Sunday, January 29, 2006

Liberalism: The End of an Era

I've been thinking a lot lately about one of my favorite issues: the manipulation of terminology by the left. Read, for example, the following snippet from Saturday's Washington Post, obtained via Instapundit:

Democrats are getting an early glimpse of an intraparty rift that could complicate efforts to win back the White House: fiery liberals raising their voices on Web sites and in interest groups vs. elected officials trying to appeal to a much broader audience.

These activists -- spearheaded by battle-ready bloggers and making their influence felt through relentless e-mail campaigns -- have denounced what they regard as a flaccid Democratic response to the Supreme Court fight, President Bush's upcoming State of the Union address and the Iraq war. In every case, they have portrayed party leaders as gutless sellouts. . . .

"The bloggers and online donors represent an important resource for the party, but they are not representative of the majority you need to win elections," said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who advised Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. "The trick will be to harness their energy and their money without looking like you are a captive of the activist left."

The article, of course, is discussing the beehive busy antics of hatemongers like the Daily Kos and others. But note where HazZzmat has highlighted (boldface) terms in the quote above.

In the first paragraph, Kos and his ilk are referred to as "fiery liberals." In the second graf, they are now "activists." In the third graf, they have become the "activist left." Now, as any have decent journo knows, you have to vary your wording a bit to keep reader interest. But the above paragraphs also conceal something far subtler going on, and it's not always in the consciousness of the journalists who write such stuff.

Writers today, when describing the left or the right, invariably use two or three simple, derogatory terms to describe those to the right of them: "religious fundamentalists," "right wing extremists," "right wing Republicans." There are minor variants, but these are the faves. Since the negative terminology describing the right has become common currency among the journos, its use is a signal that the information following the moniker can automatically be derided or dismissed.

But what is imprecisely called "liberal" or "liberalism" these days is a vast pantheon of the post-Marxist left that contains numerous splinter groups, many of whom defy precise categorization, although you know them when you see them. "Liberal" at one time was actually a good word, and Wonker and many of his cohorts would have automatically used that word to describe themselves had they been discussing politics in, say, the 1940s or 1950s—perhaps even the early 1960s. A liberal at that time was concerned with civil rights, equality of opportunity, democracy for all, and, above all, a strong national defense. For this reason, it was not hard to sign on to that social and political program. Most of us agreed with it in toto.

Now, however, "liberalism" is the beneficial old tree behind which hide an incredible array of political muggers and hatemongers. Nearly all of them loosely affiliate with the Democratic Party which, today, they dominate by means of economic and propagandistic terror. Fact is, a significant majority of politically active "liberals" are, in fact not liberals at all, but members, fellow travelers, and propagandists of substantial remnants of the hard left. The term "liberal" has, in fact, become a convenient disguise for closet Marxists, collectivists, socialists, anarcho-syndicalists, social utopians, diehard "Popular Fronters," and Gramscian manipulators. It allows them to don the mantle of benevolence while secretly (and sometimes not so secretly) supporting a socialist world government that would replace all nation-states with something resembling, no doubt, the Workers' Paradise of Josef Stalin.

Once you realize this, you can grasp quickly that, numerically, there are no "liberals" in the Democratic Party, or at least very, very few. Extremists like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, for example, are not only very, very rich. They are elitists and socialists who intend to hang on to their riches while plundering such nest eggs as the rest of us have been able to acquire. Likewise other hatemongers in that party like Henry Waxman and the invincibly ignorant Maxine Waters. The rest of the party, by and large, either follows hard leftists such as these. Or they stay in the background, cowed by the force of these hard leftists, and deathly afraid of losing the money that runs them, and thus their next election.

The writer in the passage above somehow understands, deep down, these distinctions. But he either lacks the terminology, or the will, to avoid using the facile and essentially meaningless term "liberal" (or its twin, "activist," an approving word that is almost never used to describe someone of equal passion on the right) to describe the hatemonger wing of the party to which he doubtless belongs. The closest he can get is "fiery liberal." But wouldn't that have described Hubert Humphrey during his early (and forgotten) crusade for civil rights? The writer clearly knows that things have changed since, say, 1984, but doesn't bother to update his terminology.

Increasingly here at HazZzmat, we're going to start eliminating the term "liberal" from our blog entries because it is no longer even remotely accurate. It is now painfully obvious that a substantial majority of those hiding behind that term are, in fact, not liberals at all, but proponents of one or more belief systems united under the loose collective of hard leftists that was always there but which has coalesced more strongly since the fall of the Berlin Wall and since the start of the Bush II presidency.

For too long, the hard left has managed to obscure the political argument by hiding behind a traditional term, "liberal," that contains within it a considerable residue of good will that was well earned during the first half of the last century. But the term now, as it is used today, is fraudulent, lacking even a shred of its original meaning. We're going to do our best to get rid of it, and start telling things like they are.

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