The View From 1776
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Udate: Liberals Hate Christianity
A recent posting, Liberals Hate Christianity, documented the liberals’ regard of Christians as somewhat lower than Al Queda terrorists.
Today’s posting in The American Thinker entitled “Bigotry most ugly” adds more documentation to the pile.
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Monday, September 27, 2004
RatherGate: the Legacy of John Dewey
We can’t blame Dan Rather for knowingly broadcasting a story based on fraudulent documents. He and CBS are victims of society.
Commentators are asking why Dan Rather would run the risk of broadcasting a fraudulent attack on the President.
The better question is why are we surprised that Mr. Rather is behaving as Americans have been taught in our secular and materialistic public education system since the 1930s.
The liberal “logic” underlying the actions of CBS and Mr. Rather is the following:
(1) There is no right or wrong, merely the Darwinian struggle for existence. Instead, according to John Dewey’s pragmatism, any action, by any means, is valid if it produces the result you want. See Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous aphorism that there is no such thing as a higher law of truth or morality; truth is simply whatever wins out in the marketplace (or whatever a judge says is the truth).
(2) A highly desired result is the political destruction of a President who avows personal faith in an ignorant, unscientific religion like Christianity (see Liberals Hate Christianity).
(3) Moreover, destroying such a President would add impetus to the longer-range, New Deal goal of converting the United States to a fully socialized, secular, and materialistic nation.
(4) After full socialization, the United States can implement the socialistic definition of freedom, one in which the majority can override the Constitution’s guarantees of the individual rights of private property and banish all discussion of morality and spiritual religion (see Never Mind the Spin Machine; What Was Actually Said?).
It’s highly unlikely that most liberal-socialists fully articulate that logic to rationalize their actions. But how could we realistically expect them to do so? According to socialist philosophers like Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, people don’t behave rationally; they just react. People’s behavior patterns are conditioned reflexes, governed by the material conditions of our society (which, regrettably, is still vestigially capitalistic).
Liberals have been telling us for a century that people convicted of crimes are really the victims of society, driven by social conditions to do whatever they do. As left-winger Emma Goldman said of the liberal-socialist who assassinated President William McKinley in 1901, ?Leon Czolgosz and other men of his type, far from being depraved creatures of low instincts, are in reality supersentive beings unable to bear up under too great social stress. They are driven to some violent expression even at the sacrifice of their own lives, because they cannot supinely witness the misery and suffering of their fellows. My heart goes out in deep sympathy, as it goes out to all the victims of oppression and misery, to the martyrs past and future.?
Thus, Jeffrey Dahmer and Dan Rather are innocent victims corrupted by capitalism.
We must move on and get past the CBS slip-up. After all, had it not been exposed by internet bloggers, Mr. Rather’s “news” would have been valid, measured by the standards of John Dewey’s pragmatism.
The real message is that liberals must redouble their efforts, permitting no scruple to stand in their way. Implementing Franklin Roosevelt’s dream of a fully socialized United States is the goal.
Liberal-socialist doctrine preaches that the very existence of private property is the original sin that corrupted humanity. Only by adopting Franklin Roosevelt’s New Bill of Rights, giving us Security in the arms of Big Brother, can we hope to have a good democratic society.
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Saturday, September 25, 2004
Never Mind the Spin Machine; What Was Actually Said?
To understand what Senator Kerry really intends, it’s necessary to look at the implications of his New Deal political philosophy. Those implications can be understood more clearly by examining what his predecessors in the 1930s advocated.
In common with most liberal Democrats and liberal Republicans, Senator Kerry is opposed to tax cuts for “the rich” and he wants to fulfill the liberals’ New Deal crusade to implement a socialized national health system. Senator Kerry also chastises “Benedict Arnold” American companies that outsource jobs to overseas locations.
A UPI news article dated September 25, 2004, reports:
“Rep. Nancy Pelosi [the House Democratic leader] says Republicans are undermining U.S. prosperity and a Democratic Party-controlled government would improve U.S. foreign relations…...
“Democrats believe in a prosperity that provides all Americans with the opportunity to succeed and to live a secure and comfortable life,” Pelosi said. “We support middle-class tax cuts, investing in education, providing affordable healthcare and keeping good jobs here at home.”
“Secure and comfortable life” in the liberal lexicon means the welfare state.
The unifying premise for these sorts of pronouncements is the socialist conception of a managed economic state. Liberals like Senator Kerry clearly believe that the American economy would function more efficiently and more fairly if they were empowered to regulate it as tightly and thoroughly as imaginable.
