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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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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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