"Ideology and its consequences."
'Love and politics' revisited.
. . . the self-compulsion of ideological thinking ruins all relationship with reality. [It] has succeeded when people have lost contact with their fellow men as well as the reality around them; for together with these contacts, men lose the capacity of both experience and thought. —Hannah Arendt, "Ideology and Terror," 1953.
27 AUGUST—Several weeks ago, independent journalist Michael Tracy posted a remarkable thread on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter. It documents the utterly unhinged language used by the Biden Justice Department in its prosecution of Mark Leffingwell, who participated in the Capitol Hill protest of 6 January 2021.
Equally remarkable: Leffingwell’s plea agreement was entered on 26 October 2021. He was sentenced the following February and has already served his time. By now this episode counts almost as old history, and yet none of what Michael Tracy highlighted in his series of tweets has ever to my knowledge been reported in mainstream media other than in passing. Without Tracy’s work as an independent journalist, few would know of Leffingwell’s case, or anything of the others on which Tracy has commented—or, indeed, of the abuses being perpetrated by the Biden DoJ.
I once again return to events of 6 January, specifically the case of Mark Leffingwell, to revisit two related themes in my previous essay, “Love and Politics.” I wrote that piece because I was horrified by comments appended to articles in numerous left-leaning publications about the 6 January defendants. So-called “liberal” and “leftist” commentators seemed almost to foam at the mouth, asserting that the protesters had no claim to any legal or civil rights and should basically be locked up forever because they had attempted to overthrow our democracy—an absurd accusation with no basis in reality.
Such vitriol and hatred was shocking and stands as a stark illustration of how ideology dehumanizes us, how it undermines our ability to think through events independently of how we are told to think about them—in this case, by media acting as a significant part of the liberal establishment.
Here I will reconsider the issue of ideology in more depth and, second, the need for citizen solidarity based on the love the Greeks termed agape—a solidarity that orients us toward each other such that our allegiances are not captured by political parties and their ideologies. By agape I mean a feeling of loyalty and care for each other rooted in a recognition of our common experiences and bonds as fellow human beings and compatriots. It is possible, indeed it is necessary to a healthy politics, to feel and act out of agape and solidarity while vehemently disagreeing with others. That would actually be a healthy expression of both.
Last, there were numerous comments on “Love and Politics” worthy of consideration, to two of which I respond below.
Here, in brief, is the story of Mark Leffingwell. It illustrates the role ideology plays in the perversion of justice and the rise of establishment authoritarianism. It stands as a chilling example of what happens when the humanizing influence of agape—the recognition of our connection with each other expressed as care and concern—is lost.
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