McManus and Hamilton have each written exceedingly unfair reviews of Jim Prosers recent bookSavage Messiah: How Dr. Jordan Peterson Is Saving Western Civilization.
Jean-Paul Sartre, the French philosopher and playwright, wrote the script for a screenplay, which would later be turned into a play entitled LEngrenage (in English, In the Mesh). The name of the main character is Jean Aguerra, and the play opens with the scene of a sign installed in a suburb, which reads:Jean Aguerra, the tyrant.
In the Mesh, in all, is a very insightful play, though it is one of Sartres lesser-known works. It is about a wealthy city that has oil fields and all of the necessities for a blossoming economy, as well as a a productive and satisfied society. Still, the city hands its government over to one tyrant after another. Jean Aguerra, the latest in the chain of the citys leaders, is a bright and thoughtful intellectual, who truly desires what is best for his city and its people. However, he ends up following precisely the same path as each of the tyrants that preceded him.
Jean Aguerra hopes to eradicate poverty, and he also believes that each person should have the same degree of privilege as every other person. For him, the ideal of equality of outcome is so obvious and intuitive that he has a hard time imagining how anyone could possibly oppose that objective. However, as soon as Jean Aguerra establishes his government, he realizes that the other members of his team do not perfectly share his worldview. Even his closest allies have aspects of their own agenda that they hope to implement in the city. And, over time, corruption and mismanagement arise, which, in turn, undermines the unity of his government, giving rise to lies and schemes that permeate each level of the administration. However, Jean Aguerra remains rigid in his worldview, believing inveterately that the other members of his government are clandestine enemies seeking to destroy his masterplan for equality and prosperity.
In response, Jean Aguerra begins to order mass imprisonments, tortures, and killings. He hopes that when all of his enemies are gone that his fantasy for a perfect society will finally be reachedand that his people will, as a result, be happy and grateful. Yet, before long he is, himself, brought to be executed by a firing squad by a band of revolutionaries. Only five years prior, he was the leader of a group of revolutionaries who had executed the previous tyrant, and, within a short time, he had become what he had once existed to replace. The play suggests that this cycle will repeat ad infinitum, as each band of revolutionaries, over time, becomes the very evil that it had once existed to defeat.
The play, thus, shares some elements withThe Myth of Sisyphus, the 1942 philosophical essay written by Sartres friend and later rival Albert Camus. However, in the case of In the Mesh, there is the additional dimension. The play also examines what happens to those who box themselves into a corner with a certain ideology; no matter how grand or noble their intentionsbefore longtheir single-mindedness leads down the path towards tyranny.
Matt McManus and Conrad Hamilton repeatedly in their writings assert that the Left, as they see it, is all that is great and high. For them, the problems of our society can be explained by tyranny that comes from the Right. They incessantly critique Jordan Petersonor anyone else for that matterwho even slightly brings up ideas that contradict their views of what makes for a just society. McManus and Hamiltons critiques, most of the time, are nothing short of relentless. And there is no one they attack more unfairly than Jordan Peterson. As Tony Senatore, Fred Hammon, and others have argued in Merion West, Jordan Peterson is someone who truly helps people; he is not just a conservative ideologue. Yet, McManus and Hamilton even continue their endless criticisms of Jordan Peterson as the man fights for his life, dealing with the most serious and trying of health problems.
Most recently, McManus and Hamilton have each written exceedingly unfair reviews of Jim Prosers recent bookSavage Messiah: How Dr. Jordan Peterson Is Saving Western Civilization. For the value that Peterson brings, look no further than Prosers own recent words about his subject:
I was in a very bad period of personal suffering, having lost my wife to cancer just prior to beginning the writing of the book. So, I was very deep into my own personal suffering, and I appreciated the advice to accept suffering as a gateway to finding a deeper meaning in my life, rather than just re-living the mindless and random catastrophes of the past. Rather than accepting it as just a random lot in existence, I actually found a deeper meaning to it that would propel me to a life of greater understanding and greater compassion.
Matt McManus and Conrad Hamilton, in the vein of Slavoj iek and other luminaries of the Left, argue for various versions of equality of outcome. A brief look at history reminds us that efforts to pursue that end have had the same result every time throughout history: tyranny, brutality, and suppression. Todays Left, when faced with questions about such miseries, tends to put forward a version of the same argument: But that was not true socialism. Bernie Sanders just articulated that very argument in a recent town hall.
Matt McManus and Conrad Hamilton are, no doubt, smart and well-read men. Yet, they should pay more careful attention to how repressive, totalitarian-inclining governments so often arise in welfare states. They also ought to give a detailed and close readingnot like the job they did with Prosers bookto the 1997 bookThe Black Book of Communism, which chronicles the horrors that have taken place in collectivist states. Page after page (and chapter after chapter) tells the story of how people with enormous powernominally acting in the interest of equality for allbecame horrible little tyrants of their own, from China to Ethiopia. Maybe then McManus and Hamilton would be more open-minded towards thoughtful critics of their aims, such as Jordan Peterson.
The story told in The Black Book of Communism, after all, is the same one as that of Jean Aguerraand the many real life leftists he represents. Dreamworlds belong in fantasy books, where they can entertain and charm their readers. However, in the actual world, sweeping sentimentalities about equality rarely engage with the questions of How? and At What Cost? But, then again, when it comes to many of these leftist schemes, the answers are hardly attractive.
Kambiz Tavana is an Iranian-American journalist and writer.
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