Douthat: Liberal Gloating Misses Societal Decline

Ross Douthat has a thought-provoking column in the New York Times. He notes that liberals are engaged in the time-honored practice of post-electoral gloating. He points out that their smug pleasure about how they’ve “won the future” might be misguided:

Maybe it’s too soon to pierce this cloud of postelection smugness. But in the spirit of friendly correction — or…

  1. Guruforhire

    It doesn’t really matter why does it?  Whether its dishonest people acting poorly, or our failure to keep honest people honest, is immaterial.  We have legitimized barbarism.  It is a legitimate choice now to consider our neighbors as the vehicle to one’s social absolution, and to consider our neighbors the vehicle that we lessen the impact of the cruel hand of fate.

    Once they have accepted that your neighbor’s life is yours to exploit, how do you convince them that “no, I am sorry about your extremity, or that you find poor people smelly and would rather not get close enough to them to help them or maybe be made to feel uncomfortable by their suffering, your neighbor is not yours to do with as you will.”

    At this point they have accepted and made peace with being barbarians too lazy or fat to loot my house and then sack it honestly.  I can respect trying to loot my house and sack it one’s self, at least then nobody is trying to pretend its moral.

  2. The Mugwump

    Douthat has it exactly right.  The Democrats are inheriting a collapsing society, and with it a collapsing economy.  They assume that their re-distributive policies will always find a source of income.  They fail to see that any system can be overloaded to the breaking point.  The only question left to answer is whether these policies are based on foolish ignorance, or deliberate malice.   

  3. SunnyOptimism

    Mr. Douthat assumption is that the Left and Progressives actually care about seeing the middle class expand.  I would argue that the Left & Progressives don’t care about the middle class at all.  What they care about is “progress” or, more cynically, the absolute power to achieve progress.

    So, in terms of middle class values, ie, stable families, unwed mothers, faith, transfer payments, etc., I don’t think they really care at all about those issues.  In fact, fractured social groups are better for them because it allows them to create an ever-greater number of “interest groups” to pander to and extract votes from.

  4. Mollie Hemingway
    SunnyOptimism: Mr. Douthat assumption is that the Left and Progressives actually care about seeing the middle class expand.  I would argue that the Left & Progressives don’t care about the middle class at all.  What they care about is “progress” or, more cynically, the absolute power to achieve progress.

    So, in terms of middle class values, ie, stable families, unwed mothers, faith, transfer payments, etc., I don’t think they really care at all about those issues.  In fact, fractured social groups are better for them because it allows them to create an ever-greater number of “interest groups” to pander to and extract votes from. · 1 minute ago

    I am not sure whether those are their motivating issues either, but a read through the comments is most instructional. It’s a bit of a “two different worlds’ thing, but it helps to understand what motivated them.

  5. Pseudodionysius

    If you’ll read through the comments you’ll see the nub of the argument that Conservatives have to make. A conservative (or social conservative, I suppose) believes that the breakdown of the family leads to rapidly increasing inequality and a dependency class, to harken back to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s work on the destruction of the black family.

    The Liberal-Progressivist-Leftie (take your pick) dogma is that plutocrats cause the breakdown of the family and that Progressivists are just undoing the damage that Thurston Howell III and his merry band of Rockefellers have unleashed (all while twirling their snidley whiplash moustaches).

  6. Pseudodionysius
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    SunnyOptimism: Mr. Douthat assumption is that the Left and Progressives actually care about seeing the middle class expand.  I would argue that the Left & Progressives don’t care about the middle class at all.  What they care about is “progress” or, more cynically, the absolute power to achieve progress.

    So, in terms of middle class values, ie, stable families, unwed mothers, faith, transfer payments, etc., I don’t think they really care at all about those issues.  In fact, fractured social groups are better for them because it allows them to create an ever-greater number of “interest groups” to pander to and extract votes from. · 1 minute ago

    I am not sure whether those are their motivating issues either, but a read through the comments is most instructional. It’s a bit of a “two different worlds’ thing, but it helps to understand what motivated them. · 4 minutes ago

    Agreed. The comments are very instructive. 

  7. SunnyOptimism
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    SunnyOptimism: Mr. Douthat assumption is that the Left and Progressives actually care about seeing the middle class expand.  I would argue that the Left & Progressives don’t care about the middle class at all.  What they care about is “progress” or, more cynically, the absolute power to achieve progress.

    I am not sure whether those are their motivating issues either, but a read through the comments is most instructional. It’s a bit of a “two different worlds’ thing, but it helps to understand what motivated them. · 1 minute ago

    Hi Mollie,

    I did actually read the entire article and many of the comments over the weekend.  I was also struck by how “offended” many were by Douthat’s exposure of the inherent flaw in the liberal ideology.   Liberals scream like stuck pigs anytime anyone talks about reforming our system of transfer payments or you get slandered as a “hater” or “neanderthal” if you talk openly about the deeper societal and family issues.  And yet, there is no urgency to fix the underlying problems with Lefties, only a desire to heap more “progress” on top of all the old “progress” that has completely failed…

  8. Owl of Minerva

    While we’re reading through the comments, can we all agree that Sandy Lynn is either a hilarious spoof of a NYT reader or the worst kind of person?

