(Continuing from the post immediately below, being a commentary on an article by Gwynn Guilford and Nikhil Sonnad at Quartz, about the political philosophy of Stephen K. Bannon, whom President Trump has appointed Chief Strategist.)
The authors write:
It’s important to note that “Judeo-Christian values” does not necessarily seem to require that all citizens believe in Christianity. Bannon doesn’t appear to want to undo the separation of church and state or freedom of religion enshrined in America’s constitution. After all, both of these are traditions that have led America to success in the past. What he believes is that the founding fathers built the nation based on a set of values that come from the Judeo-Christian tradition. …
But the values the founding fathers built the nation on did not come from “Judeo-Christian values”; they came from a revolution against Christian values – the Enlightenment.
True, “Nature’s God” is mentioned in The Declaration of Independence, which also declares that Men “are endowed by their Creator” with certain rights. But when one looks at the actual values that the Declaration and the Constitution enshrine, they are the values of the Enlightenment – individual freedom, self-determination, tolerance, responsible ownership, rationality, patriotism: not the values of any religion.
It is [in Bannon’s view] through … the primacy of the nation-state’s values and traditions — that America can drive a stake through the heart of the global, secular “establishment”.
In addition to enriching themselves and encouraging dependency among the poor, global elites also encourage immigrants to flood the US and drag down wages. Immigrant labor boosts the corporate profits of globalists and their cronies, who leave it to middle-class natives to educate, feed, and care for these foreigners. The atheistic, pluralist social order that has been allowed to flourish recoils at nationalism and patriotism, viewing them as intolerant and bigoted. …
Atheism has nothing whatever to do with it. Hundreds of thousands of the immigrants have been Muslims, and however secular the Left governments have been, they have demanded that the host nation treat the – extremely intolerant – newcomers with deference. But it is true that those who welcome the Muslims “recoil” at nationalism and patriotism.
[Bannon] pointed out that each of … three preceding crises had involved a great war, and those conflicts had increased in scope from the American Revolution through the Civil War to the Second World War. He expected a new and even bigger war as part of the current crisis, and he did not seem at all fazed by the prospect. …
War with whom?
Bannon is left searching for a major, existence-level enemy. Does the “Party of Davos” alone qualify? Who else could this war be fought against?
In the 2014 Vatican lecture, Bannon goes further. “I think we are in a crisis of the underpinnings of capitalism, and on top of that we’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism. … I believe you should take a very, very, very aggressive stance against radical Islam…. See what’s happening, and you will see we’re in a war of immense proportions.” …
We agree with Bannon about that too.
Bannon’s remarks and his affiliations with anti-Muslim activists like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer leave the impression that the enemy might well be Islam in general.
Yes. And so it is. Islam has declared war on the West, and sooner or later the West must fight and win it.
[He] entertains the argument that Islam’s “war” against Christianity “originated almost from [Islam’s] inception.”
He endorses the view that, in the lead-up to World War II, Islam was a “much darker” force facing Europe than fascism.
It was as dark. And Turkey and most of the Arabs were allies of Hitler and Mussolini.
Other ideas he has supported include: a US nonprofit focused on promoting a favorable image of Muslims is a terrorist front …
If they mean Hamas-affiliated CAIR, which seems most probable, then again Bannon is right …
… the Islamic Society of Boston mosque was behind the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing …
It very likely was …
and Muslim-Americans are trying to supplant the US constitution with Shariah law.
… Bannon’s diatribes against the media brim with spite toward journalists’ arrogance, superiority, and naivety.
“Spite”? The media are spiteful. Say “anger” instead, and there are millions of us who share it with him.
… [R]ecently, he told the New York Times that the media “should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while”. He added: “I want you to quote this. The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.” …
Again, we agree.
In his 2014 Vatican speech, he says:
I could see this when I worked at Goldman Sachs — there are people in New York that feel closer to people in London and in Berlin than they do to people in Kansas and in Colorado, and they have more of this elite mentality that they’re going to dictate to everybody how the world’s going to be run. I will tell you that the working men and women of Europe and Asia and the United States and Latin America don’t believe that. They believe they know what’s best for how they will comport their lives.
And we think that is true.
But this cosmic avenger role Bannon seems to claim as voice-giver to the “forgotten” middle-classes hints at a deeper relish of conflict. … In particular, the aesthetic of his documentaries can be nauseatingly violent. Torchbearer is a tour de force of gore. (There are at least six separate shots of falling guillotines, as well as lingering footage of nuclear radiation victims, mass burials from Nazi gas chambers, and various ISIL atrocities.)
Events brought about by self-appointed elites and savage jihadis. Should they be ignored? Forgotten?
The authors then ask what all this means for the Trump presidency, and give us their answer:
Even before he took charge of Trump’s campaign, in Aug. 2016, Bannon’s philosophies pervaded its rhetoric. If there was any question about the role his views would play in the Trump administration, the last two weeks have made it clear: The president’s leadership hangs from the scaffolding of Bannon’s worldview.
Trump’s inaugural address was basically a telepromptered Bannon rant. Where inaugural speeches typically crackle with forward-looking optimism, Trump’s was freighted with anti-elite resentment. He described a Bannonistic vision in which the “wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed all across the world.” The “forgotten men and women of our country” — a meme that Trump claimed, but that appears in Generation Zero — had a cameo too.
Trump heaped blame on the “establishment,” which “protected itself” but not American citizens from financial ruin. “And while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land,” Trump continued. “We’ve made other countries rich, while the wealth, strength and confidence of our country has dissipated over the horizon.”
“America first” is Bannon’s economic nationalism in slogan form. Trump’s vow to “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate from the face of the Earth” was a mellowed-out version of the West’s battle against “Islamic fascists.”
There’s more. Trump’s remarks that the “Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity,” that “most importantly, we will be protected by God,” and that children from both Detroit and Nebraska are “infused with the breath of life by the same almighty creator” seemed kind of bizarre coming from a not-very-religious man. …
We are glad of that.
Within days of the inauguration came the dizzying spurt of executive actions — written by Bannon and Stephen Miller, [another] White House policy advisor …
Now the authors, whose hostility to Bannon has been growing in clarity and force, openly show their antagonism to the Trump administration:
Bannon’s philosophy toward Islam seems likely to have influenced the order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”. Recalling that line about how immigrants are not “Jeffersonian democrats”, the document prescribes ensuring the allegiance to America’s “founding principles” and the US constitution of anyone admitted to the country, including tourists.
How is that an unreasonable requirement?
Trump also implied in a TV interview with the Christian Broadcast Network that he wanted to prioritize Christians refugees over Muslims, accusing the US government of favoring Muslim refugees over Christians in the past (a claim for which there’s no evidence).
That is an outrageous statement. The Christians of the Middle East have been, and are being, atrociously persecuted by Muslims, yet far more Muslims – who do not have any values in common with most Americans – have been let in enthusiastically by President Obama, while Christians, who do, and who need asylum far more urgently, have been admitted in far smaller numbers. They were deliberately excluded by Obama. See here and here.
Some argue (fairly convincingly) that Trump’s ban risks lending credence to ISIL recruitment propaganda claiming that the US is leading the West in a war on all of Islam.
And that is an absurd argument, not convincing in the least. ISIL/ISIS has been doing its atrocious deeds for years. Everyone knows it. It is long past time for it to be opposed, eliminated from the face of the earth – and all possible ways its operatives can enter America shut off. A banning order is common sense.
Another of the new administration’s focuses — the danger posed by Mexicans flooding over the border — is also a central theme of Bannon’s vision of America under siege. …
“America under siege”. Has Bannon made such a claim? Or Trump? A belief to that effect is attributed to President Trump by his opponents, but has he or Bannon ever actually said it? Anyway, the authors present some spurious arguments against Trump’s executive action which declares that “many” unauthorized immigrants “present a significant threat to national security and public safety” – something we all know to be true – and they back them up with reference to pronouncements made by “criminology and immigration experts”. The plain fact that “unauthorized immigrants” are in the United States illegally bypasses the authors’ consciousness.
Finally, Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral trade deal supported by what would count as the “elite”, includes a special shout-out to “the American worker”, the classic Bannon theme.
The TPP was a rotten project. It was supported by the “elite”. American workers have been overlooked and made poorer. Bannon is not the only observer to have noticed that and Trump did not need Bannon to point it out to him.
The possibility that many of these positions are right and good, and the fact that many people support Trump in espousing them, are not considered by Guilford and Sonnad.
