Roger L. Simon

Old Terminology - The Four Reclaims

I agree with most of the points in my friend John Powers’ new LAWeekly article: A Vision of Our Own/Four ideas for the left to redefine itself. Why shouldn’t I? I’ve been accusing what we still call the “left” of being “reactionary” for some time now. John writes:

Whether it’s rewriting the tax code or privatizing Social Security to solve an imaginary “crisis,” the right has become the agent of change.

In contrast, the left has become – there’s no other word for it – reactionary.

He goes on to detail four areas of necessary liberal/left improvement, to get back in the game, as it were: reclaim virtue, reclaim freedom, reclaim pleasure and reclaim utopia. (In Maoist parlance – The Four Reclaims!) What John does not say is how they should go about doing this.

Perhaps there is a reason for that. Perhaps it’s because what John is trying to reclaim is nothing but an empty name. There is no there there. The ship of ideology has moved on or maybe sunk. Liberal? Conservative? Left? Right? Who cares? It’s so 1873. We live in a time when someone like me finds more to applaud in a Bush speech than Peggy Noonan. John Powers, in his heart, may be closer to Bush than Peggy as well. His criticisms of Bush seem perfunctory – oh my gosh, he uses the language of an MBA – yet John acknowledges that an election is being held in Iraq which we should all support. I couldn’t agree more. And as history will no doubt record: No Bush, no election. The rest, as the grandmothers say, is bubbe meises. (via Glenn)

UPDATE: Austin Bay provides a good antidote to Noonan. He also has a link to a Times of London article which is worth following.