Dan Greenfield argues that, while Barack Obama succeeded in selling leftism to the American public, he did it by concealing his real identity behind a masque of reasonable moderation. When leftists fail to conceal their leftism, Americans still find them totally repulsive.
The playwright and director David Mamet achieved an epiphany while listening to NPR. Unfortunately for NPR the epiphany was that he was no longer a liberal. “I felt my facial muscles tightening,” he described, “and the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the f___ up.”
The unfiltered left with its onslaught of sanctimonious bleating often brings out that reaction.
It’s why Air America not only couldn’t compete with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other conservative talk radio hosts, but it couldn’t even remain solvent. MSNBC, the bastard child of a ridiculous union between Microsoft and NBC, spent years drifting in search of an identity only to become the new Air America.
Why does the left, which is so adept at putting its agenda across in mainstream media outlets fail spectacularly when it puts away the disguise and begins saying what it really thinks?
George Orwell described the phenomenon in his book The Road to Wigan Pier. The behavior he is describing is so familiar that it’s worth pausing to remember that it was written 77 years ago in 1937.
“I do not think the Socialist need make any sacrifice of essentials, but certainly he will have to make a great sacrifice of externals,” Orwell wrote, explaining why the left was failing to make headway with more sensible people. “If only the sandals and the pistachio-coloured shirts could be put in a pile and burnt, and every vegetarian, teetotaler… sent home to Welwyn Garden City to do his yoga exercises quietly!”
Sandra Y.L. Korn, no liberal she, (who is already contributing to the Nation, as an undergraduate at Harvard) editorialized recently in the Harvard Crimson against academic freedom.
[T]he liberal obsession with “academic freedom” seems a bit misplaced to me. After all, no one ever has “full freedom” in research and publication. Which research proposals receive funding and what papers are accepted for publication are always contingent on political priorities. The words used to articulate a research question can have implications for its outcome. No academic question is ever “free” from political realities. If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?
Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard: one of “academic justice.” When an academic community observes research promoting or justifying oppression, it should ensure that this research does not continue.
The power to enforce academic justice comes from students, faculty, and workers organizing together to make our universities look as we want them to do.
Robert George ‘77 and Cornel West’s [appearance] on Monday, hosted by the Institute for the Liberal Arts, culminated a campus-wide discussion on the meaning of discourse at Swarthmore. The Princeton professors, known for their friendship despite of their strongly opposing viewpoints, intended to build community and discuss questions like “What does it mean to communicate across differences regarding what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong?’”
The event was expected by many to be controversial, with rumors of student-led protest in the form of a boycott of the event or a rally after the collection, but no such protest occurred during the collection. Prior to the event, many students voiced concerns with the College’s choice of speaker in George, who is known for his strong opposition to abortion, stem cell research, and gay marriage. Some queer students attended the event wearing shirts that read “Beneath Human Dignity,” a reference to a George quote in National Review magazine about the New York gay marriage decision in June 2011. Students also created a zine which opposed tolerance of George’s viewpoints, stating that by doing so, we would be “condoning homophobia.”
After the talk, many students expressed dissatisfaction with the event, saying it did not accomplish any meaningful community-building or address substantive issues.
“What really bothered me is, the whole idea is that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion. I don’t think we should be tolerating [George’s] conservative views because that dominant culture embeds these deep inequalities in our society. We should not be conceding to the dominant culture by saying that the so-called “progressive left” is marginalizing the conservative,” Erin Ching ‘16 said.
Really old people like myself can remember the radical left’s adroit use of the so-called Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in the early 1960s. Allowing outside agitators representing the extreme left to recruit, propagandize, and proselytize on campus was, way back then, a vital issue of “free speech.”
Now, fifty years and a Gramscian long march later, the radical left effectively controls all our elite universities and the discussion of whether there is any real value in free speech, academic freedom, or diversity of opinion is now on the table.
Some years ago, one broilingly hot July day, I was in New Haven going to the air-conditioned Sterling Memorial Library to do some research for a writing project.
Beside the front entrance steps, a colored Yale maintenance staff employee was working in the hot sun, perspiration pouring down his face, chipping out the aged mortar from between sandstone blocks in preparation for re-pointing them. It was a nasty job, picking out the old cement using a small sledgehammer and a cold chisel, and it was an exponentially nastier job when performed in 100+ degree weather under a bright sun.
