How best to insult progressives 1

Among the many pleasures available to the free and the sane, is the joy of laughing at the Others.

In his latest video, Pat Condell provides exciting ways to insult “progressives”:

Posted under Arab States, Commentary, immigration, Islam, Israel, jihad, Leftism, Muslims, Palestinians, Progressivism, Race, Terrorism, Videos by Jillian Becker on Saturday, July 11, 2015

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Irreconcilable visions and the decline of America 4

The proponents of centralized power require a homogeneous “people” to justify expanding government power. Such a “people” will have similar interests that only the central government can effectively identify and serve. Interests like “social justice”, “social duties”, and “social efficiency”, cannot be fulfilled by local or state governments, or by the parochial aims of civil society or the market, or by churches divided by sectarian beliefs. The federal technocrats of government agencies, more knowledgeable than the people about what they really want and need, must be given the power to trump those clashing local interests and manage polices that serve the larger “social” good – as defined not by the people in all their variety and complexity, but by federal bureaucrats and technocrats.

We quote from an excellent article by Bruce Thornton at Front Page.

In 1902 Theodore Roosevelt intervened in a strike by Pennsylvania coal miners, exceeding his Constitutional authority as president. When this was pointed out to him by Republican House whip James E. Watson, Roosevelt allegedly yelled, “To hell with the Constitution when the people want coal!”

This outburst reflected the novel Progressive view of the Chief Executive. Instead of the Constitution’s limited powers focused on specific needs, such as national defense, beyond the capacity of the individual states or local governments to address, the President needed more expansive authority in order to serve the “people”.  Over 100 years later, Barack Obama has governed on the same assumption, one that undermines the Constitution’s structure of balanced powers and limited government, and puts at risk our political freedom and autonomy.

In January of this year Obama famously asserted, much less honestly than did T.R., his willingness to shed Constitutional limits: “We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got phone.” And he’s been true to his belief during his nearly six years in office. He has changed his own signature legislation, Obamacare, 42 times.

He has also used his “pen and phone” to change immigration laws, gun laws, labor laws, environmental policy, and many other statutes that should be the purview of the legislative branch, to which the Constitution gives the law-making power.

Other presidents, of course, have used signing statements and executive orders. But Obama has pushed this traditional prerogative far beyond the bounds that presidents in the past were usually careful to respect.

But the ideas behind this expansion of power are not peculiar to Obama, and transcend any one man. They come from the Progressive worldview that rejects the Constitution’s philosophical vision of humans as driven by conflicting “passions and interests”,  and eager to amass power in order to gratify both. The Progressives, on the contrary, believe that human nature can be improved, and that technocrats armed with new knowledge of human behavior and motivations can be entrusted with the concentrated power necessary for managing that improvement and solving the new problems created by industrialism, technology, and the other novelties of modernity.

In terms of the federal government, the key to this new vision is the executive branch, led by an activist president. Woodrow Wilson was quite explicit about these ideas. In 1890 he wrote of the need for a “leader of men” who has “such sympathetic and penetrative insight as shall enable him to discern quite unerringly the motives which move other men in the mass”.  He knows “what it is that lies waiting to be stirred in the minds and purposes of groups and masses of men”.  This sympathy is one “whose power is to command, to command by knowing its instrument”, and the leader possessing this “sympathy” cares only “for the external uses to which they [people] may be put”. 

More frightening still are Wilson’s comments further expanding on this “sympathy”.  “Whoever would effect a change in a modern constitutional government must first educate his fellow-citizens to want some change. That done, he must persuade them to want the particular change he wants. He must first make public opinion willing to listen and then see to it that it listens to the right things. He must stir it up to search for an opinion, and then manage to put the right opinion in its way.”

Gone are the notions that free people decide their own political fate and choose representatives to serve their interests and principles, their autonomy protected by the Constitutional structure of checks and balances. Now an empowered elite presumably wiser about human nature will, like Plato’s Guardians, manipulate the people’s opinions so that they make the “right” choice. These ideas are on a continuum that at the extreme end lie Mussolini’s fascism and Lenin’s communism.

