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Arthur Miller, playwright, fears for American Civil Liberties
December 25, 2001 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Arthur Miller, playwright, fears for American Civil Liberties Here is a distinguised writing Lefty who sure does not give up and hits away at what he perceives as enemies as he did so many years ago. Usually, with age, lefties grow up and move Rightward.
posted by Postroad (32 comments total)

 
Usually, with age, lefties grow up and move Rightward.

What is this? Some lame attack about "lefties" not being grown up or mature?
posted by skallas at 9:34 AM on December 25, 2001


Here is a distinguised writing Lefty who sure does not give up and hits away at what he perceives as enemies as he did so many years ago.

I don't understand this. He said that the US government was acting in a way to cause him concern, but that there was no "hysteria" as in the McCarthy days. What does have to do with "hitting away" or not? Does his softer tone make him move more rightward? I would think it would make him the same as always, only with a softer tone.
posted by rschram at 9:35 AM on December 25, 2001


Oh great, now the thread looks like "Lefties. What is this? I don't understand, what is this?"
posted by rschram at 9:37 AM on December 25, 2001


Usually, with age, lefties grow up and move Rightward.
Just the facts. Probably the result of youthful idealism giving way to a more pragmatic approach to getting through life as the weight of years decends upon the shoulders. It's hard to concentrate on the worker's struggle when the kids need bigger shoes weekly and are screeching for an X-Box. You'll notice that this article is more filler than scoop, something along the lines of doing a couple of columns under the headline:" Water Still Wet".
posted by BGM at 10:09 AM on December 25, 2001


Just the facts. Probably the result of youthful idealism giving way to a more pragmatic approach.

Only if left = idealism, right = practical, could you make this plausible. You think Christian fundamentalists and free-traders aren't utopian?

It's hard to concentrate on the worker's struggle when the kids need bigger shoes weekly...

Ah, but is this not the very heart of the worker's struggle?
posted by rschram at 10:13 AM on December 25, 2001


Just the facts. Probably the result of youthful idealism giving way to a more pragmatic approach to getting through life

Lets see Arthur Miller was 37-38 years old when the Crucible first premiered. That's youth? Toss in that he has first hand experience with Mcarthy and I wouldn't assume he's a pie-in-the-sky hippy who doesn't have the experience to have at least some relevance to what he's talking about.

So whats the deal with the left-leaning older folk? They have grown-up yet they've not fallen into the "facts" of life you outlined.
posted by skallas at 10:28 AM on December 25, 2001


To learn more about Arthur Miller and HUAC, see "Are you now or were you ever...?" The McCarthy era's anti-communist trials destroyed lives and friendships. Arthur Miller describes the paranoia that swept America - and the moment his then wife Marilyn Monroe became a bargaining chip in his own prosecution. (The Guardian/The Observer, Saturday, June 17, 2000--on Al Filreis' website of The Literature & Culture of the American 1950s).

Many "left-leaning older folk" were scared into silence by McCarthyism.
posted by Carol Anne at 11:03 AM on December 25, 2001


"lefties" is a cliche. people who have critical faculty and goodwill toward all men are capable to distinguish different situations in relation to that outlook.
posted by semmi at 12:36 PM on December 25, 2001


Erm - since when did the Right stop caring about civil liberties? That would be when all the communist goverments stopped tapping their citizen's phones and recruiting their neighbours for the secret police, wouldn't it?

Was Ben Franklin a lefty? (" Those willing to give up a little liberty for a little security deserve neither security nor liberty"). Cranky old Mencken? (" Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy"). Jeez, if concern for civil liberties makes you a Leftie, Ayn Rand would be a Leftie.

Even a little knowledge of the history of the 20th century shows that oppressive states have been constructed by both the Left and the Right, and likewise opposition to them.