As I approached, I couldn’t help noticing that the entire crowd of typically left-wing, conspicuously socially conscious liberals passing directly past the maintenance guy were utterly oblivious to his predicament and to his very existence. He might as well have been a potted plant or a steel trashcan standing beside the library’s elaborate oaken doors for all the attention he was receiving.
I also could not help but perceive that that workman was aware of how thoroughly he was being ignored (and implicitly despised). He was doing a man’s work, a difficult, painstaking, and unpleasant job under extraordinarily adverse conditions. Being only human, he naturally desired some kind of fraternal sympathy from his fellow man, and some recognition that he was doing an unusually tough job under unusually bad conditions. It was impossible not to see that finding himself invisible, divided from the dozens of fellow representatives of humanity passing with a few feet of him by barriers of class as obdurate and inflexible as the stones he was working on, was bitterly alienating and insulting. He was holding himself with an air of resentment, and I could see him muttering angrily to himself under his breath.
So I deliberately slowed, and paused next to him, and said: “It is sure a hot day to be doing that kind of work!” “Sho’ is,” he responded smiling happily and taking a moment to pull out his handkerchief and wipe his face. “Damn hot.” I nodded in the direction of the passing faculty and students. “Some people don’t know what a day’s work is like.” I said, and he laughed appreciatively.
It only took a few seconds, but I’d managed to give him the sense of human solidarity he obviously needed, while reassuring him that at least one passerby recognized the nature and cost of his personal contribution to physical survival of the University.
Anthony Esolen, who teaches English at Providence College, is also the kind of guy who has doubtless worked with his hands, and who is therefore capable of perceiving the yawning chasm between professoriate and the proletariat, between the people in America who actually work up a sweat and the members of the community of fashion elite who call all the shots.
We professors at Providence College have for two years now been working in the midst of invisible men, men… who in these times are almost as insane and as morally blinkered as the professors they serve. The men have built a large and handsome Center for the Humanities, out of brick and stone. They have had to transform a hill and a parking lot to get the project started. They have turned an old field into a new facility for soccer, field hockey, and track, complete with bleachers and a press house, and eighty foot tall lights for events at night. They have laid hundreds of yards of concrete pathways. They have cleared out a useless hill thicketed with scrub trees and made it into a decorative border for the campus. They have built temporary parking lots and torn them out again and replaced them with sod. They have dug out stumps and planted trees. They have worked with jackhammers, drills, chisels, backhoes, saws, scaffolding, trowels, wheelbarrows, sledges, and the indispensable hands, arms, legs, shoulders, and back. They have done all this while remaining as quiet and unobtrusive as they could be.
They work hard, at work that takes its toll on their bodies, in all seasons and in all but the filthiest weather. Yet I doubt that the feminist professor – and most professors are feminist – gives them a passing thought. Without men like them, we would have nothing; nothing to eat, no metal for our cars, no bricks, no stone, no wooden planks, no houses, no roads, no public buildings, no clean running water, nothing. They do work that is more than desirable. It is absolutely necessary. I teach English poetry; that is not necessary. I will not trouble to discuss sociology, feminist or otherwise.
We might be apt to shrug and say, “What of it? They are well paid,” and some of them are. Some of them are not, but then, don’t college graduates deserve to make more money than workers on the land, of the land, and under the land? And they do have the vote, don’t they? Everyone gets one vote, and that makes everyone equal.
Well, no, it doesn’t, no more than if everyone enjoyed the privilege of spitting once into a national spittoon. We are looking for equality as men, so that we can say what Mr. Morgan said. And the common laborers enjoy no such thing. They have virtually no influence over what their children are taught in school, and how. Their sons are regularly badgered for being boys, and bullied into ingesting drugs to conform their boyish natures to the ideal of mannerly servility. They are not pillars of their communities, because there are no more communities; there are political abstractions called “towns” and “cities,” whose leaders take their cultural instructions from the media and from the national government, and who themselves are less and less likely to have grease under their fingernails or freckles of carbon in their faces. They are not the masters in their own homes; the effeminate vices peddled by their “betters” have seen to that. They are likely to have fathered children out of wedlock, or to have been divorced, sometimes with good cause, far more often without. They ingest the poisons peddled by mass entertainment. Their sons surf the internet for porn, get fat, wear their pants around their thighs so as to look like dwarfs stretched on a rack, can’t dig a post-hole or sing a hymn, and are given comic books in school instead of Moby-Dick. Our need for these fathers is total, yet their authority is minuscule even in their own localities, and their influence upon national politics is zero.