Bannon savors the power of symbolism. That symbolic power infused Trump’s campaign, and now, apparently, his administration’s rhetoric. … So it’s possible that the narrative flowing through Trump’s inaugural address and executive actions is simply what Bannon has calibrated over time to rouse maximum populist fervor — and that it doesn’t reflect plans to upend America.
There’s also, however, the possibility that Bannon is steering Trump toward the “enlightened capitalist”, Judeo-Christian, nationalistic vision that he has come to believe America needs.
Which it is, we can’t know, of course: Only Bannon knows what Bannon really wants. What we do know for sure, though, is that a man who has … a deep desire for a violent resurgence of “Western civilization” now has the power to fulfill it.
A “violent resurgence” of something dubiously called “Western civilization”. Is that deplorable? Is there no such thing as Western civilization? Is it not under attack?
Is there some means other than violence to destroy ISIS?
Or to stop Iran from nuking the West as it plainly intends to do?
The mind-set, assumptions, prejudices, and obliviousness to stark dangers that Guilford and Sonnad manifest, illustrate the need for the vision shared by President Trump, Stephen Bannon, and Stephen Miller to be acted upon by all necessary means.
The defeated Democrats and their furious supporters of the fourth estate have not tried to find out what Donald Trump and his like-thinkers actually think. They accuse him and his supporters of being everything they consider vile. So it’s a welcome development if some journalists try to find out what he believes, what he stands for, what he aims at.
Two researchers, apparently already convinced that President Trump’s own ideas are not discoverable at present (a conviction stated with a hint that he doesn’t have any), studied instead his closest adviser, a man with a philosophical turn of mind, and investigated him through what he had said and done in the past. If there is to be such a thing as Trumpism, it would be formed by this thinker, they deduce.
The adviser is Stephen Bannon. His official position in the White House is Chief Strategist. Democrats use their whole vocabulary of five or six political insults to denigrate him: “bigot”, “racist”, “xenophobe”, “Islamophobe”, “Nazi” (a favorite screech by mobs who are increasingly Nazi-like), and even one label not always used as an insult by the Left – “anti-Semite”.
But the two researchers, Gwynn Guilford and Nikhil Sonnad, tried to find out what Bannon’s ideas really were. And they wrote an article about him, to be found at Quartz:
What does Donald Trump want for America? His supporters don’t know. His party doesn’t know. Even he doesn’t know.
If there is a political vision underlying Trumpism, however, the person to ask is not Trump. It’s his éminence grise, Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist of the Trump administration.
… Through a combination of luck (a fallen-through deal left him with a stake in a hit show called Seinfeld) and a knack for voicing outrage, Bannon remade himself as a minor luminary within the far edge of right-wing politics, writing and directing a slew of increasingly conservative documentaries.
“The far edge of right-wing politics” they say. So Bannon is on the “far right”? We conservatives only say that someone is on the “far right” if we mean someone like Mussolini, or the Black Hundreds, or Vlad the Impaler, or Genghis Khan. To us conservatives, Mr. Bannon does not sound or behave like any of them.
So now we expect that this article might not be a friendly portrait of its subject.
Bannon’s influence reached a new high in 2012 when he took over Breitbart News, an online news site, following the death of creator Andrew Breitbart. While at Breitbart, Bannon ran a popular talk radio call-in show and launched a flame-throwing assault on mainstream Republicans, embracing instead a fringe cast of ultra-conservative figures. Among them was Trump, a frequent guest of the show.
Trump “an ultra-conservative figure”? A lot of conservatives complained that he wasn’t conservative enough. Many insisted he wasn’t conservative at all.
And the question arises – why not examine what Trump said as a guest on that show? Is it not possible that something Trump said now and then influenced what Bannon thought?
They established a relationship that eventually led Bannon to mastermind Trump’s populist romp to the White House, culminating in his taking the administration’s most senior position (alongside the chief of staff, Reince Priebus).
“Populist”, we suspect, is a pejorative to the authors. And what of “romp”? What is a romp? A caper, a frolic, a bout of jolly play – nothing serious like standing for election as the president of the United States with a smart strategy for winning.
It’s impossible to know for sure what Bannon will do with his newfound power; he honors few interview requests lately, ours included. (The White House did not respond to our request to speak with Bannon.) But his time as a conservative filmmaker and head of Breitbart News reveals a grand theory of what America should be. Using the vast amount of Bannon’s own publicly available words — from his lectures, interviews, films and more — we can construct elements of the vision for America he hopes to realize in the era of Trump.
Bannon’s political philosophy boils down to three things that a Western country, and America in particular, needs to be successful: Capitalism, nationalism, and “Judeo-Christian values”. These are all deeply related, and essential.
We will be commenting on that below.
America, says Bannon, is suffering a “crisis of capitalism”. … Capitalism used to be all about moderation, an entrepreneurial American spirit, and respect for one’s fellow Christian man. In fact, in remarks delivered to the Vatican in 2014, Bannon says that this “enlightened capitalism” was the “underlying principle” that allowed the US to escape the “barbarism” of the 20th century.
Since this enlightened era, things have gradually gotten worse. (Hence the “crisis”.) The downward trend began with the 1960s and ’70s counterculture. “The baby boomers are the most spoiled, most self-centered, most narcissistic generation the country’s ever produced,” says Bannon in a 2011 interview.
Is there a good argument that he is wrong about this? If so, we would like to hear it.
He takes on this issue in more detail in Generation Zero, a 2010 documentary he wrote and directed. The film shows one interviewee after another laying out how the “capitalist system” was slowly undermined and destroyed by a generation of wealthy young kids who had their material needs taken care of by hardworking parents — whose values were shaped by the hardship of the Great Depression and World War II — only to cast off the American values that had created that wealth in the first place. This shift gave rise to socialist policies that encouraged dependency on the government, weakening capitalism.
Again, we would like to hear a refutation of that judgment.
Eventually, this socialist vision succeeded in infiltrating the very highest levels of institutional power in America.
It did indeed. It was in pursuit of a long-term plan of the New Left which its adherents called “the long march through the institutions“. Nothing fictitious about it. Not an invention of paranoid “far-right” conservatives but of the Italian Communist leader, Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), eagerly taken up by the New Left in the late 1960s everywhere in the Western world.
“By the late 1990s, the left had taken over many of the institutions of power, meaning government, media, and academe,” says Peter Schweizer, a writer affiliated with Bannon’s Government Accountability Institute, a conservative think tank, in Generation Zero. “And it was from these places and positions of power that they were able to disrupt the system and implement a strategy that was designed to ultimately undermine the capitalist system.” …
Anything untrue there? Anything misleading? Not that we can see.
Underlying all of this is the philosophy of Edmund Burke, an influential 18th-century Irish political thinker whom Bannon occasionally references.
It figures that he would. Edmund Burke is generally considered one of the foremost philosophers of conservatism.
In Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke presents his view that the basis of a successful society should not be abstract notions like human rights, social justice, or equality.
Indeed not. Those are the political obsessions of the contemporary Left: “human rights” for some by imposing obligations on others; “social justice” at the cost of justice itself which can only be applied to individuals; “equality” at the price of liberty, through tyrannical state enforcement.
Rather, societies work best when traditions that have been shown to work are passed from generation to generation. The baby boomers, Bannon says in a lecture given to the Liberty Restoration Foundation (LRF), failed to live up to that Burkean responsibility by abandoning the tried-and-true values of their parents (nationalism, modesty, patriarchy, religion) in favor of new abstractions (pluralism, sexuality, egalitarianism, secularism).
Now obviously we have a difference of opinion with both Burke and Bannon on one of their preferred values: religion. But it certainly was valued by Burke, and is valued by most American conservatives. (Burke had a Catholic mother and a Protestant father. He believed strongly in the importance of Christianity as the foundation of conservative politics. And Bannon is a Catholic.)
By “modesty” the authors mean chasteness. We gather that, because the authors name its opposite as “sexuality”. As sexuality is not a value, we have to understand it to imply “immodesty” or promiscuousness as one of the “new abstractions” opposed to Burkean conservatism.
By “pluralism”they can only mean multiculturalism and globalism.
By “egalitarianism” they mean socialism.
For both Burke and Bannon, failure to pass the torch results in social chaos.
Once in power, the liberal, secular, global-minded elite overhauled the institutions of democracy and capitalism to tighten its grip on power and the ability to enrich itself. The “party of Davos“, as Bannon long ago dubbed this clique, has warped capitalism’s institutions, depriving middle classes everywhere of the wealth they deserve.
