How the L-Word Became a 4-Letter Word

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That declining fortune shows itself in the way in which liberals and conservatives react to being called, well, liberals and conservatives. The former have been insulted; the latter, complimented. People who hold few conservative beliefs nevertheless are eager to identify themselves with that word. People who most fervently toe the liberal line run from the liberal tag. It’s not the first time a descriptive political label has become an insult.

Karl Marx opted for the term “communist” as a means to separate himself from “socialist,” a word coined by the followers of Robert Owen. When Marx called himself a “socialist,” he often employed the modifier “scientific.” He prefixed the socialism of his rival prophets with “utopian.” This, despite the fact that while many of his rivals’ ideas were worked out on actual communes, such as Owen’s New Harmony, Marx devised his theories in the reading room of the British Museum. To the extreme Left, like their more moderate ideological cousins, classifications matter.

Yet, Mead is on to something when he challenges liberals to rethink ideas rather than labels. The fact that the principles underlying the name have come to mean the very opposite of liberal—free—suggest that such a reassessment is long overdue. The problem is that the term has become so thoroughly discredited as to sour Americans on any program or philosophy associated with it. It’s not merely that the term suggests hostility to freedom. Since the 1960s, liberalism has become, in a word, alienation—reflexive hostility toward the surrounding culture. This manifests itself in crusades on behalf of terror detainees, illegal immigrants, and garden-variety lawbreakers; the embrace of practices, such as homosexuality and abortion, offensive to Middle America; and a sneering contempt for the flag, guns, capitalism, pick-up trucks, and just about every other American cultural marker, both silly and substantive. There is an impulse to stand against what America stands for. One needn’t be all that perceptive to guess how such an outlook will play in America.

“American society must move beyond the increasingly dysfunctional and outdated ideas of 4.0 liberalism,” Mead writes. “Whatever was the case in the past, it just doesn’t work now.” Point granted. But why resuscitate a word tethered to “dysfunctional and outdated ideas”?

Can the L-word be saved? Probably not. It can, and will, be changed. The word may come back into style, a la the strange resurgence of “progressive.” But the principles behind the word won’t—at least not in this country.

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  • voted against carter

    Call them what you will, they are STILL PROGRESSIVE, LIBRAL, LEFTWING-NUT, LIBRATARD, DUMBOCRAT, A S S WIPES.

    • padraigcolman

      Could you provide a more polite definition of "liberal". I get it it that you detest them but it would be easier to fight them if we had a clearer definition of what they are.

  • GJT

    They are now moving to the No Labels moniker. Its easier to hide behind.

    • Stephen_Brady

      "No Labels" is a label. The term is self-referentially invalidating …

      • Karl

        There's ONLY one thing that makes us all the same, were all DIFFERENT, hence, a label.

  • BS77

    Did you see the liberal morons at NOW making a big fuss over Hooters restaurants, being "degrading to women"…..but not a PEEP about burqas, honor killings, FGM or the second class citizenship of women in the muz world….no, just more liberal silence.

  • MNWilliam

    Well written.

  • Gary from Jersey

    Mead is on to something when he challenges liberals to rethink ideas rather than labels. </>

    That's it in a nutshell. Liberals haven't had an original idea since WWll. They warm up some ancient feel-good bromide, play a guilt card then make a power grab. They then have no idea what to do with that power so they grab for more and demonize those who disagree.

    I have yet to meet a liberal who truly understands democracy, the Constitution or capitalism. Economics are lost on them, their arguments are juvenile emotional outburst of hate, suspicion and fantasy. They can't or won't think for themselves and fear and loathe anyone who challenges them even in the mildest way.

    Mead has a long wait if he thinks liberals can come close to meeting his challenge.

  • BeckNCall

    You can also find members of the LEFT here, I think this is their official club website: http://www.cpusa.org Here is a link if you care to join!

  • Fed_Republic

    Communism/Socialism Marches On!

    Hail to the hammer and sickle
    The fools retreat for the ignorant and fickle
    The long road to social slavery paved with blood
    The the tyranny of National Socialism the coming flood!

    Tell your friends and neighbors to come out of their MGMSM inculcated social stupor!

  • Fed_Republic

    Communism/Socialism Marches On!

    All hail the hammer and sickle
    A fools retreat for the ignorant and fickle!

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