What’s On My Mind at the Moment
I’ve been having a hard time blogging lately. I seem to have tapered off without really meaning to stop. So, I’m going to try a little experiment for a few weeks and see if it helps. Everyday, I’m going to just try to write off the top of my head and see what comes out.
One of the things that I feel has been stopping me is the fact that my politics have been changing dramatically. This leaves me feeling very uncertain of my own positions. Writing about a position of which you are uncertain has a very fraught quality. I ask myself, “Do you really want to have to defend that position?” Then I stop. Making it even worse is that this change on my own part is happening during a period when people are clearly feeling very emotional. Frankly, I don’t say what I think because I have a fear of being attacked. Putting these things together, it means that I’m afraid that I’ll be attacked for questioning.
I’m put in mind of a comic I read by Howard Cruse a long time ago. In it, a character is told, “How dare you even think these things.” That is how I feel these days. Ironically, that comic is about growing up gay in a small town dominated by evangelical Christians. I say ironic, because admiring, reading, owning the comics of someone like Cruse almost perfectly exemplifies how well within the bosom of a certain type of left-leaning environment I used to be. The thing is, I still like Cruse’s work. His work is clearly meant to be political, and I still today agree with the points he made back in the eighties.
The problem for me is that the other people in that left-leaning environment have gone to a different place and I’m not following them.
Equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity. This is where the racial justice people are heading these days. Why the descendants of African slaves have lower outcomes in many areas than other people in the U.S., including other people of African descent who were not subject to slavery in the United States, is something I simply don’t know. It’s a puzzle to me and one I absolutely do not understand. (Fun fact: Nigerian-Americans have a “median household income well above the American average.”) We need to address the underlying reasons we are having an inequality of outcome, yet I don’t believe we fully understand what those underlying reasons are. Simply insisting on equality of outcome, some schools have cut back on disciplining violent students because black students are disciplined more often than whites.
To lower suspension rates, St. Paul tied principals’ bonuses to discipline stats. Suspensions are down, but assaults have explode by 62%. (Source)
In the long run, this will not work.
Liberals who are not radicals need to start speaking out. Things that can’t be sustained won’t be. The public will search for an answer and if the only answer to the weird alliance of radicals and globalists is given by the far right, people will turn to them. We need to develop a liberal, not radical, answer to these problems.
The other thing on my mind is Victor Davis Hanson’s piece today. He discusses a group of people, but since he doesn’t name any names it has a vague feel. He talks about people who were once Democrats who became Republicans during the Regan era. He refers to them as neoconservatives.
These so-called neoconservatives (“new conservatives”) grew tired of liberals’ perceived laxity about fighting the Cold War.
He then goes on to say:
Now, a few neoconservatives are reinventing themselves again and returning to the Democrats to support Hillary Clinton. We could call them “neoliberals.”
I would like to register an early objection to calling these people neoliberals. The word neoliberal has already been coined and it already has a meaning.
Neoliberalism was an idea developed in the post war period by Friedrich A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and several other thinkers like Milton Friedman.
Friedman advocated “the New Faith ” of neoliberalism as one that would avoid the failures of both collectivism and laissez-faire approaches…. The central point of the paper, made forcefully, was that both laissez-faire policies and collectivism had failed, a development that called for a new theory of liberalism – of neoliberalism… (Source: Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics.)
Not only has the word “neoliberalism” already been used, but it’s actually a really important intellectual tendency, whether you agree with it or not. We have enough difficulty talking about politics due to the fact that “liberalism” is often confounded with a variety highly illiberal political philosophies on the left. Neoconservatism is another strain of thought. It was highly influenced by Leo Strauss. Neoliberalism and neoconservatism are often confused, but they have distinct philosophies. Both have had a concrete effect on our current politics, therefore it is important to understand the difference between the two.
Daniel Stedman Jones book was very good, by the way. I found myself having a better respect for the ideas behind neoliberalism after reading it.
Anyway, my one hour has now turned into an hour and forty-five minutes. This is all very raw and I feel like I shouldn’t click “publish,” but I will go ahead and do it anyway and keep my fingers crossed.