August 26, 2010

On Gibbs' "professional left"

Oleg Atbashian:

The term “professional left” denotes a growing industry that specializes in converting other people’s money into an ideological product, while making a good living out of it in the process.

It would seem that Robert Gibbs broke the first rule of the professional left, which is (of course): you do not talk about the professional left. The second rule? See the first rule. Now that Gibbs has recklessly uttered the monster’s true name, the professional left has collectively risen from the murky depth, roaring and raving, demanding a ritualistic sacrifice in the form of the press secretary’s political corpse.

The term “professional left” hasn’t been in open circulation before, but it deserves to stick. The casual way in which Gibbs dropped the phrase suggests that it is part of the inner circle’s jargon, and that the White House residents are fully aware of its meaning, function, and implication. There is a class of people with radical leftist views who have made it their job — with the help of abundant grants, foundations, and trusts — to carry out propaganda campaigns, indoctrinate, subvert, and plant the seeds of the leftist worldview in people’s minds through the arts, media, education, blogging, and street protests.


These creatures always give themselves benevolent, kind names. Common Dreams, for example, hatched in the good year of 1997, when the Republican majority in Congress was steering the country into prosperity. Among other things, the name “Common Dreams” adequately describes the professional left’s collective ambition to attach themselves to a “progressive” think tank, with the feeding tube connected directly to the deep pocket of George Soros or his equivalent.

In contrast, there’s no such class of people on the right. Those employed in the several right-leaning think tanks are too few to make up a class, or even a guild. The same applies to a handful of magazines and newspapers, one Fox News channel, and a few dozen local and national radio talk show hosts.

They are not living off public subsidies, leeching off charities, or smuggling in a fringe ideology wrapped in a mainstream format, which is what the professional left does. Unlike their ideological opponents, these people openly state their beliefs, make a living through legitimate advertising, and run honest, sustainable businesses. They may be a force, but there aren’t enough of them to fill a large auditorium.

As of this writing, the professional left is desperately trying to coin the term “professional right,” and to use it as broadly and as often as they can to counterbalance Gibbs’ statement. Notice how unanimously they are repeating it now, pretending it had always existed and wasn’t made up by them just a few days ago for damage control.

But in real life, no intellectually honest person can talk about a “professional right” with a straight face. If such a term existed, it would most likely refer to those who earn a living in the private sector, own businesses, and are indeed professionals.


The amateur right’s favorite pastime is listening to talk radio and fighting a battle of wits on political blogs and discussion forums. They are frequently accused of being corporate sellouts by their leftist opponents. A typical presumption is that no one would defend capitalist free markets unless they were paid to do so by a shady deep-pocketed entity. (That happened to me more than once and I’ve heard similar stories from others.) When the amateur right finally protested in the streets as tea partiers, the professional left and the Democrat leaders similarly accused them of being Astroturf laid down by insurance companies.

The accusations are telling. The astroturfing itself is a patented invention of the professional left — complete with union-sponsored buses full of uniformed “activists” with identical pre-printed signs. Many leftist bloggers are getting paid for building up the visibility of their causes on the Internet. Assigning these traits to the amateur right appears to be a projection, shaped by a narrative that measures success in dollars received from grants, charities, government funding, and salaries within the ranks of the professional left.

Even the wildly popular Tea Party Express must run its own independent fundraising to maintain the buses and the small staff of operatives. No money for them will be coming anytime soon from charitable foundations, whose fortunes were made through capitalist enterprise but whose programs invariably benefit opponents of capitalism.


The professional left’s appetites go far beyond government coffers. Even after you’ve paid your taxes and saved some cash for personal spending, part of it will still be sucked into the professional left’s omnipresent and hyperactive proboscis through movie tickets, cable and newspaper subscriptions, college, and other tuition fees. You can roughly measure how much by the amount of ideological hot air coming from the screens, news columns, and your school curricula.

