Editor’s Note: OD will be quieter than usual over the next two days due to my son’s birthday. I’ve been deluging you anyway with a firehose of posts.
The go-to response to any criticism of mainstream politics for years has been to accuse people of being in league with the right-wing – well, congratulations, you’ve made those alliances real. https://t.co/euFoVj19NJ— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) June 3, 2021
The Catch-22 of modern press: reporters are told they can’t make an impact if their only outlet is Fox or The Federalist, but “reputable” outlets won’t touch news (and sometimes will even call for its suppression) if it counters establishment narratives: https://t.co/euFoVj19NJ— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) June 3, 2021
The consistent pattern with the Trump-era press… is that information that is true but doesn’t cut the right way politically is routinely either non-reported or actively misreported. https://t.co/MB3SEdjRST— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) June 3, 2021
The people @ggreenwald is shitting on are not “the left.” They’re aristocrats and authoritarians whose idea of heaven is a Dick Cheney spy state with unlimited censorship and a press corps of obedient snitches. https://t.co/CZgkGoWo2J— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) June 3, 2021
The new political mainstream is Dick Cheney meets Robin DiAngelo, and it’s no surprise lots of different kinds of people loathe it: https://t.co/euFoVj19NJ— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) June 3, 2021
The article is about how political elites denounce everyone who disagrees with them, inc. progressives, as being in league with the right, and shouldn’t be surprised when those groups end up agreeing with right critiques of them. This Bors cartoon is basically “MAGAs are Nazis.” https://t.co/FMsc4ndl33— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) June 3, 2021
What is the Left?
Is it going to be woke progressivism or what is called the “successor ideology”? If so, can it continue to coexist with traditional liberalism? Is it devouring liberal institutions?
For years now, this has been the go-to conversation-ender for prestige media pundits and Twitter trolls alike, directed at any progressive critic of the political mainstream: you’re a Republican! A MAGA-sympathizer! Or (lately), an “insurrectionist”! The Beast in its Greenwald piece used the most common of the Twitter epithets: “Trump-defender.” Treachery and secret devotion to right-wing politics are also the default explanation for the growing list of progressives making their way onto Fox of late, from Greenwald to Kyle Kulinski to Aaron Mate to Jimmy Dore to Cornel West.
The truth is, Trump conservatives and ACLU-raised liberals like myself, Greenwald, and millions of others do have real common cause, against an epistemic revolution taking hold in America’s political and media elite. The traditional liberal approach to the search for truth, which stresses skepticism and free-flowing debate, is giving way to a reactionary movement that Plato himself would have loved, one that believes knowledge is too dangerous for the rabble and must be tightly regulated by a priesthood of “experts.” It’s anti-democratic, un-American, and naturally unites the residents of even the most extreme opposite ends of our national political spectrum.”
The answer is no.
As people like Andrew Sullivan are correctly pointing out, this new governing ideology of the Democratic Party is leftwing, but it is not rooted in liberalism. It is rooted in critical theory and postmodernism and parts ways with liberalism at the level of epistemology and ethics.
There is a long story to be told here about how American liberalism poisoned itself and destroyed the social fabric of the country before collapsing from within. It starts with modernism which was imported from Europe in the 1910s and became a fashionable new aesthetic among the trendy liberal intelligentsia in the 1920s. It created a new sensibility which led to what we call social liberalism or cultural liberalism. Liberals became hostile to everything traditional and bent on destroying it. Previously, liberalism had not been focused on liberating the individual from their culture or proclaiming the equality of all cultures and the massive rift which been widening since the 1920s into the political divide of our own times did not exist. The Union and Confederacy only fought over a small difference in republicanism.
In 1930s, it was liberals who implanted the Frankfurt School in New York City. The Rockefeller Foundation at this time was eager to recruit European academics. It was also liberals who took up the cause of antiracism in the 1930s. There was a critical exchange of ideas in these crucial years between mainstream liberals and the leftwing fringe. Boasian anthropology triumphed in the 1930s. Critical theory and modernism could be used against the Nazis and the Soviets and against the Right at the home. By the time of the post-World War II era, “mainstream” liberalism was still liberalism, but also modernism, antiracism (in the colorblindness phase) and cosmopolitanism. The change happened between the 1920s and the 1950s and gradually the focus of liberalism shifted from protecting individual rights and fostering social democracy in economics to cultural liberation which accelerated in the 1960s and 1970s.
Liberalism was the dominant ideology in America. The mainstream in the late 20th century was dominated by progressive liberalism, which defined the Left, and conservative liberalism, which defined the Right. Crucially though, non-liberal leftwing ideologies were given the space to flourish inside liberal institutions like the media and the universities. The far left was not repressed like the “far right.” The critical theorists, for example, have been operating inside American institutions since as far back as the Great Depression and World War II. Herbert Marcuse was the “father of the New Left” in the 1960s.
Just as liberals rushed to embrace the modernist aesthetic in the 1920s and cosmopolitanism and antiracism in the 1930s, they embraced postmodernism which became a fashionable intellectual trend in the 1970s and 1980s. Political correctness began to germinate in American universities in the late 1980s. Progressive liberals have always been drawn from the professional and educated classes and these fashionable trends infected the institutions in which they are immersed. By the 1990s and 2000s, the stage was set to indoctrinate the Millennials in political correctness and social justice ideology in K-12 public schools and the universities in the most progressive parts of the country like Portland.
If we were able to retrieve a pristine specimen of a typical American liberal from 1912 which was the year the Titanic sank, we would be hard pressed to find any evidence of these changes. Gradually, American liberalism was so influenced by these other leftwing ideologies all of which were imported from Europe and introduced into this country that it became utterly diseased and incoherent. It is ate up with cancer and the people who identify as “conservatives” are generally reacting to the cancer.
In the Joe Biden era, it has reached the point where traditional liberals like Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi are being pushed out. They haven’t changed. It is the Left that has changed. It has evolved into this. They are becoming reactionaries. “Journalists” no longer care about the truth. We saw that in the Atlanta Spa Shooting when Joe Biden came to Georgia and said it had become a “Jim Eagle” state where “Jim Crow on steroids” is practiced. Joe said that we are all “complicit.” The cause of the shooting was “white supremacy.” It was a descent into pure narrative. It was woke storytelling.
These people are broken at the level of metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. If you are on the Left these days, you better watch your six. They will come after you and try to get you. They will comb through every statement you have ever made in your entire life to find a reason to destroy you. All it takes is “liking” the wrong tweet or post or “associating” with the wrong person or better yet not going along with the sacred narrative and the party line. These people don’t even understand “truth” the way that the rest of us in this country do. They have their own “truths” which are based on experiences.