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30 Years of Nobelity: What Hayek Means to Me Why are Democrats So Afraid?

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This is What You Get When You Reduce Everything to "Activism"

by Christopher Chantrill
October 21, 2014 at 12:00 am


SUPPOSE YOU were the President Obama, in the Oval Office, or more likely at the golf course, wondering how to save the Obola administration before Ebola flushes it down the toilet. You would think: I need someone who is a cool head in a bad situation. He would be someone that has a history of turning around failing operations. He needs to be a man that inspires trust, and he needs to be the kind of person that would be prepared to set everything aside to help his country.

“There is only one man in public life who fits the bill,” the president might say to his golfing buddy. “And that man is Mitt Romney. So what if he’s a Republican and thinking of running for president? If I ask him to be the Ebola czar he will do it because he is a mensch.”

Instead, of course, the president has chosen Ron Klain to be the Ebola czar. Because for Obama the best man for the job is always a political fixer.

Really, nobody should be surprised. Joseph Schumpeter said it all when he wrote in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy that the amazing thing is that politicians do any governing at all given the demands their real job, which is winning elections.

With Obama, we are spared the amazement. He spends all his time doing politics, raising money and dividing people, and sensibly resting up on the golf course in between his exhausting fund-raising gigs. To hell with governing.

It’s not surprising that this average product of an Ivy League education thinks and acts this way. The whole culture of the modern university confirms the president in his world-view. His world-view even has a name. It is called “activism.” In our government-funded secular seminaries they teach young people that the highest of callings is to become an activist and advocate for global justice as a social justice warrior.

We all know how it works. A young Ivy League graduate goes to South Chicago for a season and riles up the workers laid off from the local steel plants. A white policeman shoots a young black man and activists pour in to Ferguson, Missouri, riling up the locals against the “system.”

A universal feature of this activism culture is that after the activist has provoked the local mob into burning down the local economy, after he’s bonked the local babes, after he’s ginned up a local civil war, then he heads out of town, off to his next activism gig, leaving the local community in ruins.

I have a woman friend of a certain age that told me over lunch that she’d always wanted to do “activism.” Of course she did; that’s what they teach bright young women in our secular seminaries these days.

The problem with activism is its notion that you can solve the world’s problems with the ritualized violence of the demonstration or the peaceful protest. Really? All questions of human society are to be adjudicated by “non-negotiable” demands and shows of force on the streets?

These activists do not understand that there is always a danger that their fake civil war might turn into a real one. The real skill in politics is finding a way to create a sunshine of “consensus” out of the dark clouds of discord.

To paraphrase Marx, It is high time that people of good will should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the glory of “activism” with the truth: that “activism” is pure reaction, turning back the clock in a mindless attempt to recreate the feudal system, its great lords and its servile peasants.

Only now the great lords are the great political families and their fixers and their media courtiers. And the servile peasants are the soldiers in the Benefits Brigade looking to feed off the crumbs from the great lord’s table.

In practice, activism means the graduates of our secular seminaries, the little darlings of the ruling class, going out and demonstrating on behalf of other little darlings of the ruling class: African Americans, Hispanics, Moslems, women, and gays. They call it speaking truth to power.

Something is wrong with that picture.

Back in the 1980s our lefty friends came up with a cunning label for the armed activists of Central American regimes that were battling the lefty guerrillas up in the hills. They called them “death squads.”

We are conservatives, so we need to describe regime supporters with something a little less offensive than that, but a little more pointed than the ironical “social justice warriors.”

Let’s give the liberal activist enforcers of the ruling class a name that tells our fellow Americans who they really are: “liberal fascists.”

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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