Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Does History Always Move Left?

The following is one of the more preposterous leftist cliches:

Since the F.D.R. administration, conservatives have unsuccessfully opposed legislative and judicial reforms that today are considered so mainstream as to be "conservative." In effect, yesterday’s liberalism is today’s conservatism, and this has been the direction of social and political change since the age of the Flappers and the Model T.

Examining the writings of such conservative icons as Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley Jr, Phyllis Schlafly, and nine others, Joshi uncovers statements that most people today would consider not just radical but outrageous: · In the 1950s, Russell Kirk opposed Social Security because he said it was "un-Christian."

Time has run back in some fields. There are former leftist ideas that used to be dominant but are now almost unheard of: wage and price controls, eugenics (which used to be a liberal plank until it became unfashionable), nationalizing the “commanding heights” of the economy, the Fairness Doctrine. There are others that are noticeably declining: gun control (a former mainstay of the Democrats that they dropped almost completely in the last election), Social Security (the former “third rail”), large parts of environmentalism (there are environmentalists nowadays defending DDT and nuclear power). In some ways, yesterday's conservatism is today's liberalism (i.e., Clinton putting putting through Reagan's platform).

It's not surprising that we get such rhetoric from leftists. After all, if you pride yourself on being the wave of the future, you have to believe there is an identifiable wave of the future. It helps if you believe that yesterday's wave of the future is the same as today's.

There's another reason for such rhetoric. It's part of the “let's scare conservatives” tactic.

  1. Pick a phenomenon which looks likely to increase in the future. (Examples include: immigration from places other than Europe, acceptance of evolution, use of higher biotechnology, etc.)

  2. Pretend it somehow makes traditional values obsolete somehow.

  3. Wait for a conservative to believe that propaganda.

  4. Accuse them of being anti-progress.

The only real puzzle is why conservatives fall for it so often.

By the way, do I have to read that book now? I've read enough wacko leftist books …


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