The New (Conservative) Liberalism

JackassCharles Davis, on liberalism in America, and how it fails to provide systemic solutions to the problems faced in an increasingly conservative world. Via Al Jazeera:

Once upon a time — say, three years ago — your average Democrat appeared to care about issues of war and peace. When the man dropping the bombs spoke with an affected Texas twang, the moral and fiscal costs of empire were the subject of numerous protests and earnest panel discussions, the issue not just a banal matter of policy upon which reasonable people could disagree, but a matter of the nation’s very soul.

Then the guy in the White House changed.

Now, if the Democratic rank and file haven’t necessarily learned to love the bomb – though many certainly have — they have at least learned to stop worrying about it. Barack Obama may have dramatically expanded the war in Afghanistan, launched twice as many drone strikes in Pakistan as his predecessor and dropped women-and-children killing cluster bombs in Yemen, but peruse a liberal magazine or blog and you’re more likely to find a strongly worded denunciation of Rush Limbaugh than the president. War isn’t over, but one could be forgiven for thinking that it is.

Given the lamentable state of liberal affairs, Drift, a new book from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, is refreshing. Most left-of-centre pundits long ago relegated the issue of killing poor foreigners in unjustifiable wars of aggression to the status of a niche concern, somewhere between Mitt Romney’s family dog and the search results for “Santorum” in terms of national importance. So in that sense, it’s nice to see a prominent progressive at least trying to grapple with the evils of militarism and rise of the US empire. It’s just a shame the book isn’t very good…

Read more here

15 Comments on "The New (Conservative) Liberalism"

  1. Liam_McGonagle | Apr 20, 2012 at 12:01 pm |


    “What’s needed is not the same old tried-and-failed remedy of electoral politics but, as Martin Luther King Jr remarked during a speech on the war in Vietnam, a “genuine revolution of values”. ”

    You know, this is the underlying notion that’s been guiding a lot of the evolution in my thinking over the last couple of years.

    Before November 2010 I probably would have been even more “small c” conservative than Maddow.  But seeing the absolute clusterfuck O’bamba made of my one pet issue, moral taxation, was really a slap in the face.  Sick and disappointing that my “Saul on the road to Damascus” moment came as a result of something so relatively trivial, but there you have it.

    Nowadays I think I’m actually evolving into some type of anarchist.  Not in the sense that I don’t see the need for an administration, but in the sense that public affairs have to be more driven by a more free-form “revolution of values”.  Elected officials should be reduced to note-takers and order-followers, not leash-holders.

    • re: MLK…

      Black Americans tended to vote Republican for about 100 years between the Civil War and the Civil Rights Act. Only with the passage of the Civil Rights Act did black Americans begin to lean to the left. As LBJ infamously said upon signing the Civil Rights Bill into law, he’d have those niggers voting Democrat for the next 200 years. (See Kessler’s “Inside the White House” for citations)

      • when African-Americans were voting Republican, the Republican Party was the party of the left (sort-of). don’t confuse amorphis and nebulous party politics with the ideological/political leanings of a segment of its constituency.
        REAL black political leaders like Dr. King and Malcolm X may not have been Marxist-Leninists, but they were definitely REAL Left.

        • Jin The Ninja | Apr 20, 2012 at 9:33 pm |

           i completely agree, but within black nationalism there is revolutionary socialism. MLK was radicalising several years before his assisination (growing more critical of american imperialism and capitalism generally), and MX had been pretty radical since the beginning. not lennist to be sure, but MLK definitely embraced some marxist critique.

      • Somepeople | Apr 20, 2012 at 9:44 pm |


        Before reading your comment, I was starting to question the legitimacy
        of the numerous studies that link conservatism with low intelligence, but I can now safely say my faith in science has restored…thank

      • I’ve always wondered about people who have shit for brains. When they poo, do brains come out?

  2. Jesus Borg | Apr 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm |

    I think Obama becoming an utter failure to populist democracy is a good thing in a way, because it will cause people to get past these contrived P.R. personal narratives, constructed around these politicians and see the systemic problems they are meant to conceal.