A central precept of socialism is that modern economies can increasingly produce more goods and services than are needed by society. Economic recessions are, for liberals, proof that business people are incompetent and must hand over management control to the bureaucrats, who will find ways to increase production and give to all citizens (including illegal aliens who vote Democratic) whatever goods and services they wish, free of charge. Looking at the economy from the ivory tower of socialist academia, it seems evident that, if government simply ordered business to produce certain quantities of goods, with regulated prices and wages, then everyone would have a job, good housing, ample clothing, plenty of food, good education, and complete and free health care.
This socialist paradise is to be paid for by using the excess production capacity that theoretically inheres in a free-market economy. Liberals are confident that, employing the economic principles of scientific socialism, they can manage this excess production capacity in ways that will make America into a land of milk and honey for all. Of course, that’s what liberals said about Soviet Russia in the 1920s and 1930s, but let’s not trouble ourselves with inconvenient facts.
The philosophical connection here is liberal-socialism’s faith in the power of modern science, which they see as a secular and materialistic force that has outmoded ideas like spiritual religion, morality, and personal responsibility. We see this faith in science and bureaucratic management endlessly expressed, for example, in environmental rules, affirmative action policies, anti-discrimination laws, mandatory health insurance coverage, farm production and price controls, criminalization of thought in hate-crime laws, and suppression of the religious and political traditions of 1776.
As Lenin famously asked, “What is to be done?” to implement the promise of liberal-socialism.
Liberals have seen that most Americans react negatively to the word socialism, even though few Americans really understand what socialism truly is. Focus groups, however, tell liberals that most people would like to believe that a properly managed economy could make life vastly easier and more plentiful. Ergo, promise the aims of socialism, while calling it true Americanism.
We saw in How Socialists Stole Liberalism that this process was used to transform the potentially totalitarian power of the socialist state into the pussy cat of individual liberty. Tell people that individual liberty is, not limitation on government’s power to take private property and restrict individual economic freedom, but hedonistic license to indulge in marital infidelity, sexual promiscuity, drug use, foul language, and an in-your-face effrontery to people who disagree. Tell people that the religious and political traditions of 1776 are oppressive to the masses, because they deny people’s Constitutional right to free goods and services, instead unfairly enriching the power elite like Halliburton Corporation.
This liberal facade of sweet reasonableness can be easily stripped away if we go back no further than the 1930s, when Franklin Roosevelt and his Brains Trust of socialistic professors came to Washington intent upon imposing socialism under the New Deal.
In those days, Soviet Russia still appeared to be the answer to the prayers of mankind. The intellectuals were aware of the brutalities imposed by Lenin and Stalin, but the general public was oblivious. Socialism still seemed to be a worthwhile alternative path for the United States.
Let’s look at what spokesmen for liberal-socialism were saying then.
Anyone reading Mr. Stuart Chase?s 1932 book, “A New Deal,” will immediately recognize the exact phrases and the specific policies that President Roosevelt subsequently adopted. Even the term, the New Deal, came from Mr. Chase?s work.
Mr. Chase said regarding the Depression, ??the cycle is a direct product of that specialization which appeared with the industrial revolution. It is a product of laissez-faire, and the neglect to inquire what an economic system is for?There never has been control from the top, and that is the only point from which the cycle may be steadied.?I suspect it is the end of the economic system as we have known it ? and suffered with it ? in the past?a new deal is in order.? Mr. Roosevelt repeated this theme during his campaign and again in his first inaugural address.
What remedies did Mr. Stuart Chase propose? ?The drive of collectivism leads toward control from the top. ? At bottom the conception of economic planning is science supervising a people?s housekeeping. ? And so the final idea of a National Planning Board emerges; ?a group which knows the past, can give capable advice as to the present, and sees into the future, especially the technological future. ?The real work, the real thought, the real action must come from the technicians: that class most able, most clear-headed of all in American life, hitherto only half utilized in technical detail and in college class rooms. ?This is a long-swing project we are starting, longer than the secular trend; longer than the industrial revolution itself. Errors will be made; methods will be tried out and discarded; but the principle of control from the top must go on.?
It is also instructive to note the New Deal thesis about the relationship of the individual to the state, as described by Mr. Chase: ?The state is the embodiment of the whole community, and its rule of action, in theory at least, ?the public interest.? If your corporation is busily dynamiting the public interest, the state has the right to close you up. ?To tell an American that he cannot invest his money in this project, or even to suggest that it is thrown away in that, is a bold and unheard-of step to the left; ?But how else can the obsolescence rate be steadied, excess capacity and overproduction kept within bounds of market requirements, thoroughly vicious and wasteful enterprises be checked, the non-speculative investor be protected? ?”
