Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is a book that is to be “chewed and digested,” as Sir Francis Bacon wrote of classic works. So when in the course of slowly perusing what the distinguished French statesman had to say of the perils impending in America, should our populace opt for government centralization, it bears taking notice.
The U.S. House has passed a budget containing language that would strip President Obama of his stable of unelected, unconfirmed “czars.” The $1 trillion budget also contains a provision forcing Obama to make a decision on the Keystone pipeline within 60 days.
Although the measure is expected to pass the Senate, President Obama may resort to his bag of tricks and pull a signing statement overriding the bill’s language. As the left liked to point out about George W. Bush’s use of the maneuver, the practice is widely considered to be unconstitutional.
Weasel Zippers relays:
The U.S. House approved a $1 trillion spending bill on a 296-121 vote to fund the federal government’s operations through Sept. 30. As part of a compromise struck late Thursday, the funding bill specifically prohibits “czars” related to health care, climate change, the auto industry and urban affairs.
The Senate is expected to pass the measure on Saturday.
This is what the Republicans should have been doing since they took over the House. Try to force Obama to veto otherwise popular legislation or popular provisions of legislation. This puts Obama on the record as adverse to real job creation and economic growth.
Great ideas flourish in freedom. Such is the case with the history of the Internet, which went from a limited defense-oriented model adopted and adapted by the Pentagon to secure information through diffusion to the commercial engine of the Information Age.
But with great success comes an overwhelming temptation for the state, an institution founded on coercion and theft, to exploit whatever is making a buck and to shut down or otherwise control whatever it deems to be a threat. Open communication and open commerce are the antithesis of the authoritarian state, and the Internet’s shining success is a rebuff to the statists who propagate the lie that anything they don’t control is doomed to failure. Continue reading “The Open Internet is History if Congress Gets Its Way”
One of the most consistent complaints of the American political left is that “the haves” are getting wealthy at the expense of the “have-nots.” But even a cursory glance at readily available data shows that this is not the case.
Since most people who are heavily invested in maintaining their worldview if they believe it is more compassionate to do so are not readily persuadable by normal rhetorical devices, let us look at a few charts to flesh out how there is absolutely no connection between income inequality and individual standard of living, as measured by PPP (Purchasing Power Parity). First, a glance at global wealth by country.
This chart is not from some “right-wing” think tank like the Heritage Foundation, this is from the OECD – the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.
If we factor in Medicare and Medicaid, not to mention WIC and other public health programs, it is easy to see how America was already blowing a ton of money on healthcare before Obamacare was passed. This despite the fact that all but around 15 million American citizens were insured or could afford health insurance. So we should note that in 2008, the United States was already spending more per person on public healthcare than Canada and the United Kingdom.
The stench of excess and decay emanating from Washington is so quintessentially aristocratic in odor, one wonders if the president should declare absolutist rule, wave an effeminate hand, and be done with it. At least that way the new peasantry, the producers, would finally realize what they are up against: the restoration of a neofeudal order where the privileged few dine out at the expense of the lumpenproletariat many.
Perhaps that is the greatest irony of progressive policies – they return us right back to the state-dominated era the country was designed to escape. What the Sun King may have lacked in actual power, he made up in hubris; he languished in self-indulgence as the peasants toiled, and there seemed to be a reassuring natural order to it all. That was the way of the world, and until the voluminous exposition of the Encyclopedists, there was no reason to imagine anything different.
When market capitalism began eating into the control of the French nobility, the threatened sought solace in the decadent courts of Versailles. And when it became evident that the king was impotent to stem back the tides of history, the disillusioned found fertile ground for sowing discontent in the salons of Paris. How to co-opt capitalism and use it to vault into the seat of power became the pressing question. While the policy to allow the landed aristocracy to purchase their way into the royal ranks temporarily quelled their impetus to remove the legal and formal boundaries to market activity, enhanced profits, and political power, the effect was like putting new wine in old bottles – at some indeterminate time, bound to burst.
The minds of Turgot, Voltaire, and even bloody Robespierre spearheaded the opposition to the Ancien Regime. And when the status quo-inclined King Louis XVI feebly took the scepter in 1774, he could scarce sit upon his velvet throne waving it furiously in order to coax the cresting ocean to recede. He would be washed out into the currents and promptly engulfed in them. Terror and upheaval followed quick upon his macabre removal and that of his notoriously indifferent bride, as it took generations for the enfranchised peasantry to reap the rewards of capitalistic progress, by which time they had already soured to the ideology’s more radical implications. They were not quite peasants, not quite freemen. And so they would remain in mentality, always nestled under the wings of the paternalistic class that purported to shelter them from capitalism’s harsher realities.
But America is different, or at least that’s what we keep telling ourselves. The country was colonized, or rather, settled by disgruntled religious fanatics and roguish criminals who bent nature to their will with their bare hands, while fighting off disease-carrying mosquitos and hatchet-wielding natives. Extremes of weather, blight, starvation and even self-imposed religious persecution meant no pussy-footing around when it came to preserving one’s own life and safeguarding the community. Rigorous discipline, determination, and a code of honor within a fairly small, close-knit band meant character counted for something. If you ripped someone off, people would inevitably find out about it. And the courts did not stand in the people’s way as much as they ratified their swift and just vengeance. Further heightening authority was the fact that people needed one another. Escaping into the wilderness did not seem quite the tempting proposition as it does today.
