[Dan Agin is Emeritus Associate Professor of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at the University of Chicago. His scientific interests are biological psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral genetics. He's the author of the trade book Junk Science: How Politicians, Corporations, and Other Hucksters Betray Us (St. Martin´s Press/Thomas Dunne Books,2006) (paperback edition 2007) (Spanish edition, Ciencia Basura, 2007). His forthcoming book is More Than Genes: How the Fetal Environment Shapes IQ and Behavior (Oxford University Press, 2009). ]
With all the current prattling by conservative hacks about "liberals" and "liberalism", as if caring about the conditions of other people is a horrible attitude, you would think the more intelligent among the hacks would understand the lessons of history. Or is that too "liberal" for them?
Without the lessons of history, our future may be a dark time. And of lessons, history has plenty to offer us--about ourselves, our children, and the roots of anti-liberalism.
In its baldest expression, anti-liberalism is not caring about your neighbors, the people of your city, the people of your country, or the human species. You care about "country" or "freedom" or "business"--but not about people. You paint yourself as a "rugged individualist" or a "philosophical conservative" or, more recently, as a political and social "moderate"--because these days "moderate" may be a safer label at dinner parties. But no matter the label, it's all anti-liberalism and striking in the way the lessons of history are so conveniently ignored.
Anti-liberals have their slogans. "Self-reliance" and "fiscal responsibility" and various other anti-liberal slogans fly around the media like intoxicated pigeons, but if one looks behind the slogans they are all part of the political mechanics of anti-liberalism.
The Roots of Anti-Liberalism: Part I
The Roots of Anti-Liberalism: Part II
The Roots of Anti-Liberalism: Part III