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by Christopher Chantrill
June 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm
MANY PEOPLE are looking for the reason to explain the Greek/Euro mess. Edmund Conway in the London Daily Telegraph has as good a reason as any. The current crisis, he writes, puts politicians face to face with the Rodrik Trilemma, conceived by Dani Rodrik of Harvard. Heres the concept as Rodrik describes it in his blog:
I have an "impossibility theorem" for the global economy... It says that democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible: we can combine any two of the three, but never have all three simultaneously and in full.
Lets just say that if you combine all three ingredients you get Greece.
But the trilemma problem is not a universal problem. It is only a liberal problem. Thats because in the United States, at least, only liberals want to maximize the power of the state. In liberal speak democracy and national sovereignty are codes words for the slogan All Power to the Liberals.
Liberals acquire and maintain political power by distributing privileges and bounties to their supporters. When you decide to do that, you inevitably press the pedal to the metal on democracy and national sovereignty. And that means that you are bound to sacrifice individual and national prosperity (global economic integration) on the altar of politics. Sooner or later, you hit the wall. Just like Greece.
In other words, under liberals, democracy means the out-and-out conversion of the limited constitutional state into a patronage state.
When you get a single political party wedded to the patronage concept, you get the United States. When both political parties are patronage parties, then you get Thailand and riots in the streets. Here is a telling report from Bangkok.
The central problem is that Thailand is torn between two rival camps, each led and directed by rich and powerful factions. Though ostensibly divided by ideological differences, in reality the anti-government Redshirts and the pro-government Yellowshirts are best characterised as competing patronage networks, bound together primarily by personal loyalties and emotional attachments.
Nominally, liberals are not too keen on national sovereignty, if it means cold wars on Communism or global wars on terrorism. But the opportunity to acquire political power is too tempting to ignore. So they have replaced real wars with the moral equivalent of war, making every issue into a domestic political war. They are keen on spending trillions of dollars to win gussied up national wars on poverty and wars on hate. In the 1970s we had an energy crisis that required a national project to convert to syn-fuels. Now they have invented a global warming crisis that requires a national project to convert to green energy. What does that mean? It means government spending on subsidies and privileges to reward favored elite constituencies and crony capitalists in the energy sector.
When it comes to global economic integration liberals are all in favor as long as it puts global commerce under control of a global political elite. Otherwise whats the point?
Rodrik Trilemma? If you ask me its a simple dilemma. You want political power? I guess you dont like global economic growth. You like a free economy? Then youll insist on limited government. What is so hard about that?
For conservatives, the Rodrik Trilemma is meaningless. Conservatives dont want to plunder the state to service special interests. Democracy for conservatives is merely the election of practical men and women to write practical laws to secure the blessings of liberty. Conservatives dont want to deploy national resources into moral equivalents of war that divide the nation. They just want to use national power to apply occasional sharp blows to the heads of thug dictators and militant anti-Western terrorist networks. All of this can be done with limited government and a national sovereignty powered by a defense budget of about 5 percent of GDP.
I listened over the weekend to President Peyton R. Helm of Muhlenberg College tell his graduating class not to retreat into a subculture like Fox News or MSNBC where everyone agrees with them. Then he told them a parable about wonderful government programs and antisocial reluctance to pay taxes. Hey Mr. President down there in that liberal echo chamber. What do you think of British Prime Minister Camerons simple concept: There is such a thing as Society. Its just not the same thing as the State.
I used to think that once conservatives had shown liberals what limited government could do that everyone would go home and live happily ever after. But after the experience of the Bush years and the young Obama administration I have become sadder and wiser. Liberals wont ever stop preferring power over prosperity. Not until the American people present them with a Tea Party Dilemma: Get back to limited government or we revoke your hall passes.
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