Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In case you wondered ...

... The “Christianist” Nightmare: It’s Just A Bad Dream | Via Meadia.

... what we are seeing is the continued triumph of individualism in American life — a force before which both the Christian Right and the Secular Left must bend. The Right sees the advance of individualism and fears that all is lost, that the socialists are about to take over; the Left sees the rise of libertarian individualism in economic life and policy and fears that this is part of an impending total triumph of the Right.


  1. He's right that it's not your grandpa's right wing anymore.

    But he's wrong that it's not worse.

    Hard not to see this as more of the delusional "we say it's true so it must be true" punditry that the far right is good at lately. Hard not to see that what he sees as a flood of new liberties is in fact only a dribble, and a dribble fought very hard to achieve, at that.

    The problem with the current strain of "libertarian individualism" is that it's not really self-consistent, therefore not really libertarian. They don't really want everyone to have equal liberty, and they don't really want smaller government, except for themselves. They're quite willing to ADD laws against things they don't like. Like gays. Like abortion. Etc. Hard not to see that as hypocrisy. Hard not to agree with Andrew Sullivan after all, therefore.

  2. Well, exactly which laws have been passed. The defense of marriage act was a bipartisan endeavor and don't ask, don't tell was a Democratic initiative. I'm with Mead on this, and I'm older than he is. And I've hearing this sort of thing for decades. It is also worth noting, as one commenter does, that the old South Mead refers to was the "solid" Democratic South.

  3. It's the continuous attempts to pass anti-gay laws, such as the resistance to DADT being allowed to lapse, or to repeal abortion, or repeal civil rights laws that do protect minorities and folks. It's the Patriot Act, which was a law that was passed that severely eroded many civil rights to privacy and redress of grievance. (And which hasn't really made us any safer.) It's the continuous rhetoric against equal rights for all persons. It's the continuous pushing of an ultra-conservative agenda that even their constituents don't want.

    The Tea Party is way more vocal, and ugly in their hate speech, than anything we've seen since around Ford's era. It IS about the same as the hate rhetoric during the 50s and 60s, yes, which at that time was anti-Black and anti-semitic. But then we had a few decades where wingnuts didn't feel empowered to speak out and push their regressive social agendas, which we now do. People nowadays like to mock political correctness, but in doing so they forget that it was a product of the civil rights movement, as was the end of apartheid in America.

    It's not ONLY about which laws have been passed. It's also about the climate of discourse, which is the nastiest in my memory (which goes back to Nixon). It's about the climate of discourse, too, in which extremists feel self-empowered to speak out all the more loudly—and it's pretty hard to deny that they don't dominate the political rhetoric at this time. People in the center, and even the center-right, are barely heard, and often overshadowed and ignored.

    Of course, the media is part of this: they provide the microphones. Since the media loves bread and circuses, and since the news cycle is so much shorter than it was 50 years ago, this is all exaggerated. Not even Mr. Mead can dispute that the changes in media have had no affect on the public discourse. And that the media is complicit with creating the climate of discourse.

    I think Mr. Mead makes some valid points, but he also is too complacent in the face of all this. He comes across as a bit of a Pollyanna here, to be blunt. Perhaps Mr. Sullivan is too hysterical, too quick to fear. But to be honest, as a person who has been under attack his whole life, as has Mr. Sullivan (who I often disagree with on other matters) just for being different, and who now sees those old attacks gathering new force, being complacent is less useful than being alert. In fact, being TOO complacent is dangerous. Patrick henry warned us about eternal vigilance being the price of liberty: he was referring to those forces that would seek to erode liberty; and the post-9/11 political discourse has done a lot of that.

  4. I have very little time at the moment, because we're heading to NYC tomorrow morning, but
    this, from Glenn, I think makes the point I have been trying to make. Will comment at greater length when I have the chance. We can always, my friend, agree to disagree.