In contemporary times, our politicians hide behind the courts, along with the police apparatus that enforces its edicts, precisely in order to deviate from character, honor, and integrity. Just as the lawyers were indispensable for providing the French royalty a rationale for continued existence in an ascending Age of Reason, today our jurists fulfill the same role for the massive bureaucratic state, the impenetrable fortress where all manner of unconstitutional functions and decisions are carried out under dubious legalistic pretenses. Within this sheltered court, a new nobility has taken shape; one that seeks to live easy on the foundation of real labor. A recent New York Times article effectively admits as much:
All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.
As was elaborated upon earlier, the former are the burgeoning aristocrats and bon vivants who seek to reap the rewards of the working man’s sweat, whether here in the United States or abroad in labor-intensive countries. They enjoy fine dining, buy pristine luxury vehicles, delight in the latest innovations produced by the remnant capitalist market, right before they condemn it, even as they are assured guaranteed benefits and pensions for life, while relishing the prestige of engaging in “compassionate” occupations.
These are revolutionary conditions, my friends, and don’t think the state hasn’t taken notice. The free communication of the exploited and disenfranchised, not the trademarked minorities whose greatest enemies are themselves, but rather the producers, the innovators, and the doers is foisting immense pressure on the new nobility, whose only reaction is to lash out, smear, and seek to disenfranchise. After giving lip service to democracy for decades, they now find themselves befuddled at seeing democracy turn against them; thus the rush to import more persons of the peasant mentality, whose states they flee from are excellent evidence of their pliability to heavy-handedness and corrupt rule.
We must marshal our forces in time before the decadent state is allowed to rot us to the core; and this entails the cultural replenishment, or even regeneration, of those animating ideals that once imbued our country with a brave, noble spirit. We must be a leader on the frontier of progress, rather than a follower of the fallen and defunct regimes our nation sought remove from. We must venture to lead our countrymen, rather than follow the government into the abyss.
An excerpt from Alexis de Tocqueville’s essential work Democracy in America contextualizes contemporary mass dissatisfaction with our political parties and even addresses the irrational spirit that animates Occupy Wall Street; namely, the impulse to democratize and socialize the banks, rather than to limit and restrain the federal government.
When conceptualizing Tocqueville’s framework, we can see that the decline of the Republican Party has coincided with its decline as a party of great ideas. It has nakedly become beholden to petty interests, seeking to surreptitiously expand governmental authority and perquisites for its clients, rather than to limit popular authority, preserve Constitutional government, and to expand freedom by maintaining order, as the majority of its constituents demand.
A great distinction must be made between parties. Some countries are so large that the different populations which inhabit them have contradictory interests, although they are the subjects of the same Government, and they may thence be in a perpetual state of opposition. In this case the different fractions of the people may more properly be considered as distinct nations than as mere parties; and if a civil war breaks out, the struggle is carried on by rival peoples rather than by factions in the State.
But when the citizens entertain different opinions upon subjects which affect the whole country alike, such, for instance, as the principles upon which the government is to be conducted, then distinctions arise which may correctly be styled parties. Parties are a necessary evil in free governments; but they have not at all times the same character and the same propensities.
At certain periods a nation may be oppressed by such insupportable evils as to conceive the design of effecting a total change in its political constitution; at other times the mischief lies still deeper, and the existence of society itself is endangered. Such are the times of great revolutions and of great parties. But between these epochs of misery and of confusion there are periods during which human society seems to rest, and mankind to make a pause. This pause is, indeed, only apparent, for time does not stop its course for nations any more than for men; they are all advancing towards a goal with which they are unacquainted; and we only imagine them to be stationary when their progress escapes our observation, as men who are going at a foot-pace seem to be standing still to those who run.
But however this may be, there are certain epochs at which the changes that take place in the social and political constitution of nations are so slow and so insensible that men imagine their present condition to be a final state; and the human mind, believing itself to be firmly based upon certain foundations, does not extend its researches beyond the horizon which it descries. These are the times of small parties and of intrigue.
The political parties which I style great are those which cling to principles more than to their consequences; to general, and not to especial cases; to ideas, and not to men. These parties are usually distinguished by a nobler character, by more generous passions, more genuine convictions, and a more bold and open conduct than the others. In them private interest, which always plays the chief part in political passions, is more studiously veiled under the pretext of the public good; and it may even be sometimes concealed from the eyes of the very persons whom it excites and impels.
Minor parties are, on the other hand, generally deficient in political faith. As they are not sustained or dignified by a lofty purpose, they ostensibly display the egotism of their character in their actions. They glow with a factitious zeal; their language is vehement, but their conduct is timid and irresolute. The means they employ are as wretched as the end at which they aim. Hence it arises that when a calm state of things succeeds a violent revolution, the leaders of society seem suddenly to disappear, and the powers of the human mind to lie concealed. Society is convulsed by great parties, by minor ones it is agitated; it is torn by the former, by the latter it is degraded; and if these sometimes save it by a salutary perturbation, those invariably disturb it to no good end. […]
To quote a recent example. When the President attacked the Bank, the country was excited and parties were formed; the well-informed classes rallied round the Bank, the common people round the President. But it must not be imagined that the people had formed a rational opinion upon a question which offers so many difficulties to the most experienced statesmen. The Bank is a great establishment which enjoys an independent existence, and the people, accustomed to make and unmake whatsoever it pleases, is startled to meet with this obstacle to its authority. In the midst of the perpetual fluctuation of society the community is irritated by so permanent an institution, and is led to attack it in order to see whether it can be shaken and controlled, like all the other institutions of the country.