Arthur Miller may be an old Leftie, but that doesn't mean he's wrong. (Ooh, look at old Miller, still concerned for civil liberties at his age, isn't that cute?)
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:43 PM on December 25, 2001


I think "lefty" and "liberal" were words invented by "conservatives" to make it easy to dismiss challenging ideas.
posted by mcsweetie at 1:38 PM on December 25, 2001


It's great that we're so easily sidetracked from the issues presented in the article to the political leanings of its subject. Hey, shiny things!
posted by Hildago at 1:45 PM on December 25, 2001


the result of youthful idealism giving way to a more pragmatic approach

Way outdated characterization. The vegans I know, for example, don't care a whit about the cuddliness of animals; they do it because it's cheaper, healthier, and makes X tons of waste material per year unnecessary. On the other side, I was debating with a right-leaning friend last week who repeatedly fell back to saying that extreme capitalism was an American ideal. Both sides have had a long time to study the opposition's tactics.
posted by skyline at 1:47 PM on December 25, 2001


"lefties" is a cliche. people who have critical faculty and goodwill toward all men are capable to distinguish different situations in relation to that outlook.

Not necessarily. Though it's true that the political beliefs of individuals vary widely across a spectrum, I'm not sure that policy inclinations are what "left" and "right" are meant to refer to. Generally speaking, when most people argue about politics, I don't think that they're debating policy so much as they are arguing social values; "left" and "right" are therefore more about cultural differences than they are political ideology. Or, more accurately, they're about using political ideology as a proxy for criticizing differing cultural values.

It's about abortion vs. bible belt; gun control vs. SUV's; that sort of thing.
posted by gd779 at 1:48 PM on December 25, 2001


"Left" and "right" are inadequate, misleading labels. Each "side" encompasses multiple viewpoints that aren't relevant to each other, and in many cases are logically opposed. The proponents of the various causes grouped under these two banners behave more like military than philosophical allies, which is what it seems to be to be actually about.

For instance, racial supremism is a "right-wing" cause, but this idea does not logically derive from, or lead to, free-market capitalism. Neither cause fits well with Christianism (the enforcement of Christian customs).

Similarly, academic liberalism (the idea that there is no 'absolute truth', hence it is desirable for people to hold disagreeing beliefs) is a "left-wing" cause that fits very badly indeed with the cause of equality of outcomes. So badly that the two disprove each other.

Further, equating "left-wing" with the desire for radical change and "right-wing" with conservatism is misleading, because in various places and times, parts of the status quo are "right-wing" and parts are "left-wing". A conservative wants things to remain as they are, however good, bad, or indifferent, because the conservative or his friends benefit, and a radical wants things to change for the exact same reason.

I suggest that anyone who really wants to be a free thinker abandon the use of "left" and "right". Just work out your position on whatever the controversy is actually about, and make sure it accords with all your other beliefs.

Equating any philosophy with a maturity level is mere 'spin', which insults both yourself and your readers. The original observation could be Robert Frost's, "I never dared to be radical when young for fear it would make me conservative when old." If it sledges anything it sledges conservatism; that was the one of the two that Frost wanted to avoid. Alternatively it could be Sir Winston Churchill's "Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has no heart; and any man who is over 30, and is not a conservative, has no brains." which seems to me to be equally cutting to both points of view for the obvious reason that a person ought to have both heart and brains.

Ash.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:25 PM on December 25, 2001


aeschenkarnos, I think that may be the single most intelligent, balanced comment that I've ever read in MeFi. Thank you.
posted by MrBaliHai at 2:29 PM on December 25, 2001


I've never believed that lefties turn into righties with age, because I met John Henry Faulk who was tilting at windmills until the end. They air his Christmas story every year on
NPR
. He was crucial in ending the blacklist. He suffered poverty and incredible personal attacks, but never wavered.

posted by colt45 at 2:34 PM on December 25, 2001


I think that Hidalgo made the best point. 'Lefty' was an offhand comment used to imply a certain set of social/political policies and manners associated with a certain set of people. We need not get involved with the definitions of these terms. Postroad was attempting to summon an image in our collective mind with the term 'lefty'. Get over it. Try thinking and debating the validity of Miller's points.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 3:35 PM on December 25, 2001


"Hey, shiny things!"