If such men ever took it into their heads to strike, not against the owner of the coal mine, but against their masters in the media, the classrooms, the board rooms, the state capitols, and Washington, who knows what might happen? We might have a republic again. But I’m not holding my breath. A John Dickinson, mild-tempered though he was, would be at a loss for words to fathom the depth of our servility, both moral and political. What, after all, were a couple of pence on a bag of tea, compared with thousands of unread pages managing every facet of medical treatment for three hundred million people? Slaves do sometimes rise up. Pampered slaves, never.
“What do you call an Italian hooker? A pastatute!”
Adam Weinstein (It figures!), at Gawker, tries to console Obama-voting-bedwetters for the holiday prospect of encountering unassimilated-American, politically-incorrect relatives. He suggests that dining with his racist, sexist uncle will make the pillow-biting liberal stronger, if it does not destroy him.
We are nervous about our racist, sexist old uncles.
“America needs Obamacare like Nancy Pelosi needs a Halloween mask!”
We wish they’d go away, letting us enjoy the undercooked poultry and over-sugared ambrosia in some semblance of utopian progressive peace.
But let me tell you why that’s a terrible idea, America. Why you need your racist, sexist old uncle.
First, your racist sexist old uncle focuses your anger on the right things. Let’s face it: As socially liberal as you are, you will always find some reason to freak the fuck out on your family at the holidays. Holidays are stressful. They cost a lot. The weather sucks. The travel is hard. And at the end of it, there is your mother, offering unconditional love and advice on how to care for her beloved grandchild, your obvious neglect of whom has caused the flu in her, and that’s okay, because Nanna has drawn an ice bath with mustard seeds, because that’s how the Amish did it, and it was good enough for them, and of course you couldn’t know that. ...
If you had no racist, sexist uncle, these perils would be more immediate. The holiday conversation might border on the minutiae of domesticity — your baby is so big! The yams are so big! Would you like to see Dad’s photos of our big Cozumel cruise? This ancient pyramid with these trinket-hawking natives is so big!
All the time, there would be no acknowledgement whatsoever of the fateful role in our lives played by Obamacare, Benghazi, Trayvon Martin, FEMA camps, the Fed, and those sorority girls with their silly accusations. You might be forced to acknowledge the gaping canyon of nothingness that stands between you and the alien zephyr of life that animates these blood relations, these strange meat sticks whom society holds up as the biological and ethical raison d’être of your person-ness.
Fuck that. Your racist, sexist uncle is throwing you a lifesaver. Don’t let yourself drown in a turbid sea of Updikean suburban malaise. Seek refuge in your racist, sexist uncle’s miasma of burped-up Jameson and slutty Italian jokes, the only thing that broke his six-month catatonia after Wife No. 3 went down the shore to Brigantine and never came back.
He is a sacrificial anode, your racist sexist old uncle is. Absent his intervention, we would be pitted and wasted away by the smaller destructive forces of the holiday season.
But beyond the blessed distraction that he provides you in his grace, your racist, sexist uncle makes you a better person, engaging you in an elaborate staged mimesis of the Hegelian master-slave dialectic. For if there is no racist, sexist uncle, then there is no comparative challenge, no middling standard of ugliness, against which to prove your culturally enlightened nature. Without the counterpoint of his rusted-out V8 Firebird with the “NO FAT CHICKS” bumper sticker, your low-emissions Subaru with the “YES WE CAN” magnet is just another car in the jammed-up driveway.
“What do you call two blacks on one bike? ORGANIZED CRIME.”
Your racist, sexist uncle is the oval track, and you are the sprinter. Your racist, sexist uncle is the bench-press bar, and you are the lifter. He is the open journal, and you are the pen. You are a master of your fate, of the dictates of racial and gender politeness, only because your other family members can see the reductio ad absurdum of their bigotry in your combed-over foil across the table, sitting there stuffed in a disintegrating Bill Blass dress shirt that Wife No. 2 bought him in the now-defunct Wanamaker’s for $8.95.
You sit, a paragon of yoga-loving, organic-banana-mashing-for-the-baby virtue, proving once and for all that, no, Obama is NOT a FUCKING Kenyan, all because he allows you to profess it as he strokes his mustache, the one he calls his “pussy tickler.”
