The Therapy Sessions
Thursday, May 04, 2006
George Will does an excellent job of describing the evolution of modern liberalism (and describing how modern conservatism has just become another flavor of liberalism):
Although Galbraith coined the phrase ``conventional wisdom,'' and thought of himself as the scourge of groupthink, ``The Affluent Society'' was the distilled essence of the conventional wisdom on campuses. In the 1960s, that liberalism became a stance of disdain, describing Americans not only as Galbraith had, as vulgar, but also as sick, racist, sexist, imperialist, etc. Again, and not amazingly, voters were not amused when told that their desires -- for big cars, neighborhood schools and other things -- did not deserve respect.
But for liberals that was precisely the beauty of Galbraith's theory. If advertising could manufacture demands for whatever corporations wanted to supply, there was no need to respect markets, which bring supply and demand into equilibrium.
``The Affluent Society'' was the canonical text of modern liberalism's disparagement of the competence of the average American. This liberalism -- the belief that people are manipulable dolts who need to be protected by their liberal betters from exposure to ``too much'' advertising -- is one rationale for McCain-Feingold. That law regulating campaigns embodies the political class' belief that it knows just the right amount of permissible political speech.
I don't always agree with Will, but he really hit the nail on the head there.