James Taranto At The WSJ: ‘See You In The Funny Papers’

Full piece here.

Taranto details his formative journalistic experience as a college newspaper editor, which eventually blossomed into an ACLU legal battle over the 1st amendment.  The culprit:  A comic strip published at the UCLA college newspaper (where Taranto didn’t attend, and wasn’t involved in publishing, but became involved with nonetheless).

In that strip, a chicken admitted to having been admitted to UCLA due to affirmative action.  The offending chicken roused a few hurt feelings, but also the cries of victimhood and the need for retribution.  Shut up, they explained.

This was back in 1989:

‘Our suspension from the Sundial was a disillusioning experience. If you’d asked us before it happened to characterize our political views, we’d have said libertarian. We were on the side of the “left,” we thought, when it came to questions of personal freedom, especially freedom of expression. It turned out the left wasn’t necessarily on our side. Liberals could be shockingly illiberal’

It’s been the operating theory of this blog that Leftism, progressivism, and the secular ‘-isms’ that generally spring from a Left-of-Center political philosophy (multiculturalism, feminism, environmentalism), now firmly part of public opinion and much of mainstream American culture, have not hammered out core philosophical issues surrounding relationships between the individual and collective.  There are always new victims to round-up, and new injustices to be found and exploited for political and ideological gain.  This ought to make all clear thinking individuals take pause.

The roots of what is fast becoming modern liberalism can be quite illiberal.

Of course, Taranto’s adventure happened in Southern California, where there is much more sentiment for this kind of thinking (it’s produced Ronald Reagan, Andrew Breitbart, and Reason Magazine in opposition).  But as Taranto argues, it’s been more widespread in our culture:

‘That, it seems to us, is the central story of our time. The left-liberal elite that attained cultural dominance between the 1960s and the 1980s–and that since 2008 has seen itself as being on the cusp of political dominance as well–is undergoing a crisis of authority, and its defenses are increasingly ferocious and unprincipled’

It’s an important story of our time, no doubt.  In my experience, even many old school liberals deep down tend to think people aren’t much good, and are in need of constant supervision. Many tend to promote, or go along with, expanded definitions of the public good, and public institutions, and ever more programs to supervise and make more ‘equal,’ more ‘just,’ and more ‘fair.’  Eventually, they wall themselves off.

On a related note, I don’t know if it’s a law of nature (if it is, I’ve also seen it in every office I’ve been in, but those offices have to answer to the market).  Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

‘Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:

 First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization’

Is our culture becoming like California’s culture?

Our government has grown steadily for decades, yet it functions more poorly and is divided as ever.  Do people fight more over the less there is?:

Repost-Francis Fukuyama And Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘None Of The Above’

Also On This Site:  They’re coming…no wait…they’re already here: From FIRE.org-’Federal Government Mandates Unconstitutional Speech Codes At Colleges And Universities Nationwide’

Related On This Site:  Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.

The Chicago School rolls up its sleeves: Repost-’Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’Repost-From Fora Via YouTube: ‘Thomas Sowell and a Conflict of Visions’

Richard Epstein At The Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas: ‘California’s Kafkaesque Rent Control Laws’

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …Two Sunday Quotations By Albert Jay Nock in ‘Anarchist’s Progress’

Using J.S. Mill, moving away from religion?: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’…Repost: Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder

A Few Thoughts On Robert Nozick’s “Anarchy, State and Utopia”

One thought on “James Taranto At The WSJ: ‘See You In The Funny Papers’

  1. Pingback: The Most Precious Right | David's Commonplace Book

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