It is with the latter paragraph we can see the irrationality of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which believes we should place more popular controls on the banks through the government, rather than institute more accountability through the free market mechanism. Rather than restrain the banks, the government has enabled them to practice disastrous activities, which themselves were predicated on political intervention into the economy to begin with. If the Occupy Wall Street people truly want to democratize the economy, they would support removing government coercion from its operations, and then advocate that people act as a check on the banks by making informed decisions on where to most safely and prosperously put their own money. As it stands now, the banks can engage in all sorts of ruinous policies with the full assurance that the government will once again subsidize their folly.
By conflating democracy with civility, the hard left minority is inflaming the passions of the majority to institute hard checks on the power of the government. But if that majority loses effective representation in the government through the aegis of a political party, and the government is attempting to institute and entrench barriers to prevent the majority from implementing its political preferences, there will be hell to pay for the minority, the government, or both.
The crux of what socialism is all about in the modern era is the forced unionization of all labor in a state-run economy. Essentially, socialism in practice turns the entire state into a giant factory managed by central planners, and citizens become the drones who are to do what they are told and take what the state gives them and to be grateful. Just as the difference between communism and fascism in practice is one of scale, the former being a worldwide and the latter a nationwide collectivist enterprise, the difference between communism and socialism is one of degree.
But the reason that socialism is not halted at a certain “acceptable” level in Western economies is because it is fundamentally corrosive; it is an unsustainable element of an economy, when recombined with liberal democracy, it eats away at individual rights protections and checks on state economic intervention.
Socialism preys upon a weakness in human nature, to avoid work and to profit without effort, and socialist parties can build power while undermining capitalism’s success. While communist countries have done this suddenly and violently, today’s socialistic countries are merely doing it slowly and invisibly, as represented by their massive levels of debt, until the economic system collapses and there is rioting in the streets. Thus becomes the perfect occasion for the state to seize complete power.
The greatest mind trick the socialists played on the people is to lead them to conflate the rise of capitalism with that of colonialism, imperialism, and catastrophic war. Vladimir Lenin, in his thesis “Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism,” explicitly makes this charge. But colonialism and imperialism have been around since the history of man, and have been driven as much by religious fervor as by lust for filthy lucre. Not only the ancient empires of Akkadia, Persia, Babylon, Egypt, and the Seleucids confirm this claim, but also the spread of Islamic rule in the 7th century, as well as the ascendancy of the Ottoman Empire.
In the long view, we see that capitalism allowed the West to be successful; it led to improved birth and childhood survival rates, better cultivation of land and agricultural output per acre; greater technological improvements, in transportation, communication, and weaponry; and a much-improved standard of living for the majority of mankind who lived and labored under the system.
This is most likely the tacit reason for many people’s support of socialism; it is seen as a constraint on the inherently aggressive West, which supposedly exploits foreign peoples if only by trading with them and engaging in economic activities in their countries. Socialism is thought to be a way of making things “fair,” either by distributing wealth from the necessarily exploitative rich to the necessarily victimized poor, or by hamstringing strong and assertive nations like America with moral and cultural relativism. But the point is belied, liberals do not believe in the moral authority of the United States, they are not interested in success or “progress,” per se, except in their own equivocating terms, and they see America as the world’s central problem. Power disparity is a sign that America must have cheated, and if it wants to be fair, it has to be equal and join the club of the mediocre and failing others.
Socialism, as can be gleamed from even a cursory view of history, is a failure at any level. That is why socialists don’t generally ask people if they want to take part in yet another failed experiment; they attempt to seize the machinery of the state, and one way or another, create a community by force. It is an ideology of failure, as the Soviets and Maoists came to realize, and both Russia and China have introduced a modicum of reforms into their state-planned economies to foster an element of success, if just so the regimes can skim off some more of the supposed excess. Far from leading to equality between the people, socialism creates even more heightened disparities between the ruling class and the ruled. It is the use of coercion for elites to garner profits, rather than wages. Whether the perquisites come in the form of capital or luxury, the social hierarchy never disappears.
We should not be surprised, therefore, that after a hundred years of Fabian or incremental socialism, beginning with the institutionalization of the Federal Reserve and the Progressive Income Tax, that America is becoming more pyramidized. When the “creative destruction” of the market is not allowed to take place, undeserving firms are sheltered, assisted, or bailed out by the state. The human cost in this scheme is the sacrifice of the individual’s welfare for that of the state and its allies. Socialism does not prevent such sacrifice from taking place, it merely disarms the people in terms of weaponry and property, and gathers them into a herd for mass sacrifice.