Ideas that have been recycled by Cass Sunstein – former Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs  in the Obama White House – with his proposal that people must be “nudged” to do and think as he and his fellow Progressives are certain they should.

We see in Wilson’s writings another Progressive assumption still with us today: defining Americans as an abstract, collectivist “people”.  This unitary “people” rejects the Founders’ recognition of America’s great variety … that characterize the citizens of the United States. …  As John Adams wrote in 1787, the “selfish passions in the generality of men” are the “strongest”.

Knowing that this selfish inclination is rooted in a human nature … and so cannot be improved or eliminated, the Founders sought merely to balance faction against faction so that no one faction can amass enough power to threaten the freedom of all. 

Two visions irreconcilably opposed to each other: that of the Founders’ taking account of  human nature and its natural selfishness and finding the way to accommodate differences while protecting the freedom of each with rules for all; and that of the Progressive elite who would change human nature, homogenize interests, and impose their own vision on everyone, subordinating individual choice to a collective will controlled and guided by themselves.

Go back to Obama’s “pen and phone” statement and read what follows to see this same collectivist vision at work: “And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.” The president assumes that in a country of some 330 million people, “the help they need” and their views on improving job creation, education, or job training are all the same, and thus one man can formulate policies that advance them, cutting out the several hundred representative of Congress, and state and local governments.

The obvious danger is one evident from the 20th century’s history of totalitarianism from the Bolsheviks to the Khmer Rouge. Elites convinced of their superior knowledge and insight into human behavior and the proper aims people should pursue, demand the coercive power to achieve these goods. But true to the Founders’ vision of a flawed human nature, power is “of an encroaching nature,” as Madison and Washington both warned. It intoxicates and corrupts those who possess it. Moreover, it requires weakening the autonomy and freedom of the people, whose various interests will contradict the “vision of the anointed”, as Thomas Sowell dubs them, who claim to know what’s best for everybody, and use their power to neutralize or eliminate those who resist this superior wisdom.

We need to recognize that for over a century this Progressive vision has revolutionized the federal government, which now has a size, scope, cost, and coercive power that would have horrified the Founders.

The media are on the wrong side 0

… and “Progressive” is the strongest word of condemnation in the English language.

So says Pat Condell, and we agree with him.

 

Posted under Commentary, Islam, Muslims, Progressivism, Videos by Jillian Becker on Sunday, April 21, 2013

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The odd couple 0

Obama and his National Security appointees, Janet Napolitano and John Brennan, deny that Islam is waging jihad on America and the whole of the non-Muslim world. But – block their ears and sing out “la-la-la” as they might – they cannot alter the truth that the jihad is being waged, or fail to hear authoritative voices saying that it is. Obama may want to deny it because he has deep sympathy with Islam, and because he‘s a Left radical by upbringing, training, and conviction. Islam and the Left are allies against the Western ideal of individual freedom. They resemble each other in that they’re both collectivist ideologies. This means they can strive together to destroy freedom, but the one is egalitarian, the other non-egalitarian; the one fosters diversity, the other demands uniformity; the one preaches tolerance, the other is harshly intolerant. Eventually, if they were to win their war against freedom, they would surely turn on each other with intense hatred and fury. If Obama experienced such a conflict within himself, it’s hard to imagine how he’d resolve it.

The alliance between Islam and the Left is the theme of a new book, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, by Andrew McCarthy, the former Assistant United States Attorney who successfully prosecuted Omar Abdel Rahman for the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. He writes about it at PowerLine. Here’s part of what he says:

What is surprising, and dismaying, is that the book’s message should come as news to anyone, as if there were [any] real question about whether such a grand jihad exists. Though our opinion elites and their media allies remain desperate to suppress the story, the proof of an Islamist conspiracy to destroy the West is stark and undeniable, and the instances of Islamists being aided and abetted by Leftists are too numerous for serious people to deny the alliance – not merger but alliance – between the two.

