Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Economic Sabotage of the West

By combining an opposition to free enterprise with an opposition to industrialization, the left has adopted not one, but two platforms that doom the economic survival of their host societies. Even the Soviet Union and Communist China, systems which were the worst embodiment of leftist economic ideology did not throw out the industrial baby with the capitalist bathwater. Had they done so both countries would still be hopelessly feudal today, instead of crony capitalist mafia states with a lot of available consumer goods that create jobs and make life easier.

The Western left did not just adopt a system which insisted that all economic activity had to be tightly regulated and centrally planned in order to remedy inequality, it also adopted the anti-industrial back to nature rhetoric of those who believed that factories and cities were a mistake and that a harmonious society could only be an agricultural society.

While the hippie elements of the left have dabbled with buying farmhouses and growing occasional crops that are not cannabis, they are not serious about return to a nation of family farms or even collective farming. They have adopted the pollution paranoia and the twaddle about the dehumanization of machinery without actually having a fallback plan.

If all that wasn't bad enough, the left has not championed agriculture, but a purity of nature cult that demands that we leave the environment "unspoiled". That means seizing land that farmers might put to use and declaring it protected land. It means cutting off water supplies to agriculture and attacking any attempt at bringing industrial efficiency to agriculture. Instead the left celebrates a boutique agriculture which relies on hipsters buying overpriced organic and locally grown produce.

It does not take much to crunch the numbers and see that locally grown is a formula for starving some 60 percent of the country, denying children basic nutrients and driving the price of foodstuffs so far through the roof that Africans will start sending us aid.

This brand of militant individualism might be somehow defensible if it was being practiced by actual rebels, instead of by collectivists dressing up their latest meme and fad in the rebel's red shirt. While the left objects to the collectivism of the factory and the corporation, they are replacing it with a sonorous collectivism of the soul that pervades every aspect of society and demands total conformity. Instead of Charlie Chaplin caught in the gears of the great machine, we all find ourselves trapped by the demand that we all care about the same things, laugh and sneer at the same things, and buy the same things.

The left's moral consumerism elevates scarcity over plenty. It is hostile to mechanical organization that is not ideologically derived. Communism married the order of industry with ideological collectivization and the Nazis attempted to do the same thing. But the modern left only wants the ideology with no actual plan for how it will all work. Its approach to the market is elitist. It would rather have a few expensive products, than a great many cheap products. It would rather have a few million government jobs, than a few hundred million real jobs.

Had the left managed to get all this regulatory power before global transportation became cheap and simple, and other countries managed to hit their own industrial marks, then it is likely that our experience would have been similar to that of Venezuela under Chavez, with an economic implosion, spiraling prices and a civil struggle that would have left us a banana republic or shattered the left for a generation.

Instead the production shifted overseas, and subsidies and tax breaks protected the tail end of what had once been the industrial and agricultural engine of the world. The slow death of American industry put millions out of work, but that only made them into ripe territories for the candidates of social justice to plow. The more the ranks of the poor increased, the more the left could denounce the injustices of a society where there was such a gap between the rich and the poor, while disregarding the fact that they were the rich and their policies had set that gap in stone.

Not satisfied with having outsourced much of America's industry and jobs to totalitarian countries, the left set out to politicize food at every stage of the process, from water supplies to calorie counts. We now live in the peculiar area where the authorities are obsessed with what we are, staring into our plate as if we were the ones gorging, while they starved. Our diet is now officially a national security issue which means it is only a matter of time until Ronald McDonald is the new Osama bin Laden. And all the while there is less to eat and it costs more.

Looking over this spectacle it behooves us to ask what kind of society the left would want? What sort of life do they foresee in a civilization where everything is expensive and hard to come by? This scarcity was an accidental byproduct of a broken system in Soviet countries, but in the West it is not incompetence, it is policy. And what specifically happens to the middle class in such a system?

The Western lifestyle has been made viable after the death of its industry by its high value currency and lack of equivalent competition. That grace window is now expiring. The dollar and the Euro are endangered, and it is only China's razor sharp salesmanship that keeps its own currency artificially low. The day when that changes is the day that Wal-Mart becomes a luxury goods store.

Even the Western corporation which has helped maintain the illusion of economic power is likely to fall not to the left, but to the logic of the marketplace, as its foreign suppliers cut out the middle man and buy it up or bypass it selling directly to Western consumers. For anyone who has brought a Lenovo computer or an HTC phone, has already picked up a product created by a Chinese manufacturer of famous American brand name products which either brought up the business on the  American end or just bypassed it.

