October 30, 2011


The Reactionary Left (MATTHEW CONTINETTI, 11/07/11, Weekly Standard)

That slight dizziness you're feeling is a contact high from the clouds of left-wing nostalgia in New York City and Washington. The anarchists, anti-globalization activists, student radicals, and sympathetic journalists gathered at Occupy Wall Street desperately are trying to recapture the protest spirit of the 1960s. Meanwhile, Democrats from Paul Krugman to Barack Obama pine for the economy of the 1950s, when the distribution of incomes was much more equal than today. At the same time, high unemployment, lackluster growth, and austerity have led these Democrats to attempt to restore the politics of the 1930s, pitting "economic royalists" against the downtrodden masses. We knew liberals believed in recycling, but this is getting ridiculous.

The very notion of a backward-looking left is laughable. Since its inception during the French Revolution, the left has been the party of progress, riding the wave of history to that distant shore where man will cast off the chains of society and live a truly authentic, free, and "natural" life. It's been the conservatives who have looked in the other direction, tapping the lefties on the shoulder and reminding them that faith and tradition are important guides to human action and shouldn't be cast off lightly. In contemporary America the equation has been reversed: Tea Party populists support drastic measures to revitalize the American government and economy, while left-wing class warriors want nothing more than to maintain the broken structures of the welfare state.

What happened to the American left's utopianism, its sense of adventure, its fearless derring-do? Today's liberals say conservatives are radicals who want to overturn the American political tradition (as liberals understand it). What remains of the liberal confidence in progress seems to be restricted to the culture, where Americans continue to perform occasional experiments of living. But even the cultural left seems withered, exhausted, ready to go to that big Oneida community in the sky. So what's a Rousseau to do?

Just as the Tea Party wishes to restore the First Way (well, other than their SS checks and Medicare), so too does the Left wish to restore the Second Way.  And their desperation is understandable when you look across the Anglosphere and realize that every successful politician/party is Third Way.  When Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are the progressives, what can the wings do but react hysterically.

Posted by at October 30, 2011 9:12 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus