The liberal scholars and professors who stifle conservative voices on university campuses and unwelcome conservative thinkers. The LGBT activists who focus more on the festive spectacle of their identity politics than on the economic side of it. The social policymakers who use multiculturalism as a blanket rhetorical defense for all minorities including the undesirable immigrants. The supporters of affirmative action who fail to see that it is no longer useful but alienating to groups that are disenfranchised. The people who push for the legalization of vices--drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc.--without considering moral arguments. The white feminists who are losing their political narrative regarding women's solidarity across nations, cultures, and societies. The liberal politicians with socialist tendencies who continue to preach the contemptuous idea of robbing the rich and spoiling the poor. The practitioners of political correctness that discourages expression, dissent, and dialogue but political noise, drama, and victimhood. The Hollywood elitists who socially define, paint, and frame the American cultural life without including the conservative culture and rural life. The liberal thinkers who refuse to critique themselves and change the course of their alienating political ideas and social narratives.

They are all the reasons and causes why there is a current political resurgence of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other prejudices expressed openly and politically.

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Comment by Huon Wardle on March 18, 2017 at 12:15pm

What this all adds up to is almost complete chaos in the use of the word 'liberal'. The 'anonymous' in this blog, who would in Britain be called what?, a Leftist or an Anarchist perhaps? sees himself as having common cause with 'liberals'. The people who 'police' language are 'liberals', the ones who want some redistribution of income through tax are 'liberals'. All of which obscurity seems to derive historically from mainstream America's deepseated hatred of 'socialism' and even worse 'communism'; so liberal comes to describe anyone on a vast spectrum who wants to change the traditional set up; or maybe it is a coded way of talking about the difference between the cosmopolitan coasts of America versus the traditionalist South and Centre or a whole host of other ills. Now, though, 'liberals' like Wikileaks have aligned their activities with those of Putin and Trump.

So pointing to 'liberals' as any kind of definable group becomes just that, a gesture -- 'they are to blame' (whoever they may be). Cui bono? All of this is wonderful news for the propagandists of the far right; a fine opportunity for the 'creative destruction' that they learnt from their hedge fund organising brothers and sisters.

However, the endless semantic extension of the word 'liberal' still doesnt mean that 'liberals' are really causing 'racism, sexism, homophobia' etc. it just indexes mounting linguistic and ideological confusion.

Comment by Lee Drummond on March 17, 2017 at 11:56pm

 

Huon,

    There is cultural analysis, cultural analysis as cultural critique, well-constructed polemic, then, at the far end of the spectrum, poorly written, self-righteous, hateful narrative.  That is the slot filled by the piece in “It’s Going Down” to which you called our attention.  It is vile, and at once a perfect example of fascism coming to reside among those who smugly assert how “liberal” they are.  “Liberal” as they engage in the following actions, as described by the author, one “Anonymous Contributor” – a coward as well as a semi-literate bigot.  He and his thugs were out to prevent an individual’s right to free speech and to inflict pain on those who came to hear him: 

As the sun set and the temperature dropped the [anti-Trump] demo increased in numbers, effectively blocking off access to the front entrance of the building. Police formed a barricade around the back entrance and escorted those remaining in line into the building, refusing access starting at or around 6:30 and leaving a handful of would be attendees on the wrong side of the police line resulting in several scuffles and the expropriation of one or two MAGA hats . . .  Throughout the evening nearly every visible red MAGA hat was taken and burned. A confederate flag once draped over the shoulders of a counter protester also went up in flames . . .  After losing a MAGA hat of their own [Trump’s supporters] in a brief melee and suffering several blows to the head of one of their most vocal, they were again asked to turn off their music and leave. In a poor attempt at machismo posturing, the kid whose phone was playing said music waived it in the face of several anti-fascists.  Somehow that phone, after falling under several feet, also fell onto some fire.

   In burning that Confederate flag, these brave liberals revealed something of themselves.  Note the photo supplied by “Anonymous.”  Jackboots seem to be in vogue among the anti-Trump crowd.  

    Jimmy Cliff got it right: They say the world is spinning around, I say the world is upside down. 

 

 

 

 

 

When do these brave liberals head for the libraries and bookstores to confiscate disapproved texts and consign them to the flames, along with those hats?  

