Progressivism goes off the rails

Here’s Tyler Cowen:

But what struck me most of all was how much the “Old New Left” — whatever you think of it — had more metaphysical and ethical and aesthetic imagination — than the New New Left variants running around today.

Bob Dylan wrote My Back Pages at age 23.  Here are a few stanzas:

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

. . .

A self-ordained professor’s tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
“Equality,” I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now . . .

This seems to speak to the current moment—read the whole set of lyrics.  (And how does someone get that wise at age 23?)

It occurs to me that you could put together a 10-page essay composed of almost nothing but quotes from Dylan, Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, etc., and in the end get accused of being the worst kind of reactionary.  That’s an indication that one segment of the left may have lost its compass.

Over at Law and Liberty, Henry Edmondson has a nice essay on this and a few other Dylan songs. Highly recommended.

PS.  No need for commenters pointing out that the conservative movement has also lost its bearings, drifting into nationalism.  I’ve discussed that in other posts.


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