Sunday, July 02, 2006
(1:29 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
"Social"Why does the word "social" show up so often in progressive/mildly left-wing circles? "Social justice," "social change," "social consciousness" -- is it because it seems to be the broadest term to deal with the kinds of problems people want to address (racism, sexism, etc.)? Is it simply a matter of tradition, based in the fact that people called the major upheavals occasioned by industrialization "the social problem" and solutions to it were things like "the social gospel"?
But we never hear about, for example, "social democracy," much less "socialism." And for all the attempts to use "social" as an overarching category, we do tend to separate the "social" and the "economic" -- for instance, there are all those clever evangelicals out there who are "social conservatives" and "economic liberals," or the rich urban Republicans who are the reverse. Then there is also the trope of "social and economic justice."
A hypothesis: The "political" is demonized as the narcissistic power-trip of the two major parties; the "economic" is treated as if they were imposed by divine fiat. There is no hope in either of those areas -- but on "social issues," people are persuadable. On "social issues," the tide of history still seems to be turning in our direction. Perhaps the left, such as it is in America, is so taken with "the social" because it not only seems to be capable of change, but also seems to be changing all by itself?
How relaxing, to sit back and observe as the heartland slowly comes to accept the inevitability of gay marriage and early- to mid-term abortion.