Before Obama got around to digging up his copy of last year's State of the Union address, crossing out a few lines, adding something about Iraq and Bin Laden, before heading out for another round of golf, David Brooks wrote a New York Times column urging Obama not to forget to mention the importance of promoting education for a free market economy. He titled it, Free-Market Socialism. (January 23)
Indeed, President Barack Obama did blather on about the importance of education during his address (on January 24, in approximately 410 words), remarking that the U.S. “leads the world in educating its people,” and about the imperative of the government doing more to improve it, almost as though he were winking at Brooks. Greenfield focused on the ludicrousness of Obama’s assertions about education and Brooks’ dreamy imaginings of its perfect state, in light of the disastrous consequences of government involvement in education. In fact, Obama’s State of the Union address, from one perspective, is simply an exploded, verbose rewrite of Brooks’ article with minor asides on Iraq and Iran and jobs. To wit, Brooks wrote:
If President Obama is really serious about restoring American economic dynamism, he needs an aggressive, two-pronged approach: More economic freedom combined with more social structure; more competition combined with more support.
Meaning competition that is approved by the government married to an expanded welfare state, with the whole “social structure” of wider “safety nets” and subsidized skills education in technical schools; and more government-approved competition subsidized or favored by the government. In a word: fascism. Its euphemism is “economic dynamism.” Well, there is failed Solyndra, and failed General Motors, and there are the Krupp works of Nazi Germany, which were certainly “dynamic” in turning out Panzer tanks, artillery, locomotives and heavy armor for the Wehrmacht.
Jonah Goldberg, however, wrote an interesting column that sliced and diced the central premise of the State of the Union address, “Obama’s Vision for a Spartan America” (January 27). In it he takes Obama to task for advocating, in so many mealy-mouthed words, a kind of militarized America.
He said of the military: "At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They're not consumed with personal ambition. They don't obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together. Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach."
That is disgusting.
What Obama is saying, quite plainly, is that America would be better off if it wasn't America any longer. He's making the case not for American exceptionalism, but Spartan exceptionalism.
Goldberg focuses on the “spirit” or “theme” of the address. While the speech was a revision of Obama’s 2011 State of the Union address, a new element was introduced, the appeal for regimentation.
Indeed, Obama is upending the very point of a military in a free society. We have a military to keep our society free. We do not have a military to teach us the best way to give up our freedom. Our warriors surrender their liberties and risk their lives to protect ours. The promise of American life for Obama is that if we all try our best and work our hardest, we can be like a military unit striving for a single goal. I've seen pictures of that from North Korea. No thank you, Mr. President.
More than likely Goldberg has seen similar pictures from Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. North Korea is a Johnny-Come-Lately. And while his Spartan analogy is thin, Goldberg put his finger on the mentality of a power-seeker and cites one prominent advocate of a “militarized” society.
Of course, Obama's militaristic fantasizing isn't new. Ever since William James coined the phrase "the moral equivalent of war," liberalism has been obsessed with finding ways to mobilize civilian life with the efficiency and conformity of military life. "Martial virtues," James wrote, "must be the enduring cement" of American society: "intrepidity, contempt of softness, surrender of private interest, obedience to command must still remain the rock upon which states are built." His disciple, liberal philosopher John Dewey, hoped for a social order that would force Americans to lay aside "our good-natured individualism and march in step."
Williams James did not mince words, as Obama has done in the past, did during his address Tuesday evening, and will in the future now that he’s running for reelection. In his essay, “The Moral Equivalent of War” (1906), James frankly confesses:
The martial type of character can be bred without war. Strenuous honor and disinterestedness abound everywhere. Priests and medical men are in a fashion educated to it, and we should all feel some degree [if] its imperative if we were conscious of our work as an obligatory service to the state. We should be owned, as soldiers are by the army, and our pride would rise accordingly. [Italics James’s]
Discipline. Marching in step. Martial virtues. Service to the state. The abjuration of private interest to better follow orders and to tailor one’s life and mind to serve state goals. Superficially “Spartan,” but essentially collectivist. Specifically fascist. Too reminiscent of the requisite conditions Hitler and Mussolini imposed on Germans and Italians to create and sustain their totalitarian states.
