Those dying generations (2) 8

Yesterday we discussed the dying out of the indigenous European peoples as their numbers halve with each generation. We asked why they are letting this happen, why fewer and fewer children are being born. We argued that it is hard to make a case that Socialism as an economic system is responsible for the death of Europe, or that materialism is responsible for it, or that the lost influence of the old-time religions account for it. But today we argue that Socialism as an ideology may have a lot to do with it.

*

As far as we can discover, the idea that a person should care less for himself than for anybody and everybody else, was introduced into history by the author of Christianity, St Paul.* It is not an injunction of Judaism, which does require its followers to “love [respect?] your neighbor as yourself” but not more than yourself. It has no precedent in Greek philosophy, nor in any of the Far Eastern religions which are intensely concerned with personal benefit. None of them are moral religions. True, Buddhism teaches tolerance, but in order to do yourself good, to help you personally on your way to bliss.

Christianity might seem to do that when it promises heaven to those who do good works. But “redemption” by good works was not St Paul’s idea. It was introduced into the Catholic faith later. St Paul taught that only the grace of Christ Jesus could save you. (And that was Luther’s and Calvin’s doctrine too.) So you must do good works, put others before and above yourself without expecting any reward on earth or in heaven. You must  accept that your life is to be hard, and that your afterlife may be even worse. But at least for the afterlife there is hope. Heaven is the aim. If you attain it, whether by grace or good works, there – only there – you as an individual being will find joy. This life is not to be valued.

It is a ruinous idea. It can mean, if taken to heart, that you should not strive for happiness, or even survival. It can mean that every time you supply a want of your own, however basic and essential – food, clothing, protection, information, healing – you will feel self-reproach. As total selflessness is impossible, it’s a recipe for failure and consequent shame, guilt, self-contempt, even self- hatred. It is against not just human but animal nature, since if  you do not eat and protect yourself you will not survive. If human beings were not innately selfish the race would have died out long ago. Indeed, it would never have arisen.

Christians might say that it’s okay, of course, to see to your own survival needs. Some might even grant you the moral right to supply them amply – just so long as you are also attentive to the needs of others. You only have to consider them more than yourself – liberal Christians might tell you – when that choice inescapably presents itself.

No doubt, in the everyday life of Christians, the injunction to care more for others than for yourself is honored more in the breach than the observance. But the principle remains. It is the essence of Christian morality.

Over some centuries it became the ideal of multitudes and persisted for generations. What follows logically from it? Nobody is judged according to his individual merits. Everyone is more important than you are not because of what he is or does, but simply because he is part of the mass.

To think like that is to think sociologically. And from the notion that the individual is of less account than the mass arises another: that the individual is of no account at all, and only the mass, the “community”, matters.

But the mass, the community, has no identity. It has no personhood. It has no aspirations. Where only the many matter, nobody matters.

The spread of Christianity had a lot to do with the fall of the Christianized Roman Empire. Just how much is voluminously debated. At the very least, the Christian doctrines of universal love and not resisting evil mitigated against vigorous defense when enemies struck. And for a thousand years, from the time Rome fell in the late fifth century, Christianity with its impossible injunctions and its terrors of Hell lay heavy on the peoples of Europe.

As the dominant ideology, Christianity faded with the fading power of the Church. The Renaissance and then the Enlightenment shifted the center of human concern from heaven back to earth. Once again, as in pre-Christian times, the proper business of men was with men. This life mattered again. The individual mattered again.

But the Idea – that terrible, misery-making, destructive idea that you must sacrifice yourself for the rest - did not completely fade away. It changed its host. It became the central idea of Socialism.

Socialism is the child of Christianity. Yes: the secular religion of Socialism, though it has no God, no heaven, is – in its DNA so to speak – Christian. As an ideology it received its central Idea from Christianity: the Idea that only the mass, the many, the community matters, not the individual and his personal life.

Christians may deny it – do deny it – but the Christian Idea is the Socialist Idea. We frequently read Christian apologetics claiming that Christianity created “the individual”, and by doing so made Europe great. Europe’s greatness, however, only began – for the second time since the fall of the Roman Empire – with the dispersal of the darkness that Christianity had spread over it. But then Socialism was born, and came into its inheritance. In its turn it became the dominant ideology of Europe.

