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Cargo Cult Leadership

Don Dickinson

22 May 2011

An unintended consequence of World War II operations in the Pacific Theater was that it brought many of the primitive cultures of the region into their first significant contact with Western civilization. The natives did not understand how or why the complex systems of airfields, control towers, landing lights, and radios worked, but they could clearly see that after the right things were in place and certain rituals were performed a seemingly endless stream of good stuff began to flow into the airfields on big metal birds. Everything that the airplanes brought was very valuable to the primitive native peoples. The food, fuel, water, wood, metal, clothing, packaging materials, and complicated equipment was all good cargo as far as the natives were concerned.

But just as suddenly as the plenty had come with start of a war the natives knew nothing about, it ended the same way when the strange war frenzy of the mysterious Westerners ended. Many of the natives had become accustomed to the wealth of cargo brought by the Westerners. Since they did not understand the facts of how the plenty had been produced and brought to them, they assumed it was caused by the ritual of building and operating the airfields, control towers, landing lights, and radios. So, it seemed perfectly rational to them to reconstruct the entire setup as best they could and wait patiently for the gods to again provide valuable cargo. Thus was born, independently in several locations, the Southwest Pacific Cargo Cults. (Read the Cargo Cult article in Wikipedia for more on this phenomenon.)

One of the major means of human advancement has been for someone to notice a pattern and then decipher its causes. In 1974, the physicist, Richard Feynman, gave a commencement address on “Cargo Cult Science” in which he first used that phrase and discussed the concept. He had noticed a pattern in which people who did not really understand science used the language and trappings of science, but because they did not really understand how science worked, produced only a cargo cult or pseudo science that was as tragically, and for the same reasons, as worthless as the original cargo cults. (Search on the name for the excellent article which is widely available.)

The strong desire that exists in each of us to seek agreement with our own kind is an artifact of man’s origin as a social creature. Man is powerfully hard wired to get along, accommodate, socialize, acculturate, and conform to the group he is born into or later trained into. This is the Social Thinking I have discussed elsewhere. It is the very basis of families, tribes, clans, nations, armies, and parties. It makes large groups possible and necessary. Traditionally some level is in control and provides overall guidance and direction to the dumb masses of a group. That level in all successful civilizations was the gods, or in the most advanced ones, a god. All cultural social beliefs, right and wrong, become the worldview of a particular culture or group of people and it is only natural that individuals in a group are much more strongly influenced by their group than by any outsiders. Thus, the primitive Pacific islanders, as well as the cargo cult social scientists, have paid little or no attention to the Critical Thinking of the Richard Feynmans of this world who know better ways of thinking.

Western modernity comprised of Christianity, Western civilization, science, technology, capitalism, and constitutional representative government have now provided a historically unprecedented flood of good cargo across most of our planet. Now, billions of people have no broadly correct idea how it all came about or why their world has suddenly changed from the traditional Hobbsean characterization of “the life of man, [as] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” to one of health and material well-being that would have made Queen Victoria blush. Just to make it all but impossible for many people to see how and why it all has come about and works, leftist ideologues have provided a steady stream of cargo cult policies and philosophy to dull the minds of the masses. The list of cargo cult leftist ideas is nearly endless but includes: John Dewey education practices, social engineering, social justice, nation building, political correctness, postmodernism, multiculturalism, equality of outcome, identity politics, socialism, fascism, Nazism, Communism, affirmative action, deep environmentalism, global warming/climate change, feminism, and Keynesian economics.

The proof of the cargo cult or pseudo science nature of all these ideas is that they cannot stand under a quest for truth using reason, logic, evidence, and conformance to reality as in Critical Thinking. The proof is also that whenever the adherents of leftist ideas are challenged about them they quickly resort to unscientific and irrational argumentation based on attacking the critic by calling him stupid, racist, homophobic, rich, authoritarian, or some other epithet that is offered without evidence. If these leftist ideas were true, would they not be able to quietly provide the evidence of the truth claims?

The latest phase of the leftist assault on Western modernity began with the French Revolution. God was thrown over the side, the regents were killed, and the process of establishing equality of outcome by killing off the top and bottom classes of society began with a vengeance. Not surprisingly to anyone with a Critical Thinking understanding of society, such as Edmund Burke, it all ended badly, when having killed the leaders and reduced society to its middle common denominator, the brutal dictator Napoleon took over and continued the inevitable leftist process of leading millions to their death after lives of great misery. The French intellectuals who got the revolution started had imagined a better world of Utopian, “liberty, equality, fraternity.” Since they had only a cargo cult level understanding of human nature, they got a worse result than did the South Pacific savages 160 years later.