When the Western corporations go, then suddenly the United States will just be another third world market for goods made by the actual economic superpowers in the East.

The left's adoption of a series of increasingly outdated and unworkable ideas that make Communism seem downright forward looking brought us this far. The left has combined central planning with an opposition to industry, which amounts to the captain dividing up the last food supplies on the raft. It is hostile to agricultural revolutions that can affordably feed an expanding population. It opposes any exploitation of the natural environment that would provide food, jobs and shelter for the people.

This utterly inhuman ideology is the sort of thing that decadent intellectuals like Rousseau or Tolstoy might have engaged in, but has frightening consequences on a national and international scale.It is both elitist and clueless, embracing the diploma as the only tool that matters in a postmodern age where the old verities of supply and demand no longer apply. Stripped of its rational tones, this is the elevation of the advanced degree to a measure of national enlightenment which will solve all our problems.

There is nothing rational about this mystical progressivism, a techno-luddite elite that believes unpaid cooperative efforts by degree holders can provide for a society better than the industrial and agricultural mechanisms that made the society whose cliff's edge they are approaching possible.

The fixation on problem solving by a technocratic elite comes down to nine people discussing how a machine should ideally work and a tenth man trying to actually make it work. The class of entitled problem solvers who have degrees in everything but living in the real world are incapable of understanding that they are the problem. That no amount of social tinkering can make people run the way they want to and that the day when the social tinkerers got the authority to remake the real into their ideal is the day when everything began to go downhill.

We do not need more sociologists, ethicists, workplace psychologists, politicians, human resources staff, chief experts on how to make people interact appropriately with each other. What we need to do is put all the experts back in the closet and let the engineers, farmers, workers and businessmen try to make the society work again.

Communism celebrated the worker but put the Party man at the top of the pile. These days we are running out of workers, but we have a frightening surplus of Party men to try and figure out what is wrong. What is wrong is that the left is insane. Its ideology leads to a completely unworkable system built on hypocrisy, lies and heavy doses of denial.

Even the Communists understood that there needed to be a means of production to seize. Even the South American left understands that. The Western left disregards the means of production in their ideology. The only thing they are interested in producing is a perfect world that is outside such mundane needs. Means of production are outdated. In the future we will all go to college and resolve social injustices without the need to resort to production lines. We will all have less, but be spiritually enlightened. We will eat one meal a day, make our own toilet paper and have three diplomas on the wall.

For all that the Freegans who dumpster dive to find food are mocked, they are the real future of the left's economic policies. One day, if the left goes on as it is, we will all be Freegans.


American Genie said...

"If you find yourself through the looking glass, where the verities of the world you knew and loved no longer apply, there is only one thing to do. Knock the Red Queen on her ass, turn around, and smash the bloody mirror." ~ Mike Vanderboegh

Anonymous said... has a wonderful package of heritage seeds...enough to sow a large garden for a mere $49.00

The ship is taking on water quickly now,

FreedomRyder said...

"And all through this there is less to eat"?

Have you been to a supermarket lately? Not a corner grocer, I mean the supermarkets that didn't exist 20 years ago but do today, the kind so vast you can almost see the curvature of the earth, with expansive aisles burgeoning with shelves of plenty. Endless food in endless variety. "And all through this there is less to eat"? An objective reader would have to conclude that someone else does all of your food shopping.

rumcrook™ said...

leftist idealogy has reached the level of religious dogma to true leftists such as obama, its about forcing non believers in leftist religious dogma to accept the lefts religion, or be destroyed the religion of leftist statism with its secular values lifted up to the status of sacrosanct religious tenants that must be followed by all under penalty of state action

leftism has become a religion and the faith must be spread it must be imposed and you will convert or we will make you second class citizens.

the problem lies in the fact that it is at its core nihilism it is destruction of our culture our society our ability to live a clean prosperous life with modern ammenities that are affordable even to our so called poor.

they will make it impossible to use fossil fuels they will mismanage and destory our markets through their do gooder leftist command economy like comand economies have never been tried and failed before.

in fact they want us to fail and disapear leaving eventually a peopleless landscape

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Freedom, today's supermarkets existed 20 years ago. I have no idea why you think otherwise. Places like Whole Foods have a specific business model, etc.