Because the mass has no identity, no personhood, no aims or aspirations, Socialism is as anti-human as its mother. While its  goal is not beyond and above the earth, it is in the equally abstract, equally unknown, equally phantasmagorical Future.

Now the Europeans are dying out. Multitudes of them care nothing for their national culture and history. Some positively hate all that, and are happy to let Muslims take over their countries and govern them under a different, ancient, cruel law.

Can their death as a mass, as communities, be the end result of Christianity-Socialism? If they are no longer deceived that paradise awaits them either on or above this earth, for what should they live? Are the nations dying out simply because people can see no reason why they should go on existing?

 

* For the many substantiating quotations from the letters of St Paul, and the source references, see our post Tread on me: the making of Christian morality, December 22, 2011.

 

Jillian Becker   August 12, 2013

The apostle of the long march 1

Obama did not hide his intention to transform America. He stated that he would. What he did not say is what he would transform it into. But even a superficial acquaintance with his upbringing among dedicated Communists, education by Marxist professors, chosen affiliations to revolutionary and even terrorist Leftists, and activity as a “community organizer” could have told anyone paying attention in what direction he would try to move the country if he was elected to the presidency. He clearly intended to transform, if he could, a free capitalist country into an unfree socialist country. (What could not have been foreseen, but has become starkly clear, is that he also favors the advance of Islam in the US and the world.)

How a radical Leftist activist, once in power, might set about transforming America into a socialist country was blueprinted by Saul Alinsky - initiator of “community organizing” – in his Rules for Radicals. And Saul Alinsky had a blueprint in the works of Antonio Gramsci.

There’s an excellent survey of the life and works of Antonio Gramsci at Discover the Networks. Here’s an extract:

Antonio Gramsci was born in Sardinia on January 22, 1891. After graduating from the Dettori Lyceum in Cagliari, he won a scholarship to the University of Turin in 1911; by this point in his life, he was ideologically a socialist.

Four years later he became an active member of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) and began a journalistic career that saw him develop into one of Italy’s most influential writers. In the Turin edition of Avanti! (PSI’s official organ), Gramsci wrote a regular column on various aspects of the city’s social and political life.

Also active in educating and organizing Turin’s workers, Gramsci in 1916 began speaking periodically at workers’ study-circles on such topics as the French and Italian revolutions and the writings of Karl Marx.

When Russia’s Bolshevik revolution broke out in 1917, Gramsci embraced the goal of spreading socialist transformation throughout the capitalist world.

In the spring of 1919, Gramsci co-founded L’Ordine Nuovo: Rassegna Settimanale di Cultura Socialista (The New Order: A Weekly Review of Socialist Culture), which became an influential periodical among Italy’s radical and revolutionary Left. Meanwhile he continued to devote much of his time and energy to the development of the factory council movement, which sought to advance the cause of a proletarian revolution in Italy.

In January 1921 Gramsci aligned himself with the Communist minority within PSI at the Party’s Livorno Congress, and soon thereafter he became a central committee member of the Italian Communist Party (PCI).

From May 1922 to November 1923, Gramsci lived in Moscow as an Italian delegate to the Communist International. In 1924 he relocated to Rome and was named general secretary of PCI. He also began organizing the launch of PCI’s official newspaper, L’Unità (Unity).

In 1926, Italy’s Fascist government enacted a host of “Exceptional Laws for State Security,” designed to suppress political opposition. On November 8th of that year, Gramsci was arrested in Rome and was sentenced to 5 years in confinement on the island of Ustica. In June 1928, his prison sentence was increased to more than 20 years, including a stint in solitary confinement. …

He died, still under guard, in a Rome hospital in 1937.

