The Left Side of History

Once again, the political Left, a term increasingly synonymous with today’s Democrat Party, is on the wrong side of history.

It’s nothing new. Whereas they're accustomed to winning micro-political battles, they have yet to prevail in a macro, geopolitical struggle. Their closest approach to victory was in the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution with its Soviet Union and near worldwide spread of socialist and communist governments. You remember. The world was to be transformed into a worker’s paradise. There are still plenty of commies—mostly in the universities teaching your young adults—but now they lack the requisite political power.

Both National Socialism (the Nazis) and Fascism were rooted in the labor movements that have always been the hallmark of the Left—the first and foremost seed they sow. But the Left downplayed Hitler’s atrocities until the tide was too strong to resist. They picketed the White House in opposition to our involvement in WWII.

They opposed our crucial mission to keep the Korean peninsula free. They didn’t understand its import to world morale, of standing up to communists and their adventurous spread, or of keeping a growing and increasingly important partner in global freedom and trade (Japan) stable. They never got it. They still don’t.

The Left saw president John F. Kennedy’s line in the sand during the Cuban Missile Crisis as reckless endangerment. They didn’t understand how America would have been geopolitically hamstrung in opposition to the worldwide spread of communism—with nuclear ballistic missiles 90 miles away. America would have been demoralized and the democratic process would likely have yielded pacifism. The Left still doesn’t get it, even today.

When the need to halt the worldwide spread of communism again presented itself in Vietnam, the Left (and John Kerry) not only opposed the mission, but also turned America into the bad guys and communist North Vietnam and China into the good guys. China was busy carrying out a "Cultural Revolution" in order to stamp out all vestiges of individuality, aesthetic beauty, and entrepreneurial spirit, which involved destroying untold riches in art and imprisoning or killing anyone who might be capable of sowing discontent among the comrades. Millions were starving. The purpetrators of these atrocities were the Left’s good guys.

When president Ronald Reagan stood up and challenged the communists, both morally and materially, he was condemned on both counts: his rhetoric unbecoming; his military buildup strategically destabilizing. When the Soviet Union fell, it was the military buildup that was touted, but it was the moral stand that ultimately did it. The Left opposed both.

The Left stood against everything required to prevail against the greatest threats to freedom in the 20th century. All told, the Communists, the Nazis, and the Fascists murdered close to 200 million innocent people. Two-Hundred Million. 200,000,000. The Left was on the wrong side of every single effective measure we undertook to defeat these murderous psychopaths globally—to relegate their "intellectual" cheerleaders to our universities, environmental organizations, and diplomatic corps.

But like a beautiful Sunday morning in Pearl Harbor being turned into an explosive inferno, or a convoy of ships steaming forth to plant instruments of heinous death and destruction in your backyard—like a cold slap in the face—September 11, 2001 was the day we learned that Islamic Terrorism was a global threat, as geopolitically destabilizing as anything we’ve ever seen. Those who fully understand the nature of this threat in the context of history and radical religious fervor* fully understand what we are up against and what it will take to defeat this threat. The Left and the majority of today’s democrats do not number amongst those who understand the nature of the radical Islamic threat to freedom. Plenty more don’t care, and some even hate America and long for its destruction through whatever means will do the job.

The Left cares for people only to the extent they are useful toward a political end. They "care" for laborers because laborers with menial jobs have little to lose and can be persuaded to risk their menial jobs and lives for the chance of a promised "paradise." It’s a ready-made army in ideological harmony—that adds up to morale.

Today, the Left cares for the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq only to the extent that they can be useful in defeating the most effective leader against the further spread of Leftism that we’ve seen in some time, president George W. Bush.

Voting and democracy are overrated, to be sure, and certainly not the ideal. But we should be willing to accept it, any day, over the abject cultural squalor that is the modern Middle East. Their religious-based culture requires renaissance. Democracy and free markets are a logical first step. Following marvelously successful elections in both Afghanistan and Iraq, elections in which people risked their lives and enthusiastically participated, they have a good chance at that.

