Advertisements

Tom Rogan: Why Socialism Would Be Disastrous for Millennials

writes: In a Sunday article for the New York Times, Sarah Leonard argues for socialism. Socialist leaders such as Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, Leonard says, are working with a coalition of young leftists to serve millennials.

An editor at The Nation, Leonard’s case fixes on three points. First, that millennials need stronger union power in order to attain better living standards. Second, that capitalism has failed. Third, that larger government is beneficial.

7x0KXiIj

Leonard is wrong on each count.

She starts by lamenting that “…there is no left-wing party devoted to protecting the interests of the poor, the working class and the young.” Leonard blames declining union influence over political parties. Unions, she says, are the best way to empower the poor, the lower skilled, and the young.

I think not.

At a basic level, unions serve their members, not society. When, for example, a transport union shuts down commuter access to a city, it is not doing so to help commuters. It is doing so to extract wealth from those consumers, via the transport company, and redistribute that wealth to its members.

Photoillustration Tablet Magazine; original photo Jens Schott Knudsen/Flickr)

Moreover, when unions demand absolute protections for older workers, they make it near-impossible for companies to hire younger workers. As I’ve explained, there is a damning correlation between greater union power and increased youth unemployment. Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Kevin D. Williamson: It did not take very long to get from ‘Punch a Nazi!’ to ‘assassinate a congressman’

The Alexandria shooting is the continuation of the riots in Berkeley and Middlebury.

This is why the standard liberal motto — that violence is never legitimate, even though it may sometimes be necessary to resort to it — is insufficient. From a radical emancipatory perspective, this formula should be reversed: for the oppressed, violence is always legitimate (since their very status is the result of the violence they are exposed to), but never necessary (it will always be a matter of strategy whether or not use violence against the enemy).

Slavoj Žižek, On Violence and Democracy

Kevin D. Williamson writes: It did not take very long to get from “Punch a Nazi!” to “assassinate a congressman.”

” … the relevant question here is not violent rhetoric but violence itself. The violence at Berkeley and Middlebury did not lead to the shooting in Alexandria — they are part of the same phenomenon: The American Left has embraced political violence.”

A great deal of spittle has been deployed in the debate over whether or to what extent the Left’s recent indulgence of its penchant for violent rhetoric can be linked to the shooting of Representative Steve Scalise and other members of a Republican congressional baseball team by an angry Democratic activist and Bernie Sanders partisan. But the relevant question here is not violent rhetoric but violence itself. The violence at Berkeley and Middlebury did not lead to the shooting in Alexandria — they are part of the same phenomenon: The American Left has embraced political violence.

[Read the full story here, at National Review]

More precisely, the Left has embraced “anarcho-tyranny.” (Yes, I know what kind of man Sam Francis became; his phrase remains useful.) The anarcho part: Progressives including mainstream Democrats have embraced the sort of violence that has been directed against the likes of Charles Murray as an instrument of liberationist politics.

Representative Val Demings, a Democratic congressman from Florida, shared her view that the riots greeting Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley were “a beautiful sight.” After a physical attack on white nationalist Richard Spencer, Jeremy Binckes of Salon wrote: “Maybe the question shouldn’t be, ‘Is it okay to punch a Nazi?’ but, ‘If you don’t want to be punched in the face, maybe you shouldn’t preach Nazi values to the public?’” A lively debate about the ethics of using violence to suppress certain political views ensued. Short version: Free speech did not experience a runaway victory.

“A Middlebury professor had to be briefly hospitalized after being physically attacked for having invited Charles Murray to campus. That is not free speech. That is violence, and Democrats, judging by their non-response to these episodes, have more or less made their peace with it.”

Things are worse on campus. The editorial board of the Daily Californian defended blackshirt violence on the grounds that, without it, “neo-Nazis would be free to roam the streets of Berkeley.” Read the rest of this entry »


Heartache for the Global Left: The Great Man Progressives Loved to Love 

progs-mourn-castro

CNN mourns: Fidel Castro Ruz, the political personality, has died. Fidel Castro, the historical persona, has been born. He passes from the present into the past, to serve as an enduring historical subject of debate and dispute, about whom dispassion will be impossible for years to come. Fidel Castro was not a man about whom one is likely to be neutral.