Such analogies are not out of place, particularly given the stark anti-civilizational ideology of radical environmentalism. The central idea of this ideology is that man is no better than animals, and in fact, is quite inferior; while man has a moral compass, he chooses not to use it, and instead commits grave affronts to nature. Man should be called upon to sacrifice on nature’s behalf, and by virtue of simply living and breathing, should be considered a threat to the planet itself. At the very least, he should be asked to give up the accoutrements of industrial civilization, all the while allowing the science that makes technological progress possible to be debauched by the state’s big lies, which are funded to the order of hundreds of billion dollars.
The socialistic philosophy of radical environmentalism has hopefully been laid bare; if one refuses to take ideology seriously and instead conflates all warnings with hysteria, one should question if he would be right at home in a Soviet Russia, or a Cuba, or a North Korea before socialism was upon him, and the time for resistance had already passed. It is crucial for those with some instinct of self-preservation to see the essence of ideologies in their barest exposition, without sophistry or attenuation; and hopefully, socialism in all of its forms can be seen clearly for the menace that it is.
The Daily Kos has a simultaneously desperate and hilarious post comparing public (i.e. within-asylum) support for the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) “movement” versus the tea party.
For some reason, the left-wing rag can’t find more people around the water cooler who support the “astroturfed” tea party (helluva show last November boys!) than the completely authentic, genuine, non-contrived, un-orchestrated Occupy Wall Street movement comprised of actual Americans representing the 99% of lower class folks dining out on fine deli, staffed with high tech equipment, and in no way associated with fancy Canadian PR firms, communist legal bodies, Obama re-election arms like Moveon.org, or Soros-funded groups like the Tides Foundation or the Open Society Institute.
Too bad for them that Realityville has its own polling, and it shows that most people still identify with the tea party over the occupiers, despite the disinformation campaign pluming up a blue smokescreen over the very red gathering. Twenty-six percent are still undecided despite weeks of media pom-poming for the miscreants, a decided down-twinkles for the motley lot.
Which makes the occupiers exceptionally ironic characters is that they not only will support a president who threw trillions away on banks and corporations, but one who has just hired a big-time Wall Street lobbyist as a campaign advisor. We are the 99% who will vote for Obama anyway?
The unusually ratty window dressing for the Obama campaign’s re-election bid just doesn’t wash. When we look at President Obama’s “strongly approve” rating at Rasmussen, we find another all-time low of below 20%, and a gap with the strongly disapprove of -22%. It’s the same loony one-fifth column that would follow a Democrat into the sulfurous pit of hell if he promised a new entitlement program. You know, the Daily Kooks crowd.
Once again, I’ll make the point that we conservatives’ best asset is the left’s self-delusion. If the lefties actually believe that the tea party is astro-turfed and they want to exaggerate their own actual strength, by all means, let them. Next year’s elections will become that much more a demoralizing shock to them. The majority of Americans are not leftists. And thanks in part to the utterly corrupt and disastrous Obama regime, most Americans in the future won’t be.
As posted on Political Crush.
President Obama is doing an outstanding job fighting the war on terror, at least from the point of view of Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. While the Commander-in-Chief is busy whacking dictators and terrorist leaders like remote-controlled wack-a-mole, Islamosocialists are waiting in the wings to surge into the power vacuum. Such is the folly of Obama’s read on the Big Bang theory, which denudes the ‘liberal’ qualifier of democracy in his reckless drive to democratize the Middle East.
Such an amoral and rudderless foreign policy leads to anarchy and chaos, and a perfect opportunity for global redistributionist patrons to pick up a new clientele on the sandy outskirts of the civilized world.
When Barack Obama cheers Islamists being democratically elected in Tunisia, or Mubarak deposed in Egypt and the resulting rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, or the sick and savage execution and violation of Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi and the rebels’ declaration of an Islamist state, or his administration’s refusal to punish the democratically elected Hamas leadership of Syria we find ample grounds to question whether the president understands that democracy is but a means to an end, and can empower undesirable groups as well as desirable ones.
Democracy is not an ethos, it is a process. And while we Americans do value the democratic process in resolving our internal disputes and attempting to hold our elected leaders accountable, it can be a destabilizing force in countries whose people are not used to peacably resolving disputes. Until social trust is developed, democracy is a placeholder, and its imprimatur is likely to be abused by those who come to power in countries without a classically liberal heritage. Without shared morality and a common sense of identity among the populace, democracy can be a cynical excuse for a group to build its power base at the expense of other groups. Majority rule is not necessarily civil rule.
Thus what may have started out as an initiative by George W. Bush to build a bridge of democratic accountability across the Muslim crescent, hopefully coaxing local peoples to restrain rogue regimes that may be tempted to irrationally use nuclear weapons and other wmds, is turning into President Obama’s drive to bring social justice to a region by toppling dictators and executing meddlesome conservative Islamic terrorists.
In President Obama’s unwar on terror, the enemy of his enemy is his friend, and if verified reports that the Libyan rebels have al Qaeda ties surface, so be it. If the rebels are in common cause to remove impediments to the global redistributionist order, they should be used to remove culturally conservative and autarkik rulers. If Islamic revisionists motivated by social justice are to come to power, they should be tacitly supported. And if a stubborn autocrat like Mahmoud Ahmadenijad should prove reticent to throw in lot with the globalists, then he should be threatened, if not forcibly removed.