As demonstrated at the Holy Land Foundation terrorist financing trials in Texas, internal Muslim Brotherhood memoranda are unabashed in describing Islamists as engaged in a “civilizational” war against the West. In America, the Brothers attest that theirs is a “grand jihad” to destroy the United States – mainly from within, mainly by “sabotage.”

We don’t like the terms “civilizational war” and “Islamists”. The first because we think the war is not between two civilizations but between their barbarism and our civilization; and the second for reasons that McCarthy himself is well aware of:

I use the term Islamist advisedly. In the book’s second chapter, I’ve tried to take on the excruciating question of whether the existential challenge we face is Islam itself. …

The problem is that those who say Islam is the problem have the better case. I was first struck by this sad fact during our terrorism trial in 1995, when I had to get ready to cross-examine the “Blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman. … I thought that if what we were saying as a government were true – if these terrorists were lying about Islam and perverting its doctrine in order to justify mass-murder attacks – then surely I should be able to locate three or four places where the Blind Sheikh had misstated the Koran and the other species of Muslim scripture. I searched high and low, but there were none.

The point is that where the Blind Sheikh cited scripture, he did it quite accurately. … He is a renowned doctor of Islamic jurisprudence graduated from al-Azhar University in Egypt – the seat of Sunni learning and one of the oldest and most respected academic institutions in the world. His construction of Islam, however frightening, was literal and cogent.

Islam is not a religion of peace and Islamic doctrine is not moderate. …

It is supremacist, totalitarian, and violentdrawn faithfully and logically from scripture – which is why it is endorsed by so many influential clerics and shariah authorities who have spent their lives in Islamic study. …

The thrust of my book is that we need to come to terms with this in order to defend ourselves. There is a vibrant debate in the Muslim world about terrorism. We need to understand, though, that it is a debate about methodology. Islamist terrorists and other Islamists are in harmony about the endgame: they would like to see shariah installed and the West Islamicized. That a person is not willing to mass-murder non-Muslims in order to accelerate that process does not make him a moderate.

Since the book was published last week, I’ve been asked questions like: “So, are you saying that President Obama wants to implement sharia?” and ” Isn’t it true that if Islamists came to power, the Left would have a lot to fear?” Again, the alliance between Islamists and Leftists … is an alliance, not a merger. Leftists and Islamists have worked together numerous times in history … That they work together is not a hypothesis on my part; this partnership exists, period. And why it exists is simply explained, if we are willing to look at the facts.

While they differ on a number of significant issues, Islamists and Leftists are in harmony on many parts of the big picture. Islamism and today’s Leftism (which, as I note in the book, David Horowitz aptly calls “neocommunism”) are both authoritarian ideologies: they favor a muscular central government, virulently reject capitalism, and are totalitarian in the sense that they want to dictate all aspects human life. They both see the individual as existing to serve the greater community (the state or the umma). Saliently, they have a common enemy: Western culture, American constitutional republicanism, and their foundation, individual liberty.

When I argue that Islamists and Leftists are working together to sabotage America, this is what I am talking about. Historically, when Islamists and Leftists collaborate against a common enemy (e.g., the Shah in Iran, the monarchy in Egypt), these marriages of convenience break apart when the common enemy has been eliminated. We are a long way from that point in America – and, hopefully, we never reach it. We must expect, though, that Islamists and Leftists will continue their alliance as long as the Western way of life remains an obstacle to their respective utopias.

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

The climate of unreason 0

We often quote Melanie Phillips, chiefly her columns in the Spectator, because we often think she is right. We also admire and are grateful for her courageous writing against – among other controversial subjects – the Islamic conquest of Europe, most notably in her book Londonistan.

In her new book, The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle Over God, Truth, and Power, she  expresses opinions on religion and science that we  do not agree with, though we find quite a lot of other ideas in it that we like.

She writes of “the climate of unreason”. Unfortunately, with this book she is contributing to it.