During his years as a prisoner, Gramsci filled 32 notebooks (containing almost 3,000 pages) with his political and philosophical meditations on how Marxist theory could be applied practically to the conditions of advanced capitalism. …

Gramsci accepted Marx’s assertion that perpetual struggle between the ruling class and the subordinate working class was the driving mechanism that ultimately made social progress possible. But he rejected the notion that direct physical coercion by police and armies was the method of choice for achieving and maintaining victory in that struggle. Rather, Gramsci held that if a population at large could, for a period of time, be properly indoctrinated with a new “ideology”—specifically, a set of values, beliefs, and worldviews consistent with Marxist principles — a Marxist system could be sustained indefinitely and without coercion or force. In short, Gramsci held that Marxists needed to focus their efforts on gaining “hegemony” (i.e., control or dominion) over the core beliefs of non-Marxist societies; to change the population’s understanding of what constitutes basic “common sense.”

Such a development, said Gramsci, would never occur naturally as a result of some inexorable, unseen, “historical laws” that Marx had accepted as axiomatic. Rather, Gramsci asserted that Marxism’s potential for transforming society was wholly dependent upon the willful initiative of activists committed to using a “reversal strategy” designed to establish a “counter hegemony”—i.e., an alternative dominant worldview—in opposition to the existing capitalist framework.

Specifically, Gramsci called for Marxists to spread their ideology in a gradual, incremental, stealth manner, by infiltrating all existing societal institutions and embedding it, largely without being noticed, in the popular mind. This, he emphasized, was to be an evolutionary, rather than a revolutionary, process that, over a period of decades, would cause an ever-increasing number of people to embrace Marxist thought, until at last it achieved hegemony. Gramsci described this approach as a “long march through the institutions”.

Among the key institutions that would need to be infiltrated were the cinema and theater, the schools and universities, the seminaries and churches, the media, the courts, the labor unions, and at least one major political party. According to Gramsci, these institutions constituted society’s “superstructure,” which, if captured and reshaped by Marxists, could lead the masses to abandon capitalism of their own volition, entirely without resistance or objection.

Gramsci’s formula was followed by Marxists throughout the Western world. “The long march through the institutions” was doggedly pursued. From the 1960s on, they began to achieve success, perhaps beyond their own optimistic expectations. And in 2008 their efforts were crowned by the election of Barack Obama to the most politically powerful position in the world.

Socialism (or “Communism” – even in the USSR  the two words were used interchangeably) is an economic dream-system that cannot succeed. So it will not succeed. But it takes time for a socialist state to fail completely, and in the meantime it does ruinous and painful harm.

In Europe the failure of socialism is gathering pace as calamities crowd to a fall.

In America the harm is only just beginning.

“Socialism is unaffordable” 1

This is the way the welfare state ends – with whimpers and whistles and bangs.

Greece 2013

 

Spain 2013

 

Interestingly, RT – delivering the message that “Socialism is unaffordable” – is a Russian English-language news channel.

Posted under Commentary, Economics, Greece, Socialism, Spain, Videos by Jillian Becker on Sunday, February 3, 2013

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Winston Churchill on socialism 0

Socialism, whether named as such or not, is the philosophy, creed and gospel of the Democratic Party.

 

(Picture from Front Page)

Posted under Collectivism, Commentary, Philosophy, Progressivism, United States by Jillian Becker on Thursday, August 2, 2012

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Of statism, mortality, and infinite discontent 5

Victor Davis Hanson has a good article at PajamaMedia on how socialism – or “statism” – is failing all over the world (as it must: what cannot work will not work), just as America is being led on to the socialist ramp down to poverty and serfdom.

We agree with much that he says – as we often do with this insightful and well-informed writer – but there is one point on which we take issue.

Here’s part of what he writes:

Survey the world’s statist systems of every stripe, from soft to hard. One sees either failure and misery or stasis and lethargy. At the most extreme, a North Korea is turning into a Neanderthal society where subjects eat grass. Castro’s Cuba is imploding, and the Great Leader in his dotage is now renouncing his communist catastrophe. Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela proves that an even an oil-rich exporter can destroy itself with self-imposed socialism.

India progressed only when it adopted free markets. People do not outsource 1-800 numbers to socialist paradises. No need to review the Soviet collapse or the change in China from a peasant to a wealth-building capitalist society. Europe for a while longer works despite (rather than because of) democratic socialism. From Germany to Greece, Europe is moving away from the encroaching public sector that has nearly destroyed the European Union.

