Social Justice and the Radical Left | Christopher White | Catholic World Report
An interview with the co-author of Takeover: How the Left Corrupted Liberalism in the Pursuit of Social Justice
Donald T. Critchlow is the Barry Goldwater Chair of American Institutions at Arizona State University, editor of the Journal of Policy History and general editor for Cambridge Essential Histories (CUP). His new book, Takeover: How the Left Corrupted Liberalism in the Pursuit of Social Justice (co-authored with William Rorabaugh, published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2012), is an indictment of the leftist radicalism that persists in American politics today. For Critchlow, this radicalism has led to unprecedented attacks on religious liberties, a looming financial crisis, abortion on demand, and a redefining of freedom. Recently, in late 2012, CWR contributor Christopher White spoke with Critchlow about the political and cultural challenges that will significantly shape the future of the United States—and why Catholics should be both aware and concerned.
CWR: In Takeover, you refer frequently to the "New Progressives." Who are the New Progressives and how did they emerge?
Donald T. Critchlow: Takeover: How the Left Corrupted Liberalism in the Pursuit of Social Justice answers an important question that many Americans began asking with the ascent of Barack Obama to the White House: How did the Democratic Party become so radical? Takeover shows that liberalism underwent a profound transformation with the rise in the late 1960s and the early 1970s of a radical political formation the authors describe as the New Progressives.
By the early 1970s, the New Left’s anti-Vietnam War protests and other street activism had faded away. But the radicalism remained. The activists simply changed their tactics for remaking American society. After fighting against the establishment, radical leaders discovered that they could achieve much more by working within the system. They learned to harness politics and the courts to pursue what they thought of as social justice. Becoming lawyers, professors, journalists, consumer advocates, union leaders, community organizers, and even politicians, left-wing activists morphed into a new movement—the “New Progressives.” Takeover examines how the New Progressives colonized many areas of American life in creative and powerful ways.
CWR: You note that the civil rights revolution introduced “moral politics.” What do you mean by moral politics—and do you consider this a positive or negative development?