I give the right a lot of shit on this blog. I don’t feel guilty about it as the new right is batshit crazy. However, there are those on the left that are figures of fun as well. Even those that I agree with politically can often feel like another species when confronted with face to face.
One time when I was looking for a part time job to supplement my music career, I applied at Green Peace. (I want to say that I have no problem with Green Peace. This story focuses on one particular office, although that office was typical of some other left wing organizations I have been to.) First of all I wore a suit and tie to the interview, because it was an INTERVIEW. I am someone that only wears ties to interviews, weddings, and funerals. Most of the people looked at me like I was in the FBI when I walked through the door. I instantly felt like I was in the Man in the presence of a bunch of radicals, even though my politics are in many ways as far left as Green Peace. But these were very comical radicals as they all looked like they were trying to outdo each other in the how poorly they were dressed category. I’m a jeans and t-shirt guy 99% of the time. But they looked like they were having a contest to show how much they did not live by societies standards. I’m talking sweaters with holes in them and jeans that were more ill-fitting than the jeans I have seen on homeless people.
The boss was the same, and yet somehow different. He looked like a coffee house communist intellectual. High and tight haircut, ratty sweater, thick 1950’s looking glasses, and an overly serious expression on his face. In fact I don’t remember him smiling the whole time. And this was a group interview, so even if he didn’t like my shit, he should have liked someone!
We were interviewed in a circle. Questions that I had mentally prepared for, like why I would be good at this job, were never asked. (If I had been asked I could have told them that I grew up with an environmentalist Dad talking over those issues nightly, I believed in Green Peace’s policies, and I had experience raising money, which is what the job was for.) But we were asked who our political heroes were. Not expecting that question I said Robert Kennedy off the top of my head, as most of my political heroes are people that are writers or artists. I said this not because I am not aware of some of the earlier ill informed policies that Kennedy had supported, but because he was someone that was smart enough to evolve and change and become more progressive as he grew older. Wrong answer! I should have said Gandhi like the office boss. Is there any more easy typical self-righteous answer that you could give than Gandhi? Plus, Gandhi, for however great he was on so many things, had some pretty backwards ideas about women. So clearly this intellectual wasn’t as smart as he thought. His answer was no less complicated than mine, he just didn’t know it.
Anyway, I didn’t get the job as I clearly didn’t pass the holier-than-thou interrogation. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. It was like a contest between people to show how righteous they were. Even worse than this righteousness was a complete lack of any humor. If you are going to take a hard look at the injustice of the world you need a sense of humor. Not only because you need it as a shield against the insanity that is out there, not only because it will endear you to people that otherwise might turn away from your beliefs, but because there is so much absurdity out there, that the horrible is often outright funny. These people, clearly without knowing it, were the exact kind of people that give the left a bad name. Someone like that office boss was going to turn as many people off to his cause as he was going to turn on, if he ever interacted with the public at large.
George Orwell, who believed in socialism, spent a great deal of his time criticizing the left, exactly because of people like this person. Orwell believed in the ideas of the left, but he was highly critical of how people went about trying to implement them.
That day was dispiriting. We both wanted to “save the planet”, but if we succeeded, I was glad it was big enough that I would never have to see that fool again.