from guest blogger Ben: The Liberal Concept:
The Liberal concept, once upon a time, was a rather simple thing: Government, being a construct of the people, has a logical function of improving the lives of the people. Since “the people” means all the people, and the people on the bottom certainly need a lot more improving than the people on the top, liberalism was a- was– a modern edition of Noblesse Oblige where the powerful looked after the interests of the not so powerful.
The Left’s vision no longer has the government doing that. They’ve mutated. The Elite of the Left are now the new royalty, and their only interest in maintaining an air of Noblesse Oblige is as a cover for their own ends- if your authority is rooted in your efforts to help the poor, then it’s kind of self defeating to actually eliminate poverty, isn’t it? So rather than support an economic system that might actually generate jobs, the Left will support a soup kitchen for the Jobless. Liberals brought us free public learning for all, and then the mutant off-shoot Left stripped that learning of real things like Math and Reading and other vitally needed and objectively measurable skills, and replaced it with Feeling Good. That won’t get you a job, but you’ll Feel Good, and probably very entitled, as you wait on line at the soup kitchen.
Maybe the economics are debatable, but not Issue Number One. Activities designed to improve the lives of people presuppose the primary task of keeping those people alive. If you die, all else is moot. The Left seems to have forgotten this. Ward Churchill and company may regard the capitalistic entrepreneurial class as pure evil, but somehow his 3,000 or so Little Eichmanns also included the guys washing dishes and peeling potatoes. The Left is caught in a contradiction: how do you support bilingual education for young Hispanic kids while not supporting efforts to keep their father alive? Mira, Chavo, tienes noticias buenas y noticias mal; we’ve secured a grant for a Hispanic Art Museum, but we let the Jihad murder your father. Life is tough, kid, blame the Republicans.
It’s made all the more ironic by the fact that Liberals have been so overwhelmingly successful over the past half century. Racial prejudices are fading, the environment is improving, work safety conditions are improving- heck, play safety conditions are improving, remember when playgrounds had those metal monkey-pars over hard asphalt pavement? The social battles have all been won- by liberals. Open sexual innuendo is now standard on broadcast television- liberals won that battle too. So, what’s left for a Liberal Ideologue to do? We already saved the whales, at least, those that escape Japanese “research”. Since the nation has adopted liberal thinking as mainstream, if you want to be a screaming nutjob and garner all the attention, you have to go far Left.
And then we have conflict. Conflict inevitably polarizes. People, and especially the sort of ideologues attracted by extreme politics, are inherently stubborn and will go to great lengths to avoid rethinking core principals. So the Left, rather than give a little and maintain their traditional role as beneficial moderating force, goes further Left. So now we have a far Left that is no longer Liberal. Mainstream America is Liberal. The center is Liberal. The remaining hot-button cultural questions, to the mainstream, are those on the razor edge of knowledge and philosophy. We have a hard time defining Human Being, for example, because nature does not oblige us with clear boundaries, and it’s not easy to draw an absolute line that includes all we want it to include and yet excludes living tissue cultures, Chimpanzees, and Deep Blue. So we will continue to argue over abortion, euthanasia, and animal rights. (Wait another generation when we have to start talking about machine rights!) Since we have a largely liberal nation, expect the courts to continue to work through the narrow range of national consensus, coming up with case by case solutions but no definite answers while at any given time, half of the ideologues are pissed off.
Even the right is liberal! It’s the Left that wants a national draft. The idea that one basically “owes” some service to the government as a condition of citizenship, a core tenet of Nation-State First and Foremost Fascism, exists today primarily on the far Left. No coincidence there, all Marxist and pseudo-Marxist nations maintain large conscripted armed forces.
Race relations? Prior to the rise of Bush and Bush Derangement Syndrome, even the Left admitted that the most racially egalitarian environment in the nation was the US Army. It still is, but the Left cannot bring itself to admit this today. The hyper-capitalist internet economy is killing what’s left of racism. How often do you think race enters as a factor into E-Bay transactions? Internet Capitalism is the most egalitarian, Liberal way of doing of business yet invented.
And the primary protectors of American wetlands are now gun toting plaid flannel wearing duck hunters. Naturally, the Left has responded by quietly dropping its concern for the wilderness, unless it’s in Alaska.
Liberal understanding of the social and psychological processes at work in the world underlie supposedly right wing agendas. This is why you see very liberal ideas coming out of the writing in the Wall Street Journal- as well as the US Army War College. You’d think, with the Left smart enough to figure out that one can indirectly create desired effects by maintaining the right social atmosphere, as Gonzalez and Rumsfeld supposedly did for Abu Graib despite a lack of direct orders requiring the stacking of prisoners into naked pyramids, they’d also figure out that Saddam maintained a social atmosphere promoting anti-US terrorism, even with no explicit orders and/or cancelled checks tying him to 9-11. The effect is well known to managers- you don’t have to give explicit orders, just create and environment in which people gravitate to the type of behavior you wish them to have. Somehow the Left can connect this thinking to Rumsfeld but not Saddam. Whatever.
It’s time we dropped the term Liberal from association with the Left. We are all Liberal, more or less. The Left, however, is a hateful, anti-American fringe. They are not at all Liberal, any more than they are anti-war.
My thanks to Ben for sharing his insights.