some indication of their less than firm conviction of the need for an authoritarian State and their consequent looser hold on power.
Why no Leftist Police?
As a final objection, it could perhaps be asked why Leftists do not enter the uniformed services (police, army etc.). The personnel of such services do, of course, in fact tend to be strongly Right-wing. Yet would not police work give the Leftist the power he craves? One hopes not. It has been pointed that the Leftist seeks extreme power, the sort of power that can (and often does) enable mass violence and destruction. It is power-seeking motivated by hostility and contempt for ordinary people (Might such contempt for ordinary people often be part and parcel of being an intellectual?). One hopes that the police are normally nowhere nearly as bad as that.
Leftists, anyway, obviously have generally seen police power as small beer compared to what they are seeking, as they seldom seem to seek such power. It could also be pointed out that police work is hardly suitable for intellectuals.
Verbal magic and Western intellectuals
Finally, one must wonder a little at the way Leftists seem to have dominated intellectual life in the Western world for most of this century. This dominance is most clearly seen from the fact that it is still conventional everywhere to describe unsuccessful Leftists such as Hitler and Mussolini as "Right-wing". Since (as was shown at length above) both in fact relied heavily on very Leftist rhetoric to gain power and were to the ideological Right only in the sense of opposing rival Leftist sects such as Stalin's Communism, this surely tells us much about the Communist influence on the perspective of this century's intellectuals.
It is curious that we now seem to be seeing something of a re-run of this strategy with regard to China's hopelessly discredited rulers (Li Peng, Deng Xiaoping and their ilk). Members of the far Left in the Western world are now describing these consistent and once-lauded Communists as "Fascists" (and thus by implication Rightists). What wonders a little verbal magic can do! They do, however, at least by implication admit that the difference between Communism and Fascism is hard to tell.
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