At The Liberal Patriot, John Halpin surveys the current progressive intellectual infrastructure and he doesn't like what he sees. He suggests we urgently need an alternative.
"If you’re baffled by the direction of so-called “progressive” politics these days, you’re not alone. An intellectual and political movement once grounded in the reformist policies of the earliest progressives—and the universal principles of 20th century American liberalism—has given way to a well-funded network of activists, academics, and social media denizens who reject these principles in part or wholesale.
In place of a commitment to individual freedom, political equality, and social welfare policies designed to offer people protection from hardship and a hand up in life, today’s progressives organize themselves around abstract theories of oppression and power relationships grounded in racial, gender, and religious categorizations. Where liberals and the early progressives saw deep flaws in American society and set out to create practical solutions to achieving greater equality and freedom for all people, modern social justice progressives see a country irreparably broken by “400 years of systemic racism” and seek to overturn perceived social and cultural hierarchies in favor of historically oppressed groups. Older liberals once fought for laws and regulations to overcome racial and gender discrimination and increase individual rights, while modern progressives increasingly fight over language, representation, group-based accusations, and who is allowed to say or think what.....
There are many different explanations for why this shift happened. But one that is often overlooked is the changed intellectual infrastructure sustaining liberal politics.
For starters, the sociological landscape that once underpinned traditional American liberalism—a working-class Democratic Party; labor unions; liberal churches, parishes, and synagogues; multiracial urban political networks; social reform journalism; and liberal academics and the social sciences—has atrophied. Rising in its place is a left politics grounded in a highly professionalized Democratic Party coming out of culturally radical environments in elite colleges and universities, wealthy foundations, corporate media outlets, and ideologically aligned non-profits and advocacy groups....
The lack of a fortified intellectual infrastructure supporting traditional American liberalism is a big challenge. So what needs to be done?
The first order of business for liberals is to recognize the depth of the problem. Identity-based politics, on the left or the right, will not just disappear on its own. The incentives for this kind of politics have grown immensely in recent years, and it will have to be counterbalanced by an equally well-supported effort from liberals on both the center-left and center-right."
Read the whole thing at The Liberal Patriot. And subscribe--it's free!