Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Liberal opportunists

So far, I've known more or less what I want to say about everything I've mentioned in this blog. Not so in this case.

Via Common Dreams, here's an essay by Chris Hedges entitled "The World Liberal Opportunists Made." It uncompromisingly accuses people like me of being complicit in the transformation of this country into a corporate state. At best, we're useless. At worst, we're evil.
The lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, which looks set to make sweeping gains in the midterm elections, is the direct result of a collapse of liberalism. It is the product of bankrupt liberal institutions, including the press, the church, universities, labor unions, the arts and the Democratic Party. The legitimate rage being expressed by disenfranchised workers toward the college-educated liberal elite, who abetted or did nothing to halt the corporate assault on the poor and the working class of the last 30 years, is not misplaced. The liberal class is guilty. The liberal class, which continues to speak in the prim and obsolete language of policies and issues, refused to act. It failed to defend traditional liberal values during the long night of corporate assault in exchange for its position of privilege and comfort in the corporate state. The virulent right-wing backlash we now experience is an expression of the liberal class’ flagrant betrayal of the citizenry.
Strident? Yes. Denunciations are. That doesn't make them wrong (or right, for that matter).
The liberal class no longer holds within its ranks those who have the moral autonomy or physical courage to defy the power elite. The rebels, from Chomsky to Sheldon Wolin to Ralph Nader, have been marginalized, shut out of the national debate and expelled from liberal institutions. The liberal class lacks members with the vision and fortitude to challenge dominant free market ideologies. It offers no ideological alternatives. It remains bound to a Democratic Party that has betrayed every basic liberal principle including universal healthcare, an end to our permanent war economy, a robust system of public education, a vigorous defense of civil liberties, job creation, the right to unionize and welfare for the poor.
"Social justice" is a much-maligned term, but perhaps that's a reflection of how debased our politics and morality have become. We -- I -- assume there's no fair way to pay for such programs, but I haven't been listening to those agitating in their favor. Maybe the agitators know.

Hedges says the liberal elite have tried to have their cake and eat it too, mouthing feeble rhetoric while trying to hold onto their "privileged status." I don't have a privileged position within the corridors of power, but I agree my rhetoric has been feeble and it echoes the liberal political elite. I feel like Hedges nailed me.

And then again ... maybe my ambivalence, my confusion, just shows the old stereotype of the terminally and pointlessly guilt-ridden liberal to be accurate.

I don't know what to think.

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