Saturday, May 22, 2021

Remember when leftists were obsessed with self-esteem?

Why, in a few decades, has the left's obsession flipped from self-love to self-loathing, from pride to shame?

During the 1970s the "self-esteem movement" commenced. According to Wikipedia:

The underlying idea of the movement was that low self-esteem was the root of problems for individuals, making it the root of societal problems and dysfunctions. A leading figure of the movement, psychologist Nathaniel Branden, stated, "I cannot think of a single psychological problem from anxiety and depression to fear of intimacy or of success, to spouse battery or child molestation that is not traced back to the problem of low self-esteem."

As is the case with most obsessions of the left, the self-esteem movement soon faded into obscurity. You no longer hear much about it. The problem was not with the goal of self-esteem. It makes perfect sense that self-esteem and self-confidence are useful in living our lives. The problem was that the left tried to achieve it in its usual simple-minded, ham-handed style.

We can earn real self-esteem only by overcoming life's challenges and disappointments. In contrast, the self-esteem movement's solution was to make life easier for children and take the possibility of disappointment out of their lives. The results were grade inflation, participation trophies, fear of competition, elimination of standardized testing, trigger warnings, and micro-aggressions.

Consequently, our characters have grown weak and fragile. Our culture has grown morbidly obese. Universities overflow with "snowflakes" and "safe spaces." Ordinary debate is taboo.

Human nature evolved to cope with hardships much greater than those we face in today's world. Our instinctual responses to modern life are out of sync with current conditions.

When there are no hardships such as those we've evolved to endure, one response is to create imaginary ones. When we no longer need to worry about where our next meal is coming from, we invent and exaggerate distant and unproven specters — e.g., "catastrophic global warming." We then overreact to minor problems that our forebears would have laughed at. Psyches built for primitive survival ironically struggle to survive modern-day abundance, comfort, and long life expectancies.

The left's plan to bolster self-esteem by making everyone weaker did not work. It did, however, help Democrats in their never-ending quest for more power.

But even creating weakness has not satisfied the left. Leftists not only want us to be weak but also want us to loathe ourselves. A guilt-ridden, shamed citizenry is much easier to control and manipulate. Happy people do not want their lives to be controlled by other people — e.g., politicians. Furthermore, it's far easier to get people to hate themselves than to love themselves.

The left now tells us, in no uncertain terms, that we are despicable people who reside in an irredeemably racist country, a country with a history we should be deeply ashamed of.

Years ago, leftists' obsession was to instill self-esteem in people who didn't deserve it. Now it's to instill guilt in people who don't deserve it and victimhood in people who don't deserve it. It seems that all they care about is making sure that whatever anybody gets is undeserved.

Remember when leftists were obsessed with self-esteem?

Ron Ross Ph.D. is a former economics professor and author of The Unbeatable Market. Ron resides in Arcata, California and is a founder of Premier Financial Group, a wealth management firm located in Eureka, California. He is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and can be reached at

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