Usurping Moral Authority
A few weeks ago I noticed the following slogan painted on the walls of a supermarket in France: Hitler, Sarko—même combat [Hitler, Sarkosy—same battle]
Not surprising, of course. The French electorate is even more willfully ignorant than the American version, if you can credit that. What caught my attention was a few paragraphs on:
The person who painted the slogan was most likely a spoiled brat who had never suffered any real oppression himself; he was well enough educated to know something of the Nazi era, but he simply had no imaginative insight into the possible depths or miseries of human experience.
On the other hand, he would probably thirst greedily to suffer, as if envious of those who had drunk at the real well of misery. No one, especially the young, likes to admit that his discontents with the world are actually quite petty by comparison with the terrible sufferings of others, past, present, and no doubt to come; and so he magnifies his own sufferings to make them seem more like those of true sufferers. The minor inconveniences of life under Sarkozy are therefore magnified preposterously and equated to the sufferings of occupied France (which were themselves mild by comparison with those of the occupation of Poland).
In other words, there is an unattractive egotism and grandiosity in the slogan. There is an envy of suffering because suffering is supposed to confer moral authority on the sufferer, which is not available to those who merely think about suffering without experience of its worst forms. The syllogism is as follows: the suffering have moral authority; I have moral authority; therefore I suffer.
That describes something which is obvious yet so very subtle in its nature. There are valuable lessons to be learned from pain and depredation. The problem we're running into with the modern Left is that rather than put themselves into a situation where they might experience those things in even minimal degrees, and thus have some provenance for their views and professed ideals, they simply usurp the moral authority via perversion of historical context. I strongly suspect this behavior is rooted, at some subconscious level, in the realization that exposure to true hardship would radically alter their worldviews, almost certainly away from Leftism. They thus decide that it is better to protest in ignorance than to learn the truth, to loudly shout down anyone who questions their qualifications rather than debate in calm voice.
Having traveled to several countries formerly under communist rule, I can tell you this for certain: not one person I met in those places who was alive at the time of that rule expressed the least desire to return to that state of affairs; the vast majority were rabidly anti-communist. They learned their lessons from hardship and their moral authority on the subject of communism is certified, unlike the anonymous leftist coward who spray painted his opinion of a French politician on a supermarket wall. One wonders if the vandal is even aware that such behavior in a communist country would result in his removal from society -- and quite possibly from the planet.