The citizens of these two countries, God bless them, have inserted themselves in geopolitical history by subjecting the Left to a swift kick in the teeth. And this time, to the democrats as well. Democrats used to distinguish themselves from the hard Left by setting moral limits to their politics. That sort of democrat is typified by an FDR, a Truman, a JFK, a Zell Miller, and a Joe Lieberman. I’ll curse each one of these politicians for their immoral and economically impractical social programs, but when the future of the free world is at stake, they’re going to stand by my side, and I theirs. There’s no doubt about that. More important, the're going to stand up for the right reason—for moral reasons—not just to cater to some political faction.

Let there be no further doubt that none on the Left, and few democrats, anymore, can be entrusted with safeguarding American freedom. And certainly, none of them are charitable enough to spread it—even when doing so is America’s first and most effective line of defense—and uplifting millions in the process. How long will they remain on the Left side of History?

* Communism, though "atheist" and "scientific," was as radically fervent a religion as the world had ever seen.

The Russian Rage

That's what Billy Beck sometimes calls her, especially when talking in code to those of us who know what it means. I'd recommend checking out Billy's post and the other two articles he links, first here, and then here.

This is timely, because as you might note, my two previous entries on this blog have involved an old friend who accuses me thusly:

This is a godless philosophy, a philosophy of atheism at its core.  It says "who are you to tell me how to live?" as if there were no absolute higher than man's personal opinion to call on.  This is nothing but the Market preaching in your ear.  It is Ayn Rand atheism.

Well, as you'll learn if you did the homework I gave you in the first paragraph, the phenomenon of people condemning Ayn Rand who've never actually read or studied her is legion. As you may have guessed, my friend is no exception. I finally had to tell him that I would no longer debate with him until he digs into Rand first hand. These debates always end up there, so it's just about time. He has agreed, so we'll see how that goes. Here's what I sent him away with:

I never really had deeply emotional responses to great art until I became an atheist. Morality was never so important to me until I became an atheist. Until you fully grasp what that apparent contradiction means, you know nothing important about Rand.

For those who still are not going to read her, here's a clue: all materialists are atheists, but not all atheists are materialists (materialism has nothing to do with shopping).

Not Even Golden Handcuffs

If you haven't already, or don't have it in mind, you ought to read my previous entry first, as what follows is the answer I received back. What you might keep in mind is that in that previous post, I merely pointed out that after all, what's being proposed is that some group of "chosen-elite" know what's best for all of us and will impose it. To add context and perspective, my interlocutor is an old and dear friend who's a published author (non-fiction) with a major publishing company. His second book, with another major publisher, will be out in a few months.

I quote the reply in full, below, and then follow with my own reply.

This is a godless philosophy, a philosophy of atheism at its core.  It says "who are you to tell me how to live?" as if there were no absolute higher than man's personal opinion to call on.  This is nothing but the Market preaching in your ear.  It is Ayn Rand atheism.  So we should inspire the Hitlers among us to think for themselves, even when they are quite capable of amassing millions of followers, each exercising their own wonderful sense of what is right and wrong?  That is the death march YOU are in favor of.

I have said it before, your philosophy boils down to one sentence: "It's all about me."  Which means your entire philosophy is an excuse for your ego. That is the one thing every religion on earth has identified as the death of the soul, and why, primarily, you hate religion, god, and all that stems from it.

The problem is that egoism is the most self-reinforcing worldview on Earth. Once you have it, it shuts the blinds on what lies beyond the material world, the world of sense, of particles, of science, of math, of technology, of industry, of commerce, of business--the entire self-centered material assembly line that we need to support our bodies, but which represents only half of reality, and the lesser half at that.

It's not that the market, or all that is attached to it, is wrong--it is that it is insufficient as a belief system.  As Hayek's peer Karl Polanyi put it in his classic on the industrial revolution, The Great Transformation:

"Our thesis is that the idea of a self-adjusting market implied a stark utopia.  Such an institution could not exist for any length of time without annihilating the human and natural substance of society; it would have physically destroyed man and transformed his surroundings into a wilderness."

Look around you.

For this reply, I need but one excerpt:

This is a godless philosophy, a philosophy of atheism at its core.