“One of the most interesting tasks of the Planning Board will be an attempt to draw the line between those economic areas where competition is still useful and those where it has outlived its usefulness, and either is already supplanted or should be supplanted by some form of collectivism. ?The balancing and regulating of man hours will, like minimum wages, operate to weed out parasitic enterprises, establishments so inefficient that they can make their margin only by driving workers through a ten or twelve hour day. ?This is the program of the third road. It is not an attempt to bolster up capitalism, it is frankly aimed at the destruction of capitalism, specifically in its most evil sense of ruthless expansion. The redistribution of national income, the sequestration of excess profits, the control of new investments, are all designed to that end. ?And woe to Supreme Courts, antiquated rights of property, checks and balances and democratic dogmas which stand in its path.?
Compare this to Benito Mussolini?s statement in “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism” (1933), ?Fascism conceives of the State as an absolute, in comparison with which all individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived of in their relation to the State. ?The Fascist State has drawn into itself even the economic activities of the nation, and, through the corporative social and educational institutions created by it, its influence reaches every aspect of the national life and includes, framed in their respective organizations, all the political, economic and spiritual forces of the nation.?
Most people think that the summation of Mr. Roosevelt?s first inaugural address of March 4, 1933, was, ??the only thing we have to fear is fear itself?? Reality was somewhat different.
The New York Times front-page headline for Sunday, March 5, 1933, said, ?Roosevelt Inaugurated, Acts To End The National Banking Crisis Quickly; Will Ask War-Time Powers If Needed.? The lead-article headlines said, ?Scores ?Money-Changers? ? In Fighting Speech He Demands Supervision of Credits and Investments.?
Following Mr. Chase?s lead, the new President said:
?Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind?s goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence??Our greatest primary task is to put people to work?It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of war??Hand in hand with this, we must frankly recognize the overbalance of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national scale in the redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of the land for those best fitted for the land.?It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical and unequal.”
“It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definite public character?if we are to go forward we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of the common discipline, because, without such discipline, no progress is made?We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good.?With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people, dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.?”
Mussolini’s Fascist state corporatism, as we saw above, had the same methodologies and aims, conceiving of the public as an army under central command, working for the collective national purpose.
But what about the Constitution, expressly founded on the natural law principle that a government infringing individual property rights thereby forfeited its right to rule? President Roosevelt’s answer was “implied” powers to regulate whatever the government chooses to control.
“Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangements without loss of essential form [i.e., New Dealers can interpret the Constitution to mean whatever is convenient to the aims of socialism]??
Another prominent spokesman for liberalism in the 1930s was George Soule, a writer for “The New Republic,” the most influential of the liberal journals in the first half of the 20th century.
In his 1936 book, “The Future of Liberty,” Mr. Soule employs a three-card-monte process to transform the definition of liberty. He candidly admits that the original definition of liberty, as embodied in the Bill of rights, was limitation on government power to take individuals’ property or to constrict their individual economic activity. However, he says, when the nation became industrialized after the Civil War, individuals lost that original liberty and became the vassals of large corporations and Wall Street bankers. Liberty, as we entered the 20th century, had come to mean the unrestricted right of corporate employers to exploit the workers.
Thus, the nation had no choice but to use the coercive power of government to wrest power from the corporate and financial elite, the few hundred largest organizations that “owned” America. The definition of liberty, in the 20th century, thus become “democracy,” the power of the masses to take from property owners what rightfully belonged to the workers.
This, you will recognize, is the orthodox doctrine of liberals today.
Mr. Soule deplores the concept of powers reserved to the states and to the people by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Bill of Rights. Only the collectivized power of the socialized national state can do what must be done.
He says, “Whatever the states may be able to do, there is one kind of thing that they certainly cannot do, and that is the kind of thing that the sponsors of the New Deal announced it was going to do, the kind of thing that brought President Roosevelt an overwhelming popular majority in 1932. The states can trim the economic system about the edges, but they cannot improve the central principles of its operation…..there is no possibility of national planning to produce the abundance that we are capable of producing, as long as the planning must be delegated to forty-eight separate sovereignties, no one of which has the power over the essentials of economic life…....The real issue is private control vs. public control.”
In the chapter of his work entitled “Planned Abundance,” Mr. Soule says:
“If we grant the main thesis of this essay ? that liberty is indefinable except in the frame work of a society that has a common purpose, and that the common purpose must be expressed in feasible measures in order that it may be decided whose liberty to do what has the right of way in any given situation ? then it is of utmost importance to know whether the desire of the majority of the people for the kind of liberty that goes with security and abundance can really be embodied either in a system of laissez-faire or a system of regulated capitalism…..The only other general type of possibility besides automatically regulated capitalism and state-regulated capitalism is collectivism or socialism of some kind. Such a system would acknowledge, as the leading social purpose, production for abundance.”
