Thursday, April 06, 2006

Liberalism unbound: Shifting the center of gravity in American politics

Given my past association with Centerfield and my present association with The Moderate Voice, given the fact that many of my friends (bloggers and otherwise) define themselves somewhere between liberal and conservative, given my own definitely liberal political philosophy, and given my own firm place in the liberal blogosphere, I have often thought about the meanings of centrism and moderation.

They aren't the same thing. To me, moderation is a tone, a temperament, a virtue. Moderation eschews absolutism. It promotes independent thought and calm, reasoned discourse. It rejects knee-jerk partisanship and talking points masquerading as truth. Centrism is, well, an "ism". It seeks to be an ideology of sorts somewhere between what is generally considered to be left and right. But what does that even mean? What is left? What is right? And what, for that matter, is the center? Doesn't the center shift over time, back and forth like a pendulum?

Though the center of gravity in American politics does shift over time, I have long believed (and argued) that America is fundamentally a liberal society. Whatever the challenges to liberalism, whatever the ebb and flow of partisan politics, whatever the public perception of liberalism and what it means to be liberal, America is a country deeply rooted in the political thought of John Locke, the liberal political philosopher par excellence. To be sure, there are non-liberal and even anti-liberal elements alive and well in America. There always have been, and that isn't likely to change anytime soon. But it seems to me that the basic elements of liberalism -- individual rights, representative democracy, the universal truths elaborated in the Declaration of Independence -- cross partisan lines and dominate American life. President Bush's expansion of executive authority certainly threatens this commitment to liberty as enshrined in the Constitution, and that should worry us and rouse us in opposition, but even this threat hasn't undone liberalism.

Regardless, it's true that the center, and hence centrism, has been anything but fixed. Barry Goldwater's crushing defeat in 1964 marked perhaps the nadir of American conservatism, and it seemed at the time that liberalism was without a serious challenger as America's dominant public philosophy. The rise of the conservative movement in the 1970s began a rightward shift that overcame this dominance, propelling America through the Reagan presidency, the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, and continued Republican success at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Even Bill Clinton couldn't do much to reverse this trend. He was merely the right Democrat for a largely Republican era.

But things have changed. Perhaps the inevitable gravitational force of change is pulling America back to the left, the cycle of political history. But there must be other factors. The conservative movement is virtually bankrupt intellectually. Whatever was left of it, specifically the neoconservative segment of it, has been largely discredited by the debacle in Iraq. There may be no liberal movement to rival the conservative one, at least not in a concerted way, but liberalism has risen once again. It is now able to balance conservatism in a way that seemed impossible for a generation. And the Republican Party, the electoral bottleneck of the conservative movement, has fallen into decay and corruption, a victim of its own success, not to mention of its own internal contradictions and disreputable ideas. Finally, in that regard, Americans are catching on. Conservatives have had their chance. This is their America. Is it the America Americans really want?

As well, conservatives have successfully defined the parameters of American politics. This has been an intentional strategy that has been best documented in David Brock's The Republican Noise Machine, a penetrating examination of just how the conservative movement, both on its own and through the Republican Party, changed the course of American politics and the direction of American life. Within these parameters, "liberal" became a bad word. Conservatives demanded equal time, even for their most disreputable ideas, and the far right was gradually brought into the public square even as the left, anything and everything smacking of progressivism, was vilified as extreme and un-American. The result was the almost imperceptible shift of gravity to the right. This makes sense. If you cut off the left and push the right-wing extreme even further to the right, the scales will tip and the center of gravity will move right to establish balance once more.

But, as I mentioned, things are changing. And they're changing not least because liberals are fighting back. Democrats, many of them, are still unsure of themselves and unwilling to stand up for what they believe in, but liberals, the courageous ones in the blogosphere, the punditry, and the political arena, have had enough. It isn't just the cycle of political history, the inevitable swing of the pendulum. Liberals are now pulling the center of gravity back to a more appropriate, a more honest and real, place much closer to what we generally consider to be liberalism.

