In Andrew Klavan’s latest post, on “The Left’s Con Man Logic,” one of the cons he notes is the left’s selective utterance of the phrase, “You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.” As Andrew writes:
The Wall Street Journal this weekend had two writers of opposing opinions address the question: Has the sexual revolution been good for women? The feminist who answered yes began her argument with this masterpiece of disingenuousness: “Here’s the thing about revolutions — you can’t take them back….If you feel that the sexual revolution destroyed the American family by giving women power over their reproductive choices, and that power turned daughters and wives… into a bunch of wanton hussies, well, stew over your feelings all you want, but you might as well give up thinking that it is possible to herd us up and drive us back into the kitchen….”
Do lefties really fall for garbage like that? Why? Everything about that argument is meant to make you stop thinking. I need hardly point out that the relative chastity of the Victorian era in Britain followed the relative promiscuity of the Restoration period and was in turn followed by the roaring twenties which were followed by the fifties — so that, while, yes, there’s no going back, one can always go forward in a new direction. Nor need I point out that some of us who feel the Sexual Revolution hurt women may have our fellow creatures’ good at heart. The only thing you really need to know is that the writer is trying to obscure, not illuminate, the situation. That alone should make you start asking questions.
Like this one: Are you stupid… or what?
Beyond the example of promiscuity waxing and waning that Andrew mentions, hasn’t the entire mission of the Left been one attempt after another to either “take back” a revolution, or put the toothpaste of civilization back into the tube — or both? In 1882, Friedrich Nietzsche declared God is Dead — and Time magazine would take their own whack at Him 84 years later, just for good measure. During the same period that Nietzsche was upending religion, Karl Marx rifled through the millenia of experimentation and accumulated wisdom that made up commerce and the marketplace, called it “capitalism,” and declared it similarly dead. (It certainly would be, wherever Marx’s ideas were implemented.) In the 1920s, the Bauhaus in Germany and Le Corbusier in France decided that a millenia of accumulated wisdom in architecture could be swept aside to “Start From Zero” — and Corbusier believed Paris as a whole could be swept aside to Start From Zero — a decade later, Albert Speer and his chief patron entertained similar notions about Berlin. Likewise, in the 1950s, American urban planners, explicitly following Corbusier’s lead, would bulldoze whole neighborhoods in the name of “urban renewal,” which proved ultimately disastrous. In the 1930s, FDR and the New Dealers thought that the American Revolution, which gave birth to the most laissez-faire federal government ever known to man could be yoked under an endless alphabet soup of agencies and stifling regulations. Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights Revolution of the 1960s, which sought to judge a man by the content of his character rather than the color of skin has been upended by the left into tribalization based on skin color, and in academia, a de facto return to Separate But Equal.
What is environmentalism (which Andrew addresses earlier in his post) but staring down the freedom that the Industrial Revolution brought to the American middle class, including comfortable homes in suburbia, electric light, cars and planes to transport them everywhere, and endless information and entertainment at the press of a button, and taking it all back in the form of higher energy prices, even more regulation, less reliable energy generation systems, and the overall ennui that the true believers of global warming want to foist upon all of us?
No wonder the MSM and the left (but I repeat myself) wadded their panties into such a tight bunch when the Tea Party emerged — they know better than anyone that while it’s not easy, how entirely possible it is to reshape society and how fragile their own hold on power could ultimately be.
Related: At the Tatler, Robert Wargas spots a writer at the far left New York Review of Books railing against the failures of the American education system in a similar — if screedier — fashion as Woody Allen shouting about New York City’s downhill slide in the ’60s and ’70s, without stopping to consider that in both cases, it’s his ideological brethren that controls the terrain. As David Solway adds, “The decline of education, which means also the fading out of historical memory and the dimming of literate curiosity, has been the case for some considerable time now. The insistent question is: how does one go about trying to rescue a culture in the throes of custodial dissolution?”
Update: Related thoughts from Kathy Shaidle.
More: From the comments, “As people living in today’s progressive utopias like Cuba or North Korea might ask, ‘What’s toothpaste?’”