LIBERALISM IN 2011
2011 November 22, Tuesday

WARNING: This is a another nasty piece. The mentality of liberalism in the twenty-first century is presented here as a feeble shadow of its former glory. The consequences of the lastest liberal philosophy are presented here without any sugar coating.
   
     There was a restaurant called Lindy's in Manhattan. I believe it was at 49th Street and Broadway. Until it closed in 1964, it was reputed to sell the best cheesecake you could buy. In its wake are two almost-as-good cheesecake vendors, S&S and Junior's, and I have enjoyed both of them. I wasn't around to try the original Lindy's, but I know people who ate their cheesecake and affirmed its quality. There is a new "Leo Lindy's" restaurant in Manhattan and my experience there wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't up to the original. In fact, it wasn't up to S&S or Junior's, either. They had oodles of autographed pictures of celebrities from the old Lindy's to connect the new place with it.

     To my mind, there's a certain post-modern deceit in connecting the new restaurant with the old when they're not the same. (I feel the same way about "The Next Generation" and, even more, "Deep Space Nine" carrying the "Star Trek" title living off the reputation of the original television show.) If it weren't for the Lindy's name, then I might not have bothered trying the new place at all.

     Let's look at liberalism then and now. I'm not writing about classical liberal thinking, now called libertarian, but the popular-usage of the term "liberal" circa 1975.

     The liberals of 1975 had several basic pillars of their philosophy. (I was raised in that philosophy and bought into it until I realized in 1975 that the parts I agreed with were libertarian rather than liberal.)


• Racial discrimination should be eliminated.
• We should take better care of the environment for our future.
• Educational institutions should offer more choices, alternative points of view.
• People should be able to work and to prosper from it.
• Corporations shouldn't mooch from public funding (i.e. military-industrial complex).
• People should have more choices in lifestyle (e.g. drugs, pornography, marriage).

     Only the last of these six pillars is still embraced by liberals. Affirmative action, eco-scare politics, political correctness, tax-the-rich jealousy, and corporate welfare from stimulus packages have moved the first five tenets firmly into the conservative camp. Those who believe these six things are best achieved through a smaller government and more personal and economic freedom are libertarians, like myself.

     With only one-sixth of its original foundation, is today's liberal philosophy really descended from the original? Or is it merely an attempt for a group of people to identify their not-so-nice philosophy with a more-noble, revered attitude from forty years ago? As you may have guessed, I believe the latter.

    

DEMOCRACY

     Now that we've established that liberals have rejected almost all the tenets of liberalism, I wondered what could be left. Then I came across the following in a borrowed issue of The Nation:

     "So to be a liberal today means to fight for more democracy, to fight against the corruption of politics by money and plutocratic special interests that delegitimize it in the eyes of wary citizens. but it also means fighting against that insidious `war on government' being waged by conservatives. Because that war is really a war against `we the people,' against all we share, and hence against democracy itself. Conservatives claim that democracy is ailing, and they are right. Yet as Jefferson said, the remedy for the ills of democracy is more democracy, while those who assail government are opting for less democracy, opting to suspend the social contract that undergirds our democratic civilization.

     "Public liberty and the egalitarian, democratic values it enjoins must remain the liberal North Star. But the political sky is in motion, and liberal values must accommodate fundamental changes in science and society, technology and capitalism. Capitalism in our time has moved beyond simple industrialism and unfolds today under conditions of automation and an information society, resulting in parallel dilemmas for the capitalist sector: first, increased productivity with fewer jobs. The New York Times recently reported, `Workers are getting more expensive while equipment is getting cheaper, and the combination is encouraging companies to spend on machines rather than people.' Meanwhile, a Chinese company that partners with Apple, exhibiting the future face of capitalism, plans to replace thousands of its Chinese Foxconn workers with up to a million robots."

     Once we get past the insultingly-whiny tone of this piece, what is it really saying? First, it's an attempt to legitimize big government as being for "the people." In fact, as the Occupy-wherever movement has so totally misunderstood, the people being hailed as the beneficiaries of liberal government are precisely those being devastated by it. Never mind that the principle foundation philosophy of the Occupy movement is no more than flagrant jealousy and envy of those 1% who have done better than the other 99%, those rich guys they're pissing at are precisely the people whose investments create industry, factories, productivity, and jobs.

     Second, let's look a little deeper at democracy and their complete misunderstanding of Jefferson's philosophy. The United States is not a democracy, was never a democracy, and was never intended to be a democracy. It was intended as a minimum-government society of free people engaging in free enterprise with government laws enforcing the sanctity of contract and protecting us from crime. As that government has to be run by somebody, the choices of those running the minimum government we have are to be decided by fair, democratic elections. The term used for that idea of law-governed society with elections is a "republic."

     A democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner. A democracy is 52% of America voting to take whatever they want from the other 48%, not what any good people intended in 1789 when the United States was started. That's evil enough, but it gets worse.

     Democracy is 60% of New York State voting on whether or not two same-sex people can marry. Any libertarian, any 1975-era-liberal, or any believer in the United-States as a republic, would see that as wrong. Someone may or may not agree with same-sex marriage, but we all should be comfortable that it's somebody's personal decision, not something to be decided by democracy.

     Don't kid yourself: There are oodles of truly-terrible things that a democratic majority would vote for. This isn't just the corruption of a majority of voters cannabilizing the remaining minority as we saw in 2008. There are really-awful things that more than half of America would support just as other societies have done awful things to their minorities. Much of the old, bad discrimination against black people in America was done though government actively sanctioned and supported by a prejudiced, white majority.

     This is what liberalism has become over the past forty years, a belief in democracy with nothing else to support it. My visualizion of democracy without republic, "the will of the people" without the principles of freedom and liberty, public opinion without the restraint of true law, is a frenzied mob running down the street breaking our windows, tearing up our furniture, and pissing on our carpets while they steal our stuff.

     Maybe it's time for today's liberals to ask themselves if they're really still on the good-guys side.

    

    

If you like what you read here (you think?), then here are my other American-issues essays.

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