Dan Greenfield deconstructs Barack Obama’s apology to Americans who will lose their health insurance.
Obama’s non-apology apology “I’m sorry that you’re unhappy” is typical of the passive aggressive apology of the twenty-first [century]. What was once character has become branding. What was once manners has become damage control. ...
Obama, Hillary and Sebelius all recite formulaic admissions of responsibility without actually taking any. Hillary was happy to take responsibility for Benghazi, as a verbal statement, without actually accepting political or practical responsibility for any of it. Likewise Sebelius and Obama took responsibility for the ObamaCare website without actually accepting it.
Obama took responsibility and then explained that he doesn’t really know anything about programming so he isn’t responsible. ...
This is the innocence of incompetence. Obama isn’t a programmer; he can’t be held responsible for Healthcare.gov. Hillary Clinton isn’t a soldier or even a real diplomat. She can’t be held responsible for Benghazi. Sebelius is a political appointee whose job is to look into the camera with the baffled incomprehension of the professional civil servant. “I don’t know anything. I just work here.”
Obama had boasted that he was a better speechwriter than his speechwriters and a better political director than his political directors. But apparently he’s not a better programmer than his programmers.
Programming is hard work compared to finding ways to arrange new promises and lies around “Let me be clear” which is the twenty-first century version of “Read my lips”. It requires knowing how to do something more than blame the previous programmer or the programming language.
The ideologues are always innocent because it’s always the implementation that fails; not their ideas. It’s why Communism isn’t responsible for the USSR or North Korea going down the tubes. The ideas were solid, but the programmers did a bad job of coding their brilliant economic theories into a working website.
And so we are told once again that Obama is smart. Really, really smart. Despite this fearsome intelligence, there isn’t one thing they can point to abroad or at home that he did well on his own. And that very uselessness shows how smart he is. Any idiot can fix a car, build a website or make a foreign policy work. It takes a real genius to come up with the ideas and sigh in disappointment as everyone else screws them up.
Liberal columnists ponder whether Obama is too smart to be president. By that they mean that he’s much too elevated a being to sit around trying to make things work. His proper role would be theorizing how things should work and then putting those theories in book form.
That is something the left is undeniably good at. It’s like an entire movement of flying car inventors who spend so much time describing why flying cars are the answer that they never bother with the question of whether anyone needs flying cars or how to keep flying cars from crashing into things all the time.
Jeffrey Lord describes how control of Academia, elite media, the entertainment industry, the foundations, and the mainstream Protestant denominations allows liberals to define the reality around them (most of the time) and to frame every debate in their own terms.
He uses as a metonymy the very apt comparison of the Downfall of Rush Limbaugh, perennially predicted by the liberals, with the recent sale of the (liberal) Washington Post. Rush continues to flourish, while pillars of the establishment MSM are failing everywhere, but none of this matters, because the MSM is able to define reality, at least within its own establishment bubble.
Let’s define… Liberal Privilege.
In four words?
“We make the rules.”
Is Rush Limbaugh in trouble?
Is the Tea Party extremist?
Was Ronald Reagan dumb, the Soviet Union eternal, did Bush lie, are conservatives racists? Is Sarah Palin stupid, Hillary Clinton brilliant, global warming a scientific fact, and abortion overwhelmingly popular?
The answers? Yes, yes, yes, yes, of course, it’s obvious, absolutely, and everybody knows it without question.
Why? Because liberals say so, that’s why.
This is the Doctrine of Liberal Privilege that finally forced the Graham family to sell the Washington Post.
Using Liberal Privilege liberals make the rules, establish the common assumptions, send them forth into American society through the liberal media, liberal academia, liberal Hollywood, liberal religion, and other liberal venues.
So let’s define the Doctrine of Liberal Privilege more specifically, academic-style (and note, sources will be provided at the end of this article):
• “Liberal Privilege defines the societal norm, often benefiting those in the privileged group. Second, privileged group members can rely on their privilege and avoid objecting to oppression. The result of this societal norm is that everyone is required to live by the attributes held by the privileged. In society liberals define and determine the terms of success and failure; they are the norm. Thus, achievements by members of the liberal privileged group are viewed as meritorious and the result of individual effort, rather than as privileged.”