So the trend of the world — even after the meltdown of September 2008 — is away from statism, except in the United States. I don’t say that lightly or as a slur, but empirically. The Obama administration has absorbed large sectors of the auto industry and some segments of banking and insurance. The student loan program is federalized. …

The percentage of GDP that is government-run will markedly increase; the trillion-plus annual deficits, in gorge the beast fashion, will force higher taxation to pay for redistributive payouts and entitlements — or inflate the currency to erode saved capital. The UN is worshiped and reported to. Allies are now neutrals, and enemies are courted. We seek to prove that we are not “exceptional,” but simply one among many — a sort of socialist approach to foreign policy where all nations are the same.

Symbolically the president, before and during his tenure, has called for “redistributive change,” “to spread the wealth,” and openly suggested that, at some arbitrary point (known to him alone, but apparently sufficiently high enough to allow Costa del Sol and Martha Vineyard vacations) one need not make (as in, keep one’s earnings) additional income. I could go on, but you get the picture: Obama would like to take us down a path that leads inevitably to a Greece, even as the world is racing away from it.

He goes on to list five dangers of socialism.

One of them is under the heading of Demography. It suggests how socialism may explain shrinking populations.

When one demands cradle to grave care, a classical (now scoffed at) reason for childbearing (to change diapers for those who might one day change your own in gratitude) is destroyed. And if there is no struggle to create income and savings (the state provides all needs; the state ensures against all risks; the state takes away most income; the state gobbles most inheritance), why worry about transcendence or passing anything along to children — or why children at all?

So far, so good. If people are supplied with everything they need to survive, what should they strive for, what do they live for? Some might set themselves their own purposes, but many may be content to lie in the lap of the state and purr. And growl and grumble too, of course.

But Hanson goes on:

Agnosticism leads to a shrinking population and vice versa. If the state is the god, and defines happiness as social justice in the material sense, then the here and now is all that matters. The state defines morality as the greatest good for the greatest number — as it sees it.

Lost is a sense of individual tragedy, self-sacrifice, personal accountability for sin and transgression, and appreciation for a larger world beyond and after this one. A society that does not believe in a hereafter will be sorely disappointed that the state never quite satisfies its appetites. We see that hedonism well enough from Greece to California. “Never enough” (Numquam satis) is the new de facto motto.

No sane person loses a sense of individual tragedy. Everyone is doomed to die. Everyone, from the moment of his birth, suffers. And everyone in the course of his life does harm to other people, strive though he might not to. We are all hurt, and we all inflict hurt. An apt title for a biography of Everyman would be Poor Bastard!

Everyone endures disappointment. No appetite can ever be completely satisfied. Everyone has longings that are not material.

Almost everyone suffers remorse – which is an acceptance of personal accountability for wrong-doing. (Maybe not the Christian torturers and burners of heretics, and other such tyrants defending The Truth, religious or political.)

There is no world beyond or after this one. Death is the end of life. Death defines life. That is the meaning of “mortality”. A being can only be said to be alive if it can die.

The universe is a thing. No mind exists in it except the human mind, which is to say successive multitudes of mortal human minds. Only in each of us, embodied by the same dumb stuff as everything else, is there a self-conscious, reasoning, inventing “mind”. Strictly speaking, mind is a verb; it is an activity of the human brain that emerged at this end of an immensely long process of evolution.

The realm of the mind is infinite. Forever discontented, the uniquely human imagination roams wide. It discovers galaxies and electrons. It tries socialism and regrets it. It invents gods and heavens and hells – but they remain imaginary.

Unless someone can prove otherwise.

Jillian Becker September 15, 2010

America going down 0

We are of the school of thought that holds taxation to be theft, though we concede that citizens must pay for the few essential functions of government, chiefly defense, law and order, the enforcing of the law of contract, the separation of infectious diseases (and locally for common facilities, of course). Adam Smith included instruction in basic literacy for the children of the poor, but we don’t see a need now, in America, for even the most elementary education to be paid for out of the common purse. (We acknowledge that this opinion is probably unpopular.)

The socialist state takes most of your earnings away from you, and when you die confiscates most of your capital worth so you cannot leave much to your children.