Who are these liberals? There are many, including Al Gore and John Edwards. But perhaps the best recent example is Russ Feingold, whom we praised in this space for advocating the censure of the president (see here, here, and here). In terms of a different issue, consider this example from The Carpetbagger Report: "The right wants to write bigotry into constitutional stone. The left wants gay people to be able to get married. All of a sudden, Democratic proposals for civil unions is a reasonable middle ground, whereas a few years ago, civil unions were deemed radical by conservatives. The goalposts have been moved away from discrimination... When the right denounces Feingold for his position, Dems can simply offer their 'reasonable' alternative."

This is exactly how to do it. Liberals and Democrats, stand firm. Stand up for what you believe in. Do not give in. There may be room for compromise, for "centrist" policy, but do not abandon liberalism. Do not allow the other side to define the parameters of American politics and thereby the center of gravity thereof. Do not succumb to absolutism, do not turn immoderate, but also do not sacrifice your principles, our principles, for the sake of short-term political gain.

Remember that America is fundamentally a liberal society. If presented with conviction and compassion, a liberal vision for America will resonate once again with Americans. Don't expect 1964 all over again, but there's no reason why liberals can't balance out conservative efforts to define the parameters of American politics. If they succeed, if we succeed, America may soon look and act more like itself again.

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36 Comments:

  • Thank you Michael for this beautiful post and for staking claim to liberalism. For far too long, we have allowed the bastardization of the word "liberal" to go unchecked and it's time we reclaim it. It is no accident that it reminds us of a word like liberty. To be liberal is to give freely, as in "be liberal with the whipped cream on my all American apple pie." We are a liberal society, even if we have forgotten that lately.

    By Blogger The (liberal)Girl Next Door, at 12:42 AM  

  • Thank you, LGND. Your kind words mean a lot to me.

    I just think it's time for liberals to stand up and say, We're liberal, we're proud, and we're going to fight for what we believe in. For too long we've cowered in a corner while conservatives define us and dominate our politics. I've had enough of that.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 2:31 AM  

  • I am a conservative who lived through the sixties and have a good memory of the War On Poverty and the Great Society. America may never recover from the damage done our society and our body politic by these misguided efforts whose energy was matched only by their shortsightedness.

    What America needs is not Liberals, but better Conservatives.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:50 AM  

  • Do those "misguided efforts" include civil rights?

    And define "better" conservatives.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 10:15 AM  

  • 50 years ago Cons supported segregation.

    100 years ago Cons were against suffrage.

    150 years ago slavery and child labor were defended by Cons.

    200 years ago Manifest Destiny was seen as noble by Cons.

    The tide of 'true' liberalism- not bastardized offspring like capital F Feminazisn nor the like- is undaunted by two or three decade reactionary hiccups. Today Cons accept gays, even if they don;t like them, they accept blacks and others- at least in public. This is progress. Abortion is legal and likely to stay that way, for if the first high tide of Conservatism can't change it, the second and third won't, for politics is a spiral, a corkscrew. Each spiral up is a little higher in terms of liberties granted. Each spiral down is still higher up than the last low spiral. The next upward spiral of liberalism will se gay marriage cemented, abortion untouchable, and the one after that will take care of polygamists. The one after that will prob deal with eugenics and marriages betwen androids and humans.

    However, perception parallaxes on a dime. Had Gore not been such an arrogant prick in 2000, he'd've beaten Bush handily, and be riding high in his final term, due to 9/11. There'd have been no massice tax breaks for the rich, this de facto depression that has hit the middle class would have been long over, and with four straight Dem Presidents and a fifth likely, the last fifteen years would be seen as a Golden Age for 'liberalism'.

    By Anonymous Dan Schneider, at 12:47 PM  

  • What about polygamist marriages with androids, Dan? Or what if one of your android wives wants to have an abortion? The mind boggles.

    One thing I don't get, though: Is this, in your view, a good thing or a bad thing? You say that politics is "a spiral, a corkscrew," which it may very well in some respects. But is the progressive extension of rights wrong? If not, then I suppose we may very well be in for a society that sanctions android polygamy. If not, then what about slavery and segregation? Or are you just stating a fact?

    I agree with your last point, though. If only Gore had won in 2000...