• “Liberal Privilege is a form of racism that both underlies and is distinct from institutional and overt racism. It underlies them in that both are predicated on preserving the privileges of liberals (regardless of whether agents recognize this or not). But it is also distinct in terms of intentionality. It refers to the hegemonic structures, practices, and ideologies that reproduce liberals’ privileged status. In this scenario, liberals do not necessarily intend to hurt people of conservative or non-liberal belief, but because they are unaware of their liberal privilege, and because they accrue social and economic benefits by maintaining the liberal status quo, they inevitably do.”
• “Liberal Privilege is an invisible package of unearned assets which liberals can count on cashing in each day, but about which they are ‘meant’ to remain oblivious. Liberal Privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.”
When understood in this fashion, understanding the “invisible weightless knapsack” concept, the essence of everything from the liberal media to academia, mainline Protestant churches, the bureaucracies of Washington, DC, the NAACP, La Raza, the AFL-CIO, and so much more comes into 20/20 focus. Everyone involved, social, cultural, and political liberals one and all, has the requisite “maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks” of Liberal Privilege.
Timothy Birdnow argues that the left’s recent efforts “to make football safer” are really expressions of their reflexive determination to eliminate competition and aggression and to emasculate America.
The liberal sports media has jumped on board. ...), and, ironically, they may well kill the very sport that puts food on their tables. They can’t help it; a scorpion stings because it is a scorpion.
It is in this current climate of pacifism (and that is the purpose of the campaign: to turn football into a more pacific game, thus removing another layer of America’s masculinity) that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has signed a law mandating insurance for student-athletes.
The law says that a school’s minimum policy will cover $3 million in aggregate benefits or five years of coverage – whatever comes first – for injuries that total medical expenses over $50,000. The law includes public and private schools and state officials estimate that the cost of the coverage will be no more than $5 a student. Currently, some schools carry insurance for athletes, but it hasn’t been mandatory. The Illinois High School Association provides students with this catastrophic insurance for state tournaments.
First, one must ask why this is needed, since it will soon be the law of the land that everyone be covered by health insurance. I was under the impression that ObamaCare was designed specifically to fix this sort of problem. Why are schools in Illinois being made to pay for catastrophic health insurance when Mr. Obama, the product of that state’s political genius, has already addressed the issue? ...
This will kill many sports programs in poor school districts and likely in the lion’s share of private or parochial schools. Would a struggling Catholic school spend money needed for actually educating students on sports insurance? It will become a choice between teaching and athletics for many schools.
Of course, such would suit the educational commissars just fine. There has been an increasing effort by the Progressives to straitjacket young children. Sports are one outlet they have targeted, with an increasingly regimented and organized approach to what were once thought of as children’s games. Michelle Obama may say “Let’s Move!,” but she wants all movement under her watchful eye. Gone are the days of sandlot football, of a bunch of kids getting together for a stickball game or a spontaneous game of field hockey. Children now devote much of their time to thumb exercises as computers replace the athletic field. When children are allowed to play, they are wrapped up like mummies lest they get a bruise.
All this teaches a lesson to the children: private, individual action is dangerous and should be avoided. Life must be lived within the guardrails, carefully planned and safeguarded by society.
Even more distressing to the left is that sports started as a means of training for soldiers. That is why football is so appealing to America; it is a he-man sport, a vestige of the old America, where an association of free men stand together in battle. Yes, team effort is required, but there is also plenty of room for heroics, and the individual may make a huge difference.
But at football’s core is a physicality bordering on violence, and to the left, that is anathema—an atavistic impulse that must be squeezed out of our children.
So instead of a healthy game of tackle football at recess, liberals substitute Ritalin and maybe a good heated game of tag.
Consider the war against dodgeball. Progressives fret that it is traumatizing children and have been systematically banning the game. Why? Nobody ever gets hurt from dodgeball, but Progressive educators still want it gone. That is because of the actual acts performed in the game: one physically tries to hit another. The goal of the left has been to make physical aggression taboo; thus, dodgeball, which teaches children to be physically aggressive, must go.
James Delingpole contends that hostile exchanges on issues in today’s news between left and right on Twitter and on other Internet venues of expression of opinion are really minor skirmishes in the ongoing battle for civilization.