In 1848, Karl Marx imagined a materialist earthly paradise that he said was inevitable as the contradictions of capitalism caused it to wither away and be replaced spontaneously by communism and eventually the stateless society. He said it was all science but as we know now, it was all imagination, wishful thinking, and pseudo science that has amounted to a Communist Cargo Cult that has thrived in many nuanced forms right down to the present. The fact that it has never produced any moral goods, nor been able to compete with the physical goods of Western modernity, is irrelevant to its true believers. As Lenin pointed out so directly, even the deluded dupes of leftism are “useful idiots.”

All the while that the Western modernity comprised of Christianity, Western civilization, science, technology, capitalism, and constitutional representative government was moving from one vast and unprecedented human achievement to another, the cargo cult leftists were not deterred by reality. Their leftist worldview was all powerful within their cultural group and they certainly were not going to allow themselves to come under the influences of the hated enemy forces and ideas. What kept them from passing into insignificance and deserved oblivion was the clever thinking of Antonio Gramsci. He came to understand that contrary to Marx, Western civilization and capitalism were getting stronger rather than weaker. They were already too strong for a direct attack, so to destroy them it would be necessary first to weaken them.

Gramsci saw that one of the great strengths of Western civilization was its openness to new ideas. He realized that this near guileless openness provided an opening for the infiltration of leftist ideas. In fact, this was already beginning to occur even in the absence of a master plan. The ideas of Marx, Fabian socialists, John Dewey, and other American progressives had already enjoyed some considerable success in penetrating American institutions. Gramsci conceived of a “long march through the institutions of Western civilization” to weaken it sufficiently from within so that it would eventually collapse or be vulnerable to a final blow from the forces of leftism. The long march is now complete as leftists are dominant in Western mass media, entertainment, education, law, militaries, and religion.

A clear indicator of the success of the leftists in corrupting the thinking and beliefs of people everywhere is the fact that most people believe fascism and Nazism to be politically far right ideas. Many people who call themselves conservatives have fallen for this big lie. The lie is powerfully debilitating for those who believe it. If far right or extreme conservative ideas are fascist or Nazi, how can they be good? However, a simple analysis of the history of fascism, Nazism, and Communism shows definitively that they were just different manifestations of the same common leftist ideology of the totalitarian power of a statist oligarchy over all the people. Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, and the Western intellectual leftists were all just one big happy mutual admiration society until Hitler decided to throw Stalin under the bus by attacking the Soviet Union. Within days, most Western leftists had switched their undivided allegiance to Stalin and Communism leaving Mussolini and his fascism and Hitler and his Nazism as pariahs.

After World War II, Western leftist intellectuals realized that the first truly global conflagration that had resulted in orders of magnitude more destruction and death than ever before was produced by leftist ideas and that the world was only saved by Western civilization and especially America. If the general population became aware of this horrible fact it would be the end for leftists and leftist ideologies. Theodore Adorno of The Frankfurt School came to the rescue with the preposterously big lie that fascism and Nazism were extreme right-wing and conservative ideologies.

The big lie worked for several reasons. First, the true nature of right-wing and conservative ideas is a desire to live and let live, and not worry about controlling the beliefs of others. Conservatives were tired of war and ready to get back to their lives and capitalism. This led to the conservative side not putting up much resistance to the big lie. Second, the left, due to the success of the long march through the institutions, already controlled large swaths of mass media, entertainment, and education. In those highly influential areas, the big lie quickly became official dogma. Third, the left was humiliated by their losses and thirsting for revenge. In their minds any lie told against the hated conservatives and capitalists was justified. With this motivation, revenge has been sweet.

A peculiar unanticipated consequence or n-order effect of the success of the left’s long march has been that some of their own youth have now drunk the leftist Kool Aid and become even more mentally debilitated and corrupted by the lies than the intended conservative recipients. Leftist leaders like Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, and Hugo Chavez were leftist ideologues, but they certainly were not “useful idiots.” They fully understood that the real purpose of leftist ideas is to gain power over the masses for themselves and fellow oligarchs. However, we now have leftist leaders coming to power who are true believers in the whole leftist panoply of stupid and failed ideas. They apparently do not know why the leftist ideology is designed as it is or how it is supposed to work in reality. They are Cargo Cult Leaders and the best current example is Barack Obama.