Leaving aside that secularism does not interfere with democracy or distort capitalism, did that not happen? It did.
This pattern of exploitation came to a head in the 2008 global financial and economic crisis. Wall Street — enabled by fellow global elites in government — spun profits out of speculation instead of investing their wealth in domestic jobs and businesses. When the resulting bubble finally burst, the immoral government stuck hardworking American taxpayers with the bailout bill.
An incomplete description of what happened. The house-owning bubble was not caused by Wall Street; it was caused by Democratic governments insisting that financial institutions give mortgage loans to people who could not afford them. So yes, Wall Street was “enabled by global elites in government”.
This is the kind of thing that led Bannon to say in that 2011 LRF lecture that there is “socialism for the very wealthy”. The rest of the country, he says, is [sic] “common sense, practical, middle-class people”.
There is also “socialism for the very poor,” he adds. “We’ve built a welfare state that is completely and totally unsupportable, and now this is a crisis.”
Bannon wants all of this liberal-sponsored “socialism” to end. He celebrates CNBC host Rick Santelli’s famous 2009 tirade about “those who carry the water and those who drink the water”, which sparked what became the Tea Party, a populist movement focused on tax cuts, fiscal scrimping, and a narrow interpretation of constitutional rights. Channeling the spirit of the Tea Party, Bannon blames Republicans as much as Democrats for taking part in cronyism and corruption at the expense of middle class families.
What Guilford and Sonnad call “fiscal scrimping” we, like the Tea Party, call “fiscal responsibility”.
What they call “a narrow interpretation of constitutional rights”, we call “rights according to the Constitution”.
But, yes, there were Republicans as well as Democrats who took part in cronyism and corruption at the expense of the middle class.
So far, the authors’ attempt subtly to convey a portrait of a stuff-shirt bigot would convince only those who already think of conservatives as stuff-shirt bigots. But nothing that has been said (except to us the mention of religion as a good thing), actually puts a single black mark against Mr Bannon in conservative eyes.
“We don’t really believe there is a functional conservative party in this country and we certainly don’t think the Republican Party is that,” says Bannon in a 2013 panel in which he discusses Breitbart’s vision. “We tend to look at this imperial city of Washington, this boomtown, as they have two groups, or two parties, that represent the insiders’ commercial party, and that is a collection of insider deals, insider transactions and a budding aristocracy that has made this the wealthiest city in the country.”
In short, in Bannonism, the crisis of capitalism has led to socialism and the suffering of the middle class. And it has made it impossible for the current generation to bequeath a better future to its successors, to fulfill its Burkean duty.
So what exactly are these traditions that Americans are meant to pass along to future generations? In addition to “crisis of capitalism,” one of Bannon’s favorite terms is “Judeo-Christian values*.” This is the second element of his theory of America.
Generation Zero, Bannon’s 2010 documentary, has a lot to say about “American values”, and a lot of this matches closely the ideals of the Tea Party. But since 2013 or 2014, Bannon’s casual emphasis on American values has swelled to include a strong religious component. The successful functioning of America — and Western civilization in general — depends on capitalism, and capitalism depends on the presence of “Judeo-Christian values.” …
The article continues to discuss Bannon’s views on the connection between capitalism and “Judeo-Christian values” at some length. We’ll cut most of it out, but will also stress that our disagreement with Stepehen Bannon on this point in no way weakens our agreement with his historical analysis, his advocacy for capitalism, or his strong preference for nationalism over globalism.
In obstinate opposition to a universal assumption, we deny that there is any such thing as “Judeo-Christian values”. The values of Judaism and the values of Christianity are not only different, they are contradictory. (See our post, Against “Judeo-Christian values”, August 26, 2014.) The very fact that we agree with the rest of the Burke/Bannon political philosophy without being religious, disproves their contention that “Capitalism, nationalism, and Judeo-Christian values … are all deeply related, and essential”.
(To be continued)
Tony Blair was a prime minister of post-Thatcher Britain for 10 years (1997-2007).
As such, he was a prime member of the leftist elite that has done so much harm to the world. They call themselves the “globalists”. They expected to extend their rule over the whole world, modeling their new world order on the corrupt undemocratic European Union.
But the first and only genuine workers’ revolution in history has brought a patriotic capitalist, Donald Trump, to power in America. And the British people voted to leave the European Union. And now the days of the globalist cabal are numbered.
They won’t go quietly. They are beginning to make a clamor. They think that somehow they can mount a serious threat to the new US government and all the new patriotic governments that will soon be elected in Europe.
They call the rise of the people against them “populism”. Well, so it is. It could also be called democracy. The demos – the people – have voted, or soon will vote, to reclaim their countries and their liberty.
So it’s “populism” against “globalism”.
The weak outgoing US president, Barack Obama – a globalist – is promising to be the leader of an American resistance movement against the Herculean incoming president, Donald Trump.
And Tony Blair is setting himself up as Obama’s counterpart on the other side of the Atlantic.
Nick Hallett at Breitbart reports:
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is to invest £9.3 million of proceeds from his lobbying business in a new institute that he is setting up to fight populism.
Mr Blair said last month he was creating the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) aimed at combatting populism and “making globalisation work”. On Wednesday, he confirmed he has given £9.26 million net assets of his company Windrush Ventures limited to the new institute …
Mr Blair said last month the TBI would be a “platform” offering “thought leadership” on anti-populist, pro-globalisation policies.
He added it would “build a new policy agenda” for what he called the “centre ground” of politics, as well as allowing “a reasonable and evidence based discussion of the future which avoids the plague of social media-led exchanges of abuse.”
Oh, those pestilential social media, which ordinary people use to spread their opinions – and information that the globalist-supporting mainstream media do their best to keep hidden!
In terms of actual policies, he hinted it would champion the continuation and strengthening of the European project, and also open borders.
Part of its focus will plainly be around the European debate; but this will not be its exclusive domain. It has to go far wider than that since in many ways the Europe debate is a lightning rod for the whole of politics.
Mr Blair has said several times that Britain should consider holding a second referendum on Brexit, just in case the public change their minds and want to remain in the European Union.
In October, he said:
If it becomes clear that this is either a deal that doesn’t make it worth our while leaving, or a deal that is so serious in its implications that people may decide they don’t want to go, there’s got to be some way, either through parliament, through an election, possibly through a referendum, in which people express their view.
He is a true believer that the globalists’ new world order is the only way for the human race to go if it wants to save itself from “serious implications”. To him, Brexit was a disaster of the same order as Trump’s election was for Obama and his party.
They both seem to believe that because they once had the power of government, they themselves are intrinsically powerful.
We expect they can be little more than a nuisance, and that only for a short time, and then – no more of Obama and Blair.
What is that hissing sound emanating from the Left?
It is the sound of the defeated Democrats calling their enemies “Racists!”
The Left is obsessed with race. It is reasonable to assume that Barack Obama was elected to the presidency more because he is black that for any other reason. Many voters wanted to prove that they were not racist by voting for him. But to vote for someone because he is black is patently racist. Obama’s election was a colossal manifestation of racism. The man had nothing in his record to commend him for the presidency of the United States. Quite the contrary. Considering that he was raised by Communists, and worked to organize black communities into Communist activist groups, he was peculiarly unqualified to have any role in the government of the United States.
It cannot be repeated often enough that the Democratic Party was the party of slavery. One of the main reasons why the Republican Party came into existence was to free the slaves. No Republicans owned slaves. No Republicans lynched black men. The KKK did, and the KKK was created and manned by Democrats.
Yet the Democrats succeeded in persuading a large majority of African-Americans that theirs was the party that would best serve the interests of Blacks. The result has been that African-Americans elect Democrats to govern them, decade after decade, in cities like Detroit and Chicago – where Black mayor after Black mayor turns out to be a criminal defrauding the voters and being sentenced to prison. (See here and here and here.) Still, the Black citizens vote Democrat.
Donald Trump, during his campaign for the presidency, pointed out to Black voters that the Democratic Party has kept them in poverty. He asked them what did they have to lose by trying something new – by trying him. It seems quite a few were persuaded to do so on November 8, 2016.
But according to the Left, Donald Trump is a “Racist!”
According to some of those irredeemably Leftist institutions, the universities, every White is a racist. So in their view the American population consists for the most part of Blacks and Racists.
Why does the Left want “racism” to be the supreme cause? (Even taking precedence over “sexism” and “man-made global warming”.)
