About Those Right Wing Fascists
Of course, if one is remotely balanced -- let alone charitable -- one will acknowledge that both sides have their crazies, and leave it at that. For every moonbat there's an equal and opposite wingnut, and all that. In fact, for every gay-hating Fred Phelps there must be a dozen God-hating Charles Johnsons. But the science of natural selection is not discredited just because people such as Queeg turn it into a religion, nor should marriage be redefined just because Phelps thinks it shouldn't be.
Let's face it: there are only two main parties, but millions of emotionally disturbed people. What are they supposed to do, form their own party? Some of them do, but you have to be both crazy and stupid to think that the Green Party or Reform Party will ever go anywhere.
There are not too many things that really bother me about politics, politics being what it is. But one thing that does is when people condemn one side for doing exactly what the other side does. This is why you will never see me get excited by a commonplace political scandal. Of course politicians are corrupt. That's why I am a conservative. I want fewer of them, with less power over me.
One way to avoid dealing with the substance of an argument is to simply caricature your opposition by focusing on its extreme elements. This is intellectually dishonest. As far as I am concerned, it is not necessary to highlight the true crazies of the left -- Moveon.org, Code Pink, environmental terrorists, PETA, etc. -- because the mainstream is already so nuts. It's a full time job just dealing with the New York Times, CNN, Keith Olbermann, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Van Jones, ACORN, etc.
I've read any number of mainstream analyses of the tea party movement, and not one of them dispassionately discusses the substance of the arguments, i.e., out of control government spending, socialized medicine, legislation to forbid the climate from changing, etc.
Now, back to those "crazies" who think that Obama is a fascist. First of all, you have to understand that genocide is not intrinsic to fascism. In a way, Hitler spoiled a perfectly useful word by forever associating it with the Holocaust. So now we have no name for a certain enduring political phenomenon, just because the name for it has been tainted.
To be honest, this post is just an excuse for me to review and assimilate Hayek's Road to Serfdom, which I finished yesterday. Although originally published in 1944, it is as timely as ever, given the events of the day.
I had already read some of Hayek's other books, not to mention a couple of recent biographies, but this is considered his most accessible work. There was nothing in it that was new for me, but it certainly reinforces the fact that there isn't anything the least bit controversial about linking Obama and fascism. Indeed, Obama is simply acting from a script that was written (and discredited) long ago. It's timeless, really.
Again, at the time it was published, Hayek was trying to make the then-controversial point that communism and fascism were not opposites, but two consequences of the same underlying assumptions. These assumptions are profoundly illiberal, which is why, if you want to reduce it to a linear map, both socialism and fascism are on the left, while classical liberalism is on the right. But this is not really a useful distinction. I much prefer the four-quadrant graph I discussed yesterday, which distinguishes collectivism from individualism and the worldly from the spiritual.
A classical liberal of the American type believes first and foremost in liberty. But not the unconstrained horizontal liberty of the radical secularist. Rather, it can only be understood in a spiritual context, which is why the Founders wanted a secular state but a religious society infused with Judeo-Christian principles and values. None of them imagined that democracy would work in the absence of a virtuous population (although I am quite sure that our trolls can find the stray comment by a Jefferson or Paine justiying their own hatred of God).
It is important to point out that while critics of the tea party movement will cherry-pick some of the signs to focus on, they object just as much to the intellectual substance. The signs just give them a convenient way to avoid debate.
Thus, when The Road to Serfdom was published in the 1940s, it was greeted by the liberal ignorantsia exactly as if Hayek were holding up a sign of Roosevelt with a Hitler moustache. He was dismissed not just as wrong, but sinister (again, without ever engaging the substance of his ideas). This is because virtually all intellectuals at the time were unquestioned socialists. Of course, they accused Hayek of being "reactionary," which was transparent projection, just as today.