NRO‘s Andrew Stuttaford writes:

castro-mourners-nro

Fidel is a metaphor. He is a Rorschach blot upon which to project fears or hopes. A prism in which the spectrum of colors refracted out has to do with light that went in. He is a point of view, loaded with ideological purport and political meaning. A David who survived Goliath. A symbol of Third World intransigence against First World domination.

obama-crying-reuters

But it is also possible to discuss the historical “essences” of Fidel Castro. He emerged out of a history shaped by a century of Cuban national frustration, heir to a legacy of unfulfilled hopes for national sovereignty and self-determination, aspirations that put Cuba on a collision course with the United States. Read the rest of this entry »


Michael Lind: What Politics Is(n’t) 

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In defense of what politics is and is not.

Michael Lind writes: What is politics? The answer is not obvious. Most Americans on the left and the right either do not know or have forgotten what politics is. Conventional American progressives have pretty much abandoned any distinction between the political realm and society and culture in general, while conventional American conservatives treat politics as an exercise in doctrinal purity. Both sides, in different ways, undermine the idea of a limited public square in which different groups in society can agree on a few big things while agreeing to disagree with others — progressives, by including too much of society in the public square, and conservatives, by blocking compromise with too many ideological tests.

February 23, 2014: People paint on the KGB officers monument in Kiev, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

February 23, 2014: People paint on the KGB officers monument in Kiev, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

“The secularization of the population was not necessary, but the secularization of the public sphere was. You could no longer win political debates by appealing to a particular interpretation of divine Scripture. Under the rules of Enlightenment liberalism, you had to make a case for the policy you preferred that was capable of persuading citizens who did not share your religious beliefs. A mere numerical majority was not enough. If the politicians express the will of a majority of voters, and the majority are told how to vote by clerics, then the democracy is really an indirect theocracy.”

Politics is only possible in a society in which much, if not most, of social life is not politicized. In premodern communities in which every aspect of life was regulated by custom or religious law, there was no politics, in the modern sense. There was no public sphere because there was no private sphere. Tribal custom or divine law, as interpreted by tribal elders or religious authorities, governed every action, leaving no room for individual choice. There were power struggles, to be sure. But there was no political realm separate from the tribe or the religious congregation. And disagreement was heresy.

A February protest against a liquified natural gas export facility in Maryland. Susan Yin/Chesapeake Climate Action Network

A February protest against a liquified natural gas export facility in Maryland. Susan Yin/Chesapeake Climate Action Network

The separation of church and state — strictly speaking, the privatization of religious belief, beginning in early modern Europe and America — was the precondition for modern politics. The secularization of the population was not necessary, but the secularization of the public sphere was. You could no longer win political debates by appealing to a particular interpretation of divine Scripture.

“Conventional American progressives have pretty much abandoned any distinction between the political realm and society and culture in general, while conventional American conservatives treat politics as an exercise in doctrinal purity. Both sides, in different ways, undermine the idea of a limited public square in which different groups in society can agree on a few big things while agreeing to disagree with others — progressives, by including too much of society in the public square, and conservatives, by blocking compromise with too many ideological tests.”

Under the rules of Enlightenment liberalism, you had to make a case for the policy you preferred that was capable of persuading citizens who did not share your religious beliefs. A mere numerical majority was not enough. If the politicians express the will of a majority of voters, and the majority are told how to vote by clerics, then the democracy is really an indirect theocracy.

Statue of Lenin in park of the statue near Budapest in hungary

“As the Marxist substitute for Abrahamic religion has faded away, its place on the political left is being taken by the new secular political religions of environmentalism and identity politics. Each of these is strongest in post-Protestant Northern Europe and North America, and weakest in historically Catholic and Orthodox Christian societies.”

Unfortunately, as Horace observed, “You can drive out Nature with a pitchfork, but she keeps on coming back.” The same might be said of religion. While some forms of religion have been expelled from politics, new forms keep trying to creep in, to recreate something like the pre-Enlightenment world in which a single moral code governs all of society and disagreement is intolerable heresy.

[Read the full text here, at The Smart Set]

Marxism can only be understood as a Christian, or Judeo-Christian, or Abrahamic spin-off — a faith militant, with its prophets, its holy scriptures, its providential theory of history, its evangelical universalism, its message of brotherhood and sisterhood transcending particular communities. Marxism was the fourth major Abrahamic religion. Nothing like Marxism could have evolved independently in traditional Confucian China or Hindu India, with their cyclical rather than progressive views of history.

Climate-Change-e1377805589403

“Other elements of religion, expelled from the public sphere, have crept back in via the left, thanks to environmentalism. As the great environmental scientist James Lovelock has pointed out, anthropogenic global warming is affected by the sources of energy for large-scale power generation and transportation. But refusing to fly on airplanes or reducing your personal “carbon footprint” is a meaningless exercise, explicable only in the context of religion, with its traditions of ritual fasts and sacrifices in the service of personal moral purity.”