Rachel Lu asks that question and tries to answer it in an article at the Federalist:
Liberals need racist foes to vanquish. Most of the time they have to resort to finding them where they obviously aren’t there. … Paul Ryan can hardly order a sandwich without liberal pundits combing through in search of the racist “coding” that they know to be hidden within all Republican rhetoric. …
It’s too bad to get back to business as usual in the racism blame game, because quite recently, Jonathan Chait’s feature in New York Magazine offered some surprisingly helpful insights into liberals and their need for conservative “racism”. Chait’s piece, and the firestorm that followed, make a fascinating tutorial in liberal paradigms concerning racism. Looking through their eyes for a moment, it almost starts to make sense why they’re so certain that racism is a significant moving force behind American conservatism.
Initially it can be a bit startling to remind oneself that liberals really don’t see their accusations as the political equivalent to calling us poopy-heads; they actually believe that ethnic hatred is an important motivator for conservatives. Some even get frustrated that conservatives have gotten so clever about “coding” our racist messages, hiding them in subtle subtexts that liberal journalists can’t easily expose (even while our barely-literate backwoods voters apparently hear them loud and clear). You can almost picture liberals playing Ryan’s speeches backwards, hoping to catch that moment when the mild-mannered and professorial Ryan secretly taps into the seething cauldron of bigoted rage that he knows to be driving his base.
Apparently some of them do actually realize that they’re overreaching, though it isn’t something they like to hear. Chait poked the bear by explaining some of the history behind the “coding” paranoia and agreeing that conservatives have some reason to resent it. More importantly, Chait explains with admirable clarity one important reason why the racist-conservative dogma is so important for liberals. A second emerges from the responses to Chait’s piece.
The Ballad of the Civil Rights Movement has long been liberals’ favorite bed-time story. Martin Luther King Day may be the only day of the year when they feel completely, unambiguously proud to be Americans. It’s hard to exaggerate how important this is to liberal political thinking. They are perpetually looking for new ways to recapture that high.
Although, according to MLK’s niece, he was a Republican.
Conservatives tend to miss this because we see the Civil Rights story as settled history. We’re all pleased to have sloughed off the bigotry of our ancestors. Of course we want people to be judged “by the content of their character” and not by their skin. What’s left to debate here?
Liberals have yet to turn that page. This is their favorite series, and like every loyal fan base, they always want another sequel. Indeed, as Chait acknowledges, one of the most appealing things about a 2008 Senator Obama was the perception that he could be the star of a particularly thrilling new episode. Of course, if that’s the storyline, it’s no mystery which role was available for conservatives. “Racial coding” became a convenient fix for a glaring plot hole: Republican politicians’ refusal to follow their racist script.
Of course, for conservatives this is a pretty bad deal. We can’t stop being the racist party if that’s the only “role” our political enemies have available. At most we can ask liberals to consider who is served by their implicit demand that racism never die. … Modern liberal oppression narratives are far and away the most expensive dramas ever produced, and we all get dragged to see them whether we’re interested or not.
As grim as this sounds, it may actually be the more remediable liberal fixation. Another liberal paradigm (which is well articulated by Brian Beutler of The New Republic), leaves even less wiggle-room for a conservatism that actually serves the common good.
Beutler is gracious enough to agree with Chait that, “the left’s racial analysis of conservative politics might lend itself to careless or opportunistic, overreaching accusations of racism.” But he doesn’t feel too bad about it, because as he goes on to argue, liberals are fundamentally right about conservative racism. White racial resentment is one of the primary sources of energy behind American conservatism. It has to be, because that’s the only plausible explanation for why anyone but the rich and privileged would support the GOP.
The number of the rich and privileged who support the Democratic Party is very high. The ruling elites of the US, Europe, and the whole Western World are themselves on the Left (even those in Europe who call themselves “conservative”). The majority of those who voted for Trump to overthrow the ruling elite in America were workers, and would-be workers who could not find work.
To his credit, Beutler doesn’t probe the sub-conscious of high-profile conservatives for unconfessed bigotry. He is cheerfully prepared to admit (and he thinks most liberals would agree) that racial hatred plays a small role in the motivations of the major players. For them, it’s all about greed. Their policies are pitched to protect their own wealth and privilege at the expense of the poor.
But the ultra-wealthy (as we have been reminded ad nauseum) are a small minority in America, and poorer voters have little reason to support a plutocratic agenda that doesn’t serve them. In order to stay viable, therefore, Republicans need a populist hook. That hook, Beutler believes, is racial resentment.
So to disguise their “greed”, Republicans pretend to be “racist”?
Conservative readers might be asking: why in the world would he believe that? To liberals it seems obvious. Conservatives are ferocious in their assault on programs that disproportionately enlist ethnic minorities, including Medicaid, food stamps and welfare. How else to explain that except as a manifestation of white Republicans’ racist Schadenfreude?
It’s hard to know where to begin with such convoluted reasoning. The conservative distaste for entitlements is deeply connected to our political philosophy; all of our most cherished values come into play here. And we have plenty of sociological evidence to present, now that the scars of entitlement dependency blight every major city in America, bequeathing to our poorest children a legacy of dysfunction and vice. But sure, let’s write all of that off as a manifestation of conservative greed and hatred. That would make so much more sense.
In order to make sense of such an apparently-crazy view, we need to remind ourselves of some further features of liberal ideology. To conservatives it seems crazy and wildly uncharitable to dismiss their (well-grounded) views as manifestations of an irrational animus against ethnic minorities. But to liberals this seems reasonable, because embedded deep within the liberal worldview is the idea that the end of the day all political activity can be seen as part of a story about warring classes. It’s another trope that we can lay at the feet of our still-fashionable friend, Karl Marx. (1)
Still fashionable among the elites who are stunned that the “masses” (to use the Marxist word for them) have voted them out. And still intensely fashionable in the universities. But there will be no new Marxist regimes.
Marx declares early in The Communist Manifesto that, “The history of all hitherto existing societies is a history of class struggles”. This is one of those sweeping interpretive claims that sounds silly to the uninitiated, but that starts to seem all-important to those who have adopted it as their central political paradigm. Marx was a wonderful storyteller, and his fairy tale still holds much power over the minds of modern people, as we’ve recently seen in the furor over Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”.
(See our review of it here.)
As Marx understands it, societies are made up of multiple classes that perpetually jockey for relative advantage. Open warfare is avoided through a complex balance of agreements that enable each class to “hold its own” in the larger social structure. Some are better off than others, but all have something to lose if the arrangement collapses and turns into open warfare. Before the Industrial Revolution humans had crafted a fairly well-functioning “class ecosystem”, but rapidly expanding markets interrupted that balance by massively empowering one particular class (specifically the medieval burghers) to bring all others to heel. Now called “the bourgeoisie”, these new overlords wielded the immense power of the modern market as a weapon, harnessing all the other classes in an exploitative system that overwhelmingly benefited themselves.
It’s a story we all know, whether or not we’ve read [it]. … It wafts its way through their dreams and colors their entire social outlook. Of course we know that capitalists are castigated as exploiters and tyrants. That’s only the beginning, however. Everything is a zero-sum game in this outlook. That means that every move Republicans make must represent an attempt to win some marbles away from Democratic voters, which of course will be tossed into the overflowing treasure chests of Republican elite.
How do we know that Republicans are racist? Well, we don’t get much support from ethnic minorities, and we dislike entitlement programs. If you see the world through a Marxist class-warfare paradigm, that really does look like adequate evidence to make the case.
Conservatives have favorite stories too. We love our Constitutional Convention and our melting-pot of immigration. We get misty-eyed over the Greatest Generation and their triumphs in World War II. We believe that America is a special country. Conservative narratives have a level of transcendence that liberals simply don’t understand, which means that they [conservatives] can reject the dreary sameness of perpetual class warfare. …
Class warfare was probably never true. And certainly since Europe recovered from the Second World War it became so untrue – the workers of Europe, and especially Germany, becoming very well off indeed and thoroughly content with the capitalist system – that the Left had to stop looking to the workers, the “proletariat”, to be the “revolutionary class”. The New Left looked instead to the world’s underdogs to take on that role; the “wretched of the earth”; the Third World; the non-white peoples. (2)
Most incredible to liberals, however, is our claim that good economic policy (especially when combined with a well-ordered social structure) is actually good for everyone. We’re not all jockeying for the same pot of goods. It isn’t a zero-sum game. More opportunity for me can mean more prosperity for you, and vice-versa. We can all win.