As the provider of the necessities of your life, the socialist state has the power to deprive you of them. Your life is in its hands, and you have no voice in its decisions, which is why socialism is called the road to serfdom.

Obama has set America on that road, and the descent is gathering pace.

This is from the Heritage Foundation’s Morning Bell today:

This year is actually the first year since 1916 that Americans do not have to pay any federal taxes when a family member dies. But thanks to the way Congress had to pass the legislation that phased out the Death Tax in 2001, it is set to go from zero percent to 55 percent at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 2010. The Death Tax is but one of many government taxes on capital and entrepreneurship, and its reinstatement will be yet another job killer from the Obama administration. It rewards estate tax lawyers, insurance companies and big businesses at the expense of small family-owned enterprises. According to a study by the American Family Business Foundation, a full repeal of the death tax, like the one [introduced by Republican Senator Jim DeMint, and] rejected by the Senate last night, would create 1.5 million jobs. Before the vote, Sen. DeMint described the tax as an “unfair, immoral double tax on property and assets that folks have already paid taxes on throughout their lives.”

Last night’s vote to raise the Death Tax is just the beginning of the Obama administration’s historic tax hike campaign. Unless Congress acts to oppose President Obama’s agenda, everyone’s taxes on personal income, capital gains and dividends will rise….

For two generations after post-war reconstruction, Europe and America have pursued different economic models, and accordingly, moved in different economic directions. The American model was low tax, low spending and small government. It favored growth, income and vibrancy. The European model is high tax, high spending and big government. It favored fairness, equality and stability. It also featured unemployment rates double those of the United States, often hovering around 10 percent. Now that is no longer the case. Under Obama’s economic leadership, U.S. unemployment rates are surpassing Europe’s.

Last night’s vote was just the beginning of a larger choice the American people must make: do they want to continue down the Obama path of high taxes, high spending and high unemployment? Or do they still believe in American exceptionalism, in limited government and in a vibrant U.S. economy? Last night’s vote was a step in the wrong direction.

Europe on the brink of catastrophe 0

Germany and France drove the creation of the European Union (EU). Both wanted to be part of a vaster, more powerful political entity: Germany in order, forlornly, to dissolve its national guilt in it; and France, pathetically, to rival the power of the United States with it. Neither hope has been fulfilled. The EU is a failure.

What is the EU? It’s a conglomerate of disparate nations, run by unelected bureaucrats. It has a parliament with no power worth having.

How could it have been expected to succeed? It doesn’t even have a common language. Every document “of major public importance or interest” has to be translated into every one of its 23 official languages.

Imagine the cost of that alone. Bill Bryson wrote (in his book Mother Tongue) that way back in 1987, when the inchoate union was called the European Economic Community (EEC) -

An internal survey found that it was costing $25 a word, $500 dollars a page, to translate all its documents. One in every three employees of the European Community is engaged in translating papers and speeches. A third of all administrative costs – $700 million in 1987 – was taken up with paying for translators and interpreters. Every time a member is added [to the original 6], as most recently with Greece, Spain, and Portugal, the translation problems multiply exponentially.

There are now 27 member states, prices have risen steeply, and in any case no one knows how much the EU pays for anything. Its costs are never accurately calculated.

Because it is irredeemably corrupt, its accounts cannot be cleared. Despairing auditors who turned whistle-blower have been sacked and abused. Officials riding the  gravy-train grow rich on fraud.

Now its nemesis has caught up with it. The 16 member states that adopted the euro as their currency  are not at ease with one another. Their socialist policies are bankrupting them as they were bound to do. Greece has been temporarily saved from economic death by the rest of the EU (and also by the IMF, to which American tax-payers contribute the most). But the peoples, especially the Germans who’ve been made to fork out the bulk of the EU contribution, resent having to do it. (Recent elections in Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia indicate that voters are angry with the federal government’s decision to help Greece and “defend the Euro”.)

The dream of a United States of Europe was always an impossible one. The attempt to realize it is a nightmare.

