The Hydra lives!

Recently a very dangerous notion has been making the rounds among conservatives, a notion which should be put to rest immediately lest it metastasize into a dangerous malignancy.  Heady with victory, the American conservative movement has been theorizing that liberalism and the left lie mortally wounded, and that a future of freedom and prosperity is assured.  I would like to paraphrase Mark Twain and state unequivocally that the death of the left has been greatly exaggerated.

If government can be compared to Leviathan, then the twin faces of liberalism and leftism should properly be compared to the Hydra, a monster composed of numerous heads which sprout anew whenever one is severed.  The names for liberalism are legion (for they are many); Communism, Socialism, Nazism and Fascism, the peace movement, the environmental movement, Secular Humanism, multiculturalism, and political correctness, among others.   Each of these shows a different face and different aspect of the great overarching philosophy that is liberalism.  They all stem from a common root, and they all have goals with a common end. They may deal with different aspects of the perceptual world, but they look at that world with the same viewpoint and seek to manipulate it toward the same end. This is part of what makes the fight against the Left so difficult; cut off one head and another takes up the fight against you.

Just what exactly is liberalism?  Liberalism is a philosophical movement (known originally as the Enlightenment) which began in the Eighteenth Century and found its roots in two disparate elements: the Renaissance and the Reformation.  The Renaissance was a revival of Greek and Roman philosophy and literature, spurred by the recovery of many old documents and pieces of art.  Suddenly, Europe was percolating with a new appreciation for the Greek philosophers, the Roman builders and governors, the invigorating breath of ancient glory.  It is little wonder that the Enlightenment scholars and writers would call themselves Philosophes.  They fancied themselves heirs to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc.  They were enthralled with new ideas and outlooks. This went hand in hand with the Reformation, which saw the Protestants wage a successful revolution against the Catholic Church and the adoption of ideas not based on authority and tradition, but on independence of conscience and weighing of evidence. Furthermore, the Reformation was born in Germany, where the printing press allowed the Reformers to propagate their writings to a much wider audience.  Protestantism took root thanks to this invention, and the Enlightenment liberals learned a valuable lesson about control of the dissemination of information.  The press was the midwife of the left.

Liberalism has always had a strangely dichotomous relationship with religion.  The evangelical fervor of the Reformation infused an equally strong religious passion in the liberal movement, and there always has been a strong religious component to leftism. The liberals have used Christian doctrine to advance their cause and to bullwhip the Church, and the religious left has always been a strong element in such things as the nuclear freeze movement and the push for the welfare state, among others.  At the same time, agnosticism and atheism have always been the heart and soul of the left.  The British philosopher and early pioneer of liberalism David Hume was said to have lamented on his deathbed that he had been unable to smash the superstition of Christianity. Certainly such liberal luminaries as Rousseau, Nietzsche, Hegel, and Marx were hostile to religion and to Christianity in particular. The socialist/communist wing of liberalism has seen religion as a means of control of the populace by the powerful and has done everything in its power to stamp it out.  The left has always admired pagan Rome, as well as naturalism.  New age religions are fallout from the triumph of liberalism in our world. 

The American Revolution was clearly influenced by Enlightenment thinking, but America diverged early from the currents of liberalism.  America was profoundly a Christian nation, and she fought the British for less government, less taxation, less change from above in society.  It has been argued that the American Revolution was not a liberal movement at all but a conservative resistance to the coming liberal tide.  Certainly the philosophies of Rousseau and Voltaire never made any inroads in the land of the free.  Socialism just has no appeal to those who can go from pauper to prince through hard work.  A society without a moribund class structure has no need of leftism and Revolution with a capital r. 

Liberalism has wormed its way into virtually every aspect of modern life; in fact, liberalism has been the driving force of modernity.  The sexual 'revolution' was the child of the 'free love' movement from the late Nineteenth/early Twentieth Century, and this is certainly one of the heads of the hydra: a rebellious break with traditional Christian morality to revolutionize society. It is interesting to note that Margaret Sanger, mother of Planned Parenthood, was also committed to the free love movement and was a great advocate for Social Darwinism and eugenics, which were at the root of Nazism.  (Nazism itself had its roots in Nietzche and in Rousseau`s doctrine of the State as God instead of the 'superstition' of Christianity.) Feminism has deep and obvious socialist roots, and Sanger, Margaret Mead, and Gertrude Stein were all blatant libertines and socialists.  Socialists founded the NAACP as a counterbalance to George Washington Carver, who advocated free enterprise and hard work as the path to success.  Many of these leftist ideas now occupy a table of honor in our society.

The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 saw the beginning of a turnaround for the United States.  Before Reagan, we had a government dominated by liberal Democrats, schools and universities dominated by radical leftist professors, radio, newspapers, and television stations dominated by the left.  What men such as William F. Buckley and Russell Kirk had worked toward for decades finally began to come to fruition.  There was suddenly such a thing as the right, the conservative movement.  What had been a ragtag band of disparate interests opposed to liberalism coalesced into an actual movement.  Things began to change; some radio talk shows went conservative, new magazines and newspapers opened, even a television network started up with a conservative view.

