Author Topic: The Deluded Left  (Read 3476 times)

AI Wessex

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The Deluded Left
« on: April 16, 2016, 08:12:47 AM »
I thought this article was interesting, mostly because it constructs an argument using many false assumptions and then uses it to condemn liberalism/progressivism.  It uses American Jews as its foil, but could apply to any group the author might choose to focus her telescope on.  Reading it is like watching a pathogen grow and multiply in a petri dish, kind of fascinating:

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What does life look like when an individual is completely driven by choices made through the lens of a progressive worldview? Most who subscribe to it fit a stereotype: single, childless, and proud of it. Comedian Sarah Silverman, raised by progressive parents, embodies the progressive woman image. Having recently and passionately endorsed Bernie Sanders in a viral Facebook video, the vulgar but funny Silverman is a darling of the feminist Left. Her sister Susan doesn’t fit quite the profile, though: a married mother of five, and a rabbi at that. Despite Susan’s more traditional household, she too has let her progressive politics guide every major life decision, from marriage to motherhood.

Political observers on the Right often wonder why the vast majority of Jews in America fall on the other side of the political spectrum. A father of the neoconservative movement, Norman Podhoretz, wrote an entire book on the subject, attempting to answer the question “Why Are Jews Liberal?”

If the Democratic Party is the one that boos God at their convention and has a president so hostile to the Jewish state that the most recent ambassador wrote a scathing tell-all about the breakdown in relations between the two countries — while both the American president he criticized and the Israeli prime minister he served were still in office — why don’t Jews vote in their own self-interest?

Unfortunately for the Jewish community, a great deal of religious observance has been replaced with the worship of social-justice movements and a belief that tikkun olam (translated as “repairing the world”) is what Judaism now requires of us. Judaism in America falls within three major branches: Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox. Reform and Conservative make up the bulk of the Jewish population, though it is shrinking thanks to intermarriage and low birth rates. Because its demographic trends are opposite of their more religiously liberal peers, Orthodoxy’s share of the American Jewish population is rising.

The article continues with the section heading: The Failure of Liberal Judaism.

I'm curious what others think of the arguments made.

DJQuag

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Re: The Deluded Left
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2016, 12:42:23 PM »
It's interesting, the way he makes out that the "real" Jews are making up more of the population due to intermarriage. Judaism always seems to get a pass when it's more extreme members start preaching about racial purity.

I know the rule is only the child of a Jewish mother is a Jew, but the whole thing is looking more and more like a one true scotsman type of deal to me. The Reform and Conservatives still seem to think of themselves as Jewish; I'm pretty sure the antisemitic left and right think they are as well.

Greg Davidson

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Re: The Deluded Left
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2016, 07:56:08 PM »
I didn't find the article interesting so much as typical - a common practice of modern conservatism is to paint an unrepresentativwe picture of those who disagree with them, and then to attack the strawman

Fenring

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Re: The Deluded Left
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2016, 03:42:42 AM »
I have to say the article didn't seem to say much of anything. It wasn't a stereotype so much as incoherent. I actually do think there is a case to be made that many modern cultural Jews straddle the fence between liberal culture and conservative family values, but that's not particularly on topic with what the article is after.

I do find this bit interesting, though:

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Unfortunately for the Jewish community, a great deal of religious observance has been replaced with the worship of social-justice movements and a belief that tikkun olam (translated as “repairing the world”) is what Judaism now requires of us.

Tikkun olam is straight out of kabbalah, and although strictly speaking rabbinic Judaism is supposedly based on esoteric kabbalistic teaching, the Judaism taught in synagogues and practiced by most Jews does not actually partake of this view or even mention the kabbalistic view of the broken universe at all. It is notoriously the realm of the Hasidim where the good deeds and fixing of the world to bring the messiah is invoked, which makes is odd the article should mention this as if it's the cornerstone of the average Jewish person's life. Most have probably never heard of it, or at least if they have they don't really know what it's about. By itself this might just mean that the author of the article is ignorant of this, and also of the fact that 'social justice' as such has pretty much zero to do with fixing the world in the sense Hasidic Jews mean it. They are not about doing good deeds in the generic sense; they have a very specific list of things that need to be done to put money in the messiah piggy bank.

When reading Al's article I was reminded of a strange pattern of Obama referring to tikkun olam and how it is part of his life. He's said it at various Jewish-themed events over the years; here's a video of some of them:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bAevuoRj34

I was kind of nonplussed when I first heard him say this since it made me wonder whether he's speaking on a very general level just to say he believes in kindness and good deeds, or whether it might mean he's into kabbalah specifically as at present many celebrities are. If so that would be kind of interesting since that absolutely would mean he cannot be a Christian or Muslim since the kabbalist metaphysics is directly contradictory to both of those systems and they are incompatible.

Where this gets interesting and veers even wider than the article's thesis is that kabbalistic theology is strictly realist (i.e. moral realism) and relies on an absolute and clearly defined structure to the universe, which is more or less the antithesis of social justice insofar as social justice is the revaluation of values and the evolution of what we cared about previously. Moral relativism cannot coexist with kabbalah, making it all the more strange the article should mention tikkun olam in the same sentence as social justice activists.