    You know, like the idea that Bush is a cowboy. Really he was an East Coast blue blood frat boy, bird of a feather to John Kerry and the rest of the Ruling old money oligarchy. But lots of Americans’ drink beer and listen to country music and this was Bush’s constituency he wanted to appeal to. What always made me laugh are the Snippy east coats liberals that bought into it in the reverse because they don’t like rednecks.

    There is no reason to believe that Obama’s persona is  not also equally contrived and phony, right down to his adoption of modulating his voice like MLK in speeches (does Hawaii have a tradition of Southern Black orators?)

    So We could have a handicapped lesbian Half black half native American President in the White House and it wouldn’t mean anything. The only way she would get there is if she had proven herself to be compliant and submissive to the powerful interests that actually run things.

  3.  >liberalism in America, and how it fails to provide systemic solutions to
    the problems faced in an increasingly conservative world.

    (a) Modern American “liberals” are not liberal, they’re progressives/Marxists. “Liberal” originally meant something similar to modern “libertarianism.” But progressives stole the term “liberal” from the true liberals in the 1920s.

    (b) Because the world is imperfect, there are no systematic solutions to anything. The awareness of this reality is the main difference between leftists and conservatives. Leftists (broadly speaking) are utopianists, while conservatives (broadly speaking) regard the world as a flawed place where there are no perfect, systematic solutions and thus the solutions to most of life’s problems should be time-tested traditions unless there’s overwhelming evidence that a new solution is preferable to tradition.

    The remainder of Davis’s article is a joke. He claims that America has a “violence-worshipping culture,” yet he makes no mention of the ongoing massacre of thousands of Syrians by their government. Davis lives part-time in Nicaragua, yet he makes no mention of the roughly 15,000 natives that the Sandinistas killed in that nation only a few decades ago.

    • I didn’t realize Norwegion prisons had internet, Anders.

    • > He claims that America has a “violence-worshipping culture,” yet he
      makes no mention of the ongoing massacre of thousands of Syrians by
      their government.

      That’s not a contradiction, or even hypocritical.


      “He claims that America has a
      “violence-worshipping culture,” yet he makes no mention of the
      ongoing massacre of thousands of Syrians by their government.”

      Did you even read the article or just skim through it? The
      author is talking about Rachel Maddow’s book on the US, not about the conflict
      in Syria. Unless the author said that “America is the only violent
      country” or “Syria isn’t violent like America” then your point
      has no relevance what so ever. It’s about as asinine as me bringing up the Mongol
      horde next time someone talks about how awful the Soviets were during World War

    • as other posters have already eloquently responded to your half-arse “observations” i am free to indulge my low-brow inclinations… ice burn = dick burn.
      research and rationality are the antibiotic of choice in this situation

    • razzlebathbone | Apr 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm |

      Liberals: “The world sucks, so I’m going to try to make it suck a bit less.”

      Conservatives: “The world sucks, so I’m going to be a dick to everyone because it won’t make any difference anyway.”

  4. Liberalism is dead and buried in the US. Moderate thought is almost dead, and when it dies it will leave the right wing, and the extreme ultra conservative Jesus was a warlord Tea Party guns guns guns right wing.

  5. There has been an active war on Democrats. Attacking any criticism of Obama as somehow being a criticism of Liberalism or Progressivism and that the two were intertwined.
    Any criticism was immediately attacked as being a right wing troll, of being a conservative tool. An active focussed effort by the Obama political team, the Uncle Tom Obama political team. All of it an extension of the active attack on any centralist or left of central Democrat politicians, who were actively being replaced with blue dog democrats.
    It really seems like Obama played on his colour to hide the biggest betrayal of US Democrat political principles to date, a story of how hope and change became trapped in despair. So not a change in politics just a straight up betrayal by an Uncle Tom (nothing to do with colour all about betrayal).
    Obviously liberalism and progressivism will regain lost ground, it’s the nature of who they are and their inherent intellectual capabilities, they will simply learn from this lesson. Liberalism accepts that mistakes can be made, in fact they never can be completely avoided but the most important thing is to learn from them in order not to repeat them.

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