Friday, March 18, 2005

More evidence of the chasm-sized niche waiting to be filled with a new idealism

In the Feb. 28th, 90th Anniversary edition of The New Republic, which claims to have introduced the term "liberalism" in the American sense, TNR editor-in-chief Martin Peretz has an article titled "Not Much Left," excerpts below:

"I think it was John Kenneth Gailbraith, speakng in the early 1980s, the high point of post-New Deal liberalism, who pronounced conservatism dead. Conservatism, he said, was "bookless," . . . without books, there are no ideas. . .

It is liberalism that is now bookless and dying. . . . Here and there, of course, a university personage appears to assert a small didactic point and proves it with a vast and intricate academic apparatus. In any case, it is the apparatus that is designed to persuade, not the idea.

Ask yourself: Who is a truly influential liberal mind in our culture? Whose ideas challenge and whose ideals inspire? Whose books and articles are read and passed around? There's no one, really. What's left is the laundry list: the catalogue of programs (some dubious, some not) that Republicans aren't funding, and the blogs, with their daily panic dose about how the Bush administration is ruining the country.

Europe is also making the disenchanting journey from social democracy . . . even in the morally self-satisfied Scandinavian and Low Countries, the assuring left-wing bromides are no longer believed. . . .

Liberals like to blame their political consultants. But then, if you depend on consultants for your motivating ideas, you are nowhere. So let's admit it: The liberals are themselves uninspired by a vision of the good society - a problem we didn't have 30 years ago. For several years, the liberal agenda has looked and sounded like little more than a bookkeeping exercise. We want to spend more, they less. . . .

(He goes on to chastise liberals for undermining their own moral credibility by supporting Al Sharpton, Fidel Castro, and the U.N.) . . .

It (the U.N.) is not a magnet for the good. It performs the magic of the wicked. It is corrupt, it is pompous, it is shackled to tyrants and cynics. It does not recognize a genocide when a genocide is seen and understood by all. Liberalism now needs to be liberated from many of its own illusions and delusions. Let's hope we still have the strength."

This, under a cover headline proclaiming "To Liberalism! Embattled . . . And Essential"

The malaise is very deep.


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