Skip to comments.LOSING OUR DELUSIONS: Not Much Left (Despondent Liberal on state of Liberalism)
Posted on 02/17/2005 6:31:56 PM PST by pissant
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I thought he did.
The conservatives have their ideas, and many of them are good, such as charter schools and even vouchers.
"Good" isn't quite the same as "agree". But, in this context, it's pretty close.
And I'd submit that we agree with Peretz in principle that "this is about a wholesale revamping of teaching and learning". But I'd also agree with you that Peretz wouldn't agree with us about how to accomplish the revamping.
I remember reading 'Moral Man, Immoral Society' in college. It was required text for a Religious Studies course at Penn State, believe it or not. The idea behind the title can be boiled down to one example (in Niebuhr's thinking): the execution of a murderer.
It's a cultural problem. And it's a structural problem.
The cultural problem also involves the parents. The ideal circumstance is a two-parent family with one wage-earner. That used to be the default arrangement. Now, it's a single-parent family or, if its a two-parent family, the kid is still consigned to daycare or latchkey status. In either event, less than ideal.
While they can still be overcome, a high proportion of kids today are handicapped by their circumstances.
And it's structural because the Colleges of Education are spewing out ill-trained (but highly indoctrinated) teachers who can't teach. They have been trained as "facilitators" (Lord, I hate that word), but are ignorant when it comes to knowledge of the subjects they must teach. That circumstance is, doubtless, because their teachers are ignorant.
And it's structural because the never-ending quest for centralization (and race mixing in the name of "diversity") has created gigantic, unmanageable temples of chaos. These replaced (and destroyed) the comfortable neighborhood school, which so involved children, parents, teachers and an administrator in one social fabric woven of trust and familiarity.
In that respect, there's nothing wrong with public education that a few truckloads of dynamite wouldn't fix.
And, if schools returned to the neighborhoods, I wonder what impact that would have on the culture...???
Bussing was one of the Great American Mistakes in history. It changed the direction and focus, the very goal, of public education. For the worse. And, perhaps, forever. Noting that it was the unintended (and inevitable) consequence of a liberal "good deed" doesn't make it any more palatable...
Outstanding article! Thanks for posting it. Thanks to Martin Peretz for writing it!
This is an unbelievable admission from a liberal about his own party, the Democrat Party.
I, and many others around here, noted long ago that the Democrats were silently begging not only for an economic recession in which people lost their jobs, their homes, and their savings, but for lots and lots of filled body bags to come home from Iraq. It was clear that the Democrats figured their election prospects improved with such tragedies. We all shook our heads and wondered just how sick the Democrats were....
And here, along comes this author to confirm our suspicions - - the Democrats were, and remain, sicker than Dahmer's vomit.
That's a huge part of the issue. But I came from a two-parent home, had a comfortable middle-class existence, went to a school without busing - but there still was a pronounced peer culture that belittled kids who tried to achieve. And that, IMO, is just as huge an impediment, especially in the black community, as all the higher-level social pathologies. And it is the hardest to solve, given that patholotical youth peer cultures, by nature, react negatively against efforts by authority figures to change them.
It is an oversimplification approaching cant to use the P word - paradigm - in political discussion, but I think Peretz may have reduced a good deal of liberal fluff to a couple of base ideas that even he has not thoroughly examined.
Still, liberals know that the right's ideologically framed--but class-motivated--retreat of the government from the economy must be resisted.
Now we have the C word - class - and therein lies one of the major difficulties with current liberal doctrine - an overdependence on Marxian class theory as the unmoved mover of society. In point of fact, it isn't so much the democratization of capitalism that is the signal accomplishment of American economy, it is the degree to which class mobility renders class itself obsolete as a means of understanding social dynamics. This is truly heresy, but I think it deserves serious consideration.
There is nothing wrong, necessarily, with an emphasis on the group protecting and enabling its constituent individuals, which is the liberal emphasis (the conservative emphasis, contrarily, is that the individual protects and empowers the group, equally valid and more appealing to the individualist). Where this goes wrong is the insistence that the group properly describes everything important about its constituents and that they have little reality outside it. It is this assumption that leads the liberal to insist that a black man who is a CEO of a major corporation and living in a million-dollar mansion is "oppressed," not by virtue of his considerable individual accomplishments but by virtue of class membership.
That's the fallacy of class theory, and until the liberals examine and modify it they will be at the mercy of an antiquated, disproven ideology whether they succeed in winning an election or not.
Reality is finally making a dent in some of the libs consciousness, though they still have a long, long way to go. Proof of this is the selection of Howie as their leader.
