People gathered to honor Stalin’s victims at a ceremony in Kiev, Ukraine, last year. Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters
Communism Through Rose-Colored Glasses.
Bret Stephens writes: “In the spring of 1932 desperate officials, anxious for their jobs and even their lives, aware that a new famine might be on its way, began to collect grain wherever and however they could. Mass confiscations occurred all across the U.S.S.R. In Ukraine they took on an almost fanatical intensity.”
I am quoting a few lines from “Red Famine,” Anne Applebaum’s brilliant new history of the deliberate policy of mass starvation inflicted on Ukraine by Joseph Stalin in the early 1930s. An estimated five million or more people perished in just a few years. Walter Duranty, The Times’s correspondent in the Soviet Union, insisted the stories of famine were false. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for reportage the paper later called “completely misleading.”
How many readers, I wonder, are familiar with this history of atrocity and denial, except in a vague way? How many know the name of Lazar Kaganovich, one of Stalin’s principal henchmen in the famine? What about other chapters large and small in the history of Communist horror, from the deportation of the Crimean Tatars to the depredations of Peru’s Shining Path to the Brezhnev-era psychiatric wards that were used to torture and imprison political dissidents?
Why is it that people who know all about the infamous prison on Robben Island in South Africa have never heard of the prison on Cuba’s Isle of Pines? Why is Marxism still taken seriously on college campuses and in the progressive press? Do the same people who
rightly demand the removal of Confederate statues ever feel even a shiver of inner revulsion at hipsters in Lenin or Mao T-shirts?
These aren’t original questions. But they’re worth asking because so many of today’s progressives remain in a permanent and dangerous state of semi-denial about the legacy of Communism a century after its birth in Russia.
No, they are not true-believing Communists. No, they are not unaware of the toll of the Great Leap Forward or the Killing Fields. No, they are not plotting to undermine democracy. Read the rest of this entry »
In another #onlyatYAF lecture, Dinesh D’Souza blasts the left for their fascist roots and anti-minority bigotry, two things they have become adept at throwing at the right. In fact, the history of the Democratic Party is a history of corruption, bigotry, and totalitarianism. Dinesh D’Souza is UNCHAINED at Trinity University.
“I wrote a book called ‘Liberal Fascism’ about a decade ago, and even then the best working definition of a Fascist in America is ‘a conservative who’s winning an argument’. The way the Left operates, they just try to shout down anyone who disagrees with them, these campuses are little, sort of soft-Totalitarian states where disagreements is actually a heresy.”
“By all means, Milo has a right to speak, he has free speech rights, they should have let him speak, the far smarter strategy would be to ignore these things, but the clampdown on free speech that’s more troubling is when they block people like Condoleeza Rice from being able to give a speech. The whole point to protecting outrageous speech is that it keeps the zone of speech for reasonable important speech safer, the way they do this kind of stuff is so counterproductive, it feeds into the worse impulses on both the right and the left, and Berkeley, and the administration of Berkeley should be ashamed of itself.”
The originator of the great man theory of history is British philosopher Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), one of the most revered thinkers of his day.
Jeffrey Tucker writes: Have you heard of the “great man” theory of history?
The meaning is obvious from the words. The idea is that history moves in epochal shifts under the leadership of visionary, bold, often ruthless men who marshall the energy of masses of people to push events in radical new directions. Nothing is the same after them.
“Liberalism was always counterintuitive. The less society is ordered, the more order emerges from the ground up. The freer people are permitted to be, the happier the people become and the more meaning they find in the course of life itself. The less power that is given to the ruling class, the more wealth is created and dispersed among everyone. The less a nation is directed by conscious design, the more it can provide a model of genuine greatness.”
In their absence, nothing happens that is notable enough to qualify as history: no heroes, no god-like figures who qualify as “great.” In this view, we need such men. If they do not exist, we create them. They give us purpose. They define the meaning of life. They drive history forward.
Great men, in this view, do not actually have to be fabulous people in their private lives. They need not exercise personal virtue. They need not even be moral. They only need to be perceived as such by the masses, and play this role in the trajectory of history.
Such a view of history shaped much of historiography as it was penned in the late 19th century and early 20th century, until the revisionists of the last several decades saw the error and turned instead to celebrate private life and the achievements of common folk instead. Today the “great man” theory history is dead as regards academic history, and rightly so.
