Monday, May 05, 2014

Liberalism and liberals

About once a day, I hear (or read) about the hypocrisy of liberals who are not accepting of other views or who don’t allow conservatives the rights guaranteed in the constitution or demonstrate a lack of compassion.  Most recently it was about Condi Rice and the shameful behavior at Rutgers University, a school that in 2011 had the performer known as “Snooki” Polizzi as an invited speaker.

However, in my opinion, there is no hypocrisy—liberals have never been open to the ideas of others or respected those they don’t consider part of their class.

In The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class by Fred Siegel (reviewed in First Things, June/July 2014) claims liberalism did not originate in progressivism, but instead began with a small group of intellectuals and writers, mostly based in Greenwich Village—H. L. Mencken, Sinclair Lewis, Lincoln Steffens, and Edmund Wilson.  Liberals “. . . had a quarrel with the industry, immigration and economic growth that had produced unprecedented prosperity in the United State.”  They developed a contempt for American culture and politics, and hostility toward the middle class, and in the 1930s many fell under the influence of Communism.

Reviewer Geoffrey Kabaservice in First Things says “Siegel makes some telling criticisms of the pre-World War II generations of left-leaning intellectuals.  They often were dismissive of the heritage and unique qualities of the United States, clueless about capitalism, too ready to see small business owners as a proto-fascist petty bourgeoisie, and too prone to thinking of big business as an oppressive force.” He was, however, critical of what he saw as many shortcomings in the book and thought Siegel “lacked objectivity.”

To me Siegel seems on target--like what Democrats (liberals, progressives, socialists, Communists) say about the middle class today, especially the Tea Party, conservatives and Republicans.

Liberals, Siegel says, love bureaucracy, don’t understand the people they claim to want to help, and expelled whites from the cities which they then bankrupted.

Michael Barone loved it. “From the dumbing down of education to extreme environmentalism, from anti-family poverty programs to free-speech curbs on campuses, the excesses of our times are laid out like the pieces of a puzzle. It is a clear-eyed vision of how we got to this troubled place.”

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