Manu Joseph makes an interesting observation on bleeding-heart liberals. The iniquitous social system which persists in poor countries like India strengthen a minority elite which leverages the unfair privileges, and before long slowly turns against the system which made their wealth and self-righteous indignation possible. They are, like Arundhati Roy, “an anomaly that completes the system”. Their heart of course, lies with the real India waiting to get in, but is still kept out by the elitist middle class. With misty eyes, they tell us that the dull masses will never go away. It might be their only hope, but they have something called vote which will humiliate their betters. When the middle class and the rich are busy partying, they will doggedly march to the polling booth in hordes once in every five years and press the button with glee, throwing all the rascals out. It would be quite an inspiring sight!
The great 20th century polemicist H.L. Mencken had hinted that democracy originated in the poetic fancies of refined men who felt like putting the donkey into the cart to revolutionalize transport, saddened by the fact that it is over-laden.
There was no mass movement which was different. The Austrian economist Ludwig Von Mises had pointed out that behind all socialistic ideas we see the hands of the wicked scion of one of the prominent aristocratic families of royal France. Marx never did a honest day’s work, and lived off Engels, who was a wealthy industrialist and a much more original thinker. The anti capitalist ideas were by no means an achievement of the masses, but of that of much pampered intellectuals and artists who never had to wonder where the next meal would come from. Rustic poetry on the pleasures of country life was never written by shepherds or village idiots, but by urban poets. Murray Rothbard was one among the many who noticed that most intellectuals who complain about the ugliness of cities and worship primitivism were firmly ensconced in these crowded cities.
In Ayn Rand’s ‘The Fountainhead’, we see that the socialist Ellsworth Toohey didn’t get along with poor boys slogging hard at Harvard, but the second and third generation millionaires flocked to him. He granted them a self-respect which they couldn’t have themselves earned. Toohey pointed at something interesting. The college professors, the newspaper editors, the respectable mothers and the Chambers of Commerce did not come flying to the defense of the ubermensch Howard Roark when he was facing trial. But, some proletarians did.
Mises tells us that the socialistic ranting of proletarian writers were nothing but trash when compared to that of their bourgeoisie counterparts-and for a reason. Bourgeoisie writers were more successful in describing the sad plight of workers, their cute babies and pretty daughters as they knew not what they were talking about and were hence more honest. Leave aside the claims of polylogism. Have proletarians ever had their fair share in the large body of “proletarian literature”?