November 25, 2010

These kids today are so afraid of looking stupid that they won't get serious, collectivize, and change the world — declaims Mark Ames, spittle flying.

Stephen Green (via Instapundit) calls attention to this Mark Ames article (from October) "The Rally to Restore Vanity: Generation X Celebrates Its Homeric Struggle Against Lameness." Green cherrypicks a remark that appears at the very end:
Anytime anyone says anything libertarian, spit on them. Libertarians are by definition enemies of the state: they are against promoting American citizens’ general welfare and against policies that create a perfect union. Like Communists before them, they are actively subverting the Constitution and the American Dream, and replacing it with a Kleptocratic Nightmare.
Green — without noting that the Ames's whole article is about lameness — snarks that spitting is "lame." Instapundit grimly labels it "The Descent of the Left."

But let's look at Ames's whole article — and not be distracted by the terrible practice of spitting on libertarians. (I will not be side-tracked into blogging about what the lefties would say if the spit were flying in the opposite direction.)

Ames was reacting to the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally, which to him was the manifestation of the younger generation's need to keep an ironic distance from politics — an effort to avoid lameness. Ames wants young people to rediscover liberalism, which was "once devoted to impossible causes like ending racism and inequality, empowering the powerless, fighting against militarism, and all that silly hippie shit." (Ames himself is 45, by the way, too young to have been a real hippie, but older than the people he criticizes.)

Ames found the Rally to Restore Sanity "depressing and grotesque" — like "some kind of sick funeral party  for Liberalism, in which Liberals are led, at last, by a clown." (Aw, come on, Ames. The liberals have been led by a clown before. Just not a very funny clown.) Ames is disgusted by the way the rally-goers take pride in how smart they are because they "don’t take themselves too seriously":
That’s why they’re following a clown like Stewart, whose entire political program comes down to this: not being stupid, the way the other guys are stupid–or when being stupid, only stupid in a self-consciously stupid way, which is to say, not stupid. That’s it, that’s all this is about: Not to protest wars or oligarchical theft or declining health care or crushing debt or a corrupt political system or imperial decay—nope, the only thing that motivates Liberals to gather in the their thousands is the chance to celebrate their own lack of stupidity! Woo-hoo!
It's a liberal trope that I've been following over the past week, after Isthmus reporter Bill Lueders wrote a piece called "The Triumph of Stupidity," in which he triumphed over getting UW polisci professor to say the voters are "pretty damn stupid." It's that "What's the Matter with Kansas?" notion that liberals have — that people who don't vote for liberal candidates are too dumb to know where their own interests lie. Ames is looking at the other side of that phenomenon: Liberals themselves are caught up in their self-image of not being the stupid ones, and, Ames is saying, this obsession of theirs undercuts the old-time, serious liberal project of remaking the world in pursuit of big, broad ideals like equality.

Ames has a great insight into "why so many Gen-X/Yers turned against Obama": "he made them look stupid."  They took Obama seriously. They believed. And that set them up to look.... lame!

Ames writes many paragraphs trashing E. A. Hanks's "Dear The Left: A Breakup Letter." (She's Tom Hanks's daughter!) Hanks seems to want to separate herself from political movements and embrace something like libertarianism. Ames declaims:
If the ruling class has enormous amounts of money and power and collectivizes in a variety of billionaires’ unions and special interests unions, and your answer is, “I’ll go it alone, at least I won’t look stupid” then you’re just fucking stupid.
So it is all about not looking stupid? Anyway, after much verbiage, which I'm skipping, including the part about Bob Dylan — marvel at my restraint! — he gets to his point, which is that liberals need to cast individualism aside and get collectivized, even though that's not distanced and ironic and unserious:
Collective action is the only possible way to change shit. Large numbers of collectivized nobodies rallying to demand what they want–a better cut of the pie...
Pie! Michelle said we could have pie!
... and a better world to live in. It’s the only thing that power-elites fear and the only way to get them to negotiate.... You’ll have to stomach being around people who are lame, and who say lame things, and you’ll feel lame—so you’ll have to decide which is lamer: the fear of being lame, or forming an alliance with people lamer than you in order to struggle against people far meaner, far more greedy and destructive than the lame people you hate—people who have no qualms about being lame when they collectivize, so long as they destroy you and grab everything they want. 
In other words, don't mock the Tea Party. Get out there. Be like them. Be mockable. That's the first of 3 prescriptions Ames ends with. The third is the one Green quoted: Anathematize libertarians. (The metaphor is to spit.) And the reason for anathematizing libertarians is Ames's second prescription:  liberalism needs a big, serious goal to collectivize about and that goal is the redistribution of wealth:
[P]eople need money. Then if they have money, they need Life. Then they might be interested in “ideals” set out in the contract that this country is founded on. Ever read the preamble to the Constitution? There’s nothing about private property there and self-interest. Nothing at all about that. It’s a contract whose purpose is ...  a “more Perfect Union”—that’s “union,” as in the pairing of the words “perfect” and “union”—not sovereign, not states, not local, not selfish, but “union.” And that other purpose at the end of the Constitution’s contractual obligations: promote the “General Welfare.” That means “welfare.” Not “everyone for himself” but “General Welfare.” That’s what it is to be American: to strive to form the most perfect union with each other, and to promote everyone’s general betterment. That’s it. The definition of an American patriot is anyone promoting the General Welfare of every single American, and anyone helping to form the most perfect Union—that’s “union”, repeat, “Union” you dumb fucks. 
Ames is still playing on his audience's fear of being the stupid ones — even as he spews some crazy shit he wants us to hear as brilliant. Don't be a dumb fuck, believe me when I tell you: This individualism is a trick the billionaires are playing on you. Come together, live as One.