Comment by Huon Wardle on March 16, 2017 at 8:26pm

Lee, anyone who went to a university in the last four decades has probably seen Animal House, not to mention The Blues Brothers, both popular favourites which, since the projector screen for our film club was broken, we projected 16mm onto a bed sheet.

Something is very badly broken with the American understanding of liberalism. This doesn't seem to have happened with its thuggish cousin libertarianism -- everyone seems to know what that is. You are correct, insofar as someone defending Conway's right to 'alternative facts' can be, that I don't know enough about the topic.

Here is a description of American politics I found: it involves the stealing and counter-stealing of MAGA hats that would have any good ethnographer scratching their head https://itsgoingdown.org/report-back-milo-resistance-cu-boulder/

Comment by Lee Drummond on March 16, 2017 at 8:01am

M Izabel ....... wherefore art thou?  

Comment by Lee Drummond on March 16, 2017 at 7:58am

Oh, that antihero Captain Willard -- though not in his parade ground best and definitely not having a good day.  

Comment by Lee Drummond on March 16, 2017 at 7:48am

Huon,

    Please tell me you’ve seen Animal House.  That’s indispensable to any discussion of American “frat boys.” 

    Don’t know about the repertoire at Dulwich College and, as I noted earlier, I can’t begin to put together a cultural analysis of British politics. 

    Alternative facts:  I’d think that anyone with the faintest tinge of the pomo virus would take this in stride – surely we’re not ready to believe that there are Eternal True Facts only a rigorous positivism can identify.  In the universe of spin that is American politics, accusing one protagonist of parading “alternative facts” is like, as Captain Willard, another anti-hero of American movies (even more important than Booger in Revenge of the Nerds) said in Apocalypse Now, accusing someone of murder in this place (Viet Nam) is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500. 

    Dissing Kellyanne Conway – oh, please no.  First, her double first name puts her in the pantheon of American heroines – all possum, or, remembering our earlier exchange, squirrel eaters.  Queen of the pantheon:  Peggy Sue.  Then there’s Sarah Jean, Liza Jo, on and on.  Of course, these belles get hooked up with such paragons of (southern) American masculinity as Joe Bob, Billy Ray . . . you get the picture. 

    And Kellyanne being implicated in “frat boy fascism” because she was/is a member of Phi Betta Kappa?  News flash:  PBK is not exactly a frat/sorority  in the manner of Animal House – it is an honorary society whose membership is based on students with excellent grades and is conferred only in the senior year.  So, no houses, no beer-guzzling parties, no fascist rallies.  You only know a fellow PBK if, years after graduation, your keys happen to flash.  Here’s the story of egghead love:  their eyes met, their PBK keys flashed in the city lights, they were united in love and lust. 

   And then there’s your suggestion, oh my, of identifying and skewering “adjectival liberalism” – versus Tom Wolfe’s “adjectival fascism.”  Well, Wolfe’s job is already done for him.  Adjectival liberals abound on the American landscape.  They cluster under the umbrella of identity politics.  There are Black americans, Hispanic americans, LGBTQ americans, Native American americans, all with the “american” part definitely in lower-case and subservient to what really matters: the ethnic, racial, social identity.  Emile might have had something to say here about mechanical vis-à-vis organic solidarity and their implications for social integration.  What do we want?  Dead cops!  When do we want it?  Now! The chanting mob bellows.  Hell of a way to run a country.  

Comment by Huon Wardle on March 13, 2017 at 12:04pm

It ain't adjectival or metaphorical fascism if the people involved espouse fascist ideals. As to British politics and public schools -- Nigel Farage, Trump's favourite British politician went to one of them and was well known for his fascist views. It seems that Dulwich college used to resound to Farage singing the National Front anthem 'gas them all, gas them all, gas them all'. 

The clever part of all this from a propaganda point of view, and so far particularly American, since Europeans don't use the word 'liberal' in this sense (you can go a lot further left in European politics, you can even be a communist and nobody will pay much attention) - and this is what Wolfe should be skewering given its contemporary relevance -- 'adjectival liberalism'. The 'safe space' of the sorority, the frat or the public school are precisely where these newer fascist ideas, like Kellyane Conway's delightful 'alternative facts' (Phi Beta Kappa), are coming from.