What all these disparate issues are really about is the things they’re always really about: the bitter, ongoing struggle between those on the one hand who cleave ardently to the statist religion of equality, diversity and sustainability in which society’s “best interests” are decided by an “enlightened” elite of bureaucrats, technocrats, petty officials, social workers, Local Agenda 21 groupuscules, administrators, UN and EU apparatchiks, Guardian editorial-writers, grandstanding politicians and members of the BBC Trust. And on the other, those of us who have sufficient faith in human nature to take the view that – barring the odd safety net here and the occasional piece of protective legislation there – the best route to creating a more fruitful, enjoyable, richer and, yes, fairer world is for us all, pretty much, to be left to live our lives the way we want to live them, unencumbered by confiscatory taxes, Nannyish government edicts and pettifogging regulation which seeks to micromanage every last detail of our daily existence from how many different coloured bags we put our rubbish in to the degree to which we’re permitted to be rude towards our enemies on Twitter.
I know which side I’m on. This columnist here seems to be equally sure which side she’s on. You can all decide for yourselves where you belong on this ideological battleground. But don’t kid yourself that this is a war where you can just sit on the sidelines or where there’s a “reasonable middle ground”. Ultimately, it’s about liberty v tyranny; about freedom of speech v creeping state control; free market capitalism v anti-growth collectivism; personal responsibility v suckling on the teat of the state; optimism v pessimism.
Drew in Wisconsin, at Ricochet, has a go at inferring the correct hierarchy of interest groups.
Recent events help illuminate a few things on the left.
The Keystone XL pipeline demonstrates that environmentalists slot in above unions
The Trayvon Martin case shows that it’s blacks over Hispanics.
Reaction to North Carolina’s gay marriage vote last year suggests that Democrats favor gays over blacks.
Women over men is too well-established to even be questioned.
Any examples where gays come in conflict with unions or environmentalists? That would help us figure out who really takes the #1 slot.
I think some of the left’s constituencies just naturally lack opportunities for conflict, but it should be obvious that left’s status hierarchy is founded upon specifically upon ressentiment, the inversion of values by which the loudest whiner and the leper with the most sores gets the top place.
If gays were more reflective, they might start thinking about exactly what their current very high position in the left’s roll call of constituencies says about what lefties really think of them.
London mayor and notorious bad boy Boris Johnson retorts to all the nasty little leftist toads who made a point of rejoicing publicly over the passing of Margaret Thatcher.
Ding dong, the Soviet Union is dead! Ding dong, communism is dead! And so is the British disease. They are all dead as doornails – the myth of this country’s inevitable decline, the habit of capitulating to the unions, the belief in state control of everything from motor manufacturers to removals firms, taxation rates at 98 per cent: all the Lefty nostrums of the post-war epoch.
Ding dong! Old Labour’s dead! The Labour Party has given up its ridiculous belief in the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange – the slogan that used to be printed on the back of every party membership card. Ding dong, Clause Four is dead as a dodo.
But I tell you what, my little Left-wing friends, and all you who think it amusing to break out the champagne at the death of an 87-year-old woman. There is one thing that is alive and well – and that is Thatcherism. Thatcherism lives; and will live as long as there are people in this country, and on this planet, who see how economic freedom can be the servant not just of the rich, but of our whole society.
In the 1940s, coal miners on their day off in my hometown used to dress better than Tech company executives do today.
In another, characteristically brilliant essay, Dan Greenfield discusses the Left’s reliance on the Idea of Progress as goal and justification.
The left tends to view the past negatively and future shock positively. It wants change to disrupt the old order of things in order to make way for a new order. It hews to a progressive understanding of history in which we have been getting better with the advance of time, the march of progress mimics evolution as a means of lifting humanity out of the muck and raising it up on ivory towers of reason through a ceaseless process of change.
The right often views the past positively, it sees change as a destroyer that undermines civilization’s accomplishments and threatens to usher in anarchy. It fights to conserve that which is threatened by the entropic winds of change. The conservative worldview is progressive in its own way, but it is the progress of the established order. It sees progress emerging from the accretion of civilization, rather than from the disruption of revolution.
Where the left tends to be unrealistically optimistic about the future, acting like a child running to the edge and jumping off, without remembering all the bumps and bruises before, the right tends to be pessimistic about the future. It tends to be wary of change because it is all too aware of how dangerous change can be.
Youth who do not understand the value of what is around them rush to the left. As they achieve a sense of worth, of the world around them and of their labors, they drift slowly to the right. Age also brings with it a sense of vulnerability. Knowing how you can be hurt, how fragile the thin skin of the body, the fleshy connections and organs dangling within, brings with it a different view of the world. Once you understand that you can lose and that you will lose, then you also understand how important it is to defend what you have left.
