Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Loving Freedom: Why the left are unfaithful lovers

At the end of her denunciation Democratic party arrogance, Obama admirer Camille Paglia  observes: 

     [A]ffluent middle-class Democrats now seem to be complacently servile toward authority and automatically believe everything party leaders tell them. Why? Is it because the new professional class is a glossy product of generically institutionalized learning? Independent thought and logical analysis of argument are no longer taught. Elite education in the U.S. has become a frenetic assembly line of competitive college application to schools where ideological brainwashing is so pandemic that it's invisible. The top schools, from the Ivy League on down, promote "critical thinking," which sounds good but is in fact just a style of rote regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms ("racism, sexism, homophobia") when confronted with any social issue. The Democratic brain has been marinating so long in those clichés that it's positively pickled. 

Paglia's earlier reference to Bob Dylan as one true freedom-lover reminds us of his autobiography, Chronicles.  Among Dylan's shrewd observations (about Thucydides as well as his contemporaries) is his criticism of Machiavelli's maxim that it is better to be feared than to be loved:  No, the person who is the most loved can also be the most feared.  Dylan also declares that his favorite politician from the sixties was Barry Goldwater. 

A far greater poet of freedom with a funny voice was Winston Churchill.  Those in the San Francisco area should make it to the Churchill Centre conference this weekend, featuring, among others, Justice Clarence Thomas and Hillsdale College President and Churchill scholar Larry Arnn.

Categories > Politics

Discussions - 4 Comments

Ken . . . you beat me to it! Thanks for posting this and for expounding as you do on Paglia's fine paragraph above. Another fine paragraph worth thinking about in this piece was this one:

"Why has the Democratic Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans? Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers (one reason for the hypocritical absence of tort reform in the healthcare bills). Weirdly, given their worship of highly individualistic, secularized self-actualization, such professionals are as a whole amazingly credulous these days about big-government solutions to every social problem. They see no danger in expanding government authority and intrusive, wasteful bureaucracy. This is, I submit, a stunning turn away from the anti-authority and anti-establishment principles of authentic 1960s leftism. "

I think it is true that it is a stunning turn away for 1960s leftists like Paglia who--as did her revolutionary fore-fathers and mothers of '76--considered that the government which governs best governs least. But I am not sure that 1960s leftists like Paglia (however sincere and authentic she may consider herself to be) properly understood the leftist project of the 1960s. There is, no doubt, a tell in the fact that she feels betrayed by the direction that leftism is taking at this time. But I am not sure that the tell is that it has deviated from its original intentions. The tell may more be that it did not succeed in rooting out the basic and wonderful Americanism in Paglia and so many other so-called leftists of that era. Their bristling under the foot of their professed party of choice may not exactly be a revelation to them that they have made the wrong choice . . . but it is an opening for discussion and more clarity. It is good to find freedom lovers of all stripes.

Ah! There I am. I felt betrayed by the direction liberalism was taking in the early 70's, which was wherein some of the promises of the 1960's began to look more like threats than anything promising at all. I still feel like a Liberal, as the term should be rightly understood. I did not leave the Left, but the Left turned to the left too many times, leaving me on the Right, with my liberalism severely misunderstood. Silly, but essentially true.

Julie, the Left could be just as stunningly anti-American in the 60's as it is today. I think Paglia is doing as I did in the mid-70's, which is look around at the alternatives to the U.S. and those old American ideals and begin to say, no thank you, in an increasingly vivid tenor.

To my relief, my comment seems to have passed muster this time. It was rejected, once, but I had thought to copy my comment and tried again with success. However, I do not remember if I copied before or after I edited and if before, I am apologetic. That happened once before on the site in its new incarnation.

I am sure all of these little problems will eventually be tweaked away, but they are annoying at the moment and give the commenter pause. On a busy day, the back & forth of personal tweaking is not possible. Is anyone else having these problems?

The old left had a brashness about it--prove you're tough by your arguments. Julie, you cited another gem of a paragraph from her piece.

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