The Irrelevance of Conservative Despair

Over at Protein Wisdom, a former Marine and gun store owner speaks a few truths.

Writes Jeff:

Unfortunately, we’ve become expert, as a popular and political culture, at pretending we haven’t encountered those very truths we continue to molest — all in an effort to will new truths into being out of something so gossamer as manufactured consent based around manipulated perception.

All ideologies emphasize some truths and de-emphasize others. What Jeff is talking about is something far more insidious, because unspoken: an exercise in doublethink. One hears, one perceives truth, and one simultaneously pretends that the truth is not true, due to its simplism, its epistemic cloture, its unreasonableness. Because we do not like the truth (that the state is in many ways powerless to stop people from harming others), we will replace it with one more to our liking (that with the Courage to Act according to a Rational Spirit of this Our Enlightened Age, we can Do Amazing Things).

They are, of course, wrong. Human nature is not infinitely malleable, and even if it were, the state would need totalitarian powers to mash us into the New Soviet Man desired. And no state with totalitarian powers avoids becoming evil. Hayek spelled this out seventy years ago,  but people refuse to believe him, because they do not feel empowered by it. It spells out a limitation of human ability, which one cannot accept and remain progressive.

And right now, the progressives are powerful. Via double-think and the long march through the institutions, they can and do frame the debates to their utmost advantage. They routinely apply (while conveniently denying) a double-standard to the actions and pronouncements of people based on ideology and party affiliation. They run the tables on us, and we barely manage to stand across the train tracks yelling “Stop!”

This is all true, and we are only beginning to come to terms with it. We are passing through the stages of grief, from Shock (Holy crap, are we really going to lose Florida?), Denial (Karl Rove attacks the call), Anger (Whose Fault is this!), to Despair and Acceptance. Right now, I sense Despair, the hopelessness of standing against the Beast, the longing for the Sweet Meteor of Death, the call to Let it Burn. This feeling is real, and it is irrelevant.

Because they are wrong.

They. Are. Wrong. About Everything. About Guns. About Abortion. About Social Security. About spending, about taxation, about debt. They are Wrong about the Economy, and the government’s role in same. About every issue of public policy that has shaped the last 100 years, the progressives have put their yearning to immanentize the eschaton ahead of any other consideration, and have led themselves into continuous and repeated acts of folly, while blaming the world and we who disagree for reality’s obstinate recalcitrance.

Boasting of tolerance, they despise and indulge in violent fantasies about anyone who marches not in lockstep with them. Vomiting populism, they coagulate into a clerical/political class that exempts itself from the health care and gun laws they extol for the provincials. Yammering about freedom, they labor like stevedores to  build Caeser’s dais.

There is no magic bullet to defeat them. Negotiating with them will not slow them down. The only way out is through the truth: continuously, convincingly demanded. Taken to public forums and shoved in their face over and over and over again, until they first recognize that we will not be cowed.

And there are other ways. Pop Culture is not going to go away. It is a fertile breeding ground for assumptions – ideas which are not examined. We can use this it, too – once we understand how it works.

See, Andrew Breitbart didn’t expect someone else to do the hard, grassroots work of retaking our culture. There’s no army of conservatives out there who’s going to do it while you’re curled up watching reruns of The Andy Griffith Show (starring an actor who shilled for Obamacare).

There’s you. You need to occasionally – not always, not all the time – acquaint yourself with pop culture sufficiently to participate in the discussion it sparks. Girls poses hard questions about young people, their aimlessness, their lack of morality, their crushing unhappiness – and conservatism has answers.

You need to make sure the people around you hear those answers, but step one is to be a part of the discussion.

There’s a step two, but step 0.5 is to be prepared to argue with people, to tell them, deftly, politely, bluntly, wittily, that their ideology is built on quicksand.

So get the hell on with it. It matters less what our gutless triangulating Congressmen do if we have the strength to punish them for it. They will believe we have that strength when we start manifesting it in every way we can.