This is the conservative Gospel, as it were. Conservatives tell Americans: we don’t have to fight over the pie! Let’s just make it bigger! Success is not a rationed commodity! …
Indeed there is no pie. Wealth is never fixed. It is constantly being created in thriving economies.
[T]his just seems absurd to most liberals. Free markets are good for everyone? Get out. Can you people please just fess up and admit that you’re closeted racists?
(1) Karl Marx himself was a vicious racist. It is important to know this. He poured contempt on Jews and Blacks. His anti-Semitism was fierce, though he himself was a Jew by descent. He considered Latins and Slavs to be “inferior races”. The Slavs, he opined, should be wiped out in a revolutionary war. And he was all for the continuation of slavery in America. (See here, where relevant quotations may be found.)
(2) The switch from “class analysis” to “race analysis” (to use Marxist jargon) happened earlier in South Africa. The slogan of the Communist Party of South Africa in the early 1920s was “Workers of the world unite and fight for a white South Africa” – until 1928, when the Comintern decided that the policy must be changed and the Party take up the cause of the oppressed “natives”. The Communists eventually allied themselves with the African National Congress – giving the White nationalist regime an excuse to continue their apartheid policy throughout the Cold War.
The year 2017 approaches, and with it the centennial of the Russian revolution that first brought Marxists to totalitarian power.
For the last hundred years Marxism has been destroying human life, liberty and happiness on a vast scale. Far from ushering in paradise on earth as the Marxists proclaimed they would do, they used power wherever they acquired it to create earthly hells.
By reasonable reckoning, 23 Communist regimes had killed (at least) 149,469,610 people by 2006. R. J. Rummel, who was professor of Political Science at the University of Hawaii, is the authority most cited for the statistics of deaths caused by Communist governments by means of executions, deliberate mass starvation, and forced labor. For mass slaughter of this sort, he invented the word “democide“.
In one of his papers titled How Many Did Communist Regimes Murder?, Professor Rummel wrote:
How can we understand all this killing by communists? It is the marriage of an absolutist ideology with absolute power. Communists believed that they knew the truth, absolutely. They believed that they knew through Marxism what would bring about the greatest human welfare and happiness. And they believed that power, the dictatorship of the proletariat, must be used to tear down the old feudal or capitalist order and rebuild society and culture to realize this utopia. Nothing must stand in the way of its achievement. Government – the Communist Party – was thus above any law. All institutions, cultural norms, traditions, and sentiments were expendable. And the people were as though lumber and bricks, to be used in building the new world.
To many communists, the cause of a communist utopia was such as to justify all the deaths. The irony of this is that communism in practice, even after decades of total control, did not improve the lot of the average person, but usually made their living conditions worse than before the revolution. It is not by chance that the greatest famines have occurred within the Soviet Union (about 5,000,000 dead during 1921-23 and 7,000,000 from 1932-3) and communist China (about 27,000,000 dead from 1959-61). In total almost 55,000,000 people died in various communist famines and associated diseases, a little over 10,000,000 of them from democidal famine. This is as though the total population of Turkey, Iran, or Thailand had been completely wiped out. And that something like 35,000,000 people fled communist countries as refugees, as though the countries of Argentina or Columbia had been totally emptied of all their people, was an unparalleled vote against the utopian pretensions of Marxism-Leninism. …
But communists could not be wrong. After all, their knowledge was scientific, based on historical materialism, an understanding of the dialectical process in nature and human society, and a materialist (and thus realistic) view of nature. Marx has shown empirically where society has been and why, and he and his interpreters proved that it was destined for a communist end. No one could prevent this, but only stand in the way and delay it at the cost of more human misery. Those who disagreed with this world view and even with some of the proper interpretations of Marx and Lenin were, without a scintilla of doubt, wrong. After all, did not Marx or Lenin or Stalin or Mao say that. . . . In other words, communism was like a fanatical religion. It had its revealed text and chief interpreters. It had its priests and their ritualistic prose with all the answers. It had a heaven, and the proper behavior to reach it. It had its appeal to faith. And it had its crusade against nonbelievers. …
[A]t the extreme of totalitarian power we have the greatest extreme of democide. Communist governments have almost without exception wielded the most absolute power and their greatest killing (such as during Stalin’s reign or the height of Mao’s power) has taken place when they have been in their own history most totalitarian. As most communist governments underwent increasing liberalization and a loosening of centralized power in the 1960s through the 1980s, the pace of killing dropped off sharply.
Communism has been the greatest social engineering experiment we have ever seen. It failed utterly and in doing so it killed over 100,000,000 men, women, and children, not to mention the near 30,000,000 of its subjects that died in its often aggressive wars and the rebellions it provoked. But there is a larger lesson to be learned from this horrendous sacrifice to one ideology. That is that no one can be trusted with power. The more power the center has to impose the beliefs of an ideological or religious elite or impose the whims of a dictator, the more likely human lives are to be sacrificed.
We contend that the recent death of Fidel Castro, the Communist dictator of Cuba, marks the end of the terrible Marxist era. Cuba will continue for a while yet to be under the cruel Communist regime he established. And North Korea is still under Communist dictatorship. But no new such regimes are arising. Democracy is replacing dictatorships in South America. And with the defeat in 2016 of a second* Alinskyite presidential candidate nominated by the Democratic Party of the United States, the grip of Marxist ideology through government is loosening everywhere and – we contend – unlikely to strengthen again.
It is still, however, dominant in the academies of the Western World. What can be done about that rottenness in higher education?
With this question, Robert Conquest, one of the greatest historians of Communist Russia, was concerned. In a review of his book Reflections on a Ravaged Century in the American Spectator Online, Josh London wrote:
The clearest picture to emerge from these pages is that the history of Communism is, at its simplest, little more than the history of an all-out assault on society by a series of conspiratorial cliques. These groups have, invariably, been led by excruciatingly cruel dictators who were revoltingly drunk on their own foolish ideology and power. …
Nobel Laureate F.A. Hayek pointed out over fifty years ago that “Socialism has never and nowhere been at first a working-class movement. It is by no means an obvious remedy for an obvious evil which the interests of that class will necessarily demand. It is a construction of theorists, deriving from certain tendencies of abstract thought with which for a long time only the intellectuals were familiar; and it required long efforts by the intellectuals before the working classes could be persuaded to adopt it as their programme.” Though unquoted by Conquest, Hayek’s insight is exactly what worries him most about the 20th century and the prospects of life in the 21st century. Conquest’s work in this section constitutes an inquiry into the intellectual’s temperament and, in particular, the intellectual ingenuity required to go on believing when all is lost.
There follows an excellent and absorbing chapter on what is happening in education: A great many just swipes are taken at the academic intelligentsia who subvert it. Conquest reviews the rise of pseudo-science, and the application of quantitative methods and measurements in social science. Conquest also laments the influence of half-baked, trashy European ideas in Western, specifically American, academic thought: “At a recent seminar on the much resented influx of certain American movies in France, my old friend Alain Besancon remarked that a hundred soft-porn products of Hollywood did less harm in his country than a single French philosopher had done in the United States.” …
[Robert Conquest] laments the academic unwillingness to be seen to criticize colleagues or step outside of the many and varied leftist solidarities rampant throughout academia. …
As Conquest’s essays demonstrate, we, the victors of the Cold War, have thrown away a great part of what should have been a victory for Western values. The Cold War has been won, but the ideas that produced Communism still go marching on in their well-organized, corrupting way, even though the people advocating them are a minority.
The Historian Edward Gibbon once wrote that “There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times.” Yet, standing from his vantage point at the end of the 20th century, surveying the history of the last 100 years, Conquest is probably right to end his book, as he soberly does, with a warning. Although we are now living through an exceptionally optimistic historical moment, he reminds us that the “past is full of eras of progress that ended in darkness.” We should not fool ourselves: “The power of fanaticism and of misunderstanding is by no means extinct.”
Nor will it ever be as long as humanity exists. Chriss W. Street, writing at Breitbart, warns that the Marxist aim of imposing Communism on the whole world is still being pursued with fanatical resolve:
Donald Trump winning the presidency based on his promise to torpedo globalism came exactly 27 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and represents the second leg down for “World Socialism”.
Although U.S. history books declare capitalist United States the victor in World War II, it was World Socialism that ended up dominating most of the globe. [The] Soviet Union and China carved out massive communist states, India adopted extreme socialism, and communist insurgencies were ascendant in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America.
