It used to be common for some more intense Christian groups to insist that if Christian believers would just "get back to God," in some way - sometimes defined, sometimes not - then God would bless America(2Chron 7:14). Or perhaps, many would come to believe in Christ, because they see Christ in us. The world will be amazed. The scriptural backing for the idea is weak. It is far less than half true, though it does have some truth-elements in it. There are many Muslim groups which take this attitude, that if they are obedient, the world's problems will be solved.
There is a variation of this on the left as well, that if we Americans would just build schools for people and stop thinking we are so superior, other countries would not be so resentful of us. It is a pretty idea, but one that has little evidence to suggest that it goes any deeper than "sometimes, if you are nice to people they are nice back." Which is true, but unremarkable.
It is the idea that an essential balance must be restored - that the barbarians must be denied access to power because they are not the rightful bearers. The sense of entitlement decrees that 60% majorities for Democrats are the normal course of events, and anything less brings forth real fear that the country is being "controlled" by not only the right, but the most extreme elements of it. When one compares the rhetoric with the actual numbers, one is - well, puzzled. What kind of unreality do these folks live in?
What we have in current American political discourse is a step vaguer still. This same primitive belief, also quite religious though the terms may be avoided, holds that if everyone would just become like liberals culturally, international strife would diminish and perhaps even be resolved. You may think that I'm a dreamer, but if you read Cynthia Boaz's essay I highlighted from the last post, and remember that however foolish or wrong Fox and its listeners may be, there are equivalent errors which can be easily -
- and I would like to highlight the word easily here -
found among HuffPo and alternet readers and the left in general, I think you will see that this is a cry of the heart that we choose the particular unreality of the left, and all will be well.
As primitive a sentiment as it is, it is at least a step better than my usual tribal criticism - that on such arbitrary items and ways of perceiving the culture, they stand to benefit as it is their base culture, and they know the steps. They know the language and subtle cues in this culture, so adopting it would give them higher status with virtually no effort.
The temptation in contradicting my point would be to maintain "Well, yeah, but we think the world would be better because those values are better. Our ideas are true and really would work, that's why we believe them. Let me give you some straw men and false choices to illustrate my point." That can only be a discussion among people who both admit that they could be wrong.
There are of course real generosities, real altruisms, real self-denials amongst the motivations on the left. Few among us are so base as to have no good impulses whatsoever. But I declare again, as I have for years and continue to find evidence for: Much of liberalism is founded on social correctness, arbitrary distinctions not based on intellectual or moral virtue, cultural hegemony - even hipness. Until there is at least an acknowledgment of the mere possibility of this, there is no discussion.