Wednesday, May 28, 2008

An Education From My Flirtation

My progressive friends are still celebrating my return from the libertarian wilderness. They're treating it as sort of a long bad dream. But I myself am grateful for that time of wandering. My flirtation with libertarianism taught me quite a lot. As I move forward on my journey through life, I am not exactly the same person I was before.

I learned, for one thing, that I can disagree with people on some issues, yet respect them very much. I never used to be very good at that. I tended to treat conservatives of every stripe (and yes, even liberal libertarians are conservatives) as enemies. They were bad people, as far as I was concerned -- except for my conservative friends, who were simply deluded.

Now, having really listened to them for a change, I understand that they have deeply-held convictions that make them think the way they do. I still think they're being hoodwinked by the Right Wing, but that doesn't mean they're nuts. I agree with them that there is much wrong on the Left today; we merely disagree about what should be done about it. They prefer to oppose everything about the Left, tarring everybody on that side with the same brush, while I choose to stay and work -- fight like hell, if necessary -- to turn progressivism back onto its proper course.

I choose this course of action because I also learned the consequences of picking up my marbles and leaving because things weren't going altogether my way. The American Left has been largely hijacked by whackjobs and unscrupulous opportunists -- people who either want to work out their personal problems on the political stage or hope to gain power and prestige by using progressivism as a cover. This cannot be improved by my leaving, which only makes things worse. If I were to exit forever, there would be one less reasonable and principled person and still more power for the whackjobs and the con artists.

There are a great many, these days, who fancy themselves conservatives not because they truly are (when you talk with them, you find out they're just disgruntled liberals), but because they've bought into the Right-Wing propaganda pronouncing liberalism dead. If progressive principles were as crazed and stupid as many people today seem to think they are, it never would have gained as much traction in society -- or made so many momentous changes -- as it has over the years. Truth be told, most of what now makes life worth living came about as a result of progressive values winning out over conservative ones.

Life would suck for me -- a woman, who also happens to be a lesbian -- if conservatives had their way. Almost everything I value has come about because progressives fought for it. And over the past few years, especially, it has become apparent that the Right Wing, especially the Republicans, want nothing short of my total destruction. I don't understand why these people hate me so much, but as I look around the country, at what they're trying to do to my life and the lives of those like me, I can no longer afford the luxury of thinking that they don't.

The libertarians are somewhat better, and seem to have real principles -- something that conservatives, in the late-Bush era, obviously do not. But they are so obsessed with government that they can't understand the threat global capitalism poses to decent human life everywhere. Once mega-corporations get the power of government, in effect, they BECOME governments unto themselves.

Oppression is oppression, and tyranny is tyranny. My foray into libertarian-land has left me stunned at their cluelessness about this very basic fact. Corporations now have the power to do to us what few governments, no matter how oppressive, have ever been able to accomplish by themselves. A hundred years ago, they called rapacious capitalists "robber barons" for good reason. They did something few of us any longer seem to have done -- studied history -- and they saw the ominous parallels between unbridled capitalism and the feudalism of the Dark Ages.

A final lesson I have learned, watching liberals become more and more demoralized and confused by the savage beating they've been taking from the Right Wing, is that today we need liberals more than ever. You miss them once they're gone -- no matter how tired of them you may have thought you were. We cannot presume that progress will continue. It can be undone -- and right now, the radical Right is trying its damnedest to do exactly that.

And so, onward and upward. Barack Obama must increase, and that charlatan Hillary Clinton must decrease. She MUST. If she is elected, it may indeed strike the final death-blow to all true progressivism in this country.

No wonder Rush Limbaugh is rooting her on...


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