I’ve been thinking about this a lot...wouldnt it be cool to have an actual opposition party? meaning actual Liberal? I think it's safe to assume that most republicans would assert that we already have a "Liberal Party"...then again, they believe all manner of crazy things....and I haven't been able to locate one, aside from the greens, in America, today. Believe me, I've looked…. just a continuum of right wing sensibilities, with no left, at all.
I’ve been mulling, for some time, the prospect that we need a definition for Liberal…the old one having been raped and mangled these past 40 years.
For instance, I can’t count the number of times this has played out…me-“I’m a Liberal”…them-“ why do you idolize Joseph Stalin?”
What do you even say to such things?
The Mythos that the Dark Magicians of the Right have been peddling all these years is so pernicious, so soaked into our every day, mundane lives, and how we think about them, that it’s almost impossible to discuss anything that might help get us out of their mess.
I say “their mess” advisedly…it is their Mythology and the Policies that flow from it that has led directly to our current predicament.
I assume that anyone reading this understands that when I say 40 years, I really mean about 4000, but the “Conservative Revolution” of the 1970’s is the latest and greatest iteration of the Long Struggle against Night.
Why in hell can’t what remains of the Left do that? Build a Movement?
Like the Greens…what holds such an effort back?
If it’s lack of money (likely), what sort of work-around is possible?
I’ve studied the Right for almost a decade, now, starting in 02…to answer the question, pressing then and now:” Who the Hell are these people?!”
Neocons,Religious Right, Dominionists, Club for growth, Fox News…the whole sordid snakepit. Turns out they are all related, along with many more. I have found, surprisingly, that the grunts of the Movement often are unaware of these connections, or of the broader Policies encouraged by such a wide ranging and influential bunch.(much recent research into the “low info” voter’s tendency towards Conservatism/the Right…I’ll get to that later)( http://pss.sagepub.com/content/23/2/187.full)
The more I’ve learned about the individuals, the myriad groups and sub-movements, and the Philosophy(-ies) that constitute the American Right, the more I must sit in awe of their achievement, however much I chafe beneath it.
Dark Magicians, indeed…it is Masterful, the Mindfuck visited on the American People, since the 70’s.
Again, why can’t the Left learn from this? Are the remnants burrowed in too deep? Do we, on the Left, simply not comprehend the “opposition”(as Vikings “opposed” the Monks, or the Inquisition “opposed’ Witches)?
….and we’re back again to the need to Fundamentally define what , exactly, a Liberal is…
Wiki says:” Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis) is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, and freedom of religion.[“
First of all, why is there a yellow flag? I have never seen yellow as representative, somehow, of Liberal Values. From whence does this derive?(gut says ‘yellow=cowardice’)
Second, th3e above sounds good, to me….but is inadequate. The article quickly chaoticises, bursting like a seed pod with all the varieties and sub-species of “Liberal”.
Wiki does much the same with “Conservative”….yet Conservatism has managed to become remarkably Monolithic, even now, during their Great Fractious Freakout(Tea vs Establishment, and others).
Third, of course the very Foundational Principles of “Liberalism”(the above will do, for me as a starting block) sort of lend themselves to Fractiousness…This may be due to the attention to Nuance and Detail inherent,imo, in the “Liberal Mind”. Whales! Amnesty! Gay Rights! Organic Ag! Screw like Bonobos!
Not a naturally cohesive bunch, I’d expect.
Fourth, “Disobedient”, to me, is a Liberal Trait…one of those Foundational Principals. (Thinking of TJefferson, Uncle Walt and Henry David) With this in mind, I reckon that the old adage regarding the herding of cats, may apply.
On the other hand, we must remember how unlikely, at the time, was the Union of “Conservative” and ‘UberChristian Fundies”…or White Closet-Racists, in the South. That said, Conservatives seem to naturally get in line, and goose step right along behind whatever Leader manages to capture their minds…Liberalism does not lend itself to this behaviour, despite the frequent accusations of “Worshipping” Obama.
As a sort of “first draft”…an exercise in Brainstorming…I’ll likely just ramble all over the place…bear with me.