Socialist governments controlled Western Europe and the idea that the state should play some kind of role in economic life was not seen as strange or unusual. Socialists differed on just how extensive the role of the state should be, but all agreed that “natural monopolies” like the railroad, phone service, health and electricity should be nationalized.
Paul Samuelson’s Economics was the top selling U.S. economics textbook from the 1960s through the 1980s. It proclaimed world socialism’s more efficient use of resources would allow the Soviet Union’s Gross National Product to pass the U.S. economy by 1984.
But mainstream economists failed to recognize that President Ronald Reagan’s policies of doubling down on capitalism through tax cuts and strangling the regulatory state in the 1980s would end the West’s inflationary spiral that had allowed communist resource-based economies to flourish. After the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989, Russia was forced into a U.S. bailout and China adopted “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics”.
But rather than accept a permanent home in the “dustbin of history”, socialists in Western Europe passed the Maastricht Treaty, which formed the 27 nation European Union. Meanwhile, Democrat President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement and gave Most Favored Nation status to China.
Robert Wolfe, in the book SocialistGlobalization, calls this “internationalist movement”, a system of planning and production that transcends the boundaries of the individual nation-states:
The goal of socialist globalization should be the treatment of the entire world as a single economic unit within which the provision of necessary goods and services would be maximized and the [alleged man-made] damage to the environment minimized.
Leftist economist Joseph Stiglitz in January 2015 announced that “The American Century” had ended and “The Chinese Century” had begun, following the ‘World Bank’s International Comparison Program’ declaring China’s gross national product surpassed the U.S in 2014.
Stiglitz stated that the “rise of China also shines a harsh spotlight on the American model, due to capitalist economic and political “systemic deficiencies — that are corrupt”. He demanded that America must “pivot” to accept that the economic interests of China and the U.S. are now “intricately intertwined” in the new global order.
China would boast that it played a “crucial role” in formulating a new global development pact called “Agenda 2030,” which was signed by 193 members of the United Nations on September 28, 2015. The world socialist and corporatist pact aimed at re-engineering civilization through that imposition of 17 “Sustainable Development Goals” and setting 169 accompanying targets in what was referred to as a “Great Leap Forward”.
China said that to “combat inequality domestically is simply not enough — international socialism is needed to battle inequality even among countries”.
But, like us, the writer thinks that the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency marks a turning-point; that the zealots for international socialism are aware that their path to world domination, for so long all too smooth, could now be made impassable.
The election of Donald Trump now represents an existential threat to World Socialism across the planet.
Socialists know that when President Reagan went rogue with his muscular capitalist policies, communism quickly imploded. Trump has already torn up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have internationalized the law covering $28 trillion in trade and investment, about 40 percent of global GDP.
Trump seems determined to destroy “Socialist Globalization” with the same capitalist tax cuts and regulatory relief that President Reagan used to destroy communism.
Though not yet dead, Marxism/Communism/International Socialism has had its day. Its era is over. It will not go quietly. It will howl, it will grumble, it will whimper – but it will go. Perhaps as a minority secular religion it will linger, but as a power in the world it is done.
The Marxist professoriate remains to be muzzled. Agenda 2030 must not only be stopped, but the damage it has already done (under the name originally given to it by its parent the UN, “Agenda 21”) needs to be reversed. The prophets of doom by human beings overheating the planet need to be discouraged to the point of despair, because they are using “climate change” as a pretext for imposing world socialist government. But the Age of Marx is over.
That does not mean that “the power of fanaticism” – to use Robert Conquest’s words – is “extinct”. As we have said, it never will be.
We face another enemy of mankind. Islam.
As Marxism was to the last century, Islam will be to this century. Islam is an equally crippling totalitarian ideology, another mass killer and bringer of darkness.
Will a new era of American greatness save the world from it?
Footnote: * Barack Obama was the first Alinskyite to stand – in his case successfully! – for election to the US presidency.
And it is for individual freedom, not communism!
Karl Marx was wrong. When at last the working class rises, it is not for socialism, internationalism and equality: it is for capitalism, the nation-state and liberty.
Donald Trump’s movement – he and his followers are calling it a revolution – is a genuine proletarian uprising, perhaps the first in history. It is very hard to find an historical precedent for a downtrodden class actually rising spontaneously in protest against the ruling class without being incited to it by dissident members of the ruling class itself.
The libertarian Ilana Mercer writes at Townhall about “the disenfanchisement of the poor whites of America”:
The present ideology on immigration considers all whites, rich or poor, a privileged, “fungible monolith”. This outlook brooks little or no consideration of lives lived in penury for over a century. In particular: It overlooks the descendants of poor white Southern sharecroppers who did not own slaves, but were devastated by the War Between the States both “in human and economic terms”. Even now, this sizeable segment of the South has yet to recover; its attainments with respect to education and income mirror those of the region’s African-Americans, with one distinction: poor whites are barred from affirmative action programs.
These are the people – this is the DEMOS – whose chosen leader Trump is. Sure, he is a rich man, but he is not a member of the ruling elite – he is a builder. A very successful builder. No, he does not phrase his ideas felicitously. He does not develop an argument. He utters cries, he repeats himself. He expresses the half-formed, inadequately worded, but deeply and painfully felt opinions and desires of unconsidered people.
He speaks often of the plight of the poor blacks in the inner cities of America. And the poor Latinos. He is far from being a “racist” – the favorite boo-word of the Left.
The Ivy-League conservatives and leaders of the Republican party do not, many of them, “get it”. They feel threatened, along with their fellow members of the ruling class in the laughably named “Democratic Party”.
But there are a few who do.
Steven Hayward (yes, the same admirable Steven Hayward of PowerLine) writes at the Weekly Standard:
Win or lose, [Trump] has divided and may yet shatter the conservative movement …
Hayward says he does not believe Trump will win. He is interested in why a number of intellectuals he highly respects wish that he will.
Several Claremont eminentos appear prominently on the recent list of “Scholars and Writers for Trump,” including Charles Kesler, Larry Arnn, Thomas West, Hadley Arkes, Brian Kennedy, and John Eastman. … It is also worth adding that the Claremonsters on this list are typically at odds with many of their fellow signatories who hail from the “paleocon” and libertarian neighborhoods of the right — another indication of the extraordinary ideological scrambling effect of the Trump campaign.