And, of course, the American president who first explicitly articulated such a submissive society was John F. Kennedy, who, in his inaugural address in January 1961, proclaimed:
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.
Ayn Rand wrote the defining essay on the nature of Kennedy’s policies, and the whole of his inaugural address is an appeal to sacrifice our liberty, wealth and rights in the name of saving the rest of the world from tyranny, poverty and misery.
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
In “The Fascist New Frontier,” among her other damning observations, she noted about our welfare state, that
“But the new frontier of which I speak,” said Senator John F. Kennedy, “is not a set of promises, it is a set of challenges. It sums up not what I intend to offer to the American people, but what I intend to ask of them. It holds out the promise of more sacrifice, instead of more security.”
After quoting Hitler, General Franco of Spain, and Mussolini on the subject of the individual being compelled to defer and sacrifice to the state or the “community” and that an individual’s rights are secondary to the “rights” of the collective, Rand wrote:
President Kennedy finds it harder. According to the New York Times, he said that “he was confident of victory in the Cold War, and that any necessary sacrifices would be made. However, he said, he did not know how to distribute these sacrifices equitably in a free society.”
Rand’s “punch line” to that – and it is a line that ought to knock anyone flat – was:
Observe that any social movement that begins by distributing income, ends up distributing sacrifices.
Is there not a single rational, or even semi-rational person left in this country who does not understand that Obama’s policies are consciously designed to extort the maximum amount of sacrifice from Americans, more than Kennedy could ever allow himself to imagine?
Hitler occupied Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, France, and The Netherlands. The American version of his invading armies has “occupied” parks and public places in cities around the country. Why? Because they are “poor.” Hitler knew how to organize the “poor.” Here he describes the Vienna he lived in:
Abject poverty confronted the wealth of the aristocracy and the merchant class face-to-face. Thousands of unemployed loitered in front of the palaces on the Ring Strasse; and below that Via Triumphalis of the old Austria the homeless huddled together in the murk and filth of the canals. (Mein Kampf, Chapter 2, Book One)
Obama spoke with approval of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a movement which too obviously was planned and coordinated, very likely by George Soros and his protest machine. It was the Saul Alinsky tactic writ large. Many of the “occupied” sites have since been cleared out, but OWS is still a virulent, dangerous machine that invites and practices violence. Its hard core members – recruited mostly from the educated middle and upper classes – will become the Storm Troopers of fascism, regardless of who wins the election this year.
Are these thugs selfless, and committed to service in a cause higher then themselves, and ready to sacrifice their lives for the national community?
A man who fights only for his own existence has not much left over for the service of the community. (Mein Kampf, Chapter 3, Book One)
There exists a little known “sequel” to Mein Kampf, an untitled, and unpublished 200-page manuscript that is basically Hitler’s megalomaniacal vision of Germany and the “Folk.” It was written in 1928, only a few years after the publication of Mein Kampf (two volumes, 1925-1926). (Interestingly, the editor of Mein Kampf, Bernhard Stempfle, was targeted for death during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, when Hitler orchestrated the murders of key members of the rival SA.) It was discovered by an American officer in an air raid shelter in 1945.
It would be appropriate to end this commentary with a quote of a single line from it that is relevant to Obama’s new vision of an America he hopes very much to change:
The people who chatter so happily about socialism do not at all realize that the highest socialist organization of all has been the German Army. (Chapter 3)
Obama ended his State of the Union address with words consonant with his military theme:
This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other's backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great; no mission too hard. As long as we're joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.
Substitute “This Nation” with “Germany,” and I challenge anyone to fail to see the difference between that and anything Hitler or Mussolini had ever written or spoken.
Watch your back. There may be someone peering over your shoulder, and holding a gun.