George Will writes:

The EU has a flag no one salutes, an anthem no one sings, a president no one can name, a parliament (in Strasbourg) no one other than its members wants to have power (which must subtract from the powers of national legislatures), a capital (Brussels) of coagulated bureaucracy no one admires or controls, a currency that presupposes what neither does nor should nor soon will exist (a European central government), and rules of fiscal behavior that no member has been penalized for ignoring. The euro currency both presupposes and promotes a fiction — that “Europe” has somehow become, against the wishes of most Europeans, a political rather than a merely geographic expression.

The designs of the paper euros, introduced in 2002, proclaim a utopian aspiration… The bills depict nonexistent windows, gateways and bridges. They are from … nowhere, which is what “utopia” means… [The euro] is an attempt to erase nationalities and subsume politics in economics in order to escape from European history.

The euro pleases dispirited people for whom European history is not Chartres and Shakespeare but the Holocaust and the Somme. The euro expresses cultural despair.

It also presupposes something else nonexistent. The word “democracy” incorporates the Greek demos — people. As the recent rampages of Greece’s demos, and the reciprocated disdain of Germany’s demos, demonstrate, Europe remains a continent of distinct and unaffectionate peoples. There is no “European people” united by common mores.

Even the Financial Times – which is pink in color politically as well as literally – warned on May 14 that “displays of anger” in the member states may “become more widespread”,  and that “a Europe hounded [sic] by market forces has acted too late” with sudden desperate programs of austerity to save itself from economic catastrophe.

The Euro will fall further. The EU itself may fall apart. That at least, to our mind, is an eventuality devoutly to be wished.

Burn, socialism, burn 1

Obama says there should be a limit to how much money anyone should make. He and the “progressive” majority in Congress are trying, step by step, to turn America into a European-style socialist state. Only the state, they believe, can be extravagant, taking money from people who’ve earned it and will earn it in the future, and using it to extend and tighten the power of government. Austerity must be imposed on the people. Let them eat less, feel colder, do without cars. Let them have only the medical treatment and the education government will allow them to have. Limit the amount of wealth any individual may acquire. Profit is a dirty word. Tax, tax, and tax again.

It is a recipe for disaster.

Europe is experiencing the disaster. It is seeing its socialist dream go up in flames on the streets of Athens.

What cannot work, won’t work. Socialism, like all Ponzi schemes, can seem to be working for a time, but must fail. In a favorite word of the Left (applying it where the Left would not) Socialism is “unsustainable”.

Capitalism is sustainable. Capitalism is beautiful. A cornucopia. “The incredible bread machine”.  It’s what Adam Smith called “the natural order of liberty”. It could also be called “the system of mutual benefit”.

You want the means to keep yourself alive? Provide something – goods, labor, services, ideas – that others want to buy. You want to live comfortably? Provide more of it. You want to live luxuriously? Provide it better than anyone else does. Both a seller and a buyer you will be. A buyer wants the thing he buys more than he wants the money he pays for it, just as the seller wants the money more than the thing he is parting with.

How can you know what others want? Put what you have to offer on the market and see if it sells. The right price for it is the best price you can get. The free market signals what traders need to know. As the great free-market economists, most notably von Mises, Hayek, and Milton Friedman have explained over and over again, government interference with price controls, minimum wages, rationing, compulsory purchase, bailouts, distort the signals and harm the economy.

Whether idealists and moralists like it or not, human nature is selfish. It has to be. If we were not selfish we would not eat when we’re hungry, warm ourselves when we’re cold, acquire what we need, protect ourselves from enemies. Without selfishness, the human race would not have survived. (It is not only or purely selfish. Individuals can and do choose to act unselfishly too – once they have seen to the needs of their survival.)

The Marxist idea of “from each according to his ability and to each according to his need” ignores human nature. Any attempt by government to put the formula into effect by creating the welfare –  or “entitlement“ – state invariably handicaps, suppresses, and impoverishes the nation.

Capitalism is the reverse of that idea. It is a system that encourages each to contribute according to his self-determined need, to be rewarded according to how ably he does it. From each according to his need and to each according to his ability would be a fair description of how the natural order of liberty works.

