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Monday, April 12, 2010

A Manageable People

Obama's stated logic behind compelling all Americans to buy health insurance was that the system wouldn't work, unless everyone was compelled to be part of it. Conformity is of course is a major requirement for big government solutions, they don't work unless everyone is forced to take part in them. And they don't work unless everyone lives mostly the same. Without individual choices that might take them off the graph. (They still don't work even then, but the numbers look better up front.) And this is how big government solutions lead to the pursuit of a "More Manageable People".

What enlightened Europeans used to admire about America was its world of possibilities, free from the old burdens of feudalism, of people who were expected to knuckle to their betters and know their place. Americans instead made their own place. The open "New World" gave birth to a staggering explosion of wealth, technology and culture, precisely because it was much less regimented. If you wanted to live in a tightly managed society with repressive laws where your options were limited and your social mobility minuscule, you could just stay home. On the other hand if you wanted a decent life or a shot at being the urchin who becomes a Carnegie, you could go to America instead.

Or at least that's the way it used to be. Until with the best of intentions, we began replacing a government of the people, with a government that saw the people as ants who needed to be brought into line. The late 19th and 20th century saw the rise of a new idea of American government, no longer representative, but transformative. Government no longer existed to listen to the people, but to take them by the hand and reform them. Teach them to wash behind the ears, save money or spend it (as the situation called for), drink less and be obedient. All in order to make their lives better and teach them to be a better people.

Soon everything from stopping alcoholism to disease prevention to ending poverty and fighting racism became the purview of government. And the results were not only disastrous over and over again, but also grimly totalitarian. We sterilized people we considered inferior in order to fight poverty. A view upheld, promoted and enforced by luminaries such as Oliver Wendell Holmes and Margaret Sanger. We created a national crime syndicate in order to fight alcoholism. We caused massive social disruption, first through aggressive segregation efforts and then aggressive desegregation efforts, both led by Democrats. We bankrupted the economy to save the economy. We created an entire culture of poverty in order to fight poverty. 

The progressive idea of government was broken. Badly broken. And in the process Americans had traded their birthright of freedom, for the promise of government solutions that made the social problems they were trying to solve that much worse. But rather than admit defeat and pull back, the big government reformers decided that there was nothing wrong with their ideas-- there was something wrong with the American people.

Their grand failures inspired them not to an attitude of humility, but hostility. Their analysis of their own failures blamed not so much their policy, as the people. The American people were willful. They behaved and thought in ways the social scientists did not expect. They did not do what was "good for them". They needed nannies and regimentation. They had to be made more manageable and brought into line.

But since "manageable" is not a terribly democratic or appealing world, "equality" was instead repurposed to mean the same thing. Where equality had once meant equal right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it instead became the euphemism for creating an average society, one in which people would be forced to live like everyone else, to think like everyone else, to have the same jobs, the same wages and the same lives. Only then would the big government plans finally work, because the people they were meant to work on would be interchangeable, cogs in a machine, even numbers without fractions that add up very nicely.

Where the Old America had been based around the revolutionary notion that people should define their own lives by their own decisions, the New America had reverted to the medieval notion that everything would run best if people lived the way they were supposed to, did what they were told, and shut up when their betters (with the appropriate degrees and government positions) were talking. The Town Halls and the Tea Party movement represented an explosive clash between the Old America, that actually took the Constitution seriously, and the New America, that viewed it as a framework for imposing their solutions on an ignorant public.

Where the Old American was a random variable, the New American had to be a known and fixed quantity. After all how do you plan big government solutions that affect hundreds of millions of people, unless you reduce those people to a handful of numbers. You cannot cover the health care of 400 million different and unique people. Only individual providers and doctors can do that. What you can do is cover the health care of what you define as a typical American family and a typical American single individual, and then force everyone into that category. Compulsory insurance, Death panels, heavy taxes on large coverage-- and all the assorted totalitarian ugliness of ObamaCare is the logical outcome of that philosophy. Everyone must fall into the same category, or the system can't work. And if you don't conform, you will be made to conform. Good bye Constitution. Hello Flow Chart.

Wealth Redistribution eliminates classes and pushes everyone further into the average column. By eliminating classes, it also eliminates social mobility, which creates a more controllable static society in which everyone is just getting by, except the people with government connections or engaged in illegal activity (the two are often interchangeable in a tightly regulated system). Forget about the urchin becoming a Carnegie. That's off the graph. Forget about the middle class too. Making everyone average means pushing everyone down, not up-- because it requires less resources to deprive people of wealth, than to give them wealth, and it helps pay for the redistribution process too.