While America’s brave soldiers are holding down the fort in treacherous Afghanistan under hamstringing rules of engagement, and Obama has conveniently called for a removal of troops from Iraq by the end of the year, potentially allowing radical Islamic groups to enter the fray and capitalize on the U.S.’ removal of the Ba’athist strongman Sadaam Hussein, we should note that America is ceasing to fight the war on terror and has shifted its goals to a new objective: Democratization (sans the “Liberal” part). That this drive will will lead to the ascendancy of more ethically pliable ruling groups is not in doubt. Whether or not this will lead to less terrorism domestically and abroad very much is.
Judging by the track record of authoritarian Iran and its sponsorship of Hezbollah and that of democratically elected Hamas, democratization per se has very little to do with fighting the war on terror. If radical elements use democracy as a means to gain more power and then to terrorize their populations or those of foreign countries like Israel and the United States, then Obama’s presumed successes killing “bad guys” will soon become foreign policy disasters.
As posted on Political Crush.
Those who thought electing Barack Obama would usher in a new era of hope and change and a redirection from George Bush’s militarism and spending on overseas wars might want to look away. We wouldn’t want you to lose the pleasant illusion that the Nobel Peace Prize-winning warmonger in the White House celebrating the assassination of a foreign head of state he didn’t even kill is something other than what he claims.
Below is a graph of U.S. defense spending from 2000, the year that Bush “stole” his election, projected to the end of Obama’s term. Those on the left who are bad at math have pretty colors to illustrate that both the DOD Budget Increase and Overseas Contingency (Wars) segments have gotten fatter, meaning that we are spending more under Barack Obama, who had a Democrat-controlled House and filibuster-proof Senate for his first two years, than at any time under fellow “war criminal” George W. Bush.
For those numbers guys in the audience, below are National Defense Outlays since 1960, as grabbed from a U.S. Census Bureau report.
As one can see from the chart, National Defense Outlays in dollar figures and as a percentage of GDP have gone up under Obama. Unless right-wingers are conspiring with the OMB and the Census Bureau, Barack Obama owns these numbers.
So fine, we’re spending more money overseas. Perhaps President Obama is putting less troops in harm’s way? Wrong again. In 2010, President Obama sent and kept more American troops overseas than at any point under George W. Bush.
Another right-wing conspiracy? These numbers are from the Department of Defense, which is not likely to be influenced by “teabagger” money.
Maybe President Obama is spending more money on national defense, and is sending more of our troops overseas, but he has slashed Homeland Security funding? Not the case.
Even when one accounts for Department of Defense funding, President Obama’s administration is spending far and away what George W. Bush did in any year of his presidency.
The popular perception that George W. Bush was a warmonger, while Barack Obama is a peace-loving president who is simply trying to successfully end the wars he inherited from Bush, just doesn’t fly. President Obama is every bit the “warmonger” George W. Bush was, and then some.
Gallup’s Presidential Job Approval Rating for October 17, 2011 shows a familiar but unfavorable trend for President Obama. Though a drastic decline in approval ratings happens to most, if not all presidents, Obama dipping under the 40% approval threshold before his first term is up indicates that his re-election bid is entering danger territory.
In the WSJ archives, one finds the history of presidential job approval ratings going back to Harry S. Truman. Let us examine Obama’s present approval ratings versus past presidents in the third year of their first term.
Those presidents who have dipped under the 40% approval rating and have not jumped sharply up, do not recover. This includes Truman (whose approval ratings were high before his first election), Johnson, Ford, Nixon (before he resigned), and George H.W. Bush. Kennedy was assassinated before his second election, but enjoyed high approval ratings. Full two term presidents include Eisenhower, Reagan, and Clinton, who all had near 60% approval ratings before they were re-elected. Two termer George W. Bush was around 50%. Obama is not even close to that mark.
Americans have become so familiar with the left’s class warfare arguments that some have even started to believe them. But despite the wholehearted attempts by the radical contingency of the country to promote “class consciousness,” economic reality defies their narrative.
One of the most compelling cases that refutes the left’s hand-wringing argument that the haves are somehow suppressing the have-nots, comes from The Heritage Foundation. The study shows that the majority of citizens have a number of luxuries by world standards, from televisions to video game systems. A graphic from Heritage gives the breakdown of amenities for the overall average of all Americans:
As one can see, 98.7% have at least one television, 68% have a personal computer, and 31.3% have a video game system. Let us compare the averages for the supposed underclass below:
The numbers “plummet” to 97.7% owning televisions, 38.2% with personal computers, and 29.3% with video game systems. These are 2005 Department of Energy statistics, and one has to imagine that at least the numbers for personal computers have gone up by now, as prices for low-end models have gone down.
Bill Whittle of PJTV does an absolutely outstanding job breaking down the study even further, while examining how the left reflexively explains the numbers away:
The left will never be convinced that America is anything but a heartless, decadent, capitalist, imperialist country. These eye-opening statistics go far to refute the class war narrative that the rich get richer at the poor’s expense. Instead the rich get richer and the poor get richer, as Bill Whittle points out. That is why the left rarely talks about “standard of living,” because the country has many things in its favor on this measure.
But for “true believers,” no evidence is ever enough. If one is on the left, being down for the struggle is a matter of personal identity. One cannot believe his lying eyes when seeing such statistics, and if the data doesn’t fit the theory, the reaction is to scrap the data.