To satisfy bare need is a poor political aim. It reflects a pinched, narrow, joyless, life-quelling mentality. “O, reason not the need!” King Lear pleads, “our basest beggars
are in the poorest thing superfluous.” Generally speaking, in practice, the only way to be sure of having enough of anything is to have too much of it. Profit is a very good thing. It is only when people have extra money and extra time that they can invent new things. And those who produce things that improve the lives of multitudes, things that millions of people want to own and use, are doing far more for the general good than the most generous philanthropist could ever possibly do. Bill Gates with his Microsoft (though he seems not to realize it but to hold some silly lefty views) has actually done more for mankind than all the charities that have ever existed put together.

That is why it’s reasonable to propose that there is no sin of greed. There is a sin of envy. Envy is the raw material of socialist idealism. But wealth, Mr Obama, is not a problem. Poverty is a problem. And your socialist policies will cause it on a massive scale. Let us be free to work for our own maximum profit. Let us have abundance. Let us have feasts, fatness, generosity, might, novelty, and splendor.

Jillian Becker   May 11, 2010

Disgraceful government and the duty to disobey 0

David Solway, whose insights often impress us, has today done us the honor of linking to one of our posts in a new article of his.

The article is at Front Page, titled Is the U.S. Too Big to Fail? Here’s a part of it (but read it all). The link to our post, Speaking of Secession, [April 7, 2010] comes with the words “parting of ways” in the third paragraph:

The Bridge Mix of social, political and economic programs—redistribution of wealth, a bloated bureaucracy, reduction of military power, amnesty for illegals, toleration of inimical communities, government takeover of the marketplace, ideology supplanting pragmatics—adopted by the American liberal-left and rapidly being put in place by the current administration are hurtling the nation toward its moment of truth when it will have to decide whether it survives as the United States of America or devolves into something that, until just a few years ago, would have been almost unimaginable.

Often what seems to be inconceivable is only the prelude to what may well become unavoidable. And in the case of America such a scenario is all too possible. For America has only three options looming before it in a rapidly foreclosing future. The best case scenario is that, assuming a concerned citizenry, the growing Tea Party movement, a return to strict budgetary rectitude and a revival of the wisdom of the Constitution and the Founders, the United States may weather the storm of social and political dismemberment it is presently undergoing and recover its essence as a constitutional republic. To accomplish this aim, however, the policies of the Obama administration must be resisted at every turn. What Henry David Thoreau wrote in On the Duty of Civil Disobedience in 1848 has a proleptic ring to it and is truer today than it ever was: “How does it become a man to behave toward this American government today? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it.”

On the other hand the calamity of disintegration, as happened to the Soviet Union not so long ago, is a deeply troubling likelihood. The drive toward secession or what is called “disunion” along red state/blue state lines appears to be acquiring strength by the day. It is in the air. The threat of dissolution cannot be wished away or conveniently ignored. Whether such a parting of ways can be achieved peaceably and rationally or would entail violence and bloodshed remains an open question. But what resembles a bitter marriage between cultural incompatibles, the statist Left and the conservative Right, who have nothing to say to one another and disagree on just about everything, makes an eventual divorce by no means unthinkable. The clash between a pervasive scavenger mentality of collective entitlement and the ancestral belief in the values of personal initiative and individual responsibility cannot, it increasingly appears, be resolved amicably.

The third possibility is that America under the stewardship of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party will become an impoverished, socialist, Muslim-friendly country, much like the United Kingdom today or Sweden tomorrow, with devastating consequences for the majority of its citizens. As David Horowitz remarks of the U.S., “its constitutional order is threatened by a political left whose values remain socialist and whose agendas are subversive.” Such is the fundamental transformation promised by the Democratic candidate five days before his election: the intent to legislate outcome at the expense of input, to ensure a syndicalist homogeneity of status among the population while installing a privileged managerial class in the seats of power, and ultimately to transform America’s most industrious entrepreneurial sector into over-taxed and over-regulated obsolescence. Where have we seen this before?