The vital mantra of the left is do something for the sake of doing something. Change for the sake of novelty. Action for the sake of action. This carnival drumbeat loses its appeal when you come to understand how dangerous change can be. Personal history becomes national history becomes personal history again as you live through it. Seeing what a mistake change can be as you watch politicians disgraced, causes revealed as fool’s errands and crusades fall apart, is a great teacher of the folly of change for the sake of change.
Reagan’s question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” is the fundamental challenge of the conservative that asks whether the change was really worth it. It is the question at the heart of the struggle between the right and the left.
Are you better off than you were twenty years ago or forty years ago? It’s an uncomfortable question because it has no simple answer. In some ways we are better off and in some ways we are worse off.
Jennifer Rubin marks Margaret Thatcher’s passing by identifying the characteristic liberal ways of dealing with the passing of conservative giants.
At the passing of each conservative legend we are reminded that liberals stick to some basic rules when commenting on these passings. These rules of the road (of the funeral procession, if you will) are thoroughly predictable and the subject of much guffawing by conservatives, while liberals remain clueless that their act has gotten old:
1. The only good conservative is a dead one. ...
10. Allow no self-reflection on why no liberal icon in the past 50-plus years is regarded with such affection and esteem.
Nicholas Poussin, The Victory of Joshua Over the Amalekites, 1624-1625, Hermitage, St. Petersburg
Eratosthenes notices that the culture wars are being waged relentlessly and with unlimited persistence, by one side which is absolutely and unequivocally determined to win everything it wants every time and which, whenever it wins, will then proceed to move the goal posts even further.
Somehow, somewhere, it has been decided that this one culture should reign supreme. It must ALWAYS win; there can be no exceptions. What do we call this culture, now. We should try to define it, if it always has to win! That’s a lot of influence. We know it by the offenses it takes. Bullying, homophobic remarks, guns. It isn’t “politically correct,” for the politically-correct culture, while also defined according to the offenses it takes, is confined to offenses taken against verbal or written statements. Guns aren’t statements. Ass-kickings are not statements either, although I suppose that may be debatable. But this is not political-correctness, and it isn’t “women over men” since it takes just as vicious umbrage against a woman brandishing a firearm in self-defense, as against any man doing likewise.
It isn’t modern liberalism, either. It doesn’t have an opinion about labor-versus-management, or minimum wage, or affirmative action, or school vouchers. It holds a lot of appeal for people who do not self-identify as liberals. And its field of interest is very narrow. I can summarize it with a phrasing almost bumper-sticker-sized:
“When we make everything safe enough, nothing bad will happen, to anyone, ever again.”
Just outside a school on a 55 mph county highway, it isn’t good enough to take the limit down to 25. My recent experiences here in upstate New York show it has to be 15. I guess twenty-five wouldn’t show how much we care. This culture cares about children arriving at adulthood with all their limbs and with their hearts still beating, but with not too much else.
Can we call it “the nanny state” and be done with it? There is certainly some overlap. The Mayor of New York City trying to ban soda sales fits into the object of my inspection here, and it is certainly part of the nanny state. Pondering it some more, though, I find this doesn’t quite work. There are differences, and the differences matter. The nanny state is an organization, and it is a sale. It is narcissists in office who have power, trying to accumulate some more. ...
This culture — which always must win — is endangering our very society… As the nanny-state seeks to everlastingly grow by way of creating more and more rules, this culture seeks to everlastingly grow by altering the definition of “bad things happening.” It has progressed so far now, without anyone consciously noticing it evidently, that bad-feeling evidently qualifies. If nothing bad really happens, but someone feels slighted, then action is required. This, of course, has to be a selective thing. It’s okay to make a guy “feel bad” when he approaches the State Fair with a Leatherman on his belt, by commanding him to walk a mile and a half back to his car, and back again, to stow the threatening-looking device. And a twelve-year-old girl who wins a pistol shooting contest might feel good with a little bit of extra applause, but this feel-good-all-the-time culture will refrain from that, and command everyone else to refrain as well.
The Leatherman is not dangerous and the pistol is not dangerous. In some situations, they both have the potential to make someone safe.
So this culture is not concerned with safety or danger. It has definite ideas about individuals and what, or how, the individuals should be.
He’s perfectly right. It goes way beyond politics. It is a religious crusade and “the side which must always win” is determined to forcibly convert everyone else to its own entire worldview, values, and perspective.