Carlyle the Proto-Fascist
The originator of the great man theory of history is British philosopher Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), one of the most revered thinkers of his day. He also coined the expression “dismal science” to describe the economics of his time. The economists of the day, against whom he constantly inveighed, were almost universally champions of the free market, free trade, and human rights.
“Carlyle was not a socialist in an ideological sense. He cared nothing for the common ownership of the means of production. Creating an ideologically driven social ideal did not interest him at all. His writings appeared and circulated alongside those of Karl Marx and his contemporaries, but he was not drawn to them.”
Considering Carlyle’s immense place in the history of 19th century intellectual life, this is a surprisingly nutty book. It can clearly be seen as paving the way for the monster dictators of the 20th century. Reading his description of “great men” literally, there is no sense in which Mao, Stalin, and Hitler — or any savage dictator from any country you can name — would not qualify.
“Rather than an early ‘leftist,’ he was a consistent proponent of power and a raving opponent of classical liberalism, particularly of the legacies of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill. If you have the slightest leanings toward liberty, or affections for the impersonal forces of markets, his writings come across as ludicrous. His interest was in power as the central organizing principle of society.”
Indeed, a good case can be made that Carlyle was the forefather of fascism. He made his appearance in the midst of the age of laissez faire, a time when the UK and the US had already demonstrated the merit of allowing society to take its own course, undirected from the top down. In these times, kings and despots were exercising ever less control and markets ever more. Slavery was on its way out. Women obtained rights equal to men. Class mobility was becoming the norm, as were long lives, universal opportunity, and material progress.
“A good case can be made that Carlyle was the forefather of fascism. He made his appearance in the midst of the age of laissez faire, a time when the UK and the US had already demonstrated the merit of allowing society to take its own course, undirected from the top down. In these times, kings and despots were exercising ever less control and markets ever more. Slavery was on its way out. Women obtained rights equal to men. Class mobility was becoming the norm, as were long lives, universal opportunity, and material progress.”
Carlyle would have none of it. He longed for a different age. His literary output was devoted to decrying the rise of equality as a norm and calling for the restoration of a ruling class that would exercise firm and uncontested power for its own sake. In his view, some were meant to rule and others to follow. Society must be organized hierarchically lest his ideal of greatness would never again be realized. He set himself up as the prophet of despotism and the opponent of everything that was then called liberal.
“Carlyle would have none of it. He longed for a different age. His literary output was devoted to decrying the rise of equality as a norm and calling for the restoration of a ruling class that would exercise firm and uncontested power for its own sake. In his view, some were meant to rule and others to follow. Society must be organized hierarchically lest his ideal of greatness would never again be realized. He set himself up as the prophet of despotism and the opponent of everything that was then called liberal.”
Right Authoritarianism of the 19th Century
Carlyle was not a socialist in an ideological sense. He cared nothing for the common ownership of the means of production. Creating an ideologically driven social ideal did not interest him at all. His writings appeared and circulated alongside those of Karl Marx and his contemporaries, but he was not drawn to them.
“Why the state? Because within the state, all that is otherwise considered immoral, illegal, unseemly, and ghastly, can become, as blessed by the law, part of policy, civic virtue, and the forward motion of history.”
Rather than an early “leftist,” he was a consistent proponent of power and a raving opponent of classical liberalism, particularly of the legacies of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill. If you have the slightest leanings toward liberty, or affections for the impersonal forces of markets, his writings come across as ludicrous. His interest was in power as the central organizing principle of society.
Here is his description of the “great men” of the past:
“They were the leaders of men, these great ones; the modellers, patterns, and in a wide sense creators, of whatsoever the general mass of men contrived to do or to attain; all things that we see standing accomplished in the world are properly the outer material result, the practical realization and embodiment, of Thoughts that dwelt in the Great Men sent into the world: the soul of the whole world’s history….
One comfort is, that Great Men, taken up in any way, are profitable company. We cannot look, however imperfectly, upon a great man, without gaining something by him. He is the living light-fountain, which it is good and pleasant to be near. The light which enlightens, which has enlightened the darkness of the world; and this not as a kindled lamp only, but rather as a natural luminary shining by the gift of Heaven; a flowing light-fountain, as I say, of native original insight, of manhood and heroic nobleness;—in whose radiance all souls feel that it is well with them. … Could we see them well, we should get some glimpses into the very marrow of the world’s history. How happy, could I but, in any measure, in such times as these, make manifest to you the meanings of Heroism; the divine relation (for I may well call it such) which in all times unites a Great Man to other men…”
And so on it goes for hundreds of pages that celebrate “great” events such as the Reign of Terror in the aftermath of the French Revolution (one of the worst holocausts then experienced). Wars, revolutions, upheavals, invasions, and mass collective action, in his view, were the essence of life itself.
