Thursday, August 22, 2019

UPDATED: Liberal Self-Criticism In Response To Failure?

I don't think so. I don't think it's possible, for all the reasons and more that Patrick Deneen cites in his book, Why Liberalism Failed. Basically, liberalism is a denial of reality--and I say this on a very fundamental, philosophical level, not as snark. That's the level Deneen is working on, too. The only self criticism of denial of reality that can possibly work is--to embrace reality. And if you do that you'll no longer be a liberal.

So, this morning the WSJ ran with an article by a writer who "reports on race and politics." I think you get the picture. Here's the title and subhead:

We Liberals Need Self-Criticism
We won’t beat Trump by blaming others and boasting about our own supposed virtue.

I think you can tell from the title that this is really just an exercise in tactics--the "self criticism" really only amounts to: if we want to win we have to somehow stop alienating normal people and make them think we're normal too. Kinda. Notice that he doesn't suggest changing anything fundamental about the Liberal worldview. It's about how to fool more people more of the time.

Here are the five points of his "self-criticism". He basically seeks to answer the question: Why is Trump winning so much and on course to win the Big Enchilada in 2020?

Part of the problem lies with the unpopular positions prominent Democrats have taken—from decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings to banning private health insurance. The main problem, though, has less to do with policy than with attitude. To many ordinary Americans we appear unhinged, haughty and out of touch. What can we do to change?

Um, I think I can handle that one. To convince people that we're not "out of touch" we could ... get IN touch? With reality? And, just for example, exactly what part of transgenderism is in touch with a reality based worldview?

First, stop obsessing over identity. ... our tendency to insert race, sex and sexual orientation into everything gives the impression that we are more committed to narrow groups than Americans as a whole. 

Or maybe liberals are more committed to ideas rather than reality. Because the "groups" they're "committed to" aren't really groups of real people. The names assigned to the "groups" are simply markers, conceptual entities rather than real people, who are individuals with a human nature. None of that has anything to do with the use of "groups" as markers for virture signalling.

Second, change the Manichaean outlook. Liberals increasingly tend to shame and “cancel” anyone who doesn’t conform to our thinking on complex social issues. We wield political correctness like a club. It’s been well-documented that voters in 2016 saw Trump as an antidote to political correctness—and it isn’t only conservatives. Eighty percent of Americans—including three-quarters of blacks and more than 80% of Asian-Americans, Hispanics and American Indians—disapprove of political correctness. 

In fact nothing has changed in liberalism over the years. The difference is that any concept of shared humanity with those who disagree has vanished and is unselfconsciously on display.

Third, cultivate a fuller understanding of justice. Our fanatical embrace of the oppressor-victim narrative finds us quick to assign guilt or innocence based on narrow identity markers like race and sex, ... 
Fourth, progressives need to be progressive—pluralistic rather than tribal, compassionate rather than hateful, thoughtful rather than reactive. “Progressive” has become a dirty word to many Americans, more closely associated with intolerance and double standards than with free thought and due process. 
Fifth, those who work in the media need to stop abusing their authority. ... there’s a reason so many Americans think much of the media is “fake news”: The left-of-center figures who populate it stop at nothing to demonize their political enemies.

But here's the problem--isn't the very reason that the "left-of-center figures who populate" the media get into media work in the first place precisely because they are driven by their visceral rejection of reality to demonize their political enemies? What else would be the point? And, of course, their "political enemies" are Normals. Anyone who disagrees with a liberal is by definition an "enemy of the people", but "people" is simply in progressive Newspeak is a marker for "progressive." And since liberalism is defined by its rejection of reality, that has to mean that anyone who's comfortable with or accepting of reality is an enemy to be demonized and destroyed. Control of the media is the way to accomplish that, which is why 1) for all the centuries of liberalism liberals have gravitated to punditry and 2) this is also why liberals rage against and seek to control the more distributed New Media that has empowered Normals.

A perfect example of the liberal attitude is on display elsewhere in the WSJ today. It's an article by Kyle Mann, editor in chief of the Babylon Bee:

A ‘Fact Checker’ Declares War On Satire
When we make fun of liberals, Snopes pretends to take us seriously and labels our jokes ‘false.’

It seems that the progressives at Snopes, when they're not supplying material for FBI reports that seek to demonize non-liberals as "domestic terrorists," are attempting to "fact check" a satire site! Writes Mann:

I run the Babylon Bee, a satirical website, and we’ve had to face that question a lot lately. The “fact checkers” at—once a reliable source for distinguishing reality from urban legends—have been smearing the Bee as “fake news.” They don’t seem to have a problem when we make fun of Trump-worship, conservatives, fundamentalism and megachurches. But when we target Democrats and the left, suddenly we’re branded liars.

Well, yes--part of the problem with rejecting reality is that you lose all sense of humor. We see it everywhere.

For an example of Babylon Bee's brand of humor ...

