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Sept. 16, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Bumper Sticker Bunkum

As for violence never solving anything, well, let’s ask the slaves and the colonists and post-war Europe. It would be nice, Goldberg observes, if a Gandhian adherence to nonviolence worked in every instance, but Gandhi had the advantage of dealing with the relatively humane British. “Absent the context of a liberal empire,” Goldberg writes, “he would have accomplished little or nothing.” A Gandhi in North Korea would simply disappear, never to be heard from again.

Goldberg does not pretend that conservatives are not ideological. Rather, he embraces ideology — principles grounded in a consistent view of the world — and chides liberals for pretending they’re not ideological.

They’re just for what “works.” What works, of course, is liberals getting their way. If liberals want to spend $10 billion on something, and conservatives don’t want to spend anything on it, liberals make a deal with moderates to spend $5 billion this year and call it a compromise, knowing they’ll get the other $5 billion next year. 

That’s putting ideology into practice. But it’s not a compromise. It’s modestly deferred gratification for liberals. 

In a compromise, everybody gets something. In this case, repeated ad infinitum over most of the past century, liberals get the money, moderates get to be seen as pragmatic (that’s like heroin for moderates), and conservatives get to watch as the government grows ever larger.

If the critical and liberal (is that one category or two?) reaction to Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism” is any indication, few liberals will read “The Tyranny of Clichés.” They’ll ridicule it without reading it — which is too bad, because it contains useful lessons they could apply. 

Foremost among them is that the best arguments are made by taking the other side’s best arguments seriously. 

When a future conservative president finds it necessary to send American troops into harm’s way in defense of U.S. interests, it would be nice to have a legitimate debate about the proper uses of American power. We’ve already read the “War is NOT the Answer” bumper sticker; it wasn’t terribly helpful.

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