Managing Despair

The essay below is in the March Playboy Forum. I’ve received their permission to post so that it could be linked to. So link away if it strikes you.

Managing Despair

After a national electoral beat-down like the one Democrats suffered in 2010, there is always hand-wringing over the “future of liberalism.” The anxiety behind such hand-wringing is, obviously, the possibility that liberalism might not have a future, that this time conservatives have really done it, they’ve succeeded in returning us to those days when the Titans of Industry roamed the earth and workers sank beneath their heels.

Unfortunately, the liberal response to this anxiety is never much more than: Compromise the hell out of what you claimed were your values, hope the Republican dummies over-reach, and try to win the next election. What’s pathetic about this response is that no one seems to feel the need for self-analysis. “What are we, exactly?” someone ought to ask. “Are we something that deserves a future?” I propose to help liberalism understand itself even if self-understanding turns out to be something it wishes it didn’t have.

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