As the Marxist substitute for Abrahamic religion has faded away, its place on the political left is being taken by the new secular political religions of environmentalism and identity politics. Each of these is strongest in post-Protestant Northern Europe and North America, and weakest in historically Catholic and Orthodox Christian societies. A case can be made that militant environmentalism and militant identity politics are both by-products of the decomposition of Protestantism in the Anglophone nations and Germanic Europe. Read the rest of this entry »


Europe’s Socialist Descent into Hatefulness

Socialism in Europe is increasingly defined by hatred

Tom Rogantom-rogan writes: As enlightened arbiters of human interest and morality, socialists get angry when they don’t get their way. This unpleasant truth has been on very public display in Europe this week.

First, France. On Monday, infuriated by Air France’s necessary reforms to reduce costs and improve productivity, hundreds of airline employees attacked two of the company’s executives. Video of the incident shows the executives throwing themselves over a fence to escape.

[Read the full text here, at Opportunity Lives]

While the French government has condemned the violence, it is not an isolated incident. Just a few weeks ago, Parisian taxi drivers waged a violent uprising against competition — smashing Uber cars and assaulting drivers. The cabbies couldn’t bear the possibility of passengers choosing lower fares, and they got their way. Uber is now banned in France.

Then there’s the United Kingdom. This week, Britain’s Conservative Party held its annual conference in Manchester. But while the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats held their 2015 conferences without incident, things were different for the Tories. It began Sunday, when a group of young conservatives became surrounded by a baying mob. That incident ended with the mob hitting the conservatives with flagpoles and an egg.

Greece-hammer-and-sickle-star-socialism,-communism

“While this week’s events in Britain and France are sorry tales, the leftist fury flows naturally from socialist ideology. After all, where capitalism empowers individuals to use their skills for common advantage, socialism encourages people to believe society is the state and that we’re all subjects to it.”

Then on Monday, a journalist from that well-known conservative outlet, The Huffington Post, was spat upon. Every day of the conference, attendees lining up outside have been subjected to swearing and intimidation. Yet as much as those incidents are shocking in and of themselves, they speak to a deeper truth. Socialism in Europe is increasingly defined by hatred.

socialism-fascism

“As a result, while capitalism provides for broadly shared human prosperity, socialism provides only for the subsidy of human suffering.”

In France, the alliance between labor unions and government has fostered a climate of special-interest privilege and lawlessness. (Sadly, this attitude is seeping into U.S. politics as well.) French labor unions are stretching the bounds of legality as far as possible. Read the rest of this entry »


‘American Liberals May Not Be Able to Self-Diagnose Their Condition Until It Is Too Late’

socialists-usa

Democrats’ Jeremy Corbyn Syndrome.

Noah Rothman writes: Call it “Jeremy Corbyn syndrome.” This distressing malady has manifested most acutely in British liberals, but it is an epidemic spreading throughout the transatlantic left. It is a disorder characterized by a pathological refusal to acknowledge or accept the admonition of the public and a petulant, uncompromising response to rebuke. The symptoms of this self-destructive condition are beginning to be observed in a new host: American Democrats.

“The symptoms of an American version of this ailment are most easily observed in the rise of the self-described socialist and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to presidential contender status.”

The scale of its losses in the quinquennial U.K. general elections earlier this year shocked Labour. The voters soundly rejected a modest center-left agenda promoted by former Labour leader Ed Miliband. Instead, the British delivered to Prime Minister David Cameron the first outright Tory majority government since 1992. Miliband resigned in disgrace and sent his party scrambling to redefine itself. And redefine itself it did, as a far-left institution unreflective of the British liberal minority. Labour’s defeat sent a cantankerous and previously marginalized subgroup of liberals into a fit of pique that yielded the ascension of the irresponsible parlor-socialist Jeremy Corbyn to leadership. He has set about trying to rehabilitate some of Britain’s most irresponsible figures and ideas.

[Read the full text here, at commentary]

Corbyn’s unabashed embrace of radical points of view palatable only to the minority of the minority is telling. A juvenile peevishness has overtaken the influential British left, and they are determined not to sway with the will of the electorate but to stand athwart it – even if that means many more years in the wilderness.

Shutterstock

“But that is only the most outwardly evident sign of contagion. There are more subtle indications that this plague has taken root in an even broader population of susceptible Democratic victims.”

The symptoms of an American version of this ailment are most easily observed in the rise of the self-described socialist and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to presidential contender status. But that is only the most outwardly evident sign of contagion. There are more subtle indications that this plague has taken root in an even broader population of susceptible Democratic victims. Read the rest of this entry »