You may not have noticed what happened to the price of bread recently, but those who do shop for food have. You may want to contemplate what will happen to those cavernous supermarkets when Chinese demand for wheat and beef really kicks in.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

rumcrook, power ideologies are the worst

cruft said...

The word you so assiduously avoid is "evil". Why?

Anonymous said...

"The more the ranks of the poor increased," etc.

Dr. Jamie Glazov: "the more victimized the believer envisions himself to be, the closer he feels to the supposed victims of capitalism; the more the victims of capitalism suffer, the greater the indignation the believer can feel through his empathy for them. The more victims there are to identify with, the larger the community the believer belongs to. It becomes clear why the existence (real or imagined) of the impoverished and alienated classes under capitalism is so vital for the believer. His entire identity is wrapped up in his vision of their victimization."

This is the entire basis for the ongoing existence of the welfare state.

Anonymous said...

The pushback will occur when the majority of Americans realize rhetoric is no substitute for reality. Of course this is why Obama is hell-bent on income redistribution and entitlement creation. The less pain the more the thundering herd of sheeples can go to back to their bread-and-circuses amusements. What time is "Jersey Shore" on?

Edward Cline said...

Daniel: This is a terrific essay. But I think you credit the Left and its allies with too much. They, and their pals in the environmentalist realm, aren’t really concerned with how anyone will live with or survive their anti-industrial, anti-capitalist policies. Which is why they don’t have what you call a “fall-back plan” to compensate for what they’ve destroyed. They are all nihilists, from the minions of the EPA down to the hipsters and hucksters of organically grown food. They hate the good for being the good. They are anti-man for the sake of being anti-man. They would rather man perish from the earth, to leave the earth man-free. That’s their universal, across-the-board premise, but they’d never concede it. It governs every bit of anti-man, anti-life policy of theirs, from mandatory recycling to anti-smoking and anti-smokestack laws to anti-farming policies and anti-genetically altered corn and tomatoes.

And those policies, as you indicate, affect the cost of living, from what one buys in a supermarket to the gas pump. If there had been a Left-Environmental movement and alliance in the Cro-Magnon era, they would’ve browbeat anyone for hunting mammoths, lighting a fire to cook the meat, or drawing pictures on cave walls to record the hunt. You’re right that it all adds up to an “inhuman ideology.” You touched on the premise there. All one needs to do is realize that they’re killers for the sake of killing. The first cartoon of your article says it all. Islam isn’t the only man-hating ideology at large.

michael said...

What seems to be forgotten today was that the Green Party and the Green Movement began as KGB front organizations to damage western (IE Nato) economies. I still remember their protests against US nuclear cruise missles and Pershing 2 missles with not a word EVER of the Soviet SS-20 missles they were in response to. Fotunatly Pres. Reagan and PM Thatcher had the courage to stand up to these traitors. Unfortunatly the Leftist Green movement had a lot of ernest dupes and have taken on a life of it's own. But be assured, somewhere behind the Greens is George Soros.

revereridesagan said...

If it weren't for those cavernous supermarkets -- and the Dollar stores that are sprouting up everywhere, and the good bakery surplus outlets -- I'd be stuck with the "options" enjoyed by all the Rich Green Lefties in my town, the ones driving around with the Obama 2012 stickers already attached to the bumpers of their 2012 Priuses, who shop at the Whole Foods, and the gourmet "corner grocery", and the chic little farmer's markets in the summer, none of which can I afford to patronize. Our excellent discount market chain keeps the price increases at bay by selling everything in lots of two or more. I could join a buyer's club if I had room in the apartment to stock cartons of soup and paper towels, which is not a problem for the Rich Green Lefties in their million dollar homes out on the Island. These people are not feeling the impact of what their utopic tinkering is doing to the rest of us, and as long as they keep on being rewarded for their behavior we can't really expect them to change.

Edward Cline said...

Revereridesagain: I hate to tell you this, but Dollar Stores are owned by...Muslims. At least the ones in New York are. Allah knows where the profits go, so to speak. This is why I stopped patronizing Muslim-run tobacco shops. Even if these shops aren't in the Muslim-run contraband cigarette racket, one of which was recently broken up in North Carolina, I still don't know where my money is going to, ultimately. Regardless of the scale of a Muslim's business, he must still pay zakat to Islamic charities, and we all know what those are all about -- subsidizing terrorism.

