And in extended form, almost how I'd put it today, from my first months of blogging.
“ ... you are against freedom of speech how can you call yourself a liberal ..."
I am the kind of leftist who has left behind the comfortable world of easily repeated ideas for the much more troubled and confusing world of real life. When I see inequality and preventable suffering and early death in real, living people and other beings it somehow seems more urgent to me than if a commercial opportunity is lost in a movie or book deal. NOT that I’m unconcerned about book burning or its more modern equivalent, it just isn’t my FIRST priority.
As stated in one of my early posts, I don’t even get to considering if fascists and Nazis are given every courtesy. I don’t wake in the night and worry that there is a liberal somewhere suppressing their freedom to advocate destroying other peoples’ freedom along with many lives. You can add the commercial lives of pornographers, pimps, stockbrokers, executives, board members, think tank dross, media whores and many others to the bottom of my list of concerns. Maybe there will be time to worry about their rights to publish their lies and junk once we’ve secured the non-commercial right to tell the truth effectively, in the mass media. That day isn’t coming anytime soon, though.
By the way, it might shock or even please you to know that I don’t advocate suppressing any kind of non-photographic depiction of even the most immoral sex act, provided no living beings or photographs are used in its production and the exhibition is to consenting adults only. It’s the use of people and animals I’m opposed to, not sexual stimulation, no matter how much it might disgust me. I won’t delay a letter supporting nutrition programs or barrier island protection to spend time defending the ‘artiste’s right of expression’ but I don’t advocate suppressing it either.
Writing this blog has forced me to think out and write out a lot of ideas that just went randomly through consideration before. It comes down to what is most important in real life and what will put the left in power. Many blogs are based in repetitions of the Liberal Code of Ethics, no one needs another one of those. We have been following The Code into failure for the greater part of a century. Time is short, we have to try new things. You’d think that would come naturally to liberals.
As leftists, as believers in equality, in the common good, as believers in democracy and liberty we need to act in the most effective ways possible for the good of living beings. Anything else is political pulp. Leftism, liberalism that puts more value on theories than it puts on real lives turns sour. Those kinds of liberals and leftists are the ones who get book deals, who get their faces on TV and their voices on radio. Their ideas are unchallenging and easily digested, much easier to take than real life. You’re more likely to get that from listening to a public health nurse or minimum wage sales clerk
In addition to a quick read or listen, the standard theories can provide a lifetime of intellectual diversion. Their alleged ideals can make you feel good about yourself as you sit in your middle class or higher level abode, far above the suffering mass of humanity who, good liberals regret, are suffering. The regret of the comfortable theorists doesn’t extend to regretting that they aren’t really going to do a damned thing about it if it means making themselves in the slightest bit unpopular among the gate keepers of progressive propriety and thus unmarketable.
Then there are the great liberal thinkers who turn out to be conservatives, most typically under the cover of theoretical revelation. They usually didn’t exhibit much concern for people without power or connections as leftists, being more interested in their intellectual tinker toys. It is too little noted how much better most of them do for themselves as conservatives. The rewards of apostasy are great.
Here I can answer another e-mailer a couple of months back, no, I’m not a contrarian. I don’t oppose ideas just to be a jerk, to preen in a pose of rugged individuality. I don’t want to have anything in common with Christopher Hitchens. And, please notice, I’m anonymous. There are exactly two other people who know who I am in real life and they’re not always impressed. They tell me.
I don’t care much for theory. Tried it, found it wanting, found its social milieu fraught with dishonesty. The ease and fun of rearranging ideas was a temptation when I was young but when I noticed the first intimations of mortality the urgency of actually leaving a better world for younger people eclipsed them. The left has had decades of failure chasing theories and purity. Until it puts real life before theory it will continue to fail.
There is a story that, settling in Southern California after having to flee the Nazis, Arnold Schoenberg was approached by a movie producer who had been told, with epic understatement, that he was a great composer. The producer wanted him to write music for a movie version of “The Good Earth”. While discussing the project the producer described the wife going in from the field, giving birth and then returning back to work. Schoenberg is reported to have said, “Who needs music at a time like that?” . The great ones know that life is more important than even the greatest art.