Monday, January 17, 2011

Political Liberalism, RIP

Rick Moran at American Thinker Blog reflects on an article in the Weekly Standard by P. J. O'Rourke entitled "The Times Loses It" asking if liberalism is dead. He quotes O'Rourke as follows:
A reaction so disproportionate and immaterial to a news story by a news organization is indicative of trouble in the body politic​-​trouble almost as severe as that which the Times claims the Giffords shooting indicates. I worry that in the tremors and hysteria of the Times we're seeing the sad end of liberalism.

Its passing is to be mourned, perhaps most by true conservatives. Civilization owes a debt to liberal politics. From the Reform Act and the religious emancipation fight of the British Whigs to the American civil rights movement, liberals have in fact held positions on political high ground (though not during Clinton's exploitation of the Oklahoma City bombing). Liberals have seen government as a force for good, and sometimes it can be. World War II comes to mind. While conservatives have delighted in the free market, liberals have been there to remind us that all freedoms, including market freedoms, entail responsibilities. At the very least it can be said that we conservatives would not be so upright in our ideals if we hadn't been pushing against liberals.

But liberalism, as personified by the New York Times, became a dotty old aunt sometime during the Johnson administration. She's provincial, eccentric, and holds dull, peculiar views about the world. Still, she has our fond regard, and we visit her regularly in her nursing home otherwise known as Arts and Leisure and the Book Review. Or we did until Sunday, January 9, when she began spouting obscenities and exposing herself.

We observe in the Times a bizarre overreaction to people and things that can be construed as "antigovernment." (And all people and most things often can be so construed, e.g., the man who just got a speeding ticket.) The Times has become delusional, going from advocating big government to believing that it is the big government. Americans being somewhat disgruntled with big government, the Times imagines itself under attack from every side, even, no doubt, from within.

The reason I refer to "The Left" a lot on this blog is that for the past 50 years liberals have increasingly lost vigor and energy and have allowed themselves to be co-opted by socialists sympathetic to the New Left and by the New Left itself. All the energy and passion on the left is on the far left and what used to be the liberal center no longer holds. Increasingly politics is polarized into a right versus left confrontation as in the homosexual rights movement, extreme feminism and redistributionist tax and spend social democracy.

The homosexual who just wants to be left alone but does not want to effect a social revolution and the women who simply want fairness but reject Marxist analysis increasingly have no voice on the Left. They are simply "officially approved victims" who have a useful role to play in the revolution whether they like it or not.

Real Liberalism as described by O'Rourke made an alliance with conservatives against Marxist revolution and dictatorship. In exchange for the creation of the welfare state, they agreed to oppose Communism. But now the alliance has ended and, having attained the welfare state liberals now want more and find themselves in bed with socialists and full-blown Marxists like Bernie Sanders and Van Jones. There is no future for liberalism as a political philosophy or a movement in that alliance. They are merely cannon fodder, useless idiots and respectable front men. The hard men in the background call the shots.

Is this the end of liberalism in the West? I fear so. The choices now become much harder and the only defenders of individual liberty left are conservatives. To be liberal now is to be conservative. It really has come to that.

1 comment:

Peter said...

I hear the historical conservative-liberal relationship often described in these terms: the liberalism of one age becomes the conservativism of the next, with the new liberals not being a reaction towards conservatives so much as they react to previous liberalism.

Do you think this is accurate? And either way, what would be the best future version of liberalism? (I'll only be slightly let down if you say present-day conservativism!)