“That necessarily implies socializing the decisions about prices, wages, production, investment, etc., instead of leaving those decisions in the hands of those who represent private owners of productive resources, or to the play of chance and circumstance.”
Again, you will recognize in this the present-day rhetoric of liberals like Senators Kennedy and Kerry. They will “create” jobs, they will give everyone health care at public expense, they will order corporations to cease outsourcing jobs, they will require new energy sources that free us from dependence on imported petroleum, and they will do all of this while turning the United States into a pristine, unspoiled nature preserve. Higher taxes on “the rich” will pay for it all.
What sort of political society will be required to bring about this miracle of harmony and abundance?
Mr. Soule’s answer is, “These considerations lead us to a rough conception of the manner in which planning for abundance would have to be organized. There would be necessary a production program, laid out over a period of time….The program would have to embrace industry in the conventional sense, public works, government activities of all sorts, cultural necessities such as education, recreation, the arts, health, social insurance, and the various service occupations. It would have to lay out the allocations and the use of natural resources and power, plants and machinery, labor energy. Credit and capital investment would have to be adjusted to the program, as would foreign trade. Levels of wages and salaries, prices and costs, would have to fit the plan, so that purchasing power would be available in the right places and at the right times to keep output moving into channels of consumption.”
“........ the power to give a general direction to economic affairs must remain in the hands of the masses; they must control government and government must manage industry in their interest.”
And there you have it, the happy vision of America advocated by liberals like Senator Kerry and Al Gore.
Unfortunately, as a century of experience in France, Germany, Soviet Russia, China, Cuba, and elsewhere demonstrates, socialist planners simply can’t deliver the goods. But, never mind. All those illiterate voters who can’t find their way to the polls and don’t even know who is running for office are entitled to economic hand-outs at public expense and to the hedonistic amorality that the Constitution denied them in 1776. And they can have it all if they just vote for liberal candidates.
Despite the brief respite afforded by the Reagan administration, liberalism among Democrats and Republicans is in resurgence. As our educational system turns out more and more students with anti-American passions and religious fervor for socialism, the United States is being pushed toward the abyss.
If liberty remains defined as “democracy,” what Alexis de Tocqueville called the tyranny of the majority to overwhelm individual property rights, liberalism will assuredly lead the United States to the same dismal fate that overtook the Soviet Union. In the final analysis, the reality of nature can’t be repealed by “science” in the hands of liberal intellectuals.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2004
Paradoxically the liberal wing represented by Senator Kerry’s campaign speaks of repairing international relations, while advocating retreat into fortress America.
Wall Street Journal editorial, Kerry vs. Kerry
“Mr. Kerry is even reviving the old liberal isolationist line that money spent fighting our enemies in Iraq should be better spent at home. “$200 billion for Iraq, but they tell us we can’t afford after-school programs for our children,” the Democrat said in Cincinnati on Wednesday. “$200 billion for Iraq, but they tell us we can’t afford to keep the 100,000 police officers we put on the streets in the 1990s.” And like George McGovern promised about Vietnam in 1972, he’s clearly signaling that he’ll bring Americans home from Iraq, as early as his first six months in office.”
Senator Kerry’s appeal to left-wing extremists from his Vietnam War cohort is no more than a revival of the many-times-failed theory that other nations will be nice to us if we are nice to them. However well that may work in one-on-one personal relations, it is doomed to disaster in international relations.
The national interests of countries around the world inevitably involve real conflicts. Just being nice and doing everything through the UN won’t deal effectively with these conflicts. See Misunderstanding Alliances.
As an illustrative example, if China takes over Taiwan, it will be in a position to exert irresistible pressure on Japan. Japan will be pressured by China to expel Americans from naval, army, and air force bases, hospitals, supply depots, etc. in the Japanese home islands and Okinawa. Japanese trade relations will be turned away from the United States and bound closely into a Chinese-controlled trade bloc.
Should this scenario unfold, the United States would find its ability critically impaired to defend against nuclear threats in North Korea, the Indian sub-continent, and Iran, or from China itself. It’s far easier and faster to dispatch carrier task forces and to airlift men and weaponry to Far Eastern trouble spots from bases in the Far East than from Europe or the continental United States.
It is therefore crucial that we deal realistically with China’s real national interests and with our own. Whatever bargaining concessions , on both sides, may be made in diplomatic and trade negotiations, the United States will be in a perilously weak position without a very real, at-hand military capacity that could potentially respond to Chinese aggression immediately.