Still, the left continues to control most of the means to disseminate information. They are not leaving without a fight.  They take the long view; they plan decades out.  Our side can't seem to see past the next battle.  The Liberals understand that this is a war of generations. Why have so many leftists supported the radical Muslims over their own countrymen?  They see the conservatives in this country as the real enemy.
Recently I have seen a number of articles in conservative journals crowing about how we have beaten the left.  The normally brilliant Michael Ledeen, for example, recently wrote a piece in the National Review Online titled 'The End of the Left's History' (granted, he didn't prophesy the death of liberalism).  We should have learned better. We stopped working to destroy the left during the late 1980's, and this gave us Bill Clinton, in the 1990's. We saw the Republican takeover of Congress, and we stopped working, and saw Clinton come back. 

This is a habit we must break.  Had we not gotten lazy we would not be facing the numerous crises we see today. Clinton fiddled while Rome burned during the 1990's.      The 911 attacks may not have occurred had the right not gotten lazy (because President Dole would have taken Bin Laden when offered).  North Korea developed an atomic bomb right under Clinton's bulbous nose.  Clinton allowed the sale or theft of serious dual—use technology. His own Secretary of State bemoaned the fact that the U.S. was the only superpower (leading one to wonder if these thefts were actually that.) Certainly greater vigilance would have prevented this.  Sloth is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.  We have been guilty of sloth.

I was elated by the GOP victory in the 2004 election.  We had all worked hard for it, and we deserved a chance to gloat.  But gloat time is over. The best way to gloat is to move forward, press on.  Liberalism is far from dead.  It has been set back a bit, but it has survived for almost three hundred years.  I have always argued that Liberalism is a religion.  The people who believe in it do so with more than just devotion to a particular philosophy or outlook; they have faith.  How can one explain the Marxist who is willing to die for the revolution?  Some defeats in a few elections is not nearly enough to kill the hydra, is not enough to destroy a three hundred—year—old religion.  This war will be fought for a long, long time.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.  We will have to be eternally vigilant.  This is our burden and our honor.  We have severed some heads but the hydra still lives, and we must prepare for a fresh battle.

Timothy Birdnow is a property manager in St. Louis. His webpage is www.tbirdblog.blogspot.com/

Recently a very dangerous notion has been making the rounds among conservatives, a notion which should be put to rest immediately lest it metastasize into a dangerous malignancy.  Heady with victory, the American conservative movement has been theorizing that liberalism and the left lie mortally wounded, and that a future of freedom and prosperity is assured.  I would like to paraphrase Mark Twain and state unequivocally that the death of the left has been greatly exaggerated.

If government can be compared to Leviathan, then the twin faces of liberalism and leftism should properly be compared to the Hydra, a monster composed of numerous heads which sprout anew whenever one is severed.  The names for liberalism are legion (for they are many); Communism, Socialism, Nazism and Fascism, the peace movement, the environmental movement, Secular Humanism, multiculturalism, and political correctness, among others.   Each of these shows a different face and different aspect of the great overarching philosophy that is liberalism.  They all stem from a common root, and they all have goals with a common end. They may deal with different aspects of the perceptual world, but they look at that world with the same viewpoint and seek to manipulate it toward the same end. This is part of what makes the fight against the Left so difficult; cut off one head and another takes up the fight against you.

Just what exactly is liberalism?  Liberalism is a philosophical movement (known originally as the Enlightenment) which began in the Eighteenth Century and found its roots in two disparate elements: the Renaissance and the Reformation.  The Renaissance was a revival of Greek and Roman philosophy and literature, spurred by the recovery of many old documents and pieces of art.  Suddenly, Europe was percolating with a new appreciation for the Greek philosophers, the Roman builders and governors, the invigorating breath of ancient glory.  It is little wonder that the Enlightenment scholars and writers would call themselves Philosophes.  They fancied themselves heirs to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, etc.  They were enthralled with new ideas and outlooks. This went hand in hand with the Reformation, which saw the Protestants wage a successful revolution against the Catholic Church and the adoption of ideas not based on authority and tradition, but on independence of conscience and weighing of evidence. Furthermore, the Reformation was born in Germany, where the printing press allowed the Reformers to propagate their writings to a much wider audience.  Protestantism took root thanks to this invention, and the Enlightenment liberals learned a valuable lesson about control of the dissemination of information.  The press was the midwife of the left.

