Playwright, auteur, and late-in-life conservative convert David Mamet referred to socialism as the abdication of responsibility. The resurgence of socialism in the American political landscape, itself born of the “childing” of age-of-majority youth via safe spaces, trigger warnings, de-platforming on college campuses, and the Trojan horses of green politics and social justice, suggests that abdication of responsibility is selling well.

But, people also have a preference for the illusion of control. This is why many more fear flying than driving, even though flying is orders of magnitude safer. It’s why people want to trust activist government more than the free market, even though the free market has a vastly better track record. It’s why our default is ‘do something!’ even when doing nothing is a better option. And, it’s why we witness cults of personality, where people who assert intent to rule with a strong and wise hand are favored over people who promise to leave us alone.

Some of this is born of what’s known as superiority bias: A large majority of people believe they are above-average. And, some of it is found in the Dunning Kruger effect, where people of lower ability or knowledge overestimate what they’ve got (and people of higher ability or knowledge underestimate).

The emergence of social media as a ubiquitous presence/force has compounded these biasing effects. We can sort ourselves into echo chambers, where whatever we believe will be reinforced by others who’ve chosen the same belief, irrespective of contrary facts, data and logic. We can spend five minutes doing Google searches, confirm a position (or “confirm” a position by hunting until we find some affirmation for what we want to believe), and present as if we’ve spent weeks, months, or years pondering a topic, with a casual observer none the wiser. In this way, we can compete in the eyes of that casual observer with people who have spent weeks, months, or years pondering a topic.

What might we ascertain from this confluence of socialism-emergence, control-illusion, and superiority-bias? That we are witnessing an increasing incidence of what I’ll call “alpha by proxy.”

In each of us there are elements of alpha behavior, where we seek to lead others and gain personal satisfaction from doing so, and beta behavior, where we rely on an alpha to shepherd over the pack/tribe/group, and gain comfort, ease, and peace from having a good alpha watching over us.

Being an alpha, though, involves work and comes with responsibility. Some are drawn to it, some gain satisfaction from it. Others are scared snotless by it.

Alpha by proxy, on the other hand, offers the feel-good aspects of being an alpha while off-loading the work, responsibility, and risk onto someone else. That reward without effort or risk is why we see so many people ready to install “their” person as an omnipotentate. They get to lord over those who disagree with them, to alpha-dog dissenters, without actually doing anything “alpha.”

Thus, Internet muscles. Thus, memes substituting for expertise or discourse. Thus, social media outrage at inaction by politicians of the other party.

And, thus, a rapid emergence of socialism among the young and liberal. To use a decidedly un-PC term, the younger generations have been “unmanned” by the cultural elite who lord over the educational system and establish cultural norms. Individuality and self-reliance have become taboos, and that applies to both genders (or the 63 or 100+ genders, if you are so inclined). The cognitive dissonance this creates can be resolve via alpha by proxy: If you’ve been inculcated to eschew personal responsibility and self-determination, you find an easy substitute in delegating alpha behavior to someone you like.

This is how societies lose their liberty. This is how tyrants are created. This is the inevitable outcome of the path the Left is currently on, and all their fears about nascent right-wing fascism reflect a deep denial of the inevitable outcome of their abdications.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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