Does it Matter if He’s Eeeeeevil?

Back in 2008, Jeff Goldstein had a long, ugly argument with Patrick Frey (which started here) about whether Obama was a “good man”. At the time, I found the argument much ado about nothing: what difference can it possibly make if he has a good heart or not? I’m opposed to what he does in any case, because he is a progressive and I am a conservative. Whether he’s a loyal husband, a good father, respectful to his underlings, etc., has nothing to do with me. The effects of his policies on my bottom line does.

And then Mitt Romney happened.

Yesterday, Erick Erickson resuscitated the good man/loyal opposition frame.

I believe the President’s policies are destructive and will harm our economy, our nation, and our sense of national self long term. I believe his policies have the effect of turning us into subjects of the government, not citizens in charge of it. Because of his expansion of the social safety net funded through class warfare, Mr. Obama’s policies will cause too many Americans’ fortunes to rise and fall with those of the government, unable to chart a course for themselves apart from government.

But I do not think the President means to do this maliciously.

Stacy McCain takes up Goldstein’s part this time:

The GOP’s ridiculous defensive flinch reflex — “Oh, no! Somebody said rude things about Democrats!” — is symptomatic of a larger problem: Republicans let liberals dictate the terms of debate.

If liberals say the problem is that Republicans lack “civility,” then the GOP is beset by hall-monitor types telling us to watch our language. If liberals say the problem is Republicans need to appeal to Latinos, we’ll hear a lot of sermonettes from the open-borders crowd. If liberals say Republicans are losing because of gay-rights issues, we’ll be told to drop our pants and bend over to demonstrate our support for sodomy.

At what point will Republicans figure out they’re being scammed?

The Democrats did not respond to getting their teeth kicked in by George Bush in 2004 by embracing civility, by congratulating the President on his re-election. They doubled down on outrage. They fought the President on his second-term agenda tooth-and-nail.

That worked out rather well for them, all things considered.

Part of the problem lies in the meaning of the word “malicious”. Erickson seems to think that if Obama believes that good will result from his actions, then he is to be treated as absent of malice. But these terms are very slippery. Almost certainly, Obama believes that if he gets his way, the result for America will be a net positive. But he knows perfectly well that it will be a net negative for great numbers of individual Americans. He knows what it means to “spread the wealth around.” He knows what it means to force people onto government healthcare exchanges. He knows that eggs will have to be broken. But he, like all progressives, is fine with that, because of the Grand Omelet.

Giving progressives a pass for their intent is a fool’s game. Of course progressives intend that their be liberty, equality, and brotherhood. But if they insist that this can only be accomplished by a happy-faced Leviathan pulling society up from its roots willy-nilly. And in their darkest heart of hearts, they enjoy the destruction of the old. They see it the way medieval monks saw scourging: as a necessary purification. For America to rise to great hights, America must first be unmade.

That is what Obama wants. This is not a debate about what in America needs reforming. Obama wants to reform everything about this country. He wants to change, utterly, the relationship of the citizen and the state. He has in mind some benevolent ant colony where all the good things in Julia’s life proceed from the wisdom of the enlightened ruling class. All things within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.


So no, Erick, Obama doesn’t need to be giggling in the dark to himself like a tanner version of Mr. Burns in order to be malicious. He needs only to be tyrannical at heart, to be working ever doggedly to replace our natural liberties with the crumbs of the all-powerful God-State. He needs only to act as though the Constitution doesn’t apply to him. That will do to make him the enemy of our society’s very basis.

And if we judge on that standard, we start finding a great many people to be enemies in the same way. Which is a scary thought, to be sure. But we can no longer pretend that we share common ground with progressives. They despise us as sinful reminders of what this country must overcome. In this, they may be fools more than monsters. But the folly is one they freely, and persistently, choose. So what difference does it make?