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 1:27 PM  

  • Well said. It is often amusing witnessing the demonization of liberalism south of the border when the most successful party in Canadian history is so named (with a large L at least). More such eloquent and passionate defences of liberal (and I would argue liberal internationalist) solutions to policy problems are certainly needed. many thanks

    By Anonymous Taylor, at 3:44 PM  

  • Thank you, Taylor. That's very kind of you.

    And it is amusing, yes. Even though we now have a (minority) Conservative government in Canada, the overwhelming majority of Canadians voted for center, center-left, and left parties and candidates (Liberal, NDP, Bloc Quebecois, Green, etc.). Liberalism is alive and well up here. There are fears that Harper will unravel that liberalism, but he won't. And Canadians would never let him.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 3:55 PM  

  • I would like to offer my take on this subject as someone who is a self-described radical, rather than a liberal.

    There is no question that the center of gravity in American politics has been pulled rightward over the last 35 years or so, and as a result, the definition of "liberal" has also been pulled rightward. That is why Nixon, lying scumbag warmonger that he was, is sometimes refered to as the "last liberal President"--because after his presidency, in which we saw the creation of the EPA, OSHA, and the Clean Air Act, and in which Nixon once proposed a guaranteed minimum income for all Americans, the "liberals" in Washington moved ever rightward, to the point where Al Gore in 2000 was essentially farther to the right than Nixon was in 1970.

    This is one of several of the problems with modern liberalism. Liberals turn to their heroes, various Democrats like Al Gore or Howard Dean, whose ideology would historically not have been considered particularly left of center. They pin their hopes on a supposedly "progressive" ideology that isn't particularly progressive and a political party like the Democrats that is intensely tied to corporate interests and US imperialism abroad.

    As I see it, liberalism was stillborn, and its failures have only come to fruition in recent years, because it didn't really know what it wanted to be. It was so afraid of socialism, it distanced itself from radical solutions to the serious problems of the capitalist system, that one could argue that it was as much a reaction to radicalism and socialism as it was to conservatism. Liberals like Hubert Humphrey in the 1940s purged the Democratic Farmer-Labor party of radicals and socialists, thus insuring that the Democratic Party would not be a party that dared to threaten corporate interests. In fact, the very use of the word "liberal" in our nation's political discourse for its so-called left wing is telling--in American politics, no mainstream politician dares uses a word like "socialist" or even "social democrat". It is this fear of the left that inevitably led liberalism to slide rightward over the years.

    I think there are other fundamental problems with liberalism. As I wrote in my blog enter "Corporate Consolidation and the Failure of American Liberalism", liberalism never really offered a successful or meaningful challenge to corporate power, nor did it ever, with its attachment to market economics, come up with any way of taming the evils of capitalism that would ever work--and this is essentially because the evils of capitalism cannot be tamed without replacing the system with something better. Liberals, afraid of radicalism, are unwilling to seek radical solutions, and instead pay allegiance to the economic and political system that creates the very evils that liberals say they want to address.

    In this modern era of globalization and neoliberalism, American liberalism is at a loss to really cope with modern international capitalism. Ultimately, liberalism has proved itself to be a failed ideology.

    Possibly the most heartening thing I have seen in all of this is the possiblity that some liberals are starting to see the light. For example, consider a recent article in the liberal magazine Nation, in which Ronald Aronson said, "It's time to break a taboo and place the word "socialism" across the top of the page in a major American progressive magazine. Time for the left to stop repressing the side of ourselves that the right finds most objectionable. Until we thumb our noses at the Democratic pols who have been calling the shots and reassert the very ideas they say are unthinkable, we will keep stumbling around in the dark corners of American politics, wondering how we lost our souls--and how to find them again."

    As I see it, failures of liberalism could not be plainer than they are now. The solution to our problems lies not in a return to liberalism, but a birth of radicalism.

