Flipping on Assange

342px-Julian_Assange_August_2014Not long ago, conservatives condemned Wikileaks leaker Julian Assange.  After all, Assange exposed U.S. intelligence operations, possibly endangering the lives of CIA agents.  Donald Trump even said he deserved the death penalty.  But now, after Assange released e-mails embarrassing to Hillary Clinton in support of Trump, some of those same conservatives are all for him.  In fact, they believe him over the CIA!

Conversely, liberals used to praise Assange for revealing the sinister secrets of the militaristic, imperialistic CIA.  Today, now that Assange is supporting Trump and the CIA is saying the Russians were responsible for the e-mail hacks (something Assange denies), the left is vilifying Assange and praising the CIA!

Do you see some inconsistency here?  Michael Gerson does.  After the jump, read his accusations of unprincipled tribalism.  On the other hand, there are civil libertarians on both the right and the left that can make a case for Assange and his exposure of government secrets.

What do you think of Assange now? [Read more…]

The “current year” argument

new-year-clip-artSome people invoke the current year as a sufficient argument.  As in, “I can’t believe that it’s 2017 and we are still debating abortion.”  Or, “It’s 2017!  How can you believe the Bible?”

Nicholas Pell points out that merely giving the date does not prove anything.  It does express the progressive worldview, that things are getting better and better, so that an idea from the present is assumed to be better than an idea from the past.

Pell observes that many people are conservatives, who tend to believe that the past in some ways at least is better than the present.

The blithe way progressives use the current year argument demonstrates that they assume everyone shares their worldview, that they are unaware of conservatives and are unfamiliar with their ideas. [Read more…]

Marshall McLuhan, conservative Catholic

5571845609_c077117223_oMarshall McLuhan, who basically invented the study of media, became an icon of the 1960’s with his praise of the new information technology and his predictions of the new tribalism that it would make possible.  McLuhan arguably predicted the effects of the internet before the internet was invented.

And yet, as Jefferson Pooley reminds us, McLuhan got his start as a conservative cultural critic who, influenced by G. K. Chesterton, became a traditionalist Catholic who opposed the reforms of Vatican II.

I would argue that his criticism of the printing press and the thought-forms it made possible is connected to his opposition to the Reformation, which he called “the greatest cultural disaster in the history of civilization.”  And that his “global village” that he thought the new electronic media would usher in represents his yearning for Medieval Catholicism, with its visual images and its corporate unity.

Read Pooley’s piece on McLuhan, started after the jump. [Read more…]

The future of “identity liberalism”

Union posterLiberals in politics have traditionally focused on issues of class, economics, and public policy.  But lately, liberalism has become obsessed with identity politics–that is, the interests of distinct groups (blacks, gays, Hispanics, single women, etc.).  Mark Lilla calls this “Identity Liberalism,” arguing in the New York Times that this pre-occupation needs to change if his fellow liberals expect to win elections again.

Predictably, he is being excoriated for his heresy.

Do you think a New Deal kind of liberalism, based on universal principles and addressing the common good, would do better than “Identity Liberalism”?  Or has the one led to the other, so that they can no longer be untangled?  Or are we talking about two distinct and irreconcilable ideologies?

[Read more…]

The inevitable march of History

The “progressive” worldview assumes that society is getting better and better.  That is to say, history is on an inexorable march towards “progress.” Thus, those on the left are fond of saying some one they oppose is “on the wrong side of history.”

This leads to the assumption that progressive gains may never be reversed, that progressive change is inevitable, and that progressives are justified by a power higher than themselves (not God, but History).  Furthermore, we must be open to change as we evolve to a higher and higher level.

For example, the nation state is thought to be rapidly becoming obsolete.  “History” dictates first the rise of globalism, in economics and in free immigration, and then the rise of global government.

Never mind that history is not so linear at all and is full of twists, reversals, and surprises.  But the assumption of inevitable progress–which derives from Hegel, Darwin, and Marx–continues to animate the rhetoric of the left. Rich Lowry discusses this after the jump. [Read more…]

Liberalism of the left & liberalism of the right

The well-regarded ethicist Stanley Hauerwas reviews a new book by John Milibank, of “radical orthodoxy” fame.  Entitled The Politics of Virtue, Milibank argues that both today’s liberals and conservatives are essentially liberals.  Both sides are fixated on “freedom,” whether sexual freedom or economic freedom, to the exclusion of other things needed for a good society (such as virtue).  Milibanks goes on to argue for a “post-liberalism.”

Read Hauerwas’s discussion and interaction with the ideas after the jump. [Read more…]