On Ledesma’s Law And The Paradoxical Insights Of Political Rhetoric

Late in his book Spain:  A Unique History, Stanley Payne notes the insights in 1935 of a Spanish thinker who had been a radical political intellectual and also a postal functionary concerning the period just before the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War:  “In Spain the right is apparently fascist but in many respects antifascist” while “conversely, “the left is apparently antifascist, but, in many respects, essentially fascist” because of its propensity for violence and revolutionary authoritarianism (204).”  This insight is not limited to 1930’s Spain alone, but has marked a particular tendency of the left in the period since the 1930’s, continuing up to this very day where the false labeling of fascist brown shirts as antifascists and the false labeling of ordinary right-of-center traditionalists as fascists has continued to be a problematic aspect of the contemporary political discourse [1].

In fact, we may consider Ledesma’s insight to be a historical law, that those who seek to disguise what they are will inevitably call others what they are, and thus provide others with an understanding that projection reveals the dark heart of the one doing the projecting.  Those who are quick to label others are in fact describing themselves far more than they are describing others, which is an insight that human societies have long had and that even children may occasionally possess.  After all, the response, “I know you are but what am I” and the reminder that pots often call kettles black and that those who live in glass houses regularly start stone throwing contests and that one finger pointed at others is three fingers pointed at oneself all point to the frequent reality of people labeling others while themselves being guilty of what they are accusing others of.  This essentially self-serving and hypocritical rhetoric makes it hard to find insights in political discourse, because when people search for power and simultaneously wish to delegitimize those who are opposed to them it is difficult to speak fairly and justly, and thus people are most likely in such circumstances to accuse others for their own offenses.

Why is this so?  Where does this tendency spring from?  Our age commonly views our own internal subjective reality as an authority, and thus has a high view of the insights that people have looking from the inside out and a correspondingly low willingness to accept insight that comes from outside of oneself.  But rather than looking at the outside world with a spyglass or a magnifying glass so that we might acquire insight through our own interpretation, all too often we look at the outside world with a mirror that only exposes our own nature in the course of our observations.  When we look at texts, for example, what resonates with us describes who we are far more than it describes what it is about the people who wrote or are written in the texts themselves.  Our lack of self-awareness leads us to view the world with filters that predictably show us our own images back to us and that, as we are impressed with what we think, unfailingly tell others what we are even if (perhaps even especially if) we are desperately seeking to avoid making that impression.  It is not always that we are as wicked as we would claim that others are, but that our own perspective will see what it has been shaped by, and be better at showing the world the filters by which we see the world than it will be in showing what it is that we are looking at and trying to convey our understanding of.

Thus it is is paradoxically true that the greatest insights most of us can provide to others is an understanding of the warped clown world of our own minds and our own dark hearts.  To the extent that others take our words seriously and wish to understand them, they are able to understand us and act accordingly.  But unless we are particularly self-aware, we will not be able to see clearly enough to understand the world around us very well, because we will find ourselves continually blinded by our longings and fears, by our prejudices and loyalties.  In previous ages, it was thought best to work on seeing around those blind spots and trying to triangulate around those filters so that we might at least see better by making the attempt at fairness and objectivity, but in our own decadent age people celebrate their biases while not realizing that the avoidance of struggling in overcoming them sabotages our efforts at providing insights to anything that is external to ourselves.  And our age is already too focused on ourselves as if we should be as interesting to others as we are to ourselves, which is definitely not the case.  In the meantime, let us note that Ledesma’s insight gives us a handy way by which we may better understand our times by reversing the pointing of fingers and drawing the appropriate conclusions that we will from it.

[1] See, for example:





About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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