Read the full interview.
Columnist and historian Eric Alterman—author of an article in our Forum section in May called “Why We Loathe Liberals”—has written a new book entitled Why We’re Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America, which came out this week. Here’s an interview I did with him that appeared on playboy.com.
ALTERMAN: Depends on what you mean by “we,” Kimosabe. On the one hand, those of us who already know we’re liberals are liberals because we believe in the Enlightenment. We having open minds and allowing the truth take us anywhere it leads us, irrespective of what is allegedly commanded by God, the Dialectic of History, the Fatherland, George Bush’s sense of filial outrage, or whatever. We believe in giving everybody a fair shot at success, prosperity, self-fulfillment, etc, and if necessary, using the power of the government to make sure that everybody gets that chance, regardless of the circumstances of his or her birth.
For everybody else it means, you’re probably already a liberal. You just don’t know it, yet because the word has been so demonized by right-wing lunatics and a compliant, spineless media. But if you look at what you, in all likelihood, believe about protecting the environment, taxing the wealthy, keeping corporations under control, providing health care to everybody, supporting smart science, and only invading countries that actually mean you harm, well then, by today’s standards, you’re a liberal.
PLAYBOY: Why don’t conservatives like liberals?
ALTERMAN: I think they do. Liberals have been the best friends conservatives have had until lately. They spent so much time fighting amongst themselves and failing to tend to their natural constituencies and thereby allowing conservatives to pick them off with arguments contrary to their won values and self interest.