Prodigal Son Kicked Back Out After Old Tweets Surface 

ISRAEL—There was a certain man who had two sons, and the younger son demanded his inheritance and then wasted it all in a distant country. When the son came crawling back, begging for forgiveness, the father made a huge celebration to mark the return of his prodigal son. 
But that celebration was cut short when old tweets the younger son had written surfaced, some of which were characterized as racist. 
Though the son apologized for those tweets as well, he was immediately kicked out of the house. “He was dead and is alive again,” the father said, “but is now dead again, because he is garbage." As he said this he clapped his hands in a real-life approximation of clapping emojis between in each word. 
“You have to watch what you say, because the internet is forever,” said the older son, who had uncovered the tweets. “And sorry, if you say the wrong things, there’s just no coming back from that. Now, excuse me, we already slaughtered the fatted calf and need to eat that before it goes bad.” 
The younger son headed back to the distant country to try to get his job back feeding swine, but his employer had heard of his tweets and informed him he was "canceled."

UPDATE: Think about it for a moment. If your whole life is dedicated to creating a new reality in your own image and likeness, what else could be motivating you except a deep resentment and even a hatred for--everything that's not you! Where would the humor in that be? The answer to that is everywhere on display these days.


  1. It might help if the op-ed piece was written by someone widely known to the reading public. I never heard of the guy...

    1. But consider--how many people get that kind of exposure? The WSJ is the leading circulation newspaper in the USA. Being published by the classical liberal WSJ is a bit of a seal of approval--your ideas are serious. IOW, I don't think it's a complete stretch to say that the type of liberalism espoused by this guy--at least in this article--is simpatico to the WSJ. And that tells you a lot about the GOPe.

    2. I certainly agree to your data point re: WSJ as a seal of approval.

      Another data point: I dropped my subscription this year after reading it all my life, beginning when my father brought it home when I was a teenager.

      But I didn't drop it because of outside opinion columns like this one--often columns written by the putative opposition were worthwhile reads. The House editorials and guest contributors were often as unhinged from reality as are the Democrats. Cheap labor lobbyists from the Chamber of Commerce is not my brand of conservatism.

    3. You sound exactly like me re the WSJ--except that I've been agonizing about dropping the subscription for several years.

  2. So how do we win?
    I believe the most powerful weapon in our world is love. “Tough love” can be effective. If we can communicate with truly-felt love, not hate or anger, our message will be at least received, if not fully accepted.
    The last few years my message to “liberals” in my life, close relatives included, is – “walk away from the tribal hatred that fuels the Democrat Party. Just walk away. Leave the plantation hatred behind.”

    1. I think that's exactly it--the only way to win is through culture change. Because, recall, Deneen maintains that liberalism by its nature is the implacable enemy of culture. To adopt culture does, in fact, mean to leave the liberal plantation, as you say.

    2. This essay was linked from Claremont Review of Books. It sets some practical goals for those of us disgusted with Democrat cultural monopoly. (P.S. Many years ago I sent my young children to private school. The school wanted my money. My children benefited.)

      Living With Politics as War
      Internal strife must destroy a house divided against itself. But incompatible descendants of the same family can make a go of it on the same property if, after the shouting, they keep mostly to their own wings of it, agreeing to live and let live. Our war’s proximate purpose must be to achieve this: to stop the ruling class’s attacks, forcefully to suggest that peace can happen only on the basis of mutual acceptance of others’ otherness.
      Partisan corporate power is indeed a potentially decisive tool of political war. Of late, major corporations have become the ruling class’s major enforcers, politicizing civil society.
      But the power of corporate boycotts is hollow. It is wielded by people on short financial leashes, and inspires even more decisive countermeasures. Corporations cannot afford to be perceived as hostile to substantial parts of the population. Any that paints itself or lets itself be painted into the Left political corner hands competitors a clear shot at its clientele. Declines in revenues imperil corporate officials. Let them boycott!
      In fact, corporate boycotts are heaven-sent opportunities for counter-boycotts, the purpose of which should be to foster shopping “on our side.” This can help break big businesses’ support for the ruling class and build companies led by people inclined to run non-oppressive work places. Similarly, as Facebook and Twitter define themselves by their biases, Americans can abandon them and build their own social media. Leftists started splitting society. Let’s make the best of it.
      Separating from the educational establishment is essential to securing a culture in which we can thrive socially and politically.
      The 3 percent (and growing fast) of homeschooled K-12 students are the tip of a growing revolt. Waiting lines for admissions to charter schools and the 20 percent of families that sacrifice for private schools testify to a widespread hunger to minimize ties to this establishment.
      At the college level, the “name schools” began separating from the rest of America by reserving faculty and student positions for persons of approved opinions and backgrounds.
      Left outside their orbits are some of America’s best talents—homeschoolers who consistently outperform all other categories in standardized tests, young scholars without the right connections. Wise educational entrepreneurs can gather them into colleges whose curricula and requirements produce graduates whose qualities will give the name colleges the reputations they deserve.
      The ruling class has conquered commanding heights over every part of American society.
      re-conquering those heights could not restore citizenship among us. The prize would be costly and worthless. Best for all is for we Indians to leave the chiefs alone on their hills as we build better villages.

  3. "Basically, liberalism is a denial of reality--and I say this on a very fundamental, philosophical level, not as snark."

    +1 for that comment.