Making “Socialist” a Dirty Word Again
I’ve put off writing this long enough.
Some weeks back while I was abroad St George posted a piece about Liberals “not of the Left” here at RS, which I’d written back in ’07. As far back as I can remember I’ve sent off an annual ceremonial email to Rush Limbaugh for his misuse of this term, reminding him that not all liberals are “of the Left.” Oh, well. We all know what he means, in a general sort of a way, and I was merely expressing my distress that many “good liberals” would never come over to our side as long as he was painting them with such a broad leftish brush. Words mean things, and I’ve been quoted by so many others.
In 2009 enter the meteoric rise to national prominence of Glenn Beck, since he moved over to Fox, for he has grabbed hold of that “progressive” word in much the way Limbaugh has “liberal”, as a shibboleth that somehow sets him apart…in this case, from Limbaugh.
Therein lies a problem.
Even before CPAC, when it was announced that Beck would be giving the keynote, I told Bernie, If he hits a home run with his use, and misuse, of “progressive”, expect the fur to fly. He did, it has, and just as I predicted, from Beck’s fans, some of whom are just as loyal, and blindered, as Limbaugh’s.
Last week a lady called Rush (I get to listen to his show more often than Glenn’s) to lambaste him about “going easy” on the Republican Party (who Glen infers are just as “progressive” as the Democrats). So, for a few days Rush dished it back in his inimitable way by having Snerdley blow a horn from to time to time to signal that he had to say something bad (gratuitously) about the GOP, thus mocking the Beck fans, for their pettiness. Get my drift, girls?
This is a staking out of turf, plain and simple, but it is getting perilously close to petty, a la Letterman and Leno. “The View” petty. It’s as if two gamblers were trying to set up competing high stakes poker tables at opposite ends of a cruise ship…losing sight that they were on the Titanic.
This is also childish, and if you have followed both as long as I have, you’ll know the potential danger that can arise here, over just two words, neither of which are correctly used. If Limbaugh’s and Beck’s armies start going at at it, and the Left is egging this on, imagine how the Tea Parties might be split.
Now inferentially, the logic of what Glenn Beck is teaching is that the GOP is “progressive”, just like the Democrats, and in George Corley Wallace’s words, “there ain’t a dime’s worth of difference between ’em.” He isn’t preaching third party, but he’s getting close to it….all to satisfy a distinctive characteristic that is as much professional vanity as it is a misguided sense of scholarship. (If Beck had called progressives “socialists” then I wouldn’t be writing this.) But neither would he have his argument that the Republicans and Democrats are closer to one another than they really are. He would have lost his singular position. (I have other issues with the trail of Mr Beck’s logic.)
Now Limbaugh understands the score on this point. I agree with his argument. He believes that Conservatives have to take back the Republican Party, while Beck seems to be saying Conservatives need to learn and know, and understand who they are, become more centered, then bring whoever will agree with them over to their side. To hell with the parties. (If you’ve ever wondered how the Second Century Church ever split up so quickly, you’re seeing it here.)
Ironically, while I think Limbaugh’s right on the strategy, I believe Glenn Beck is the only public person who can make that strategy happen, except, if you’ve noticed, they’re not on the same page. Why? It’s all really about “biznez”, and those two damned words, and not the “Wahr”. The poker game trumps the seaworthiness of the ship.
So, this is where I get a little irate, and I go over and get my little Commie cap with the Red Star, and wonder how the Enemy might be seeing this turf war develop, and how they might want to help it along.
Now, I’m older than both those guys, and quite frankly am more experienced in many ways (other than broadcasting), e.g., I once shot a good stick of golf (better than Rush, around 8), and have been thrown out of more saloons than Beck, slept on a pool table, been to two state fairs, been drug through a bush backwards, and can tell a horse from a mule…which means I can for sure as hell tell a Republican from a Democrat, Mr Beck. In fact, both get on my nerves at times, but then again, I never liked Hawkeye Pierce, either, but watched that show anyway.
But see, that’s the test we all have to confront here everyday on RedState…having to dig deep to agree with someone we probably wouldn’t like if we knew them in real life. For you see, those two men are one-man armies that are indispensable to this fight, each in his own way. But much like Hamilton and Jefferson, they have to keep their respective “petty differences” and the sauciness of their devotees, at bay. Resume the fight after the war.
I just wish they were a two-man army instead.
For you see, in like manner as Limbaugh’s “liberals”, there have always been throughout modern history progressives, who also were “not of the Left”. Limbaugh uses “liberal” colloguially to express many things that are defined differently, but Beck attempts to use “progressivism” as a precisely-defined scholarly term to define many different things cultural having nothing to do with the political aspirations of “progressivism”, as if they were the same. In many ways, his misuse of the word is more dangerous, precisely because it leads one off into a direction of third party, or a non-party, and it omits the historical notion that the ground he claims for conservatism has already been staked out, a flag planted, and that banner is the Republican Party. The GOP is the natural home of liberty and conservatism. It’s our brand. Why go searching for a new plot of ground?
To put progressivism in the proper context of American history I suggest Mr Beck go back to the founding of the GOP in 1856 and the writings of even lesser known political philosophers such as George William Curtis, for it was their ideals that held sway in America from the Civil War forward to the beginning of intellectual progressivism around 1900-1910. And it was the risen “common man” who defined that era, especially amidst those great waves of foreign immigration. It was the “American Doctrine of Liberty”, and those teeming millions coming through Ellis Island, seeking to be free, more than the Founder’s vision, that confronted the progressive vision in 1900.