We are lucky to live in America, still, despite all the left is doing to make us like every other country, that is, poorer, more mediocre, and less free.
A USA Today/Gallup Poll shows that most Americans need more education about the radical left and its political tactics. A snippet of the poll is shown below:
As discussed earlier on this blog, the protests are being backed by the organized left, and in accordance with the New Left’s “Critical Theory,” they will remain necessarily vague in order to draw in various kinds of left-leaning individuals, including: anarchists, socialists, communists, liberals, progressives, self-styled independents, New Age hippies, zombie street performers, trust fund yippies, and others simply disenchanted by “the system.”
This amorphous mob of activists are incrementally radicalized further, through sleep deprivation, the shared experience of collective inconvenience, and group cohesion activities; manipulated, through such known leftist tactics as the Delphi technique, which forms an artificial consensus out of disparate elements (“up twinkles, down twinkles“); and then mobilized behind a radical set of demands that would achieve some specific goals in accordance with the organizers’ plans.
The goals may not be explicitly listed in the demands, but may instead be part of a meta-strategy: such as radicalizing local or national politics, mobilizing the political base, recruiting left-wing activists in the short-term and long-term, deflecting attention from undesirable public matters, redirecting focus or blame away from one target to another target, creating political confrontation that can lead to violent clashes, which can then be used to intimidate the opposition, provoke police brutality for public relations purposes, or in a more long-range scheme, foster state repression and the furtherance of the left-wing agenda by authoritarian means.
The left veils its goals by necessity, and when a leftist is called out, he invariably plays dumb. The leftist will misdirect, ridicule the messenger, engage in ad hominem attacks, or flat-out deny. If you find one who will engage and make arguments or counter-arguments in a rational and sane manner, you are dealing with the rare leftist of integrity, or not a leftist at all.
Imagine the chagrin of all those selfless and compassionate Occupy Wall Street activists, so trenchantly tweeting and blogging away their maudlin hopes for a more hopeful world of sharing and caring, waking up in their soaked sleeping bags without their $500 Ipad or $5500 Mac top.
“Dude, where’s my I-phone?”
As an irony of fate would have it, the strident opponents of a world of private property and the rule of law have been put in the ultimate quandary: Do they file a police complaint to get their stolen gear back, or do they let the poor indigenous homeless persons keep their high-dollar stuff?
Wealth redistribution in practice, or electronic bling? Decisions, decisions.
Trusting one’s fellow man (or woman) until proven wrong is one thing, but being so disposed to believe that all people are as altruistic and unselfish as oneself is the root of many disastrous problems. It explains why the young turks trust politicians to have citizens’ best interests at heart when they call for increasing control over the economy and more wealth redistribution.
It’s not about compassion, it’s about power. And it’s also self-destructive for the country. [Continued at Political Crush]
A new poll shows big trouble for Democrats who are banking on radical sleight-of-hand to misdirect popular anger away from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue onto Wall Street in the upcoming elections. By a comfortable majority of 56% to 33%, more Americans see Washington as the root of all economic evil and not capitalism itself (as perversely defined as it is, nowadays).
This proves a powerful lesson to conservatives not to let media hocus-pocus and a parade of left-wing freaks take our eyes off the prize. We don’t need to go running into the arms of the most “electable candidate,” like the used car salesman Mitt Romney, just because we don’t want Obama to get re-elected. The majority are on the conservative side of things, as usual. Let’s get a common sense conservative out there, like Herman Cain, and the tea party will likely carry him to victory. The sizable enthusiasm gap bears this theory out.
As the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy says, “Don’t Panic.” And especially regarding the non-showering Occupy Wall Street protesters getting caught in the rain, “Carry a towel.”
[Continued at Political Crush]
Occupy Oakland protesters powerfully demonstrate how socialists are preying on the weak-minded protesters and propagating a fallacious class warfare narrative. If capitalism was being enforced, then corporations and banks would not have been bailed out or given stimulus slush funds, mostly by the anti-capitalist, union-backed Democrat Party, headed by their corporate backed president Barack Obama.
And sure, this isn’t socialism.
Ayn Rand was more than a giant of philosophy, she was also a pre-eminent expert on radical movements. As such, her description and explanation of the leftist Berkeley student rebellion presages the Occupy Wall Street protests now flaring up around the country. In an essay called “The Cashing-In: The Student Rebellion,” which has been reprinted in a phenomenal collection of essays entitled The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, she perfectly captures the essence of today’s radical protests through their foreshadowing in the turbulent 1960s.
Like those who participated in the Berkeley student rebellion of 1964, also known as the Free Speech Movement (FSM), today’s college-educated Occupy Wall Street activists are more aptly described as nihilists and anarchists than Marxist ideologues. They are socialists in a sense, but they are ‘beyond ideology.’ Ayn Rand described the rebels of her era as “Castroites,” and pointed out that they are more driven by existentialist angst than by ideological fanaticism.
This certainly holds true for the majority participating in the current demonstrations. The numerous contradictions in the Occupy protesters’ thinking, such as simultaneously supporting anarchy and government-administered welfare programs, expressing anti-corporate messages on their Iphones and laptops, speaking “truth to power” by voting for statist Democrats, claiming “we are the 99%” – thus publicly disenfranchising those not in the top 1% of income earners who disagree with their message, and hurling epithets at Wall Street, the backer of their beloved candidate Barack Obama, who in turn shoveled trillions in stolen cash into the bankers’ stashes, all shows the mind-muddled mess the political elites are molding into an irrational, angry, and potentially violent street mob.
