Having said that, however, let's discuss the fools from the Left for a moment. Throughout most of the 20th century there was a group, somewhere on the left of the Left, whom history calls the Useful Idiots. These were the deluded folks of the Left who lined up to promote Communism while Stalin was murdering tens of millions of his citizens in the 1920-1930; they proclaimed for Mao as late as the 1960s, when he was murdering millions of his people and doing his best to push China back into the middle ages; some of them still go around wearing Che Guevara t-shirts to till this very day, in spite of Che's main achievements being to murder large numbers of people. (It's also not clear who these contemporary idiots are useful to, given the dire condition of the Soviet Union these past two decades or so. But no matter).
The problem the Left has had in more recent decades, however, has been the infection of its mainstream. Loonies are loonies, but so long as the mainstream of the left camp was producing people such as FDR, Truman and LBJ, the loonies didn't really make much difference. Around 1968, however, as they decided to topple LBJ, author of The Great Society program, for not being good enough, something was clearly going wrong. (I'm mentioning only American figures for the sake of brevity. The phenomenon was probably even worse in Europe, and thus was not merely, or even mostly, the result of the war in Vietnam).
These days, and for some decades already, it's the mainstream that's behaving as the Useful Idiots used to; in the meantime, there have appeared new powers that actually can use their idiocy. Nowhere has this been more pronounced and stark than in the recent debacle in Georgia, where much of the Left lined up on the side of the reactionary, non-democratic, international-law-trampling Russians, merely because they're the ones facing the Americans.
The point of this brief and condensed history of the past 70 years has been to put a context on this article, by Paul Berman. Berman is one of the few voices on the Left who hasn't lost his moral compass, not even for a minute, this past decade. He's proof that when it retains its soul, the Left can and should be a power for improving the human condition.
Today, any time some large group of people behaves in a way that defies a logical calculation of potential gains and losses, the people in question are said to be reacting to "humiliation," or what used to be called "ressentiment." Humiliation, though, taken as a political experience, exists only where it has been ideologically constructed, and not otherwise.
Germany, having been defeated in World War I, was afterwards said to be undergoing "humiliation"; and yet, after World War II, having been defeated ten times more cruelly, was no longer said to be "humiliated." That was because the German political doctrines promoting a feeling of "humiliation" disappeared after World War II. It was the doctrines, not the experience of misfortune, that had created "humiliation." Germany