Liberals vs. Leftists

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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Jonah Goldberg has some things to say about the extinction of the Great American Liberal.

We talk a lot about fusionism on the right, but the real fusion has been on the left. Barack Obama’s intellectual lineage comes directly from the 1960s left (Ayers, Wright, Allinsky, Derrick Bell, SANE Freeze etc). But he is an altogether mainstream liberal today. To the extent mainstream liberals complain about Obama it is almost entirely about tactics and competence. When was the last time you heard a really serious ideological complaint about Obama from, say, EJ Dionne or the editorial board of the New York Times? I’ll go further. When was the last time you heard liberals have a really good, public, ideological fight about anything?

Liberals still exist, a few of them write to me now and again, but for all intents and purposes, they have become the “moderate Muslims”, you hear about them a lot, but when you listen to the voices, the only thing out there you hear is the left.

And the moderates remain in completely denial that they are owned by the radical left.

There are a handful of liberals who have cred and speak out, but these days they’re more likely to appear on FOX News.

What we used to identify as the liberal  camp is now the left. And beyond it is the far left.

So you have Hillary on the left and Elizabeth Warren on the far left.

The difference between the two now lies mainly in the level of invective and how immediate their proposals are. The left is still working through the system. The radical left wants revolution now.

The radical left is more likely to know theory and it compulsively attacks the left. But there’s not that much of a practical difference because the rate of change increased dramatically due to the internet and the Obama years. Far left gimmicks are being mainstreamed at a rapid pace. This forces the far left to look for even more radical gimmicks which are then also mainstreamed.

That’s why we’re suddenly discussing tranny rights.

There’s no end to this sort of thing and moderation has long since gone out the window. The liberal is dead. The leftist rules.

  • tagalog

    The classical, Burkean, liberals are all Republicans now. The lefties, who are all now collectivists (I’d say “reds,” but why be provocative?) say they’re not really liberals but in fact the same people who became the Dixiecrats and voted according to the myth of the “Southern Stragegy,” but in fact that’s propaganda and a lie; they’re the same people who will tell you that they didn’t leave the Democrat Party, the Democrat Party left them.

  • http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/ Jason P

    I wouldn’t say that social democratic ideology is dead. There’s John Rawls and others like him. Yes, there’s not many and it’s mostly academic. There’s little ideology (I prefer political philosophy) on the right as well. Libertarians have a few political philosophers.

    Americans are a pragmatic people that tend to shy away from big ideas. They prefer piecemeal measures and ad hoc movements. An integrated philosophy isn’t likely to appeal to many Americans. I can think of Ayn Rand, Ludwig von Mises, but I have to go back to John Locke to really get a classical liberal, i.e. libertarian, philosopher that has an integrated system.

    Trads (traditional conservatives) generally abhorred abstractions in favor of dispositions and prejudices (in a positive sense). Conservatives in that sense were opposed to systems and abstract concepts. Did Bill Buckley produce a philosophical magnum opus?

  • http://oldschooltwentysix.blogspot.com/ oldschooltwentysix

    Perhaps the masthead should be changed. It is the progressive, not liberal, mentality that has totalitarian potential.

  • JackSpratt

    Exactly, I quit calling them liberals years ago. Leftists, marxists, “progressives”, communists. The only liberal left is the Classical Liberal.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      Orwell gave us examples for these deceptions but didn’t often explain origins. Neo-liberals want the liberty of having the government take over their burdens. They have delusions about what liberty could look like after the revolution. Although lots of dupes haven’t thought it through that much. They just want “liberty from burdens” through government interventions (“recovering” that “stolen wealth” from “the rich”), not constitutional liberty.

  • zoomie

    i actually got around to reading rules for radicals not long ago. at the begining there was a dedication page. then there were three other short paragraphs, that can argueably not be considered dedications, athough that’s what they were. ( later on in the book he says it’s a good idea to not tell people want radicals are really after ).
    allinsky also dedicated his book to lucifer, aka satan.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    Liberals are conservatives. Liberals recognize that all progress comes from the private sector and that occasionally the government funds projects that exploit private sector innovations…and tries to take credit for that progress because they mustered enough OPM without completely wasting it.

    Neo-liberals are “progressives,” which is a euphemism for communists and socialists (virtually all “socialists” are communist dupes). Neo-liberals view progress as coming primarily from “centralization” or “massed capital.” Therefore progress through government is legitimate because it’s “democratic” and progress in the private sector is “imperialism.”

    Basically there is no left with the communists and their dupes. Unless you count some guy in a coma that used to be a classic liberal and can’t run from the DP due to his medical conditions.

    How can a classic liberal be any part of the neo-liberal prog crowd? That alone is strong evidence that this individual is in some kind of virtual coma even if you can’t spot the life support equipment.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    There are no liberals, except for GWB, John McCain, Karl Rove, Lindsey Graham, Bob Corker, etc., etc., etc. And on the left they like to call themselves “progressives”. However, there is nothing progressive about them, as they eat, sleep, speak, and exude nothing but Marxism, and Marxism in all of its various incarnations like clockwork always fails no matter what in time. Hence, I call them what they are “Marxist Totalitarians” because for all intents and purposes they are really Marxist totalitarians and no matter if they are Stalinists, Leninists, Maoists, or whatever.