Friday, February 18, 2005

Martin Peretz and the liberals: feeling vs. thinking

New Republic editor Peretz issues a wake-up call to fellow liberals today. He asks them to come up with some new ideas (the New Republic site is for subscribers only, so I linked to a site that has the text of the article for free).

I think Peretz is definitely on the right track here. But notice that Peretz doesn't seem to be able to come up with any new ideas himself. Of course, the article is already long enough as is, and maybe he's just in the position of the physician charged with making the diagnosis. He's not the one being asked to come up with the medicine and the cure.

But I think this coming-up-with-ideas thing is going to be difficult for liberals. They seem to have reached a point--and I hope I'm wrong about this--where they are more interested in feeling than thinking (like some clients I've known). Now, feelings are all very well and good, and we certainly need to have them, but nowadays it seems as though many liberals feel that, if their hearts are in the right place, that should be enough. Many (and I number among them some of my very best friends) feel the right is full of heartless Scrooges, so it's not all that necessary to counter the ideas on the right, it's just necessary to call people on the right nasty names (which isn't to say that there aren't some heartless Scrooges on the right--but it's a mistake to think they predominate).

The left needs to recognize that, slowly but surely, Bush and Co. have co-opted many of the ideas for which the left used to stand--such as, for example, freedom, liberty, the downfall of murderous tyrannical dictators, and equal opportunity for black people and for women. And, when the left opposes such things for transparent political reasons, as many of them have done in Iraq, and as many of them seemed to have done when they accused Condoleezza Rice of being Bush's female Stepin Fetchit, they lose the most important thing of all--they lose people's trust. Their hypocrisy is naked and exposed. And, after that, someone like me could find it very hard to trust them ever again, even when and if they finally do come up with some good ideas. I'm sure they have some good ideas even now, but those are being drowned out by the self-serving debunkers who never met an idea of Bush's they didn't hate.

UPDATE 2/20: Just noticed an upsurge in traffic. It seems the gracious Dr. Sanity has linked to this post. A sanitylanch? Welcome, and feel free to take a leisurely stroll around the blog.


At 9:04 PM, February 20, 2005, Blogger Dr. Sanity said...

Great post. I linked to it on my blog in a post called He feels it is true, therefore it is.

Hope you're enjoying blogging!

At 3:21 AM, February 22, 2005, Blogger VietPundit said...

Great post. I linked to this here.
I like your blog. Keep up the great work!

At 11:26 PM, August 21, 2005, Blogger Col. B. Bunny said...

I've long viewed the emphasis on feelings as an excuse not to think. It's an odd fact that Americans almost unanimously (Alzheimer patients and children under six excepted) will say, "I feel that Bush is the better man for president" or "I feel that we should pull out of Iraq."

This permits the speaker to back track should his or her views cause trouble. After all, it was only a feeling of mine, not a full blown actual, like, thought, you know. How could you hold me responsible for a mere feeling.

Lots and lots of us have this habit. Not just leftists, unfortunately.

We all just need to repeat to ourselves, "I feel with my fingertips; I think with my brain."

I think rightists are feared and disliked because they try to hold people to account for the denotation of their words.

Good blog.


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