Is the Left diverse? If so, how?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Doug, Oct 16, 2007.

  1. Doug
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    Doug Active Member

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    Anyone who is even slightly familiar with the conservative movement will know that it is extremely diverse, even fractured.

    Even if you leave out the pure libertarians altogether, there is hardly anything that all self-proclaimed conservatives can agree on.

    The neo-conservatives, the paleo-conservatives, the traditionalist conservatives, the National Review conservatives, the religious conservatives,
    the non-religious conservatives, small-government conservatives,
    big-government conservatives, staight conservatives, gay conservatives ... you name it, we got it.

    We fight like cats and dogs -- over almost any issue you care to name -- abortion, Islam, Iraq, immigration, gay marriage, Israel -- you can almost always find enough conservatives on both sides of the issue to have a ferocious debate.

    It actually doesn't bother us as much as you might think. In fact, some people think it's a source of strength. A broad church, and all that.

    Whatever may be the truth of that, from our side of the barricades, the liberal/Left movement looks remarkably homogeneous, compared to us.

    Yes, we know there are differences among liberals. The Nation is not the same as The New Republic. But we don't know much about them.

    Of course, from a long way off, the detail of a distant scene merges together.

    And political diversity is not necessarily a virtue. If liberals have few disagrements among themselves, perhaps this for the same reason that mathematicians have few disagreements among the selves: the Truth is self-evident, or at least, evident to those with a college education and pure heart.

    Various people on the Left -- and I don't even know if this general phrase, intending to encompass the mildest liberal and the furthest far Leftist imaginable -- in this Forum have objected to what they see as unwarrented generalizations about "liberals" or "the Left".

    Therefore, in the interests of mutual comprehension, I would like to invite the non-conservatives here to post examples of differences on the Left -- or their comments on the question of political diversity on the Left.

    Where do you disagree among each other?

    For the sake of clarity, I would propose that Democratic Party politicians, who, after all, have to get elected in a very conservative country, be exempt from consideration. We know that Hillary and Dennis Kucinich have disagreements. But there is reason to doubt that the former is really representative of the liberal movement, and in any case, the fact that Hillary must appeal to voters outside the liberal consensus must affect what she says.

    So, liberals and those further Left ... you have the floor!
     
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  2. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    This is the first post that has really caught my interest in a long time. Are these your original thoughts? Here's my 'conservative take' on several controversial issues:

    Abortion-I'm against in principle. I believe legality should be left up to the states. However, I'm neutral on 1. Physical health of the mother, it should be up to her. 2. Rape/Incest

    War in Iraq-I think it was necessary, not for oil or immediate physical security of the US, rather to insure the Middle East oil continues to flow until a replacement is found. We need a base to operate, SA was not working. A base in Iraq would allow the US to get tough on SA, check Iran, help protect Israel.

    Death Penalty-My views are evolving. I see the hypocrisy between pro-life on abortion and pro-death penalty. At the same time, I do believe there may be a deterrent effect on serious crime if the punishment were meted out fairly and more expeditiously.

    Health Care-I don't think that the state should be paying for those that can provide for themselves. Your choice to start your own business or not work at all, shouldn't make it obligatory on the rest of us to pay for your prostate, mammograms, or pap tests. However, I do not have a problem in some sort of umbrella for extraordinary costs, such as chemo or other high cost medical treatments. Dentist? Pay for it. Orthodontist? Pay for it. Basic physicals, pay for it.

    Immigration
    -I believe the strength of American is dependent on the diversity gained through the new immigrants. Immigrants though are legally entering, not through some illegal crossing or playing with visas. We need to defend and protect our borders.

    Taxes
    -On the federal level should only be applicable for those concerns that the states or local governments cannot provide, which are above those that the individual citizen cannot provide for themselves. In short, federal should be foreign affairs, borders of country, infrastructure between states, national defense, etc. States should be roads between entities within states, infrastructure between counties, election issues, licensing for state controlled careers, etc.

    I'm sure there's more, but that should be enough for now, as my phone keeps ringing. ;)
     
  3. midcan5
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    midcan5 liberal / progressive

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    I disagree with the premise of the piece above. It reminds me of the intellectual spin of some conservatives who don't really want to be conservatives, but liberal has such a bad name they are forever lost in the hocus pocus of right wing Madison avenue. It also is consistent with my view that the chief item for conservatives is their common foe liberals.

    And why do we need to be diverse? Since when is that a good thing in the conservative mind? See below. You don't know your conservatism if you think that. Actually I hate diversity crap as I think it is modern day political correctness gone haywire. More later.


    I wrote this several years ago in reply to a similar question. Only two paragraphs pasted.