Here is what she writes about ‘Islamism’  – a concept invented by non-Muslims to avoid offending Muslims, or their own sense of fairness, or both, when they’re speaking critically of what Muslims do and believe:

I have used the word “Islamist” to denote those who wish to impose Islam upon unbelievers and to extinguish individual freedom and human rights among Muslims. There are, however, scholars who hold that Islam is an inherently coercive ideology and that therefore “Islamist” is a meaningless word that creates a false distinction. It is not my purpose here to enter that particular argument. I use the term “Islamist” not to make a theological point but to allow for the acknowledgment of those Muslims who support freedom and human rights and who threaten no one – and who are themselves principal victims of the jihad. I believe it is very important to acknowledge the existence of such Muslims who have a peaceable interpretation of their religion, just as its is very important not to sanitize and thus misrepresent the doctrines and history of Islam as a religion of conquest.”

While we welcome her plain assertion that Islam is a religion of conquest, we can only wonder who these Muslims can be who embrace the religion but not its ideology of conquest and forced submission, since that is what it is about and all that it is about.

She goes on:

The book explores the remarkable links and correspondences between left-wing “progressives” and Islamists, environmentalists and fascists, militant atheists and fanatical religious believers. All are united by the common desire to bring about through human agency the perfection of the world, an agenda which history teaches us leads invariably – and paradoxically – to tyranny, terror and crimes against humanity.

Again we are largely  in agreement with her, but are surprised by the inclusion of atheists in her list. “Militant” atheists, she says. Perhaps on the model of “Islamists” she could have constructed the word “atheism-ists” to distinguish them from those atheists “who support freedom and human rights and who threaten no one”.

Who are these militant atheists? Where are they placing their bombs? We know that there are atheist progressives, atheist fascists, and atheist environmentalists (just as there are atheist conservatives, atheist libertarians, atheists altruists), but we had not noticed that it is atheism they are trying to impose on the rest of the world. Collectivism, yes. Poverty, yes. World government, yes. But atheism – who says so, when and where, and above all, how? Her book, though it deals with some left-wing atheists whose political views we strongly disagree with, does not tell us.

The crimes and calamities of Katyn 0

On Saturday April 10, 2010, the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, was killed in a plane crash in Russia. He was on his way to the site of the Katyn massacre, to commemorate the killing of 21,768 Polish officers in April 1940. They were shot dead in cold blood by Russians on the orders of Josef Stalin, most of them in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk.

Kaczynski was leading a delegation of 88, including his wife, and the last president of the anti-Communist Polish government-in-exile in London, the head of the National Security Office, presidential aides, the Deputy Speaker of the Polish parliament, a Deputy Foreign Minister, the head of the Army Chief of Staff, the head of Poland’s National Bank; also relatives of the men who had been murdered at Katyn. All died in the crash.

President Kaczynski was a founder member of Solidarity, as were some of the others in the delegation. He was staunchly against Communism and Russia, and strongly pro-America.

Dr Paul Kengor writes at Townhall:

The Katyn Woods massacre was one of the worst war crimes of the bloody 20th century. …

The Polish officers were taken to three primary sites, the most infamous of which bears the namesake of the crime: the Katyn Woods … There, these unsuspecting men, Poland’s best and brightest, were methodically slaughtered like farm animals. The Bolsheviks covered their crime with a thin layer of dirt.

The locals shuddered at the howling cries of dying men echoing through their once peaceful woods. One Russian farmer later told authorities: “For approximately four to five weeks there were three to four trucks daily driving to the forest loaded with people…. I could hear the shooting and screaming of men’s voices.”

Some Poles were destroyed on site in the forest, whereas others were first shot in the NKVD prison in Smolensk, with their rotting corpses transported to Katyn for burial under a few inches of soil.

At the prison, bullets were fired 24/7 by a cadre of deranged, homicidal NKVD/KGB killers who were so consumed with bloodlust, and so taken by the dark side that, in the end, their work finished, they turned their guns on themselves. Death had consumed them.