Capitalism smashed feudalism once, by shaking up the nobility and creating power based on economic success, rather than inherited titles or brutality. Now feudalism is back, except it's being called socialism, but the endgame is the same. A static society with a massive lower class tethered to specific highly regulated occupations, and a tiny upper class that has been put in charge of running their lives. The new "Protectors of the People" may be armed with PhD's, rather than banners and cavalry, but the end result is the same.

Lenin promised the peasants, land. Under Communism, not only did the peasants lose what little land they had, they also lost their livestock and even the right to leave the farm without permission. Now consider how many rights American farmers have lost since the 19th century. Consider how many rights Americans have lost, period. How many forms do you have to fill out to do even the simplest things. How much permission do you need from the authorities to do what you want. How well do you even know the laws you're governed by. All for your own good. To be a more manageable people.

The reformers could never accept the reality of human nature. That people would drink more than is good for them. That people will eat more than is good for them. That some will earn more and some will earn less. That some will be bigoted and others ignorant. That people will make good choices and bad choices. But rather than understanding that American government was created not to impose solutions, but to protect that ability to choose-- the reformers instead decided that government could be a moral force by taking away those choices, and allowing only those choices they approved of.

But turning people into slaves does not improve society, it worsens it. And the bad choices will still continue to be made. Communism deprived the Russian people of economic freedom, and so they found it instead through crime and the black market. Socialism deprived Canadians of health care freedom, and so they found it across the border instead. Prohibitions deprived Americans of legal liquor, and they embraced illegal liquor instead. Each attempt at imposing control, creates an opposite reaction, because people naturally strive to be free, to make the choices that they want to make. And they will make them, no matter how oppressive the tyranny becomes.

To create a more Manageable People is the objective of all tyrannies. But in 1776, Americans demonstrated how unmanageable a people they were. The Tea Party movement is demonstrating that again today. And those who would manage Americans into a state of absolute conformity should remember that as well.

25 comments:

Tom said...

Another brilliant piece! Thanks!

Keli Ata said...

I'd make a horrible Communist. I dance to the beat of my own drummer. Always have, always will.

The Tea Party mov't is great but it's starting to get some crackpots in its ranks--ie. the paranoia from educated people about the Census; dressing up in Revolutionary War attire; and Carl Paladino for NY governor???

Mikec said...

SK, your insight is amazing, you have put lucidly what I have always known instinctively but could not express

DP111 said...

Good stuff DG

There is just one slight worm that niggles.

I think a people deserve the government they get.

There was once an America that had a people that were fiercely independent, and took pride and ownership of the constitution they wrote. Over the decades, and even the century, a new people have come to America - a people that do not possess that quality or that ownership. The new people had a different idea of the state, that looked to the state as a child looks to parents. So the government has evolved to represent that people. If the body changes, the face changes as well.

The process is continuing, and Obama, brought up as a Muslim, is himself is part of that process, as well as a its champion.

This process is insidious, and will eventually lead to an America not along the lines of Europe as it is now, but very much a Third world country. The tragedy for America is that there is no turning back, short of a major world war.

Lance said...

Extraordinary. Much appreciated.

Crazy Daisy In Jersey said...

Another truly brilliant piece!

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Thank you Tom, MikeC, Lance and Daisy

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

DP111,

the transformation of the people however is not natural, it is a managed evolution but an ideology that has exploited political and social power to transform America and its people into what it wants

immigration, as in Europe, is just one of those tools, Obama's election is another

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

K.A.

any populist movement will generate its share of crackpottery and dubious characters

Lemon said...

America has changed dramatically in the last century. More than most realize. It has lost the purity of purpose and ideals it once had.
The Tea Party movement shows how much since they are now considered "odd" when in fact they are what America was.
The new immigrants have wounded America very much changing the mind set from states rights to federal power.
The Repuplican party let America down in support of TARP, spending, taking power from the states in violation of the 10th ammendment and aggragating power to themselves. Democrats are almost now pure crap, a truly un-American party .
The pure tea party is what America once was. May they stay strong and pure in purpose.

And Keli many in America wear customes daily. The dressing up is simply to make a statement of a desire for a return to our real roots.

Tom said...

