Monday, October 17, 2005

Knowing your opponent

I was "leafing" through the archives of Dissent (an intellectual magazine of the Left) from 2002 (which covered the period of the 9/11 attacks and the aftermath), and I couldn't help but notice references to conservatives as the "authoritarian right" or hubristic statements like this:

Liberals and radicals are the only people in politics who can insist on closing the gap between America as the apotheosis of democratic strivings and the sordid realities of greed and arrogance that often betray it.

This, out of an otherwise interesting piece about patriotism and the Left, helps illustrate what I think is one of the great flaws of the American and European Left, however they are defined. The flaw is their inability or unwillingness to objectively evaluate their political opposition.

In the case of the American lefties, they seem to be unable to separate US conservatives from the images of brownshirted thugs. In so doing, they close themselves to the truth (or possibility if one prefers) that conservatives have cherished values, principles, and goals, with some of said goals and values being pretty similar to those of the Left - democracy, opportunity, liberty, stuff like that. Instead, we get Marxist class rhetoric and writing that basically writes off the other side as stupid, dishonest money-grubbing imperial oppressors and such.

Perhaps those intellectuals on the Left should read some Buckley, some Hayek, read though some National Reviews and Weekly Standards, rather than get their views on the Right filtered through the Nation, The New Republic or the New York Times. The Right is not primarily Limbaugh and Michael Savage, after all.

One other thing - could someone explain what the phrase "social justice" means? I see it used a lot in publications of the left, but no one ever bothers to explain what it means as if we are somehow born knowing it, even before we pick up little tricks like spoken language. Does "social justice " have a single defined meaning or is it one of those vague catch phrases that are used to bond without actually having a definite meaning?

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