Monday, July 02, 2007


Anyone who reads this blog (all three of you--bless you) knows I reside on the left side of the political spectrum. However, I have only once voted for a Democratic presidential candidate, and actually, once, voted for a Republican presidential candidate in a primary.

I can think of two reasons for this. First of all, I have a difficulty aligning myself with any movement. I can't ever seem to get all my values to line up with anyone else's. Heck, I can't even stay consistent with myself. For instance, I believe economically the free market is too free, but I also believe that education needs some free market principles to fulfill its promise.

Second, I have always had this nagging feeling that most liberals were a bunch of idiots. I believe in liberal/progressive principles, but I don't really like hanging out with most liberals. They're sanctimonious and childish. It was summed up satirically (and perfectly) in The Onion article "In College, I Marched Against Racism--and it Worked"

We came together from every area of study to make a statement. We marched with banners and signs and chanted slogans that made it clear to the entire campus that we, the young people, opposed racism in no uncertain terms. Several black people even showed up, which was awesome, and we all got our pictures in the college paper. The next morning—poof—racism, in all its insidious forms, was gone forever.

Doesn't that give you the inspiration to go out and fight for whatever you believe in?

It's amazing, when you think about it, how one small group of committed students, almost all of them underclassmen in a relatively sedate Midwestern college town, could make history. If you require proof, look around you: Today we have black congressmen, black TV news anchors, and even a black man running for president. Oprah is a billionaire, and rap music is more popular than ever.

You're welcome.

On a more serious note, Adbusters, a notorious liberal magazine, recently published an article titled "The American Left's Silly Victim Complex," which points out some of liberalisms most annoying elements--elements which suggest why many middle-class citizens vote Republican.
Bernie Sanders, the new Senator from Vermont and one of the few American politicians in history to have survived publicly admitting to being a socialist, agrees that this peculiar demographic schism is a fundamental problem for the American political opposition.

“Unfortunately, today, when you talk about the ‘American left,’” he says, “as often as not you’re talking about wealthy folks who are concerned about the environment (which is enormously important) who are concerned about women’s rights (which are enormously important) and who are concerned about gay rights (which are enormously important).

“But you’re not really referring to millions of workers who have lost their jobs because of disastrous trade agreements,” he says. “You’re not talking about waitresses who are working for four bucks an hour.” As often as not, he says, you’re talking about “sophisticated people who have money.”

In other words, the cheese-and-wine set.

The article also points out how, unlike the populists of the New Deal who fought for the average Joe, modern so-called populists don't really do much for the little guy.
Citibank gives money to Tom Daschle, Tom Daschle crafts the hideous Bankruptcy Bill, and suddenly the Midwestern union member who was laid off in the wake of Democrat-passed NAFTA can’t even declare bankruptcy to get out from the credit card debt he incurred in his unemployment. He will now probably suck eggs for the rest of his life, paying off credit card debt year after year at a snail’s pace while working as a non-union butcher in a Wal-Mart in Butte. Royally screwed twice by the Democratic Party he voted for, he will almost certainly decide to vote Republican the first time he opens up the door to find four pimply college students wearing I READ BANNED BOOKS t-shirts taking up a collection to agitate for dolphin-safe tuna.
Sounds a little like Lou Dobbs, I know.

In the end, the article points out how silly the American left has become.

What makes the American left silly? Things that in a vacuum should be logical impossibilities are frighteningly common in lefty political scenes. The word “oppression” escaping, for any reason, the mouths of kids whose parents are paying 20 grand for them to go to private colleges. Academics in Priuses using the word “Amerika.” Ebonics, Fanetiks, and other such insane institutional manifestations of white guilt. Combat berets. Combat berets in conjunction with designer coffees. Combat berets in conjunction with designer coffees consumed at leisure in between conversational comparisons of America to Nazi Germany.

We all know where this stuff comes from. Anyone who’s ever been to a lefty political meeting knows the deal – the problem is the “spirit of inclusiveness” stretched to the limits of absurdity. The post-sixties dogma that everyone’s viewpoint is legitimate, everyone‘s choice about anything (lifestyle, gender, ethnicity, even class) is valid, that’s now so totally ingrained that at every single meeting, every time some yutz gets up and starts rambling about anything, no matter how ridiculous, no one ever tells him to shut the fuck up. Next thing you know, you’ve got guys on stilts wearing mime makeup and Cat-in-the-Hat striped top-hats leading a half-million people at an anti-war rally. Why is that guy there? Because no one told him that war is a matter of life and death and that he should leave his fucking stilts at home.

This reminds me of a great joke about Evergreen College students (Evergreen is a notorious bastion of liberalism in Olympia, WA).

How do you frustrate an Evergreen student? Hide his Gold Card under the soap.

Sure, it's easy to pick on liberals. But is there any hope for a movement to counter the Orwellian tendencies of the modern American right? Yes, the article suggests. Remind yourself the 60s are over, and grow up. Stop fighting the Man--instead, look in the mirror and realize you ARE the Man, and start using the real power you have.