The merchantcraft of the industrial revolution, the devolution of power, the small lives of the bourgeoisie all struck him as noneventful and essentially irrelevant. These marginal improvements in the social sphere were made by the “silent people” who don’t make headlines and therefore don’t matter much; they are essential at some level but inconsequential in the sweep of things. Read the rest of this entry »
During the Cold War, the Cuban government becomes communist and aligns with the Soviet Union, and many of that country’s productive citizens flee to the United States where property rights are more secure and government is more constrained. Cuba’s economy predictably fails and is kept afloat for years by foreign aid provided mostly by the Soviets. Meanwhile, Cuban businesses first take root, then flourish in the US, particularly in Miami, including a cigar industry based in Little Havana.
“The FDA’s policies — fascist in the sense that they allow for private ownership but government control — mean that, at the end of the day, the portion of the US cigar industry that escaped Cuba simply traded one repressive regime for another.”
Ironically, many of these cigar manufacturers succeed due to government intervention in the form of the Cuban trade embargo, enforced by the US government. Meanwhile, American demand for Cuban-grown and rolled cigars remains high, and many purchase them in extra-legal markets or on trips abroad — often when “abroad” translates to Mexico or Canada. I once met a man who smoked a Cuban cigar in the 1980s. It was such a profoundly pleasurable experience that he vowed to never smoke another cigar again.
So it went until the Cuban embargo was lifted by the US government last year and questions arose about whether Miami-based cigar manufacturers would survive competition from los cigarros cubanos. Unfortunately, a threat bigger than competition emerged in the form of new rules for cigar manufacturers announced last week by the Food and Drug Administration.
Based on the “duty to protect public health,” the FDA is requiring cigar manufacturers to comply with rules drawn up last year for the electronic cigarette market. These include the requirement of so-called “pre-authorization” applications and fees before being allowed to sell their product. These aren’t one-time tariffs either, as any decision to change tobacco blends in the future — a common practice in a premium cigar market responsive to consumer tastes and preferences — requires FDA permission involving new rounds of applications and fees.
“I mean I get it — you have to do what Uncle Sam says,” said Sandy Cobas, owner of El Titan, one of the 119 Miami businesses that Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado says depend on hand-rolled cigars. “But how are we going to be able to afford this?”
She isn’t alone, say industry experts like Marvin Shanken, founder, editor and publisher of Cigar Aficionado magazine.
“Miami, and South Florida in general, is the heart of the cigar industry,” Shanken said. “The impact will be most visible there, without a doubt.”
The FDA estimates that small businesses like El Titan, which produces 250,000 to 300,000 cigars per year, will pay $278,000 to $397,000 in application fees and other costs during the initial compliance period. While El Titan will be able to pass some of those fees on to the companies that hire it to make private-label smokes, it will still need to raise prices.
The new rules will have the greatest impact on companies less than a decade old, which will be required to apply for pre-market approval at an average cost of $6,560 per application, according to FDA estimates.
Fourth generation cigar roller, Jose Blanco, who opened Los Cumbres Tabaco in Doral in 2014, figures he will have to submit between 25 and 30 applications, which likely will cost more than $100,000. “For companies starting off in this business, you’re lucky to be breaking even like we are,” Blanco said.
Cigars sold prior to Feb. 15, 2007 — an estimated 60 percent of all cigars sold in the U.S., according to the FDA — are grandfathered in.
Though Tamarac-based Gurkha Cigars was incorporated in 1989 (the brand was first established in 1887), the company estimates it will pay $500,000 in legal costs on top of fees for 800 individual applications.
It’s a lot of money that harms small manufacturers to benefit large ones. In fact, it’s likely the large ones championed the FDA rules to provide them with more market power in a post-embargo world. It also reflects the first rule of government regulation of business, that regulation always causes secondary effects that are sometimes anticipated, and sometimes not. Read the rest of this entry »
Left/right, Progressive/Conservative, Democrat/Republican… The names change and evolve but the core difference remains constant: The Collectivists vs. The Individualists. In his latest FIREWALL, but shows how violence, disruption and intimidation have always been the tools of the Collectivists. This is not about Donald Trump, no matter how much they want you to believe it.