Thus, Senator Kerry’s superficially internationalist posture of placing all our emphasis on being friendly with socialist France and socialist Germany, while handing conflict resolution over to the UN is, in effect, the old George McGovern policy of flower-child isolationism.
It’s just a cheap propaganda appeal to voters who are generally not in a position to understand the realities. It amounts to sending a small child into a tiger’s cage, while telling him that the tiger won’t hurt him if he keeps saying, “Nice kitty.”
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Liberal-Socialism’s Messianic Impulse
The liberal-socialists’ collectivized National State requires powerful leaders who will subordinate individual rights to their abstract visions, because they see themselves as the saviors of humanity.
In the posting entitled How Socialists Stole Liberalism, Herbert Croly was quoted in a definitive statement of liberal-socialists’ objectives:
“The moral and social aspiration proper to American life is, of course, the aspiration described by the word democratic….A numerous and powerful group of reformers has been collecting whose whole political policy and action is based on the conviction that the ?common people? have not been getting the Square Deal to which they are entitled under the American system….The automatic fulfillment [that is, the free-market laissez-faire policy of Adam Smith?s original liberalism] of the American national Promise is to be abandoned, if at all, precisely because the traditional American confidence in individual freedom has resulted in a morally and socially undesirable distribution of wealth.?
It’s important to consider just what this “numerous and powerful group of reformers” would have to do to impose their definition of national purpose, in which,“The Land of Freedom became in the course of time also the Land of Equality.”
In the economic realm, where the aim is to equalize property distribution, the answer obviously is that it must be done ultimately by use of overwhelming political force. As John Marshall, the greatest of our early Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, observed, “The power to tax is the power to destroy.”
People who have worked hard to save for themselves and their families’ futures don’t just hand everything over to intellectual planners on the vague promise that life will be better for everyone under a regime of socialistic equality. In that regard, see Equality vs Liberty and Armageddon Tomorrow.
In the realm of spiritual religion and age-old cultural and legal traditions, liberal reformers must take control of the educational system and the judiciary. We see their handiwork today in the discovery of abortion rights theoretically buried deep within the shadows of the Bill of Rights. We see it in today’s drive to cheapen and discredit the religious sacrament of Holy Matrimony as a bond only between a man and a woman. We see it today in the anti-Americanism taught in our colleges and universities.
Because of citizens’ resistance to such actions, liberal-socialist political states inherently tend toward despotism. See Hillary’s Village.
A special personality is needed to lead a liberal-socialist regime that may have to resort to measures ranging from property confiscation, to imprisonment of opponents, to mass executions. What’s necessary is a leader whose super-human vision of the perfect society is so powerful that it blots out all human consideration for individuals.
Such leaders must think only in terms of the abstractions of social justice for broad social classes. Such leaders must see themselves as the saviors of humanity, whose purpose is so important that it justifies any means necessary to impose it.
It’s no accident that the most notorious and bloody dictators of the 19th and 20th centuries were socialists: Napoleon Bonaparte in Revolutionary France, Vladimir Lenin, and Josef Stalin in the USSR, Benito Mussolini in Fascist Italy, Adolph Hitler in Nazi Germany, and Chairman Mao in China. In the United States, we came perilously close to this style of leadership after the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) in 1932. Even liberal historians like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., later became alarmed about the development of the Imperial Presidency that originated with FDR.
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Sunday, September 12, 2004
How Socialists Stole Liberalism
The political and economic concept of liberalism originally meant the exact opposite of what it is taken to mean today.
Reviewing how liberalism was transformed from the free-market economic and political ideas of Adam Smith into the Kerry-Edwards’ campaign theme of “Two Americas” will provide perspective on the cultural civil war now raging in our society.
Originally, at the time that the United States came into existence as an independent nation, liberalism meant literally freedom: freedom for individuals to pursue their own economic aims and plans, with the least possible government regulation and interference. This was the concept of “laissez-faire” economics.
Think of society metaphorically as millions of individuals working on PCs, each free to experiment and invent new ways to maximize his output and to do things never before imagined. The internet became a fundamental part of modern communications and every-day life in this way. In contrast, present-day liberal-socialism metaphorically wants to take away the PCs and restrict all computer capacity to great main-frame computers scheduled and regulated by intellectual planners, who presumably know better than you what is in your best interests.
Today liberalism means that the national state must regulate economic activity and individual behavior in ways that will promote equal distribution of all of society’s goods and services. This brand of liberalism is a collectivist concept. Like a pot-luck dinner, whatever individuals produce is really the common property of society. Liberal regulators therefore will be the ones to decide how much of what you produce you will be permitted to keep and how much you must share with other people whom you don’t know and with whom you have no ties of family or friendship.
