Here’s a lazy hypothesis for you: socialism is inevitable.
…because, inevitably, whatever comes to pass in the future will be called “socialism” by the Cathedral.
Does this seem like a cute point that merely dodges the difficulty of predicting how much damage the Left will manage to do to Western economic institutions over the next thirty to fifty years? Well, it’s more than that. If you understood this hypothesis inside and out, you would have a very strong grasp of the core dynamics of leftism.
Leftism — socialism, progressivism, bolshevism — is a movement which allows intellectuals to become momentum traders in a very unusual sort of prediction market. Leftist intellectuals win their reputations by prophesying the inevitable triumph of the left in some specific area when this seems improbable or even impossible, and then cashing in when the prophesy comes true… or even earlier, when it become common wisdom and their predictions are taken for as good as fact.
But who is to enforce prediction-contracts on questions like “the end of capitalism”, “the liberation of women”, “the death of the nuclear family”? Why, the intellectuals themselves. They are both responsible for making outrageous predictions and for policing whether the predictions have come true.
This is at the root of some of the more preposterous games that public intellectuals play. It’s Bernie Madoff cubed.
Once a leftist speculation has been accepted as the cultural equivalent of AAA asset-class, it can never again be questioned because the people who originally made the prediction now, on the basis of the acceptance of the prediction, have sufficient power to prevent anyone from questioning it ever again (and meanwhile, many members of the rank-and-file “bought in” when it was already near the top and have a lot to lose from being exposed as fools). So consensus about future events effectively replaces the events themselves. – Conditional predictions (“X if Y” or “W if not Z”) are particularly attractive because intellectual speculators can build up a consensus around the conditional prediction even if the members of the consensus are sharply divided between “X” and “not-Y”. Then you are free to “manage” the prediction in either direction. For example, if I predict “Blacks will have equal academic achievements to whites just as soon as systemic racism ends”, I am always free to interpret unequal academic achievements as prima facie proof of the persistence of “systemic racism”.
Isn’t it odd that radicals who are so quick to attack even the most benign and harmless institutions as vestiges of regimes like feudalism or Jim Crow are so confident that all currently existing institutions can be swept away? Logically, it would seem the two shouldn’t go together. Either you think old oppressive regimes were easy to get rid of and existing oppressive regimes will be too… or you think old oppressive regimes were insidious and near-impossible to purge from the fabric of social life, and the existing regimes will be just as hard… but why would TCY mark an enormous break between the insidious, obdurate forms of oppression of the past and the doomed, vulnerable forms of oppression of the future?
In the logic of momentum-trading, though, this makes perfect sense: “feudalism” has to disappear because “feudalism has to disappear” is AAA-rated. A leftist starts by making the implausible claim that an essential, currently-existing institution is unfair and totally problematic and basically doomed. (Wow! Unlikely!) Then after he stakes out a big position, he goes on to argue that the currently-existing institution is an insidious survival of some barbaric injustice. (Oh no! Eek!) If he can get people to buy into the “This is basically feudalism”-thesis at par, then what we already know about feudalism – that it has to disappear – can be extended to the currently-existing non-feudalism.
Once an activist gets media recognition for his “X is feudalism”-gambit he can swap all his “X has to disappear” junk-bonds for AAA verities, and he’ll look smart. It’s not a paradox, it’s just the leftist version of “Buy low, sell high”.
When Trump gets around to founding an Inquisition, he should probably make it a sub-division of the SEC. Leftism is a massively-distributed strategy for pump-n-dump collusion in the market for intellectual goods. Studying leftists shouldn’t, in principle, be any different from detecting the first signs of fraud in any other market.