    By Blogger The Haikuist, at 4:31 PM  

  • Ok, 1964, 2006 may not be, but like the 60's the liberal left and the democratic leaders are no longer in agreement. When Cindy Sheehad protested outside of Bush's ranch democrats refused to support her, scared of being considered radical or "unpatriotic". Yet, when a rally was set up in washington DC in support of Cindy Sheehad, 300,000 people from across the country came to support her and the antiwar movement. These people were of all races, ages and backrounds, with different political stands on gay marriage and other issues, yet we all joined together to fight against the war in Iraq. If the Democrats want to win in the next elections, they need to come out against the war. They also need to realize that while gay, black, and women's rights are huge issues, but most ppl are more concerned about a 5% unemployment rate, social security and our national debt. Also democrats have to fight harder aginst republicans. Democrats are tried of seeing this "bi-partisan" bullshit on TV, they are tired of ppl, democrats and republicans saying that the liberals have no plan. How many books do liberals need to write anyways, before ppl get the freak'n plan already!

    By Blogger Brooke, at 4:52 PM  

  • http://www.themoderatevoice.com/posts/1144295474.shtml#19364

    Here is a post Michael, to your piece on TMV.

    I guess blogs do not capture inflection. Of course I'm for true progressivism. If a dozen people want a communal marriage, and all agree, no shit off my shingle. I think it's voyeuristic to care what others do in the bedroom, with consent a given. I'm all for rights, as long as yours do not supersede mine, or vice versa.

    But, I recognize them as civilized fictions that humans need to not kill each other.

    I am less sanguine about a Gore Presidency. Wd he be better than Bush? Yes, but chlamydia is better than AIDS, but I'd still not want it.

    Until Americans stop their reductivist dualist thoughts in poitics, and embrace 3rd, 4th, and 5th parties, we will limop, not cruise to a better place. Plurality breeds moderation. One party states bring the saddams, Stalins, Maos, and Hitlers to power.

    By Anonymous Dan Schneider, at 10:27 PM  

  • Haikuist:

    Haymarket, Wobblies, dynamite. Radicalism was stillborn because it's not compatible with Democracy.

    By Anonymous Dan Schneider, at 10:28 PM  

  • Dan Schneider, on the contrary, it is modern American capitalist society that is sadly incompatible with bona fide democracy. In fact, it is a belief in radical democracy lies at the cornerstone of the political party of which I am a member, the Socialist Party USA (as expressed, for example, in its party principles). In referencing dynamite, you are confusing radicals with terrorists. Not the same thing at all. Radicalism has a long and proud tradition of protest and dissent. The word "radical" merely means someone who wants to get at the root of society's problems, rather than try to reform an irredeemable system (I explain this in my blog entry from last year, "Socialist Strategy").

    By Blogger The Haikuist, at 8:33 AM  

  • Talk about behind the times. Socialism is a pipe dream incompatible with human behavior.
    En masse, we are greedy selfish beings, in all but a fraction of a percent of known human societies.
    And no, the Wobblies wrapped themselves in both anarchism and communism. To try to extricate the two at this late date is disingebuous, at best, and down right revisionist lying, in reality.
    I've no love for Wal-Mart, AT&T, Enron, etc., and would outlaw corporations, but small time capitalism, with entrepeneurs and small businesses works fairly well. Not perfectly, but better than other systems.
    This does not mean it's the best system, only the best yet.
    Yours has been tried and failed over and again.
    It's a museum piece. That you don;t see it bespeaks how isolating those glass dioramas can be.

    By Anonymous Dan Schneider, at 8:42 AM  

  • Point well taken that "centrism" and "moderation" should not be conflated (as they often are). However, very few "centrists" are ideological. They just split the difference between left and right, which usually does make them, well, moderate.

    Yet there also are ideological centrists. The Chilean Christian Democrats of the 1960s were certainly ideological, but they were also explicitly carving out a niche that was not old-style conservatism and also not socialism. They called their program "the revolution in liberty."

    Some scholars of Nazism have called it more centrist than rightist, but no one ever claimed it was moderate.

    But, other than these--and I thought about this for a while before commenting--I can't think of very many examples of significant political movements that were centrist in an ideological sense, and hence not moderate.

