|The Enemy is Us||Ruling Classes Without a Clue|
by Christopher Chantrill
June 18, 2013 at 12:00 am
HERE WE ARE at the mid-point of the Obama years, assailed on every side by looming consequences of liberal hubris and liberal corruption. But the Obama Scandals don’t get me all riled up with partisan outrage. What’s the surprise? If liberals in the media, in the academy, and in politics stigmatize conservatives as monsters, racists, sexists, homophobes, why be surprised that little Lois Lerner wants to please her teacher?
Why wouldn’t the Democrats want to do immigration reform and never mind the consequences to low-paid Americans? It’s heads I win if it passes and Democrats get another 10 million votes or tails you lose if it fails and everyone from President Obama to Chris Matthews gets to blame the anti-Hispanic Republicans for the disaster.
It’s misleading to say that the social consequences of the welfare state are “unintended.” We know what the liberal welfare state does to people.
I occasionally rile up my liberal friends by noting that a century ago the rich were fat and the poor were thin, but today the rich are thin and the poor are fat. Same with work. Back then the poor worked all the time; today the rich work all the time. Liberals don’t like to hear stuff like that.
But look at the Current Population Survey. HINC-05(xls) shows that, of the 29.5 million households in the US with no earners, fully 15 million are in the lowest income quintile. But there are 46 million US households with two earners or more. One million are in the lowest income quintile and 18 million are in the highest income quintile. Imagine that: If you have two or more earners in the family there’s a 40 percent chance it will put you into the top 20%.
Let’s say it again. In a household where nobody works you have a 50 percent chance of being in the bottom 20%. In a household where two or more people work you have a 40 percent chance of being in the top 20%.
Things are pretty frustrating for conservatives right now. You could get really discouraged. But when the clouds are threatening and the world is dark it is well to remember how battles are won. They are won by the side that gives up last.
That’s why Jonah Goldberg’s recent column “Freedom: The Unfolding Revolution” is such a ray of sunshine. Liberals think that their government programs are the “wave of the future,” writes Jonah, but they are dead wrong. Their politics, whether class politics for the working class or today’s identity politics of race and gender, is nothing more than “gussied-up tribalisms, anachronisms made gaudy with the trappings of modernity, like a gibbon in a spacesuit.” Adds Jonah:
The only truly new political idea in the last couple thousand years is this libertarian idea, broadly understood. The revolution wrought by John Locke, Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, and the Founding Fathers is the only real revolution going. And itís still unfolding.
How did this libertarian idea get started, two thousand years ago in the Axial Age? It was based on the notion of individualism, the responsible self, people thinking and acting for themselves and forming new associations rather than going along to get along with the tribe.
Why did the West do this first, and not India and China, civilizations far richer and sophisticated than the European? According to Max Weber it was because western city dwellers broke away from tribalism and, as individuals, formed new kinds of association in the cities while in India and China they did not.
In India the caste system and in China the ancestor cult kept people from trusting each other in the city. They looked to their caste or clan outside the city for identity and protection. They could not bring themselves to burst the bonds of caste and clan to trust their fellow citizens in the city.
It is the responsible individual that created the modern world, and it is liberals, with their politics of identity and victim-hood, that are turning the clock back to a primitive age of tribalism. They are reinventing caste with their rage for credentialism, and reviving clan with their multiculturalism and race-card politics.
It makes complete sense that liberals sneer at the responsible individual, the busy bourgeois, the independent householder, the church member, and harass them. The bourgeois middle class with its businesses, its adaptability, its families, its work and its savings represent the existential threat to liberal power and its curdling tribalism.
Why weren’t you harassing those guys, Lois? Because if you could just have saved one life...
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
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.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
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 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
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
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
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
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