Can the Left be defeated? 42

Why was Obama, the Islam-loving communist, twice  voted into the presidency of the capitalist, Islam-attacked United States?

Why do most Americans “think” that Obama is doing a good job – though they know the economy is bad, millions are unemployed, businesses are overburdened with regulations, travelers are manhandled and humiliated at airports, an American ambassador is killed abroad with impunity, the Taliban is back in business in Afghanistan, the Middle East is in flames since Obama assisted the displacement of allied rulers with Islamic fundamentalists … and so on and on?

Why do millions of Americans “think” that economic equality is morally desirable?

Why are tens of millions content to live on state support without attempting to improve their standard of living by their own efforts?

Why do millions of university students in America admire intellectuals who hate America, such as Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, and why do they make an icon out of the sadistic mass-murderer Che Guevara?

The broad general answer is simple. They’ve been told to. They’ve been told that good people do and “think” these things. They want to be good. They believe what they’ve been taught. This is so obvious that the statement “they believe it because they’ve been taught it” could be dismissed as a truism.

It is why Muslim women believe they must put up with being sexually mutilated and enslaved to men. Why multitudes the world over believe that there was a nation called Palestinians who were driven off their land by aggressive usurping Jews. Why Christians believe that a man who once lived and died lives on as one part of a three-part god. Why Muslims and Christians imagine that when you are dead you are still alive in another place. Why Jews believe that their benign and omnipotent God has some unguessable but just purpose in having six million of them enslaved, starved, tortured and murdered by Germans.

They believe it because they were taught it. It was drummed into them. They were raised to know that that is how it is.

Yet few if any ideas are easy to spread. To get an idea accepted by large numbers of people takes patience, persistence, conviction, tireless energy on the part of those who want to spread it. The idea need not make good sense, be reasonable, come with proofs that it will work as its advocates say it will. It doesn’t even have to appeal strongly to the emotions. It just needs to become what “everybody” accepts. How?

If you want your idea to prevail over others, this is what it takes. First the conviction that it is right and everyone should know it. Next, a decision to spread it. Then it takes energy, persistence, patience, time, repetition – and eventually force.

What made Christianity catch on? It wasn’t the life-style –  poor, austere, hard, humble. Even the promise of eternal life was not a reliable recommendation as anyone’s eternity could as easily be endless agony as endless bliss (it was a 50-50 tossup). The theology was so hard to make sense of that the Church itself to this day has not settled it. And the morality it demanded was against human nature. So what made it succeed? Energy, persistence, patience, time, repetition, force.

Look how long it took. From the time St Paul invented “Jesus Christ” to the time the emperor of Rome accepted the new god and the doctrines that had accreted to him, thus making it fashionable to be Christian (just a few decades before force was applied and it became compulsory), nearly three hundred years had passed. Three hundred years of persistent, patient, energetic proselytizing.  Even then, it was not securely implanted in the minds of the subjects. One Emperor – Julian – came along and actually tried to reverse the trend by suppressing Christianity and re-instating paganism. He didn’t have enough time. He died in battle, his successors went back to favoring Christianity, and finally the Emperor Theodosius decreed that Christianity was to be the religion of the state. With him the last phase of force arrived.

Marxist Communism took less time to get a real grip on the minds of multitudes. Means of communications had speeded up considerably between the 4th and the 19th centuries, but still it took half a century (if one arbitrarily dates it from the first publication of Marx’s Das Kapital in 1867 to the success of the Bolshevik revolution  in 1917). And still the same method had to be employed: energetic, patient, persistent, repetitous proselytizing. The fever of enthusiasm had to be caught by two generations of intellectuals before the infection became a pandemic.

The creed must become the norm. So pervasive must the doctrine be that anybody who does not subscribe to it wholeheartedly will appear egregious; an oddball, a rebel, a danger to everyone else and even to himself. The orthodoxy must be accepted without question as good, so anyone who opposes it is ipso facto a bad person.

By the late 20th century communications had become even faster, so  the New Left could achieve irreversible success in Europe in less than thirty years, in America in forty (1968 to 2008). It started as a weak revolutionary movement which brought nothing good with it to Western Europe and America, but much that was bad: recreational drugs, AIDS, terrorism as self-expression. New Leftists complained that they had too much freedom, too much choice, that tolerance of their politics was repressive. (That’s what Leftist theorists mean by “the dialectic” – every concept is also its own opposite.) And this irrational case was widely accepted, even while, on the other side of the iron curtain, a young man burnt himself to death to protest against the lack of freedom, choice, and tolerance.

The New Left movement was ignorant, blind, puerile, unreasonable, sadistic – yet it became, it has become, the prevailing belief-system of the greater part of the Western world, and at present in almost all “free” countries the standard ideology (or religion) of the state, no matter what political party is in power. How?

The plan was made. The plan was put into execution. Antonio Gramsci, founder of the Italian Communist Party, proposed the strategy: “The Long March through the Institutions”.  It wasn’t enough that the New Left should protest, should threaten and carry out violent attacks, should shout and write and publish, should display their slogans, should bomb their native cities and maim and kill their neighbors. They must take over the institutions of power, every one of them, by achieving a majority of votes in them: from the smallest citizens’ groupings – such as library committees – to town councils, news media, boards of education, the schools, the universities, the civil service, the publishing industry, the legal profession, the law courts, a major political party, the country’s legislative body, and eventually prime-ministerships and presidencies. Police forces and the military were formidable challenges. The tactic with them was first to discredit them, then pressure them from outside by means of public opinion guided by the converted press, then to infiltrate them, and finally to bend them from within to conform to the doctrine and so advance the cause.

Books, films, articles, lessons, lectures, systems of reward, prizes must all promote the cause. It took the three or four decades, but it succeeded.