These, then, are the three alternatives between which America will have to choose: recovery, dissolution, socialism. Regarding the latter two, to cite Aeschylus …,  it’s “either way, ruin.” Clearly, the moment of decision is not far down the road. Even a one-term administration for Barack Obama and his cohorts may be sufficient to wreak irreparable damage; a two-term presidency would probably spell the end of the noble and unique American experiment in republican democracy. For there can be little question that Barack Obama and the Democratic ascendancy together form the single greatest disaster to befall the United States in the modern era. If the country does not right itself sooner rather than later, it will find itself broken down the middle or wake up one day to discover that it is now nothing more than another socialist or quasi-Marxist Republic, which is a republic in name only.

Thoreau is on the mark again. Deploring the effects of a “wordy” and ever-compliant Congress which had “not yet learned the comparative value of free-trade and freedom” and which was devoid of “talent for comparatively humble questions of taxation and finance, commerce and manufactures,” he argues that without the “seasonable experience…of the people, America would not long retain her rank among the nations.” And we remember, too, that the United States was a much smaller political entity in 1848 than it is in 2010.

Now is not the time to take refuge in the smug conviction of indestructibility. America is not too big to fail and it may well be too big not to fail. But one thing is undeniable. As it approaches the eleventh hour, its survival depends on a determined and informed citizen “army” of genuine patriots capable of restoring the practical ideal of limited government  …

Of liberty, libertarians, and charity 0

A nice column by John Stossel at Townhall explains what a libertarian is/believes.

We think it likely that most of our regular readers are, like ourselves, libertarians, and need no such explanation.

Still, the column is a good read. Here’s a taste of it:

Libertarians want government to leave people alone — in both the economic and personal spheres. Leave us free to pursue our hopes and dreams, as long as we don’t hurt anybody else.

Ironically, that used to be called “liberal,” which has the same root as “liberty.” Several hundred years ago, liberalism was a reaction against the stifling rules imposed by aristocracy and established religion.

I wish I could call myself “liberal” now. But the word has been turned on its head. It now means health police, high taxes, speech codes and so forth. …

When I first explained libertarianism to my wife, she said: “That’s cruel! What about the poor and the weak? Let them starve?”

For my FBN [Fox Business Network] show tomorrow, I ask some prominent libertarians that question, including Jeffrey Miron, who teaches economics at Harvard.

“It might in some cases be a little cruel,” Miron said. “But it means you’re not taking from people who’ve worked hard to earn their income (in order) to give it to people who have not worked hard.”

But isn’t it wrong for people to suffer in a rich country?

“The number of people who will suffer is likely to be very small. Private charity … will provide support for the vast majority who would be poor in the absence of some kind of support. When government does it, it creates an air of entitlement that leads to more demand for redistribution, till everyone becomes a ward of the state.” …

David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, took the discussion to a deeper level.

“Instead of asking, ‘What should we do about people who are poor in a rich country?’ The first question is, ‘Why is this a rich country?’ …

“Five hundred years ago, there weren’t rich countries in the world. There are rich countries now because part of the world is following basically libertarian rules: private property, free markets, individualism.” …

Before the New Deal, people of modest means banded together to help themselves. These organizations were crowded out when government co-opted their insurance functions, which included inexpensive medical care.

Boaz indicts the welfare state for the untold harm it’s done in the name of the poor.

“What we find is a system that traps people into dependency. … You should be asking advocates of that system, ‘Why don’t you care about the poor?’”

I agree. It appears that when government sets out to solve a problem, not only does it violate our freedom, it also accomplishes the opposite of what it set out to do.

It should be taken as a general rule that everything government does it does badly. Even the one thing it alone can and must do – protect the nation and the individual – it messes up. The less we allow government to do, the better for all of us.

As for helping the helpless (other than privately), here’s an idea. Why not shift all responsibility for welfare on to the churches? After all, Christians claim that their earthly mission is indiscriminate loving, giving, caring. The churches will need much more money than their congregations willingly give, but they can easily raise it from liberals, from innumerable Bill Clinton types who say they feel the pain of others, from all who sigh for the poor because it makes them feel they’re good persons –  a numerous crowd in every Western nation. Let the churches have the honor of being the soul distributors of such prospectively vast funds to those condemned to be, through no fault of their own, at the receiving end of charity; and also – because they’ll not be able to avoid it – to those who’ll demand a share whether they need it or not.

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