    Am I a liberal because I was born that way. Is that it I sometimes wonder. I cannot imagine not being liberal, it would be impossible for me to say I am a conservative. How is it conservative came to mean something so alien in my mind. And yet liberal is so alien to other minds. It wasn't because we had a left wing Coulter, Savage, Rush, or Hannity bashing conservatives. I think there is a personality component to it. How you label it is difficult and prone to error but it constitutes a way of viewing life. There are a set of subjects that when mentioned can easily define where you stand in our political culture. Government, welfare, abortion, affirmative action, and taxes are among the chief ones.

    I will always be a liberal, I still get up each morning high on life - maybe it is biology. For me liberal will always mean progress, fairness, discovery, art, medicine, tolerance, science, hope, sharing, responsibility, it means being alive, it means taking a chance, and it means experiencing all of the complexity of life and facing it squarely and still enjoying it. It means once in a while saying, damn, I was wrong. It comes down to living ethically. Does conservative mean those things too, I'll let a conservative answer.



    Ten Conservative Principles by Russell Kirk

    "First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent.

    Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity. It is old custom that enables people to live together peaceably; the destroyers of custom demolish more than they know or desire. It is through convention—a word much abused in our time—that we contrive to avoid perpetual disputes about rights and duties: law at base is a body of conventions. Continuity is the means of linking generation to generation; it matters as much for society as it does for the individual; without it, life is meaningless. When successful revolutionaries have effaced old customs, derided old conventions, and broken the continuity of social institutions—why, presently they discover the necessity of establishing fresh customs, conventions, and continuity; but that process is painful and slow; and the new social order that eventually emerges may be much inferior to the old order that radicals overthrew in their zeal for the Earthly Paradise."

    debated here: http://www.fullpolitics.com/viewthread.php?tid=27469
     
  4. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    So little said, with so many words, not to mention a link!
     
  5. Doug
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    Doug Active Member

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    Kathianne: I didn't mean to start a discussion among conservatives about our beliefs -- or rather I didn't mean to start one here.

    But if that's the way the thread goes, let it be. I can supply a lot more interesting links to debates within the Right -- maybe I will do a separate thread for that.

    You ask if "these are your original thoughts" -- I am hesitant to give a blanket "yes" to that because I am not quite sure to what you refer by "these". The differences within the Right are well-known, and it is a widespread assumption on the Right that there are few corresponding differences on the Left. I think that assumption is true, but on other threads some of the Opposition have repeatedly challenged me about this so I thought I would ask them to enlighten me, and anyone else who is interested.

    I read a lot of political publications, both Left and Right. I subscribe to most of the sixty or so English-language conservative and libertarian journals, and to perhaps a dozen or so left-wing ones. (Yes, I know, evidence of a mis-spent life. But my money's my own and I have no other vices.)

    I get great intellectual stimulation from the continual debate and discussion within the Right. Not just arguments over current issues, but the examination of the foundations of conservative beliefs.

    There is very little of that on the Left, even though the Left has the lion's share of intellectuals in the world -- and more than the lion's share.

    On the Left, it appears that deviations from the Party Line, or even hesitant questionings of it, are dealt with according to an old Church attitude:error has no rights. Witness their response to Larry Summers' -- one of their own if ever there were one -- casual reference to the possibility of biologically-rooted differences between the sexes with respect to cognition.

    There are Left-oriented publications that are interesting to read because they are always taking a close look at the underbelly of capitalism, and conservatives must always be aware of that -- The Nation, In These Times, The Progressive. (You do get arguments here occasionally -- The Nation had a flurry of letters to the editor recently when it took a reflexively-liberal line on immigration; and of course they are arguing about which Democrat to support.)

    And there are generally Left or liberal publications which have a high intellectual standard and are must reads: The New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books top this list. But these journals range over a wide spectrum of topics, not just politics, and are mainly a platform for the best intellectuals the liberals have, rather than being specifically Left or liberal publications.

    Interestingly, you find the most interesting and serious debates within the liberal movement to be among those on its democratic socialist periphery (although not out among the totalitarians): Dissent and New Politics magazines have had interesting discussions on the war, for example.

    But all of them taken together cannot hold a candle to the disputes and discussion on the Right. Things like the debate between D'Souza and Spencer and Derbyshire on the nature of Islam, or between John Derbyshire and D'Souza on abortion ... just not there on the Left.

    Why this should be so, I cannot say. It certainly flies in the face of one's expectations: it's our side that are supposed to be anti-intellectual and authority-oriented and grounded in extra-rational beliefs.

