George Rebane: Open letter to Don Rogers
Don, your weekly column, “The gritty middle way,” in the May 6 edition of The Union on this page was a thoughtful, well-written piece that I and many of your readers enjoyed reading.
By now, most of the newspaper’s readers know that, counter to your protestations, you have become markedly left of center in your politics. We have all witnessed the transition over the past few years.
The essay’s great opening — “Humans live in tension between the collective and the individual, neither ant drones nor lonely snow leopards” — sets the stage for a good discussion of that gritty tension.
As you might expect, your words will sound very different to right and left readers who don’t necessarily inhabit the extremes of their respective polar regions.
The discerning reader is jarred a mite when he runs into “the farther right and farther left have uncannily similar root worldviews in common. Just understand that America’s actual risk of living under the thumb of fascist overlords or critical-theorist Marxist mobs amounts to the same fever dream born of indigestion from bogieman stories repeated mostly on blue screens.”
This observation and a couple of others can qualify as a litmus test for an intellectual leftist — they do not see the asymmetries in the ideological foundations of individualism and collectivism.
For them, “our yearnings in politics would have us believe that the end of the rainbow, the prize, lies at one pole or the other, sweet relief to be found there.”
However, that is not true. Were we to believe polls and voting patterns, we would know the overwhelming share of liberal voters embrace large government collectivism, seeing no natural limits to taxation, regulation, and centralized control — reaching for the undefined but uniformly applied “common good” dominates all political thought. This is the foundation of the “fair share” dictum — from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs — enforced equity über alles.
On the right the conservative, most certainly the conservetarian, sees no desired end in fascist governance. For after all, fascism is the other dominant form of collectivism that also requires a very large autocratic government to implement its principles of social order and economics.
This is anathema to the overwhelming share of those on the right. Perhaps unrealistically, but the mainstream rightwinger’s desiderata are based on a smaller government minimally regulating open markets, staying out of people’s lives, and subsisting on minimum tax revenues.
The real political bookends for us are quite different than those apprehended and preached by the left. An easy proof of this is in the readings of your cited Levin, who describes a leftist society accepted by the left, and Lakoff, who demonstrates repeatedly that he has no idea what the right believes and seeks.
What the left-leaner also misses is that his desired social order requires the practice of wholesale altruism to make it work, and populated by perfected Marxists who have always been beyond the pale of human action (see Hardin’s “The Tragedy of the Commons”).
Historically, all left-wing nostrums to achieve such a glorified state of affairs require an initial phase of large-scale authoritarian social conditioning, wherein some eggs have to be cracked to make the sought for omelet. This road, de rigueur to the intellectual Marxist, is kept hidden from the hoi polloi lest they up and embrace the ever-present siren song of the capitalists.
So, in sum Don, your commentary invites the reader to an admittedly difficult, yet reasonable and reasoned middle path, avoiding both sides bounded by indistinguishable brambles and thorns. Sadly, as attested by more than 200 years of history, along with today’s petabytes of data, that is not the real world — it never was. May the conversation continue.
George Rebane lives in Nevada County.
Full disclosure: I believe that recent dramatically accelerating climate changes are real and dangerous and I support attempts to mitigate effects. That said, new state housing legislation and proposed local fire mitigation taxes that directly…
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