This is what requires liberalism to think in terms of collective classes of people: by race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, and economic status. Liberalism is thus in the contradictory position of claiming that the individual has primacy, but always subordinating individuality in the economic realm to what intellectuals decree to be the collective good.
The original version of liberalism as a political and economic concept came into existence in the mid-18th century. Its most famous exposition was Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations,” published coincidentally in 1776. The message of that work is that the true wealth of any nation is its productive capacity and output of useful goods and services. Thus the wise political society is structured to permit and to reward maximum personal freedom, energy, and inventiveness of its individual citizens.
Smith saw that high protective tariffs to favor English farmers were distorting the flow of capital into less than fully productive activity. If wheat and other commodities could be imported and made available at lower prices than the tariff-protected local farm products, lowering or eliminating tariffs would have two beneficial results. First, the general public in all levels of economic wealth would have larger quantities of healthful food available at the same cost. Second, capital tied up in local farming, when faced with import competition that would lower farming profits, would be redeployed into more profitable and therefore more productive new uses. From this came the industrial revolution that created our modern world.
That is the meaning of the generally misunderstood aphorism in the “Wealth of Nations” about the “invisible hand” that guides a free-market economy. Present-day liberal-socialists caricature Smith’s “invisible hand” to mean that a conspiracy of privileged, wealthy, Big Business monopolists controls everything behind the scene.
The quote is important enough to give it in full context. In Book IV, Chapter II, Smith explains:
“But it is only for the sake of profit that any man employs a capital in the support of industry; and he will always, therefore, endeavor to employ it in the support of that industry of which the produce is likely to be of the greatest value, or to exchange for the greatest quantity either of money or goods.
“But the annual revenue of every society is always precisely equal to the exchangeable value of the whole annual produce of its industry, or rather is precisely the same thing with that exchangeable value. As every individual, therefore, endeavors as much as he can both to employ his capital in support of domestic industry, and so to direct industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of society more effectually than when he intends to promote it.”
Adam Smith’s original liberalism, or individual economic freedom, and present-day liberal-socialism are polar opposites. Since the early decades of the 20th century, the United States has gradually abandoned the fundamental principles of our founding generations. Those founding principles were summed up in the War of Independence slogan, “No Taxation Without Representation,” that is, individual property rights are part of fundamental natural law. And any government infringing upon such inalienable individual rights will, in doing so, have forfeited its right to rule.
To give but one example in the news today,we have now reached the point at which the public hardly bats an eye when Senator Kerry suggests that he will impose price controls on the pharmaceutical industry in order to lower health-care costs. He proposes to do this by importing more drugs from Canada, where Canada’s socialistic government has already imposed price controls.
We don’t need Einstein to see that price controls will reduce profits in the pharmaceutical industry, making it a less attractive place for new investment in research and production capacity. Thus, as patent rights on existing drugs expire, we will have fewer new drugs becoming available each year. As Adam Smith correctly noted, “... every individual, therefore, endeavors as much as he can both to employ his capital in support of domestic industry, and so to direct industry that its produce may be of the greatest value…”
The “Two Americas” theme of the Kerry-Edwards campaign is simply the latest packaging of the liberal-socialist doctrine that increasingly has dominated political discourse for the past century. As Senator Edwards expressed it in his standard stump speech in Des Moines, Iowa, last December 29, 2003:
“....there are two Americas, not one: One America that does the work, another America that reaps the reward. One America that pays the taxes, another America that gets the tax breaks. One America that will do anything to leave its children a better life, another America that never has to do a thing because its children are already set for life. One America—middle-class America - whose needs Washington has long forgotten, another America - narrow-interest America - whose every wish is Washington’s command. One America that is struggling to get by, another America that can buy anything it wants, even a Congress and a President.”
Liberals, seeing the world in this perspective, have a burning religious faith that socialism is the answer. A good political society will socialize all that wealth, that is, bring it all under government regulatory control and redistribute it “fairly.” Fairly for socialists means equally, without regard to individual circumstances, individual effort or creativity. Everything belongs collectively to socialistic society, therefore political leaders are both empowered and obligated to redistribute it fairly.
How did we come to this head-on conflict?
The seminal exposition of 20th century American liberal-socialism is to be found in Herbert Croly’s 1909 “The Promise of American Life.” In addition to writing the book, Mr. Croly became the founding editor of The New Republic, the most influential journal of liberal religious philosophy in the first half of the 20th century.
To understand where Croly was coming from, you need to know that his father had been a founder of New York City’s church of the Religion of Humanity, the materialistic and secular philosophical religion propounded by France’s Auguste Comte in the first decades of the 1800s. Comte was a colleague of and major contributor to Henri de Saint-Simon when Saint-Simon first articulated the theory of socialism. Young Herbert Croly was raised in the church of The Religion of Humanity.
