“Liberal” should be a good word. A “liberal education” is a deep, rigorous training in civilization’s best traditions. “Classical liberalism” is the sharply logical brand of libertarian philosophy that produced the Enlightenment and saturated the thinking of our Founding Fathers.
Of course, current political jargon has abused the term until it has devolved into a label for the wildest juvenile strains of leftist trends.
Two months ago, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet shocked the world with this scathing indictment of America’s self-righteous sheep mentality that had produced the hopelessly stagnant viewpoint that he was now ready to reject; in his own words, he was no longer a “brain dead liberal”: http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0811,why-i-am-no-longer-a-brain-dead-liberal,374064,1.html/full. In short, Mamet describes his intellectual graduation to a position of respecting free trade and individual liberty enough to champion that consistent set of political beliefs that let them safeguard our world.
Mamet’s brilliant essay reminded me of a similar piece I read a few years ago, also by a writer in a bastion of leftist sanctimony (San Francisco this time, rather than New York), who also confesses to having casually assented to the counter-culture’s mass indoctrination without scrutinizing it. The author details in crystalline clarity just how surreally hypocritical the left’s narrow-minded pontificating has become, and how he came to realize it: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/05/22/INGUNCQHKJ1.DTL
It’s become fashionable to complain about the “red state / blue state” polarizing of America, but I think it’s healthy. We need tension, and we need opposing views to keep us on our toes; but mostly, in a world where entropy has taken a firm hold and “things fall apart” faster than we ever could have imagined, it’s necessary to separate those who will stand up for what America has always truly been from those who will ignorantly plunge it into irreparable chaos.
I’m not saying that everybody in one party is good or that everybody in another party is bad–far from it!–but there is an ideology out there that is pretty popular and that has spelled doom for every society that has ever flirted with it.
So I’m glad these two smart men woke up. Both essays are worth your time, regardless of which side of the aisle you prefer to sit on. We’re always glad to welcome people over to the side of reason and responsibility. The world needs more classical liberals, or, in other words…conservatives.