"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The sane people
Over at Liberal Catnip, there is some pondering of when the term liberal became a perjorative and what the heck a progressive is. Go read that.

I think some of the reluctance of many on the left/progressive/liberal side of the political spectrum (or "sane people" as I like to call them) to identify as "liberals" has to do with the marginalization of so-called liberals in the 60s by the more committed people in the progressive movement who had nothing but disdain for what some "progressives" and right wingers still refer to as "chequebook liberals" - people who give money to causes but don't really do anything to support them.

(see Phil Ochs' "Love Me, I'm a Liberal" )

There are still lots of these people around, in fact the vast majority of the population is liberal in orientation, but not really committed to full-scale activism. How many people do you know that recycle, but drive gas-guzzling SUVs or deplore the flight of the manufacturing industry from North America, hate slavery and sweatshops, but love to buy cheap crap imported from China at Wal-Mart. I don't want to point any fingers, since almost everyone on the planet is a hypocrite -- we all compromise, it's really just a matter of degree. (You're reading this, so you probably own a computer - do you have any idea how bad building computers is for the environment, you tree-killing bastard?)

Also in the '80s it became widely known (thanks to the demise of the FCC's fairness doctrine and the rise of Rush Limbaugh, the original oxy(contin)moron) that all "Libruls" had three eyes, fangs, ate Christian babies, wanted to take everyone's guns away and set up a one-world government under the communist-dominated United Nations and worst of all wanted to keep good, red-blooded Amurikins from calling women "broads" or African-Americans "niggers" and spend all our tax-dollars to rename manholes "personholes" (-- all which is true by the way, didn't you get the memo?). The end of the fairness doctrine sped the rise of the loudmouthed yahoo nativist school of punditry. That, along with the return of the worship of wealth and conspicuous consumption that took off in the '80s, and the reactionary culture of victimhood ("Change is always for the worst, bring back the good old days! What do you mean we can't do anything we want?) is what made old conservatism new again. You can blame Ronald Reagan for that - I certainly do.

In Canada, since the Liberal Party has been the natural ruling party for so long, it is part of the establishment, something that became more evident than ever when the party swung to the right in the 80's and 90's. As a result, those more who are more activist, left-oriented and anti-establishment (NDP voters and so-called small L liberals) have often called themselves progressives to set themselves apart for those who backed the big-business-friendly Chretien and Martin governments.

Call them what you want - liberals, progressives, leftists, radicals, revolutionaries, anti-fascists, socialists, ratfink commie pinko bastards - I just think of them as my friends, the sane people.

1 comment:

Bazz said...

I actually had somebody arguing from the right call me a "bleeding heart" not long ago. I hadn't heard that for years, and felt vaguely complimented!