Why Are Writers Usually Leftists?

I’m not talking about your genre-fiction trash or your young adult garbage, although most of them are likely leftists as well.  I’m referring to the ever slimming margin of writers who write this ‘literary fiction’ stuff, the neatly categorized title for works that show a dimension of human spirit and effort otherwise alien to the annals of science fiction/fantasy pulps, mystery-thriller eye candy, or harlequin romance pornography.  I’m talking about the crap that’s going to be studied in fifty years’ time.

And yeah, I get it.  “Why does everything have to be categorized into Left and Right? lol just read what u want fam.”  I do read what I want.  That doesn’t change how garbage-populated Leftism is.  And it doesn’t change how what I want to read is becoming an ever-thinning category of literature.  Let me explain:

Leftism, at its core, characterizes the ethos of deconstruction—not just the academic poststructuralist[1] use of the term, either (a term that not only defines but whose concept was literally invented by the Left anyway).  Just simple deconstruction: the act of taking something apart the order by which it was initially assembled.  How does it do this?  There are other blogs and whole libraries dedicated to that subject (just ask the nearest Humanities course advisor on your local college campus for some recommendations before shoving a plastic bag over your head and suffocating yourself), but here’s a brief overview of the broadest trend in the Arts that was kicked off after the conclusion of the last world war, and how it relates to the systematic disassembly of basically everything:

Postmodernism

(Dude that’s so meta.)

The artistic, cultural, and loosely philosophical movement known as postmodernism spewed out amongst the afterbirth of World War II’s destructive climax.  In every conceivable manner it is a revolt against its very foundations and the traditions that spawned it, a movement of antipathy for the established mean whose roots and antecedents stretch back into the French Revolution and, arguably as far back as Reformation—although at this point, the self-destructive religiosity that characterizes the so-called secular postmodern fervor becomes largely indistinguishable from the various forms of pagan heresy that has plagued the Church (and to broader extent, civilization as a whole) since its founding.

The key distinguishing factor, however, that alienates postmodernism from the High Modernist movements that it grew out of—and likewise, the whole of Western artistic canon that preceded it—is the nearly immediate grip of Marxism, Freudianism, and, deeper still, Hegelianism that coursed through the continental veins of the both the French post-Structuralists and their spiritual predecessors, the Frankfurt School academics.  These two philosophical in-roads to our cultural grave specialized in the abandonment and vilification of Enlightenment thought and the systematic disassembly of reason—things that, at the time, were radical enough to get any professor worth his salt laid by even the cleanest of the university’s freshmen girls (and boys—hell, might even have gotten a few of the varsity footballers, too).  While it isn’t enough to say that basically everything that’s wrong with society came from these guys, I think it’s more than fitting to say that basically everything that’s wrong with society was popularized by these guys, and these guys are the closest ancestor to the modern day myths that are currently running roughshod over antiquated ideals like civil liberties and Dude That’s Just Like Your Opinion, Man sort of talk (supplanting all of this with jackbooted obedience to a narrative involving racism and sexism that no one is quite able to clearly define anymore).

In any case, these intellectual types, aided by the pop-philosophy beatnik approach advocated by Frenchies like Sartre and Camus during the inter-war period, built up a foundation of academic “rigor” whose very premises required the abolishment of God, reason, and, therefore, order.  From the intellectuals thus came the wave of university “art” students whose graduate projects—once things that would have pursued the vaguely objective goal of being beautiful—now constituted things like nude public performances of women shitting on sheets or menstruation stains on canvases.  If the interactions between Men are little more than pissing contests of power plays, so the postmodern critique goes, then beauty is in the eye of the more powerful beholder.  Secondly, although the power is the only foundation upon which things like beauty (or anything, really) can be defined, power itself is merely a social construct and devoid of any ‘real’ meaning—so although you might oppress me by denying that my turd-filled water bowl that I’ve smeared all over my Gucci messenger bag is beautiful, the truth is that this oppression only has meaning if I participate in the dialectic you’re trying to form.  So it’s still beautiful, even when it smells like shit and looks like shit and even though I’ve ruined a messenger bag that costs more than the next year’s worth of rent, because I said it’s beautiful.

It’s important to note that oppression points are moral goods, even though morality is also a social construct and although enforceable through power structures, lacks any actual substantive meaning.  Because the oppressed are always vindicated, in the end, or, well.  Something like that.  The point is that we like underdogs and so underdogs are always right.  Even when they’re paid off by communist regimes and advocating mass murder.

This makes sense.  Really, it does.  To some people.

The Culture

It goes without saying, but Postmodernism is a little bit more involved than what a brief three-paragraph diatribe could explain, but that’s the short and long of it.  Old & established normative things like beauty, reason, order, God, etc = BAD!  New, creative, revolutionary things like violence, subversion, disintegration, etc = GREAT!  The important part here is to consider where all this nonsense came from.