How otherwise could the free Western world, whose policies and armies opposed the oppressing, enslaving Communist Eastern world, have been successfully converted to the very doctrine that in the East oppressed, enslaved, tortured and mass murdered? The idea itself was no more innately and manifestly true and good than the idea of Christianity. But as in the case of Christianity, it took conviction, decision, planning, energy, persistence, repetition, and finally (now even  in America, under the Obama administration) force.

Only Lefist doctrine – government control of the economy, government provision of welfare, confiscatory and punitive taxation – is politically correct now in America. Collectivist thinking is the norm. Good people vote left. (When, in 2008, a Californian woman came upon a stall set up on a main street to canvass votes for the Republican presidential candidate John McCain, she called the police, and was astonished to learn that to solicit public support for the Republican Party was not illegal.) Again, as with Christianity, the allegiance to the doctrine has little or nothing to do with the innate worth of the ideas themselves. Most adherents to either Christianity or Leftism could not explain what the ideas are. But they know that good people find them good, that good people vote for them. And that is all they need to know. Who doesn’t want to think of himself as a good person?

But the question of how did this become the case has not been fully answered. There is another aspect to the story. In order for one doctrine to succeed, it is necessary for counter doctrines to fail. If the ancient world had had enough confidence in paganism, enough enthusiasm for it, hadn’t taken it for granted, hadn’t become bored with it, hadn’t ignored the Christian missionaries with their crazy talk, could the weird, obscure, muddled, sorrowful, other-worldly new religion of Christianity have conquered it?

And the success of Leftism now – would it have happened if the conservative Right had been paying attention? The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and the Right  was not being vigilant. It took little notice of the Long March. It didn’t bother to argue against political correctness. It disregarded the cynical shenanigans going on in the United Nations as if it were nothing but a zoo housing many clamorous beasts who were safely confined and could in no way threaten American life, liberty or happiness. If the Right was made to feel now and then the bullying, deceitful, sly, sometimes violent tactics of the Left, it shrugged them off. Conservatives went on being civil when the world’s mood had changed to favoring crassness, vulgarity and abuse. They put their confidence in the fact that America had been founded as the political embodiment of the idea of personal freedom; had demonstrated to the world  – forever, they believed – that freedom brought prosperity and might and stunning innovation. They assumed that the rightness of individual liberty, the capitalist system, and government by the people had been established forever. So strong and free a country could afford to be tolerant. Let some wild, immature, misguided persons preach despotism (Communism, Socialism, Progressivism, Greenism, Feminism, whatever), the system was strong enough to be hospitable to alien ideas, and to allow dissent or even rebellion. Tested, it would prove itself inviolable. It could not only withstand opposition, it could absorb it and dissolve it. No special effort was required. American history was on the side of those who would defend freedom and the Constitution. The separation of powers would protect them. The free press would dilute propaganda. Open enquiry in the academies would ensure that all points of view were argued and the most rational, the most humane, would persuade serious scholars.  But they were wrong.

In their complacency they did not even notice the Long March. They could not mark its stations of success. Only now, late in 2012, the Republican Party has woken up with a shock on discovering, in the November presidential election, that most of America likes collectivism; that it doesn’t object to electoral fraud; that it has no objection to a failing economy; that it would rather live on government handouts than become rich; that being rich has become a bad thing; that it’s okay for foreign powers to develop weapons that could kill vast numbers of Americans; that the press does not report what is happening in the world but only what it wants to happen; that courts of law are willing to apply foreign laws; that it doesn’t matter if American representatives abroad are attacked and murdered; that the concept of personal freedom is worthy only of derision; that American history is a trail of shame; that aggressive Islam is being protected by the government.

How did this happen? It happened because people patiently, energetically, persistently planned it and made it happen.

What can we do about it? What needs to be done to change the minds of the people?

Those who would change this state of affairs must first be sure that they want the free republic the founders established; that they want to maintain free markets; that they don’t want a welfare state; that they do want to preserve national defenses; that they want to stop indoctrination in the schools; that they want to forbid the application of foreign law; that they do not want to go on funding  an institution – the UN – that consistently works against their interests; that Islam is inimical to their civilization. Then they must decide that their own political philosophy is right, uniquely right, and must be implemented at any and all costs. Then they must start teaching it with energy, persistence, patience and fiery enthusiasm. It will take time. Teach, preach, use every method of persuasion that works. Take back the institutions. Give up the idea that it’s better to be gentlemanly than sink to using the low methods of the opposition. The Left has made the fight low and dirty. Leftists will cheat, lie, turn dirty tricks. Will the Right, before it is to late, get down in the dirt and fight in the same way?

Have they – Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, the Tea Party – got the stomach for it? How badly does the conservative Right want to win power in America? How important is it to them that they should?

Are they prepared to shout down the shouters? Criticize and mock Islam? Make Communists feel passé and nasty? Tolerate only the tolerant and tolerable?

Will they start a process and persist with it, energetically and patiently? Or do they imagine that the innate rightness of their ideas, if politely explained, will win the electorate over to their side?

Will it be enough just to tell them?

Tell them that the free market is the only means of creating general prosperity, and why.  Tell them that central planning of an economy cannot work, and why. Tell them why competition is good for everyone, producers and consumers alike. Tell them what profit is and why it is essential for ensuring abundance. Tell them that only where people are free can there be discovery and innovation, improvement in everyone’s daily life, better technology, the advance of civilization. Explain why. Show them the proofs of history.

Tell them the truth about life in other countries. Not politically correct sentimental drivel, but the actual awful facts about life in most other countries.

Tell them why impartial justice is the only justice. Why all sane adult citizens must be treated equally by the law. That people must be judged by their actions, not their intentions or feelings.

Tell them why government should be kept small and its powers limited. Tell them what the essential tasks of government are: protection of the nation, of the individual, of the rule of law itself. And why government should not be allowed more powers and money than it needs to fulfill its few essential functions.

Will that do the trick?

No. It will not be enough just to tell them.

Just how low and dirty the fight will have to be, just how hard the task necessarily is, can be learnt from David Horowitz’s book Radicals*.  Here are a few indicators to be found in it:

Lenin “declared that the purpose of a political argument was not to refute one’s opponent but to wipe him off the face of the earth”.