UPDATE: Jeff chimes in

That is, because he believes it to be good and right, and is so confident that he can run the world more adeptly through his natural brilliance and charisma than can some invisible hand, he’s out to demonize and then destroy the foundational principles of this country as envisioned — and to so he’s willing to demonize and destroy those in principled opposition to his ideology. For the greater good, of course.

One of his mentors, Bill Ayers, thought that might require some camps and maybe 25 million dead.

And as I happen to be one of those, I take offense.

A tyrant is a tyrant is a tyrant. To respect him is to pay him the coin that he wants, albeit in installments.

AND FURTHERMORE: Mike at Cold Fury links as well, and asks the progs if they’ve really thought about what seizing absolute power means. I suspect, if they have, that they think any unpleasantness will be over quickly. After all, no force of civilians could possibly restrain the world’s most dangerous military, right?

IT ALL COMES FULL CIRCLE: Stacy McCain riffs of my riff of his riff (It’s like trading fours!), discussing the conservative “generation gap.”

If you don’t remember where you were when Saigon fell (I was a sophomore at Lithia Springs High School) or the Berlin Wall came down (I was a 30-year-old sports editor for the Calhoun [Ga.] Times), it’s impossible for you to understand the Cold War mentality, the petri dish within which the post-WWII conservative movement was incubated.

Conservatism was originally and fundamentally about foreign policy: Are we going to stand up to these godless Commies, or not?

Trying to get Americans to listen to conservative ideas on domestic policy has always been much more difficult, and we are really now back to an era that precedes my own birth, which I know only from history books and from tales of old-timers like M. Stanton Evans. We’re back to the Truman era, when the godless Commies who threatened America were clandestine subversives who called themselves “liberals.”

The Fall of Saigon was just before my time on this earth of sorrows began, but I do remember the last phase of the Cold War. I remember feeling a wonderful sense of relief when the Wall came down, because I knew that I didn’t ever have to worry about Russian ICBM’s ever again. I was 13. It took me a little longer to stop worrying about the Rain Forest and oil spills and overpopulation and all the other bogies they terrified me with as a tad.

BTW, I made Memeorandum for the first time ever. Red Letter day! Thanks to all for the hot linky action.

African Official: Please Stop With the Aid Already, You’re Killing Us…

In Der Spiegel, a Kenyan economist named James Shikwati attempts the Herculean task of explaining economics to a journalist.

Shikwati: … for God’s sake, please just stop.

SPIEGEL: Stop? The industrialized nations of the West want to eliminate hunger and poverty.

Shikwati: Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.

SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for this paradox?

Shikwati: Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

Via Protein Wisdom.

Also, see “Planning is the Kiss of Death to Entrepreneurship.”

Leviathan and Civil Disobedience

Jeff Goldstein makes things nice and sparkling clear, like a good intentionalist should:

Either you are a constitutionalist or you aren’t. If you aren’t, then in the most important ways you are anti-American. As such, you are my enemy — and a person looking to enslave me, my children, and those who matter most to me.

Read the Whole Think as he references an ongoing theme of this blog, the Rise of Leviathan.

So how do we proceed? It’s well and good to talk of “letting it burn” and “soft civil war,” but so what? What manner of civil disobedience will usefully bring pain to the opponents of liberty?

Because they seem awfully willing to bring the pain to us.

I’m going to start here. It’s free on Kindle.

“Planning is the Kiss of Death to Entrepreneurship”

Via Protein Wisdom.

I seem to recall a saying that “the poor need nothing but the spur of their poverty.” That’s not precisely true, but the poor know what they need better than anyone else trying to help them. Collective responses to poverty create massive instituions but do not give the poor what they truly need, which is a chance to unleash what they can do.

Now, true, not all of the poor will be entrepreneurs. Some will be willing to serve entrepreneurs for a paycheck. All the same, empowering the entrepreneurs among the poor will create opportunities for the rest.

This, My Progressive Friends, is What You Voted For…

The New York Post has the skinny on what ObamaCare is going to do for us.