    By Anonymous Matthew Shugart, at 10:59 AM  

  • Dan Schneider, if you think that radical democracy (which is another name for the democratic socialism that I advocate) is incompatible with human nature, then I disagree; I think that giving people democratic control over their lives is not only compatible with human nature, but is a moral imperative given the disastrous situation that the world is currently in. I have no idea what you are talking about with respect to the Wobblies. Their ideology is generally more along the lines of anarcho-syndicalism, which is not what I advocate, but I would also point out that they still exist, they still are involved in union organizing, and they don't carry sticks of dynamite. Even if I disagree with them on details, the reality is that they represent a strain of radicalism that seeks to bring about change to the current decadence in society. I would point out that Eugene Debs also didn't carry sticks of dynamite; the only crime he commited was to do things like engage in free speech against war, which got him thrown in jail. Yet he, too, was a radical. So this ridiculous association of radicalism with terrorism is simply not true.

    Your comment about small-time capitalism is actually not incompatible with what many socialists advocate, which is to transfer the "commanding heights of industry" over to the democratic control of the people for human needs rather than profit, while leaving small business to continue in private hands (the petit bourgeoisie).

    As for your suggestion that "my system" has been tried and failed over and again", that is simply a misinformed statement that suggests that you have leapt to a lot of conclusions about what you think "my system" is or what it is I advocate.

    None of which is really relevant to my point, which is that liberalism has proven itself to be a collossal failure. Speaking of pipe dreams--anyone who thinks that liberalism is capable of taming or reigning in the evils of capitalism in the face of the modern age of globalization is indeed living a pipe dream.

    By Blogger The Haikuist, at 11:52 AM  

  • A good post, Michael. But as some of your commenters have speculated, you perhaps give short-thift to actual policy failures of liberalism that may have contributed to a shift rightwards.

    I think it is convenient to think the right-wing noise machine hoodwinked the country into become more conservative than they actually are, but what of the real dissatisfaction and ennui that swept the country in the 1970's? Reagon won in a landslide in 1984, this in an era absent talk radio, Fox News, etc.

    It seems to me the real shift was losing southern Democrats to the Republican party in the 1970's and 1980's, which again to my my mind was indicative of a profound social movement with real grassroots rather than the evil manipulations of the GOP.

    By Blogger Nate, at 3:13 PM  

  • That's a fair point, Nate. I'm not I'd use the word "hoodwinked" to describe what happened. Ultimately, whatever the merits of its actual policy proposals, the conservative movement was an extremely effective communications vehicle, and that very much underpinned Reagan's victory in 1980. Of course, Carter wasn't a strong candidate and I wouldn't argue that Reagan's victory depended solely on the success of the conservative movement. But I think it's fair to say that the conservative movement resurrected conservatism's image, and the new climate made Republican electoral success more possible.

    Electorally, it's also true that the flight of Southern Democrats to the Republicans in response to civil rights shifted the balance significantly. But this was also made possible in part by the conservative movement's strident opposition to what it saw as the excesses of the '60s.

    But, yes, liberalism has indeed had its share of policy failures, and I've been critical before of liberalism's excesses, such as its linkages to identity politics. And I wouldn't say that the culture of rights that pervades much of American society is invariably positive. Although I place enormous value on individual autonomy, I do realize that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

    Matthew: Point well taken from my end, too. Centrism certainly isn't an "ism" the way, say, fascism is. I wonder if American centrism won't become more rigid, however, as it attempt to make something of itself in a polarized political climate.

    I'd like to address the exchange between Dan and the Haikuist, but I can't do so now. I want to thank you both for taking the time to carry on a very interesting and engaging debate here, and I hope to see more of you in future.

    Okay, allow me a few comments:

    Some of this is semantic. What is socialism? What is "radical" democracy? At least up here in Canada, we have incorporated certain socialist elements into our public policy -- consider our health care system, for example. Yet I tend to agree with Dan that socialism doesn't take adequate stock of human nature, or what Machiavelli referred to as our innate desire to acquire, the desire described so eloquently by Hobbes (nasty, brutish, short) and then unleashed by Locke. What we need, it seems to me, is to balance the healthy expression of that desire with a recognition of its excesses. In other words, we need liberty, but we also need security. We need to understand and to allow for human nature, but we must allow prevent ourselves from sliding back into a state of nature. Socialism goes some of the way towards that goal, but it may not be the answer in and of itself.

