Thursday, March 19, 2009

America Is Mutable and Mortal

Contrary to Harold Kildow's concerns in the previous post (citing Charles Murray), David Brooks argues that "the United States will never be Europe. It was born as a commercial republic. It’s addicted to the pace of commercial enterprise. After periodic pauses, the country inevitably returns to its elemental nature" ("The Commercial Republic," New York Times, March 16, 2009).

There is a sense in which this is true. But there is a more alarming sense in which that commercial spirit is being ever more heavily burdened by government hyperactivity and that the manly spirit of American self-reliance is being ever more seduced into infantile dependence on the state. We have never recovered from Roosevelt's power grab in response to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Brooks passes over this fact.

"We are now in an astonishingly noncommercial moment. Risk is out of favor. The financial world is abashed. Enterprise is suspended....Washington is temporarily at the center of the nation’s economic gravity and a noncommercial administration holds sway...But if there is one thing we can be sure of, this pause will not last. The cultural DNA of the past 400 years will not be erased. The pendulum will swing hard. The gospel of success will recapture the imagination."

But Brooks underestimates the profundity of this President's radical antipathy to the American political culture that sustains that commercial spirit. Furthermore, in referring to our "cultural DNA" and "elemental nature," he underestimates the conventionality and thus fragility of our commercial and entrepreneurial spirit. It's an expression of character, not nature. Whereas nature is immutable, character is corruptible. For that reason, civilizations are mortal, and every regime must give thoughtful attention to the principles of decay inherent in it, and thus what is necessary for its perpetuation. (On the rise and fall of different regimes, or forms of government and their political cultures, read Book VIII of Plato's Republic.) This is the problem to which Alexis de Tocqueville and Abraham Lincoln turned their profoundly insightful attention.

Quin Hillyer at The American Spectator is not as sanguine. Read "Destroying the Country To Save It" below.

In Harold's post, "We're All Europeans Now," he quotes Dick Morris as foreseeing Obama's New America being "a socialist democracy in which the government dominates the economy, determines private-sector priorities and offers a vastly expanded range of services to many more people at much higher taxes. Obama will accomplish his agenda of 'reform' under the rubric of 'recovery.'"

George Newman in the Wall Street Journal shows us where we are heading as Obama shifts the country's organizing principle more squarely on what he calls "fairness," "economic justice," "redistribution of wealth," and "empathy." I lay it out in "Obama's Coming Economic Justice." It is pillage as public policy, and it leads beyond Europe to the kleptocracy that is Africa, but democratized. Now there's a model!

Consider how entrenched all these changes will become once Obama shifts the entire tax burden to a minority of the voting population, brings millions of illegal immigrants onto the voter rolls, empowers ACORN to universalize voter fraud, and fiddles the census so that left wing majorities become mathematically inevitable for generations to come. Think of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation writ large. Under such circumstances (watch them unfold), removing these overlords from power would take a critical mass of economic, political, and social crises so severe that it is horrifying to contemplate it.

Let me echo Quin Hillyer: "Rhetorically, organizationally, financially, and politically, [Barack Obama] must be stopped. Must."

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