Ames boldly palms this off as constitutional interpretation. The "more perfect union" in the Preamble isn't the reallocation of powers between the federal government and the state governments to deal with the problems that arose under the Articles of Confederation. No, Ames's big, serious lie — and you should worry that you're a dumb fuck if you don't believe it — is that the Constitution compels us to set aside our individual pursuit of happiness and dedicate ourselves to the collective.

108 comments:

SGT Ted said...

He spits on me and I'll kick his ass.

Alex said...

Nice concern trolling there Professor.

SGT Ted said...

To seriously reply to his call for socialism based on the word "welfare" being in the PREAMBLE and not the actual Constitution, here's some thoughts on that from a former Founder:

A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. - Thomas Jefferson


So, this little ignorant, tin-pot commie can go stuff it, seeing as how its Thanksgiving.

Brent said...

is that the Constitution compels us to set aside our individual pursuit of happiness and dedicate ourselves to the collective


Problem: I am pretty certain that Mark Ames definition of "collective happiness" is not the same as mine.

Why should either one of us get to force everyone else's life and effort into someone else's vision of "collective happiness"?

traditionalguy said...

Individual liberty is the enemy of collectivism, as all acknowledge. Yet the Collectivism called Fascism is a corporate/poltical complex that wants to maximise profits from governmental created monopolies. For example, the Health Care / governmental funded Medicare and medicaid.Some democrat constituents are better not eliminated by the RINOs and friends. What is the Government got to do with attempting to repeal jury trials and damages awarded to injured litigants? That makes the Dems the libertarians and the RINO Gop the Tyrants.My guess is that the GOP establishments fears accountability for damages done to and by their newly enslaved Mexican servants.That is not traditional justice at all.

stevenehrbar said...

"Look at the Preamble! Just the Preamble! Ignore the Bill of Rights!"

Ignorance is Bliss said...

The preamble describes the purpose of the constitution, including such things as promoting the general welfare. The means chosen to promote the general welfare was to limit the power of the federal government.

The preamble is not an authorization for the federal government to do whatever it wants as long as its (claimed) purpose is to promote the general welfare.

Titus said...

It's Thanksgiving. Let's all love one another right now...just for this day if only-let's be grateful we are all Americans and live in the U.S. instead of somewhere like Mozambique.

Alex said...

here's an antisemitic gem from the comments:

14. calripson | October 30th, 2010 at 2:28 pm
The Left died in this country as soon as the 1973 Yom Kippur War was waged. I vividly remember as a child how the prevailing anti-militaristic mood that permeated the news, media, and culture suddenly changed. Evidently, war and militarism was horrible when associated with Viet Nam, but when U.S. arms were required to save Israel that was a different story. The Left in America (and many other parts of the world) in the last century was intellectually, morally, and organizationally dependent on Jewish support. Now Jews are ambivalent – supporting certain “liberal” social issues, but content with existing economic/military realities seen to benefit them or Israel. There is neither the intellectual, financial, or creative potential in the remaining “leftists” to replace them.It is no accident that former (Jewish) adherents of Leo Trotsky would create neoconservatism and would rescue 1950s era American conservatism from the idealogical dumpster. Their abandonment of “liberalism” presaged the lefts decline.


Yes, the problem with liberals is that they don't hate the Jooos enough.

*HEADSLAP*

I'm sure Robert Cook would agree that not hating Jews sufficiently is a REAL problem in America.

Alex said...

Titus - but men in Mozambique must have really huge uncut hogs. Think about it.

New York said...

Why should either one of us get to force everyone else's life and effort into someone else's vision of "collective happiness"?

The solution to that is to pretend that the path to "collective happiness" is obvious, and that the people whose happiness comes from family, religion, community etc. are "bitter clingers".

The preamble is not an authorization for the federal government to do whatever it wants as long as its (claimed) purpose is to promote the general welfare.

As if Ames could possibly care about what the constitution is "for".

Tom said...

Oh, come on--this is waaay too serious to be putting up midday on Thanksgiving.

Paul said...

Sorry for the long cut and paste but I thought the essay most pertinent considering the day and thread topic.

Ann Althouse said...

@Alex What is the definition of "concern troll" as you use that term and think it fits what I've said here?

shoutingthomas said...

The problem is that there are no great civil rights issues left to be resolved. (And, yes, that includes all the gay stuff.)

Yet, every generation of kids has a deep emotional and psychological need to fight for the next great civil rights victory.

I walk through Washington Square Park twice a day, and always I find another 20 year old kid playing the young boho Bob Dylan busking for quarters and singing the old protest songs.

The kid probably grew up in an upper middle class white suburban family. But, the romantic need to be the boho protest singer remains.

The 60s are 50 years in the past. It's all over and has been for a long time. There are no great civil rights battles to be fought in the U.S., but the romantic desire to be involved in a great civil rights battle remains.

So, the battle has to be ginned up.

And that's the problem.

Alex said...

Professor - I'm just pre-empting garage mahal, Alpha Liberal, Ritmo, et al... You know that's what they would say. Since they aren't here, I decided to fill that role.

Titus said...

Mary, it is Thanksgiving.

All giving thanks posts today!

Makes the world such a better place to live.

Let's all love one another right now.

John Burgess said...

Yeah, it's a pity that the über-smart Mr. Ames stopped reading at the Preamble. Maybe the words and concepts got too difficult, or too "that's not what I want it to say!"

WV: fingers and toes = preabac

shoutingthomas said...