Rand’s essays are essential reading for those attempting to interpret the flurry of modern events and make sense of them. Her visionary warning to Americans rings as true today as it did in her time.
From Ayn Rand’s The Return of the Primitive [Since you will not find the text online, I transcribed these words from an audio recording. This constitutes fair use of the material, as it is being utilized for educational, non-profit purposes. However, there may be a slight deviation in syntax, punctuation, and composition from the original printing. For the most accurate rendering, I encourage the reader to purchase the work, or the audiobook.]:
“The [Berkeley] student rebellion is an eloquent demonstration of the fact when men abandon reason, they open the door to physical force as the only alternative and the inevitable consequence. The rebellion is also one of the clearest refutations of the argument of those intellectuals who claimed that skepticism and chronic doubt would lead to social harmony.
‘When men reduce their virtues to the approximate, then evil acquires the force of an absolute. When loyalty to an unyielding purpose is dropped by the virtuous, it is picked up by scoundrels. And you get the indecent spectacle of a cringing, bargaining, traitorous good, and a self-righteously uncompromising evil.’ [Atlas Shrugged]
Who stands to profit by that rebellion? The answer lies in the nature and goals of its leadership. If the rank and file of the college rebels are victims, at least in part, this cannot be said of their leaders.
Who are their leaders? Any and all of the statist-collectivist groups that hover like vultures over the remnants of capitalism, hoping to pounce on the carcass and to accelerate the end whenever possible.
Their minimal goal is just to make trouble, to undercut, to confuse, to demoralize, to destroy. Their ultimate goal is to take over.
To such leadership, the college rebels are merely cannon fodder. Intended to stick their headless necks out, to fight on campuses, to go to jail, to lose their careers, and their future, and eventually, if the leadership succeeds, to fight in the streets, and lose their non-absolute lives, paving the way for the absolute dictatorship of whoever is the bloodiest among the thugs scrambling for power. Young fools who refuse to look beyond the immediate now have no way of knowing whose long-range goals they are serving.
The communists are involved, among others. But like the others, they are merely the manipulators, not the cause of the student rebellion. This is an example of the fact that whenever they win, they win by default. Like germs feeding on the sores of a disintegrating body, they did not create the conditions that are destroying American universities; they did not create the hordes of embittered aimless neurotic teenagers; but they do know how to attack, through the sores, which their opponents insist on evading.
They are professional ideologists, and it is not difficult for them to move into an intellectual vacuum and hang the cringing advocates of anti-ideology by their own contradictions. For its motley leftist leadership, the student rebellion is a trial balloon, a kind of cultural temperature-taking, it is a test of how much they can get away with, and what sort of opposition they will encounter. For the rest of us it is a miniature preview, in the microcosm of the academic world, of what is to happen to the country at large if the present cultural trend remains unchallenged.
The country at large is a mirror of its universities. The practical result of modern philosophy is today’s mixed economy, with its moral nihilism, its range of the moment pragmatism, its anti-ideological ideology, and its truly shameful recourse to the notion of government by consensus. Rule by pressure groups is merely the prelude, the social conditioning for mob rule. Once a country has accepted the obliteration of moral principles, of individual rights, of objectivity, of justice, of reason, and has submitted to the rule of legalized brute force, the elimination of the concept legalized does not take long to follow. Who is to resist it? And in the name of what?
When numbers are substituted for morality, and no individual can claim a right, but any gang can assert any desire whatever, when compromise is the only policy expected of those in power, and the preservation of the moment’s stability of peace at any price is their only goal, the winner necessarily is whoever presents the most unjust and irrational demands. The system serves as an open invitation to do so; if there were no communists or other thugs in the world, such a system would create them.”
During his first presidential campaign, Barack Obama was buoyed by a wave of energy and enthusiasm as idealistic youth responded to his vague “hope and change” message. The refreshing and vibrant candidate promised to “fundamentally transform” America from the perceived warmongering and corporate greed era of the Bush administration to a new age of fairness, equality, and democracy.
But President Obama’s administration has been a tumultuous and dispiriting one for many Americans, including young and college aged people, who are currently suffering unemployment levels upward of 18%.
Disappointment and disillusion among the country’s youth are leading some into a kind of general mental and occupational fugue state, which can then be politically harnessed and directed towards adversaries or simply used to misdirect anger away from those who would otherwise bear the brunt of popular dissatisfaction.
Such a project is encapsulated well by the Marxian rubric of “Critical Theory,” which channels mental energy into critiques of capitalism, rather than either open praise or critiques of socialism as applied in practice.
In addition to being an ideological program, Critical Theory is a strategy of organizing political opposition to capitalism, and entails the aggregation of various victim groups, who are continuously agitated by the left, both institutionally (college faculty departments, e.g.) and structural-legally (separate civil rights legislation rather than universal individual rights for all American citizens, e.g.), and through media message-framing and coordination.
At the very core of a socialist resistance movement are dedicated theoreticians and boots-on-the-ground practitioners. These may be college professors, non-profit organization heads, union and labor leaders, and freelance social activists and community organizers. These constitute the gel of the movement that holds it all together.