Since the 70’s the Right has been ascendant. This is no accident, but the implementation of a carefully laid out Plan, by 3-5 dudes in a hotel lobby. Paul Weyrich was the brains and whip-bearer; Howard Phillips was a soldier, and Richard Vigurrie was the nuts and bolts guy…the latter, who was key, revolutionized communication with one’s potential “Base”…with direct, targeted mailings of pamphlets, and surveys etc that specifically targeted those all over America who were likely to support the Key Points set to napkin at those early meetings. Mothers, PTA members, etc.This was well before the “Information Age”.
There is no analog for Viggurie, on the Left. I get an emailbox full, every day, from various Liberal Groups…including several arms of the Democratic Party…I fear I’m not alone in saying that I simply delete most of them….Why?
These guys, and their Movement have hijacked the whole country….and I think most importantly, taken over the Language we use to talk about the most important things We, as a Nation, have in common. Grass Roots in the service of Big Business, Big Government, Big Religion, Big Military, and on and on…all the while, insisting that they are a small, beleaguered minority(which they were, in 1975, but at no time since).
The Occupation of the Language has been the most serious blow. As I’ve toyed with many times, even Liberals use the Phrasing, Definitions and Meme-Space of the Right….we conceded this field, for some reason….and that reason will hafta be identified, if there is to be any Hope.
From this core group, grew up the vast apparatus of the Great Wurlitzer, the proverbial Echo Chamber of the Right. They, each of them, were serial Group Founders…Christian Coalition, Heritage Foundation, Club for growth, and hundreds, thousands more…something for everyone…and all connected…by money, and by a rather nebulous, slogan-fired common cause and ideology.
Again, there is No analog on the Left.
The spectacle of the 60’s and early 70’s…the momentum, inertia, of the Liberalism of the time, was turned against us. Shame at the various excesses, sexual, or otherwise, was fomented, cooked and stirred.The parents of the Hippies were goaded to action using this lot of Memes. Remember, that the loudest most visible bunch who made the sixties the “Sixties” were really a rather small minority, themselves….with millions of less enthusiastic and less committed hangers-on. Those Hangers On were courted…the Jesus Freak faction of Hippie-dom,and others, were courted, and steered….the Myths, like Hippies spitting on returning soldiers, the Myth of Mansonism as representative of the Whole Movement,the selective publication of Woodstock pictures, focusing on trash strewn field, and the like( totally disregarding the Peace,Love,Understanding aspects of that event)…it was a subtle Framing Exercise…changing the Meaning of the whole endeavor. The Left was caught unawares by the backlash…at first likely because none of the Movers could quite believe some of the outrageous lies…surely everyone will see right through them….
The Left did, indeed, suffer from excess….from disillusionment, and a sort of Cultural Exhaustion…and, importantly, the introduction of what I’ll call Lizard Brain Drugs into the Drug Culture,(which was largely a CIA Op), that fed the Exhaustion and Disillusionment and encouraged the Excess.
I think the whole Sixties Meme needs to be Reclaimed, by the Left.
We must “rewrite” the Histories, from the perspective of the Revolutionaries…instead of from the perspective of the Old Regime, which is what we labor under, today. There’s another side to that story.
(as an aside, and for instance…when we advocate for Marijuana Reform…we dance all around the Getting High aspect, and approach it from an angle we hope will be “Respectable”…that of Medicine(which is legitimate)…we are dishonest, often even with ourselves(at least in Public) about the Fact that many of us just want to Get High…we act as if we are ashamed of this…and we should stop, and instead embrace it.Is it not our Right to choose our own Relaxant, or must we continue to lie, and, in Public, stick to the approved mind altering drug(alcohol)?This is important. Another example…Sex. The Left left the field, and used wishy washy and ineffective means on the whole Free Love/Sex for Sex’s Sake aspect…we, instead, used the Shame Based language of the Right. How about a little Honesty? Many(most?) women take the Pill in order to have Sex, without fear of Pregnancy. To this day, we fight the fight while ignoring this central Philosophical aspect of the Pill…the Freedom of Women to engage in Sexual Activity, because they like having Sex….and because they reject the whole repression and domination of the Right Wing’s sexual outlook. We must have the courage to be unashamed of these sorts of things…Occupy Puritanism!)