Etc., and on and on. You even managed to get in a reference to Hitler and death marches. Not bad.

Yea, you always have to resort to poisoning the well when I dare to point out that after all the hand-waving, "godliness," and "moral" platitudes--when it's all said and done--you propose that you know what's good and right for everyone else, and you'll force it down their throats if you have to (in the name of God and Balance, of course).

Your arrogance is unmatched. Observe, from an earlier email:

In other words, there are various kinds of serfdom, of oppression, and the new kind comes from the bottom-up system, a system now characterized by long commutes, intense competition, stress, dishonesty, noise, congestion, relentless social pressure, omnipresent commercial media, sophisticated scams, and materialistic values, all adding up to a profound meaninglessness.

This is a whole hodge podge of stuff. Some things people value little, or disvalue, and some things they value a lot. They understand their tradeoffs. You harp about suburban sprawl, but most people don't mind it, or, they gladly take the tradeoffs involved. You assume that everyone either shares your values, or if they don't, should, right? But of course; you and your friends know the "right" values, don't you? Moreover, you even know the "right" education, and you're going to make sure everyone is "properly" educated, aren't you?

You despise my philosophy for one primary reason. I'm the only one you know who says what I do without an ounce of guilt or shame about it. Not only that, but I have the audacity to preach to others that they have the right to choose their own values, and that they have no obligation to you or any of your other self-appointed chosen-elite to dictate their values for them.

Taking a line of thought from Greg Swann, your Orientalist philosophy has so clouded your mind, that, in suppressing the ego, you missed learning the important difference between being an egoist and an egotist. You can't love yourself, because you can't see the difference between self-love and self-absorption.

Mine is a philosophy of self-love, freedom, and mutual respect. Yours is one of master and slave, with the caveat that the master ought to be benevolent. No thanks. I'll take egoism any day. Yours is but another in a long, long line of clap trap about "managing" society according to the preferences of the elite. You guys will never give up. You'll package it and repackage it, and guys like me will just keep exposing it for what it really is, which in the end, is a set of handcuffs.

Sent Items

An old friend emailed yesterday to continue a long exchange about philosophy, religion, governance, etc. After a few exchanges, I get this, which I quote in full, and then dissect with comments:

No, it's all system dynamics, a completely different paradigm.  Capitalism is the philosophy that creates the market, the economy as a whole.  this system operates upon us, but is not society itself.  Society is full of other values--cultural, moral, familial, aesthetic, etc, all of which are facets of the good.  market values are not good or evil, they are productive, and hence, perfectly amoral.  This means that if we empower the market past a certain point it will begin to drown the values that make life worth living, and the system becomes oppressive.  So we have to make sure that we educate people in the right values, because of course some are better than others.  Just throwing up your hands and saying "let the market decide what values are right" means implicitly empowering that productive side of society which we need to moderate.  We have a responsibility, a requirement, to exercise our moral judgment as a society, not just as individuals.  That is why education is the buttress of democracy.

There's nothing "different" about it. No new paradigm. It's always about "system dynamics," just lots of different systems. I prefer systems with free agents.

...if we empower the market past a certain point it will begin to drown the values that make life worth living, and the system becomes oppressive.

What do you mean by "we empower?" Whom? Is that kind of like if I eat too much, I'll get fat, and of course, my getting fat effects others in various ways (system dynamics), so I suppose that we need "balance," which I take to be an euphemism for forcing me to eat differently. Is this where an anegoist, Oriental philosophy takes you?

So we have to make sure that we educate people in the right values, because of course some are better than others.

"We?" Is that a positive obligation on my part, one that you will advocate I be forced to support whether I want to or not?

I hold education as a value, personally. Unlike you, however, I don't feel competent, nor do I believe I have the authority to determine "the 'right' values" for anyone but myself.

Just throwing up your hands and saying "let the market decide what values are right"...

Didn't say that at all. I believe that I have been very clear that autonomous, competent (i.e., adult) individuals decide their own values. They, not you, or I, are the only ones with the moral authority to do that.

...means implicitly empowering that productive side of society which we need to moderate.

