Monday, November 07, 2011

a new attitude towards liberal thought

Just something I'm thinking about, looking at the nearly-defunct DCDL list.

These are dark days for liberal idealists. After enduring 8 years of incompetent warmongering conservatism, many hopes were raised when Barack Obama was elected. After all, Tea Partiers told us he was ultra-liberal. He promised to close Gitmo! Maybe he would enforce laws!

Well, that didn't really work out, did it? The party establishment has, by now, made it clear that they are far more interested in the desires of their wealthy donors than the desires of their rank-and-file. Liberals are repeatedly patronized and told that certain political strategies are "unrealistic," or that the US is a "center-right" nation, or that everybody loves conservatives. Meanwhile, not only are conservative policies driving the country into a ditch, they are wildly unpopular!

So, what's the solution? A "SUPER-committee" to ensure that odious policies that everybody hates are forced through Congress with little debate, and in a manner such that each party will be able to blame the other.

Seriously? This is the opposite of democracy.

Well, the US of A is in the midst of a creeping type of global class warfare, as the drumbeats of austerity economics beat on, flying in the face of their repeated failures internationally. Because - god forbid somebody be a Keynesian! God forbid somebody show some kind of tolerance for inflation!

Anyway, I was going to riff on the topic of the defeated liberals. Many liberals suffer from a delusion of living in an Enlightened State. By this I mean that they thing they have achieved some sort of Perfect Understanding of Human Nature and that all they need to do is Educate the Masses. Part of my inspiration here was from seeing the abandonment of DCDL, but part of it was from watching this:


(Yeah, Terry Gilliam is a wee bit un-PC there, isn't he.)

Anyway, if you approach liberal philosophy as an educational task to be conducted in earnest, you're probably going to burn out at a young age. The problem is that, a basic level, people suck. So trying to educate people to stop sucking so much is not something that's going to work.

And by "people suck" I mean, namely, that trying to convince the population of the virtues of an altruistic pursuit is hopeless. This kind of goal is a bad way to sell liberalism, as conservatives will smirk, and patronize, and lecture you about how young people with big hearts are liberals while wiser, older people become conservatives.

Liberal institutions and thought exist not because they satisfy some masturbatory need for people to feel good about themselves. They exist because they have fitness in an evolutionary sense. Keynesian economics exists because it was the only system that worked when free market capitalism brought the world economy to a screeching halt.

So, the key to selling liberal policies are that they work. Also, they are fair. And they have appeal to a broad base. Indeed, even the Republicans will pursue these kinds of policies when they need a boost in the polls. That's why the SUPER-DUPER-committee has been constructed in a way such that Obama will take the blame even as the government enacts right-wing policies.

That's enough for now.

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