What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.
Thomas Sowell writes: It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a “socialist.” He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.
“What socialism, fascism and other ideologies of the left have in common is an assumption that some very wise people — like themselves — need to take decisions out of the hands of lesser people, like the rest of us, and impose those decisions by government fiat.”
What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.
“The left’s vision is not only a vision of the world, but also a vision of themselves.”
Politically, it is heads-I-win when things go right, and tails-you-lose when things go wrong. This is far preferable, from Obama’s point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, without having to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time.
Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous — something that Barack Obama avoids like the plague.
Thus the Obama administration can arbitrarily force insurance companies to cover the children of their customers until the children are 26 years old. Obviously, this creates favorable publicity for President Obama. But if this and other government edicts cause insurance premiums to rise, then that is something that can be blamed on the “greed” of the insurance companies.
The same principle, or lack of principle, applies to many other privately owned businesses. It is a very successful political ploy that can be adapted to all sorts of situations.
One of the reasons why both pro-Obama and anti-Obama observers may be reluctant to see him as fascist is that both tend to accept the prevailing notion that fascism is on the political right, while it is obvious that Obama is on the political left.
“Mussolini, the originator of fascism, was lionized by the left, both in Europe and in America, during the 1920s. Even Hitler, who adopted fascist ideas in the 1920s, was seen by some, including W.E.B. Du Bois, as a man of the left.”
Back in the 1920s, however, when fascism was a new political development, it was widely — and correctly — regarded as being on the political left. Jonah Goldberg‘s great book “Liberal Fascism” cites overwhelming evidence of the fascists’ consistent pursuit of the goals of the left, and of the left’s embrace of the fascists as one of their own during the 1920s. Read the rest of this entry »
William McGurn writes: How does a man who entered the White House vowing to restore science to its proper place tell us that gun control is the answer to terrorism?
“Put simply, today’s liberalism cannot deal with the reality of evil. So liberals inveigh against the instruments the evil use rather than the evil that motivates them.”
After all, California already has strict gun control, as does France, which just had its second terrorist massacre this year. Not to mention that the one time when terrorists with assault rifles and body armor were foiled, it was because an off-duty traffic cop in Garland, Texas, was carrying a gun—and used it to shoot the two heavily armed Islamists before they could kill anyone.
“Not that there aren’t measures society can embrace to keep the innocent from being shot and killed. The best example may be New York City from 2002-13, during Ray Kelly’s last stint as police commissioner, when the NYPD was bringing the murder rate to record lows through America’s most effective gun-control program: stop-and-frisk.”
Or that “common sense gun control” would have done nothing to stop Richard Reid (the unsuccessful shoe-bomber); the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston (pressure cookers) or the 9/11 hijackers (box-cutters). Maybe the president should be demanding common sense pressure-cooker control.
“This was gun control for bad guys, under the theory that when you take guns away from bad people—or at least make them afraid to carry guns on the street—you reduce shootings. But it was savaged by liberals. Because they don’t want just the bad guys’ guns. They want yours.”
Yet while the critiques of the president’s antigun pitch are correct, they are also beside the point. Because liberal calls for gun control aren’t about keeping guns from bad guys. It’s what you talk about so you don’t have to talk about the reality of Islamist terror. And focusing on the weaponry is part of a liberal argument that dates to the Cold War, when calls for arms control were likewise used to avoid addressing the ugly reality of communism.
Understand this, and you understand why Senate Democrats reacted to San Bernardino by putting forth antigun legislation. Why the New York Timesran a gun control editorial on its front page, and the Daily News used its own cover to feature the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre underneath San Bernardino killer Syed Farook—labeling them both terrorists. And why President Obama used Sunday night’s address to whine about those resisting his call for gun measures that would not have stopped any of the shooters.
Put simply, today’s liberalism cannot deal with the reality of evil. So liberals inveigh against the instruments the evil use rather than the evil that motivates them.