Because the left is inspired by the fantasy of a future that can never be realized, it is never defeated by its defeats.”

Alinskyites [eg Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama] “will say anything (and pretend to be anything) to get what they want, which is power.”

Alinsky’s advice: “Advance your radical goals by camouflaging them.”

“[Lenin] was always engaged in a total war, which he used to justify every means he thought might advance his goals. These included summary executions, concentration camps that provided a model for Hitler, and the physical ‘liquidation’ of entire social classes. Lenin was the most dangerous kind of political fanatic – ready to resort to any means to get what he wanted, even if it meant pretending to be a democrat.”

“This is the art [Alinsky] taught to radicals trying to impose socialism on a country whose people understand that socialism destroys freedom: Don’t sell it as socialism. Sell it as ‘Progressivism’, ‘economic democracy’, ‘fairness’,  and ‘social justice’.”

“[I]dentify one’s political enemies as instruments of evil and thus … justify the total war against them.”

“[Alinsky explains] to idealistic radicals who think of themselves as creating  a world of perfect justice and harmony that the means they must use to achieve that world are dishonest, deceitful, and ruthless – and therefore indefensible by the moral standards they claim to be upholding. The radical organizer has no such standards … he ‘does not have a fixed truth – truth to him is relative and changing; everything to him is relative and changing. He is a political relativist.’”  [Italics in the original.]

“[Alinsky writes;] ’To say that corrupt means corrupt the ends is to believe in the immaculate conception of ends and principles. The real arena is corrupt and bloody. Life is a corrupting process … he who fears corruption fears life.’”

Terrible, terrible! And of course immoral means pervert the ends.

The moral Right cannot do as the immoral Left does.

So how will the Left be defeated?

 

Jillian Becker   December 17, 2012

 

* Radicals: Portraits of a Destructive Passion by David Horowitz, Regnery,Washington D.C., 2012

 

 

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  • Roger

    Why has this important discussion not continued? Like others have said, this is so spot on and timely. Has everyone given up?

    • Jillian Becker

      The topic recurs.

      But please pursue it where and how you choose. Here perhaps.

  • Kerry

    There is so much I want to say about this post. I have read through the comments and will need to do that a few more times so as to understand the many points of view. The discussion is fascinating. I also find the post challenging and somewhat distressful because the gulf is apparently soooooo wide politically. Most of the names given above, or maybe below, I know personally. I was a right-wing radical of the Reagan stripe. My views have changed to a degree since my de-conversion from religion and resulted in some strained relationships. Time heals all wounds, and where time does not heal…money does! I am passing on your comments to several friends in DC for purposes of later discussions. We do not have time and years to waste figuring out how to work together. There are cardinal principles we can agree on and with those we should start. As to the rest of the comments…those will take some time.

    • Jillian Becker

      Kerry – we could wish for nothing better from our readers than that they spread our posts as far as they can, and to the people who ought to take notice, people who are in a position to influence the views of opinion-formers.

      We are lucky indeed that you found our website!

      We look forward eagerly to hearing about the reactions of your friends in DC.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.m.cardon Steve M Cardon

    …Not so far.

  • Andrew M

    I hope that you all appreciate, if you do not agree, that what I have just presented up to this point is a viable framework for spreading the message of liberty with the goal ultimately reclaiming it. Please feel free to register your disagreements with me, just as I am about to register my disagreements on some specific issues mentioned in the article.

    First and foremost, I must argue that the rule of law is only as good as the laws behind them. I do not consider it ethical in the least to behave according to the written word of a government like an automaton. It is a prime source of evil within our very own borders. We can count on our enemies to flout the laws they write while chastising our disobedience, so if we we really want to bring the fight to the mud pit which the Left calls home, we should have no false pretenses that we will do anything but defy them when they legally sanction their ill motives. I support what Martin Luther King, Jr. stated in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail: “The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws….Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” We should never let the perfect be the enemy of the good, so I will personally not encourage that the rule of law has intrinsic value over self-autonomy and decent behavior towards those who deserve it.

    Secondly, while I know you rightly despise prohibition for destroying the lives of millions at the expense of a bigger government, I consider recreational drug use to be a very good thing. The coffee consumer does not consume coffee to hydrate himself, give himself time to think, or even necessarily because he likes the taste – he consumes it recreationally for its caffeine content so he is sharp in the morning. This same ideal animates the partygoer who drinks some alcohol with his friends or the psychology professor who blocks out some of his free time to enjoy the mental dance of psilocybin. All of these individuals are richer by the degree of pleasure derived from their drug of choice. As inanimate substances, drugs cannot be moral agents and are thus are not themselves “good” or “evil”. I will not disagree that meth has far fewer useful applications as a stimulant than caffeine, nor that alcohol has the power to either enrich or bankrupt a life. Yet to dismiss outright the idea that drugs are valuable agents for fun does a great deal to slow the pursuit of happiness.

    These are my honest convictions, and I will not apologize for them. Please take me to task on anything I have mentioned here, and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner.

    • liz

      Well, I have to disagree with you on the drug use. Sorry, but caffeine and alcohol or whatever are nowhere near equivalent. Drugs are not good for you, and in my opinion it’s stupid to use them “recreationally”. You only have one brain – why do you want to abuse it? Why not try using the brain you have to it’s greatest potential? Drugs are the lazy persons way of taking a “shortcut” to fun or enlightenment, or whatever they are seeking, and guess what? One thing you learn when you grow up is that shortcuts really aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and your brain – what’s left of it – would really have been alot better off without it.
      The only good reason for legalizing any of it is to diminish the power of the drug cartels. I can’t see ANY useful applications for drugs like meth.

      • Andrew M

        You’re right that alcohol is not comparable to psilocybin. Alcohol is far more dangerous than psilocybin.

