As a matter of logic, I don’t think it’s that hard to defend the old guard liberal position. Rich white men lucked out — through the whims of history and geography, they were in a position to first discover certain very effective principles in political and economic theory. Call this the extension of the “Guns, Germs, and Steel” argument to the realm of human affairs. The application of those principles has, itself, expanded the pool of people entitled to participate fully in our democracy (as well as business, academics, etc.). Thus, while there is an accidental set of historical circumstances that mean that white men first discovered and implemented these principles, the principles are available to anyone and indeed demand that everyone be allowed to participate.

There are plausible objections to this narrative, of course, but as a narrative it holds together well enough.

I think the old guard liberal position has struggled for three reasons. First, under the influence of (I’m sorry to use this term) post-modern academic thinking, liberals have abandoned the core idea that liberal principles are universal. Second, the above argument is just rhetorically more difficult than the new left argument. It’s harder to fit in a tweet or on a placard than “Old white guys — they suck, amirite?” And third, some of the rhetorical force of the old guard position and its claim to universalism has been squandered on patently awful experiments in export like Vietnam and Iraq, to say nothing of a fair amount of brutality and hypocrisy at home. Failure to live up to a principle doesn’t make the principle wrong, of course — the fact that your doctor doesn’t exercise doesn’t mean he’s wrong that exercise is good for you — but as a knee-jerk heuristic people have a hard time trusting someone who fails to follow his own advice.

So… liberalism struggles.

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Thanks for sharing this, Richard. I'd been a long-time subscriber to The New York Review of Books, but as my politics and theirs have both changed from 2010 to the present (I became more skeptical of modern progressivism, they became less), I've been searching for a replacement publication. The Claremont Review seems like it fits the bill. I'll tell them you sent me.

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Here's an example of "white male liberalism."

The the ACLU up until a few years ago. The old "white male liberalism" hews closely to classic ACLU mindset in which in everyone has the same capacity for maximum individual expression. Originally, this legal advocacy group took a libertarian and universal view of speech and would go as far as successfully defending neo-Nazi marches in Jewish neighborhoods as protected expression under the 1st Amendment in a famous court case. By successfully protecting the speech of the most noxious groups imaginable in various rulings, the ACLU ensured that fewer precedents for blocking freedom of expression (as they would likely occur in court cases like the above) occurred in court rulings; these potential precedents could be cited in future, less controversial cases and result in situations where limiting protecting free speech is easily done by judges. Essentially, everyone's egalitarian access civil liberties is presumably worse off in the future if the ACLU does not make a bold stand for whatever controversial act of expression is being fought in court.

Contemporary law schools not encourage this worldview anymore. Specious "marginalized groups," which are invented whenever their politically expedient, need to have laws that replace equal treatment (old liberalism) with preferential treatment for protected political blocks in the name of social justice. That's how I see it. I hope this posts helps.

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science tech person here. Ignoring the humanities - although I'm a big fiction reader - for the moment, I'm struck by how this "conversation," such that it is, is being held between differing tribes in the humanities

that only when sciences hit the real world, and consumers buy that iphone, or washer, or car, on businesses purchase that raw material, that this conversation about old white guys, or young work multi-whatever runs into the reality of *shit just has to work*

the orgs who are focused on how long their battery runs, or if their machine that does the thing they need it to will succeed *in a capitalist society* where buyers make decisions re the quality of the good or service and will stop buying the thing from the org who, because their employees are focused on one grievance study or another, deliver sub standard value. Sure, there're orgs for the time being who put off so much cash (Google) by their core business, their employees can afford to be woke, but even google is being shown to be putting their thumb on the scale, permitting entrants like duckduckgo

now, in a *capitalist* society, this is all permitted. If innovation stops being rewarded, we'll end up with most folks stopping to kill themselves to make the thing excellent, if their reward is to being pulled back to the median. We have experiments running in real time. TX and FL vs CA and NY. Writ large, US v say the EU. Will be interesting to watch it play out. My bet is on the folks who keep the planes in the air.

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Well, I don't know what political party he's looking at, but if you look at the one normally associated with Liberalism, the Democrat party, it is almost ALL women with what remains simply effeminate males.

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The ridiculous Rittenhouse comments by the likes of DeBlasio, and Cuomo, even our own embarrassment of a President, are prime examples of the conundrum of the White, male liberal.

Does he abandon the traditionally classic liberal ideas of self-defense and respect due process? Or, having ridden the hatred and bigotry of identity politics to political relevance, will he have no choice but to continue to placate the mob he helped create?

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Your review should instead be titled "The problem FOR white male liberalism."

The problem, as anyone who has played musical chairs knows, is when the music stops. When George Floyd took his last breath, the needle scratched across the record for White Male Liberals.

Largely complicit in the societal cancer that is identity politics, White Male Liberals - in spite of voting the "right way" - are ironically and increasingly indistinguishable from the likes of Derek Chauvin among those taught to reject "The Dream" and instead see racial identity as character.

The White Male Liberal's Faustian bargain, the stoking of racial animus to leverage political power and to exorcise feelings of his own guilt, are now repaying that debt with their increasing irrelevance. As "diversity, equity and inclusion" serve as code for his eventual ouster, the desperate White Male Liberal sees the forming mob and has no choice but to make an ironic case for HIS character by attacking others' who share his identiy.

He's the "Good" White Liberal Male - yet he will not step down from his entitled position, but will surely advocate that I should. That's how "Good" he is!

The Monster. Taught by his White Liberal masters to define an enemy by his immutable characteristics, a clear rejection of "The Dream," The Monster has gone rogue. Noticing the similarity between the White Male Liberal and the enemy he's been programmed to hate, he now questions the usefulness of the creator. You might say the Monster is not just alive, or even awake. No, its more than that. It's WOKE!

The Monster is gaining political power. He has intimidated media, corporate America, political leadership, education, the justice system and popular culture.

Racial identiy has BECOME character.

The White Male Liberal has lost relevance and control of his creation. To question The Monster's character is to attack his identity. So The White Liberal Male condescends to the Monster who has become a narcissist, unwilling and unable to take responsibility for his actions; it is always the fault of the enemy.

So today's White Male Liberal is much like that troublesome, two-flush turd; a greasy reminder of an overconsumption of self-serving, poisonous ideas about identity while ignoring character. Now desperately clinging to the sides of a very slippery slope, the White Male Liberal tries to make a case, ironically, for the virtue of his own character by bashing those of other Whites who have not attended the right think camps.

In the end, the bill will come due. Like the burned out car lot Kenosha that was brandishing a sign supporting BLM, the White Liberal Male will not have made enough concessions to the mob to save his job, or worse. His last breaths will be about character, but it will be too late. His skin is his identity.

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My sense is that white men who held institutional influence before the Great Awokening have been able to retain it in some measure. But the Steven Pinkers and Jonathan Rauchs and Larry Summers of the next generation will not have established reputations to fall back on as a shield against the mob.

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"Liberalism legitimizes race- and gender-based criticism of Western society, then finds itself unable to resist that criticism when it is turned inward against liberalism itself."

The above is the smart man's version of "liberalism is an auto-immune disorder".

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Who Gives a $HIT! Let them eat themselves. I am going fishing and hunting and when I get back from the Deep Woods and Swamps of the Deep South they may already be gone and I do not have to do anything with them. There is nothing left in the US or Western Europe worth fighting for never mind wasting my breath to argue with Mental Midgets and Intellectual Dwarfs that have bonus feature of Mental Derangement, ie Magic Thinking. F' em and let the buzzards pick their bones on the streets of the Woke Cities where they will self destruct.

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