I've watched Colbert and Stewart on a number of occasions.

I've never even chuckled over anything these two have to say. They are not at all funny. They do nothing at all for me.

I have often been told the Colbert and Stewart are funny, but I've yet to witness that.

Has anybody?

wv:nodumb

Alex said...

Anyways isn't it the fundamental divide in our society? Those who believe that government should guarantee a certain standard of living vs those who believe that the individual has to struggle for it? I guarantee you that to know if a person is a Democrat or Republican, THAT is the issue to see where they stand.

This government guaranteed stuff is what generates sympathy for welfare state, government protections for unions, huge public works projects, speech codes and other government interventions. I think America peaked with socialism in 1936 when FDR was elected with a record % of EV, post-founding fathers era. In addition the Congress was like 75% Democrat and all the state and local government was super-majority Democrat. Essentially the last 74 years has been the long slide *downwards* from Utopian socialism. Give it another 30 years and we'll be knocking on the door to a truly libertarian society.

Synova said...

"Everyone for himself" is a lie as well. It's practically in straw-man territory.

Libertarians and Objectivists (which more properly describes Ayn Rand) don't promote "every man for himself" but the idea that people will behave according to self-interest. That isn't the same thing. My self-interest is certainly not "every man for himself". Self-interest involves community and certainly involves cooperation. Self-interest is why we don't have to have the cooperation *forced* on us by government coercion.

Free markets are utterly cooperative, for example. Everyone involved cooperates with everyone else, one way or another. Suppliers interact with distributers who interact with consumers in a way that makes it possible to pretty much expect stores to have what you want when you want it, and tons of stuff to chose from and for grocery shelves to be full at all times. This is self-interest.

This is not "every man for himself."

It's "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that they really did look lame for having gotten Obama elected, along with the cabal of Democrats in Congress. But, luckily for them, they can spend the rest of their lives paying for that mistake.

Bruce Hayden said...

I've never even chuckled over anything these two have to say. They are not at all funny. They do nothing at all for me.

I have often been told the Colbert and Stewart are funny, but I've yet to witness that
.

You aren't cynical and ironic enough to understand their humor. But, then, neither am I. I can see what they are doing, but it just doesn't work with me. My kid though...

Ann Althouse said...

"Sorry for the long cut and paste but I thought the essay most pertinent considering the day and thread topic."

I deleted it, because this post isn't about Thanksgiving. There are 2 other posts today about Thanksgiving.

Jules Aimé said...

Two thoughts:

1. I find it odd that the paragraph that begins with this sentence, "In fact, "I think this is why so many Gen-X/Yers turned against Obama: because he made them look stupid," ends by describing Obama as "half black". Which half does Ames mean? Top or bottom? Or right versus left?

2. Liberalism is at least 150 years old, and arguably older, rather than the 100 Ames claims. That might not be significant except that I don't see much evidence anywhere in the article that Ames knows what the word "liberalism" means.

Ann Althouse said...

"Professor - I'm just pre-empting garage mahal, Alpha Liberal, Ritmo, et al... You know that's what they would say. Since they aren't here, I decided to fill that role."

I loathe the expression "concern troll." Unless someone is literally talking about being "concerned," it's annoying.

Alex said...

Modern liberalism really begins in the 1848 revolutions across Europe. So we're talking 162 years at least. Philosophically it's even earlier with Voltaire in the 18th century.

Ann Althouse said...

@Paul Feel free to discuss all that in the Thanksgiving post. I just want to keep this post free of Thanksgiving stuff, especially if it's long. I know the material could be related to this. I realize that.

Paul said...

AA, the post was actually about the failure of collectivism in the Plymouth Colony.

Synova said...

And thank you to Paul.

We're constantly asked why we vote against our self-interest.

Why is self-interest a good thing when it means taking redistributed money and accepting government oversight and intrusion, and a bad thing when it means working hard and expecting to keep what you earn or build?

Not to go all cliche on the issue but... maybe some people think that it's easier for everyone, for living expenses if you're poor, and for your burden of charity if you're rich, if it all involves Other People's Money.

Paul said...

Here's the link. I'm unable to hyper link it. Sorry.

America's first Socialist Republic

http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/11/027755.php

chuck said...

too young to have been a real hippie

And of course, he hasn't a clue what hippies were about. I remember hippies complaining that the whole hippie thing had been ruined, first by the influx of hard drugs and second by the hard left political nuts. By 1969 the hippie movement was already pretty much dead.

kathleen said...

45 years old is not "older" than Gen X. the oldest gen xers are about 47-48 now

Synova said...

It would have been alright to leave the two paragraph summation wouldn't it?

"No, Ames's big, serious lie — and you should worry that you're a dumb fuck if you don't believe it — is that the Constitution compels us to set aside our individual pursuit of happiness and dedicate ourselves to the collective."

The part about self-interest incentivizing laziness in the collective situation and industry in an individualized situation is absolutely pertinent to the topic.

Big Mike said...

I've watched Colbert and Stewart on a number of occasions. I've never even chuckled over anything these two have to say. They are not at all funny. They do nothing at all for me.

Me either. I also don't get much of a chuckle out of David Letterman. Who in the heck thinks these guys are funny and why can't we get somebody really funny on the air?

Alex said...

Synova - Why is self-interest a good thing when it means taking redistributed money and accepting government oversight and intrusion, and a bad thing when it means working hard and expecting to keep what you earn or build?