Who said this: "Production is the application of reason to the problem of survival"?

Of course production must be moderated, but again, you claim authority where you have none. Production is self-moderated millions of times every day of the year. It may not be moderated to your liking, but you're just not God. Sorry. Price of freedom.

We have a responsibility, a requirement, to exercise our moral judgment as a society, not just as individuals.  That is why education is the buttress of democracy.

We have a responsibility to exercise moral judgment, to be sure. But, when we act to force or coerce others, we must have the moral authority to do so, which is every bit as important, and the very thing that's always ignored. Instead, we cure headcolds with bullets to the head. Note: moral authority does not include an argument that the values of others has an "effect." That's just life, baby, and to gain moral authority, you've got to do a lot better than that.

Pipsqueaks and Clowns

Having served as a US Navy officer on the staff of the US Seventh Fleet, permanently embarked on its flagship, the USS Blue Ridge, and subsequently, on the flagship of the French Navy's Mediterranean Fleet, FNS Colbert, I had no small experience with lots of "dignitaries" looming about.

As such, I've no reason to doubt a single word of this account of the tsunami relief effort being undertaken by the USS Abraham Lincoln.

But you know what? I don't really care. We are who we are, and no parade of America-hating international functionaries is going to change that.

Tell it to Someone Else

One reason commies and lefties (like there's much of a difference) don't like to talk to me very much is that I don't buy their lines:

  • I'm against the war, but I support the troops.
  • I'm against the U.S. presence in Iraq, but I hope it ends well.
  • I'm against America's actions, but I'm a patriot. Don't question my patriotism.

It's all rubbish. You can't be against a soldier's primary mission and support him at the same time. If you are against the war, you are against the troops fighting the war. Things are what they are. It's tautological. Here's a data point that shows how these people really "support the troops."

I've suspected for months and months now, even amongst close friends and family, that a goodly number of those who have been against the mission in Iraq also want to see the U.S. utterly fail. These people are so politically motivated that they would give anything to see the tide change. Now I have evidence of the darkness of their hearts.

The last one is the most subtle, yet the surest of all. In essence, their lack of patriotism for the essential defining characteristics of America is what's at the root of all of the foregoing.

Equilibrium

Speaking as an observer who has many friends with libertarian instincts, I would point out that terrorism is a much more formidable opponent of political liberty than government. Government acts almost as a recruiting station for libertarians. Anyone who pays taxes or has to fill out government paperwork develops libertarian impulses almost as a knee-jerk reaction. But terrorism acts as a recruiting station for statists. So it looks to me as though we are headed for a triangular system in which libertarians and statists and terrorists interact with each other in a way that I'm afraid might turn out to be quite stable.

That's quoting Neal Stephenson, and it jumped right out at me as I was reading my hardcopy February issue of Reason Magazine on a flight from Chicago to San Jose, yesterday. They only web the magazine once the subsequent issue hits the mailboxes, so I can't direct you to the remainder of this most fascinating interview. I'll try to remember to reference the whole interview once February is available on the web.

I'm not sure whether Stephenson is right, but after a double scotch, it sure seemed ponderable. Still does today, which I suppose is as good a standard as any.

I Went to Church This Moring

See the Psalm.

Greg Swann and I have been collaborating, of sorts, since just before last Christmas, as documented in a few previous posts on his blog. I'll be writing more on that soon. This, his latest entry, really speaks to the very heart of the matter.

Not Laissez Fair, But Not Bad, Either

While the new Airbus Industries A380 is quite an accomplishment by any standard, I nonetheless had to have a good laugh at the Q&O blog's dig at the Europeans on the topic. On the other hand, the guys and gals who drove the rivets on this project have every right to their immense pride.

Well done.

Note to Condi

With regard to this:

"We can have this discussion in any way that you would like, but I really hope that you will refrain from impugning my integrity," Rice told Boxer. "I really hope that you will not imply that I take the truth lightly."

Now I'm convinced you'll make an excellent SecState. Only an accomplished diplomat could muster what it takes to maintain such poise in the face of an onslaught at the hands of such utter mediocrity.