Besides, and I know I’m beating a dead horse here, why use “liberal” when you know there are liberals not of the Left, or use “progressive”, when you know there are progressives not of the Left…while you also know there are no socialists who are not of the Left, nor any Marxists, fascists, Nazis, Communists, also who are not of the Left?
For want of nail, the shoe was lost…..(Ben Franklin)
To be “of the Left” you have to have an added ingredient, a teaspoon, maybe, a tablespoon, I’m not sure, but that ingredient isn’t stupidity, or good intentions, or guilt. But simply being for “big government”, or adhering to a body of knowledge and political customs we here call big-city or up-east (blue state), or RINO, but which has been around since their grandfathers were in knee pants, does not make one a man of the Left. What it does is make one “not a conservative”. The Constitution itself does not paint its citizens with such bold, broad strokes. It understands you are “for it” and it understands you are “against it”. But most of all it understands the far larger group, “don’t know that much about it”. That was always the contest….educating them and bringing them over…and our side seems to be losing.
Using Mitch McConnell as a foil, I’m on record here as wanting him gone. Not just from GOP leadership, but the Senate. But I want him replaced by a conservative, not a “Louavul Leftie”. And since Blue Dogs have proved how well “conservative-to-moderate” Democrats are allowed to behave in Congress, I want him or her wearing a big R- in front of their name, not a D-. Sorry, Glenn, that’s how I see it. Even the Maine Blueberries are more apt to vote the Big R than Blue Dogs are the Little C.
Limbaugh knows McConnell, and likes him, and holds back his most strident language for people he genuinely doesn’t like, such as M’Cain. (Just because of an annual black-tie cigar smoke with Arnold every year, it’s taken Limbaugh longer than most to finally see through the fakery of California’s second most famous actor-governor. ) Limbaugh’s weakness is the politics of friendship…which only means he’s neither a Trotsky nor a Cromwell. He’s human. He still criticizes McConnell, but he is absolutely correct in drawing daily distinctions between the GOP, who are gelded big-government “moderates” (dare I use that word?) and the bulk of the Democrats, who, in one form or another, are dedicated “socialists, of the Left.”
Beck really doesn’t make those distinctions, and again, in order to stake out his own professional ground, seems to argue against these distinctions even being made.
But Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck are indispensable to the conservative movement, and the conservative movement is just about all that stands between the greatest experiment in human freedom since the beginning of time, and abject tyranny. The stakes cannot get any higher. It’s from this observation that I make this little criticism.
I’m not a pedant or prig, but a pragmatist….and this is war in which we cannot go off spitting over lines drawn in the dirt. Hamilton, Jefferson and Adams overcame this, dammit! Limbaugh has staked out his turf as that of analyst. He’s the best there is. But he is also “planned for” by the Left. While I rely on his opinions about events, he really isn’t kicking the war forward, as Nimitz did, from the Solomons, to Tarawa, to Iwo Jima, and onward to Okinawa.
Glenn Beck, on the other hand, is un-planned for, (although he’s beginning to telegraph a little) and possibly the most important general in this war, short of Aragorn suddenly showing up after his walk through the Paths of the Dead. So far, he still seems to be able to stay a step ahead of the Left.
Three times now I have asked these guys to sit down and stake out “areas of responsibility” and sign some sort of mutual non-aggression pact. (Bad choice of words, huh?) Let Levine and Judge Napolitano draw up the papers. But they won’t, even though AH, TJ and JH did.
In my own garrulous way, I’ve just given you 2000 words of preface, just to say that we really need to make “socialism” and other words dirty again. If Limbaugh and Beck were more caring for their misuse of what have become very important words, we wouldn’t be talking about this sideshow….for as I write this…
…Recent polls show up to a third of the people aren’t too bothered by the word “socialist” or even by being called that name. But since polls also show that 80% of college students (and probably the media) would fail (below 60%) a standard 9th grade civics exam…it’s also clear most of them don’t know what that word “socialist” even means, or the implications of what it means. (Design or accident? Gimme a break.)
In other words, kids today, and for at least thirty years, haven’t been taught anything about the fundamental principles of our system of government; it history, its heroes, and its wonderfulness, and certainly nothing about the enemies of these things.
They aren’t being taught…which in sum, allows both Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck to pervert the language and possibly split the armies of conservatism…over a damned nail for a horseshoe.
Then consider that home schooling, while helping, isn’t helping enough, by a long shot. First, kids learn best when they share the wonderment of a thing with their peers. Just take your 8 year old to see E.T. alone, and take him with six or seven other kids, then observe the differences; in wonder, in passion, in enjoyment. Paul Revere’s Ride is no different. Washington’s crossing of the Delaware is no different.
Author’s message, Author’s message, Author’s message
We’re asking home-schoolers to consider having night courses for classrooms of 15-20 kids, in the 4th, 6th-7th grade, then again in the 11th-12th grade as information becomes more sophistication. This requires organization, it requires planning and it requires commitment.
We’ve written often about winning the politics, taking back the institutions, and the culture, but not necessarily in that order. Here you/we must take back the culture now, in the words of Latin smugglers, in the “informal economy” of ideas and education.