War is Shameful. Inequality is Shameful. Lying is Shameful.
Shame is a powerful tool, and the Right has used it to full advantage…and we sat quietly, in tacit agreement…ashamed of ourselves…why?
The Right, obviously, has used FEAR, in the HS Thompson usage…Fear of just about everything; Hippies, potheads, colorful and unusual clothing, Sex, being Different, Smart Folks,Peace(!), and on and on and on….the core of Right Wingdom is FEAR, of the existential sort, of everything that is “Not Like Us”…
Liberals should endeavor to embrace, and Own, COURAGE!
Be not afraid!
It takes Balls to stand up to often violent reactionaries…We must grow stones and spines. The Right has neither, when ya get right down to it.(witness the knee jerk reliance on ad hominem, when confronted with opposing views that they find unassailable).
Like all Bullies, there comes a point where one must, however reluctantly, Punch them in the Face. Reason has no effect. I don’t like this any more than you do…dear Liberal Reader.
A key feature of Liberalism is Tolerance for differing views. This has been used against us. We naturally seek common ground, abhor unnecessary confrontation and practice, almost automatically, Nonviolence…which is to our Credit.
But what if there is No Common Ground…what if our opponents actually Like Confrontation, for it’s own sake…what if they glory in Violence…and , most importantly, what if the other side is not in the least interested in Compromise?
The Right is Manichean, Black and White…there ain’t no gray. How can we expect them to Compromise with what they regard as Evil, itself?
I am not calling for Violent Revolution…yet…as I think it would be counterproductive and soul-killing. But one has a right to defend oneself, as well as the defenseless, on an individual basis.
We are too nice….and it has gotten us nowhere.
We are accused, as an article of Faith on the Right, of being the instigators of War and Violence…as silly as that sounds, it’s true.(Beck, et alia)
The Right, and their Cops and Troops, engage in Violence all the time…but this is seen as acceptable, and is whitewashed as necessary, against the Left. The Right sees all of this as a War to end all wars…as a holy War…and they feel justified in their own excesses, as a result of this. It is an Existential War…and we should, perhaps, begin to see it that way, as well. After all, they will not be satisfied until they have “Won” the whole world. If that’s not an Existential Threat( a real one) to all those who do not want to live under repression, I don’t know what is. They literally Declared War on Us….and we must stand up for ourselves, short of massacre.
Another Front is the cooption of a significant portion of the Democratic Party. Blue Dogs, and the like. Meanwhile, the other side has purged all dissent from their ranks…as Bill Maher said,”the Dems moved to the Right, and the republicans moved to the Insane Asylum”…Lesser Evilism is unacceptable. I am sick of having, essentially, No Choice. We have lost our party…and must either Take it Back, or rally around a new one…even if, in the short term, it means that we lose power and votes. Those considerations have, again, gotten us nowhere. Ben Nelson, the Odious Lieberman, and a thousand others, have no business being in the Democratic Party. They are Liberal Republicans, and should be run off, post haste.
Bipartisanship is Dead, as the past 3 years under Obama should have taught us.
We must cease compromising with the Right…cease kow towing to the Corporate World…and to that part(hardly monolithic, despite appearances) of Christianity who would sooner have us in chains, than compromise.
We must define ourselves, and stick to our Principals. Enough of the retreat!
If the Democratic Party won’t go along, we must leave it…stop giving it our support(and money!). Go over to the Greens, and insist that those votes be counted.
(I understand the necessity of OWS being headless, hydra-like…but we must get organized, nevertheless. CIA/FBI be damned)
Which brings us to another plank in the gallows that the Right has constructed, and convinced us that it is a mere Porch….”Conspiracy Theory” as a slur, shutting down righteous obstinance.
There really is a Giant, Multitentacled Conspiracy arrayed against All Things Liberal. This is not Fantasy…it is Not Hyperbole…it is Fact…and there is ample evidence for it(Church Committee, numerous others).
