[lit-ideas] Re: The Left Only Exists In Lawrence's Head

  • From: "Mike Geary" <atlas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2006 11:00:42 -0600

A leftist is a politically active liberal -- that's my distinction.  A leftist 
is one who tries to effect liberal values within a political system so that the 
system fosters those values.  Among those I would commonly describe as 
'leftist' are labor leaders, environmentalists, civil rights activists, those 
active in organizations like ACLU, Common Cause, Amnesty International, People 
for the American Way, NARAL, NOW, Planned Parenthood, Gay and Lesbian Alliance, 
Feminist Majority, so on and so forth.  Leftists are liberals trying to effect 
liberalism where it is weak or non-existent.  A leftist can become fascistic in 
his zeal to effect those values, just as a conservatives can become fascistic 
in their zeal -- but the fascism in such cases has nothing to do with 
liberalism or with conservatism, but only with the personality of a particular 
person.  I have described myself as a leftist and as a liberal.  I'm not so 
active now, so I think of myself more as a liberal -- a used-up leftist.  I 
think this distinction between Liberal and Leftist holds true for Conservative 
and Right Winger  (Rightist -- just doesn't have the right ring to it).  

Well, now, that didn't get us very far, did it?  So maybe what you're really 
asking is: What's the essential difference (no, I'm not an essentialist, except 
verbally) between a Liberal and a Conservative?  Funny you should ask, I've 
been dying to tell you.  First though, let's agree that both Liberals and 
Conservatives seek self-flourishing.  Liberals see community as the way wherein 
they can best flourish (that old need for one another type thingie) and so 
naturally support programs which further the well-being of community.  
Conservatives see community as detrimental to their flourishing (draining their 
personal resources and cramping their style) and so naturally oppose any 
programs that expand community.  Conservatives chant: "I've got mine, 
everything's fine."  Kinksy Liberals chant: 

"Father Christmas, give us some money
Don't mess around with those silly toys.
We'll beat you up if you don't hand it over
We want your bread so don't make us annoyed
Give all the toys to the little rich boys."

Yes, Virginia, there is good in big government. Conservatives believe in big 
government, too, but only to keep Kinksy liberals from beating them up.  I've 
never met a Conservative who believed you could spend too much on armaments.

Then, of course, there's all the other stuff that follows from believing in the 
fellowship of community -- like caring for one another etc.  Bleeding-heart 
stuff that conservatives hate so much, and the desire for peace that drives 
conservatives up the wall.  Liberals just can't handle Hobbesian truth, we have 
to hug one another like school girls.  You get the picture, I'm sure.

Hope this is of some help,
Mike Geary

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Brian 
  To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx 
  Sent: Friday, December 15, 2006 9:47 AM
  Subject: [lit-ideas] The Left Only Exists In Lawrence's Head

  I've been noticing the persistence of the list in using quotes about "the 
Left" and "Leftists" when Lawrence uses it and have seen it used to try and 
sidestep or ignore his points.  I see people saying that he has it all wrong 
but they don't provide much corrective and obviously take its pejorative as an 
affront.  But aren't there proud Leftists on the list?  Who here uses the word 
Leftist to describe themselves?

  Is liberal preferable and what would delineate the liberals from the 
Leftists?  I think that liberals and the Left have become indistinguishable and 
that forty years ago a liberal like JFK were for lowering taxes, using the 
military of the U.S. to fight evil, and believed the U.S. was the greatest 
nation in the world.  How many Leftists does that describe?  In Bernard 
Goldberg's Arrogance he talks about how liberals (in this case Manhattan media 
elites) don't even think of themselves as liberals but as realists (sound 
familiar?) and so don't use that word to label themselves.  They and all their 
friends and colleagues think much the same about abortion, guns, taxes, foreign 
policy, and the like and anyone who doesn't gets labeled as neoconservative, 
religious extremist, ultra-right winger, selfish, fundamentalist.

  Birmingham, AL

  On Dec 12, 2006, at 8:53 AM, Irene Cassidy wrote:

    Leftists the way you use it is tantamount to bogieman

  On Dec 14, 2006, at 11:54 AM, Mike Geary wrote:

    The most aggravating thing about Lawrence's accusation that the "Left" is 
anti-American is that he's right -- the "Left" is anti the America that the 
Right wants us to be

  On Dec 13, 2006, at 8:35 AM, Omar Kusturica wrote:

    It was the conservatives
    not "the Left"

  On Dec 13, 2006, at 11:53 PM, Andreas Ramos wrote:

    The "Leftists" didn't stop Bush

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