        Even though I would never want anyone operating a crane or a surgical needle under the effects of either substance, psilocybin overdoses seem to have caused no more than two reported deaths in the exclusion of other drugs (section 6.5, “Documented Fatal Incidents”), while alcohol caused around 25,000 deaths in 2009 alone. Seriously, which is the more damaging drug here?

        Just because a substance receives a social sanction does not mean it is good or healthy. Caffeine has a higher addiction potential than marijuana: three out of four regular caffeine users are addicted to the substance, and it edged out marijuana on withdrawal, tolerance, and dependence problems in a 1994 study by Dr. Jack Henningfield.

        Only the scientific method can accurately assess the relative risk of psychoactive substances. I reject the fallacious appeal to the majority that caffeine is less harmful than marijuana, but both substances clearly have incredible value if used correctly.

        I agree that America has an enormous drug problem. Much of it has to do with the cartels pushing drugs like heroin onto an unsuspecting public, but a good deal of it comes from our own pharmaceutical industry producing substances which the brain considers indistinguishable from heroin and selling them to a foolishly trusting public. Statistics are difficult to find for the death rates of illegal drugs, but this CDC report suggests a little under 20,000 deaths from unintentional drug poisoning. A 1998 report suggests that 106,000 people died from taking legal drugs in a manner consistent with their prescription, far dwarfing the deaths due to illegal drugs.

        I’ll be the first to admit that I do not like how old these statistics are, but they support the conclusion that even careful usage of legal drugs should not be considered safe by default, nor are illegal drugs necessarily dangerous. Once again, only careful study can assess the risk of certain substances, not cultural standards.

        These conclusions did not arrive to me overnight, but through methodical research and – yes – imbibing various substances. I agree that sobriety is the most powerful and productive drug of all, and I encourage everyone to be more familiar with it before altering their consciousness. Anyone who believes that consuming certain substances alone will lead to lasting happiness is a fool whose personality flaws far eclipse their drug habits. Lasting happiness comes from hard work.

        So far, I have been told here and elsewhere that “drugs are bad” without any recourse to argument. All this attitude does is stir curiosity among naive, young minds to test out this claim. It is just as destructive a non-reason as is the idea that “Leftism is good”. Coupled with ignorance and the wrong choice of drugs, I see it as a recipe for disaster. I had the luck to be able to investigate these claims and ultimately enrich my life through the responsible, occasional use of certain substances – while seeing full-well how drugs can be used for incredibly destructive ends as well.

        Please try to show me that I am wrong.

        One last note: I was tempted to say that meth has zero useful applications as well, until a study last month demonstrated that the compound attacks flu cells to stunt their growth. Even so, I consider the destructive aspects of meth far weightier than this sliver of good news.

        • liz

          Of course there are good medical uses for drugs – that’s what they are supposed to be for. Meth is made from flu medication combined with other stuff, so what that study demonstrated was a no- brainer.
          I’m talking specifically about recreational use. You can go on all day about what great experiences you can have on psilocybin, or whatever. It is stupid to play with the chemicals in your brain, risking permanent damage to an extremely delicate organ, not to mention the rest of your organs, just to achieve an illusion of some kind of higher, deeper, or just simply different consciousness. All you are experiencing is the violation of your own brain’s chemical balance. Smart way to use that brain!
          I also experimented with that and other drugs years ago and speak from my own experience. I can say in hindsight that in every case, my life would be much more “enriched” now if I had used my brain to actually learn something about objective reality rather than abuse it like that. I feel lucky to still have it.
          Then you might also notice just reading the news every day that about 99 % of all violent crimes are committed by people who are on drugs of some kind.
          It’s just common sense. Saying “drugs are bad” may sound too simplistic to you, but stating the obvious usually is.
          It could just as reasonably be said that your claim that drugs have enriched your life might also stir curiosity among naive young minds to test THAT claim.

          • Andrew M

            I am sorry to hear about your bad experiences. I only wish that you knew full well what you were getting into beforehand.

            Nonetheless, I do not regret those of my own despite the risks I took. I dedicated hours of research before consuming substances about which I was ignorant, and I found the payoffs positive. I only wish I had researched caffeine and alcohol as much as I researched psilocybin and mescalin, for there is no doubt in my mind which have been more destructive for me (the former two).

            I heavily dispute your claim that 99% of all violent criminals took drugs before engaging in their crime. Accepting it for the sake of argument, they would be sent to jail for their crimes no matter what their blood contained.

            I concede that it is equally foolish to say that “drugs are good” and leave it at that. While I did provide some of the articles I found in my research to substantiate my position, both opinions are far too simplistic because they fail to define what a drug actually is – any substance which affects the central nervous system’s function. We should not lie to our children. However, I see one side presenting scientific research and the other side presenting hearsay and anecdotes. Which fills the gap of knowledge most effectively?

            I’ll leave this discussion by suggesting that anyone who is paying attention heed closely to Erowid‘s Fundamentals of Responsible Psychoactive Use before they choose to alter their consciousness with a substance, be it through caffeine or meth or anything else under the sun.

            • liz

              Yeah, OK, Andrew. You and Sam Harris have fun playing with your brains. I’ll stick to the caffeine.

  • Andrew M

    This is the best and most important article I’ve ever read here.

    Our strength as a worldview is also our weakness as messengers. We consider the individual to be the inviolable unit of a working civilization, free to do whatever she wants with her time, money, and life so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of other individuals. Aside from arbitrating these violations whenever they arise and protecting the individuals as a whole from outside threats, government should serve no other role in our society.

    By its merits alone, this message should not be a hard sell. Everyone who does not enjoy being a slave reacts positively to idea that the freedom of motion, money, and mind are of the highest value to them. However, it is that very freedom of mind – the willingness not only to tolerate disagreement, but to encourage it at all possible junctures no matter the subject – that makes us such poor messengers.

    I won’t lie – I have major disagreements with two points in this article. I’ll address them in order of importance after finishing this point, because I must get this out. (I’m going to try posting them in a separate entry below this one, because it seems Disqus does not like how long this comment is.)

