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by Christopher Chantrill
June 27, 2012 at 12:00 am
THESE LAST few months Ive been working on the idea that there are two modern world views. Theres the Invisible Hand world view that things will work out because humans are social animals and must be social to achieve their selfish ends.
Then there is the Exploitation world view that says that the only way forward is for idealistic activists to fight for the peoples rights against a world of wealthy corporations and greedy bankers.
Imagine what I learned from the tour guide when I went on a cemetery walking tour recently on Queen Anne hill in liberal Seattle.
Over here is the grave of Carlos Bulosan, the Filipino-American writer and activist who penned the Freedom from Want essay in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943.
But we are not really free unless we use what we produce. So long as the fruit of our labor is denied us, so long will want manifest itself in a world of slaves.
Get it? Its the Marxian theory of surplus value. Over here lies an African American woman who organized the first African-American college sorority at Howard University. Over there is a woman who was the first teacher in Seattle (at a private school, unfortunately). In 1848 she attended the Seneca Falls Convention on womens rights.
Over here are the victims of the 1916 Everett Massacre when IWW supporters took a boat from Seattle to hold a rally in support of striking shingle workers. On landing in Everett they ran into hail of fire from the sheriff and a posse of vigilantes: just because the Wobblies wanted the bosses to share the profits. And here are graves of typographical union workers that died from tuberculosis.
Heres the grave of Seattle banker Rudolph Ankeny. In 1891 he cut down a huge cedar, used by the local tribes and revered as a signal tree, and built a house in its place. Heres the founder of Hansen Baking Company. He started out as a cleaner in a Seattle bakery, then learned the trade, worked his way up and bought the business. Eventually he sold out to an eastern conglomerate and the business folded.
OK, enough of the liberal history; lets indulge in a little conservative truth-telling.
In the 1940s, when Bulosan was writing his screed, workers were enjoying the fruits of 100 years of industrialism, rising from incomes of $1-3 per day in 1800 to about $30 per day. What an amazing achievement! The 1848 convention in Seneca Falls, New York, was possible because in 1841 the railroad had reached the city. For the first time in history well-born young women could travel to the Finger Lakes inexpensively in comfort and safety to discuss the need, in the industrial age, to change the traditions of property ownership and inheritance more appropriate for an agricultural age. How great is that? In the lumber town of Everett, Washington, 1916 was a year of serious depression: not too much in the way of corporate profits to share with the Wobblies.
Lets finish with Rudolph Ankeny, the tree-cutting banker. He came to Seattle in 1888 to work as a bookkeeper at Puget Sound National Bank, was promoted to teller in 1890 and assistant cashier a year later when he built his house. Not exactly the CEO of Goldman Sachs.
One of the problems of living in a closed community and holding regular religious services to celebrate the saints and martyrs in local cemeteries is that you blind yourself to glaring injustices staring you right in the face. So the Pew Research Centers Trends in American Values 1987-2012 is full of responses to questions about the social safety net and the environment. But none of those liberals thinks to ask a question on generational injustice.
Now, if I were a visitor from Mars, the first thing I would notice is that our society spends trillions of dollars on seniors like me while fobbing off young people with a lousy education that confines them in government child custodial facilities for two decades, saddles them with gigantic debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, and then tosses them out into a job market with no jobs. If I were a young person today Id be crying out to the reverberate hills for justice.
On the Invisible Hand world view there is certainly recognition that the industrial economy can and does cause suffering and exploitation. But it takes the Exploitation world view to gin up genuine injustice, Fidel. Typically the ruling class has no idea what is wrong. It is too busy congratulating itself for its heroic fight against injustice a century ago.
That is not to say our liberal friends are evil people. Its just that when they fill up their minds with heartwarming tales from the modern Foxes Book of Liberal Martyrs, they might be missing something.
They might be missing the determination of this Empowered Man answering the prayers of President James Madison by bravely holding up the US Constitution and speaking truth to power in front of the White House--to the horror of President Obama and the applause of the good guys: Presidents Lincoln, Reagan, Washington and Coolidge.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[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
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[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
[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
[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.
[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
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
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
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
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
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America