Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Post-Election Autopsy

The Republican Party has entered into a state of post-traumatic shock after its resounding defeat in the 2008 presidential election. Christian conservatives are licking their wounds. Conservatives are engaged in a half-hearted pep rally about how Republicans can reclaim Congress and the White House, or are wandering off in various stages of dazed soul-searching. "What did we do wrong?" "What hit us?" "Where did that come from?"

Some conservative columnists and bloggers have even begun to question whether the G.O.P. has anything of substance to offer the electorate in terms of political philosophy. (It certainly has not been freedom, or capitalism.) Others are accusing president-elect Barack Obama and the Democrats of advocating socialism in the guise of populism.

These last are right, but they cannot pursue the truth any real distance without jettisoning their own collectivist political philosophy and ethics of altruism.

And while these last are more honest than their colleagues, it is doubtful they will connect the dots and concede that the very political agenda Obama slyly put over most American voters is simply a more consistent, more vigorous version of what the Republicans have endorsed or tried to co-opt from the Democrats for decades. The Republican Party for too many years can be likened to Cervantes's Sancho Panza, a credulous squire obediently following the lead of a shrewd, dissembling Don Quixote out not to save America, but to conquer it.

President George W. Bush and many of his predecessors in office helped to prepare the ground on which Obama now triumphantly stands with their own programs of altruism, collectivism and appeals to selflessness and self-sacrifice. What is to wonder about? Obama and Company owe George Bush and the Republicans so much. The president-elect and his amoral cronies in and out of Congress wish to implement their own "No American Left Behind" program to ensure that as many Americans as possible are enlisted in the march to full-scale statism.

"The thing that truly depresses me," wrote Burt Prelutsky in his article, "All the News That's Fit to Censor" on November 10th, "is that millions of my fellow Americans know the truth, but simply don't seem to care." The root of his depression is the fact that the news media and Obamaniacs are emotionally and psychologically insulated against all revelations about Obama's questionable political past, his disreputable associations, the role of ACORN's voter fraud, the suspicious sources of a big chunk of Obama's campaign donations, and his socialistic agenda. It is not likely many members of the press will seriously pursue any of those avenues of investigation. They want to believe.

Without defining what he meant by "hope" and "change," Obama persuaded countless rudderless and predisposed Americans that he was the man of the moment. After all, he makes Americans and the news media feel good, so what have facts got to do with that? They must not be allowed to get in the way to spoil the euphoria or shatter expectations.

Making whole populations feel good about their futures has been a device of ambitious power-seekers for millennia.

In the meantime, the news media is still beating the team of dead horses that pulled the Republican gun carriage through the two-year war of the presidential campaign, one of them vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's $150,000 wardrobe. But Obama's $650 million war chest is beyond the scope of the news media's concerns, and also that of the Federal Election Commission. His image as a Messiah armed with a bag of miracles at all costs must not be sullied, and woe to those who attempt to examine more closely his cash cows or his ideology. Most news anchors, journalists, and editors speak and write about Obama from a realm of self-induced myopia. They want to believe, and not doubt, suspect, question, or think.

"Obama can deny it all he likes," wrote Prelutsky, "but anyone who subscribes to the belief that we should adopt a fiscal policy based on 'From everyone according to his abilities to everyone according to his needs' is a disciple not of Warren Buffett, but of Karl Marx." But Warren Buffett, together with George Soros and countless other very well-heeled rich, are apparently disciples of Marx, as well, for they supported Obama, knowing full well what he represented. They did not care, either.

"When I suggest that socialism often leads to tyranny," wrote Prelutsky, "I am not indulging in right-wing hyperbole. After all, aside from control of capital and the means of production, one of the essentials of all dictatorships is central control of the media. In 2008, the left already controls most of the MSM, not to mention the liberal arts departments on most college campuses."
The news media surrendered their moral and philosophical press passes to Obama a year ago.

Prelutsky might have added most high schools, middle schools and pre-schools. Also, socialism is tyranny. What leads to it is the unwillingness or inability of freedom's defenders to oppose on rational moral grounds the incremental encroachments of statism that are the benchmarks of a mixed economy. And from socialism a country is led to dictatorship, once a population has been softened up for a final assault.

And a population can be softened up if the minds of countless individuals have been softened up beforehand. It would be interesting to learn, for example, how many college-age Americans voted for Obama as a consequence of their liberal arts education, a pedagogical venue largely in the control of leftists and nihilists. It is no secret that they dominate the subjects of political science, economics, and literature in most universities and colleges, and react with voluble outrage when accused of indoctrinating their charges. They invoke their "academic freedom of speech" while upholding campus speech codes that restrict or deny students their freedom of speech if that speech conflicts with their politically correct criteria of what is permissible.

But, A is non-A, writes Patricia Cohen in her New York Times article of November 3rd, "Professors' Liberalism Contagious? Maybe Not." She reports that most academics think that the left-liberal dominance of the humanities is a myth invented and perpetuated by envious "right-wingers." She quotes two political scientists who claim that "There is no evidence that an instructor's views instigate change among students."