    This loose confederacy of freethinkers stands no chance against a centralized authority whose hunger only grows in response to its acquisition of power. As you mentioned, the Long March of Saul Alinsky has already reached critical mass in our public and private institutions, and they will likely hold those seats for many years to come. He did this by sowing the seeds of discontent and stratifying a formerly classless society. Just as Alinsky realized himself when staging his revolutionary movement against the “bourgeoisie”, our strategy should not focus on reclaiming those yet.

    Instead, we must disseminate our message at the local level from the ground up, addressing individuals directly outside of their usual voting constituencies. We must abandon any pretenses that our enemies accurately represent us. We must focus like hawks on the raw facts which make freedom morally superior to dependency. Lastly, we must be willing – eager, even – to have our philosophy probed with insightful (or dumb) questions, presented alongside opposing viewpoints, and successfully defended against the horde of bad ideas which threaten to drown us.

    Who’s with me?

    • Jillian Becker

      Andrew M – Thanks for your appreciation of the article, and for your comments. Glad you found a way to get them posted.

      I don’t say recreational drugs should be banned. I just say they are bad, which they are.

      Of course one should object to bad laws.

      • Andrew M

        I know you are no friend of prohibition, and I applaud you for that. Anyone who still doubts the destructive, big-government nature of the War on Drugs ought to view the new documentary, “Breaking the Taboo”, which can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UtNF-Le2L0

        I do not necessarily endorse all of the opinions advocated in the film, but I agree with the message that the War on Drugs is destructive and unwinnable.

        As for your claim that recreational drugs are bad, I point you to the response I just compiled for Liz above this comment thread.

  • Ron G

    I have rarely seen the question of how we got here answered so succinctly. And in answering that question, we see the answer of how we fight our way out of this awful dilemma. Thank you for the very well-written article.

  • liz

    This article raises the question of the age! Our history will be decided by how it is answered, if any answer is able to effect a change.
    As I read this, it came even more clearly into focus for me that Christianity and Collectivism not only have similar ideals, but similar beginnings – both were started by devious power-seekers, and aided by useful idiots. They both promised a Utopia that was used as a carrot by the manipulators at the top to lead the masses in the desired direction. And as you point out, since the goal (being an illusion) could never be realized, defeat was never recognized as defeat. It was just a perpetually self-feeding movement toward the carrot stick.
    Liberty, by it’s very nature, doesn’t seek control – it seeks to limit control. That must be what makes it so hard to maintain. “Playing by the rules” only works when everyone agrees to play by them. As soon as control-freaks weasel their way in and start persuading everyone that the rules aren’t “fair”, and then breaking them, the game disintegrates.
    How or IF, even, we can get the game back into play, under the rule of law, rather than the pseudo law of “social justice”, is extremely questionable, since the weasels have control over so much at this point.

  • http://ideologee.blogspot.com ideologee

    Great article. But I would not advocate free markets in the realm of trade. Free trade is simply making China rich, and America poor and jobless. The American economy will not recover until it fixes it’s massive trade imbalance. We need strategic trade, not free trade. Romney was a free trader and that scared folks about losing their jobs overseas.

    • Jack

      This comment is why the “Right” can not fight the Left. This is neo-mercantalist bilge. Its been refuted for over 150 years since Frederick Bastiat exposed the fallacies of the French mercantalists of his day. But so many Conservatives buy into it. But broader, most Conservatives don’t believe in individual liberty. They believe in a different version of collectivism. The reason the Left keeps winning is that there are just not enough people who understand what liberty is.

      Conservatism if it were to really to fight for its principles would fight for a Christian, patriarchal, white ethnic, protectionist state. That would not be the liberty oriented society that Classical Liberals, non-anarchist libertarians, Randians, and the people at this site desire. Conservatism is not up to the challenge because Conservatism is fundamentally flawed. Modern Conservatism is a hodge podge mix of watered down old Conservatism (the original Paleo Conservatism) and watered down Classical Liberalism. This is a weak foundation to fight for liberty and we see its results. The Left walks roughshod over Conservatives.

      What is needed is an entirely new philosophical base for the “RIght”, and that is not Conservatism. What is it? My opinion is that Rand is in the right direction. But today’s Conservatism is a dead end. It will not stop the juggernaut of the Left. And people like ideologee will not defend liberty when the chips are down because they don’t understand liberty. Few people do.

      • http://ideologee.blogspot.com ideologee

        Jack, you’re projecting the stereotype of Randian onto me from one anti-Randian paragraph? You’re debating a stereotype, not me. The gist of this article was to understand the magnitude of the task ahead of us, it wasn’t about the finer points of conservatism. You can argue for a more protectionist state, a white ethnic state, etc, and I’ll listen. But this “when the chips are down” crap is more shadow boxing. When you get out of bed tomorrow, don’t assume everyone is a stereotypical “people at this site” Randian.

        • Jillian Becker

          ideologee – I would say that most of our readers tend to be libertarian conservative. I am in agreement with Rand to a large extent. I doubt there are many, if any, among those who like this site who would argue for protectionism. And as for a “white ethnic state” – good grief! – are there still people who “think” that way?

          • http://ideologee.blogspot.com ideologee

            JB, free trade is insane.

            • Jack

              No doubt you are one of those conservatives that his been influenced by Ian Fletcher’s protectionist economic theories and his ignorant rants against laissez faire. But to say that “free trade” is insane is to argue that freedom is self destructive. That is a philosophic argument. It is wrong on the metaphysical level and on the level of practical economics.

              But my point regarding conservatives stands. Too many conservatives think that the way to battle Leftism is through a different type of collectivism. One based on “economic patriotism” or some such nonsense. We have two examples in these comments.

              The bottom line is that while the Left knows exactly what it stands for and the type of society it wants. The “Right” does not. You have various strains of conservatism from neo to paleo to bio to economic to Goldwater, etc. And you have various strains of libertarians too from anarcho to minarchist to a few others to whacky to list. There is no consensus on what to replace modern liberalism with.

