Mark Ames has a very good analysis of the “Rally to Restore Sanity” over at the exiled in which he points out exactly how liberal individualism has decimated itself (and I recommend you read the whole damn thing):
It’s the final humiliating undoing of Enlightenment Idealism that made Liberalism possible–imagine if Jefferson, Diderot, Montesquieu, Madison et al reduced the entire Enlightenment’s struggle against the old feudal order to “I’m against the monarchy because the monarchy’s stupid…but then again, Rousseau makes a fool of himself with his Romanticism, and Tom Paine is so serious with his ‘Rights of Man’, the Revolutionaries are just as crazy as the Monarchists, so rather than join either side and risk opening myself to mockery, I’m just going to stand back and laugh at them all and say, ‘Really? Independence? Everyone is created equal and has the right to pursue happiness? Really, TJ? You sure you want to say that about Bluebeard? Really?” [LAUGH TRACK]…
And he’s got a point. One of the phenomenons of the Hobbit fiasco was the number of liberal commentators who lined up to take pot-shots at the union. Not because of what they stood for but because they just weren’t doing it very well. As Ames makes clear there’s nothing the modern liberal fears more than getting caught standing for something:
Liberals are sure that this somehow makes them smarter and less lame–and indeed, they are less lame, because they are not taking themselves too seriously, which is something they’re very, very proud of. All great political struggles and ideological advances, all great human rights achievements were won by clown-led crowds of people who don’t take themselves too seriously, duh! 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.
It reminds me of a comment about the Hobbit by sanctuary over at the dimpost the other day:
This is what sticks in my craw about this whole fiasco – New Zealand business can fuck royally to the tune of billions of dollars time after time after time after time after time… And it might rate a mention or two from Russell Brown or Danyl. One small, under-resourced union fighting the good fight for its members makes some mistakes? WHOA! HOLD THE FRONT PAGE FOR A WEEK! No piece of scathing satire is bad enough for the union – they must be crushed beneath the torrent of judgemental scorn of clever middle class wordsmiths.
But back to Ames:
You see, this is why so many cool Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers were so jazzed up about going to the Stewart rally–by definition, they were guaranteed not to look stupid by going to it, because it’s not really a rally. They’re not putting anything on the line. They’re just going to chant the equivalent of that annoying Saturday Night Live Update skit “Really?” No generation ever looked so cool so late in their lives as my generation. We did it! We achieved our dream! We don’t look as stupid as the hippies did when they were in their 40s! Woo-hoo! We still mock ourselves and we’re still self-aware, but best of all, we don’t look stupid by devoting ourselves to ideas or movements that other people might one day laugh at. We won! We won the least-stupid-looking-generation competition! Let’s gather together in an ironic, self-aware way, and celebrate how we’re not really rallying or laying anything on the line–not even now, not even when the whole fucking country is collapsing. What’s our prize, Don?
Meanwhile, behind Door Number 1, the country is in two losing wars and the worst economic crisis in 80 years, behind Door Number 2, over 40 million Americans are on fucking food stamps, behind Door Number 3, millions are being land-transfered out of their property like landless peasants in a banana republic–yeah, it’s bad, whatever dude, it’s always been bad, nothing ever changes much, don’t have a cow, deal with it…
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say a few things that might sound stupid, but bear with me:
1. 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, 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. There must be thousands of billionaires’ unions—whether the Chamber of Commerce or the gazillions of libertarian networks—and the only thing they hope and dream about and invest their effort into is planting a seed into your vain Gen-X brain that makes you think it’s lame to collectivize.
Head over to the exiled for Ames’ other words of wisdom.