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All Politics is Resentment Subsidies Have Consequences

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If Conservatives Occupied Wall Street

by Christopher Chantrill
October 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm


JUST ABOUT everyone right of center has been sniggering at the rather sorry products of our education system currently “occupying” Wall Street. It confirms why Nancy Pelosi could be so confident that the Tea Party was “astroturf.” Everything that comes out on the left is astroturf, so Pelosi naturally assumed that the right was just the same.

But let us take these young skulls full of mush seriously. Let us not merely sneer, as Jonah Goldberg did, about folks that want the “government to work on the same non-hierarchical, consensus-based, extremely deliberative form of direct democracy that they're using down in Liberty Plaza.” Or at Ezra Klein's report that “Decisions are made by the NYC General Assembly, which Nathan Schneider describes as 'a horizontal, autonomous, leaderless, modified-consensus-based system with roots in anarchist thought.'”

Lefties since time immemorial have longed for liberation and equality through this vision of a world without hierarchy. Today's generation has watched lefty documentaries like The Corporation for inspiration. That's why one of their demands isEnd Corporate Personhood.It's a major theme of The Corporation.

It's the way that corporations got the courts to define them as “persons” back in the 19th century, by piggy-backing on the Fourtheenth Amendment, that offends the left. Why, if corporations are persons, you only have to look at the way they behave, using DSM-IV manual of mental disorders, to realize they are nothing but psychopaths! Then the documentarists go on a 2 hour 25 minute itemization of all the “harm” that corporations inflict on us, from sweatshops to toxins and pretending they are “just folks.” Lefties Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and Naomi Klein are on hand with sound bites to help things along. The message is clear: corporations are to blame for all the bad things in the world.

It was back in the 1940s that thinking Marxists realized that our problem wasn't just corporations. Refugee German Jews Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno looked at fascism and World War II and realized that it was the entire scientific, Enlightenment project of “instrumental reason” that was to blame. Corporations, science, bureaucratic government: all were rational projects trying to use reason to dominate the world. Thus “Enlightenment behaves toward things as a dictator toward men.”

Given this rage for domination, it's not surprising that moral movements arose to control it. Marxists and liberals wanted to control the evils of capitalism, classical liberals and libertarians wanted to control the evils of government, and environmentalists wanted to mitigate the problem that “what men want to learn from nature is how to dominate it and other men.”

The problem with each of these moral movements is that the only way they know how to combat their one particular evil is by domination. Liberals want to dominate corporations. Environmentalists want to dominate by government regulation. Everyone wants to dominate government. In other words, they all want to be dictators.

Enter the modern conservative. Edmund Burke railed against the dominator of India, Warren Hastings. And he reckoned that the French Revolution, with its economists, sophists, and calculators, would end up at the gallows.

That was then. This is now. Now we have Michael Novak and his Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. As I interpret his manifesto, he calls for a Greater Separation of Powers between the economic sector, the political sector, and the moral-cultural sector. He calls not just for separation of church and state but for separation of economy and state. By separating these powers he hopes to reduce their powers of domination.

Let's combine Novak with Horkheimer and Adorno. Their problem with mankind's modern “instrumental reason” is that it has conjured up enormous powers that have let loose a tide of domination. How do you prevent a power from defeating you? You prevent it from reaching strategic concentration. The modern powers of instrumental reason need to be limited, whether they are corporate, governmental, or religious. And no fair government and business ganging up in crony capitalism, or politics and religion merging into totalitarian communism or fascism.

Maybe the young skulls full of mush should study up some conservatism, for it is modern conservatism that wants a thriving civil society of mediating structures to restrain the megastructures of business and government. It's a pity their professors never told them about any of that.

Here's an idea. The cool kids could go across the street and learn a thing or two from the uncool Tea Party folks. The Tea Party knows that you can't solve the Wall Street problem until you curb the debt and the spending problem.

But the cool kids could never do that. After all, their professors told them that the Tea Party is racist.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, 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

Class War

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”


Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity

Conservatism's Holy Grail

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


“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh

Democratic Capitalism

I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all. In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

presented by Christopher Chantrill

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