|Obama and the Upchuck Factor||The Kennedy Test|
by Christopher Chantrill
August 27, 2009 at 10:28 pm
IT MUST have all looked so appealing back in the winter. Why not publish The Death of Conservatism by New York Times Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus on September 1? The book is, the Economist reviewer says, an appeal for unilateral disarmament by the right. It would appear just in time to celebrate the passage of health care reform, cap and trade, a robustly stimulated economy and the utter rout of the evil Republicans.
It all began when Tanenhaus published Conservatism is Dead in The New Republic in mid February. He wrote that President Bushs presidency had failed because it was carrying on a useless culture war against the mainstream consensus.
[Bushs presidency] failed, in large part, because of its fervent commitment to movement ideology: the aggressively unilateralist foreign policy; the blind faith in a deregulated, Wall Street-centric market; the harshly punitive "culture war" waged against liberal "elites."
Conservatives are still trying to reverse the tide of the New Deal, writes Tanenhaus. They could learn from conservative Whittaker Chambers, who observed 50 years ago how enthusiastically his conservative farmer neighbors cashed their price-support checks. And really, how far can you get railing against the new class of
scientists, teachers and educational administrators, journalists and others in the communication industries, psychologists, social workers, those lawyers and doctors who make their careers in the expanding public sector, city planners, the staffs of the larger foundations, the upper levels of the government bureaucracy[?]
Back in the winter liberals owed themselves a modest triumph and a taunt or two at the defeated Republicans. So it made sense for The New Republic to run Tanenhauss article to tell conservatives that they were so over. Conservative commenters were reduced to insisting hat the conservative parrot was not dead but just resting.
But now, just as the book comes out, nobody is talking about dead parrots any more.
Now the liberal new class looks like a great big juicy target, as the author of a stimulus that doesnt stimulate, a cap-and-tax bill thats a special interest feeding trough, and a health reform bill that nobody has read. The conservative movement is looking very much alive, what with Tea Parties and Town Halls and Recess-rallies and activists busy organizing and demonstrating.
Id never understood this business of political meetings and organizing. Whenever Im in a meeting I get irritated listening to other people and start to think about ways in which their opinions are wrong. I guess Im just a loner. Then I read an excerpt of Cass Sunsteins new book Going to Extremes in the London Spectator.
When people are isolated, he writes, and feel they have limited information, they tend to be cautious in their actions. But when they belong to a network of like-minded people their opinions get confirmed and the group as a whole becomes more confident and more inclined towards action.
In short, as the title has it: To become an extremist, hang around with people you agree with.
You mean, like the lefty netroots?
Harvard Professor Sunstein illustrates his group polarization theory with references to fascists and Islamic terrorists.
But heres a nickel to say that within a couple of months most liberals will be talking about the real danger of extremism in the Tea Party/Town Hall movement. They will get it from NPR and The New York Times, and NPR and the Times will get it from Sunstein.
And there is a danger. The danger is that ordinary Americans will get together and find that there are lots of other people out there that think the way they do. The danger is that they wont listen to President Obama and the state-run media telling them to get with the program. Theyll ratchet up their movement another notch and start inquiring into the voting record of their local Democratic congressman.
Theres no doubt that many elite liberals are shocked and offended by the rotten tomatoes conservatives keep throwing at them. How dare the unwashed blame scientists, teachers... journalists... foundations... government bureaucracy for all their troubles when liberals have done so much for them!
No doubt every governing class has felt this way as the peasants marched up the royal driveway brandishing their pitchforks.
But really, how deluded can you get? The new class liberal elite is a power elite and it uses its power to build vast administrative structures through which it fashions and doles out pensions, education, health care, and welfare. The average American finds himself bumping up against that power all the time.
The average American isnt stupid. When the government spends one third of the Gross Domestic Product and dominates far more through its detailed economic and social regulation, it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out whos to blame when things go wrong.
And suppose the conservative movement should die, just as Sam Tanenhaus and his pals at The New York Times so dearly hope. The next day another loyal opposition would appear to challenge the power of the liberals.
And chances are that the liberals of that era, flinching from the brickbats of a vigorous insurgency, would long for the kindly Republicans of the Bush-Gingrich-DeLay era, just as today they long for the nice tractable Eisenhower Republicans of the 1950s.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
Imagining that all order is the result of design, socialists
conclude that order must be improvable by better design of some superior mind.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family.
Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is merely relative, is asking you not to believe him. So dont.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy
Paul Dirac: When I was talking with Lemaître about [the expanding universe] and feeling stimulated
by the grandeur of the picture that he has given us, I told him that
I thought cosmology was the branch of science that lies closest to religion.
However [Georges] Lemaître [Catholic priest, physicist, and
inventor of the Big Bang Theory] did not agree with me. After thinking it over he
suggested psychology as lying closest to religion.
John Farrell, The Creation Myth
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization