Liberalism, the Left, and me

by Nathan Hamm on 9/2/2003

Liberalism, the Left, and me
Michael J. Totten has an excellent post (found via Beautiful Horizons)
that really captures how I feel about my relationship to my ideological
kin (I’m using that term extremely loosely here). He comments on the
images at antiwar.us. I agree, I find them pretty disgusting and at
their root, masturbatory. I honestly don’t think that this left is
really concerned with anything beyond making themselves feel like they
are part of an epic struggle that exists only in their mind. They are
so wrapped up in a world of fantasy and so convinced that they are
oppressed and helpless that being politically masturbatory is the only
way for them to feel powerful. I wish that I could find it, but there
was a newspaper story recently about protests in Philadelphia where the
organizer actually came out and said that the protests (which involved
blocking traffic – unless you are protesting automobiles, don’t block
traffic) were more about how they made the protesters feel about
themselves than anything else. Then why protest? If the protest isn’t
about getting a point across or achieving a political goal, what’s the
point? If protesting and making this kind of art is ultimately an act
of self-pleasure, is it still really political speech? I honestly think
that the growth of this type of “liberalism” is a dangerous thing. When
people start buying into political movements so disconnected from
reality, bad things happen (see: National Socialism, Islamism). I’m not
an alarmist, but the vocalism and growth of groups like New Jersey Solidarity
is a big clue that something ain’t quite right.
I truly think there is a struggle for the soul of Liberalism writ large
(the classical kind that includes most Republicans, Democrats, and I’m
certain all Libertarians) that is being lost because of the people
Michael is reacting to. Liberalism has undeservedly become a dirty word
that is less and less standing for a commitment to individual rights
and liberties and more for a nebulous post-modern world of group rights
and responsibilities. When it comes down to it, the latter are not
liberals in my book, and the only way to make that point clear is to
continue to draw attention to the illiberal tendencies of these groups.
Michael is absolutely right that a line must be drawn in the sand that
marks these leftists as beyond the pale. He’s right, attacking them is
not “doing Bush’s dirty work,” it’s having an honest open debate and
getting the liberal (writ small, the Democratic kind) house in order.
If the vocal anti-war left wants to be taken seriously needs to start
learning some of the hallmarks of liberalism, open debate and rational
discourse. I can understand people being opposed to the war, but they
also need to be coherent and honest for me to take them seriously. I’m
not going to close ranks for the sake of closing ranks – they don’t
help Democrats one bit, and in my opinion, it’s better to lose without
their hate than it is to win with it. I’ll stick with Liberalism,
liberalism, and my Democratic registration because I honestly believe
that this ideological streak (usually) represents the best alternative
in this country. I’ll also stick with it because I believe that what I
believe represents this vision best, and to do good service to it,
staying put and fighting off the barbarians at the gate is the right
thing to do.


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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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