|Liberals and "Austerity"||Andy Stern: Authoritarian|
by Christopher Chantrill
December 26, 2011 at 11:56 pm
MARX FAMOUSLY wrote that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. He was pointing up the difference between Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of France and scourge of Europe, defeated at the battle of Waterloo, and his less impressive nephew, Louis Napoleon, also emperor, defeated at the battle of Sedan in 1870.
Heres the full quote from The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon:
Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.
With the appearance of the Occupy movement I think we can improve on that. How about this:
Marx remarks somewhere that history repeats itself: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. He forgot to add: the third time as reality show.
We can see the truth of Marxs dictum, as amended, in the rise of the Occupy movement. In the tragic 1840s generation of Marx, we can say that they certainly had read their Hegel. In the farcical 1960s generation of Bill Ayers, at least they had read their Marcuse. But what can we say of the Occupy generation of the 2010s? That they have read their Naomi Klein?
Let us reset the clock to the 1840s when Marx and Engels were young revolutionaries. There was turmoil in Germany, as people were starting the trek from farm to the factory. There was starvation in Ireland from the Potato Famine. There was general economic depression. Even so, Marx and Engels admitted that capitalism was amazing, conjuring up wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts and so forth. The only trouble was that the bourgeoisie would put everyone out of work with its efficiency. So capitalism had to be strangled in its cradle.
In the 1960s Marcuses readers sneered at the workers that saw their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split-level home, kitchen equipment. He gave the sons and daughters of post-war liberals just the snobbish ideas they were looking for.
But now the left has produced the Occupy movement, a bonfire of the dysfunctions in which reality shows specialize. After all, these folks arent rebels, reading transgressive ideas in defiance of their teachers. They are mind-numbed robots vomiting undigested the ideas retailed by their tenured, sinecured government teachers.
And the ideas behind the movement have spiraled into reality-show dysfunction too. In the lefty Empire-Multitude-Commonwealth trilogy Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri realize that the old idea of the mass-producing masses is a bit old hat. So they have renamed the masses as multitude. They ache after a life in common in a multitude that creates a social product in creative performance rather than mechanical mass production. But they do not want to see that their dream is already realized in democratic capitalism, the bourgeoisie dignified and free, as Deirdre McCloskey writes, inspired to creativity and service, working within a framework that transcends political power, identity, fear, and force. Thats because, like Marx and Marcuse, their world-view reduces to a lust for the moment of Kairos, the moment when a decision of action is made... a radical insurrectionary demand in the streets.
They dont want capitalism to work, because if it did, it would rob them of exciting teenage street action.
Thus we can say that Marxs misreading of capitalism was a tragedy, Marcuses blind faith in the left was a farce, but that the Hardt and Negri multitude forgot the porta-potties.
By the way, what do you call a system that has raised mankind from $3 per day to $100 per day prosperity in a mere two centuries, and been hounded and sneered at for its pains all the way? Corporate greed? OK, whos the greedy one? Occupied Macys, with a 2011 operating margin of 7.58%? Wal-Mart, with a 2011 operating margin of 6.05%? Or Apple, with a 2011 operating margin of 31.22%?
Arthur Brooks generously calls for dialog with the Occupiers. Occupiers are dead wrong on inequality, he writes, for inequality is not much different from 20, 40, 60, or 80 years ago. And if we are going after Wall Street and crony capitalism, lets not forget that crony capitalism is statisms co-dependent wife, cuddling up to Big Daddy government for the free lunch. People that dont like bailing out Wall Street need to abate the hurricane of government debt that waterlogged the economy.
But I think that conservatives would waste their time talking to Occupiers; we should be reaching out instead to moderate women. We should ask them what they think about a political movement that doesnt keep its members safe, that doesnt clean up after itself, and that seems to marginalize women.
Women understand that, while its fun to chat about reality-show shenanigans with your best friend, you wouldnt want such dysfunction in your own family. And that goes for tragedy and farce, as well.
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