“The Promise of American Life” has been characterized as the classic statement of the Progressive, liberal movement in America. It starts with the original definitions of American individualism founded on personal property rights, then introduces a new definition of America’s national purpose.
Said Croly, “The men who were responsible for this great work [founding the United States] were not, perhaps, entirely candid in recognizing the profound modifications in their traditional ideas which their constructive political work had implied; but they were at all events fully aware of the great importance of their addition to the American idea. That idea, while not ceasing to be at bottom economic, became more than ever political and social in its meaning and contents. The Land of Freedom became in the course of time also the Land of Equality…......In case the majority of good Americans were not prosperous, there would be grave reasons for suspecting that our institutions were not doing their duty.”
To justify this transition from the Land of Freedom to the Land of Equality, Croly asserts a Marxian, materialistic thesis that, “The implication was, and still is, that by virtue of the comfortable and less trammeled lives which Americans were enabled to lead, they would constitute a better society and would become in general a worthier set of men…....In our favored land political liberty and economic opportunity were by a process of natural education inevitably making for individual and social amelioration….....The moral and social aspiration proper to American life is, of course, the aspiration described by the word democratic….A numerous and powerful group of reformers has been collecting whose whole political policy and action is based on the conviction that the “common people” have not been getting the Square Deal to which they are entitled under the American system….The automatic fulfillment [that is, the free-market laissez-faire policy of Adam Smith’s original liberalism] of the American national Promise is to be abandoned, if at all, precisely because the traditional American confidence in individual freedom has resulted in a morally and socially undesirable distribution of wealth.”
This is the theory of the French revolutionary philosophers, enlarged by Karl Marx, that, while humans were naturally good in the state of nature before the advent of private property, when people lived in a sort of Garden of Eden, people’s character in modern life is entirely determined by the physical, materialistic conditions under which they live and work. In other words, the Protestant Christianity on which the colonies and the United States were founded is to be scrapped. It’s not the morality of our Judeo-Christian heritage that makes individuals better people, but the redistribution of wealth as equally as possible.
In a nut shell, Progressives, now called liberals, sincerely want to perfect society and improve the lot of every citizen. But that requires us to give up individual liberties so that they can organize society properly.
As Mr. Croly put it, “The Promise of American life is to be fulfilled - not merely by a maximum amount of economic freedom, but by a certain measure of discipline; not merely by the abundant satisfaction of individual desires, but by a large measure of individual subordination and self-denial…..In becoming responsible for the subordination of the individual to the demand of a dominant and constructive national purpose, the American state will in effect be making itself responsible for a morally and socially desirable distribution of wealth.”
Needless to say, that “certain measure of discipline” is to be determined and administered by Mr. Croly and his liberal-socialist cohort. Equally obviously, there will no longer be a place for Christianity and the age-old traditions of personal responsibility and individual morality.
Stand back and make way for the ACLU.
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Thursday, September 09, 2004
Even Al Gore Hates Christians
Liberals Hate Christianity, posted on August 30, provided specifics regarding liberals’ abhorrence of spiritual religion in general and Christianity in particular.
It’s OK to say that you’re a Christian. Just don’t act like a Christian.
The following excerpt from the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web for September 9, 2004, adds more evidence.
Gore Slams Hillary’s Religion
We’ve got a flight later on, so we’ll probably read David Remnick’s apparently longsome profile of Al Gore in The New Yorker from 35,000 feet. But several readers wrote us to call attention to this passage:
Gore’s mouth tightened. A Southern Baptist, he, too, had declared himself born again, but he clearly had disdain for Bush’s public kind of faith. “It’s a particular kind of religiosity,” he said. “It’s the American version of the same fundamentalist impulse that we see in Saudi Arabia, in Kashmir, in religions around the world: Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim. They all have certain features in common. In a world of disconcerting change, when large and complex forces threaten familiar and comfortable guideposts, the natural impulse is to grab hold of the tree trunk that seems to have the deepest roots and hold on for dear life and never question the possibility that it’s not going to be the source of your salvation. And the deepest roots are in philosophical and religious traditions that go way back. You don’t hear very much from them about the Sermon on the Mount, you don’t hear very much about the teachings of Jesus on giving to the poor, or the beatitudes. It’s the vengeance, the brimstone.”
Now, we don’t pretend to be an expert on the various Christian denominations, but we do know that President Bush is a Methodist. (He was raised Episcopalian but switched when he married Laura.) Another prominent Methodist is New York’s junior senator, Hillary Clinton, so Gore seems to be suggesting that Hillary’s religion is similar to the “fundamentalist impulse that we see in Saudi Arabia,” which of course produced Osama bin Laden. Shame on Gore for slandering Mrs. Clinton in this way.