We must stop allowing this “slur” to shut us up. The Right believes in all manner of kooky conspiracy theories, that really are unsubstantiated, and Hyperbole and Fantasy…yet they are adhered to, without question, as another Article of Faith.(Liberal Media? Climate Hoax?Founders as Fundamentalist Evangelicals? Etc etc)
We, on the other hand, have at our fingertips, actual evidence of an actual Giant Conspiracy, rather a network of Conspiracies, set up to smear and discredit us, and Science, and Economics, and History,,,and…on and on…..Is this really so hard?
Reason must be able to triumph over Orwellian Doublethink and Right Wing Hysterical Fantasy.. Why is this so difficult?
We must acknowledge the existence of elements in Our Government who are dead set against a Liberal Counter-Counter-Revolution…FBI infiltration of Peace Groups, like the Quakers(!)…and, now, the application(and potential application) of the word “Terrorist” to anything the Gov doesn’t like…again, a very real threat.
Our Government doesn’t belong to us…save for widely dispersed and disparate elements within it…it belongs to the Right Wing; Corporations, Wall St, the God Squad, etc etc…and all those so very Fearful people who, at least tacitly, encourage and enable them.
Head, Meet Wall.
From the Right, it’s Nonsense: I support our Democratic Republican Form of Government, and have Issues with the Libertarian/Pseudoanarchists, and the Tea People.
Is equated to: I Worship the State…Desire the State Communist Takeover of all Private Property…and want all Tea herded into Extermination Camps.
From what passes for the Left: I have Issues with the Over-Regulation of the Little Guy, Eschew the Label, “Big Government Liberal”, Despise Beaurocracy run amok, and reckon the Democratic Party to be only a Lesser Evil.
Is Equated to: I side with the Fascists, am not Pure Enough(?), and “just don’t understand”.
Is there no room, for me?
All of these positions/opinions, were arrived at Honestly, and with as much Rigorous Objectivity as I can muster.
The Flame Wars that have erupted , since Justice Roberts did his little Dance, have resulted in folks who I know are Dems, sounding exactly like those who I know are Reps …The Right’s Mindfuck seems insurmountable.
I went looking for Think Tanks, with a liberal Bent…and what there are, are Economic Policy Shops…well and good…such things are needed…
But how’s that working out?
Where’s the results…when even the staunchest, self-described Liberals, are parroting the Heritage Talking Points? Death Panels? 60,ooo new IRS Agents?
Po’ Folks are Lazy?
For all their acumen in disentangling policy and tax code, these Shops are terrible at Messaging.
I am sick, unto death, of Lesser Evilism…I’ll vote for Obama, again….but not because of his Policies. He’ll get my vote, because the Alternative is so much worse.
Health Care Reform….awesome. Coulda been much better…perhaps without the “Bipartisanship”…
But what about the reversals on Marijuana Decriminalisation? What about the Failure to close Gitmo? The damned Drone Strikes? The Capitulation, if not down-right Cozyness, with Hedge Fund Lizards?
My God! Is this a Choice?!
I talk about the Corporate Takeover of Public Schools…happening, if somewhat stealthily, right here….and no one knows what the hell I’m talking about.
And, remember, Obama has continued the “No Child Left” business of Lil George…
Where’d Occupy Go?
Did we win?
I realize that I’m in Texas…and surrounded by Tea…still…
Chris Hayes talks about how the Left has no Moral Philosophers…to counter the Post Reagan Onslaught…all the Think Tanks and Media Megaphones…the Great Wicked Wurlitzer of Ditto.
We are left with bland centrists,(Brookings), Ivory Tower-ists(Demos), and various repetitions on that theme.
Where’s my PNAC?
Are there no more Philosophers?
The Right has constructed a Narrative that works. It’s self-contradictory, silly, and mostly pretty Dangerous…but it resonates with regular folks…speaking to their Emotions, in Bumper Stickers.
Surely, there is some enclave of Left Leaning Philosophers…toiling away at a Narrative of our own…surely.
