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Break the Chains, says Joe "Mittens" or Monster?

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2016: Obama's America or Romney's

by Christopher Chantrill
August 28, 2012 at 12:00 am

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THERE WERE two big takeaways for me on 2016: Obama’s America. One was the united front that Barry and his mom formed against step-father Lolo Soetero’s capitalist career working for an evil oil company in Indonesia. The other was Dinesh D’Souza’s interview with one of Barack Senior’s old anti-colonialist buddies back in Kenya. The old guy is still spouting the anti-colonial bunkum about the Brits looting the colonies and its modern refrain, that the US is in the Middle East to grab the oil. Oh, and the Arabs are victims of the Israelis.

Dinesh’s movie reminds us that our 2012 presidential candidates are unapologetic representatives of two great 19th century belief systems. Barack Obama believes in the Exploitation narrative, invented by Marx and extended by Lenin. To Obama and his lefty mom, oil companies might as well be 19th century textile sweatshops, and the highest calling in the world is to advocate for the poor against the capitalist exploiters.

Mitt Romney is a horse of a different color. He belongs to a church founded in America’s Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century. He practices the modern capitalism of the 21st century. You take money from where it is to where it is wanted, helping start new companies or trying to save old ones. You hire the best people and train them up, and give them all the responsibility they can handle. When you see a problem, he writes, you “run toward it or it will only get worse.” No “leading from behind” for Mitt.

The Exploitation narrative is obviously attractive to people looking for a political career. It says that some helpless group, the workers, for example, are suffering from injustice or oppression. They are not getting their just deserts. So the radical suit or community organizer organizes them to fight for a political solution to their problem, and take what is rightfully theirs. Barack Obama did that for a couple of years, organizing the laid-off steelworkers in South Chicago.

The Second Great Awakening was quintessentially American. It was an upwelling of religious enthusiasm among the common people, and it was particularly strong in the “burned over district” in western New York where the Smiths, “a close and loving family greatly given to religious discussion and experimentation,” lived just outside Palmyra. A new religion typically starts as a family affair, according to sociologist Rodney Stark, and so it was with family of Joseph Smith.

The difference between the Exploitation narrative and the religious Awakening narrative is that, under Exploitation, the people believe that the rich have to change. Under the Awakening narrative it is we the people that have to change, one soul at a time.

One problem with the Exploitation narrative is what happens after the people have, under the leadership of their community organizers, won power and the right to make the guilty pay. Over and over again, we have seen the community organizers attempt to organize the whole nation as though it were a political army. Thus the Soviets, the Chinese and the Tanzanians organized the peasants into central-controlled collective farms according to a grand plan that utterly failed. In the 1930s the New Dealers organized everyone into a central-controlled pension plan. In the 2010 President Obama organized everyone into a central-controlled health care plan.

In the LDS narrative it is the church members, not the community organizer cadres, that get enrolled into running things. Even the lordly Mitt Romney must take his turn to serve as an ordinary ward bishop or stake president. Then he finds himself called away from creating jobs at Bain Capital to run the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. In other words, the Mormon church is a civil society association in which all are called in turn to serve and to lead. It’s the American Way, as Alexis de Tocqueville observed in the 1830s.

Roger Scruton, in his new How to Think Seriously About the Planet nails the difference between the Exploitation and the American way of doing things. Writing about environmental policy, he says that a regulation “should never confiscate the problem from those who have the job of solving it”.

That’s the whole thing in a nutshell. In Obama’s America, liberals want to confiscate problems from those who should have the job--and the satisfaction--of doing it. Why? Because liberals want that satisfaction for themselves. Educating your children? Much better to confiscate it from ordinary people and let liberal experts do it. Health care? Obama-Reid-Pelosi have confiscated it and given it to 15 liberal bureaucrats at the IPAB. You didn’t build that. Only liberals are allowed the satisfaction of building things in Obama’s America.

In Romney’s America the ordinary people get together in their little platoons to solve their problems and build it--on their own.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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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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