Anybody see any difference between the soi disant “far left” and moderate liberals anymore? I don’t.
But has it always been that way? Perhaps.
Unions, entitlements, Big Bro Government, the whole shebang all goes back to the early 20th century and that means it goes back to communism. Originally, most of these atrocities were good ideas. Or at least worth trying, with some components of them worth keeping.
Workers were mistreated, underpaid and had few rights. People shouldn’t starve or sleep in the streets in America. There is a role for government.
Where it all went so wrong also was early on. Famous and influential Americans, such as educational innovator John Dewey, went on an elitist cruise to visit Soviet Russia in 1927. They were blown away by what seemed to be (and what they called) The Great Experiment. They didn’t realize they were being led by the hand to Potemkin villages and faked set-ups. Dewey, then 60, fell in love with a factory worker at one of these set-ups. She was 20 and was known as the Sweatshop Cinderella, by all accounts a gorgeous and vivacious redhead. Doubtful that was accidental or true love.
The mags of the day, many still around, like The Nation and The New Republic enthused unabashedly about the miracles they thought were being witnessed in Russia. The NYT reporter who had the Russian beat, Walter Duranty, knew of Stalin’s deliberate starvation in the Ukraine, but chose not to write about it for fear of losing his insider connection to Stalin. He even won a Pulitzer for his disingenuity. In ’47, writing for The Nation, Duranty defended Stalin’s show trials insisting that was just your-government-at-work-and-play, i.e., a necessary part of founding a new governmental system. Cracking eggs to make omlettes, don’t you know.
As time went by, and cracks in the surface of The Great Experiment started to show more vividly, and then got uglier and uglier, the left’s fantasists couldn’t stand the disappointment and began rationalizing about it all. That was an awesome undertaking, because they had to defend or blot out epidemics of mass starvation, gulags where hundreds of thousands of innocents were sent for no better reason than their ethnicities, then the Khrushchev Papers came out spelling it out for any fool to read, and in the 90s, after Russia’s collapse, the Venona Intercepts, showing that the Russian Big Bro was up to everything and more that they had been accussed of by conservatives who were laughed at by the press for saying so. Each time, a new and improved rationalization was cooked up. “This wasn’t the right kind of socialism, but socialism still works if done right,” was basically what they’d predictably say.
Now, a century later, they have so much invested in their lies and dissemblings, they can’t back out.
Unions served a purpose and anyway in the west we did them a lot better because we’re not totalitarians. But their time is past. Their job done. We no longer need them as society has changed to deal with those issues. And done so successfuly. But unions are still essentially modeled after the tactics of communist revolutionaries, hence the vitriol, the shaking of fists when speechifying, the occasional violence committed in the name of worker’s rights. We established Social Security. Maybe it works, maybe not, but it was worth trying. Same with Medicare and Medicaid. But you can’t run a business when you no longer can pay your bills. And that’s where all of this has taken us.
Time for a new paradigm, but it ain’t going to come from the left. They’re still hanging on for dear life, still bailing out their own BS, and still rationalizing like crazy.
However, if you want to read moderate liberals who make sense, the best two right now–and they’re actually better than most every commentator out there save Krauthammer, Will, Buchanan and a few more conservatives–are Walter Russell Mead and Joel Kotkin.
A word to conservatives everywhere: the comments section in all these online offerings, particularly Redstate, since it’s set up largely for that reason, is itself a new form of media. Consumer driven, self-educational, and who knows where it’s going since the sky is the limit. I suspect big places. And hey, it’s like the communist revolution, taking power away from the big players and redistributing it. This time for good reason.