No doubt it is a lot more palatable to have a chuckle at what a bunch of crazy 'liberals' are talking about, but a quick look at the people actually in government should give pause; they are also a bit of a joke, Trump is the biggest source of bemusement in contemporary political history, but the ideas they espouse are not just adjectives they are objectives.

Comment by Lee Drummond on March 11, 2017 at 9:30pm

 

M Izabel, are you there?  You have a lively blog post going;  ready to jump in? 

 

Huon,

    Alas, and here I’m more “bemused” than critical, I’m afraid your account of American “frat boy fascists” is as far off the mark as if  I were to attempt to describe the relationship between British (not so) public schools and British politics. 

    First, “frat boys” of any political stripe are a tiny and increasingly insignificant  part of American higher (I use the term loosely) education.  Right now there are around 20.5 million undergraduates in the U. S.; some 750,000 are members of fraternities and sororities (are these soro girl fascists?), or a bit under 3% of the total student population.  So there are, what, maybe 400,000 potential frat boy fascists.  In a national population of around 325 million, those kids will have to be awfully clever to take over the country. 

    Within the small world of fraternities there is a decades-old split between up-tight “soces” (social, status conscious types) and jocks (athletes) on one hand and fun-loving, booze-swilling , anti-establishment guys on the other.  This conflict is immortalized – like any important social issue – in movies, of which the all-time classic is Animal House (in company with Revenge of the Nerds, which stars a “frat boy fascist” ?? named Booger).  Here we may have, ah yes, a metaphor for American society as a whole, and one which valorizes the up-yours, let the good times roll kids.  Here are a couple of images of “frat boy fascist”?? candidates: 

 

 

Frat boy fascists plotting violent overthrow of U. S. government  

Frat boy fascists in their ultra-Establishment lair 

   A huge problem with your argument is that – uh oh, he’s gonna blame the liberals – is that fascist behavior is now the province of those students and non-students who shout down and rough up speakers they don’t agree with and who riot for the same purpose.  Isn’t a core definition of “fascism” the use of violence to silence and intimidate free expression?  As an aside, the confrontation at Middlebury College, which sent one professor to the hospital, involved no frat boys because Middlebury, like most other small liberal arts schools, has no fraternities. 

    I’m afraid that your evoking the scourge of “frat boy fascists” puts you in league with those who sound the alarm over “adjectival fascism” as skewered by Tom Wolfe in “In the Land of the Rococo Marxists” (in Hooking Up).  I strongly recommend you take a look at it.  Wolfe’s argument:  American intellectuals are constantly playing catch-up with their European counterparts.  They have real fascism, complete with jackboots, mobs, concentration camps, totalitarian regimes, well we have adjectival fascism – not quite there but always trying.  

Comment by Huon Wardle on March 10, 2017 at 4:22pm

In case anyone needs reminding about the frat culture exemplified by the Breitbart claque... And, of course a reminder too of the incredible chutzpah of seeing 'liberals' as the ones to blame.

From Inside Greek U.: Fraternities, Sororities, and the Pursuit of Pleasure, Power, and Prestige Alan D. DeSantis University Press of Kentucky:

Comment by Huon Wardle on March 10, 2017 at 3:30pm

Agreed. Those people aren't actual liberals. However, be that as it may, Milo Yiannopolis has fallen victim to the very selective bigotry of his own claque of frat boy fascists (this isn't rhetorical -- they are literally fascists and products of the American 'frats' -- 'is the frat a safe space? Discuss'). They want freedom of expression for themselves without extending it and they certainly have no interest either in tolerance or equality of opportunity--liberalism is a contract, you don't get to pick and choose. It is these frat boys who have seeded the idea that 'liberals cause racism' a turn of thought that would have made even George Orwell smile.

Huon:  An actual liberal is a person who follows the tenets of liberalism--basic principles being tolerance, freedom of expression and equality of opportunity.  

As evidenced by:  

Berkeley riot protesting planned/cancelled speech by Milo Yianopolous (incidentally, home of the "Free Speech Movement" in rosier times).  

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