The other problem that will take them a long time to overcome (if ever) is their congenital ignorance of economics. The following passage provides the evidence:
"This is the dizzying specter of economic competition from China, whose hold on U.S. Treasury bonds leaves the dollar vulnerable to a tremendous decline should China decide to sell them."
It also illustrates the shallowness of their thinking, because if he had thought about this statement for another second he would have realized that China would be cutting their own throat if they dumped all the treasuries.
But they do seem to have a terrible time dealing with an approach to China. Even *I* can see that were China to knock out the US, its own economy would tumble. The only reason they would have to hurt us would be if they intended to take us over in one fell swoop without destroying our infrastructure and natural resources.
One benefit of the Iraq war is to show our rivals how difficult it would be for them to take over any country not in their back yard.
Great writing from an honest liberal.
Yeah, but still clueless.
Yikes! Way to go Marty! You've come a long way from firing Michael Kelly for criticizing Al Gore. Or was it Andrew Sullivan? Anyway...nice progress and well said.
re: the Fourth Turning site . . . I'm not sure I can recommend any threads. I go over there every now and again (mainly since 9/11). In fact, for a while they had a very interesting discussion about whether or not 9/11 was the trigger for their "Crisis" phase in their four-stroke history theory. Most of those threads are infested by liberals of the Bush-Oil-Conspiracy ilk, if I recall correctly. But there was at least some degree of fairly rational discussion. I'd comment further but Comcast (my broadband provider) doesn't seem to want to resolve the domain name for the site right now.
I think Strauss and Howe might possibly have some conservative leanings, but they don't appear to participate very much over there any more.
Sounds like this liberal has a fairly firm grasp of reality, and what that reality is doing to his political party.
It wasn't so long ago (the 80's in my case) when I would have very friendly and spirited give and take with liberal democrat friends. That is now barely possible and I honestly believe that it wasn't me who's changed. People like this writer (Christopher Hitchens also comes to mind) on the left have indeed become a very rare species.
Lawrence Summers. Unfortunately his idea that challenged was a conservative idea.
These are not axiomatic questions for them, as can be seen by their determined and contravening success last week in empowering not the states against Washington but Washington against the states in the area of tort law.
No, it is evidence that we want things handled where they should be handled. If a case has participants from several states it is no longer a matter to be decided by the one state with the most liberal judges but by the federal government
Still, liberals know that the right's ideologically framed--but class-motivated--retreat of the government from the economy must be resisted.
Here is the peak of his error. Liberals see classes. Conservatives only see people.
An interesting read, but the author is still being intellectually dishonest if he believes this. Liberal programs of big-government, welfare and wealth distribution are not VOLUNTARY, they are enforced by law, and as such, involve implied violence upon a section of the population - the productive section whose wealth is confiscated to pay for the program.
A second point: elsewhere, the author points out that some capitlist entities, such as Enron, have committed fraud, and then reasons from the single to the general - capitalism cannot be trusted etc so government bureaucrats should be in control. While that is a logical fallacy in itself (reasoning from the single to the general), it also raises the question, ignored by the author, "why should we trust government anymore than corporations?" Obviously, governments are capable of defrauding the population in many ways (inflation, currency devaluation, abuse of eminent domain rights, changes in the covenant between current taxation and future "entitlements", confiscation of pension rights etc).
That the author ignored these issues tells me that this is actually an example of what he decries - more shallow thinking, dressed up with a good helping of adjectives.
The great unspoken truth, which the author cannot bring himself to admit, is that liberalism/socialism is bunk.
Rush just said he's going to read excerpts from this today.
In the more modern mold, there's Chomsky.
Good point. As another twisting of language... many of President Bush's major proposals are both progressive and liberal in the true senses of the words, not in their current meanings. It are the Democrats who have become conservative and reactionary.
Without delusions liberals would have no ideology whatsoever.
For months, liberals have been peddling one disaster scenario after another, one contradictory fact somehow reinforcing another, hoping now against hope that their gloomy visions will come true.
I happen to believe that they won't. This will not curb the liberal complaint. That complaint is not a matter of circumstance. It is a permanent affliction of the liberal mind. It is not a symptom; it is a condition. And it is a condition related to the desperate hopes liberals have vested in the United Nations. That is their lodestone. But the lodestone does not perform. It is not a magnet for the good. It performs the magic of the wicked. It is corrupt, it is pompous, it is shackled to tyrants and cynics. It does not recognize a genocide when the genocide is seen and understood by all. Liberalism now needs to be liberated from many of its own illusions and delusions. Let's hope we still have the strength.
Chomsky is no more modern. He is just as old dusty and broken...he just never got the chance to seize power.
Nope, Churchill's not smart enough to do the "intricate academic apparatus" thing -- Churchill's a Move-On type -- he does his deed with the grace of a thug and the wit of a goon's sledge hammer.
