“Why do we dream? Freud’s answer is deceptively simple: the ultimate function of the dream is to enable the dreamer to stay asleep.” Slavoj Zizek (2006)
Traditional Left Ideology sets out a vision of how the world ‘ought to be.’ The Left’s view can be summed up as the belief that social justice is the primary requirement for improving the world, and that this better future entails the pursuit of equality in various forms. The Left ideologist believes that it is both ethical and moral to attempt to approach equality in terms of civil rights and material wealth.
But if the Left focuses on ‘what could be,’ the Right focuses on ‘what is.’ If the Left operates where people ‘could be,’ the Right operates where people ‘are’ or at least, where they believe themselves to be. The Right does not aim to change human social reality but rather to celebrate, and to even maximize it.
Left ideology, accordingly, is shaped like a ‘dream.’ Aiming for what ‘ought to be’ rather than ‘what is’ induces a level of utopian illusory detachment and depicts a phantasmal egalitarian world often removed from our abusive, oppressive and doomed reality. In this phantasmic future, people will just drift away from greed and gluttony, they will work less and learn to share, even to share that which they may not possess to start with.
This imaginary ‘dream’ helps explain why the (Western) Left’s ideology rarely appealed to the struggling classes; the masses, consumed by the pursuit of bread and butter, were hardly going to be interested in utopian ‘dreams’ or futuristic social experiments. Bitten by the daily struggle and chased by existence, working people have never really subscribed to ‘the revolution,’ usually because they were just too busy working. This perhaps explains why so often it was the middle-class and bourgeois agitators who became revolutionary icons. It was they who had access to that little bit extra to fund their revolutionary adventures.
The ‘Left dream’ is certainly appealing, perhaps a bit too appealing. Social justice, equality and even revolution may really be nothing but the addictive rush of effecting change and this is perhaps why hard-core Leftist agitators often find it impossible to wake from their social fantasy of transformation. They simply refuse to admit that reality has slipped from their grasp, preferring to remain in their cozy phantasmal and delusional universe, shielded by ghetto walls built from archaic terminology and political correctness.
In fact, the more appealing and convincing the revolutionary fantasy is, the less its supporters are willing to be awaken by reality. This blindness helps explain why the Western ideological and political Left has failed on so many fronts: it was daydreaming when the service economy was introduced, and it did not awaken when production and manufacturing were eviscerated. It yawned when it should have combatted corporate culture, big money and its worship, and it dozed when higher education became a luxury. The Left was certainly snoring noisily when, one after the other, its institutions were conquered by ‘New Left’ Identitarian politics.
It is most important to point at the contemporary American so-called ‘Left’ that was deeply asleep when the American working classes drifted away to the Republican party. The American Left was so deeply consumed by its ‘revolutionary fantasy’ that it didn’t notice the embarrassing fact that an abrasive multi-billionaire real estate tycoon morphed into a populist revolutionary icon for hard-working people. The American Left was so thrilled by its self-worship that it pretended not to see that its entire operation was practically sustained by Wall Street tycoons and globalists of the worst type. The American Left has become a controlled opposition apparatus. It practically went to bed with the bitterest enemies of peace and justice let alone anything that resembles ‘social justice’ and human harmony.
In one of his most insightful moments, Slavoj Zizek delved into a comparison between Freud and Lacan’s perception of the dream: “Why do we dream?” Zizek asked. “Freud’s answer is deceptively simple: the ultimate function of the dream is to enable the dreamer to stay asleep.”
According to this perception, the dream is there to sustain the slumber against all odds. It represses the external disturbance (whether it is depression, anxiety, noise or even an immediate threat) by incorporating it into the dream. In The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud tells a story of a father whose young son has just died. The father falls asleep and dreams that the child is standing by his bed in flames, whispering the horrifying reproach: ‘Father, can’t you see I’m burning?’ Soon afterwards, the father wakes to discover that a fallen candle has set fire to his dead son’s shroud. The father had smelled the smoke while asleep and incorporated the image of his burning son into his dream to prolong his sleep. Zizek wonders: did the father wake up because the external stimulus became too strong to be contained within the dream-scenario? Or was it the obverse, that the father constructed the dream in order to prolong his sleep, but what he encountered in the dream was even more unbearable than external reality, so that he woke up to escape it?