It occurs to us, too, that if Gore’s views about Methodism are typical of Southern Baptists, Hillary and the erstwhile veep’s coreligionist Bill Clinton must have an awfully stormy marriage. Did he have sects with that woman?
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Monday, September 06, 2004
A Message for Your School Boards
As students begin a new school year and taxpayers struggle with ever higher costs and ever declining quality of education, we need to consider education from a broader perspective.
The historical background needed to understand this is in three previous postings:
Regardless of his political orientation, no one can assert honestly that Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11 is a documentary. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “documentary” as: “Presenting facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter, as in a book, newspaper account, or film.”
Public education is little better than a Michael Moore ?documentary.? We waste vast amounts of taxpayers’ money on “diversity” and “self esteem.? Multi-cultural education teaches students that America?s history and traditions are shameful and that other societies are just as good as ours, perhaps better.
The message of John Dewey?s progressive education and his philosophy of pragmatism is moral relativism, the belief that right and wrong are unscientific value judgments. Each student should do whatever works best for him, if he can get away with it.
Tolerance is the only virtue taught. But what this strange definition of tolerance means is that no one may judge anyone else?s conduct. Students are told, for example, that they must not think of the Holocaust as good or bad. They must look at it from Hitler?s viewpoint. Tolerance so used means simply the absence of all standards.
Too often we think of our schools as no more than trade schools that will enable graduates to get better-paying jobs. Too often we attempt to cure educational failure with Marxian materialistic inputs: more money for smaller classes and more computers. Ultimately, however, what is taught is much more important than how it?s taught and how spiffy the classroom may be.
Teaching mathematics and science obviously is very important, but it avails little if the schools turn out people who don?t know right from wrong. The malefactors at Enron, Worldcom, and Tyco were technically brilliant people who were just practicing the moral relativism they learned in public schools.
What is to be done?
Prayer in schools has been a losing struggle. We should refocus our energies in a more effective direction, to return education to its historical role: formation of individual character using the moral standards common to all Western spiritual religions.
Morality is not a simple list of points that anyone can follow without reflection. Everyday life requires us to ponder the right thing to do. For most people, the stories of what other people have done when confronted with problems are the best guide to their own conduct.
The Old Testament recounts real-life tribulation, such as the Book of Job, to illustrate the relationship between individuals and God. In the New Testament, Jesus repeatedly taught with the use of parables.
Plato said that Homer was the teacher of the Greeks. He meant that the Iliad describes legendary heroes overcoming selfishness, jealousy, and pettiness to act with courage, loyalty, and honesty. Countless generations of Greeks absorbed the ideals of Greek citizenship from those stories.
The same character-formation approach prevailed in colonial America and the early United States.
As recently as the 1950s, high school textbooks were filled with essays and literature that represented the best thought of Western civilization. Students mastered the English language by reading about virtuous behavior and writing essays about their reading.
The following title page and representative selections from the contents pages of an 1833 textbook illustrate the point:
“The National Preceptor: or, Selections in Prose and Poetry;
Consisting of Narrative, Descriptive, Argumentative, Didactic, Pathetic, and Humorous Pieces; Together with Dialogues, Addresses, Orations, Speeches, &c.”
Calculated to improve the Scholar in Reading and Speaking; and to Impress the Minds of Youth with Sentiments of Piety and Virtue.
Designed for the Use of Schools and Academies .
Contents: Lessons in Prose
Moderate Wishes the Source of Happiness
Affection to Parents Rewarded
The Golden Mean
Against Religious Persecution (A Rabbinical Tale)
No Rank or Possession can make the guilty mind happy (Cicero)
Battle of Lexington
Battle of Bunker?s Hill
The Shortness of Life
Heroism of a Peasant
The Compassionate Judge
The Prudent Judge - an Eastern Tale
Socrates and Leander
Socrates and Demetrius
Damon and Pythias
Test of Goodness
Examples of Decision of Character
Ortogrul: or the Vanity of Riches (Dr. Johnson)
Formation of Character
On Happiness of Temper (Goldsmith)
Happiness is Founded in Rectitude of Character
Virtue and Piety Man?s Highest Interest
Importance of Virtue
On Happiness (Sterne)
On sincerity (Tillotson)
Character of William Pitt
Character of the Puritans (Edinburgh Review)
Character of Washington
Address to the Patriots of the Revolution (Daniel Webster)
On Conciliation with America (Edmund Burke)
Speech on the Question of War with England (Patrick Henry)
Brutus Speech on the Death of Caesar (Shakespeare)