One of our many, many problems is that the Left (Democrats, Progressives, Socialists, whatever you and I choose to call them) have appropriated the title “Liberal” for their political position. It’s a damned shame, because classically being a “liberal” would mean being in favor of that which is appropriate to a liberated human being – someone not a slave, whether to an external master or to the unrefined emotions of the undeveloped self.
I grew up generally hoping to be liberal in many ways, and became later a die-hard fan of liberal education, but the real thing – read widely, read everything, think about it carefully and discuss it with others to come to clarity and understanding. Try to overcome your own ignorance and sloth and habit. Liberate yourself from anything that controls you without your consent. It’s an unreachable ideal, but it’s the right goal.
I would not associate being a political Liberal (capital L to distinguish) with much, if any, of that.
Stuck in the 60s. That’s the problem with a lot of our radical left friends. They know something really good did actually come to pass back then, even though there was a lot of chaos. (I’m not speaking of the true revolutionaries, for whom the chaos was part of the good.) There was progress in race relations, particularly in consciousness across the nation and in legislation. There was a popular uprising against a war which was making less and less and less sense, and may have made very little sense to begin with. So, they want to be a part of something that big. The problem is that things have moved on. While some of the problems, such as racism, still exist, because they have always existed, in all parts of the planet, in all ages, they are not the same, and certainly not institutionalized as they were. So, there is progress.
But the desperate-to-be-part-of-it crowd can’t think of the new things to fight: things like actual energy independence (using everything), actual tolerance (the United States of Mind Your Own Business, as opposed to The United States of You Have to Approve of Everything I Do), actual education for creating civilized human beings (as opposed to mere schooling, or worse the propaganda that now occupies too much of our university class space).
So, they take anything that looks or sounds a bit like things from “the good old days” (selectively remembering) and run with it. What’s easier to understand than “cops out of control”, “racist white folks”? Easy to say. Easy to accuse. Easy to find like-minded folks willing to go along with any accusation.
It won’t be easy pulling out of this, but we can and must. It’s fine to think of what did come of the 1960s, but way more productive to think of how good we can make things by the 2060s, if we have real discussions, ask tough questions, insist on real answers, stop name-calling, stop race-baiting, stop confusing revenge with justice.
Like I said, not easy. Dennis Hopper’s character in some movie once told us that “when we get out of the 80s, the 90s are going to make the 60s look like the 50s”. Well, that’s what we wanted. And we didn’t get it. So, here we are, stuck in the 60s some of us, hungry for what we were hoping for in the 90s.
Think. Read. Talk. Discuss. Act. Respect. Love. Help. Prod. Meditate. Ponder. Muse. Consider. Work. Write. Do things. Do things. Do things. Just don’t keep doing the old things that we already see don’t work.