As I've said before many times, I don't necessarily blame someone for being a socialist in the 1930s or 1940s, before economics was the science it is today. Socialism has an intrinsic appeal, especially to intellectuals who believe that irreducibly complex problems are susceptible to easy solutions if we just apply enough brain power. This is one of the reasons the left is so enamored of Obama. For whatever reason, they all think he's "brilliant," so that he can "solve our problems." The same things were said of Clinton. But as Milton Friedman famously remarked, no one has all the knowledge necessary to produce even a single pencil, let alone "control healthcare."
Nevertheless, one of the reasons Hayek doesn't appeal to the left wing ignorantsia is that he renders them not just superfluous, but demonstrates how dangerous they are -- not necessarily because of any bad intentions on their part. To the contrary. It is nearly always with the best of intentions. It is just that they are attempting to control reality before having understood it. The grandiose visions of the left are just fairy tales by another name.
But what is worse, they cannot understand the realities they presume to control, not in fact, nor in principle. Can't be done. A free market economy, for example, consists of millions of people making billions of spontaneous decision based upon a practically infinite amount of knowledge, information, and wisdom dispersed throughout the system. Furthermore, it is non-linear, so that if you tinker with one variable, it will have unforeseen -- and unforeseeable -- consequences that will reverberate throughout the system.
Let's take the simple example of Roe v. Wade. Any intellectually honest person knows that this decision was unconstitutional. Be that as it may, one of the ideas was to prevent all of those deaths resulting from back alley abortions -- all six of them, or however many it was (don't believe anyone who gives you a statistic, because they're making it up).
But what were the actual consequences of Roe v. Wade? Being that there have been -- what 50 million? -- abortions since 1973, and thousands a day, I am quite sure that more women have died as a result of legal abortions than the illegal ones. This is because Roe v. Wade incentivized abortion, and with it, promiscuity and general sexual irresponsibility.
In a way, it's similar to the HIV virus, which incentivised homosexuals to refrain from certain activities, such as having thousands of anonymous partners in a bathhouse. But if a cure is ever found, then you can be quite sure that the same culture will flourish. Incentives matter. Intentions don't.
But the left is always blind to the consequences of their policies. And because they are rooted in emotion, not thought, they will simply vilify you if you disagree with them, as they did with Hayek.
The other day, Tom Friedman removed the mask and argued that China was a good country for the United States to emulate, because only with an authoritarian state would it be possible to impose Friedman World on the rest of us. In this regard, Hayek wrote that, once one concludes that central planning is necessary, this leads to "the demand that the government, or some single individual, should be given power to act on their own.... It becomes more and more the accepted belief that... the responsible director of affairs must be freed from the fetters of democratic procedure" (emphasis mine).
Not only has every liberal commentator (including the President) taken Sarah Palin's "death panels" comment out of context, but they refuse even to acknowledge that the responsible director of medical affairs must be freed from the fetters of democratic procedure in deciding how medical resources will be allocated. How is this belief controversial?
In his introduction to the book, Caldwell notes that Hayek's ideas are not just a kind of "lightning rod," but a Rorschach test that reveals "as much about the reader's prior commitments as it does about Hayek's ideas." Both the ideas and the reaction to them are timeless, man being what he is. After all, slavery and serfdom are the rule in human history, not the exception. Therefore, it is not as if these were simply accidental developments in human history. To the contrary, the culture of liberty is clearly the exception.
But the leftist believes to his core that liberty is possible in a culture of servitude. Apparently, he never pauses to think that for a third or half the year he is in bondage to the state. In my case, there is federal tax, state tax, property tax, payroll tax, sales tax, gas tax, beer tax, and more, not to mention various licenses and fees. And the government is still bankrupt!
Does the leftist really not put two and two together and understand that for the government, it always equals five? Does he really believe that there is no justification for anger at the size and scope of government? Does he really believe that it is somehow "liberal" to want to work even more for an even larger state? Does he really not acknowledge his bottomless greed and sense of entitlement for the fruits of our labors?
To be continued....