The Left

The left won the wrong war

This passage– from David Bromwich’s review in The New Republic of The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn by Diane Ravitch– strikes me as an especially acute observation of what’s happened culturally and politically in the USA over the past 30 to 40 years. (The review is unavailable for free online.) I’ve found myself thinking pretty much the same thing:

It is sometimes said that the left won the culture war of the late 1960s and the right won the political war. I think this is true; and that things would be better now if it had been the other way around. Our lawmakers have become less liberal than our institutions and laws. Our culture has become more libertine than its consumers. Why should the disproportion matter? There is less grating resentment in a society and less nagging annoyance when politics offers an outlet for reform and culture sets a conventional standard of restraint. Public thinking and speech in such a socieity have less need to resort to fantastic disguises…

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