Knowing my own deep Claremont roots — I earned a Ph.D. from the Claremont Graduate School while working at the Claremont Institute in the 1980s — several people have asked me to explain: “How is it that a group known for its emphasis on the idea of high statesmanship, and on the importance of serious political rhetoric, can champion Trump?” …
The Claremont sympathy for Trump needs to be better understood, because it differs fundamentally from the typical candidate scoring mentioned above. If Trump can’t live up to the idiosyncratic Claremont understanding of the meaning of his candidacy, the Trump phenomenon nonetheless opens a window onto the failures of conservatism that made Trump’s candidacy possible and perhaps necessary. Even if you reject Trump, there are vital things to be learned from him if we are to confront the crisis of our time. …
What is that crisis? It’s not the litany of items that usually come to mind—the $20 trillion national debt, economic stagnation, runaway regulation, political correctness and identity politics run amok, unchecked immigration that threatens to work a demographic-political revolution, and confused or unserious policy toward radical Islamic terrorism. These are mere symptoms of a much deeper but poorly understood problem. It can be stated directly in one sentence: Elections no longer change the character of our government. …
The closer source of the Claremont sympathy for Trump (though it should be noted that they are far from unanimous — several Claremonsters are Never Trumpers) is found in another aspect of the Claremont argument about which there is near-complete harmony among East, West, and everyone in-between: the insidious political character of the “administrative state”, a phrase once confined chiefly to the ranks of conservative political scientists, but which has broken out into common parlance. It refers not simply to large bureaucracy, but to the way in which the constitutional separation of powers has been steadily eroded by the delegation of more and more lawmaking to a virtual “fourth branch” of government [the bureaucracy]. …
Who should rule? The premise of the Constitution is that the people should rule. The premise of the administrative state, explicitly expressed by Woodrow Wilson and other Progressive-era theorists, is that experts should rule, in a new administrative form largely sealed off from political influence, i.e., sealed off from the people. At some point, it amounts to government without the consent of the governed, a simple fact that surprisingly few conservative politicians perceive. Ronald Reagan was, naturally, a conspicuous exception, noting in 1981 in his first Inaugural Address, “It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.” …
The salient political fact is this: No matter who wins elections nowadays, the experts in the agencies rule and every day extend their rule further, even under Republican presidents ostensibly committed to resisting this advance. We still nominally choose our rulers, but they don’t reflect our majority opinions. No wonder more and more conservatives regard the GOP leadership in Washington as “collaborationists” with Democrats. …
Marini [Prof. John Marini of the University of Nevada, Reno, “a Claremont Institute stalwart”], a Trump supporter, told me last week, “Public opinion is in the hands of a national elite. That public opinion, the whole of the public discourse about what is political in America, is in the hands of very few. There’s no way in which you have genuine diversity of opinion that arises from the offices that are meant to represent it.” A good example of the defensive crouch of Republicans accepting the elite-defined boundaries of acceptable opinion was Sen. Ted Cruz’s comment shortly after the 2012 election that conservative social policy must pass through “a Rawlsian lens”, an astonishing concession to the supercharged egalitarian philosophy at the heart of contemporary leftism. …
Trump’s disruptive potential explains therefore his attraction for Claremonsters. More than just a rebuke to political correctness and identity politics, a Trump victory would be, in their eyes, a vehicle for reasserting the sovereignty of the people and withdrawal of consent for the administrative state and the suffocating boundaries of acceptable opinion backing it up. A large number of Americans have responded positively to Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” because they too see Trump as a forceful tribune against the slow-motion desiccation of the country under the steady advance of liberalism. …
The Trump disruption thesis is not held uniquely by the Claremonsters. David Gelernter offered a version of this argument in the Wall Street Journal last weekend, and Victor Davis Hanson has been arguing along these lines for months. …
The exacting demands of statesmanship have seldom been put better than by Hillsdale’s Thomas G. West, one of the most fervent Claremont pro-Trumpers, in a 1986 essay: “A president who would successfully lead the nation back to constitutional government must have the right character, be able to present the right speeches, and undertake the right actions to guide the people to elect a new kind of Congress.” Last week, I asked West whether and how Trump could measure up to this understanding of what is necessary today. West points to what he calls Trump’s “civic courage”, i.e., his intransigence in the face of relentless attacks, his willingness to call out radical Islamic extremism by name while noting the guilt-infused reluctance of Obama and Hillary Clinton to do so, his willingness to question the bipartisan failures of foreign policy over the last 25 years, and his direct rebuke to the collapse of the rule of law in cities with large black populations. West thinks Trump’s breathtaking stubbornness and shocking candor are the ingredients for the kind of restorative statesmanship the times demand. …
That Trump can be made out to be the only candidate since Reagan who has represented a fundamental challenge to the status quo puts in stark relief the attenuation of conservative political thought and action over the last 20 years and the near-complete failure of aspiring Republican presidents to marry their ambition to a serious understanding of why the republic is in danger. …
Lincoln famously said in 1854, “Our republican robe is soiled.” We need only capitalize one word to adapt it to our time: “Our Republican robe is soiled.” The cleanup is going to be excruciating. But nothing is more necessary and important.
As intellectuals ourselves, we heartily agree. And we want Donald Trump to win.
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 was 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 make an icon out of the sadistic mass-murderer Che Guevara?
Why? Because 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.
The same answer applies to: 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 unknowable but just purpose in having six million of them enslaved, starved, tortured and murdered by Nazis.
They believe these things because they were taught them. All this was drummed into them. They were raised to know that that is how it ought to be.
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.
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 energy, persistence, patience – 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 and is 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, indoctrination, force.
See how long it took. From the time St Paul invented “Jesus Christ” to the time the emperor of Rome (Constantine) 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 the Emperor Theodosius decreed that Christianity was to be the religion of the state. With him the final 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 proselytizing. Much repetition was required. The fever of enthusiasm had to be caught by two generations of intellectuals before the infection became a pandemic. Then came force.
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, rising in 1968, could achieve the peaks of power in Europe in less than thirty years, and in America in forty years. 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, and terrorism as self-expression. New Leftists complained that they had too much freedom, too much choice, that tolerance of their politics was repressive. 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. Gramsci supplied the phrase for the overall strategy: “The Long March through the Institutions”. It wasn’t enough that the New Leftists should protest, should threaten and carry out violent attacks, should shout and write and display their slogans. They must take over the institutions of power, everyone of them: the smallest citizens’ groupings – such as library committees – were not too small. But none were too big. Town councils had to be infiltrated and eventually dominated; then newspapers, radio and TV channels; boards of education very importantly; the schools, the universities; the civil service; the law courts; a major political party; then the country’s legislative body, and eventually the pinnacles of power, prime ministerships, presidencies. Police forces and the military were formidable challenges. The tactic was first to discredit them and pressure them from outside by means of public opinion guided by the converted press; then to infiltrate them; finally bend them from within to conform to the doctrine and advance the cause.
Meanwhile books, films, articles, lessons, lectures, systems of reward, prizes must all promote the cause. It took decades, but it succeeded. Even in America now there have been at least two generations raised on New Left doctrine through schools, universities, books, films, the press, and TV.
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 oppressed, enslaved, tortured and mass murdered? It didn’t take reason. It didn’t take persuasion. The idea was no more innately and manifestly true and good than the idea of Christianity. But as in the case of spreading Christianity, it took conviction, decision, planning, energy, persistence, repetition, and finally force.
Only Leftist 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 anti-collectivist Republican Party was not illegal.) Again, as with Christianity, the allegiance to the doctrine has little or nothing to do with its ideas. Most adherents 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 other, 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 prevailed?
And the success of Leftism now – would it have happened if the conservative Right had been paying attention? Remember that old saying that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance”? Well, the Right was not being vigilant. 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 it 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 and preferring honesty when the world’s mood had changed to favoring lies 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, 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, conservatives did not even notice the Long March. They could not mark its stations of success. Even now there are deluded Republicans who have not absorbed the fact that most Americans like collectivism; that they don’t object to electoral fraud; that they accept a failing economy; that many would rather live on government handouts than become rich; that being rich has become a morally bad thing; that it’s okay for foreign powers to develop weapons that can 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 prefer foreign law to the Constitution; that it doesn’t matter if American representatives abroad are attacked and murdered; that freedom has become a term worthy only of contempt; that American history is a trail of shame; that a cruel religion is being allowed to seep through the body politic, and is protected and advanced by the government itself.
But now millions of conservatives are waking up and are asking, how did this happen? It happened because people patiently, energetically, persistently planned it and made it happen.
What can we do about it, they ask themselves and each other.
What they have to do about it is change the minds of the people. First they must 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 indoctrination in the schools to stop; 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. Then they must decide that their 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. But that is the only way. Teach, preach, argue, use every method that works. Give up the idea that it’s better to be gentlemanly than to sink to using the methods of the opposition; that if you do as they do you will have betrayed the very values that you are fighting for. They have made the fight low and dirty. Get down in the dirt and fight it.
How badly does the conservative right want to win power in America? How important is it to them that they should?
If it is important, tell the voters, tell the children 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 the Third World. Not politically correct sentimental drivel, but the actual awful facts about life in most other countries.
Tell them why impartial judgment is the only means to justice; why all sane adult citizens must be treated equally by the law; why 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 liberty, of the rule of law itself. And why governments should not be allowed more power and money than it needs to fulfill its few essential functions.
Shout down the shouters. Tell Muslims what is wrong with their creed and why American secularism is better. Don’t allow them to build a protective wall around themselves to shut out criticism of their absurd and savage beliefs.
Tolerate only the tolerant and tolerable.
It will take time. Start now. Stop short of force. But tell them.
Although we are atheists, we’re happy to bring our readers John Cleese’s persuasive recruiting ad for his new Christian church, because we are also capitalists:
Dennis Prager writes at Townhall:
One of the many remarkable traits of the progressives is their lack of self-awareness.
This trait was on display last week in the media and Democratic Party’s characterization of Donald Trump’s acceptance speech – and the entire Republican National Convention – as “dark”.
For the left to dismiss other Americans as having a dark view of America is preposterous.
Because no one – not Trump, not the Republican Party, not any conservative – has nearly as dark a view of America as does the left.
Across the board – from the universities to the media to the Democratic Party – the left, around the world and in America, has an unremittingly dark view of the United States.
Here’s a brief glimpse.
- Racism “is part of our (American) DNA”, President Barack Obama said in 2015. Is there anything Trump said in his acceptance speech that is as dark about America as that?
- On July Fourth weekend, Vox published a long column arguing “3 reasons the American Revolution was a mistake”.