Is the American Mind so poisoned, so polluted with nonsense, that there is no effective Counternarrative?
Have we passed the point of no return, where the Surreality of the Right Wing will just have to play itself out?
I’ve a great many Ideas…and I possess the Courage to articulate them into the Face of Power, and it’s hangers-on…
Is there a Forum?
A Community of Thought?
It feels as though we are already well into a new Dark Age…Kafka-esque, Dystopian, Dark, as in Ignorance…Back into the Cave.
Please convince me otherwise.
It’s the same Feeling I had in High School…then in College…and in my very rare experiences in Corporate Environments.
The Feeling one gets navigating some Government Department… or 800 Number, ostensibly provided to ease one’s Imperial Entanglements.(211, in Texas…round and round and round and…)
Like watching some Mindless Thing squirm and ooze it’s way, attempting to navigate the simplest of mazes(a straight line), at the exit of which is a fiery death….
Everywhere is either/or…till it’s all so Meaningless….
Ya think to yourself,”let’s get it over with, already”….
Bring on the Storm Troopers, and the Stake, and the Wasteland.
At least then a line would be apparent.
If Willard wins…I’ll likely count it as Over.
A quick descent, just like under Lil George….
If Obama? Will it be more of the same?
More high minded rhetoric, while the stealth wars continue?
Even the Tex GOP is having misgivings about the “Patriot Act”!
Why is it still there?
Toynbee shines a little light…Corporate Machine is Internal Proletariat…
Took Power from the Dominant Minority, little by little…then 911, and Wham!
Pull out all the Stops!
All the while Funding(!) the External Proletariat…if not Creating it, from whole cloth.
Niccolo says ya can’t put anything past these guys…they’re in it to Win.
I’m afraid that they have….
Climate Change…even Natural Selection!...still blithely relegated to the Conspiracy Theory drawer.
Peak Oil, for which there is abundant evidence…the same. It’s Liberal Plot, to turn everybody Gay.
Nothing substantial can be done, because there’s three(at least) Realities…all running parallel.
Yours, Mine, and the Truth…Machine believes in one, while advocating with deluge tactics, another.
The People…scared, confused, exhausted…seem willing to believe the most heinous insanity…
After Lil George, for a “Conservative” to rail against Executive Orders…against Dictatorial White House Policy…is Insane.
Even more so, because there is little Proof.
When there was ample Proof, they were waving flags, and bristling with belligerence, at anyone who dared to Question.
“I have trod the winepress, alone.”
Or that’s what it feels like.
That’s what I’m tired of…
No One wants to talk Philosophically…
And Philosophy is what we need most.
That , and a Narrative.
What is a “Liberal”?
That’s the Discussion I long to have…hopefully, without it degenerating into nonsense,and backstabbing…and, especially, Unexamined Assumptions.
There are a few who are Thinking along these lines…Lakoff comes to mind, Chip Berlet, and others in the fields of Neuroscience and Psychology…much research into the Cognitive Differences that lead to a Right or Left Outlook.
Chris Hayes, is there, too…with probably the Smartest Show on TV.
What is required, is Thinking that includes all of this Thought and Research…and Economic Evidence…That Unifies it into a Narrative that Liberals(who often don’t know that they are Liberals!) can rally behind.
My God! We should have even Jesus on Our Side!
How’d it happen, that the Screw You Party so successfully laid claim to Him? Who will undertake this task, if not Us?
Currently, in Mason, the Democratic Party is all that’s available to us, as a starting point.
Where are the Democrats?
More importantly, Who are the Mason Dems?
I’ve heard, after the fact, about various small gatherings…on somebody’s ranch.
Where is the Visible Manifestation of Democratic/Liberal Values?
The “News Paper”?
The “Barrio”, where I live(North Side) is ripe for the pickings…25+ years of a Belligerent Sheriff have left my neighbors Silent, and Uninvolved. Apolitical.
The Monumental Task is Education of the Folks…but, in order to accomplish this, there is required an even more Monumental Task…one of Definition, one of Language, and , above all, one of Philosophy.
We have Work to Do.