Does anyone else have this autonomic reaction? Every time I find myself discussing something with a liberal an involuntary shudder courses through my body. Oh, I don’t mean classic liberals or liberal in the sense of open minded. I mean contemporary political liberals.
Part of it is that liberals are genetically wired to be annoying. They might insist that it is not so much genetics as it is an inescapable result of their childhood. Counseling is, of course, recommended by other liberals…followed by mediation. Blaming others (parents come particularly to mind), and society in general, is encouraged. This will be preceded by general denial. Among the annoying aspects of the liberal demeanor is the utter inability to recognize how annoying they are.
Ever try to have a conversation with a liberal? You need a damn book on what you can and can’t say without drawing that “you jerk” look. Then there are the nuances that some things can be said in certain contexts but not in others, and some people can use certain words, but other people can’t. There must be volumes of footnotes I’m not aware of. You start off trying to make a point and end with a lecture on your verbiage rather than the substance of the discussion. Good God. Oops. Am I allowed to say “Good God” or is reference to the almighty verboten? Can I say verboten or is that an offensive term? Where did I put those footnotes?
But, enough of these pet peeves and on to the main thesis. The most annoying thing about liberals is that they’re not liberal. The one valid reason to tolerate liberals would be if they were, yes, liberal, and added progressive dialogue to the exchange of ideas. But, let’s be honest. Contemporary political liberals are among the most reactionary of thinkers.
“The term reactionary refers to viewpoints that seek to return to a previous state in a society.” Reactionary derives from the French reactionnaire. The French usage arose during the French Revolution and referred to “a movement toward the reversal of an existing tendency or state and a return to a previous condition of affairs.” Wikipedia definition, usage and history.
Once a derogatory reference to conservatives, the term now equally applies, and in the same pejorative sense, to 21st century American liberals, or self-misnamed progressives. Following the French Revolution and into the industrial revolution, “reactionary” was most commonly applied to those who sought a return to agrarian societies governed through monarchist structures with landed gentry, all in coordination with the dominating authority of the Church. The reactionaries failed to understand, or accept, fundamental and permanent social and economic changes that rendered wistful visions of a return to the past impractical.
In much the same vein contemporary liberals (I refuse to call them progressives because they are not) wistfully, and often inaccurately, reflect back on the successes of the 1930’s and/or 1960’s for future direction. It is noteworthy that the time frame from pre-French Revolution to the height of the industrial revolution is not much different than the time frame from pre-New Deal to the present. And, similarly dramatic social and economic shifts have taken place. I’ll use one example here, though there are many.
Liberals, blind to societal and economic shifts in the past half century, bemoan the movement of industrial jobs offshore and the decline of labor unions. Hear this. We have moved past the industrial age where smokestack industries provided our economic life blood and where trade unions were necessary to protect the rights, health and well being of industrial workers. Today’s America is based in service, information and technology. We are no longer the world’s smokestack. Nor will we be again.
The emergence of American affluence, combined with a consumer base that demands value priced luxuries, required that industrial sources move offshore. Demanding that business be regulated, taxed or otherwise coerced to return industrial jobs to our domestic shores is nonsense. Those corporations, if pushed to that brink, have the very real option of re-incorporating elsewhere, continuing to produce in cheap labor countries and leaving only a sales/marketing subsidiary on our soil. What they will not do, cannot do, is return industrial jobs to the United States where labor costs will price them out of the competitive market created by value driven consumer demand.
Just as the French reactionaries failed to recognize the progression from an agrarian to an industrial economic base, today’s liberals fail to recognize the movement of the American economic base. It is a natural progression that industrialization has given way to our current state and that our affluent society should acquire goods for our consumption from less affluent societies. Whatever you may think of the moral implications, it is simply a fact that exists and will not be reversed by the outdated democratic-socialist ideals of governmental intervention or union organizing.
There are dozens of similar examples where the liberal mindset is stuck in assumptions that were valid half a century ago but no longer hold true. To insist that yesterday’s truths are today’s truths is to spit into the wind of progress. It is the equivalent of listening to an oldies radio station and thinking that it represents current musical trends. Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger were great – in their time.
Liberals by now must be saying “No, it’s the conservatives who are reactionary.” So what’s your point? Conservatives are supposed to incorporate a reactionary element. Liberals are supposed to be the force driving a society forward. That’s the push-pull of progress. One force pushes forward, while another force pulls back and says not-so-fast. The result is cautious progress, something we Americans experienced through much of our history.
When a society has only two major forces, both of which are dominated by reactionary elements, there is no push to the push-pull of progress. We now face the extraordinary dynamic of one major force pulling us back and to the right and the other major force pulling us back and to the left. There is no progressive force pressing us forward.
[Author’s Note: Don’t fear. “Why Conservatives Make Me Crazy” is under construction. Stay tuned.]