  9. T-Fiks
    Hi Mollie,

    I did actually read the entire article and many of the comments over the weekend.  I was also struck by how “offended” many were by Douthat’s exposure of the inherent flaw in the liberal ideology.   Liberals scream like stuck pigs anytime anyone talks about reforming our system of transfer payments or you get slandered as a “hater” or “neanderthal” if you talk openly about the deeper societal and family issues.  And yet, there is no urgency to fix the underlying problems with Lefties, only a desire to heap more “progress” on top of all the old “progress” that has completely failed… · 0 minutes ago

    Google Murray’s Coming Apart and you’ll find many entries with the same liberal contempt for anyone who observes and laments the unraveling of our social fabric.

  10. Valiuth
    SunnyOptimism: Mr. Douthat assumption is that the Left and Progressives actually care about seeing the middle class expand.  I would argue that the Left & Progressives don’t care about the middle class at all.  What they care about is “progress” or, more cynically, the absolute power to achieve progress.

    So, in terms of middle class values, ie, stable families, unwed mothers, faith, transfer payments, etc., I don’t think they really care at all about those issues.  In fact, fractured social groups are better for them because it allows them to create an ever-greater number of “interest groups” to pander to and extract votes from. · 24 minutes ago

    I would like to avoid ascribing motive to people especially nefarious motives. The problem with liberals is that they are incredibly superficial in their view of humanity and the economy. This is what drives their policy choices. They prefer things that look good on the outside even if they are hollow on the inside because they are incapable of seeing the hollow center to their policies. They favor grand and quick gestures, that fail to have sticking power for the most part. 

  11. The Mugwump
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    I am not sure whether those are their motivating issues either, but a read through the comments is most instructional. It’s a bit of a “two different worlds’ thing, but it helps to understand what motivated them. · 16 minutes ago

    Your average rank and file liberal is motivated by altruism.  They fail to understand that their leaders are motivated by power.  Revolution in the name of the proletariat was an ideal for Marx, but the means to end for Russian Bolsheviks.  Lenin and Stalin knew that the proletariat existed for their use, first to man the barricades, and later as forced laborers.  The communist party in the end became the new ruling class, the only thing it was ever really intended to be.  

  12. Joseph Eagar

    This is all fairly obvious, though, isn’t it?  There’s a reason many of us are predicting that Obama’s coalition will collapse in 2013.  I don’t think liberals are unaware of the social problems they have created, at least not the older ones.  Charles Murray’s recent book on the decline of the working class’s social and human capital did resonate with most liberals, I think, even if they won’t admit it.

  13. mask

    Didn’t Charles Murray’s new book make this exact argument?

    Part 2,325 in why the blue model is doomed.

    Of course the left knows this and is betting that in the aftermath of the entitlement state collapse Americans will have become more like Europeans and cry out for even bigger government to piece everything back together.  Given the progressive march through the institutions is already complete I’m inclined to agree with them that too many Americans are now serfs instead of free citizens to resist the siren call of socialism after the storm hits.

  14. Pseudodionysius

    I would recommend Charles Kesler’s book on Obama to all of you if you haven’t read it. The progessivist view is that there really isn’t any human nature at all. Its all infinitely maleable human emotion and sentiment.

  15. Pseudodionysius
    Owl of Minerva: While we’re reading through the comments, can we all agree that Sandy Lynn is either a hilarious spoof of a NYT reader or the worst kind of person? · 33 minutes ago

    Agreed, and I’m not sure which scenario is worse.

  16. Richard Fulmer

    What we on the Right call ”societal decline” many on the Left call “progress.”

  17. Paul L.

    I am depressed enough about the election and the direction of American society that I am in no mood to subject myself to the gang of jackals and hyenas who post comments to the NYT.

  18. Redneck Desi

    For the left, the ideology is power.

  19. Mantis9
    Pseudodionysius: I would recommend Charles Kesler’s book on Obama to all of you if you haven’t read it. The progessivist view is that there really isn’t any human nature at all. Its all infinitely maleable human emotion and sentiment. · 18 minutes ago

    That’s the fundamental difference, isn’t it? Hopefully, to a conservative, Goodness is known as function as well as a virtue. If the Good breaks down so does a society. That Douthat’s sorta meta-point.  Any advance the Left gains at odds with this will be unsustainable because it’s predicated on a dysfunction.  Attempting to rub out or minimize these consequences by government program doesn’t negate the corrosion to public and private virtue. So, the last resort for the Left is to insulate itself by labeling its critics mean-spirited, evil, uneducated, or unenlightened which you see in the comments section. 

    Am I wrong?

  20. BlueAnt

    The proof of Douthat’s accusation is as simple as it is ancient:

    America’s culture declines; cui bono?

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