Don't knock shiny things, pal. If I weren't involved in a never-ending struggle to get more of them, the government wouldn't be able to pay for new missiles and my grandmother's arthritis medication.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:38 PM on December 25, 2001


Every time I sit beside lefties, we constantly bump elbows. They even use different scissors! And their handwriting slopes strange.

Silly lefties.
posted by fuq at 3:45 PM on December 25, 2001


A conservative is one who worships a dead radical.
posted by MidasMulligan at 5:00 PM on December 25, 2001


fuq; my brother is a lefty, we have worked out a system where he always sits at the same place in the booth, it works out. We never can seem to find him a smoke-shifter when we go camping.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 5:09 PM on December 25, 2001


Reasonable discussion from a disappointing, trolling post. Nice to see.

nonreflectiveobject : A quick glance at Postroad's output here would show you that he was attempting to do was to reiterate his own private political agenda, a hobbyhorse which became deeply boring long ago, to me at least.

FWIW, what I tend to see with increasing age is people, 'right' or 'left', becoming mentally lazy and complacent, getting more interested in the maintenance of the status quo for the sake of their own comfort and that of their mewling progeny than embracing or even discussing diversity of view. What I see as they grow old is a calcification of their ability to think in new ways, to absorb any ideas different than the ones to which they cling desperately in order to make the way they've wasted their lives seem justified.

I'll be forty soon, and it's a daily fucking struggle to keep that absorption into suburbanite bungaloid massmind from happening to me too, I'll tell you.

It would appear that Postroad didn't struggle at all. More's the pity. It may perhaps be said that Arthur Miller has fallen into exactly the same trap, which is the deeper meta-irony of this entire thread.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:46 PM on December 25, 2001


he was attempting to do was to reiterate his own private political agenda, a hobbyhorse...

stavrosthewonderchicken: same goes for you too.
posted by semmi at 11:59 PM on December 25, 2001


same goes for you too.
Neener?
Neener neener?
Neener neener neener?
posted by Opus Dark at 12:11 AM on December 26, 2001


semmi : nice try, buddy, but I already did the self-deprecation thing here. Give me some credit, will ya? You'll get extra credit for reading every damn thing I've said here and trying to figure out what my personal hobbyhorses are, but no one will care, least of all me. My point is that I spend less time shoving whatever foolish beliefs I hold dear to my twisted, black heart in people's faces.

But yeah, fine. *sigh* The same goes for me, too. There, feel better?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:19 AM on December 26, 2001


There, feel better?

stavrosthewonderchicken: I don't care to make you feel good or bad, simply to suggest that very often (don't want to say, "always") we accuse others with our own what we almost subconsciously consider faults. Aside of that, any sincere and truthful statement can be carried by others to an extreme when it becomes foolish. To delineate that boundary is worth looking into, not merely to show up another's "foolishness", kiddo. Slow week, huh?
posted by semmi at 8:42 AM on December 26, 2001


I think "lefty" and "liberal" were words invented by "conservatives" to make it easy to dismiss challenging ideas.

I suggest that anyone who really wants to be a free thinker abandon the use of "left" and "right". Just work out your position on whatever the controversy is actually about, and make sure it accords with all your other beliefs.

Thank you.

Labels are lies used by the manipulative or the small-minded.
posted by rushmc at 10:18 AM on December 26, 2001


Labels are lies used by the manipulative or the small-minded.

You lefties always say that.
posted by rodii at 10:39 AM on December 26, 2001


i hang a little to the left.
posted by kliuless at 12:00 PM on December 26, 2001


i hang a little to the left.

kliuless: try to use your right hand.
posted by semmi at 3:36 PM on December 26, 2001


Slow week, huh?

Yup.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:17 AM on December 27, 2001


shwing! ok, i am reddy to take on all late comers.
posted by kliuless at 7:38 AM on December 27, 2001


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