              Jillian uses the term “libertarian conservative”. But there really is no such thing. Libertarianism, ie the legacy of Classical Liberalism, and Conservatism are two different political philosophy. They really have no business being in the same movement.

              This is why the Right is so anemic. It is internally conflicted. That is bad for a person and for a political movement.

            • rogerinflorida

              Jack,
              And that is why the “Right” will never win another election in the US and therefore is consigned to be nothing but a talking shop for blowhards who pine for the never was and dream of the never can be.

            • Jillian Becker

              rogerinflorida – Was the business in Toledo hampered by an ever-growing mountain of government regulations? Did the unions demand extortionist terms? Your story is dramatic and awful, but you give us no background. “Hedge fund managers and the financial elite” are the villains rather than government and unions – how? Who exactly are “the financial elite”? And what has the story to do with the merits or demerits of free trade?

            • rogerinflorida

              Ms Becker,
              I don’t know whether the workforce in Toledo was unionized but I do know the jobs were comparatively crappy, long gone are the days when private sector unions could dictate to management. Typically private sector unions are fairly
              sensitive to market issues, I know we have just had the “Twinky” case but that Co. was going out of business anyway. Of course it isn’t just the factory floor jobs that have gone, so too have all the support positions and the jobs in the wider community that existed because of the wages
              paid at the factory.
              As for Govt. regulations; the biggest load on the back of
              the US business sector is the health care mandate. We need a single payer health care system, funded by Govt. through general revenue, as a matter of the greatest urgency, if for no other reason than to relieve US businesses of a completely unrealistic burden. I have told you before that many companies actually provide health coverage but have no insurance, they are self funded and their obligations are handled through SISCO and similar organizations, this is a
              massive liability and ongoing burden. General Motors has about 60,000 full time employees in the US but also provides self funded health care to about 960,000 retirees. How can
              they possibly be an effective manufacturer with that millstone around their neck.

              The other major burden is complying with and administering the tax collection system, which is byzantine in its complexity. I have long believed that the US should implement a simple 20% VAT and scrap entirely the corporation tax, I would love to scrap the income tax too and have only the payroll taxes on employment income at standard rates. All our OECD competitors have a VAT system which they use very effectively as an import tariff against our exports.
              What do you think the employees of such companies as Goldman Sachs, Citibank, JP Morgan etc. actually do? Apart from swindling the stock market through such tactics as HFT, or selling garbage investments to the unwary, or manipulating currencies and preparing totally BS assessments of national assets (Greece, etc.) they all engage in “asset management” consulting which is the vehicle by which they advise companies to relocate to slave labor areas in order to maximize profits. You know the Marxist saying that all profits are unpaid wages, well these beauties believe that any wages paid are unmade profits. We have the spectacle now of US manufacturers, tired of paying Chinese wages, moving their operations to Bangladesh in order to exploit the lowest living standards on Earth. Please understand that I expect these people to do this and accept that there can be positive results from these activities, however I object to having the cost of the social disruption they cause passed on to the taxpayers. You use the term “free trade”, this does not exist, what there are, are commercial agreements entered into between countries, all of whom have as their objective, the maximizing of social benefit to their own communities, except for the US of course, we seem to be quite happy to have our industrial base eviscerated and standard of living cut. The reason for this is that the political system in the US is dysfunctional, it seems impossible to get anything done, also is totally corrupted by money, big contributors make the political contributions and so call the tune. In addition the political
              elite in the US seems unable to understand the value of an industrial policy or even what such a policy is.

              But understand this; without the ability to manufacture the
              products that we need in order to sustain and improve our lives we face certain abject poverty and societal ruin.
              What we need to do is make investment in the US attractive, firstly by making the relocation and outsourcing of our industrial base less attractive, the VAT will do that for us as it has done for all our competitors.
              We also need to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses, the biggest ones I have mentioned above. However where we have regulations they should be applied universally, if child labor is bad here, it is also bad everywhere. If
              environmental regulations are necessary here then they are necessary everywhere, these need to be enforced by tariffs on the offenders. We also need to enforce our copyright and
              patent laws, US companies are being routinely ripped off, particularly by the Chinese.
              As for conditions in the Mexican factories, that is down to the
              Mexicans, they need to have their govt. introduce and enforce labor laws as we have done here, but the conditions are the responsibility of the US parent company, and that is a disgrace.
              And finally we need to adopt the metric system of weights
              and measures.
              Sorry about the long post but you asked a lot of questions.

            • Jillian Becker

              rogerinflorida, I appreciate the time and trouble you have taken to answer my questions. I have read through what you say several times, in search of an opinion or analysis I could agree with, but have not found one. You want nationalized health care? You don’t know how disastrous it has been everywhere it has been established? You want to stop children working in other countries where often they are the only wage earners, so if they stop families starve? I too hate the idea of little children having to work instead of play. But that’s how it is. And like you I have witnessed and experienced reality. I could go on, taking point by point, but I don’t think you are persuadable on these issues. Let’s agree to disagree.

            • rogerinflorida

              Ms Becker,
              FWIW; I agree totally with you about health care, each individual or family should provide their own insurance. Believe me as an employer I am very irked by this requirement, however since EMTALA in the 80s essentially mandated universal health care, without of course providing any funding, we have the situation we have. There is no possibility of EMTALA being repealed therefore we have what we have, what I personally believe is irrelevant, we have the situation we have and we need to deal with it.

            • Jillian Becker

              Jack – Margaret Thatcher called herself a libertarian conservative. The phrase described very accurately the sort of freedom-under-the-rule-of-law polity that many of us were sympathetic to in Britain in the silver age of her prime ministership. The Tory (Conservative) Party had become the party of classical liberalism, but the word liberal had been debased. The so-called Liberal Party stood to the left of the socialist Labour Party in many respects. Maybe it seems a weird marriage of ideas – conservatism that stresses individual liberty and the free market – here in America. But I don’t see why it should. If there was no such concept in American political philosophy before, there is now.