Every time you buy a corporate product or service — a computer from Hewlett Packard, a cell phone from Verizon, cereal from Kellogg, jeans from Levi Strauss, cosmetics from Liz Claiborne, or medicines from Merck — you also feed the professional left. All of these, and most other big companies have donated to leftist groups and causes, as well as conducted “progressive” seminars with employees — paying professional left instructors. This money is included in the price of their products and services.

The same goes for your investments and saving deposits. JP Morgan, Chase, Wachovia, Bank of America, US Bank, Citibank, PNC Bank, Provident Bank, and others have been giving money — voluntarily or otherwise — to ACORN and other branches of the professional left’s ideological-industrial complex.

Guess who is best positioned today to appropriate billions of tax dollars in stimulus slush funds, and to process them into organic, locally made hot air? Even without ACORN there remains a well-trained, hungry army of looters and moochers collectively known as the professional left. No doubt each and every one of them has already been counted and added to the list of “three million jobs saved or created” by this administration. Their job description? To spend as much of your money as possible to strike at America’s foundations, demonize your values, indoctrinate your children, and destroy your way of life.

President Obama is proactively doing just that on a national scale, converting the American economy into a gigantic ball of ideologically sound hot air, while making a nice living for himself and for all those who assist him in that activity. If that does not describe him as the ultimate mover and shaker of the professional left, I don’t know what else does.

The professional left brought him up. They taught Obama everything he knows about politics, economy, culture, history, and international relations. Admittedly, most of his friends and associates in later life were also members of the professional left. Even when they were teaching in academia like Bill Ayers, preaching in church like Jeremiah Wright, or writing poetry books like Frank Marshall Davis, they still did the work of the professional left, since professional boundaries in those areas have long ago been severely and deliberately blurred.

Slowly but surely, the professional left’s complex has diversified and expanded its frontiers to include professional educators, filmmakers, entertainers, lawyers, writers, clergy, journalists, politicians, government workers, and now also members of the president’s cabinet and even the president himself. And given the proverbial revolving door in their membership, they can all move freely from one field to another without ever stepping outside the common hot air bubble, staying in touch with the others trough a common, members-only mailing list. One of such mailing lists, recently discovered and analyzed by the Daily Caller, was used by specialists in various sectors of the professional left to share thoughts on the many ways they can spend your money, shove their ideology down your throat, and bamboozle you into voting Obama into the White House.

To paraphrase Obama’s own words, instead of complaining about the professional left, his administration should be thanking them.

Longtime readers of this site won’t find any of this terribly new: the New Left’s takeover of the Democrat Party is nearly complete, after all, as is their refiguration of what it means to identify as “liberal” (or to support “tolerance,” &etc.); but what Atbashian does exceedingly well here is articulate, in concrete terms, just how wide-ranging is their strategy.

To my way of thinking, the seeds of leftism are planted in language — both how it is used and how we come to believe it works. And it’s no secret that I find the formalist project — which seeks to untether signs from the signer, or meaning from the person who meant what he meant, in an attempt to weaken individual autonomy by replacing it with the collectivism of a given “community” — profoundly troubling for a society ostensibly governed by classically liberal principles.

From the perversion of language flows all else. As I keep preaching, how we get there matters.

The left knows this; which is why they attack through a kind of re-working of our very epistemologies, favoring a paradigm in which all knowledge is contingent, and wherein rhetoric is elevated over the tyranny of logic.

The sooner the right learns how properly to combat this, the better chance it has of re-invigorating classical liberal principles. Until then, it’s all sound and fury, regardless of whether or not they take back power temporarily.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 10:35am

Comments (30)

  1. In a sense, while we might put the finger on language, what we are actually identifying is the monadic agent, the person, the living human possessed of will. I’ve suggested elsewhere that of all the things we might seek to change, it is ourselves most of all over which we have the power. And yet, this is no easy thing.