Component groups, not necessarily explicit in socialist orientation, come in various forms: racial agitators, feminists, environmentalists, consumer advocacy groups, animal rights…the permutations are nearly endless. These activist groups are usually disconnected from the hardcore explicit socialists, Democratic Socialists of America, CPUSA (note its front page advocacy of the Democrat-squelched American Jobs Act), and various other communist front groups. (Note that Obama was a member of the radical New Party.)
But these detached grievance groups all share the common thread of being opposed to “the system,” a vague entity that encapsulates everything one can possibly be frustrated about in life: supposed environmental degradation, homosexual discrimination, lack of well-paying jobs, or free healthcare, free education, free…you name it.
The strategy has been to maintain a loose coalition of these grievance groups, not apparently united by anything but vague dissatisfaction with the United States. This disperses the threat perception of the American public to these groups. It also allows the left to maintain “plausible deniability,” or in other words, to play dumb. If all these groups were overtly communist, the normal, sane population would get tipped off and would mobilize in opposition.
But actually these groups are carefully managed not to engage in criticism of one another. They are all tacitly united by Marxism to the extent that capitalism is equated with racism, paternalist hierarchy, homosexual bigotry, and so forth. There is also an assumed agreement among groups not to engage in serious criticism of one another: feminists and homosexual groups do not critique Islamist front groups like CAIR, racial agitators do not criticize homosexuals, etc., etc.
Meanwhile, various “sleepers” around the nation are dispersed, waiting to be activated. These are the self-professed communists and anti-capitalists, and some may even have ties to foreign intelligence agencies, like the CPUSA had with the KGB. When these sleepers are activated, they mobilize these victim groups so as to make it appear like a “spontaneous” uprising. Therefore, in the initial stages, the message is very vague. Only later is the message crafted by the leadership, who co-opt the movement, speak for its members, and put forth increasingly socialist or communistic demands.
When the OccupyWallStreet crowd are interviewed, they express anger at Wall Street and big corporations. Some don’t even know why they are there. They don’t acknowledge Obama’s connections with Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms, that the president walloped John McCain in corporate donations, that the president rewarded firms for their mismanagement of funds, due in the main to government pressure to partake in risky loans and perverse incentives like the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac insurance of mortgage backed securities (See these articles from Mises Institute foreshadowing the mortgage market meltdown, here and here).
But the activists aren’t focused on the president, they are focused on “Wall Street,” a proxy for capitalism in general. And that is why Obama, the corporate donors’ dream president, “understands their frustration.”
In addition, the left creates the economic or materialist preconditions for such widespread economic discontent through waste and corruption, massive overextension of welfare (See Francis Fox-Piven’s endorsement of OWS), and capital destruction through overheating the monetary printing presses (so to speak). It should be pointed out that the centralization of banking and credit is a plank straight out of The Communist Manifesto. It doesn’t really matter if there is a secret cabal that is intentionally bringing about a communist revolution, the important thing to note is that The Federal Reserve is playing right into the radicals’ playbook by wrecking the value of our currency, leading to drastically rising inflation. This puts extreme pressure on households, effectively squeezing the middle class into the lower class.
Critical Theory is similar, but not equivalent to, Cultural Marxism, which is another important part of leftist theory. The control and degradation of the culture and concomitant destruction of the capitalist economic base is the overarching strategy to bring about transformational change of the country. Thus we can expect the media to sympathize with these groups and parrot the party line that they are spontaneous grassroots organizations, even as OccupyWallStreet has connections with George Soros, Ford Foundation, Tides Foundation, National Lawyers Guild, Moveon. org, SEIU, and dozens of other radical groups.
The Occupy movement may be a way for the president to mobilize the left-wing base while he maintains some political distance. But we should be wary of what Van Jones referred to as an “Oktober Offensive,” recreating a variation of the Bolshevik putsch in Russia that occurred nearly a century ago. But this one would have been planned well in advance of next year’s critical juncture.
Hopefully, this article is a rubric for the attentive reader to interpret the current and upcoming activism on the left. We must all be prepared to witness increasingly socialist and crypto-communist (such as “free” everything), and believe our lying eyes when we do.
The leftists will play stupid, like they always do. It is crucial that we do not join them.
As posted on Political Crush.
Who knew the Hopenchangenfuhrer would follow up the “Hitleresque” Bush regime with extra-juridical assassinations, drone bombings galore, and even more undeclared war? The recent high-level decision to terminate a problematic American without trial ends any and all debate that the new boss is any different than the old boss, at least when it comes to foreign policy.
The interminable wailing and gnashing of teeth over such Bush-era policies as extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo Bay detention, waterboarding, and overly aggressive romps like Abu Ghraib have been thrown by the wayside to accommodate a fundamentally transformational president with unimpeachably radical credentials.
But it is getting more than a little glaring that all the fervor for “anti-war” demonstrations characterizing the leftwing agit-prop machine under the former president has now fizzled down to such a murmuring grumble it makes one wonder if all the previous hub-bub amounted to no more than anti-Republican demonstrations. If so, this lay bears the absolutely cynical, vicious, and remorseless nature of the organized left for all to see. So much for marking out the moral high ground. [Continued on Political Crush]