reclaiming the L word

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Michael (Up from Conservatism) Lind is asking at Slate "Is it OK to be liberal again, instead of progressive?" Lind writes that he has "always been uncomfortable with this rather soulless and manipulative exercise in rebranding" because "The word 'liberal' is a badge of pride:"

What is more embarrassing in 2008, to be associated with self-described liberals like Roosevelt and Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr. and Barbara Jordan, or with conservatives like Reagan and George W. Bush and Tom DeLay?

I'm solidly with Lind on retaining 'Liberal' over adopting 'Progressive," and even more so with his criticisms of conservatism's ideological bankruptcy. Well over a decade ago, Lind wrote about "Why Intellectual Conservatism Died" in the pages of Dissent (Winter 1995, pp. 42-7). Lind clearly saw the decline as it was happening: the rise of Protestant fundamentalists, "mini-con" patronage trumping merit, fealty to GOP ideology being used as a litmus test, and the dependence of conservative magazines on foundation money. The piece isn't online, but it's well worth tracking down a copy; here are the opening and closing lines:

The collapse of intellectual conservatism in America has been as complete as it has been swift.


Today, as always, it is possible to be an American intellectual who is politically conservative. But conservatism as an intellectual movement in the United States is dead.

If conservatism was intellectually dead in 1995, how should it be described now?

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on November 30, 2008 11:27 PM.

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