There is a very insightful and thought-provoking piece by Kit Wilson in CapX, making the point that “These days the worst left-wing ideas come from Freud, not Marx.” Wilson makes a strong case that left-wing successors have seized upon and extended some of Freud’s ideas in order to construct the pernicious case that our “real” selves do not show in what we think, say and do, but in our subconscious minds
Versions of this Freudian principle – that your surface behaviours are a lie, and that we experts know better what you’re really thinking –have cropped up everywhere. Take the notion of microaggressions: unintended slights that supposedly reveal some deep, latent prejudice. Or the idea that dissenting voices can simply be explained away with “internalised racism” or “internalised sexism”.
The implication of this so-called analysis is that while we might be outwardly anti-racist and anti-misogynist, our inaccessible subconscious might be deeply bigoted, only revealing glimpses of that inner bigotry by inadvertent slips of the tongue, or in dreams whose symbolism exposes our inner wickedness, or in seemingly innocent mannerisms whose origins lie in that inner beast.
It’s a perfect theory for the Left because it is completely untestable. There is nothing that could show it to be out of accord with observation. Indeed, on this theory observation itself is worthless, and must give way before the much more important thing: interpretation. And guess who gets to do the interpreting?
Fundamentally this school of thought claims that others, specifically enlightened others, know us better than we know ourselves, and that surface politeness and good manners are just oppressive ways of concealing those real selves. But, as Wilson tells us:
“Telling us that our surface intentions and good deeds pale in significance to the endless unconscious evils of which we’re supposedly guilty doesn’t make for a more harmonious society.”
No it doesn’t. It makes for irrationality, and we should identify it as such and call it out. Wilson has done a great job, and I wholeheartedly recommend his article.