Ichabod: the Departing of Former Glory
This is a picture of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president of the United States of America from 1933 to 1945. He led America through the hard years of the Great Depression, and then presided over America’s participation in World War II, at first through the Lend-Lease agreement with the Allies, and directly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
He was a Democrat. A left-winger.
I used to be a left-winger. If we think of the salient difference between the Left and the Right as being the position on economic policy, then one would think I got disappointed with the concept of the welfare state and inhaled some deep breaths of Adam Smith. That isn’t so. In fact, my position on economic policy is one of the things that changed least in my transition; the reasons for that had to do more with how the Left has strayed from its FDR days than with any internal changes in my own way of thinking.
Economically speaking, I’m not an ardent free-market advocate. Yes, I’m all for the free market, but then I have no aversion to the concept that the state should intervene, in a limited fashion, to set things straight when the Invisible Hand of the Marketplace turns intangible as well. I repudiate both the statist, completely-intervening economic position of Communism (the Far Left) and the no-holds-barred, unrestricted laissez-faire philosophy of Neoliberalism (the Far Right). In that, I engage happily in the amicable debate of the 1930’s between Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes: the former was no laissez-faire advocate, the latter no Communist, and their difference was on how best to enable economic prosperity. Keynes said the state should intervene, while Hayek said it was best left for more localized authorities to experiment with the best solution. In the 1930’s, FDR’s left-wing economic policies were Keynesian, not Communist, and in the 1950’s, the right-wing Eisenhower exercised government intervention in the economy that would have any laissez-faire advocate in fits. The debate was between two positions near the center, not between two extremes.
So I have no problem with a politician coming on a left-wing economic platform similar to FDR’s New Deal. In fact, what I have a problem with is that the Left itself seems to be no longer agitating for such a position. What do I mean? One word: Lamont.
Ned Lamont is the brightest hope of the Kossian Left today. His victory over Joe Lieberman in Connecticut was hailed as the beginning of the end for the Republican stranglehold over the USA, and Michael “Minutemen” Moore was only too eager to announce the internal purge.
This Lamont is a very rich man. Now, this is not a dealbreaker for a left-wing politician in and of itself, for it could be quite fitting for a “rags-to-riches” person to step up on the platform of “letting all people have an equal opportunity of building themselves up from scratch, just like I did”. Lamont, however, is rich from inherited wealth, from his rich great-grandfather, banker Thomas W. Lamont. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. The plight of the poor worker is something he has had absolutely no experience of.
So how did this man, made rich by the (and I’m echoing left-wing thought-patterns here) manifestly unjust factor of the luck of the draw, the birth lottery, become today’s Left bright new hope, overthrowing the hated Lieberman? No need to do any psychological analysis, for the Kossacks and Huffingposters have made no bones in revealing the reason: his anti-war position, in comparison to Lieberman’s backing of President Bush’s foreign policy.
No more talk about the plight of the worker—at least never without subordination to Bush-bashing. Gone is all the positive advocacy of state intervention for the sake of compensation where market forces cannot, and instead there are only rants about those “Rethuglicans lining their pockets with oil wars”. Today’s Left cannot keep separate the issues of foreign and economic policy—no socio-economic equality, they say, as long as the US is stuck in Iraq. The American Left is even worse than the Israeli Left in this regard, because, as I mentioned it from the end of a newspaper article about the Israeli Left, many of the latter have considered it wiser to step down from the issues of foreign policy and concentrate on domestic matters alone.
No more than the ACLU stands for civil liberties (suing to remove any minor display of the Ten Commandments on public buildings, while moving to the defense of Islamic halal food in public institutions—nice way to convince everyone that the initials really do stand for “Anti-Christian Litigation Union”) does today’s Left stand for its old ideals of the FDR and Truman days. The Left has always claimed to stand on the ideas of the 18th-century Enlightenment, but it has now openly relinquished them for a Machiavellian deal based around the maxim, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
If the legacy of the 18th-century Enlightenment consists of the idea that religion is a force for tyranny, then why does today’s Left side against two religions that have thrown off what theocratic excesses they had—Judaism and Christianity—with the one religion that has not undergone any reformation in that regard—Islam, the most tyrannous, supremacist, totalitarian and invasive religion on the planet? If the Left has always claimed to stand for women’s rights, then where are the left-wing feminists crying against female genital mutilation, rather than celebrating it as part of cultural diversity? Among the ones who cry “Racism!” loudest, and scream against “cultural imperialism”, where are the ones calling against a religion that demands that all nations abandon their native heritages in favor of an Arab one?
It seems to me the magnetic mountains of the alliance against a hated president (Bush), a hated set of values (those of the Bible) and a hated nation and its state (Israel) have gotten the Left’s compass—and, though not perfect, a quite upright one it was!—going berzerk. It started in the 1960’s, but now that all those hippie kids are grown (bodily) and in positions of power, especially in the world of academe, it’s become manifest. What was once confined to those long-haired weirdos protesting in the streets is now official even in the leadership of the Democratic Party.
And now the last of the glory is departed: ABC’s Path to 9/11.
For five years on end, today’s American Left has attempted to stall every anti-terrorism initiative on the grounds of protecting civil liberties. They warned of the government using terrorism as a pretext for extending the power of the state (some, admittedly still on the fringe, said that Bush orchestrated 9/11 for that explicit purpose, a la Palpatine of Star Wars). I have to say I was slightly sympathetic to those arguments: protect lives, yes, but not on expense of democracy, one of the real reasons why the Muslims hate us.
Until the reaction of the Left, including the Democratic Party itself and former president Clinton, to ABC’s docudrama: an unequivocal, with no self-doubt exercised, rush to cancel its airing. And not just by letters of protest, but by blackmail: threating to cut off ABC’s broadcasting licenses. “Rethuglicans”, eh?
So this last hint of left-wing glory from the FDR days, the idea of standing up to human freedom, including freedom of speech, which means freedom to say things people don’t want to hear, has petered out. No time for civil liberties when the aptitude of a former left-wing president is being questioned. No, we can’t be like the Republicans on Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, protesting but letting it be aired, or like the Republicans during World War II, setting aside whatever issues they had with the Democrats after Pearl Harbor. Nope, you see, we’re the New Left, not the Old.
Freedom of religion, equality of the sexes, civil liberties? Only when it suits. Tossed away when it doesn’t. And they don’t realize how similar to the Muslims they are that way.
In this view, the Euston Manifesto sounds like a desperate scream from Roosevelt’s grave, trying to stop his party’s downward spiral into the depths of hell—the hell of totally selling oneself out, all for a lentil stew of alliances with those who are diametrically opposed to everything FDR stood for.
I didn’t want to leave the Left. I still have a soft spot for a lot of its ideas. But they left FDR, so I couldn’t stay. The Right is by no means perfect, but at least it’s on the good side of history. And if you’re a left-winger who’s as disgusted by this turning away from FDR’s glory as I am, then all my writings against left-wingers don’t apply to you. Ichabod: the glory has departed (1 Samuel 14:3). But it can be restored, if only the Leftists remember where they came from.