"If there has been a conspiracy among liberal faculty members to influence students, 'they've done a pretty bad job,' said A. Lee Fritschler, professor of public policy at George Mason University and an author of the new book 'Closed Minds? Politics and Ideology in American Universities' (Brookings Institution Press).

"The notion that students are induced to move leftward 'is a fantasy,' said Jeremy D. Mayer, another of the book's authors....When it comes to shaping a young person's political views, 'it is really hard to change the mind of anyone over 15,' said Mr. Meyer, who did extensive research on faculty and students."
But college students can be and are softened up beginning in primary schools with an insidious combination of politically-correct textbooks, mandatory group think and "team work," and the subtle or not-so-subtle power of teachers to punish non-conformity and reward conformity to comply with local school board and federal and state guidelines. Combine those factors with speech codes and mandatory or "voluntary" community servitude and a host of other collectivist imperatives extorted from 15-year-olds, and helpless students, by the time they reach a college campus, will be unable to think or speak for themselves.

What is more, no "conspiracy" of left-liberals was necessary for professors to corner the market in the humanities. They are simply the beneficiaries of the ongoing pandemic destruction of philosophy in Western culture over the last century or so, which entailed the abandonment of reason, which in turn led to the disparagement of freedom and the advocacy of statism as the panacea for all "social" problems, all of which most of them have aided and abetted throughout their careers.

Is America headed for fascism? All political and cultural indications point in that direction. But I have been saying for years and years that if fascism ever comes to this country, it will not emulate the concrete manifestations of German Nazism or any other European style statism. No gangs of brown-shirted thugs roaming the streets, no jackboots tramping in unison on parade, no swastika emblazoned banners flying over government buildings will appear to alert one to the phenomenon. (Not so curiously, one can see these manifestations adapted by Islamist groups in the Middle East, together with the Nazi salute.) Substitute T-shirts, sneakers, and smile buttons, and one will have the American style of fascism.

What was disturbing were the Obama rallies during the campaign. Not a few commentators have remarked how similar they were in spirit and size to Hitler's Nuremberg shows of "solidarity." Obama spoke emotively, seductively, saying nothing but promising everything, and his audiences responded wildly in answer, thinking nothing but believing he had said it all. Audience and speaker blended into a single beast in a scary gestalt, transcending the sum of their emotions to become a force ready and willing to brush aside or crush any evidence of individual, rational resistance, in a kind of reverse demonstration of Orwell's Two Minutes Hate in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

People who participated in those rallies, or who see Obama as their earthly savior, have carried that spirit beyond into their everyday lives. Because they are governed by their emotions, they are not capable of calm argumentation or debate. To question Obama's motives, means and ends, is to invite a cold stare or a livid flaring of the eyes in reply. These people have put themselves outside the bounds of rational discourse. There is literally no reasoning with them.

Edward Rothstein, writing for The New York Times on November 4th in his article, "What Would George Bailey Do?" hauled out that hoary old cinematic chestnut, It's a Wonderful Life, and painted the bailout in terms of a run on Bailey Brothers Building & Loan Association. While his article is a skeptical critique of both the government's and Wall Street's actions, whether he realized it or not, it was a good choice for an analogy. After all, George Bailey sacrifices his values and goals repeatedly to serve the "general good." Rothstein concludes:

"What is strange is that now we depend on the state to re-establish trust by rescuing and even nationalizing financial institutions, relying on the same authority that gives paper money its value. But after the events of the last century, can anyone fully believe that the state should be the ultimate standard for trust and fiscal faith? And would even a real-life George Bailey be able to coax us into confidence, let alone belief that good intentions have power over principles of finance? We are in for perilous times."
Perilous and dangerous times, to be sure. The times ahead of us will be perilous, because of the government's powers to enforce obedience and conformity with little chance of dissention; and dangerous, because so many Americans are comfortable with those powers, and see in them the ingredients for "hope" and "change."

It is interesting to note that early in the 1770's, the British government forbade importation into the American colonies muskets and gunpowder, to reduce the ability of the colonists to resist by force the force that would be initiated by the Crown. Soon after news of Obama's election as president, gun sales in this country skyrocketed on the bet that the new president and Congress would so severely limit gun purchases and ownership that the market - and the right to bear arms - would simply cease to exist.

Take that bit of news as you will.

2 comments:

Andrew Elstner said...

A razor sharp analysis indeed. Perhaps you've seen it already, but if not, have a look at how the GOP flounders after its loss:

http://www.rebuildtheparty.com/

As far as I can tell, they fault their losses primarily on not "harnessing the power of the internet," and not recruiting enough new supporters, among other phantom issues.

They end their mission statement with a vague reference to republican principles while simultaneously suggesting ways they can imitate the democratic party.

I'm quite certain no one will read it, but I went ahead and gave them my two cents.

-Andrew

Richard said...

Concerning Obama's benevolent leader aura, there's an idea I'm hearing increasingly more often that cropped up around the time of the bailout vote. The media is repeating here and there that the nation is severely lacking "leadership". So I suppose Obama is intended to take up the task and fill the "leadership" void.