In April 1943, it was the Germans, then at war with the USSR and advancing with lightning speed into Soviet territory, who discovered the mass graves. They immediately tried to turn the atrocity into a propaganda coup to split the Big Three Allies: the USSR, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Of course, the Soviets, being masters of lies, responded by claiming the Nazis were the perpetrators. …

In the United States, Ambassador Jan Ciechanowski of the Polish government-in-exile and Congressman John Lesinski (D-Mich.) were certain the Soviets did it. For [saying] this, they were denounced by FDR’s hideous Office of War Information, which we now know was one of the most infiltrated agencies of the entire wartime federal government, penetrated by communist spies and sympathizers. FDR [President Franklin D. Roosevelt] refused to believe that the government of his pal “Uncle Joe”—his term of endearment for Stalin—was involved. This greatly frustrated men like former Pennsylvania Governor George Earle, a fellow Democrat whom FDR had appointed to investigate the matter, and who knew the Soviets were guilty as sin.

FDR disagreed, fully buying the Soviet line, telling Earle: “George, they [the Nazis] could have rigged things up. The Germans could have rigged things up.”

The liberal/progressive icon [FDR] insisted to his special emissary: “I’m absolutely convinced that the Russians didn’t do this.” An amazed Earle responded: “Mr. President, I think this evidence is overwhelming.” Of course, it was…

FDR’s wilful blindness was itself criminal. Why did he refuse to believe that Stalin was evil? At least part of the answer is to be found in a statement we report in our post below, A date which should live in infamy: “The liberal cannot strike wholeheartedly against the Communist,” wrote early National Review columnist James Burnham, “for fear of wounding himself in the process.”

The defining debate of our lifetime 0

The great political divide is between those on one side who want a system of government that preserves individual freedom – broadly speaking they may be called political libertarians and philosophical individualists – and those on the other side, the collectivists, who may variously define themselves as socialists, or communists, or progressives (if they are egalitarians), or Nazis, or fascists, or Muslims (if they are non-egalitarians).

Libertarians believe that the government should be our servant. Collectivists believe it should be our master.

Andrew McCarthy, the lead prosecutor of the bombers convicted of bombing the World Trade Center on 1993, says this about Islam, Islamism, the lawyers who defend jihadists free of charge, and the great political divide:

I don’t think there is much difference, if any, between Islam and Islamism. In that assessment, I’m not much different from Turkey’s Islamist prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who claims it is “very ugly” for Westerners to draw these distinctions between Muslims as “moderate” or “Islamist” — “It is offensive and an insult to our religion,” he says, because “there is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam, and that’s it.”

That doesn’t make any lawyer unfit to serve. It does, however, show us the fault line in the defining debate of our lifetime, the debate about what type of society we shall have. And that political context makes everyone’s record fair game. If lawyers choose to volunteer their services to the enemy in wartime, they are on the wrong side of that fault line, and no one should feel reluctant to say so.

Islamists are Muslims who would like to see sharia (Islamic law) installed. That is the necessary precondition to Islamicizing a society. It is the purpose of jihad. The terrorists are willing to force sharia’s installation by violent jihad; other Islamists have varying views about the usefulness of violence, but they also want sharia, and their jihadist methods include tactics other than violence. I reluctantly use the term “Islamist” rather than “Islam” because I believe there are hundreds of millions of Muslims (somewhere between a third to a half of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims) who do not want to live under sharia, and who want religion to be a private matter, separated from public life. It is baffling to me why these people are Muslims since, as I understand Islam, (a) sharia is a basic element, and (b) Islam rejects the separation of mosque and state. But I’m not a Muslim, so that is not for me to say. I think we have to encourage the non-sharia Muslims and give them space to try to reform their religion, so I believe it’s worth labeling the sharia seekers “Islamists” in order to sort them out. But I admit being very conflicted about it because I also concede that the Islamists have the more coherent (and scary) construction of Islam. We wouldn’t be encouraging reform if we really thought Islam was fine as is.

