Joe Klein was very angry last week at ‘uncivil’ bloggers, and in a storming fit of something that kinda looks like anger, only wimpier, came up with a list of attributes belonging to “left-wing extremists.” I’ve gone through the list and added my own commentary.
A left-wing extremist exhibits many, but not necessarily all, of the following attributes:
–believes the United States is a fundamentally negative force in the world.
–believes that American imperialism is the primary cause of Islamic radicalism.
I think it is one cause. That’s why cluster is in the word clusterfuck.
–believes that the decision to go to war in Iraq was not an individual case of monumental stupidity, but a consequence of America’s fundamental imperialistic nature.
Again, there are multiple reasons, one of which is that we have practiced imperialism of a sort for a very long time (e.g., the Phillipines). We’ve become rather used to it. Also, the idea that, on the foreign policy front, we have engaged in serial “monumental stupidity” is not particularly reassuring. Of course, not all of us thought this was a good idea.
–tends to blame America for the failures of others–i.e. the failure of our NATO allies to fulfill their responsibilities in Afghanistan.
I don’t blame the U.S. for the problems in post-invasion Afghanistan (the blame statement is actually so broad, it can’t be refuted).
–doesn’t believe that capitalism, carefully regulated and progressively taxed, is the best liberal idea in human history.
I’m actually pretty pessimistic about most things, so calling anything the ‘best’ is a pretty big stretch for me. I’ve never advocated overthrowing capitalism, though.
–believes American society is fundamentally unfair (as opposed to having unfair aspects that need improvement).
Why would I bitch about things if I didn’t think they could be improved? This question is more of a Rorschach blot than one that can be seriously answered.
–believes that eternal problems like crime and poverty are the primarily the fault of society.
I would argue that’s a liberal perspective, not an ‘extremist’ one. Like the others, it’s so vague as to be ridiculous. I don’t think we can make people better (or not very rapidly anyway), but we can create a society that is less conducive to crime and poverty. It’s a matter of solutions–preaching better behavior hasn’t typically worked out that well. Also, Klein’s phrasing implies that poverty is primarily a moral failing, and not the absence of money. I don’t agree–rich people can afford to be immoral (e.g., Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan), whereas the poor and middle class can’t.
–believes that America isn’t really a democracy.
I think our democracy is imperiled by some very authoritarian assholes. Consider vote caging.
–believes that corporations are fundamentally evil.
Nope. Just money-making entities to which the functions of governance should not be trusted given their raison d’etre.
–believes in a corporate conspiracy that controls the world.
I believe that we Jews control the world.
–is intolerant of good ideas when they come from conservative sources.
–dismissively mocks people of faith, especially those who are opposed to abortion and gay marriage.
‘m one of the people who defends
faith religion around these parts. However, I do mock intellectually inconsistent idiots, regardless of religion.
–regularly uses harsh, vulgar, intolerant language to attack moderates or conservatives.
Oh fuck. I’m in trouble. We all know the civilized thing to do is imply that someone isn’t a patriot.
The whole exercise seems dishonest: most of the characteristics are so vague as to be meaningless. I guess that means I’m an extremist….