            • Jack

              But if you study the history, the original Conservatives were enemies of the Classical Liberals. They blamed them for most of the evils they thought were occurring at the time. The Classical Liberals were actually on the “Left” at that time. Conservatism in the 19th century stood for a sort of blood and soil tribalism. And IMO that is what true Conservatism is.

              Today’s Conservatism is a hybrid of the two different political legacies. And each Conservative has a different personal mix to him. Pat Buchanan is closer to an old style Conservative; he wants a white, Christian America with a ton of economic protectionism. But a Glen Beck will be far more libertarian with some Christian overlay. Thomas Sowell is basically a free market advocate (although not pure laissez faire – he’s a Chicago School guy and they believe in Central Banks) but a guy like Denis Prager is not, he’s an economic pragmatist. And of course there is the religion. Hell, Ann Coulter doesn’t even believe in evolution. She thinks its all “just so stories”.

              So when I look at Conservatism as a whole I see a mess. What really are its fundamental principles. Look, you’ve got two commenters here that what want trade protectionism and they are ignorant enough to think that will generate wealth! IMO, they are truer to Conservatism then any pro-free-market libertarian.

              But libertarianism has its own problems not even including the anarchism. They have built their philosophy around state hatred which is terrible as the state is necessary to avoid pure chaos. This causes them to be “anti” everything. Many libertarians have that nihilistic essence of Leftists because of this. This is most apparent when it comes to foreign policy where they are militant pacifists or ungrounded dreamers thinking that some private “assassin companies” could deal with enemy armies.

              I could go on. But there is a problem with using Conservatism as a foundation for the defense of liberty. IMO, true Conservatism don’t believe in liberty. They believe in what they call “well ordered liberty” and if you look under the hood with that you find that phrase is not a society that aims at defending INDIVIDUAL liberty but a community style majoritarianism.

              I really like this blog and its content is great. But I personally think the “Conservative” moniker is inappropriate. Conservative philosophy will never be pro-individual liberty. Too many contradictions at the deeper levels. But what to replace it with? No easy question.

            • rogerinflorida

              Jack,
              We are going to try a little excursion into reality:
              I am an electrical engineer, my last job before I started my
              electrical construction co., was commissioning automation systems in factories.To take one example of many; I went to a godawful industrial city in Central Mexico to restart automation equipment that, along with everything else, had been stripped out of a factory in Toledo. Just like that, close the place, put about 500 Toledans out of work and
              re-locate to this dump in Mexico, same owners, same product, same customers, SAME PRICES!
              except that now the workforce is working a standard 12 hour day in inadequate lighting and ventilation (I had experience of working in Mexico, so knew to pack soap, toilet paper, PPE, etc. in my toolbox). My dust mask was black with
              grit and dust at the end of each day, the Mexicans were provided with nothing. Waste from the plant seemed to be dumped into a local creek, the town had a central open sewer the stench from which would dissolve a diamond.
              But back to Toledo; the 500 laid off are not going to find
              industrial work as this is far from the only factory that has closed, so what do they do? Those that can, get social security or disability, all will get extended unemployment benefits, others will apply for food stamps, SNAP and/or TANF etc., some will find other, most likely unskilled work, nobody can move because they can’t sell their houses.

              The jobs lost were mostly in the total cost of employment range about $30.00/hr, now down to about $3.00/hr.

              Literally Govt. handouts have replaced the wages
              that these people earned previously. But where have the wages gone? Into the pockets of hedge fund managers and the financial elite who don’t give a damn about anybody
              but themselves. They also own both the democratic and republican parties. Literally the debt that is being piled up by the Federal Govt. is going to support profits for a mighty few.
              So what can your theorizing offer to the people of Toledo?
              You see your “Free Trade” hasn’t created a single cent of wealth, it has only transferred it from American working class people to a bunch of financial manipulators.

              What solution to this situation does your theorizing offer?

            • liz

              Thanks for these comments, roger, Jack, and J.B.!
              I’m learning alot from this conversation.

            • Jack

              I’m not going to give you an economic lessen dude. But you are just regurgitating protectionist economic fallacies. You are also embracing Ludditeism which is the core of Leftist economic thought. Briefly, the factory lowers the production cost of manufacturing. This lowers nominal prices which allows more people to be hired in the economy over time. The laid off workers will be able to find replacement jobs which offer higher wages in real terms.

              But look, I can type all this and a concrete bound mentality that is incapable of abstract thought will say “that’s just theory what about the poor Mexicans that were laid off.” I couldn’t cut through ignorance like that with a diamond drill bit.

              But you prove my point. Conservatives like you are clueless about liberty. You can’t even spell the word.

              But if you are interested in educating yourself, I will provide a link to a great discussion of this issue.

              http://www.solopassion.com/node/8434

              Its a long series of posts on economics. The subject of immigration and of protectionism comes up in the last 20 posts or so. If you read through this you will LEARN from those who know more than you. Its a lot of reading but it will pay dividends.

              Good luck.

            • rogerinflorida

              Jack,

              No, you are certainly not going to give me an economics lesson, because you live in a cloud of unreality. In fact what you are espousing is the political philosophy of the motor cycle gang. I will give you some advice (that you are apparently incapable of taking) come out of your dreamworld and face reality, try and analyze what is actually happening instead of what you want to think is happening.

              Anyway, it doesn’t matter, you and the people who think like you are completely irrelevant to political discourse in the US, you have no power, no base, no influence and no future.

            • Jillian Becker

              Jack – What you say is not only interesting but troubling. I ask you this – as a genuinely open question. I’d like to know your answer. Is it not possible – is it not to a large extent the case – that most conservatives of all (or almost all) stripes could agree on five core principles: small(er) government, low(er) taxes, strong defense, individual freedom, market economy?

