The Dartmouth Observer

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Tuesday, September 03, 2002
To begin to respond to John Stevenson's rather harsh command to explain myself and my beliefs, I will begin by considering political nomenclature of the past thirty years. I want to argue that the words we use nowadays simply aren't entirely applicable, as they were in the 50s and 60s. In this regard, we are all stuck in the 1970s.

The radicals of the 60s and 70s did, in many ways, win the battles they started. Suddenly, the United States has achieved civil rights and more equal opportunity for women, racial minorities, and other oppressed groups. Since leftists (since I am attacked for using the word "progressive" and "liberal" I will revert to leftist, for simplicity's sake) did win so much, our ideas have been allowed a great deal of freedom in the past twenty years, despite the difficulties of the Reagan years. It is much much easier to come at politics from the underdog position, from the offensive position.

What I find so funny is that now the conservatives are the ones acting up, protesting, and acting the part of the traditional 60s radical. Take the Review at Dartmouth, for instance: incensed students challenging prevailing opinions and stirring up debate and anger from the administration. In the 60s, thats exactly what radical groups were achieving. Today, John Stevenson and Chien Wen Kung mourn the lack of "intellectual diversity". The Nation and other liberal papers are holding up traditional viewpoints of the left, in a rather unimaginative way. It is a complete role reversal. And indeed, if the status quo today is a liberal/leftist one, then perhaps I am the conservative and Kung and Stevenson and the Review are the progressives.

It seems we are all about change. We are students after all, and the young are all about change. I want change in a certain direction, while others prefer change in another direction. In this context, all of the traditional labels don't do much good: conservatives, it turns out, do want change, while progressives sometimes what to retain the status quo. We all need to stop living in the 60s and 70s and start reassessing our understanding of political appellations (a postmodern project, this resignifiying/renaming).