    But as a matter of empirical fact it is not so. (Of course, maybe that's just my conservative bias. That's why I initiated this thread.)

    I should say that there is one spectacular exception to the Left's ideological conformity: although the horrible Postmodernists have a strong presence in Academia, their rule has not gone unchallenged by other Leftists -- Noam Chomsky dismisses them as vacuous for example -- and in the 1990s the "science wars" saw liberal scientists destroy the pretensions of the more nutty PoMos, who wanted to place the ideas of modern science on an equal plane with virtuous primitive savages. (Links on all these available if anyone is interested -- I don't wan to take the time to hunt them down and insert them here if they are of interest to no one.)

    I have my own theories as to why this is so, of course. But that's a different thread for another time.
     
  6. Doug
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    Doug Active Member

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    MidCan: You say
    You are quite right that the chief item for conservatives is their common foe liberals. The enemy of my enemy, and all that.

    And you ask "I disagree with the premise of the piece above ... why do we need to be diverse?"

    Did you read that part of my initial post, where I said:
    .The lack of response here, and your comment, suggest that the Left is not very diverse, and does not value diversity when it comes to politics, not even their own. (Well, I guess we knew that already, from the experience of young conservatives, and conservative speakers, on many American campuses, where the attempt to challenge the prevailing liberal orthodoxy is met with suppression from the administration and violence from leftist thugs.)
     
  7. midcan5
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    midcan5 liberal / progressive

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    I find it a great irony that Kathianne's views are completely consistent with every conservative I know and everyone who posts here. So then where is the diversity? There is none and this new phase of right wing propaganda is only a reaction today against the backlash the Right has brought on itself with so many failures under the republican party and this administration.
     
  8. midcan5
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    midcan5 liberal / progressive

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    to answer original post

    Describing liberal as diverse is like describing the sun as warm, it is the nature of liberalism to be diverse. Do you see a woman running for office as a republican? For the sake of this discussion I will lump all conservatives and republicans together. I do realize a few republicans, like our own Arlen Specter, do not fit the mold but they are exceptions. Ever see the young conservative republicans on cspan, they look like clones. During the two conventions even the audience displays the wide 'diversity' of the more liberal democratic party. The republicans look like Mitt Romney and Mona Charen cloned them. Tom Delay, Rick Santorum, and Kay Bailey Hutchison are the epitome of conservative for me.

    But maybe diversity isn't the word for liberals, I prefer Berlin's pluralism, diversity reminds me of corporate nonsense and Madison Avenue BS. We are by nature so diverse stressing that seems absurd. Each person is so different and each family so different I think we need to claim to be Americans first and from there recognize and respect the pluralistic society we live in.

    There are long lists of liberal accomplishments but few lists of liberal diversity, why? I think the real goal of liberalism is a respect for the individual and a attempt at social justice. As I noted above I disagree that conservatives are diverse as well and I have a long list of traits that define them. If someone were to twist my arm, liberals demonstrate diversity in every area you can think of but is that really relevant. More important we need to respect each other no matter how we differ. Again it brings me back to why this question forms a complaint - if we respect each other - we respect our commonality and ignore our differences.


    "Liberals demand that the social order should in principle be capable of explaining itself at the tribunal of each person's understanding." Jeremy Waldron
     
  9. midcan5
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    midcan5 liberal / progressive

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    I was reading, "The Big Con" by Jonathan Chait and on page 61 he notes the economic diversity of liberals and in particular democrats. He observes the fact liberals are pro business and pro labor as well as pro worker while conservatives are pro business only. This simplifies his argument but it demonstrates which group has complex diverse relationships. Another instance is Clinton's domestic agenda which annoyed the heck out of many liberals.

    But this debate was lost by the right when they even mentioned the word diverse.
     
  10. AllieBaba
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    AllieBaba BANNED

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    Hmmm..well, that's your take on it. I beg to differ with the comment "conservatives are pro business only." We are pro labor...provided it isn't forced upon a population by the government, and provided there's room for free enterprise, i.e., advancement. We aren't in favor of creating false jobs so a larger population can be employed, resulting in an expansion of government and incidentally adding to inflation and leading to recession.

    Conservatives are diverse within the party, which is evidenced by our presidential hopefuls. They are widely divergent; in fact so divergent it creates a problem for us as a whole.

    The libs, on the other hand, seem to embrace whole heartedly the same themes across the board. And you can see THAT evidenced not only in their candidates, but on this board. They voice the same opinions, they accept on faith certain liberal precepts (acceptance of social programs, the labeling and recognition of separate races/sexualities in the name of diversity and affirmative action, criticism of the state while implementing strategies to increase the bureacracy....)
     

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