The thing is when I talk to lefties they seem to think that wealth is not fairly earned in the first place. The more moderate ones say that nobody really needs more then $250K a year anyways. That America was founded to be a more egalitarian society, not when it ostentatious displays. The thing is the Constitution does not really guarantee economic freedom at all. Hell our Founding Fathers were divided. Hamilton/Adams wanting the strong central government and Jefferson/Franklin being opposed. Washington in the mushy middle. Thus we still are.

Hagar said...

I don't think Voltaire was that much of a "liberal;" that was more in Rousseau's line.

PETER V. BELLA said...

I agree with Titus. Today is Thanksgiving. So let's give thanks. Thanks for over educated intellectual idiots, Mensa morons, and crepuscular cretins who write tripe like this.

They provide us with so much humor is such a serious world.

Paul said...

"By 1969 the hippie movement was already pretty much dead. "

Yes and no. There are pockets of hippies, real hippies, in NorCal. I perform for them sometimes and they are absolutely free of the smoldering hatred and rage that infects their leftist counter-culture cousins. I like them just fine, and while they are no doubt left leaning they are pretty much apolitical and I don't think any of them vote.

It is interesting to think that out of that "peace and love" movement was spawned the most bitter, hateful, and miserable bunch of misanthropes the country has ever seen.

YoungHegelian said...

Ames also seems to have no idea of simply how tiresome true-believers of all stripes tend to be to those who aren't true believers.

After being around them for a month, you know what's going to come out of their mouth before they even say it. You have to weather their emotional outbursts when they're on about their hobby-horse topic du jour.

And, most of all, you have to endure the underlying assumption that you are somehow mentally or spritually flawed for not seeing the awful evils in this world that are right in front of your face.

"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention!" is their mating cry on a bumper sticker.

Alex said...

Voltaire

Voltaire is remembered and honored in France as a courageous polemicist who indefatigably fought for civil rights—the right to a fair trial and freedom of religion—and who denounced the hypocrisies and injustices of the ancien régime. The ancien régime involved an unfair balance of power and taxes between the First Estate (the clergy), the Second Estate (the nobles), and the Third Estate (the commoners and middle class, who were burdened with most of the taxes).

Now that's a guy who spoke "truth to power" when it meant something. Today's lefties are fucking cowards.

Alex said...

And, most of all, you have to endure the underlying assumption that you are somehow mentally or spritually flawed for not seeing the awful evils in this world that are right in front of your face.

Also they are obsessed with curing all the world's evils and at the same time ignoring the homeless guy on their street corner. They aspire to greatness but put in none of the real ground-up work it takes to achieve it.

jamboree said...

At 45, Ames is a Gen Xer - he's a few years younger than Stewart who qualifies too in the way that the Beatles qualify as cultural Boomers even though they're a few years off of the border of USA boomerdom. I don't read him, but from this it looks like he actually does understand shat he was talking about because he would have been around right when one changed to the other and would understand the distinction.

Anyway, to this: Ames has a great insight into "why so many Gen-X/Yers turned against Obama": "he made them look stupid." They took Obama seriously. They believed. And that set them up to look.... lame!


I think he's got a point. It's the same ironic distance that kept me from supporting Obama in the first place.

He DID make them look stupid.

However, I think it's a good thing to keep that distance - to keep you belief in yourself and not some political figure or collectivist modality, and that, yes, points to libertarianism WITH THE HUGE HAIRY CAVEAT that Corporate Personhood has made collectivism inevitable - but I would much rather attack CP at its root then muck around with hamhanded attempts to circumvent it through the govt.

Other than that, he's probably one of those with a case of boomer envy - he missed his time etc. You know, when one could still believe in bullshit, but all the boomers had to wake up in the 70s/80s, and so does he. Sorry...DUDE. ;-)

Titus said...

I just turned 40 what am I?

bagoh20 said...

If you want a piece of the pie, then go ahead and make yourself one. Nobody laughs at someone who just baked a pie. They are in awe, they want to share your pie and ask your advice. This is how you change the world - one pie at a time.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Liberal contempt for the great unwashed is an old story:

"A supporter once called out, "Governor Stevenson, all thinking people are for you!" And Adlai Stevenson answered, "That's not enough. I need a majority."

Ann Althouse said...

"AA, the post was actually about the failure of collectivism in the Plymouth Colony."

I know, but it was long and too Thanksgiving-y not to be distracting from the main topic. You could link to the text and put in your own words how you think that text relates to the subject in the post.

Fen said...

Liberals themselves are caught up in their self-image

The Democrats sold liberalism as a brand. Now they complain that their buyers are shallow.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

Ames wants young people to rediscover liberalism, which was "once devoted to impossible causes like ending racism and inequality, empowering the powerless, fighting against militarism, and all that silly hippie shit."

What he wants is another generation of easily gulled narcissists, like the Lefties of the Baby Boom generation, who will accept all the neo-Commie nonsense of the late 60s and 70s under the guise of Liberalism.

What he's got is a generation of people who realize they face a very difficult economic environment because of a lot of failed Leftist strategems that (they are beginning to learn) have never worked. As Ann quotes him, "'he made them look stupid.' They took Obama seriously. They believed. And that set them up to look.... lame!"

It isn't being lame they resent - it's being had. They were conned by a con man (he is one of the real cons about whom PB&J/Alex is always projecting) and they'll spend a good deal of their lives paying for it.

Again Ann quotes, "liberals need to cast individualism aside and get collectivized, even though that's not distanced and ironic and unserious:
Collective action is the only possible way to change shit. Large numbers of collectivized nobodies rallying to demand what they want–a better cut of the pie".

This is what the Left has always been about!! Collectivism - it's worked so well everywhere it's been tried. Except that you have to lie to all the useful idiots (their phrase, after all) about what's really going to happen.