Not that there aren’t measures society can embrace to keep the innocent from being shot and killed. The best example may be New York City from 2002-13, during Ray Kelly’s last stint as police commissioner, when the NYPD was bringing the murder rate to record lows through America’s most effective gun-control program: stop-and-frisk. Read the rest of this entry »
“Most worrisome, by rooting these complaints almost entirely in an emotional agenda, the protesters conveniently shield themselves from a cornerstone of American liberal-arts education — self-reflection and honest critique.”
The alleged offenses range from the horrific — fecal swastikas, social-media threats against black students — to more trivial questions about skin tone, hair texture and economic status.
Stung by a seemingly endless barrage of race-based attacks, Missouri students feel “awkward,” “exhausted” and “uncomfortable,” The New York Times reports.
Elle interviewed a Yale senior who says the school makes people of color “feel small” and she, personally, like “the token black girl at the party every weekend.”
Having survived my own journey as a minority at a pair of elite East Coast universities, I can understand these kids’ sentiments — no matter the navel-gazing. But the sentiment seems to drown out any discussion of much actual fact.
Reared on a diet of “microaggressions” and “hostile environments,” “safe spaces” and the need for “validation,” many of these students have seemingly conflated hurt feelings with actual outright discrimination.
The distinction is important — particularly at a moment when words like “violence,” “outrage” and “marginalization” have become little more than opportunistic jargon. Offense, while unfortunate, does not a movement make — a point wisely raised by Hillary Clinton when confronting #blacklivesmatter protesters this April. Read the rest of this entry »
University of Missouri system President Tim Wolfe at the board of curators meeting shortly before he announced he would resign his post on Nov. 9. Photo: Allison Long/Zuma Press
As liberal adults abdicate, the kids take charge on campus.
By bonfire of the academy we mean a conflict of values about the idea of a university that now threatens to undermine or destroy universities as a place of learning. Exhibit A is the ruin called the University of Missouri.
In the 1960s—at Cornell, Columbia, Berkeley and elsewhere—the self-described Student Left occupied buildings with what they often called “non-negotiable” demands. In the decades since, the academy—its leaders and faculties—by and large has accommodated many of those demands regarding appropriate academic subjects, admissions policies and what has become the aggressive and non-tolerant politics of identity and grievance.
This political trajectory arrived at its logical end this week at Missouri with the abrupt resignation of the school’s president, quickly followed by its number two official. The kids deposed them, as their liberal elders applauded either out of solidarity or cowardice.
The cause of President Tim Wolfe’s resignation is said to be his failure to address several racially charged incidents on campus and the threat by its Division One football team to boycott this weekend’s game unless he stepped down.
The university’s campus, in Columbia, is not far from Ferguson, Mo. Among the charges against President Wolfe was that his response to the shooting of Michael Brown was inadequate, which is to say, he did not sufficiently take the side of the protesters or rioters. Since Ferguson, the left-wing Black Lives Matter group has come to prominence and intimidated even presidential candidates. This has been accompanied by successive claims of racial grievance against public and private institutions.
In the United States, by now the instinct of the overwhelming majority of people is to address such complaints in good faith, investigate them and remediate where necessary. Only the tiniest minority would wish to see racial grievances bleed indefinitely. Yet the kids assert that America is irredeemably racist. Read the rest of this entry »
Hundreds of the hard-left protesters, and a group calling themselves ‘The Revolutionary Youth’ gathered in the Swiss capital of Bern to call for German-style mass immigration and a change in asylum policy.
Liam Deacon reports: A pro-migrant protest turned violent today, with Swiss police forced to use water cannon and rubber bullets to quell the self-described ‘anti-fascists’ who violated law by demonstrating on an election day.
Hundreds of the hard-left protesters, and a group calling themselves ‘The Revolutionary Youth’ gathered in the Swiss capital of Bern to call for German-style mass immigration and a change in asylum policy. The group started to violently clash with local police at around 2pm.
The American’s Left’s Blond-Haired, Blue-Eyed Fantasyland
Kevin D. Williamson writes: The curious task of the American Left is to eliminate “white privilege” by forcing people to adopt Nordic social arrangements at gunpoint.
Progressives have a longstanding love affair with the nations of northern Europe, which are, or in some cases were until the day before yesterday, ethnically homogeneous, overwhelmingly white, hostile to immigration, nationalistic, and frankly racist in much of their domestic policy.
When leftists preach socialism, they have in mind a very white version of it.
In this the so-called progressives are joined, as they traditionally have been, by brutish white supremacists and knuckle-dragging anti-Semites, who believe that they discern within the Nordic peoples the last remnant of white European purity and who frequently adopt Nordic icons and myths, incorporating them into an oddball cult of whiteness.