If you get your health insurance through a job, you might lose it as of Jan. 1, 2014. That’s when the new “employer mandate” kicks in, requiring employers with 50 or more full-time workers to provide the government-designed health plan or pay a fine. The government plan is so expensive, it adds $1.79 per hour to the cost of a full-time employee.

So you can land on Park Place with a Hotel, or you can land on Boardwalk with 4 houses. Or you can Go to Jail.

When you file your taxes, you will have to show proof that you are enrolled in the one-size-fits-all plan approved by the federal government. It’s mandatory, starting Jan. 1, 2014, or the IRS will withhold your refund. If you’ve been going without insurance, or your employer drops coverage, your options will be enrolling in Medicaid (if you’re eligible) or buying a government-approved health plan on your state health exchange.

Which I’m sure will be very reasonably priced.

If you’re a senior or a baby boomer, expect less care than in the past. Cuts to future Medicare funding pay for more than half the Obama health law. Hospitals, for example, will have $247 billion less to care for same number of seniors than if the law had not passed. Hospitals will spread nurses thinner. California nurses already are striking over the increased workloads.

Hmmm. It’s almost as though mandating something doesn’t, of itself, create more of something! Such puzzlers, these economic questions!

For the first time in history, the federal government will control how doctors treat privately insured patients. Section 1311 of the law empowers the Secretary of Health and Human Services to standardize what doctors do. Even if you have a private plan from Cigna or Aetna and you paid for it yourself, the federal government will have some say over your doctors’ decisions, with an eye toward reducing health-care consumption.

Are the feminists listening? The people who wail unto the heavens that they don’t want the government controlling what a woman does with her body?  Are they now understanding what they have crawled over broken glass to vote for? Hello? Is this thing on?

But hey, free birth control, right?

Which is Yiddish for “I support your right to choose not to have my baby.”

Via Protein Wisdom.

Okay. I’ve Shaken it Off.

Perhaps the worst of all possible defeats are the unexpected. To go into a fight knowing loss is  likely. that one can prepare for that. But to be certain that you will win, and to get ruthlessly denied, that staggers.

I’ve spent a few days trying to figure out what in the name of all things decent this means, aside from Nothing Good. It’s not just that we lost, it’s that I can no longer believe the people who told me otherwise. All the bloggers, poll wizards, and pundits who were predicting an easy Romney victory were absolutely dead wrong. About everything. And that experience would be wasted if I didn’t take it as a wake-up call.

I think Ladd Ehlinger is right: We cannot afford to ignore the cultural razor that the Left has at our throats. When the Todd Akin thing blew up, I made a few clever Photoshops and left it at that.  Did I argue with people who insisted on ranting about “Republican Rape Fans.” No. The argument was too stupid. People would eventually see that, and it would blow over. I let it pass.

Andrew Klavan is right: Life is short, but Art is Long. And Demographics matter far less than ideas. We have them. We need to sell them.

Jeff Goldstein was almost certainly right, in just about every post he’s written since the campaign began. Romney’s weakness was the weakness of those who believed him to have won the election after the first debate: he believed that competence, in the face of Obama’s manifest incompetence, would win through. That would be enough if we had a media interested solely in calling balls and strikes, and a voice in the wider culture. But we have neither, and we cannot continue to pretend otherwise.

I don’t know if there’s any hope for America in 2016 or beyond. I don’t know if hope lies in running a more boisterous, punch-back-twice-as-hard campaign, or in going on a Long March of our own through the cultural institutions of the land. I think a bit of both, and I’m going to make it my own personal mission to forward both missions to the best of my ability.

But I do know this: the next time the GOP nominates some establishment twerp who’s supposed to have a claim on my vote because he stood in line and held his ticket, I’m gonna give money to the Libertarians, and my vote. I live in Maryland, for God’s Sake; every party that isn’t the Democrats is a third party here.

And if the polls tell me that the Democrats have a +6 advantage, I might go ahead and believe them.

(Hat Tip: Jonah Goldberg at NRO)