Thomas G Lee said...

Our government is using all their tools (and creating new ones daily) to kill America's SMBs. A good example is ITAR. It sounds good on the surface, but really, it's only a tool to force our close allies to buy complete systems from US manufacturers such as Lockheed, Raytheon, Northrup, etc. For example, my small business is blocked from selling components to overseas (friendly nations) that want to build their own defense systems. Instead, our government is telling them they have to buy complete systems from one of the large (donor) corporations. This blocks technological advances in this country and it forces our allies to develop new supplier bases from other countries or to develop their own products. I've been in defense electronics for over 20 years and every day the government is tightening export regulations to such a level that we cannot export.

I love your writings and check every day for your latest piece. You're a talented writer that get's it right 99.9% of the time (the other 0.1% is just a buffer... I actually think you get it right 100% of the time!).

I've about given up on hoping things will ever improve. I think the only way it will is through a catastrophic event that will reset our government and our national mindset.

kevin said...

Where did you get the idea that cannabis growers are anti-industrial? They use some of the best indoor growing technology.

Organically grown does tend to cost a little more at this time, but that is due primarily to less volume. As the volumes increase, as they are, prices come down. Though the quality is higher, so organic has more value per dollar. As chemical intensive agriculture experiences increasing difficulties (due to genetic adaptation to pesticides and soil depletion), organic production will increase, resulting in less fuel and chemical costs and plenty of jobs.

The price of bread? Perhaps you haven't heard, grains are almost obsolete. They hark back to a time when fresh vegetables in winter were impossible. Now with greenhouse growing and modern transportation, vegetables are available year-round in all climates.
Vegetables are much healthier than grains.
We already get plenty of grains from beer.

Locally-grown produce tends to cost less, because of less transportation costs.

The price of food tends to be rising, because of so much land set aside for corn alcohol production; and a growing population.

Thomas G Lee said...

Study after study has shown that organically grown crops are actually more resource intensive. More land is required, more water, more of just about everything. Organic is not all it's made out to be. More volume will require more land, more water, etc.

Jew613 said... this is Jane Velez Mitchell, she is the host of a TV show on the HLN cable channel dumpster diving for food.

Daniel, we all agree the Left is insane and completely divorced from reality. But the Left has spread their ideas to the general public. What practical steps can be taken to reverse this insanity.

Anonymous said...

I saw more humor this time; Dan is rapidly gaining on my other favorite writer, Mark Styn.

Lemon said...

The government has all but completely destroyed family farms with regulations and nonsense.
There is no job on earth as important as that of a farmer.

Ex-Dissident said...


"The class of entitled problem solvers who have degrees in everything but living in the real world are incapable of understanding that they are the problem. That no amount of social tinkering can make people run the way they want to and that the day when the social tinkerers got the authority to remake the real into their ideal is the day when everything began to go downhill.

We do not need more sociologists, ethicists, workplace psychologists, politicians, human resources staff, chief experts on how to make people interact appropriately with each other. What we need to do is put all the experts back in the closet and let the engineers, farmers, workers and businessmen try to make the society work again."

Love it.

fizziks said...

How was it that "the left" outsourced our jobs to places where people will work for less? I thought that was CEOs and boards doing that.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

the left created the economic conditions that made outsourcing feasible

Jake-a-runi said...

The "Left": the mantra invoking the all-purpose straw man, there to soak up blame, like the invisible villian postulated by five year-olds.

the left created the economic conditions that made outsourcing feasible

Don't I remember, going back to the mid-seventies, rumors of the Trilateral Commission contemplating replacing the burden of the high labor rates found in developed economies with the low labor rates of undeveloped economies? Wasn't the end goal the diminuation of manufacturing as a source of family income for working Americans, while directing this flush of enhanced margins into the coffers of those who own, not do?

I would have to say, their goals seem fulfilled. Yes, the great unwashed left may have to go without, but isn't that why they're there? To have less, so the important ones on the right, the three percent who own the eighty percent, can have more?

After all, of what use is government if it can't enforce permanent class inequality? Whose gonna compain, the suckers? Let them read Adam Smith.

Anonymous said...

When in post grad at William Paterson, the profs were all pushing the service economy. We would manufacture nothing. We would import all our needs. I thought they were insane, said so and left the program. We can see how it's working out. And these jerks are still pushing the insanity.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

It's still the big idea because it brings them to the kind of society they think we should have

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