My wife is an immigrant (legal and we went through hell to get her here that way), so I'm not anti-immigrant, but she and I both see that immigration is the major problem in this country that is leading us toward a socialist state. New immigrants come here not even thinking about becoming "Americans". They come here to take advantage of the system, all the while maintaining deep roots in their "home" country. They, more often than not, keep the passports of their home countries (we should NEVER allow dual-citizenship in this country) and vote in both their homeland and the US. In his book, "The Next 100 Years", George Friedman of Stratfor.com touches on this when he talks about how in the not too distant future, candidates will run on multi-national political platforms.

Keli Ata said...

My problems with the Tea Party mov't are that locally it is perceived as racist (championing Carl Paladino following the scandle over his racist and pornographic e-mails).

Not just for a common council position but governor! It's doomed to failure but the "we're mad as hell" mantra plays well with the masses and generates media attention and dismissal as "Tea Party types."

The relative lack of races beside whites in the mov't disturbs me a little. True, our forefathers were largely white but...on the race level we should rise above the days of slavery.

Obama got a lot of young Jews to support him and encouraged the shlep to Florida campaign to get kids to encourage their grandparents to vote for Obama. In an online list of discussion issues, one was: He's Black, Let's Talk About It.

The Tea Partiers are white. We need to discuss that.

I know a lot of people who support a return to traditional American values and virtues who are leery of the mov't because of the gimmicky costumes, including my brother who is as conservative and pro-American a person I know (18 years full-time National Guard) who looks at those costumes and feels it destroys their credibility.

Then there's the open hostility to ANYONE who disagrees with their beliefs. I got blasted by friends and a relative for stating that I hope the next president is both honest and intelligent, and that Sarah Palin doesn't fit the bill in the intelligence department.

This is hostility from family and friends! I find something dangerous about that. Something that can be exploited, which worries me.

My fear with the Tea Party is that there's so much raw anger that all it will take is a slick or inept politician to derail it and use all that energy against it--and against a lot of people--even themselves.

I keep getting an image of the balcony scene from Evita in my mind--charismatic leader with adoring and ignorant town folk waving flags and cheering, totally unaware of who and what they were supporting. Just going a long with the mob.


BTW: I covered my first ever protest (not Tea Party) involving fireman and cops against a corrupt mayor and administration. It was extremely well organized and I know there is strength in fighting a just cause but it has to be intelligent, too.

The whole event was very energizing but intelligent.

And yes, I saw people of all races protesting, unlike media coverage of the Tea Party rallies.

Frankly, this rally/protest on the waterfront with cops and firemen was much more compelling than the Tea Party one.


Okay. I'm done:)

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Tea Parties are organized locally. There are multiple groups that can use that name. And there's no official "tea party" that's responsible for it all. So there have been plenty of arguments over who's authentic and who's not.

Not all tea party people are white, though a majority no doubt are. And there are probably much fewer non-white members in the northeast. That said just about any organization can be delegitimized that way. Including the US Senate, which has one black member.

The costumes can be a bit silly, and miss the point. Those people want to show that they are championing a return to Constitutional values, but does dressing up in the garb of a particular era really do that? I think that kind of thing plays better in areas where historical recreationism and historical festivals are more common. It looks a bit weird in the tri-state area.

That said people are discovering how to protest, and these are often groups with very little experience in protesting. And trying to dress up like the Founding Fathers is a good deal better than what the left dresses up as at their protests. I just don't think it's very effective and it can make them look silly.

Palin is a separate issue. She has her own passionate fan base, and like all politician's supporters, they can get very angry at being questioned. The attacks from outside have only made them more sensitive in that regard.

The tea party movement is being exploited already and is likely to be exploited further, because no presidential candidate that can win is likely to be serious about cutting government. That said it's a voice of protest by a lot of people who rightly feel taken advantage of and want a change. And after listening to 400 rounds of the left's protests, it's an important counterbalance to an out of control system. And it is still in its early stages yet.

Tom said...

I went to my first and only political event on 9/12 in Fort Worth, TX. It was an eye opening experience for me. Most there would be considered "Tea Partiers" and for many (if not most), it was also their first political event of that type to ever attend. We had people of all ages and races attend the event and the speaker, Judge Napolitano, gave a great speech that was very critical of Bush, the patriot act and how this nation is moving so far away from our Constitution. Many that criticize Tea Party events have never been to one and are too quick to listen to what our lame-stream media has to say about them.

DP111 said...

DG wrote: the transformation of the people however is not natural, it is a managed evolution but an ideology that has exploited political and social power to transform America and its people into what it wants

immigration, as in Europe, is just one of those tools, Obama's election is another


Unfortunately, America is afflicted with both. I think Europe will save itself, despite Muslim immigrants. I'm doubtful about America.