In any event, Islamist ideology is multi-faceted. You can be pro-Islamist, and even pro-Qaeda, without signing on to the savage Qaeda methods. And the relevant question with respect to progressive lawyers [in particular the ones who provide free defense of terrorists] is not so much whether they are pro-Qaeda as it is whether, as between Islamists and the U.S. as it exists, they have more sympathy for the Islamists. That’s a fair question, but a very uncomfortable one to ask…

Much of the commentary on this point, including from some people who usually know better, has been specious. …

Jihadists believe it is proper to massacre innocent people in order to compel the installation of sharia as a pathway to Islamicizing society. No one for a moment believes, or has suggested, that al-Qaeda’s American lawyers share that view. But jihadist terrorists, and Islamist ideology in general, also hold that the United States is the root of all evil in the world, that it is the beating heart of capitalist exploitation of society’s have-nots, and that it needs fundamental, transformative change.

This … is why Islam and the Left collaborate so seamlessly. They don’t agree on all the ends and means. In fact, Islamists don’t agree among themselves about means. But before they can impose their utopias, Islamists and the Left have a common enemy they need to take down: the American constitutional tradition of a society based on individual liberty, in which government is our servant, not our master. It is perfectly obvious that many progressive lawyers are drawn to the jihadist cause because of common views about the need to condemn American policies and radically alter the United States.

Strengthen the government and bring it down 0

At Townhall today, George Will expresses this opinion:

There are legislative miles to go before the government will be emancipated from its health care myopia, but it is not too soon for a summing up. Whether all or nothing of the legislation becomes law, Barack Obama has refuted critics who call him a radical. He has shown himself to be a timid progressive.

His timidity was displayed when he flinched from fighting for the boldness the nation needs — a transition from the irrationality of employer-provided health insurance. His progressivism is an attitude of genteel regret about the persistence of politics.

On this judgment we cannot agree with George Will (unless he is intending to be ironic, which we suspect and hope he is).

Obama is insisting almost hysterically on health legislation being passed, no matter what horrors it foists on the people of the United States provided only that it delivers control of a sizable portion of the economy into the hands of his government.

Now one has only to read what has been published about Obama’s parents, upbringing, and career to see that he is a born, bred, and thoroughly committed Marxist radical. Why otherwise would he appoint radical leftists, including self-confessed Communists of various stripes, some of them Maoists, to advisory posts and “Czardoms” in the White House?

And while this sort of thing, reported and discussed by Scott Wheeler, is happening under his administration, it’s hard to believe he has faded into nothing more dangerous than a “timid progressive”:

A Marxist group that has demanded the “destruction” of the U.S. and issued a call “to bring this government down” is the recipient of stimulus funds from the Obama American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). This same group, the Brecht Forum, has also called for the complete takeover of insurance companies and farms [!] in America.

The controversial stimulus bill, as ARRA is better known, provided funds for the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), which promptly granted the New York City-based Brecht Forum $5,000 in 2009 and $9,000 in 2010. The NYSCA had previously announced in 2008 that due to state budget cuts it would no longer be able to fund 573 organizations that it had previously funded. One of the groups on the list to be slashed was the Brecht Forum. After NYSCA secured $399,000 in stimulus money, the Brecht Forum once again had funding.

The Brecht Forum is host to the New York Marxist School and displays this statement on their website:

“Can society be changed significantly for the better? What kind of changes would be needed? and, Who could bring about such changes?” …

In 1975, a group of civil rights, community, labor, and student activists came together to found The Brecht Forum’s New York Marxist School. They saw the study of Marxism as central, not as a dogma but as a living current of thought and as a vital tool for understanding capitalist society.