I think this guy just wrote the obit for post-WWII Leftism.

PS About the only thing the Liberals did right was the Civil Rights movement. Then they felt obliged to use the model to turn the country into a cesspool of petty, bickering camps (feminism, Black Power, enviro-nuts, etc.) so they'd still be needed.

bgates said...

the lame people you hate

Why hate people like that? He's not talking about the cabal of Montgomery Burns figures here, he's talking about Ralph Wiggum.

Big Mike said...

@shoutingthomas, I agree with your 12:13 post, and I'll add in environmental issues as well.

The big problems have been solved. So what is a liberal to do? Invent problems and try to get people all excited about them. And spit on them if they're skeptical.

bagoh20 said...

" Titus said...

I just turned 40 what am I?"


Man, that's a slow pitch right over the plate. I refuse to take the bait, but it's hard to resist.

Big Mike said...

@edutcher, I think you and I have reached the same conclusion.

If nearly problems have been, essentially, solved then who needs liberals?

rhhardin said...

Lefties over thirty are a puzzle.

You can explain ones under thirty because there are things they don't yet know, in particular about systemic perverse consequences.

They'd even lose under their misinterpretation of general welfare.

The Crack Emcee said...

Ames is still playing on his audience's fear of being the stupid ones — even as he spews some crazy shit he wants us to hear as brilliant.

Now there's a sentence I'll be giving thanks for tonight.

Ann, you do yourself proud.

JAY said...

Not to protest wars or oligarchical theft or declining health care or crushing debt or a corrupt political system or imperial decay—nope, the only thing that motivates Liberals

Um, "liberals" supported the AUMF's for Afghanistan & Iraq.

Um, "liberals" have tripled the deficit in 2 and a half years.

Um, "liberals" supported and passed a "health care reform" bill leading to fewer insurance options and premium increases of 20-40%. Which means declining health care.

Um, the "Liberal" Obama has hired lobbyists, appointed unaccountable czars, used a "stimulus" to pay back political cronies, and signed legislation with $16 billion+ in earmarks.

So what in the hell could these people possibly "protest" the people they voted for?

Fat chance.

Paul said...

Crack, those Yuri Bezmenov videos are must see. It's all there and straight from the horses mouth.

DaveW said...

"...in which Liberals are led, at last, by a clown."

I didn't realize Al Gore was there.

chr1 said...

Justice is the ideal, laws to promote greater justice (as abstract as that ideal is) are the means. Consequences? eh... Individual liberty? Potentially an obstacle.

Notice Robert Cook. He's fairly consistent, but he'll never be happy, becuase his ideals will never be actualized. Once we have a massive gov't, corruption, marginalized religion, questionable policies, less freedoms...he'll still be going on and on and on.

Down that way many lefties lie, shocked (I hope, at times) by the brutality of man, their own impulses, the indifference of nature, the self interest and corruption of politics, the fragility of civilization, the abuses of freedom that come from liberty (Preachers burning Qurans).

Their answer though is to cram as much into those ideals as possible (like most people who have a few deep ideas and don't think much beyond them). Make these ideals into a large tent, and then close the tent off with force if necessary. Appeal to sentiment, villify and and make straw men of your opponents.

I don't know what Althouse hopes to accomplish by the lefty blog project, except to be contrarian and challenge public opinion with a Statist in the White House.

It might be useful.

somefeller said...

Gee, with all that desire to go after the ruling class and general twitchy enthusiasm, Ames would make a great organizer for Sarah Palin's political campaign. Or maybe that's just the damnable Gen Xer in me talking.

Anyway, there's a lot wrong with what Ames is saying, not the least of which being that there isn't much of a constituency for large-scale wealth redistribution among contemporary liberals, particularly the sort that attended the Stewart/Colbert march. Liberalism, particularly social and cultural liberalism, is pretty popular among the financially prosperous, and many of those who call themselves liberals these days have economic views that aren't very different than Eisenhower/Rockefeller Republicans of the past. There isn't a automatic contradiction between supporting gay marriage and opposing a big hike in the capital gains tax, for example. So Ames is sort of a general without an army here. That's probably one of the things that makes him so upset.

edutcher said...

Big Mike said...

@edutcher, I think you and I have reached the same conclusion.

If nearly problems have been, essentially, solved then who needs liberals?


I'd say you broke the code.

caplight said...

Titus:
I will hug you if you promise to leave it at a hug.

Alex:
The problem is not that the progs want to guarantee a standard of living any more. They want to force a way of life on everyone, even on those of us who are happy with the way of life we have chosen.

Blue@9 said...

I like that a leftist actually admits that communists were anti-American subversives. Because before this need to draw some kind of moral equivalency, they uniformly told us that hatred of commies was a sign of degenerate thinking.

Of course, it's pretty funny that Ames ignores the fact that communists were motivated by a desire to destroy the US Constitution, whereas libertarians want to preserve it.

Larry J said...

The preamble to the Constitution list several things with different levels of specificity:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Look at those highlighted words.

Form a more perfect union. They never claimed it was or could be a perfect union (a utopia) but it would be better than what came before.

Establish justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence - those are direct actions specified by the Constitution. Contrast that with "promote" the general welfare. They didn't say they wanted the government to provide the general welfare or even insure it. Just "promote" it. Big, big difference. Even the qualifier "general" means the welfare of everyone, not specific individuals.

Those who use the "general welfare" clause of the preamble to push for massive government welfare programs are bastardizing the meaning and intent of the Constitution.

former law student said...

