Brief summary: Obama and the new left are resurrecting goals that originate not just in the 60’s but in the French and American revolutions.
“The pursuit of happiness,” however, added something different. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is Thomas Jefferson’s modification of philosopher John Locke’s phrase “life, liberty and property” — a solidly liberal and now conventional formulation.”
Indeed it is. There are important differences between the U.S. and France. In my mind, such a comparison between the two countries’ founding principles and subsequent histories isn’t defended very well.
The last words of the article:
“It is a set of goals still well worth fighting for. And we should honor the activists of 1968 for their contributions to it, not dismissively denigrate them.”
1. Well, when many of these activists supported (or at least failed to understand and condemn the injustice of) communist regimes around the world, perhaps such ideas are worthy of condemnation.
2. We have a chance to do as Martha Nussbaum has been doing here and here in America for quite some time. (I don’t pretend to know what’s best for France): We can illuminate the failures and limitations of socialism, communism, Marxism, postmodernist theory, Chomskyite politics…
In their place, perhaps we can look back to thinkers on both the classically liberal left (J.S. Mill and Bentham) and our own material and empiricist roots like Locke…as Marcuse does….for a start.
Just some thoughts that aren’t new.
Where did Marxism come from anyways? Peter Singer Discusses Hegel And Marx
See Also: Jon Chait in The New Republic On Disaster Capitalism: Naomi Klein And The Dead Left, What Can Liberalism Be? Much More Than It Is Now.