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Posted April 3, 2003
A conservative book by a liberal
It is curious how, if you turn to the comments for _Dumbing Down_, you will see a few critics dismissing that book as a rant by cranky conservative pundits; and other critics put down _Twilight of American Culture_ as a typical emanation of an egg-headed, ivory-tower liberal; when both books essentially make the same points. This ideological short-circuit is not just a matter of peoples' reactions to two books, but perhaps symptomatic of the very loss of bearings that both describe. If you call yourself a liberal, can't we assume that you cherish a life of freedom rather than bondage, not only for yourself but for the rest of the human race now and in the future? Whereas, if you call yourself a conservative, I take it that you seek to conserve something for posterity-- probably many things-- valuable in our heritage. Seen in the light of the plain, honest sense of these two words, there is no inherent reason why the values they represent should be incompatible. In fact (though without dwelling on these two catchall labels or any others), Morris Berman eloquently argues that the _only_ way an American can be an authentic liberal anymore is to be an authentic conservative, and vice versa! If you read this book and agree with absolutely everything Berman says, then you will probably disappoint him, because he expects his readers to think. But I would expect both true liberals and true conservatives to find themsleves frequently agreeing, and sometimes becoming inspired. On the other hand, if you dislike the book as a 'liberal', then what is your definition of human freedom? If you want to pan it as a 'conservative', pray-tell, what do you consider worth conserving?
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Posted November 10, 2002
Posted April 2, 2012
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