The genius of the left in the ’60s was simply to perceive the new moral imperative, and then to identify itself with it. Thus the labor of redeeming the nation from its immoral past would fall on the left. This is how the left put itself in charge of America’s moral legitimacy. The left, not the right—not conservatism—would set the terms of this legitimacy and deliver America from shame to decency.
This bestowed enormous political and cultural power on the American left, and led to the greatest array of government-sponsored social programs in history—at an expense, by some estimates, of more than $22 trillion. But for the left to wield this power, there had to be a great menace to fight against—a tenacious menace that kept America uncertain of its legitimacy, afraid for its good name.
This amounted to a formula for power: The greater the menace to the nation’s moral legitimacy, the more power redounded to the left. And the ’60s handed the left a laundry list of menaces to be defeated. If racism was necessarily at the top of the list, it was quickly followed by a litany of bigotries ending in “ism” and “phobia.”
The left had important achievements. It did rescue America from an unsustainable moral illegitimacy. It also established the great menace of racism as America’s most intolerable disgrace. But the left’s success has plunged it into its greatest crisis since the ’60s. The Achilles’ heel of the left has been its dependence on menace for power. Think of all the things it can ask for in the name of fighting menaces like “systemic racism” and “structural inequality.” But what happens when the evils that menace us begin to fade, and then keep fading?
O artigo é longo e continua. Mesmo aqui em Portugal, os partidos de esquerda mesmo cheios de casos de corrupção, favorecimento, e enriquecimento ilícito súbito clamam ser os representantes da moral e da justiça – não só mais do que os partidos de direita mas mesmo face à sociedade em geral (a lata!). Não se olharão ao espelho?