    Anyway, if you haven't done so already, I encourage you to read their exchange. It's thoughtful and illuminating and leaves much room for serious thought.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 3:44 PM  

  • As I mentioned before, I see nothing about democratic socialism that contradicts human nature, since socialism (as I define it, and as the SP USA defines it) is nothing but radical democracy. What is "radical" democracy? It is a democracy where people have full democratic control over society's resources and the means of production and distribution, where decisions are thus made democratically rather than by capitalists or by the exigencies of the marketplace. That is why I disagree with the idea that Canada has "socialist elements". What Canada has is reformed capitalism--which is little different, ultimately, from the reformed capitalism of American liberalism or European social democracy. Rather than representing socialism, these are examples of capitalism with a smiley face. The problem is that trying to paste a smiley face on capitalism has failed, and failed miserably. The exigencies of the market have proved stronger, and in the face of globalization, social democrats and liberals and other reformers of capitalism have moved ever farther to the right. In Germany, for example, the Social Democratic Party differed from the Christian Democrats only in how much they wanted to cut back on the social welfare state.

    My point is that giving the planning and management of the means of production and the distribution of resources to the people, to manage democratically, is simply another word for democracy in action. There is nothing contrary to human nature about democracy, in my view. We have seen, on the other hand, the massive failings of capitalism--the poverty, the exploitation, the unemployment, the job insecurity and the massive accumulation of wealth by a few. And in the modern world of globalization, it is only getting worse. And I would argue that liberalism, with its reformist impulse and its attachment to the "virtues" of the marketplace, offers no real solution to the problem. The reason it has backtracked so much in recent years is that it has tacitly admitted this; modern liberals in the US never talk about taking on corporate power anymore. The Democratic Party is largely silent on the subject. In fact, Democratic Party liberals actually go out of their way to court wealthy corporate donors--including Nancy Pelosi (the San Francisco Chronicle did a story on this recently). Democrats love big business. They aren't about to bite the hand that feeds them. Liberalism has thrown in the towel. And what passes for modern American "liberalism" is such a warmed over version of the liberalism of earlier days, and I see no sign that it will change--because there is simply no reason for it to do so. It has no interest in doing so. Liberalism has simply ended up where it was because it was the natural consequence of its ideological underpinnings.

    By Blogger The Haikuist, at 4:30 PM  

  • Haikuist, I'll be generous and describe your ideals as noble, but wholly puerile in reality. Most people who have tried radicalism get a bad taste in their mouth. Yes, Debs wasn't a gunslinger, but he was just a shill for them. This is like saying that Hitler never personally executed a Jew, therefore his conscience is clean.

    Democracy works best with mediation, and the more concerned parties the better. It can be frustrating, but that does not give Rt Wing wackos like Eric Rudolp or Tim NcVeigh, nor Left Wing wackos like the SLA or Weathermen the right to kill for abstractions.

    I cannot stand most power structures, byt they exist at the behest of the majority. Yes, it's a majority of zombies, but radicalism is what happens when a zombie is given radical electrotherapy. It ALSO distorts the best in the human.

    Dishonesty is what rots society. We tolerate liars- be they named Clinto, Gore, or Kerry, or Reagan, Bush or Bush. The electorate does not punish those who lie. they are rewarded with sinecures at University. One of the most disgusting docs I've seen was on the Weathermen where these 'radical' kilers are now tenured professors. Only in America.

    And yes, I know that the line between terrorist/insurgent/freedon fighter is thin, but it's still a line. Whether your'e a narcoterorist like Pablo Escobar in the 80s, a religious terorist like the anti-abortionists in this country or Osama's suckboys, or just a plain old recalcitant retread Commie, it doesn't work. It's dinosaurian.

    McWorld-Mart will destroy the radical Islamists. Bet on it. Their children, even now, listen to Shakira CDs and lust for designer jeans.

    Neither extreme makes me happy, but people like you, with your deluded ethics, only make easy targets for those in power to rail against, and squash the rest of us with you.

    That may make you happy, but it's not good governance.