The new left never had ideas on its side. It had sophistry and rhetoric and attitude. All of it borrowed from failed European radicalism of an earlier generation. Orwell, Koestler, and Arendt despised that radicalism, looked on it as a disease, a flight from reality. The new left was never about anything else. The cultural heights lost, they decided to fight on in the sewers.
A third way is needed. The New Democrat Third Way progressives favor free markets to build wealth and bring "social justice" to the masses. They are for rules-based "free trade" and globalization. They make the rules. They are Davos.
Hardly any difference between them and our very own "free traders."
Well, except for one difference. When the progressives and their Davos elites ask you "free traders," do you have rope to sell? RUN!
Yes, it was interesting. A trifle whiny, but a start.
We have a great system of checks and balances in this country. We are a two-party (+) system for a reason. If the Republicans get too fiscally tight (not including Bush who must stop trying to please everyone), then the people speak and vote Dems in. If we start spending too much on social programs to the detriment of the actual purpose of the federal government, the people speak and vote Republican. Like scales in perpetual motion, we keep moving toward balance without ever getting there, but that's a good thing.
The Dems have a big problem. They allowed the socialists to control their party. They have to figure a way out of that problem if they want middle America to take them seriously.
Russell Kirk wrote great -- and award winning -- ghost stories.
No, they don't believe they're evil...they think they're good. But remember the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Communism was thought to be a great thing by many normally sane people in the twentieth century. I'm sure most of them never imagined the great horrors communism would inflict on humanity. And I'm also sure that there are still many gullible types today who think that complete government control of everyone's lives is the way to go. These people aren't evil. But what they do many times ends up being evil.
I'm afraid you are right. He writes as Biden talks, endlessly and to no point. He seems unable to escape from Marxism 101, the class struggle, which only he and his special friends know how to use for the benefit of mankind.
BTW, how many FReepers attend private dinner parties on the upper west side? Notice that he presumes everyone knows he is referring to NYC.
The man is a snob if not worse and certainly no insightful hero.
Writers on the left think they will earn some kind of cache as being "unbiased" if they add a couple of sentences to their usual Marxist boilerplate about "reaching out" and common ground" before they devote 95% of their articles to the atrocities of the Bush administration or whatever. It's The New Objectivity, and I ain't buying it for a second.
A half century ago, intellectual elites saw the Democrats as the rising party of the common man, but they also saw an opportunity for themselves as the liberal leaders of that party. And they succeeded in doing just that. They put themselves at the head of the movement, and when the turned around the rank and file was gone, or at least wasn't there in sufficient numbers to win elections.
There's probably a connection between the two developments. The more a party is dominated by elites, know-it-alls and world-savers, the more likely ordinary people are to abandon it. Republicans shouldn't gloat, though, as there's a lesson for them in the Democrats' decline. Parties need to be organized to win elections, but the more they become highly controlled, top-down mechanisms that work out the answers in private and impose them on the rank and file, the more likely it is that voters are to turn against them.
You are right. This deeply introspective, rigidly honest,
searcher of the truth was the one who fired Michael Kelly for disagreeing with him about hopeless Al. Scratch a liberal and you will find fascist.
From time to time, Ill post or ping on noteworthy articles about politics, foreign and military affairs. FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.
I think it was John Kenneth Galbraith, speaking in the early 1960s, the high point of post-New Deal liberalism, who pronounced conservatism dead.
When John F. Kennedy was considering candidates to fill the post of Secretary of the Treasury, he asked the advice of Republican Robert Lovett, who had considerable experience on Wall Street. JFK wanted to know, what did people on Wall Street think of Galbraith's economic theories? Lovett answered, "He's a fine novelist."
Depends on the meaning of "is." (:-)
The question was Who is a truly influential liberal mind in our culture?
The names you mention bring to mind the word "was."
The mind of Marx, in the form of his writings, IS still very influential in the liberal culture.
Um, I think that its called Fascism, and there is nothing new about it.
The word fascism has come to mean any system of government resembling Mussolini's, that
* exalts nation and sometimes race above the individual,
* uses violence and modern techniques of propaganda and censorship to forcibly suppress political opposition,
* engages in severe economic and social regimentation.
* engages in corporatism,
* implements or is a totalitarian regime.
Pray for W and Our Troops
They are just as influential on the left as ever.
finish reading later.
That's exactly what I was thinking as I finished the article. Howard Dean complained about someone tieing the DNC to Lynne Stewart, but the fact is that Dean and the Deaniacs at MoveOn.Org, who claim to be in charge of the Democrat party, are inextricably linked to the communist National Lawyers' Guild, of which Lynne Stewart is currently the most prominent member. The National Lawyers'
Guild founded MoveOn.Org.