Who is Mark Ames and why should anyone pay attention to him? And is Tom Hanks' daughter really the voice of a generation?

According to wikip, Ames grew up in a yupscale part of Silicon Valley (Saratoga), studied in Berkeley, and moved to the former Soviet Union, to publish a "satirical newspaper." I don't see how this qualifies him to pontificate on the subject of liberalism -- a movement that has lost his way.

But reading his column, the solution for the liberals' malaise would appear to be for some community organizer to present himself, and help facilitate their identification of goals, and coach them into achieving the goals.

former law student said...

Born in 1970, Titus would be Gen X.

vw: comal -- make some tortillas for T-giving dinner.

Alex said...

The problem is not that the progs want to guarantee a standard of living any more. They want to force a way of life on everyone, even on those of us who are happy with the way of life we have chosen.

Well they claim they want to guarantee a minimum standard of living. If you listen to Air America hosts or Daily Kos. I mean we have to take their word for it. How dare we question their sincerity?

Fen said...

If nearly problems have been, essentially, solved then who needs liberals?

The 3rd World does. I know a liberal family that actually walks the walk - peace corps, roads, water and sewer, irrigation, medicine.

Their own house is bare. No flatscreens, no entertainment system, no classy sportscar.

Not sexy enough for the current crop of latte Libtards, I guess.

former law student said...

If you listen to Air America hosts

Hard to do without a time machine.

Fen said...

Former Law Student: But reading his column, the solution for the liberals' malaise would appear to be -

There's alot to still do out there, FLS. And its more rewarding than sitting in your ivory tower making up lies about Bush.

Just imagine if you directed all that hatred towards some african tyrant instead.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Spitting on people is a pretty good way to form a more perfect Union with them, isn't it?

Fen said...

The 3rd World does. I know a liberal family that actually walks the walk - peace corps, roads, water and sewer, irrigation, medicine.

Their own house is bare. No flatscreens, no entertainment system, no classy sportscar.


Forgot to add: they're Jewish

And they LOATHE socialism.

Sorry Mark Ames. But thanks for outing yourself to me. I believe those that champion socialism are slavemasters. And I believe slavemasters should be destroyed with extreme prejudice. And I'm making a list. You just made it.

Alex said...

FLS - ok sport, what do you call the network that carries Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes, Ed Schultz and Mike Malloy? Whatever happened to Air America continues on...

Alex said...

Here's Mike Malloy:

MikeMalloy calls for death of right-wing radio hosts

Nice, gotta love those peace-loving libs?

Fen said...

Well, at least the brownshirt libtards aren't accusing us of violence against them. That will be a key indicator that they intend violence.

And I see that Ames is making a list of libertarians at State.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

Elitists don't want people to think for themselves. To think for oneself, what is mainly required is time and the willingness to engage in the bother. One doesn't need to pay tuition to think for oneself. It's something poor people can do.

I'm cynical about all parties I know of. The Democrats feel stupid behavior is unselfish, while the Republicans feel that unselfish behavior is stupid. No wonder people can't discriminate between the two, when everyone is exposed to so much indiscriminate conflating bickering. The libertarians' notion that there is some natural separation between behavior that affects just oneself and behavior that affects others is unreasonable; everything one does affects everybody. If the tea party really is an anti-elitist party against the elitist bankers in particular, I could support them, but I will remain skeptical.

What liberals like Obama and Republicans have in common is a tendency to believe in materialism. It's not that the first socialists like Robert Owen didn't believe that the poor were uncouth, but that they believed the poor were uncouth because they lacked money and what money buys. Originally, the strongest opposition to the socialists was not perhaps from rich people but from the pietists, who despite tending to live a collectivist lifestyle, felt poor people tended to be depraved because they lacked the religious instruction that church could offer, and not because they lacked money. Because the pietists mostly lost (they were too pompous), liberalism has been defiled by those materialists arguing that moral stupidity is irrelevant. But moral stupidity is not irrelevant; in particular, rich people tending to think that they are greater than everyone else just because they have had monetary advantages is a direct consequence of their moral stupidity arising from the overly materialistic world view they share with the socialists.

Locke argued that the quick connecting thinking needed for wit [as in a comedian] tends to be incompatible with the slow thinking needed for discriminating thinking. Not that both types of thinking aren't appropriate, but that may be why comedians don't seem to be particularly discriminating in their thoughts.

traditionalguy said...

The Ridicule of Mass Destruction weapons are being used by the Progressives in a circular firing squad. These we only supposed to target Conservatives. Instead the men who dug these pits are falling into then themselves. Now that they have pulled them out of the water, the Palin duo needs to club these flipping and flapping Progressive Fish on their heads so they can do no damage. There is always hope that they can be deprogrammed and regain their senses.

Mark said...

@Jules: "2. Liberalism is at least 150 years old, and arguably older, rather than the 100 Ames claims. That might not be significant except that I don't see much evidence anywhere in the article that Ames knows what the word "liberalism" means."

Good point. It's AT LEAST 234 years. 1776 - The Declaration of Independence and the publication of Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations.

Of course, it's all connected; Rousseau, and Voltaire, Cicero, Thucydides, Plato, Jesus, and Moses. But, 1848, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, Wilson, Hitler, Mao, and Obama aren't Liberal. they are Left.

Jeff said...

The only difference between "silly hippie shit" and silly urban hipster shit: personal hygiene.

What Ames advocates is just a cleaner, better smelling pile of crap.

englishkanighit said...

Someone should let Ames know the Preamble doesn't end with "promote the general welfare". There's that small point about securing the blessings of liberty.

