Strategy teaches that we can never see our own position. We need outsiders to give us perspective. I just sent the first draft of my new book to a professional reader for an outside perspective on what needs to be taken out, rewritten, and so on.
It is interesting that our opponents can often see our strategic position better than we can ourselves, but those same people cannot see their own position. Here is a great example of that strange dynamic. In this article
, Robert Kuttner, a liberal who does a great job diagnosing the source of conservative success. Without knowing the principles of strategy (as so few do), he hits on many of the main themes: a clear philosophy, focus, unity, etc.
However, when he starts discussing what liberals need to do to re-position themselves, he loses his perspective almost immediately.
Where does all this leave the liberal project? Actually, with a great deal of potential. Despite a quarter-century of ever more sophisticated and coordinated right-wing propaganda (lately abetted by the White House), most Americans are not religious absolutists or government-haters. Most are far more tolerant of racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities than their grandparents were. Most accept the coming of age of women as equal citizens and economic beings. Most are skeptical of corporate excesses. Most actually want more from government -- to ensure health insurance that can never be taken away, to give ordinary people a fair shake in the workplace, and to keep large corporations from pillaging the environment. Most still value traditional Social Security. All this reï¬‚ects the residual strength, enduring values, and recent gains of liberalism, even if the liberal label is in disfavor.
I believe that he is wrong about the political right representing religious "absolutism," intolerance, inequality of women, or corporations "pillaging the environment." I also think he is wrong about most people wanting "more government."
How does this view represent a unified, focused philosophy about the purpose of the state and the use of government for liberalism? If the liberal argument is that we need more government to control the intolerance of regular folks, protect women from regular folks, and defend regular folk from the large number of regular folks working together productively in groups that we call corporations, this isn't much of a philosophy.