  2. Well, we do have some foundations on the right. Heritage, Hoover, AEI..and that’s about it!

  3. Common sense ultimately prevails in America, I think. You really have to being willing to allow yourself to be logically pretzel-twisted to really buy what the left is selling, and I think recent polling supports this whether we’re talking about Cordoba, immigration policy, Arizona law, heathcare reform, bailouts, etc.

    In other words (with apologies to Dwayne Johnson), America smells what “the cRock” is cookin’.

  4. Well, now, y’see, Jeff, there’s yer problem: You’re an amateur right-winger….

  5. Ultimately prevails sounds more like hope than experience scooter. We are, after all, repeating the stupidities of the ’30’s depression, largely on the strength of the poverty of American political imagination to foresee the damned thing as it came at them down the road of the 2008 Presidential campaign. I mean, Obama, for god’s sake? None of it necessary.

  6. Bigoted bitter clingy racist.

  7. “…Don’t believe in riches, but you should see where I live”.

    U2, with a one line encapsulation of the Professional Left.

  8. Yes, but some of this was foisted on us by an extremist government that had to use procedural “end-arounds” to accomplish. The polls reflect – and November elections will confirm – that this was not the electorate’s will being done.


    Consider, for example, that the combined revenue base of such conservative multi-issue policy institutions as the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, the Cato Institute, and Citizens for a Sound Economy exceeded $77 million in 1995.

    In strong contrast, the roughly equivalent progressive (e.g., multi-issue, left-of-center groups whose work focuses on domestic policies at the national level)-the Institute for Policy Studies, the Economic Policy Institute, Citizens for Tax Justice, and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities-had only $9 million at their collective disposal in 1995. Adding the Twentieth Century Fund, the Center for the Study of Social Policy, OMB Watch, and the Center for Community Change would push the combined 1995 budgets of these eight organizations to $18.6 million, still less than a quarter of the top five conservative groups.

  10. Rather than cause us to focus too narrowly on the present, perhaps I should point instead at Nancy Pelosi, first elected in 1987, Barney Frank in 1981, Robert Byrd in 1952, Ted Kennedy in 1962, Steny Hoyer in 1981 and so on for a very long list here truncated. Or much further back, past FDR even, to terrible political decisions of the early 20th century. It has been a long road filled with error and misunderstanding, none of which has been readily repaired, wherever repaired at all. Something is amiss.

  11. A 1998 study that shows 1995 budgets? Let’s stop and think…what may have changed over the past fifteen years?

  12. Plus, given that every university Political Science department functions as a liberal think tank, do you suppose it would be fair to add up the budgets of all those programs?

  13. And there Squid goes and names it. SLANDER!

  14. At least it wasn’t Zombie Reagan bringing the evil this time.

  15. That’s the best you can do? A webpage from 12 years offered with no comment?

    I don’t think you’re making the point you’re trying to make.

  16. Remember John Lennon’s Imagine? As a mental exercise, try playing it in your head while imagining the Ford, Gates, Kellogg, or Rockefeller Foundations, the Pew Charitable Trust, and the rest of the usual NPR contributors giving money to cultivate the ideals of capitalism, individualism, and republicanism — or to promote the virtues of free enterprise and private property in poor urban areas. All you’ll get is a headache and a bad case of cognitive dissonance. Tea parties need not apply. The charitable cup of tea tilts leftward by design.

    Not to mention “Tides” and that ilk.

  17. Funny thing about capitalism – it generally doesn’t require the charitable assistance.

  18. But in real life, no intellectually honest person can talk about a “professional right” with a straight face.

    You kind of shut off the discussion there, ol’ buddy, before it fairly got started. The left isn’t, never was, and really can’t be, even if they tried.

  19. Yes, feeding the non-sequitur cut n’ paste troll, but.

    SPLC 1999 budget, $44 million.
    ACLU 2007 budget, $107 million

    Hell, even worthless little spitwad organizations like Media Matters have $10 million annual budgets.