- The most widely read historian in American high schools and colleges, the late left-wing professor Howard Zinn, was asked (by me) whether he thought the United States had done more good or more bad in the world. “Probably more bad than good,” he answered.
- The left regularly characterizes the United States as a sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist and bigoted country.
- Our wars are wars for imperialist expansion, driven by material greed.
- The top 1 percent relentlessly exploits the other 99 percent.
- America is rigged against blacks, Hispanics and the 99 percent.
- Cops kill unarmed blacks proportionately more than they kill unarmed whites because so many cops are racist.
- About 1 in 5 female college students are sexually assaulted on campus.
Is there anything in Trump’s speech that can match any of those left-wing views of the United States for “darkness”?
Moreover, every one of those leftist critiques of America is false.
Nevertheless, we are in a dark time in America. In fact, Trump didn’t make the case for America’s darkness nearly effectively enough.
- Our universities – outside of the natural sciences – are being destroyed as learning institutions. They close minds, censor speech and indoctrinate rather than educate.
- Blacks have more anger toward whites and America than at any time since the civil rights era.
- American students are learning less while being indoctrinated more. They graduate high school barely able to write a coherent essay with proper sentence structure, grammar and spelling. But they know all about the existential threat allegedly posed by fossil fuels.
- According to a recent Gallup Poll, fewer young Americans than at any time since polling began are proud to be Americans.
- A greater percentage of Americans are dependent upon government for their income and even for food than at any time in American history.
- The American national debt is the highest it has ever been. And it is increasing at a rate that can only lead to an economic implosion.
- A smaller percentage of Americans are married than at any time in American history.
- Americans are having fewer children than ever.
- Fewer businesses in proportion to the general population are being started than ever before.
- Sectors of major American cities are essentially killing zones.
Is that dark enough?
And the list is only a partial one.
Moreover, every one of those dark facts is the result of left-wing policies, left-wing politicians, left-wing writers, left-wing professors and the left-wing party, the Democratic Party.
If all Donald Trump did between now and November were to delineate the darkness created by the left and the Democrats, he could potentially win in a landslide. But, for reasons that elude me, he won’t, just as no Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan has. In the same way that Democrats won’t identify America’s international enemy – Islamic terror – Republicans won’t identify America’s domestic enemy, the left.
And until Republicans do, the darkness won’t recede.
We agree with his diagnosis – except for one item we removed from his own list of truly dark facts about contemporary America. We removed it because it is not a dark fact at all.
It is this:
Fewer Americans than ever before believe in God, go to church or affirm Judeo-Christian values, the basic moral code of America’s founding and of Western civilization.
The basic moral code of America’s founding was NOT that two-headed chimera “Judeo-Christian values”. The Constitution of the United States embodies the values of the Enlightenment.
Jewish values and Christian values are essentially different. Judaism holds justice to be the highest value. (Which was a good idea; only exactly what those men of old who wrote the Bible considered just was often not good at all.)
Christianity holds love to be the highest value. Love granted unconditionally. Even to the sinner; even to those who do evil to others; so mandating hypocrisy – which provides cover for every imaginable cruelty. And it is the opposite of justice.
Furthermore, Christianity brought a thousand years of darkness down on Europe; a darkness that was only finally dispelled by the Enlightenment.
The Enlightenment set reason above faith, and enshrined liberty as the highest value. Protecting the freedom of each individual became the duty of the state. Under the rule of law, “justice” applied to the individual; only to the individual.
It is real progress if “fewer Americans than ever before believe in God and go to church”.
The churches did a terrible job when they had power. Let’s have no more priests ordering our lives. How about electing a businessman to lead us?
No matter what he says for political convenience – Donald Trump is not a religious man. And for us that is a definite plus.
He believes in his own ability to bring new opportunity for wealth and joy to all Americans.
He is a capitalist. Wherever true free-market capitalism flourishes, freedom flowers and happiness becomes visible.
His speech was not dark. It was a promise of a new dawn.
A promise he might fulfill if he becomes the next president of the United States.
For us, the arguments against Britain’s membership of the European Union are strongly persuasive. They are political arguments: for British self-determination; for the continuation of the nation state as a good in itself; for throwing off the burden of dictatorship by corrupt bureaucrats.
But what of the economic arguments? Is it better for Britain to remain in the EU or to leave? Is it better for the world economy for Britain to be in or out?
George Freidman, who founded the private intelligence firm Stratfor, and is internationally recognized as an authority on world affairs, writes at Mauldin Economics:
In looking at Friday’s market decline, it is clear that the investment community was surprised at the outcome of the referendum in the U.K. What is most surprising is that they were surprised. There were two competing views of the EU. One view regarded the European Union as essential to British economic well-being. The other saw the European Union as a failing institution, and saw Britain being pulled down if it remained.
The European Union has been caught in long-term stagnation. Eight years after the financial crisis it is still unable to break out of it. In addition, a large swath of Europe, especially in the south, is in depression with extremely high unemployment numbers. An argument could be made that these problems will be solved in the long run and that Britain should be part of the solution for its own sake. The counterargument is that if the problems had been soluble they would have been solved years ago.
For a financial community, there is a built-in desire for predictability. It can make money in good or bad markets and economies. It has trouble making money in uncertainty. Therefore, the financial community was inherently biased toward Britain remaining in the EU because it gave them predictability. There was a subconscious assumption that everyone had the same bias toward maintaining the status quo. This was not just the view of the global financial community. It was one shared with other elites – political, journalistic, academic and the rest.
Someone I know, who has many friends in Britain, told me that she didn’t know anyone who favored a British exit. That was true. As the graduate of an elite college she is in touch with similar people around the world. This enclosure has profound social indications to consider, but in this case it created a psychological barrier to anticipating what was coming. When everyone you know thinks an idea is rubbish, it is hard to imagine that there is a majority out there that you haven’t met that doesn’t share your views.
There was also a sense of contempt for the opponents. The leaders, like UKIP leader Nigel Farage, were odd from the elite point of view. Their rhetoric was unseemly. And their followers by and large did not come from the places in London where the elite did. Their views were not the liberal, transnational views of the supporters of the EU. They led much narrower, harder lives and did not know the world as the pro-EU people did. So they were discounted. There was an expectation that the elite, who had governed Britain for so long, were dealing with an annoyance, rather than a peaceful rising against them. Thus, in spite of the polls indicating the election would be extremely close, the “remain” supporters could not believe they would lose.
The reporters of leading British media were talking to their European and American counterparts. The politicians were doing the same. And the financial community is on the phone daily with colleagues around the world.
The challenge that was posed in the U.K. referendum is present in many countries around the world, albeit in different forms.
What has become universal is the dismissive attitudes of the elite to their challengers.It is difficult for the elite to take seriously that the less educated, the less sophisticated and the less successful would take control of the situation. The French Bourbons and the Russian Romanovs had similar contempt for the crowds in the streets. They dismissed their lack of understanding and inability to act – right to the moment they burst into the palaces.
The analogy should not be overdone but also should not be dismissed. The distance between what I will call the technocratic elite and the increasingly displaced lower-middle and even middle class is becoming one of the major characteristics of our time. This elite did not expect “leave” to win because it was clear to them that the EU would work itself out. They didn’t know anyone who disagreed with them – a measure of how far out of touch they had become with the real world. And above all, they were dismissive of the kind of people who led their opponents.
Not understanding their own isolation and insularity; not grasping the different world view of “leave” supporters or that they couldn’t care less if the financial institutions of the City moved to Frankfurt; not grasping the contempt in which they were held by so many, the elite believed that “leave” could not win. …
In the end, the financial decline on Friday resulted from the lack of imagination of the elite. And it is that lack of imagination that led them to believe that the current situation could continue. That lack of imagination, the fact that the elite had no idea of what was happening beyond their circle of acquaintances, is a far greater crisis in the West than whether Britain is in the EU or even if the EU survives.
We are living in a social divide so deep that serious people of good will and a certain class have never met anyone who wants to leave the EU or who supports blocking Muslim immigration or perhaps even who will vote for Donald Trump. …
No one had the right to believe that this couldn’t happen. No one should believe that it will be confined to Britain. No one should believe that it won’t happen again. The days when the elite could assert that the EU is going to be just fine in the face of evidence to the contrary are over.
This new wave in politics, this force arising directly from the “silent majority”, is transforming the political scene not only in Europe but throughout the West.
As it is a movement that favors capitalism, it will bring greater prosperity to greater numbers of individuals if it continues to succeed. The next victory needs to be the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States.