Literally everything about Barack Obama is as imaginary as a cargo cult airfield and we are seeing that, likewise, such leadership produces no good result. A list of the characteristics of Obama that he has in common with a cargo cult airfield as far as reality is concerned makes the point:
•He is a black American. The term usually refers to someone of black American cultural ancestry and is usually assumed to include a heritage of slavery and past, if not current, oppression and deprivation at the hands of white Americans. But in fact Obama is the son of a white mother whose ancestors owned slaves, and an African Muslim father whose ancestors were slave traders. He grew up in privilege in Hawaii, Indonesia, and rich, predominantly white, American colleges. His only brushes with black American culture came through Frank Marshall Davis, his leftist mentor, and Michelle, who was a child of considerable privilege, and other powerful and privileged blacks in Chicago.
•He is very intelligent, in fact, according to presidential historian Michael Beschloss, he may be the most intelligent president ever. Why is it then so unreasonable to expect to see even a shred of evidence in support of that contention? A reasonable man would expect there to be many brilliant products of a man of such intelligence and yet none are in evidence. Transcripts from the three institutions of higher education he attended should be a good start on providing evidence of abundant brilliance, but he keeps them closed.
•He is not a socialist, communist, Marxist or any other specific kind of leftist extremist. His parents, mentor, friends, and associates throughout his life have been leftists of all stripes. If he has any association with conservatives or conservative thought, it is not in evidence. How can it possibly be that he is not a major leftist?
•He is a Christian. According to the law of Islam, he is a Muslim because his father was a Muslim. We have never been clearly apprised of how he got away from being a Muslim without being labeled an apostate by them as required by their law. He has publicly slipped and referred to his “Muslim faith.” He has on at least four occasions dropped the word “creator” from his quotations of The Declaration of Independence. He is often much more solicitous of Muslim feelings than those of Jews or Christians.
•He is a great orator. Like a cargo cult orator, he almost always has the trappings in the form of a teleprompter, but YouTube is heavily populated with stunningly embarrassing examples of what happens when he does not have his teleprompter or it malfunctions.
•Bowing deeply to foreign leaders is important. It is impossible to know, based on available public information, where he even got this ridiculous ritualistic idea. However, he has done it so many times, despite criticism from his fellow leftists, it must be caused by some magical cargo cult-like belief in its power and goodness.
•The stimuli will stop job loss and fix the economy. This is a leftist idea of John Maynard Keynes and many others and even as it continues to fail spectacularly, the only ideas from the leftist cargo cult leader is more spending and greater debt for all Americans.
•He is a leader. There are two aspects of a leader, the position of authority that he holds and how effective he is in leading the group he heads in pursuit of their goals. Obama has achieved the seat of power, but he has displayed no more accomplishment than a New Guinea tribesman sitting in a bamboo control tower with coconut-half earphones calling for a big aluminum bird to land and give us good stuff.

This cargo cult theory of the relationship between leftists and reality explains a great deal of leftist talk and behaviors beyond just the failed leadership of Obama. Leftists love to say they are the people who embrace science and reason, but whenever they are challenged to provide scientific evidence and rational arguments, they respond only with cherry picked or made up facts, emotional rhetoric, and ad hominem attacks on those who have questioned them. They initiate wild allegations of conservative encouragement of domestic violence, hatred of blacks and Hispanics, desire to see old people starve, or general warmongering nature, but when conservatives provide evidence that the left has a much worse record in all those areas, they provide only more invective or move on to other groundless accusations.

Like the primitive South Pacific islanders, Western leftists have experienced the joys of the goods provided by conservative Western modernity. They do not understand how and why all those good things came to be because the answers conflict with their worldview. Like failed Muslims and their institutions, leftists are intensely embarrassed at their lack of understanding. They redouble their efforts to make things happen with magic, ritual, rhetoric, force or unproven ideas that they like because they seem to favor their failed worldview. It is long past time for conservatives to take charge and use the proven conservative worldview that built modern Western civilization to restore it to the greatest provider of physical and moral goods in history.

Copyright © 2011 Don P. Dickinson III
All Rights Reserved

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