              It is new to me that “true conservatives [in America?] don’t believe in liberty”, that their wish-society does not aim at “defending individual liberty but a community style majoritarianism.” How then are they different from the Left (other than on a few particular issues)?

            • Kerry

              Jillian, I wanted to comment specifically on this thread. In my previous life, I was very active in this community mentioned above. I share with you the prospect of concentrating on the five principles; “small(er) government, low(er) taxes, strong defense, individual freedom, market economy.” The difficulty with this, in my opinion, is that so many in the republican/conservative camp are one issue people. I am talking about the abortion issue in particular. There can be no compromise with many of these as you know. I am disheartened by the inability of most Tea Party officeholders in DC to understand the art of compromise. It does not have to be about selling out! I have encouraged in my own private and personal way, a deeper appreciation for the SSM issue among many of these people. I did not expect they would embrace the concept nor accept it as a lifestyle, but I tried to help them to see reality…it is coming, and it will happen, so find a way to be accepting and accommodating. If not, they, the Republicans, will look mean spirited and unbending in the face of reasonable changes.

              The other issue of concern for me is YEC, and this group is just as stiff-necked as the pro-life group, although thankfully the overlap is immense. Again, I absolutely cringe when I think about the Republican debate where all but one raised their hand in support of Creationism. The Presidential primary process is dominated by the Pro-life jihadists, YEC Wookies, and the extremely uncomfortable anti-SSM crowd. To win one must appease this group which sets up a loss in November. My pitch has been to back-burner all of these issues. I believed the best result from the SCOTUS SSM decision was to give the stamp of approval so that even the most ardent detractor could brush off questions by saying it is the law of the land, and I while I don’t personally support, I will follow the law…blah , blah, blah. Like cigarettes, I don’t personally smoke but it is legal, and I don’t have an issue with those that do.

              It will take a few people with clout to accomplish the necessary changes. For example, Beck is a big question mark for me because of his promotion of David Barton, who, as you know, is busy writing revisionist American history. Many on FOX also endorse this irresponsible activity. Coulter has been mentioned, but every blond talking head from that broadcast can be included as potential obstacles to open-mindedness. Perhaps the idea of actually WINNING could sway the one issue crowd, but as long as Morris and Rove read and interpret the tea leaves for the masses, it will remain cesspool of inconsistency and personal agendas.

              All in all, your blog has helped me to refocus on what might be done. It has been years since I was personally involved, and living in
              Asia eliminated the urgency to participate. Unlike most atheist sites I have visited, this one feels much more like home for the issues important to me, and so, I intend to continue to discuss and explore potential opportunities to make a difference.

            • Jillian Becker

              Yes, Kerry, please, please do!

            • rogerinflorida

              Thank you ideologee,
              There is no such thing as “Free Trade”, there is only a clash of interests in which, unfortunately, the US is currently being creamed.

      • Jillian Becker

        Thank you, Jack, for this reply to ideologee. Protectionism is always bad. And your analysis of what’s wrong with contemporary Conservatism is, I think, all too (sadly) accurate.

      • rogerinflorida

        Perhaps first we should define what “Conservatism” really is, rather than engage in a lot of hot air blowing. Conservatism is nothing to do with liberty, freedom, equality of opportunity, or justice, it is entirely for the protection (conservation) of privilege. The privilege of the exploiters, the rulers, the elite establishment that enriches itself off the carcase of society. Religious conservatives are perhaps the best examples of this as recent posts on this site have illustrated.
        Perhaps the reason for Obama’s success is that the people have listened to “conservatives” and decided that their arguments are wrong and that the more “collectivist” position has more merit. As for the rejection of mercantilism; anybody who doesn’t realize that the US has been the object of sustained, ruthless and successful mercantilist campaigns by Germany, Japan and China particularly is an economic illiterate. The US has sat by while it’s economy has been eviscerated by these campaigns because the political establishment is owned by the banks and other corporate entities who have hugely profited from the process.

        • Jillian Becker

          That is a very sour comment of yours, rogerinflorida!

          “Conservative” in America means to me the conservation of the Republic as established on principles enshrined by the Founders in the Constitution.

          My analysis of why we are in the economic doldrums is, to put it briefly, because of government interference in what should be the free market. Separation of economy and state is what we need. Free trade is what we need. Competition is what we need. As Jack has pointed out, Bastiat explained why protectionism is bad. So did Adam Smith. Also the Austrian School economists. I’ll not undertake here and now to summarize the arguments, only suggest that you refresh your memory of them (if you were ever their reader).

          • rogerinflorida

            Ms Becker,

            Yes, I admit it does come across as a little sour. I am a bit frustrated; at the election result, at the weakness of Boehner & Co. The thing is that ranting about freedom and liberty is going to achieve nothing, for a political party to be viable in this day and age it has to offer a path to increased prosperity and security for the mass of the population, cries for return to the age of Laissez-faire or as Lord Melbourne (?) put it: “The entire duty of Government is to control crime and enforce contracts”. That is not going to work now, or ever, it only worked then because only the privileged could vote.
            What is particularly galling is that the steps back to economic growth are easily understood and implemented: First thing we need is to establish a Value Added Tax in place of the Corporation tax. This would in one step offset the advantage that all our OECD competition have over us by their practice of exempting exports from the tax but charging imports at the full rate. Secondly we should apply our environmental and labor laws universally to any entity that wishes to sell goods or services into the US. This needs to done by tariffs, importers who have comparable laws to ours; EU, Canada etc. would pay no tariff, communist slave states such as China would face tariffs.

            Please notice I am not talking about philosophical principles here, or any airy fairy concepts such as “freedom”, “liberty” or “constitutionalism”, just common sense steps to improve the standard and quality of life for the American people.

      • http://ideologee.blogspot.com ideologee

        Jack, sorry I misunderstood you. I read “neo-anarchist libertarians” instead of “non-anarchist libertarians”. But neo-anarchist libertarians are what you guys sound like, and that’s crazy.