How did mainstream liberals lose their direction (and cojones)?
September 18, 2011 2:16 PM Subscribe
[Distraught Progressive Filter] I need a postmortem on liberalism in the United States.
[Feel free not to agree with me regarding my fundamental assumptions about conservatism, but please take arguments to Talk or MeMail, and respect the point of this question. I'm interested in relevant answers, though they needn't be flattering ones. Thank you.]
Background: I've been reading about right wing politics; the psychological motivations (e.g. Fromm's Escape from Freedom, Blumenthal's Republican Gomorra, Zaitchik's Common Nonsense), the ideology which — for lack of a better term — informs the perspective (Ayn Rand, Hobbes, Schaeffer, Hayek, Adam Smith), and the think tanks which translate the dystopian philosophies into mainstream propaganda.
But it's difficult to draw a bead on the current state of things only studying one side's pathology. I have plenty of left-progressive texts in my library; while many of them can eschew the trite idealism of, say, stinking hippies, and provide systematic ideas, they remain impersonal and disinterested in the specifics of how the progressive mindset has evolved. It doesn't tell me anything about how the leftist mainstream got how it is today.
Bear with me (or stop reading), as I'm operating under the premise that something has gone deeply wrong with progressives/liberals/leftists/Democrats, in terms of their ability to clearly see and push a clear ideological framework; to stick to their convictions, and stop reflexively responding to every little twitch of reactionary bullflop chucked out by right wing PR flacks.
Coming finally to the question, how did this happen? How did we lose a firm, unshakable belief in human rights, labor, social issues, and start blindly making compromises that deign to acknowledge validity in bankrupt ideas we thought we defeated decades ago? I'm aware of Reagan and the rise of neoconservatism; what I don't know is what psychological circumstances lead us to what our views were, and how they easily degenerated into appeasement.
I want to read about the socio-psychological development of progressives, and how it's become such a strange, scatter-shot movement, with no clear purpose — at least over the aggregate of mainstream culture. I hope it goes without saying, but I'll dismiss anything by imbeciles like Beck, Coulter, Malkin, O'Reilly, et al. I'm looking for something much more nuanced and detailed.
Apologies for the broad request; it's the best I could describe it.