    You lose. Shoo fly.

  20. A typical presumption is that no one would defend capitalist free markets unless they were paid to do so by a shady deep-pocketed entity.

    Well, of course not. They don’t appear at a fund raiser, no matter how good the cause, with out a gift basket of goodies, with the goodies being, not tiny Snickers bars, but things like Rolexes. Barack Obama and Bill Ayers didn’t set out to destroy the lives of some Chicago school children for free. They had a 100 million dollar grant to parcel out.

    The lefts clients even expect a little something just for going to vote.

  21. To my way of thinking, the seeds of leftism are planted in language

    Those seeds being no more and no less than the will to power.

    Once you’ve determined that you will be in control, you must destroy the ability of the resistance to speak the TRVTH about you or anything else, and because we can speak the TRVTH only through language, step one is to sever the link between language and reality, and as Jeff says, between the speaker and his own speech.

  22. Althouse asks, “Why did Simpson retreat?” We ask, why indeed?

  23. Not retreating, Limbaugh, David: Crimes Against Liberty, 1), 2), 3)

  24. You know what’s funny? James Smithson gave us the Smithsoian. Andrew Carnegie donated libraries. The Shriners donate burn hospitals for children. Lions donate glasses and hire medical personnel to restore sight. Kiwanis push for idozing salt. Rotarians have donated parks. Moose have run an orphanage.

    None of that is a left-ward tilt or a right-ward tilt, but it is defintiely more charitable, more philanthropic, and done and doing more good than many of the big trusts could ever dream of doing.

  25. Oyster[s] crackers are the people?

    Urrrpp, yes, pass the bread and butter.

  26. One subtle yet important point made by AJ is that a lot of conservative resources have been poured into the so-called “think tanks,” largely because libertarian and conservative thought is given such short shrift in the standard centers of learning (hence my quip about PoliSci budgets, above). Leftist efforts don’t go toward think-tanks as such, because their policy positions are generally just accepted as part of the cultural zeitgeist. This, in turn, is due to the Leftist takeover of the academe and media.

    So what we wind up with is a collection of classically liberal think-tanks desperate to get their message out to an ignorant public, versus a collection of leftist message machines desperate to keep the public from questioning the prevailing message, lest its hollowness be revealed.

    With this in mind, it’s easy to see why our leftist talking heads and the trolls that mimic their talking points spend so much effort trying to discredit and shout down any voices on the Right that dare stray from the accepted narrative.

  27. Ironically, however, the purchase also illuminates the nadir to which the relationship has fallen under the current administration. Barack Obama’s aides have tried to divert attention from their boss’s efforts to put “daylight” between America and Israel by insisting that on the all-important issue of security, “President Obama has taken what was already a strong U.S.-Israel defense relationship, and broadened and deepened it across the board,” as Dan Shapiro of the National Security Council told the Anti-Defamation League in May.

    But in reality, Washington has attached unprecedented restrictions to the F-35 sale — restrictions so severe that Israel’s defense establishment agonized for months over whether to sign the deal, and ultimately opted to buy only 20 planes instead of the 75 the Israel Air Force originally sought.

    Nope, no jobs lost there. Keep it up, Barry.

  28. sdferr, well Hell’s Bells, its not like you would want to sell an ally aircraft?! I mean, you get money/jobs, they get a terrific defense system….who would want that?!

  29. >sell an ally aircraft…

    Oh, I’m sure he’s out pitching his allies. Unfortunately Hugo can get all he wants, cheap, from Mikoyan-Guryevich, Yakovlev, Ilyushin, et. al., and won’t be interested in paying more, and Ahmadinejad isn’t returning calls.


  30. I see your conservative think tanks and raise you George Soros.
    Regarding political correctness, multi culturism, and new age religion: Orwell and Ayn Rand both recognized that before a new world order could be created, language and culture had to be destroyed.