Keli Ata said...

TY Daniel:)


I agree with you on all points. Perhaps I've been jaded by Buffalo's version of the Tea Party, it's unofficial spokesman of Russ Thompson who is continuing to express Carl Paladino even as the mainstream national media are labeling him the Bigot from Buffalo and even MSNBC's Keith Olberman is calling him The Worst Person In The World.

This afternoon there was a bomb threat called in to Paladino's campaign office by a "black militant group."

The Tea Party Express in Albany is distancing themselves from Paladino but the city Tea Party is still supporting him.

You can read more here

http://www.buffalonews.com/2010/04/13/1017993/olbermann-tea-party-leaders-target.html


He's dealt a blow for the mov't. Hopefully people will look beyond the crackpots and gimmicks and become politically energized by the mov't and effective at leading reforms. I hope the Tea Party doesn't implode on itself.

Tom said...

even MSNBC's Keith Olberman is calling him The Worst Person In The World

Oh, that makes it believable then... :-P

Sorry, but NOTHING Keith Olberman has to say has any meaning in my book. He is clearly the biggest blow-hard on TV.

Keli Ata said...

LOL Tom. I don't have cable or satellite so I am not familiar with Obermann. But...the Tea Party mov't in Buffalo is a little out of control.

First what appears to be a racially-motivated bomb threat at Carl Paladino's campaign HQ and a day later, a bomb threat at City Hall. Some in the Tea Party camp distancing themselves from pervert Paladino and others embracing him.

Tea Party gone wild in Buffalo! Not to mention media gone wild in Buffalo and a very wealthy attorney running for governor acting like a fool and being supported by the masses.

I guess all of this is a much bigger issue in Buffalo.

Hopefully the Tea Party has more sane members in other parts of the US. This is the sort of thing that can totally marginalize them even among people who generally support their objectives.

Tom said...

I've only been to one Tea Party event and the only people at the one I went to that were making trouble were the leftists that came to the rally for the sole purpose of taunting and trying to cause trouble.

I don't know about the situation in Boston, but here in Las Vegas we had (have?) a guy that was running on the "Tea Party" ticket, but he wasn't endorsed by or even a part of, the Tea Party of Las Vegas. A matter-of-fact, it is starting to come out that he was put up to running under that ticket in an effort to discredit the Tea Party movement here. You're seeing a lot of that play out across the country. The actual Tea Party movement, from my experience and what I know through my own research and not just from one hears on the MSM, is a group of every day American citizens from a broad spectrum of classes, races and political motivations that are just fed up with our government and BOTH parties. They want change, but only in the sense that they want us to GET BACK to our constitutional roots.

Keli Ata said...

It does appear enemies of the Tea Party movement are trying co-opt them politically as if nobody will notice what they do once (IF) they're elected!

As for NYS governor I'm more inclined to vote for Rick Lazio than Andrew Cuomo. Paladino wasn't a consideration at all. He's a blowhard and has a lot of money. That's about all his qualifications are.

The stuff about the racist, porno emails is true, though.

No way would I vote for Paterson. I didn't know much about Paterson since he was only running as Lt. governor.

I supported Eliot Ness Spitzer 100-percent, little knowing what would happen.


I'm sick of both parties too, but I am not about to throw my vote away on a fringe candidate who has little chance of winning.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Andrew Cuomo makes Spitzer look good. And I think by the time he's done, he'll make him look good.

Keli Ata said...

Sounds like Cuomo has a lot of skeletons in his closet, too. Like Spitzer, I suppose it is easy enough for a hard-nosed AG to generate a lot of prosecutions and come across as an Eliot Ness and get a lot of support from the public.

I probably will vote for Lazio.

vdavisson said...

"Their grand failures inspired them not to an attitude of humility, but hostility. [I'd add, hubris.--VMD] Their analysis of their own failures blamed not so much their policy, as the people. The American people were willful. They behaved and thought in ways the social scientists did not expect. They did not do what was "good for them". They needed nannies and regimentation. They had to be made more manageable and brought into line."

Case in point:

"I've been a little amused over the last couple of days where people have been having these rallies about taxes. You would think they'd be saying 'thank you.'"

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

cuomo was part of the reason for the current economic crisis

http://www.villagevoice.com/content/printVersion/541234

Keli Ata said...

Ty for the link, and Shavua Tov:)

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