The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, February 17, 2005

New Republic gives liberalism the kiss-off

I've been a reader of TNR for the last six years. I appreciated the fact that they would present conservative viewpoints in their pages-- and not from kooks, but smart people who genuinely believed in what they preached. But over the last six months or so, I've become increasingly unsettled by what appear to be nothing more than calls for liberals to give up our struggle-- just give in, it would be so easy... They've long since aligned themselves with the DLC, and printed a truly embarrassing endorsement of Joe Lieberman during last years primaries.

I find their insistence that Democrats are shooting themselves in their collective feet by fighting against this administration. First, they continue to contest that Dean is some sort of anarchic madman, which simply isn't the case. He's quite moderate, but the right wing (and naturally the mainstream media) have given the public a different portrait. Second, the party isn't on its last legs. Kerry came mighty close to winning-- remarkable given that he ran an honest (if uninspired) campaign against the most ruthless and amoral political machine of many of our lifetimes. Third, liberalism isn't an outmoded concept. If this administration teaches us anything, it's the fragility of the "Open Society." Liberalism isn't about flashy ideas or sound bytes-- it's an endless struggle against the temptations of totalitarianism. Consider the example of Austria's universities prior to the Second World War (I won't go into that here-- look it up). If there's one thing that history teaches us, it's that we are always a hair's breadth away from savagery in the name of righteousness.

There's no excuse for TNR to be publishing articles of this sort. It parrots the speech of reactionaries, which includes attacks on the left founded on ad hominem attacks and appeals to emotion that aren't backed by facts. The contributors to the magazine are just as aware as we are that this administration lied their way into a war, that they employ populist rhetoric to disguise merciless policies that benefit the wealthy at the expense of the many, and that they will employ any tactic, no matter how dishonest, to maintain their grip on power. The New Republic of late has been heading down the road of pre-war Austria. It's this sort of appeasement that results in disaster. There's no point to coddling dictators or terrorists, as they state. That's exactly why we have to fight harder than ever-- imitating the foe is a disgraceful act of cowardice.

Among the articles other sins, it repeats the line that "liberals want to see disaster in Iraq." I've never seen any supporting evidence, although I don't doubt that some extremists feel that way. Potshots are taken at the blogs, without any reference point-- they're just bad, man. In fact, the blogs represent a massive mobilization of angry progressives determined to fight for their country. Did the New Republic report on electoral fraud? Did the New Republic expose the White House's paid propagandists? If liberalism is on the ropes, it's the work of people like Martin Peretz, whose response to the most corrupt administration of the last century is to make like Neville Chamberlain, and start kissing the enemy's ass. He can espuse his positive attitude about Iraq's future all he likes, but it doesn't change the fact that we lied our way into it, earned the enmity of the globe, created a new generation of terrorists.... and continue to watch the GOP try to cut veterans' benefits.

I'm awfully close to cancelling my subscription, in spite of the respect that I've had for New Republic's work over the years.