Richard Fagin said...

What's really lame is not having enough of a life that being called a dumb fuck by the likes of Mark Ames would be any amount of personal concern greater than zero.

richard mcenroe said...

"If you want a piece of the pie, then go ahead and make yourself one. Nobody laughs at someone who just baked a pie. They are in awe, they want to share your pie and ask your advice. This is how you change the world - one pie at a time."

Except in California, where they look around and say 'what happened to my pie?'... and then go right on voting for the smirking guy with the fruit-stained lips.

EDH said...

Ever read the preamble to the Constitution? There’s nothing about private property there and self-interest. Nothing at all about that. It’s a contract whose purpose is ... a “more Perfect Union”—that’s “union,” as in the pairing of the words “perfect” and “union”—not sovereign, not states, not local, not selfish, but “union.”

I stand corrected. I didn't think it was possbile for anyone to make Barney Fife's sound more cogent on on the Preamble to the Constitution. A more perfect...you..nyun!

Tscottme said...

This is why it is so important for communists to hide that they are communists and that communism leads, inevitably, to violence and slavery.

You can tell libertarians aren't dangerous because if you don't agree with them they shrug and leave you alone. If you disagree with a communist/liberal they begin a holy crusade to set your eternal soul on fire. No mercy, no compromise just eternal punishment.

Not only can communism never provide a moderately good living for the majority, it inevitably leads to vast poverty, slavery, and violence with the communists in charge of the gulag they provide for you. Ruling over us slaves is their only shot at success and our refusal to quickly submit is the same as evil in their mind. There is no over reaction possible when resisting communism because submitting to communism brings the ultimate in human evil.

Yos said...

"Ames has a great insight into "why so many Gen-X/Yers turned against Obama": "he made them look stupid." They took Obama seriously. They believed. And that set them up to look.... lame!"

... good point which applies perfectly to Ann Althouse who took Empty-suit seriously, who believed Obama, and he made her look STUPID!

JAL said...

Nothing at all about that. It’s a contract whose purpose is ... a “more Perfect Union”—that’s “union,” as in the pairing of the words “perfect” and “union”—not sovereign, not states, not local, not selfish, but “union.”

Offer to let him audit your conlaw class Professor. Don't know what you teach but it's got to be better than this drivel. And he worked himself in a lather over this?

Needs a history lesson. Or two, srsly.

(And since when does getting money [How much is enough? Did our founding fathers leave a clew?]precede "Life?")

Someone looks lame, and it isn't just the kids. (Though I think he's spot on about why the young'ns have abandoned BHO. But I think it also has something to do with no instant gratification for their utopia.)

JAL said...

fls
Air America isn't there, but Ed Schultz et. al. (or the echo chamber) is. Just stumbled acorss him / them the other day.

And I'm in de South.


wv aricitte
An erudite elite aristocrate
aka a snob

Charlie Martin said...

Amazingly enough, Ames seems to think the solution to people's dislike of being made to look stupid is to call them stupid.

Pastafarian said...

The left has been masterful in their use of language.

They chose to call labor unions "unions" and not "conspiracies" or "extortion clubs" partly because the word "union" appears in the founding documents. Then they later claim "Look, dummy, here it is in your precious constitution -- union!"

Same with "welfare". They don't call it "free money for shiftless people" or "wealth redistribution". They call it "welfare".

They're not pro-abortion, they're pro-choice. And on and on. Hell, they even insisted on using blue ("true blue", "sky blue") for the Democrats instead of red (which could have led to an association with communism). Remember when the colors were reversed, for years, until the left insisted on this switch?

These little uses of language and symbol seem trivial, but they're important, they're influential. And I think maybe people are starting to catch on to this sort of thing. And the left is collectively scared shitless.

roesch-voltaire said...

Thanks for this link as I would not have read it or the many interesting comments that followed it. Ames is clever at least, and right to point out that movements, left or right, require power and knowledge, which can be found when folks join together, in the past for the eight hour day, or today for eliminating health care for all. But in his punking of the kids today, he misses the historical subversions practiced by the clown/pranksters like John Stewart whose jokes can at least keep us from following the real fools.

MGA said...

"once devoted to impossible causes like ending racism and inequality, empowering the powerless, fighting against militarism, and all that silly hippie shit."

Today's liberalism isn't about that. It's about using the power of government to force other people to comply with that so that the people who want the government to do that can feel smug in their righteousness.

Ending racism and inequality, empowering the powerless, fighting against militarism, and all that silly hippie shit is something done by individuals. Some of them are entrepreneurs and make jobs so that people can do better. Some of them are ministers and assist their community in charitable work. Some of them are the everyday heroes who just go out and do their jobs which benefits them and their fellow man.

Donald Douglas said...

I told you I learn a lot over here. This essay's da bomb!

sunsong said...

Collectivism vs individualism. I don’t know that they have to be enemies of each other. If both are guided by Love – they would serve the best interests of each, it seems to me. Isn’t what is best for the individual also best for all and what is truly best for all also best for the individual? I don’t know that it has to be either/or. It could be both/and.

Except for the hate that each side currently has for the other…

Damon said...

Quality post - perfect Thanksgiving Day reading. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Allison said...

But it's not about looking stupid exactly, it's about looking earnest.

The hipsters do not ever want to be seen as people who earnestly embrace something, unless it's ultra-ironic to do so (like roller derby, or Dancing with the Stars).

That's what Colbert and Stewart are about--masters of the irony that over and over says "you may not believe in anything!" And yes, if you were to be caught being earnest, that would definitionally mean you were gullible, which is what they mean by stupid.