Liberalism has always had a strangely dichotomous relationship with religion.  The evangelical fervor of the Reformation infused an equally strong religious passion in the liberal movement, and there always has been a strong religious component to leftism. The liberals have used Christian doctrine to advance their cause and to bullwhip the Church, and the religious left has always been a strong element in such things as the nuclear freeze movement and the push for the welfare state, among others.  At the same time, agnosticism and atheism have always been the heart and soul of the left.  The British philosopher and early pioneer of liberalism David Hume was said to have lamented on his deathbed that he had been unable to smash the superstition of Christianity. Certainly such liberal luminaries as Rousseau, Nietzsche, Hegel, and Marx were hostile to religion and to Christianity in particular. The socialist/communist wing of liberalism has seen religion as a means of control of the populace by the powerful and has done everything in its power to stamp it out.  The left has always admired pagan Rome, as well as naturalism.  New age religions are fallout from the triumph of liberalism in our world. 

The American Revolution was clearly influenced by Enlightenment thinking, but America diverged early from the currents of liberalism.  America was profoundly a Christian nation, and she fought the British for less government, less taxation, less change from above in society.  It has been argued that the American Revolution was not a liberal movement at all but a conservative resistance to the coming liberal tide.  Certainly the philosophies of Rousseau and Voltaire never made any inroads in the land of the free.  Socialism just has no appeal to those who can go from pauper to prince through hard work.  A society without a moribund class structure has no need of leftism and Revolution with a capital r. 

Liberalism has wormed its way into virtually every aspect of modern life; in fact, liberalism has been the driving force of modernity.  The sexual 'revolution' was the child of the 'free love' movement from the late Nineteenth/early Twentieth Century, and this is certainly one of the heads of the hydra: a rebellious break with traditional Christian morality to revolutionize society. It is interesting to note that Margaret Sanger, mother of Planned Parenthood, was also committed to the free love movement and was a great advocate for Social Darwinism and eugenics, which were at the root of Nazism.  (Nazism itself had its roots in Nietzche and in Rousseau`s doctrine of the State as God instead of the 'superstition' of Christianity.) Feminism has deep and obvious socialist roots, and Sanger, Margaret Mead, and Gertrude Stein were all blatant libertines and socialists.  Socialists founded the NAACP as a counterbalance to George Washington Carver, who advocated free enterprise and hard work as the path to success.  Many of these leftist ideas now occupy a table of honor in our society.

The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 saw the beginning of a turnaround for the United States.  Before Reagan, we had a government dominated by liberal Democrats, schools and universities dominated by radical leftist professors, radio, newspapers, and television stations dominated by the left.  What men such as William F. Buckley and Russell Kirk had worked toward for decades finally began to come to fruition.  There was suddenly such a thing as the right, the conservative movement.  What had been a ragtag band of disparate interests opposed to liberalism coalesced into an actual movement.  Things began to change; some radio talk shows went conservative, new magazines and newspapers opened, even a television network started up with a conservative view.

Still, the left continues to control most of the means to disseminate information. They are not leaving without a fight.  They take the long view; they plan decades out.  Our side can't seem to see past the next battle.  The Liberals understand that this is a war of generations. Why have so many leftists supported the radical Muslims over their own countrymen?  They see the conservatives in this country as the real enemy.
Recently I have seen a number of articles in conservative journals crowing about how we have beaten the left.  The normally brilliant Michael Ledeen, for example, recently wrote a piece in the National Review Online titled 'The End of the Left's History' (granted, he didn't prophesy the death of liberalism).  We should have learned better. We stopped working to destroy the left during the late 1980's, and this gave us Bill Clinton, in the 1990's. We saw the Republican takeover of Congress, and we stopped working, and saw Clinton come back. 

This is a habit we must break.  Had we not gotten lazy we would not be facing the numerous crises we see today. Clinton fiddled while Rome burned during the 1990's.      The 911 attacks may not have occurred had the right not gotten lazy (because President Dole would have taken Bin Laden when offered).  North Korea developed an atomic bomb right under Clinton's bulbous nose.  Clinton allowed the sale or theft of serious dual—use technology. His own Secretary of State bemoaned the fact that the U.S. was the only superpower (leading one to wonder if these thefts were actually that.) Certainly greater vigilance would have prevented this.  Sloth is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.  We have been guilty of sloth.

I was elated by the GOP victory in the 2004 election.  We had all worked hard for it, and we deserved a chance to gloat.  But gloat time is over. The best way to gloat is to move forward, press on.  Liberalism is far from dead.  It has been set back a bit, but it has survived for almost three hundred years.  I have always argued that Liberalism is a religion.  The people who believe in it do so with more than just devotion to a particular philosophy or outlook; they have faith.  How can one explain the Marxist who is willing to die for the revolution?  Some defeats in a few elections is not nearly enough to kill the hydra, is not enough to destroy a three hundred—year—old religion.  This war will be fought for a long, long time.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.  We will have to be eternally vigilant.  This is our burden and our honor.  We have severed some heads but the hydra still lives, and we must prepare for a fresh battle.

Timothy Birdnow is a property manager in St. Louis. His webpage is www.tbirdblog.blogspot.com/