    By Anonymous Dan Schneider, at 5:16 PM  

  • Your nonsensical and baseless character assassination against Eugene Debs--a tireless advocate of free speech, human rights, and peace--including but not restricted to your comparison of him to Hitler, are truly offensive, ridiculous, and ignorant. This unsubsubstantited and baseless painting all sorts of widely different beliefs systems with the same brush, the suggestion that radicalism is the same as the SLA or the Weathermen or that I am an apologist for groups such as these is insulting, baseless, and untrue. It isn't clear to me if this is based on a miguided concept of what the word radical means when I and most radicals use it, or if you just think that anyone on the far left automatically serves as an apologist for terrorists, but in either case you are badly mistaken, and you have chosen your misinformed perspective as a starting point for launching on about things that simply take all sorts of incorrect things for granted.

    Certainly it is true that in the popular imagination, the word "radical" has frequently come to mean (incorrectly) the same thing as "extremist", thus leading to the faulty concept of a "right wing radical", which is self-contradictory. This popular conception of the word is wrong. Radicalism is by definition a left wing ideology. The origin of the word "radical" is "root", and it simply means that one wants to get to the root of society's problems. The political spectrum can be described along the lines of conservatives, who want to preserve the system; liberals, who want to reform it; and radicals, who want to replace it. One can add to that list reactionaries, who want to turn the clock back. Unfortunately, this has all become mired in misconception, and the word radical has taken on bizarre connotations in a lot of people's minds.

    Given the apparent bizarre blending in your mind of all the great principled radical activists of history with such sordid and off-kilter groups like the Weather Underground and the SLA and other bomb throwers and terrorists, it is hard to know what exactly is the basis for your misinformed conception about what radicalism is. But my suggestion to you in the future is that, before you start using wildly inaccurate assumptions about what other people believe as the starting point for some rant, you might try to first understand what it actually is the other person believes. It usually doesn't make you look like such a fool.

    By Blogger The Haikuist, at 6:24 PM  

  • Real Funny. You claim to be a Radicalist, but you disavow Radicalism's past.

    You're a new Radicalist, like a New Nixon.

    I recall Debs enthusiastically embraced the IWW and all it stood for, which included its violent past. To deny that is mere revisionism. You're free to do it. I'm free to call you on it. I have.

    Stop with the puerility. You embrace a childish counterproductive, anti-democratic philosophy, then den that's what it is. Yes, and you have friends who are gangsters, except they are peaceable businessmen. And your white supremacist pal really doesn't wanna string jigs and Jews up, he's simply standing for white Rights.

    I don't know if it's funny or sad when the bilge of the Left adopts the bilge of the Right's Madison Ave tactics by hiding their white robes and claiming they're merely good Christians who oppose abortion, but it doesn't fool anyone with sense of perspective.

    By Anonymous Dan Schneider, at 8:47 AM  

  • Uh, okay. Whatever. Thanks for sharing.

    By Blogger The Haikuist, at 11:56 AM  

  • Yes, and lay off the schmutz next time.

    By Anonymous Dan Schneider, at 12:48 PM  

  • 1. We want markets and enterprises that work.
    2. We want investments that are geared for the long term.
    3. We want an education system that teaches reading, writing and a practical level of math by the eighth grade. By the second year of high school we want students to understand how algebra, geometry or calculus works. By graduation we want students to know that there is an infinitely large and an infinitely small universe that works somewhat along the same rules.
    4. We want a military that can do the job that it is given in defending the country. We want to know that the defenders are taken care of in ways that recognizes them as persons of comparable human worth to those in the board room.
    5. We want a daily level of basic medical care that is both preventive and proactive in healing.
    6. We want an industrial base that does not pour its waste out on to the ground and into the water from which we drink.
    7. We want a banking system that allows us to put a dollar in and in turn be able to take a dollar and a fraction out.
    8. For the things that really need to be protected in shared way, we want to see the implantation of a mutual rather than a proprietorship, or shareholder stock company. We want to have towns, cities, and suburban environs that can house both a garbage tipper and an oil company magnate.
    9. We want to see the truly guilty, convicted, make restitution or do prison time. We want the mentally disturbed to be treated and integrated into society as they are able.
    10. We want to know that people of faith are able practice their faith in absence of shaming or mortifying ceremonies. We want to know that people who choose to not formally express any faith will live unmolested or coerced among us.