Ames needs them to embrace *anything* at all again, but of course, liberalism. Did they really embrace Obama? Or was he just the hipster ironist himself? They've abandoned his socialism because they do not want to be seen as True Believers.
I don't think hipsters think he made them look stupid.
I think they think Obama has committed the greatest sin: he's the earnest one who lacks any humor at all, because he's shown himself to be a True Believer. How gullible. How stupid.

Martin said...

I actually clicked thru and tried to read Ames's piece, but its incoherent anger made me fear my head would explode.

That item is about 4800 words and as far as I could tell fails to express a single actionable policy position... he wants people to sign on to what he calls the Liberal program and excoriates them for not doing so, but offers no actual reason why anyone should do so.

Him calling other "lame" is just Pot, meet Kettle.

somefeller said...

Pastafarian says: Hell, they even insisted on using blue ("true blue", "sky blue") for the Democrats instead of red (which could have led to an association with communism). Remember when the colors were reversed, for years, until the left insisted on this switch?

Can you provide a cite showing that the red state / blue state terminology was created as a response to the desires of "the left"? Thanks in advance.

M. Simon said...

It is interesting to think that out of that "peace and love" movement was spawned the most bitter, hateful, and miserable bunch of misanthropes the country has ever seen.

I was in LA for the Century City Riots. I remember talking to a Communist Chick in the Park before the "rally". She wanted to go up against the man. I said she was nuts. Next day her picture was on the front of the LA Times getting her head bashed in by the cops.

OH. Yeah. Our group left Century City when we felt the vibes getting ugly. No night sticks to the head for us.

Allan said...

This is a very long post about someone called Mark Ames.

Are we expected to know who Mark Ames is?

Are we expected to care about anything he says or writes?

Just wondering.

Beldar said...

Fine post, and an absolutely gorgeous closing sentence that winds it all up with a bang. Nice work, Professor Althouse. Thank you.

chr1 said...

Stephen Meigs said:

"What liberals like Obama and Republicans have in common is a tendency to believe in materialism",

Agreed, and good point.

If not Marxist materialism, also scientific materialism. They pin their ideoloogical hopes upon "Science." The demands they make of it (many are guilty of this, not just progs and libs) can not be satisfied.

The problem is just how much this interferes with everyone else's life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, if they get their way.

How did we arrive at such a European, materialist Left in America with all its attendant dangers?

mrs whatsit said...

I am constantly amazed at the inability of so many on the left -- even when writing about the death of leftism -- to avoid profanity and name-calling. "Dumb fuck"? "Collective action is the only possible way to change shit"? Normally I'm perplexed by the reflex: does it help make the point? No. does it attract readers? No. Is it original? No. Is it interesting? No. This time, though, the neat juxtaposition of language and theme made me realize what was going on, at least here: Ames wanted to make a fundamentally serious point and was terrified that if he did so, his hyper-ironic, coolness-obsessed cohort would label him as . . . lame. The ugly language is a pre-emptive self-labeling: "See? I swear in print! I'm transgressive! I'm sticking it to the Man! I'm just as hip as you are!"

. . . . LAME.

mrs whatsit said...

For Thanksgiving, a pie-related point: "Large numbers of collectivized nobodies rallying to demand what they want–a better cut of the pie . . . " When I was growing up as one of a gang of raucous, competitive brothers and sisters, my mother had a swift and certain response to any child who demanded a bigger piece of a pie she'd baked for us: that kid got the smallest piece she could cut. Before long we figured out a better way to get more pie: show up in the kitchen and make some.

My mother was ahead of her time -- or maybe behind it. I'm still waiting for today's rallying nobodies to realize that marching around outside the pie factory shouting for somebody else to give them pie generates no pie for anybody, while tying on an apron, rolling out the crust and slicing up the apples has delicious and satisfying results.

Paul Zrimsek said...

When it comes to spitting on libertarians, Ames doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk.

PD Quig said...

Hey! Let's be charitable and give Ames the benefit of the doubt. Instead of completely ignoring the Constitution, at least he's trying to do some sleight of hand with self-serving re-definition of it.

2 points for originality...but -10 points for originalism.

Kirk Parker said...

Martin,

"Him calling other 'lame' is just Pot, meet Kettle."

Sometimes it's more like Pot, meet Pol.

downtownlad said...

Who says they tea partiers are dumb? They are just hateful.

The tea parties hate the faggots (yes - that's what Ann Althouse likes to call gay people - "faggots" - it's all just harmless words that kids use - no big deal). For example, Meade was at the rally last summer that called Barney Frank a "faggot" as he was walking to his office. Ha ha - all just a funny joke.

Anyway - they want the "faggots" to be banned from the military. they want the 'faggots" to be banned from teaching (see Jim DeMint - Ann's favorite senator). And they want the "faggots" to all die of aids (See Rush Limbaugh who made his fame making fun of AIDS deaths).

And even more the teatards hate the Muslims. Muslims don't get freedom of religion. We must stop the Muslims from building Mosques in New York city, texas, and even Louisville. Muslims must be racially profiled.

And of course the teatards hate most of all our black President. Sorry - our Kenyan President - who doesn't even have a birth certificate. Ann herself signed up with the birthers last summer.

That's why the teatard candidates won some of their races. Not all. Just the racist states like Texas and Utah and Wisconsin. Because the teatards appeal to the worst of America.

george said...

Ames makes the claim that the only thing the elites who run the country fear is people rallying in the streets in large numbers to demand that the elites who run the country be given more power.

Given this I think he has a valid concern that people will be afraid to look stupid if they follow his advice.