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  An American Manifesto
Wednesday September 17, 2014 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

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Smashing the Tyranny of the Democrats' Cliches Obama's Togetherness

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A Pre-revolutionary Situation

by Christopher Chantrill
June 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm

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ONCE UPON a time there was a nation that had trouble paying its bills. The people were restless. So the king called for his advisors, and they advised a little inflation to stimulate trade. A few months passed, and the people were still restless. So the king called for his advisors once again and asked them what was wrong. It’s those extremists and radicals, they said. They are sowing radical ideas and extremism among the people.

Wouldn’t you know, the bookstores are groaning these days with pompous titles about the radicalism of the Republican Party. Court pundit E.J. Dionne, Jr. is out with Our Divided Political Heart: The Battle for the American Idea in an Age of Discontent. He argues that Republicans have abandoned any thought of community in a mad crush on individualism. In an interview with Hugh Hewitt E.J. worried that the Tea Partiers owe too much to the ideas of the John Birch Society and have reneged on the “long consensus” about the role of government in society.

I think they emphasize our individualistic side, which is very much part of us, the individual liberty side, to the exclusion of that side of us which both believes profoundly in community, and sees it as essential to preserving liberty.

Thomas E. Mann from Brookings and Norman J. Ornstein of AEI have written It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism. Jay Cost tells us what they think has gone wrong.

[T]hey argue that the GOP “has become an insurgent outlier—ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”

When a ruling elite starts to fail you’d expect this sort of thing. How dare, how dare those peasants challenge our divine right to rule!

The United States is entering a pre-revolutionary situation where a significant faction in one of the political parties has said: We’re getting screwed; the deal’s off.” And that is exactly what James Piereson is arguing in “The fourth revolution” in The New Criterion. We are entering a period of revolutionary upheaval, he writes, caused not just by the Crash of 2008 and budget deficits but by “the exhaustion of the post-war system of political economy that took shape in the 1930s and 1940s.” Cue Margaret Thatcher: “They always run out of other peoples’ money.”

There are several strategies open to an elite in a pre-revolutionary situation. It can opt for confrontation. That was the tactic attempted by the progressives of Wisconsin, and it failed. Another approach is co-option. You figure out what the rubes really want and give them just enough to make them go away. That was the strategy of the Clinton years and the Third Way. It almost worked.

Then there is always marginalization: don’t listen to those whack-jobs and extremists. This method worked on Ronald Reagan, for a while.

But how about an approach that would appeal to the vast majority of Americans? How about re-energizing the sense of American identity, of America as a community of free men and women, “self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility.”

Community? It’s not just what E.J. Dionne, Jr. wants; it’s what everyone wants.

It is in the definition of community that the difference between liberal ruling class and the conservative extremists arises.

For liberals like E.J. Dionne, Jr., community means top-down government programs to advance the common good, helping people and correcting injustices. That’s because liberals believe that government can be a force for good, as long as enlightened, educated people are in charge.

For conservatives community means free men and women joining together responsibly to advance the common good, helping people and preventing injustice. That’s because conservatives believe that government can very easily become a force for evil, even when enlightened, educated people are in charge.

Every new dynasty takes power on a moral crusade for justice, and the liberals a century ago were determined to bring justice to the working man who’d drawn the short straw at the birth of the industrial age. But it always ends in the cesspools of corruption, with all passion spent, trying to stay in power by shoveling loot out to supporters that are only in it for the money.

The private sector is doing fine; what’s needed is more money to avoid government employee layoffs. Of course President Obama feels that way. The private sector, at a pinch, can look after itself. But the president, at any cost to the nation, must hang onto his supporters.

But if the private sector can look after itself, who needs liberals?

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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 TAGS


Action

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


Chappies

“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


Churches

[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

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


Conversion

“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


Education

“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


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©2012 Christopher Chantrill