    By Blogger Lantern Bearer, at 10:16 PM  

  • Radical Liberalism

    I think it's quite cramped to discuss radicalism and liberalism limited to the past 150 years or less, but even moreso to ignore some of the most significant figures--folks like Henry David Thoreau, Victoria Woodhull, John Dewey, Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, James Baldwin, Michael Harrington, etc. The truth is, there is a long and fruitful tradition of those whose vision is radical, and whose method is to expand the framework of liberalism.

    There has to be a tension between radicalism and liberalism. But there doesn't have to be poisonous animosity. For the truth is, liberalism is a conservative force in the modern world. For example, the religious tolerance whose defense Locke perfected was the only way to stabilize a social order ripped apart by decade after decade of religious war. Shifting the state to a position of nuetrality, and establishing a powerful, principled foundation for doing so was absolutely essential for avoiding religious warfare without end.

    And if liberalism is a conservative force, likewise, radicalism is a liberalizing force--constantly challenging the limits of liberalism, the presumptions of what constitutes the liberal subject, the limits of what rights we may commonly claim, the deeper wellsprings of autonomy and individuality that liberalism all to often simply takes for granted.

    Simply put: without radicalism to challenge it, liberalism would inevitably grow complacent, smug and stodgy, failing to even meet its own needs, much less realize the needs it has left unmet. The reductio ad absurdum of that is beyond libertarianism to Ayn Rand, and places even more narcissistically deluded than that, if you can imagine them. And radicalism without liberalism to build on? Well, we know what that looks like: Pol Pot.

    So, Stop! Stop! You're both right, Schneider and Haikuist, when you hit on the virtues of your creeds. And you're both wrong when you so cavalierly dismiss one another because of the flaws. If met honestly, the challenge of each other's virtues is the cure for each other's flaws.

    By Blogger Paul Rosenberg, at 12:32 AM  

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    By Blogger cicicocuk, at 6:54 PM  

  • Oyun oyunlar oyun oyna gibi kelimeler toner kartuş konuları yer almakta bedava oyunlar
    2 Oyunculu Oyunlar - Yetenek Oyunları - Dövüş Oyunları - Aksiyon Macera Oyunları - Nişancılık Oyunları - Spor Oyunları - Yarış Oyunları - Zeka Hafıza Oyunları - oyun çocukta doğuştan gelen bir tabiat ve Allah'ın onda yarattığı bir içgüdüdür. Bunun temelinde çocuğun fiziksel gelişiminin mükemmel bir tarzda gelişimdirMotor Oyunları - Mario Oyunları - Savaş Oyunları - Strateji Taktik Oyunları - Yemek Pişirme Oyunları - Dekor Oyunları - Boyama Kitabı Oyunları - 3 Boyutlu Oyunlar - Hugo Oyunları - Sonic Oyunları - Webcam Oyunları - Peri Güzellik Oyunları - Battleon Oyunları - Süper Oyunlar - İlizyon Oyunları - Komik Oyunlar - Teletabi Oyunları - Giysi Giydirme oyunları - Makyaj yapma oyunları -çocuğun en özenli işidir. Yetişkin için iş ve kazanç ne ise onun için de oyun odur... Dış dünyanın kavranılması öğrenilmesi ve hayata hazırlanmanın en ... Kız oyunları - Çocuk Oyunları - işletme oyunları - varmısın yokmusun - Bebek Oyunları - Oyun - Animasyon - Oyun Oyna - Oyunlar - Oyun Cambazı - Bedava Oyunlar - motosiklet dergisi - animasyon - renkli toner tozları - fotokopi toneri - kartuş - toner - boş toner - boş kartuş - toner dram - toner chip - toner tozu - toner dolumu - kartuş dolumu - kartuş dolum malzemeleri - kartuş dolum makinesi - renkli toner dolumu - Bedava Oyun - Kral oyun
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    By Blogger cicicocuk, at 6:56 PM  

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