Why You Can’t Argue with the New Left

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Arnold Kling recommends Scruton’s Fools, Frauds and Firebrands, which profiles a number of continental Europeans whose names are unfamiliar to most Americans today:

Although few of us are conversant with the likes of Theodoro Adorno, Gyorgy Lukacs, and Slavoj Zizek, reading about them makes one realize how much of an imprint they have left on contemporary college campuses and even on the approach to politics taken by Barack Obama.

A major theme of Fools is that the New Left evolved a set of intellectual tactical moves against their opponents. These included creating a false left-right spectrum, delegitimizing other points of view, indicting capitalism and tradition for all wrongs while being vague about alternatives, and using Newspeak to present authoritarianism as a defense of freedom and human rights.


  1. Slovenian Guest says:

    Like I always point out, liberals really do believe they are above it all, even enlightened, that they shed partisanship, ideology, or mere subjectivity like the Homo sapiens shed its tail. As far as they are concerned, modern science affirms all progressive premises; consequently the moral high-ground is assumed, and good intentions are just given, the science is settled, the jig is up! There is no reason to even tolerate our hateful, dangerous, ancient, and outdated conservative assertions, hence the literal comic book villain view of everyone on the right. It truly is comical.

  2. Lucklucky says:

    Why people keep using the word liberals to mean people that are no such thing?

    They are Marxists, leftists .

  3. Slovenian Guest says:

    I’m sorry Lucky, but the word is burned, let it go, the etymological roots or literal meaning are irrelevant to contemporary use.

    From Jon Stewart the Patron Saint of Liberal Smugness:

    “Many liberals, but not conservatives, believe there is an important asymmetry in American politics. These liberals believe that people on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum are fundamentally different. Specifically, they believe that liberals are much more open to change than conservatives, more tolerant of differences, more motivated by the public good and, maybe most of all, smarter and better informed.”

    That’s from the same author who also wrote Why are liberals so condescending:

    “It follows that the thinkers, politicians and citizens who advance conservative ideas must be dupes, quacks or hired guns selling stories they know to be a sham. In this spirit, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman regularly dismisses conservative arguments not simply as incorrect, but as lies. Writing last summer, Krugman pondered the duplicity he found evident in 35 years’ worth of Wall Street Journal editorial writers: “What do these people really believe? I mean, they’re not stupid – life would be a lot easier if they were. So they know they’re not telling the truth. But they obviously believe that their dishonesty serves a higher truth. The question is, what is that higher truth?

    In Krugman’s world, there is no need to take seriously the arguments of “these people” – only to plumb the depths of their errors and imagine hidden motives.

    But, if conservative leaders are crass manipulators, then the rank-and-file Americans who support them must be manipulated at best, or stupid at worst.”

  4. Lucklucky says:

    USA isn’t the world. I’ve never seen a Jon Stewart program, and 20 years from now few will remember him.

    Language precision is very important to explain concepts.

    Calling Marxists and Leftists Liberal is akin to Orwellian newspeak.

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