ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Life After the Left - New Addition to the ARC Blogroll

Thanks to Monterey John for highlighting Keith Thompson of I've just added his blog, Sane Nation, to the ARC blogroll after reading his current post at Thompson At Large and this article on Here's just an intro:

Life After the Left
Recently I published an essay titled “Leaving the Left,” an account of how I came to recognize the enormous gap between the worldview of contemporary liberalism (the cultural Left) and the principles of classical liberalism: limited constitutional government; the dignity and equality of individuals; freedom of thought, speech, and action; the right to private property.

As the piece was widely circulated on the internet, I received e-mails from close to 2,000 people throughout the world. One writer captured a common theme: “I too dislike what the left has become, but the monolithic, conform-or-die right terrifies me.” I smiled when I read this sentence, because it sounded so much like something I once might have said.

The first glimmers of trouble in political paradise came a decade after Kennedy’s tragic death. That’s when the civil rights establishment began a fateful shift from King’s commitment to equal opportunity for individuals toward enforced equal outcomes for groups. At the time I convinced myself that the shift was one of degree, not of kind. In a nutshell, I rationalized: “True, group preferences patronize their intended beneficiaries and discriminate on the basis of color. But it’s just a temporary way to balance the historic scales. The proponents mean well…and don’t forget the racism of your hometown.”

My doubts grew louder as women’s groups likewise began insisting that any gender “disparities” could only be considered prima facie evidence of culpable bias, regardless of other factors. Supreme Court legislator Harry Blackmun extended this argument with his 1978 Supreme Court ruling that enforcement of the Equal Protection clause required a new round of state-sanctioned discrimination. In a sentence Orwell would have appreciated, Blackmun proclaimed: “In order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently.”

This was no temporary shift. Race was back as a decisive marker of American social reality, with gender coming up fast from behind. Decrying Jim Crow as a racist for viewing individuals as members of demographic groups, the new proponents of the same discredited approach declared themselves progressives. Like Murphy, Orwell was an optimist.

Years later, when the civil rights and feminist establishments set off a sexual harassment smokescreen to discredit Clarence Thomas for the high crime of thinking independently while black, I realized liberalism had acquired the conceptual and moral equivalent of a pathological virus — but not just on domestic issues. I had opposed American involvement in Vietnam but found it impossible a decade later to grasp the Left’s romance with Daniel Ortega’s Nicaraguan reign of terror. What exactly was “progressive” about Sandinistan thugs blowing up churches, torturing priests, closing down TV and radio stations, and imprisoning labor leaders?

Yet despite my growing disenchantment, becoming a “conservative” was not an option. My mind still pegged conservatives as provincial and liberals as broad-minded, especially on social and cultural issues. Sure, the Left had its contradictions — but at least their language was right vis-à-vis “tolerance” and “pluralism.” It was easier to imagine conservatism as something far worse, monolithically so, since the liberal-left worldview was the norm in my personal and professional cultures. I didn’t even know any actual conservatives, at least none living in the open. It never occurred to me to consider that the actual diversity of my world; it was the intellectual equivalent of a gated community.

Consistent with my assertions, classical liberals are no longer in the Liberal/Progressive camp. The old canard that "Conservatives are narrow-minded and selfish, liberals are altruistic and progressive, especially on social and cultural issues" no longer holds.

Many on the Left still hold to this belief system, despite evidence to the contrary, as it would be too drastic a blow to their understanding of who they are. Friends of mine on the Left, during candid discussions regarding issues of the day, come down on the side of the issues that is opposite that of the leadership of the Left. Whether it is the inherent racism and balkanism in affirmative action, respect for private property, respect for individual liberty, or in some cases tax policies. Either these people do not understand the true positions of the Left regarding these issues or they've deluded themselves as to the true nature of the "progressive" left today.

It's true that this isn't the same Democratic Party of John F. Kennedy. But it could also be said that this isn't the same Democratic Party of Bill Clinton. The Left has moved so far afield from his positions that I am frankly amazed at their ability to succeed as much as they have. Given their devolution, we should have seen a greater implosion in 2004.

I hope that they adopt truly liberal policies, but given the current makeup of the party leaders, there is little to convince me that they even recognize that there is a problem. And, even those that do, don't understand which way they should go...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler