Illusion vs Insomnia

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DECEMBER 18, 2019BY GILAD ATZMON

Introduction by Gilad Atzmon: In order to understand Corbyn/Labour’s devastating defeat you have to examine the limits that define the Left’s delusional intellectual mode of thinking and the reasons why the Working Classes tend to reject the political bodies that claim to care about them. Rarely in history has there been a popular coup against an opposition Party. This is what we saw in Britain last week. In Being in Time I offered an analysis of Left’s detachment. I basically predicted Labour’s catastrophe. 

Illusion vs Insomnia*

Left ideology is like a dream. Aiming for what ‘ought to be’ rather than ‘what is’, it induces a level of utopian illusory detachment and depicts a phantasmal egalitarian world far removed from our abusive, oppressive and doomed reality. In this phantasmic future, people will just drift away from greed and gluttony, they will work less and learn to share, even to share that which they may not possess to start with.

This imaginary ‘dream’ helps explain why the (Western) Left ideology rarely appealed to the struggling classes, the masses who, consumed by the pursuit of bread and butter, were hardly going to be interested in utopian ‘dreams’ or futuristic social experiments. Bitten by the daily struggle and chased by existence, working people have never really subscribed to ‘the revolution’ usually because often they were just too busy working. This perhaps explains why so often it was the middle class agitators and bourgeois who became revolutionary icons. It was they who had access to that little bit extra to fund their revolutionary adventures.

The ‘Left dream’ is certainly appealing, perhaps a bit too appealing. Social justice, equality and even revolution may really be nothing but the addictive rush of effecting change and this is perhaps why hard-core Leftist agitators often find it impossible to wake from their social fantasy. They simply refuse to admit that reality has slipped from their grasp, preferring to remain in their cosy phantasmal universe, shielded by ghetto walls built of archaic terminology and political correctness.

In fact, the more appealing and convincing the revolutionary fantasy is, the less its supporters are willing to face reality, assuming they’re capable of doing so. This blindness helps explain why the Western ideological Left has failed on so many fronts. It was day-dreaming when the service economy was introduced, and it did not awaken when production and manufacturing were eviscerated. It yawned when it should have combatted corporate culture, big money and its worship, and it dozed when higher education became a luxury. The Left was certainly snoring noisily when, one after the other, its institutions were conquered by New Left Identitarian politics. So, rather than being a unifying force that could have made us all – workers, Black, women, Jews, gays etc. – into an unstoppable force in the battle against big capital, the Left became a divisionary factor, fighting amongst itself. But it wasn’t really the ideologues’ and activists’ fault; the failure to adapt to reality is a flaw tragically embedded in the Left’s very fantasised nature.

If I am right, it is these intrinsically idealistic and illusory characteristics that doom Left politics to failure. In short, that which makes the Left dream so appealing is also responsible for the Left being delusional and ineffectual. But how else could it be? How could such a utopian dream be sustained? I suspect that for Left politics to prevail, humanity would have to fly in the face of the human condition.

And what of the Right? If the Left appears doomed to failure, has the Right succeeded at all? As opposed to the ‘dreamy’ Left, the Right is consumed by reality and ‘concretisation.’ In the light of the globalized, brutal, hard capitalist world in which we live, traditionally conservative laissez-faire seems a naive, nostalgic, peaceful and even poetic thought.


While the Left sleeps, Right-wing insomnia has become a universal disease which has fuelled the new world order with its self-indulgence and greed. How can anyone sleep when there’s money to be made? This was well understood by Martin Scorsese who, in his The Wolf of Wall Street, depicts an abusive culture of sex, cocaine and amphetamine consumption at the very heart of the American capitalist engine. Maybe such persistent greed can be only maintained by addled, drug-induced and over-stimulated brains.

Rejection of fantasy, commitment to the concrete (or shall we say, the search for ‘being’ or ‘essence,’) positions the Right alongside German philosophy. The German idealists’ philosophical endeavour attempts to figure out the essence of things. From a German philosophical perspective, the question ‘what is (the essence of) beauty?’ is addressed by aesthetics. The question ‘what is (the essence of) being?’ is addressed by metaphysics. The questions: ‘what are people, what is their true nature, root and destiny?’ are often dealt with by Right-wing ideologists. It is possible that the deep affinity between Right ideology and German philosophy explains the spiritual and intellectual continuum between German philosophy and German Fascism. It may also explain why Martin Heidegger, one of the most important philosophers in the last millennium, was, for a while at least, a National Socialist enthusiast.

The Right’s obsession with the true nature of things may explain its inclination towards nostalgia on one hand and Darwinist ideologies on the other. Right ideology can be used to support expansionism and imperialism at one time, and isolationism and pacifism at another. Right ideology is occasionally in favour of immigration as good for business, yet can also take the opposite position, calling for protection of its own interests by sealing the borders. The Right can provide war with logos and can give oppression a dialectical as well as ‘scientific’ foundation. Sometimes, a conflict may be justified by ‘growing demand’ and ‘expanding markets.’ Other times, one race is chosen to need living space at the expense of another.

The Right is sceptical about the prospects for social mobility. For the Right thinker, the ‘slave’ is a slave because his subservient nature is determined biologically, psychologically or culturally. In the eyes of the Left, such views are ‘anti-humanist’ and unacceptable. The Left would counter this essentialist determinism with a wide range of environmental, materialist, cultural criticism and post- colonial studies that produce evidence that slaves do liberate themselves eventually. And the Right would challenge this belief by asking ‘do they really?’

*Source: Being in Time, pg 14

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