Two strange deaths
At any rate, thinking back to those days, there did seem to be a prospect for fundamental social change. There was also much recourse to Marxism as the open sesame to everything from sociology and anthropology to literature and music history. Today, I regret the time I wasted on this intellectual loser, a status that now seems obvious.
It is clear that with many families concerned mainly about whether to expand from a two-car to a three-car situation, and how to get their children into an elite university, there is little enthusiasm for radical social change. So the reasons for the first death, that of the far left in this country, are not difficult to understand.
But why should traditional liberalism be going the same way? Some may say that liberalism is just watered-down leftism, and is therefore implicated in the latter's fall. However, anyone who has worked on the battlements of leftist politics, as I did long ago, knows that revolutionary socialists regard liberals as their worst enemies, starting with Franklin Roosevelt, who "rescued" capitalism in America. There is no love lost between the two groups.
Identity politics bears a large share of the burden for the decline of the Democratic Party. During the Cold War Democrats had as good an answer to fighting Moscovite Communism as Republicans. Better, in fact, as it was Harry Truman who first called Stalin's bluff. At the same time many Republicans were isolationists, assuming that we need pay no attention to the rest of the world.
Now, however, Democrats seem paralyzed by the hydra of Islamic extremism. This does not mean that they should have supported the Iraq war. As is becoming increasingly clear, that war is the major obstacle to opposing Islamism. But Democrats should see that recourse to feeble international institutions, such as the UN and the World Court, do not address the problem. Just as we studied Marx during the Cold War in order to defeat the Soviet bloc, so we should study the origins of Islam now. A new school of revisionists is showing that most of what Muslims believe about their faith is a series of fairy tales.
Leftism is dead. Liberalism is "merely" dying. The latter seems to me a great shame.