In a September 2009 lecture at the Brecht Forum, Jed Brandt, a longtime communist, political activist and outspoken atheist [at least he has this much common sense – JB] offered the following instructions:

“We have to bring this Government down! We have to help destroy this system and that requires increasing the alienation that working people and oppressed people feel. The way this change is going to happen is the destruction of The United States of America!” [“Increasing the alienation”, ie deliberately piling misery on the underclass until they rise in revolutionary rebellion, continues to be an orthodox formula of Marxist theory though it has never, fortunately, worked that way in practice – JB]

Fox News Channel picked up on Brandt’s call to action and played clips several times the week of March 1st. My own investigation uncovered the link to federal stimulus dollars providing financial support for the Brecht Forum. The grants from NYSCA were ostensibly provided for artistic projects, for example, the NYSCA website shows the following as the description for the Brecht Forum grant:

“The Brecht Forum’s 09-10 program features workshops in the participatory theater techniques developed by the noted Brazilian director Augusto Boal. The program includes monthly workshops led by members of the Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory and two master workshops led by Augusto Boal.” …

“Augusto Boal has defined Theater of the Oppressed as a rehearsal for revolution.”

The website further describes its mission as using “interactive theater as an organizing tool” and works with “educators, human service and healthcare workers, union organizers and community activists” to solve perceived problems.

Almost choking on Communist jargon, the Brecht Forum is shouting its revolutionary intentions. The NYSCA obviously knows exactly what it’s subsidizing. The Obama administration knows what the NYSCA’s political agenda is. It gets its grants because it has that agenda. It is radically leftist. There’s nothing timid about it.

Grow and strengthen government, or bring it down? Is President Obama conscious of being caught on the horns of a remarkable dilemma – how to square his office with his ideology? How does he reconcile his present job with his old objectives? Does it trouble him that he is the power Jed Brandt wants to overthrow?

A mind even more suspicious than ours might wonder whether the New Left program of “the long march through the institutions” set Obama climbing to the pinnacle of power with the intention of bringing about “the destruction of the United States of America”. But surely Obama is not as extreme as all that – is he?

The gigantic heresy of an apostate generation 1

Very well worth reading is Scott Johnson of Power Line quoting Paul Rahe quoting Walter Lippmann arguing against collectivism and the augmentation of the power of government:

“Throughout the world, in the name of progress, men who call themselves communists, socialists, fascists, nationalists, progressives, and even liberals, are unanimous in holding that government with its instruments of coercion must by commanding the people how they shall live, direct the course of civilization and fix the shape of things to come. . . . The premises of authoritarian collectivism have become the working beliefs, the self-evident assumptions, the unquestioned axioms, not only of all the revolutionary regimes, but of nearly every effort which lays claim to being enlightened, humane, and progressive.

So universal is the dominion of this dogma over the minds of contemporary men that no one is taken seriously as a statesman or a theorist who does not come forward with proposals to magnify the power of public officials and to extend and multiply their intervention in human affairs. Unless he is authoritarian and collectivist, he is a mossback, a reactionary, at best an amiable eccentric swimming hopelessly against the tide. It is a strong tide. Though despotism is no novelty in human affairs, it is probably true that at no time in twenty-five hundred years has any western government claimed for itself a jurisdiction over men’s lives comparable with that which is officially attempted in totalitarian states. . . .

But it is even more significant that in other lands where men shrink from the ruthless policy of these regimes, it is commonly assumed that the movement of events must be in the same direction. Nearly everywhere the mark of a progressive is that he relies at last upon the increased power of officials to improve the condition of men.”

What worried Lippmann the most was the failure of those who considered themselves progressives to “remember how much of what they cherish as progressive has come by emancipation from political dominion, by the limitation of power, by the release of personal energy from authority and collective coercion.” He cited “the whole long struggle to extricate conscience, intellect, labor, and personality from the bondage of prerogative, privilege, monopoly, authority.”

It was, he said, “the gigantic heresy of an apostate generation” to suppose that “there has come into the world during this generation some new element which makes it necessary for us to undo the work of emancipation, to retrace the steps men have taken to limit the power of rulers, which compels us to believe that the way of enlightenment in affairs is now to be found by intensifying authority and enlarging its scope.” It is with Lippmann’s warning in mind that we – and Barack Obama’s economic advisors — should contemplate the present discontents.

Posted under Commentary, communism, government, nazism, Socialism, Totalitarianism by Jillian Becker on Thursday, October 1, 2009

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