“In this the so-called progressives are joined, as they traditionally have been, by brutish white supremacists and knuckle-dragging anti-Semites, who believe that they discern within the Nordic peoples the last remnant of white European purity and who frequently adopt Nordic icons and myths, incorporating them into an oddball cult of whiteness.”
American progressivism is a cult of whiteness, too: It imagines re-creating Danish society in Los Angeles, which is not full of Danish people, ascribing to Scandinavian social policies certain mystical tendencies that render them universal in their applicability.
The Left occasionally indulges in bouts of romantic exoticism — its pin-ups have included Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Mao Zedong; we might even count Benito Mussolini, “that admirable Italian gentleman” who would not have been counted sufficiently white to join Franklin Roosevelt’s country club — but the welfare states that progressives dream about are the whitest ones: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, etc. The significance of this never quite seems to occur to progressives.
When it is suggested that the central-planning, welfare-statist policies that they favor are bound to produce results familiar to the unhappy residents of, e.g., Cuba, Venezuela, or Bolivia — privation, chaos, repression, political violence — American progressives reliably reply: “No, no, we don’t want that kind of socialism. We want socialism like they have it in Finland.” Read the rest of this entry »
Totalitarians want their rule, and their belief system, to be accepted and self-sustaining – even if it takes bludgeoning every last citizen who disagrees
Tom Nichols writes: There’s a basic difference in the traditions of political science between “authoritarians” and “totalitaritarians.” People throw both of these words around, but as is so often the case, they’re using words they may not always understand. They have real meaning, however, and the difference between them is important.
Simply put, authoritarians merely want obedience, while totalitarians, whose rule is rooted in an ideology, want obedience and conversion. Authoritarians are a dime a dozen; totalitarians are rare. The authoritarians are the guys in charge who want to stay in charge, and don’t much care about you, or what you’re doing, so long as you stay out of their way. They are the jefe and his thugs in a brutal regime that want you to shut up, go to work, and look the other way when your loudmouthed neighbor gets his lights punched out by goons in black jackets. Live or die. It’s all the same to the regime.
Totalitarians are a different breed. These are the people who have a plan, who think they see the future more clearly than you or who are convinced they grasp reality in a way that you do not. They don’t serve themselves—or, they don’t serve themselves exclusively—they serve History, or The People, or The Idea, or some other ideological totem that justifies their actions.
They want obedience, of course. But even more, they want their rule, and their belief system, to be accepted and self-sustaining. And the only way to achieve that is to create a new society of people who share those beliefs, even if it means bludgeoning every last citizen into enlightenment. That’s what makes totalitarians different and more dangerous: they are “totalistic” in the sense that they demand a complete reorientation of the individual to the State and its ideological ends. Every person who harbors a secret objection, or even so much as a doubt, is a danger to the future of the whole project, and so the regime compels its subjects not only to obey but to believe.
Authoritarians merely want obedience, while totalitarians, whose rule is rooted in an ideology, want obedience and conversion.
This is what George Orwell understood so well in his landmark novel “1984.” His dystopian state doesn’t really care about quotidian obedience; it already knows how to get that. What it demands, and will get by any means, is a belief in the Party’s rectitude and in its leader, Big Brother.
If torturing the daylights out of people until they denounce even their loved ones is what it takes, so be it. That’s why the ending of the novel is so terrifying: after the two rebellious lovers of the story are broken and made to turn on each other, the wrecks left by the State are left to sit before the Leader’s face on a screen with only one emotion still alive in the husks of their bodies: they finally, truly love Big Brother.
Not everyone on the left wants to quash dissent or indulge President Obama’s abuses of executive power
Charles Murray writes: Social conservatives. Libertarians. Country-club conservatives. Tea party conservatives. Everybody in politics knows that those sets of people who usually vote Republican cannot be arrayed in a continuum from moderately conservative to extremely conservative. They are on different political planes. They usually have just enough in common to vote for the same candidate.
“To simplify, progressive intellectuals were passionate advocates of rule by disinterested experts led by a strong unifying leader. They were in favor of using the state to mold social institutions in the interests of the collective. They thought that individualism and the Constitution were both outmoded.”
