November 9, 2003

Liberal Versus Liberal

Andrew Hagan has a good solution to the battle between liberal hawks and the anti-warriors over who gets to call themselves "liberal."

It's a fine solution, and I'm surprised I haven't seen this before.

Simply divide the liberals into camps. The right has already done this to itself.

There are paleoconservatives of the inflexible old-fashioned Pat Buchanan variety. And there are neoconservatives who are more moderate and who often have a left-wing pedigree. There are also just plain old conservative conservatives.

So why not carve up the left the same way? There are paleoliberals and there are neoliberals. The neolibs have already been identified; they're the moderate (and often hated) brainy folks at The New Republic. But the paleolibs are thus far unnamed and unexamined. They aren't radical leftists, but they are out of date and rather inflexible. Andrew Hagan, a moderate liberal himself, has their number.

UPDATE: Matt Welch in the comments asked a good question, and I see I forgot to include something obvious. There also are plain old liberal liberals, like Matthew Yglesias and Kevin Drum, who don't need a paleo or neo attached. They aren't reactionary, as the paleoliberals are, and I never get into arguments with either of them about who is a "real" liberal and who is a heretic.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at November 9, 2003 5:50 PM
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