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  An American Manifesto
Thursday October 23, 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


Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


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


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


Never Trust Experts

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, “Letter to Lord Lytton”


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


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”


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©2012 Christopher Chantrill