Why then do we still talk about the left in terms of a continuum from moderately liberal to extremely liberal? Divisions have been occurring on the left that mirror the divisions on the right. Different segments of the left are now on different planes.
“That’s not a description that Woodrow Wilson or the other leading progressive intellectuals would have argued with. They openly said it themselves.”
A few weeks ago, I was thrown into a situation where I shared drinks and dinner with two men who have held high positions in Democratic administrations. Both men are lifelong liberals. There’s nothing “moderate” about their liberalism. But as the pleasant evening wore on (we knew that there was no point in trying to change anyone’s opinion on anything), I was struck by how little their politics have to do with other elements of the left.
Their liberalism has nothing in common with the political mind-set that wants right-of-center speakers kept off college campuses, rationalizes the forced resignation of a CEO who opposes gay marriage, or thinks George F. Will should be fired for writing a column disagreeable to that mind-set. It has nothing to do with executive orders unilaterally disregarding large chunks of legislation signed into law or with using the IRS as a political weapon. My companions are on a different political plane from those on the left with that outlook—the progressive mind-set.
“It is that core philosophy extolling the urge to mold society that still animates progressives today—a mind-set that produces the shutdown of debate and growing intolerance that we are witnessing in today’s America. Such thinking on the left also is behind the rationales for indulging President Obama in his anti-Constitutional use of executive power.”
Wait, doesn’t “progressive” today reflect the spirit of the Progressive Era a century ago, when the country benefited from the righteous efforts of muckrakers and others who fought big-city political bosses, attacked business monopolies and promoted Good Government?
“As a libertarian, I am reluctant to give up the word “liberal.” It used to refer to laissez-faire economics and limited government.”
The era was partly about that. But philosophically, the progressive movement at the turn of the 20th century had roots in German philosophy ( Hegel and Nietzsche were big favorites) and German public administration ( Woodrow Wilson’s open reverence for Bismarck was typical among progressives).
“Making a clear distinction between liberals and progressives will help break down a Manichaean view of politics that afflicts the nation.”
To simplify, progressive intellectuals were passionate advocates of rule by disinterested experts led by a strong unifying leader. They were in favor of using the state to mold social institutions in the interests of the collective. They thought that individualism and the Constitution were both outmoded.
That’s not a description that Woodrow Wilson or the other leading progressive intellectuals would have argued with. They openly said it themselves.
It is that core philosophy extolling the urge to mold society that still animates progressives today—a mind-set that produces the shutdown of debate and growing intolerance that we are witnessing in today’s America. Such thinking on the left also is behind the rationales for indulging President Obama in his anti-Constitutional use of executive power. If you want substantiation for what I’m saying, read Jonah Goldberg’s 2008 book “Liberal Fascism,” an erudite and closely argued exposition of American progressivism and its subsequent effects on liberalism. The title is all too accurate.
“Too many of us see those on the other side as not just misguided but evil. The solution is not a generalized ‘Can’t we all just get along’ non-judgmentalism. Some political differences are too great for that. But liberalism as I want to use the term encompasses a set of views that can be held by people who care as much about America’s exceptional heritage as I do.“
Here, I want to make a simple point about millions of people—like my liberal-minded dinner companions—who regularly vote Democratic and who are caught between a rock and a hard place. Read the rest of this entry »
“The fundamental public statements of the administration have emphasized more what we should not do than what we can achieve. They have implied that a withdrawal of America from certain regions is actually beneficial to these regions.”
Kissinger noted the obvious consequence:
“I think that the fear in the countries that I know — and that’s very many of them — is that the United States is withdrawing.”
Janet Greene’s recorded musical output was limited to just eight songs during her anti-Communist heyday working for Dr. Fred Schwarz as Music Director at the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade (CACC). These “golden period” tunes were produced by Del Katcher and released as singles in 1966 on Chantico, the CACC house label. The tracks were also issued collectively, as an album side (Janet Greene Sings), on the Schwarz box set “What Is Communism?,” a collection of his lectures on the Red Menace (Chantico UB2160; 1966). Ironically, it is Greene’s musical contribution to Schwarz’s spoken word miasma that makes the set a collector’s item today, not the paranoid ruminations of the good doctor. The blatantly confrontational titles that Greene cut during this era (Commie Lies, Comrade’s Lament, etc.) were packaged with covers featuring the sunny and optimistic visage of the artist. It is a delightfully subversive contrast that makes the music all that more enjoyable.