In the ‘Left Dream,’ the cosmopolitan revolution occurs by itself, as its conditions are ‘determined’ by an inevitable mass consciousness shift. In the ‘Left dream’ the revolution is inevitable so to say. In the ‘Left’s nightmare,’ however, reality proves the complete opposite; the condition for the revolution are ripe on the verge of ultimate but then, pretty much out of the blue, the same script keep repeating itself, a ‘Hitler’ figure appears ‘out of nowhere’ and steers the masses away from the ‘revolution’ to the ‘flag.’ But one thing is clear. In the Left Dream there is no escape route to reality. Unlike the father who awakes devastated by the image of his son being burned, there is no Left dream where the struggling masses can have their say. In the American Left Dream, for instance, there is no room for ‘White uneducated males’ who pop out of the blue and ask: what about us? Why have you forsaken us? In the American Left Dream these kinds of ‘white’ people are called ‘Trumpsters,’ ‘Deplorables,’ White Supremacists,’ white nationalists, and so forth. In the Contemporary American Left dream there is no path back to reality. Those few Leftists who are awaken by any sort of reality check are effectively pushed out, left with no other option but flipping (political) sides. This may explain why demographic studies reveal that people are most often born Leftists and die Conservatives. Maturity, so it seems, involves a growing acceptance of ‘realistic pessimism.’ People tend to wake up, but the dream doesn’t.
One may wonder: where was the German Left when Hitler’s popularity increased amongst Germany’s Working class at a speed that puts Covid-19 to shame? Where was the British Left when Margaret Thatcher, who destroyed many of Britain’s industries and undermined the unions, became so popular amongst British Working people for making it possible for them to own their homes? Where was the British Left when Corbyn and Labour’s popularity minced into dust? It is also fascinating to look at the Israeli Left, as Israel was formed around the idea of Labour Zionism. The Israeli Labour party that dominated Israeli politics until 1977 literally vanished as its ‘dream’ of a Hebraic proletarian metamorphosis couldn’t sustain itself. Due to the fact that Labour Zionism was shaped and operated in a dream mode, it could never adopt to a political reality that was molded by its own dream.
The Left is often too blind to the political and social conditions in which it operates. It never detects the growing wave of resentment it brings upon itself because operating in a dream mode inflicts a severe form of detachment. As Freud realised, the dream is there to sustain the slumber. It ignores political opposition by reducing it into an outer ‘noise.’ It either sets regions of blind spots (political correctness) or alternatively defines growing regions of ‘political outcasts’ (Trumpsters, Fascists, Racists, Deplorables, White supremacists etc.)
In November 2016 Hillary Clinton was in a state of a total shock when she woke up to learn that Donald Trump won the election. In her dream Hillary already won the election, the act of voting was just a formal procedure. Four years later, Biden, the DNC and pretty much the entire Mainstream media followed the exact same pollsters who were totally off-mark in 2016. They anticipated a ‘landslide victory.’ The fact that Donald Trump was meeting so many supporters in his open rallies must have been realised within the context of the ‘Left Dream’ as noisy disturbances. When Michael Moore warned the American Left that the GOP and Trump could make it again, not one in the American progressive universe cared to address his concerns. When people are asleep you are expected to walk on your tiptoes.
I assume that the contemporary American Left’s wet Dream is easy to describe: You go to sleep with Donald Trump in the White House, you wake up and he is gone. This simple dream describes exactly what happened in the early morning of the 4th of November. America went to sleep accepting that Trump, against all odds, did it again. In the wee small hours bookies all over the world put their money on his success by a rate as high as 7 to 1. In the morning suddenly the situation flipped: Trump was on his way out. On the face of it the American Left dream has materialised.
America is obviously divided in the middle. Those who favour Biden insist that he won the election. Those who support Trump are convinced that something unusually dishonest happened during that night and in the days to follow.
I do not have the means or the intention to tell or even try to determine who won the election but it is clear that the DNC, Biden, Harris and the entire American mainstream media do not let the tsunami of mistrust interfere with their ‘materialised dream.’ Biden doesn’t seem too concerned by the fact that America currently looks like a banana republic. Like in a banana republic, Americans do not trust their political system nor do they trust their institutions. People who live in banana republics learn quickly to expect the unexpectable to the point that the unexpectable is becomes the new normal. Biden doesn’t let reality interfere with the dream. As ‘president-elect’ he doesn’t waste time, he works with his transition team, he keeps the fantasy afloat. America is on the verge of a civil war but even that doesn’t bother the ‘president-elect’ and his transition team. In the progressive dream, vowing to ‘unite the nation’ is way more forceful that the reality of a sharp divide.
Back in 2006, Zizek provided a Lacanian insight into the reality that we currently see in the USA. “Reality,” Zizek wrote, “is for those who cannot sustain the dream.” It is always the hard-working people struggling for bread and butter who can’t sustain the fantasy of social change. It is always the working classes that push for concretization. They want America to be great again (Trump), they want Great Britain to be as ‘Great’ as implied by its name (Brexit), they want France to be French (Yellow Vests). Before it is too late, those who watched the so-called ‘Trumpsters’ yesterday in Washington DC should accept that the patriotic reality embodied by the flag must at least be as meaningful as the Identitarian ‘dream’ of ‘others united.’