While it’s true that we’re still fighting against unjust wars and that there’s unfinished business on the fronts of women’s rights, civil rights, and environmental preservation, there’s no generational battle left for America’s rich kids to fight. In the sixties, college kids had to fight for their right to refuse to become bankers, soldiers, plastics executives or whatever other types of dreary establishment lifestyles their parents were demanding for them. And because they had to fight that fight, the interests of white college kids were briefly and felicitously aligned with the blacks and the migrant farm workers and the South Vietnamese, who were also victims of the same dug-in, inflexible political establishment. Long hair, tie-dye and the raised black fist all had the same general message – screw the establishment. It was a sort of Marxian perfect storm where even the children of the bourgeoisie could semi-realistically imagine themselves engaged in a class struggle.

But American college types don’t have to fight for shit anymore. Remember the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill album? Remember that song “Fight for Your Right to Party”? Well, people, that song was a joke. So was “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “And the Cradle Will Rock.” The only thing American college kids have left to fight for are the royalties for their myriad appearances in Girls Gone Wild videos. Which is why they look ridiculous parading around at peace protests in the guise of hapless victims and subjects of the Amerikan neo-Reich. Rich liberals protesting the establishment is absurd because they are the establishment; they’re just too embarrassed to admit it.

When they start embracing their position of privilege and taking responsibility for the power they already have – striving to be the leaders of society they actually are, instead of playing at being aggrieved subjects – they’ll come across as wise and patriotic citizens, not like the terminally adolescent buffoons trapped in a corny sixties daydream they often seem to be now. They’ll stop bringing puppets to marches and, more importantly, they’ll start doing more than march.

Read the entire article here.


Anonymous said...

I still read your blog, bitch. Since I do, and since this post is at least marginally directed at me and other Americans my age, I think I'm going to respond.
First, I completely agree with the general gist of both your comments and the statements of the article. It is somewhat ironic to me that this article was printed in Adbusters, which is itself a pretty style-over-substance, upper-class liberal mag, but that's another rant.
The main criticism I would make of this article is that it is about five years too late. If you get out of crazy-liberal cities like Seattle or San Francisco, much of young leftist America has stopped railing against the man, cut off our dreadlocks, ceremonially crushed our favorite bongs (we still keep a few rolling papers around, but we keep it hush-hush), and we've started getting around to doing shit. Put it this way, I vote for the Green Party, but hippies make me vomit a little in my mouth.
I've actually found myself cautiously optimistic lately about what college-aged people are doing in positive ways to bring about practical, sustainable change. I've seen more and more people in their early 20's in the past 3 years or so who are figuring out small, manageable ways they can do good things for the world, and it's frankly pretty inspiring. There are still enough liberal idiots out there to give cynical tirades like Adbusters' some credibility, but there are idiots everywhere along the political spectrum and nothing is ever going to change that. People are rallying around compelling new ideas like microcredit, sustainable development, social entrepreneurship, and web-based community partnering to forge ahead. One of the most irritating things about hippies is the God complex so many of them seem to have: they effortlessly divide the wheat from the chaff, separating the world into "good" ideas and "bad" ideas, and see themselves as the flawlessly altruistic purveyors of charity to the poor and downtrodden.
I think that there is a new breed of young activists emerging who distrust the very idea of charity, and who don't necessarily affiliate with any particular political ideology--it's a lot more personal. The fact of the matter is that you CAN actually do well for yourself while doing good for others. I just read this awesome story about a new company who is manufacturing these playground "merry-go-rounds" which pump up clean water from underground as kids use them. The water is stored in big tanks near the playground, and advertising space is sold on the tanks to make a profit. The company who designs the equipment is making money for themselves and having an incredibly positive impact on communities in Africa. Actually, the fact that they are making money allows them to do their job BETTER, because they can continue to improve their product and spread it further instead of relying on grants or donations.
I feel like there is an acceptance among young people right now that things like capitalism and globalization are basically here to stay and it's pointless to rage against machines as huge as these. This lack of passion for radical change can be kind of a downer as well, but ultimately I think that trading ideological purity for the ability to get shit done pragmatically is a pretty good bargain.
This is a long, rambling response and I don't feel like proofreading it, so let's just get together for coffee sometime in the next week or so! I just got back home last night, and I'll be around until July 31, so give me a call. In the meantime, you should check out these sites for an idea of what I'm talking about:,,,
Talk to you soon,

Eric said...


Thank you for pointing out that this article certainly does not describe all young progressives, just a certain kind in those liberal bastions that seem to get all the press because they do and say such silly things.

Your post brings to mind one of your former classmates who is leading the charge to bring sustainable biodiesel to market. Certainly, many young people ARE making a positive difference.

You point out how ironic that this article appeared in Adbusters. I hope this was a bracing tonic to its readers, who are exactly the type of Starbucks liberals who need to hear this.

I guess the whole point of this article is that photo-ops, chants, marches and good intentions don't do a thing to help the world. I'm hopeful knowing that many young people already know that.