Thursday, April 07, 2005

Brooks: Liberals need to think more

From The New York Times, there are actually a couple op-ed pieces that are definitely worth reading. First, Tom Friedman writes about freedom finally coming to the Arab world.

And a couple days ago, David Brooks wrote about the intellectual discussion within the conservative movement that has led to its rising power, and why liberals must have similar debates in order to succeed (more euphemizing just won't work). An excerpt:

Conservatives fell into the habit of being acutely conscious of their intellectual forebears and had big debates about public philosophy. That turned out to be important: nobody joins a movement because of admiration for its entitlement reform plan. People join up because they think that movement's views about human nature and society are true.

Liberals have not had a comparable public philosophy debate. A year ago I called the head of a prominent liberal think tank to ask him who his favorite philosopher was. If I'd asked about health care, he could have given me four hours of brilliant conversation, but on this subject he stumbled and said he'd call me back. He never did.

Liberals are less conscious of public philosophy because modern liberalism was formed in government, not away from it. In addition, liberal theorists are more influenced by post-modernism, multiculturalism, relativism, value pluralism and all the other influences that dissuade one from relying heavily on dead white guys.

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