The left, almost by definition, consists of people who are less happy than people on the right. Progressives want change, which means they are unhappy with the state of things. Conservatives want to largely conserve cultures and institutions, which means they are content with them.
Some may be offended by this analysis, but it is only an observation of facts. Saying that someone is unhappy is not an insult. On the contrary, conservatives who are informed by biology deeply appreciate the necessity and virtue of unhappiness as our nature’s way of telling us that something is wrong and that we need to make changes to our lives. It motivates us to transform, which is precisely its biological function.
Poverty as a source of misery
In the nineteenth century, many people were unhappy about their material situation. Babies were dying at an appalling rate, people were starving, diseases could end life on short notice. People had to work all day long under miserable conditions just to feed themselves.
Given these conditions of misery, it is hardly surprising that many people were unhappy and wanted change. On the left classical liberals and socialists were competing for the unhappy voters, with different solutions.
Why still unhappy?
Eventually, as material well-being improved, classical liberal voters became happy and wanted to keep things the way they were, so they became conservative and moved to the right.
But a large portion of the population stayed on the left and still insist on a political solution which is a known failure that has murdered millions of people. Why? With all the material improvements in the world, why are they still unhappy?
A spiritual emptiness
Another major split in the nineteenth century that cut largely along the left/right axis was religious spiritualism versus atheistic materialism. The great intellectuals of the left thought that religion was a relic of the past and that material progress would produce all the meaning and happiness they craved. Big mistake.
Happiness researchers have noted that material well-being only makes you happier up to the point where you are no longer living in abject poverty. If you and your kids are not dying from diseases and you can feed and clothe them, you have exhausted wealth as a source of happiness. From that point on, you need non-material sources to fuel your happiness.
What are these sources of happiness and meaning? It turns out to be family, taking on responsibility and trying to cultivate yourself to become a better person and live up to your potential – which is a spiritual quest.
The left, however, has taken the exact opposite route. It promoted unearned rights, hedonism and the dissolution of the family.
Of course, it doesn’t work. Leftists are left hollow and unhappy from their empty pursuit of pleasure.
What do they do instead? They set their eyes on an ever-dwindling pool of injustices that they can blame for their unhappiness.
And so they turn to identity politics. Women earn less than men. That’s why they are unhappy. To fill the void in their soul, they just need to fill the pay gap. When that doesn’t work, they force everyone to call transgenders “zhe” or “zher.” Surely that will make them happy.
This cycle of transgression is going to continue until both the left and the right recognize that the left is experiencing a spiritual crisis. Leftists are looking for material explanations to why they are still unhappy despite massive increases in wealth for everyone. Instead, they should be looking at their materialistic credo as the source of their emptiness.
Onar is a Norwegian author who has written extensively on politics, technology, and science. He has a mathematics and physics background and has been a technological entrepreneur for twenty years, working in areas ranging from biomass gasification and AI to 3D cameras and 3D TV. He is currently also the Editor of the alternative news site Ekte Nyheter (Authentic News) in Norway.
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