|Budget Fun with Fannie and Freddie||Liberals Say US Is Ungovernable. Again|
by Christopher Chantrill
February 11, 2010 at 11:43 am
WE ALL KNOW liberal condescension. Why are Americans so anti-intellectual? your liberal friend might ask. But Gerard Alexander has written about itin the Washington Post. Why are liberals so condescending? he asks. Why indeed?
Your average liberal exhibits four kinds of condescension, according to Alexander. Theres the notion that conservatives win elections and policy debates not because of the power of ideas but because they deploy brilliant and sinister campaign tactics. Obviously this leads into the second notion that if conservative leaders are crass manipulators, then the rank-and-file Americans who support them must be manipulated at best, or stupid at worst. This idea has won Thomas Frank, author of Whats the Matter with Kansas?, a weekly column at The Wall Street Journal.
Then theres the conservatives-are-racists meme. It is now an article of faith among many liberals that Republicans win elections because they tap into white prejudice against blacks and immigrants. This one started with Richard Nixons Southern strategy to win votes in the Old South.
Finally, liberals believe that conservatives are driven purely by emotion and anxiety including fear of change whereas liberals have the harder task of appealing to evidence and logic.
You know what this is? It is Scion City. It is the whine of the fortunate son who cannot understand why he is running the family firm into the ground. The competition is cheating! The customers are stupid! It is the bleat of a political movement grown accustomed to its ascendancy, blind to its corruption, and softened by its comfortable sinecures.
This liberal snobbery also serves another purpose. It helps liberals hide from their shame. If liberals are so devoted to evidence and logic how come Social Security and Medicare sport unfunded liabilities two or three times GDP? If liberals are so shocked by racism, how come they condone the antics of the Justice Brothers, Reverends Jackson and Sharpton? If liberals are so appalled by sinister campaign tactics, then how come they spent 2009, the year the locusts ate, writing 2,000-page bills in secret after concluding corrupt bargains with special interest lobbies?
Shall I tell you what your real problem is, liberals? It is your unjust and oppressive administrative state. The French and the German absolute monarchs invented the administrative state back in th 1700s. They needed to smash the civil society of guilds and local lords that so they could increase taxes to fund their armies and build their palaces. Today liberals use the administrative state to smash families and civil society to buy votes and fund public sector pensions. Then and now, the administrative state has one overriding purpose: to increase the power of the center and force people to look to the state for all their needs.
The real problem for liberals when it comes to conservatism is ignorance. An alert reader recently emailed me about an interview on C-SPAN. Brian Lamb asked a famous liberal professor for his thoughts on Hayeks The Road to Serfdom. The response was Im sorry I havent read that. I dont know that author.
How anti-intellectual can you get? F.A. Hayek is the standout intellectual critic of the administrative state. Leaving aside his critique of the personal failings of liberals in The Fatal Conceit, he made the unanswerable charge that the administrative state is bound to fail in delivering prosperity because it doesnt have the bandwidth to run everything, for
decentralized control over resources, control through several property [i.e. capitalism], leads to the generation and use of more information than is possible under central direction.
The science is settled on that, even if liberals dont know that author.
The man in Washington, or the czar in the White House, cannot begin to know what a million consumers and producers know out in the real world. In fact, he does not want to. He does not want to know what a million consumers or ten thousand producers know; he merely wishes to control them.
We can elevate this concept into a universal principle. Anyone setting up an administrative structure, especially in government, is trying to oppress and control people. Condescending? He ought to be ashamed.
Honesty must admit that liberal condescension has a reflection in conservatism. If liberals worry about sinister campaign tactics, conservatives worry about ACORN. If liberals wonder whats the matter with Kansas, conservatives agonize about the problem with Berkeley and Cambridge. If liberals think conservatives are racists, conservatives accuse liberals of playing the race card.
And just like liberals, conservatives are convinced that the other guys are driven by emotion whereas we are swayed only by logic and reason.
The difference is that conservatives dont condescend towards liberals. But give us half a century of political and cultural power and we could learn.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[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.
[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
Civil Societya complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churchesbuilds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust
[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
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
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
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
As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable...
[1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006
No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, Letter to Lord Lytton
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, The Scientist as Rebel