The following is an excerpt from my essay “Oedipus Laevus” extracted from Why We Left the Left, a collection of personal stories by Leftists who evolved to embrace libertarianism.
Some of the greatest works of art ever created are the Greek tragedies of Sophocles. Antigone, Oedipus Rex and the like have entertained and captivated audiences and readers for literally thousands of years, and likely will continue to do so for thousands more. What made, and continues to make, the writings of Sophocles so compelling is one dramatic concept that he employed flawlessly—hubris.
Hubris can be thought of at a basic level as pride, but it is more than that. It is pride that is so excessive, so overpowering, that it results in its possessor completing losing touch with reality. And, when dealing with hubris, there almost always are dire consequences as a result of one’s blind arrogance.
In the greatest tragedies, the characters that meet their downfall by their own hands almost always have the best of intentions. Oedipus flees Corinth in a genuine effort to avoid killing his father and sleeping with his mother. However, the fact that his efforts are genuine did not change the fact that he was poorly informed about his situation, and therefore his actions had unintended consequences…
…If I had to sum up in one word why I have abandoned people like President Obama and the rest of the American Left, it is their hubris. It exists in many forms throughout the standard liberal spectrum, but I have come to see it more and more as the years have progressed. The first example that comes to mind is the government official who thinks that if he could just be given more control, he could make the necessary changes and plan peoples’ lives for them, serving the common good at the end of the day.
However, this is not the leftist hubris that pushed me away from modern liberalism. Rather, for me it was the naïve college student who just did not understand why anyone should ever make more than $250,000, the English professor who thought that economics is a field of study for people who only care about money, and the social worker who thought that it was an affront to humanity to say anyone’s labor could ever be worth less than the minimum wage. I was driven away from the Left by a political philosophy that turned up its nose at anyone who was willing to base their economic and political philosophy on one basic truth—every single human being is, at the end of the day, self-interested….