The truth is, the West does fundamentally value ideas—despite rhetoric in today’s political sphere and the growing fear of tribalism creeping back into our social affairs (protip: tribalism never left).  But the average person in the West values ideas inasmuch as those ideas affirm or discredit some preconceived notion that he’s grown up with or acclimated to.  Anything beyond the fifteen second soundbite and you’ve lost his attention.  Ideas in the abstract are always of secondary importance to feelings.  They’re needed for that convenient sense of rationalization or justification.

So when academia begins pushing the demolition of Old Culture, the dismantling of moral values, the subversion of upstanding heroic character traits, and the collapse of narrative coherence, then postmodernity becomes a malleable ideological set of means that artists, writers, and content creators can take advantage of.  At its root is the self-destructiveness that is innately appealing to artists of almost any medium, but contorted—not self-destruction aimed toward the end of self-betterment, but rather self-destruction aimed toward the end of secular misery and suicide.  It is an indulgence in loathing and disgust, lacking any positive moral element and instead focusing on the abstracts of bleakness and frailty broadly categorized under the ‘Human Condition’.

It’s hip to revolt.  Cool.  Badass.  Everyone likes a bad boy, except the boring middle-class fathers who chase those jacket-wearing motorcycle jocks off their driveways when their daughters come home at midnight (I can’t find much fault in them for that, honestly).  Writers especially like bad boys because they can write about all their self-righteous disgust and pretend that it’s somehow meaningful because their protagonist is also the audience’s stand-in for a role model.  Postmodernity gives them the excuse and lets them publish garbage under the pretenses of it being artistic.

And since the writers do it, and since the academics have said that this is literally the standard thing to do now, audiences don’t have much choice in the matter.  We’re along for the ride.

Except audiences are complicit in all of this.  We buy into the hype.  We don’t want to see good guys triumph over bad guys.  It’s boring, passe, outdated, appealing to the moralistic confines of narratives desperately trying to push an appeal to the status quo.  We want bloodshed, broken promises, degeneracy, and most importantly, and admonishment that the awful ways in which we live our lives are actually perfectly acceptable ways of wasting our time on planet Earth.

The point is that writers tap into this.  They’re predisposed toward it already so they’re all over the public’s nihilistic indulgence in meaningless stories with awful people in them because they’re so relatable.  I can relate to broken horrible people doing broken horrible things to each other.  So can you.  That doesn’t mean it makes good fiction, nor even meaningful fiction.  And I’m sorry, but superhero stories are by definition a million times worse in this regard.

Writers are generally leftist because they generally have to be.  Because otherwise their stories, wrapped up in a cloak of disgust and ennui or worse, petulant adolescent angst, aren’t indulgences but rather warnings.  Otherwise their stories are sermons rather than entertainment.  Otherwise they’re prophets vilifying our sensational hedonism and self-gratifying congratulatory nihilism instead of the smiling yes-men who are supposed to give us what we want on demand: approval, acknowledgement, definition.  A culture is defined by its stories, and our culture’s storytellers are cowards writing nonsense and subsisting polyp-like on the residual feelings of our collective self-loathing.  We hate ourselves and we are killing ourselves and everything is awful, and we want our writers to tell us yes, yes, that’s fine, go to sleep, everything is okay, go to sleep and never wake up again.

 


 

[1] Derrida’s use of deconstruction (and the school of Theory it spawned) essentially amounted to a theory of interpretation by which the interpretation sought to undermine the fundamental messages, themes, and presentation of a text by the manner of exposing its inconsistencies—typically by introducing elements to the text that are outside of the text’s prevue and characterizing the resulting meta-text as though it was part of the whole picture in the first place.  It originated as a critique of Saussure’s theory of language constituting of referents to real objects, when the truth of it is, as Derrida claimed, at least, that language constituted instead of an endless chain of anti-referents; i.e., the word “tree” refers not to the corresponding concept that we identify as being a tree, nor the vague quality of ‘treeishness’, but rather it refers to hole of anti-meaning created when everything ‘not-tree’ is eliminated from thought.

I’m convinced that the entire school of Theory that it spawned consists of misapplications of the concept and a fundamental misinterpretation of it (whether by design to push a political agenda, or by accident given how backwards it is to attempt to explain and given how backwards Derrida’s writing tended to be), but that’s neither here nor there.

Anyway, it’s a bit confusing, and the reason for that is because it’s French and it was posited by Derrida, the most notorious of post-war academics whose prose is about as readable da Vinci’s coded manuscripts under three layers of highly reflective glass.  Also, it’s probably wrong and a completely self-defeatist school of thought, but nobody actually knows because nobody actually knows how it’s supposed to work.

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