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  An American Manifesto
Thursday August 21, 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


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


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


Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures


German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Knowledge

Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


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


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


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


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


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


Living Law

The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital


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©2012 Christopher Chantrill