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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Guns, Butter, Jobs and Birth Control

The old totalitarian paradigm was guns or butter. The Soviet Union could provide its people with the basic food groups or it could run a military race to conquer as much of the world as possible. As a totalitarian ideology, it naturally chose the latter.

The modern incarnation of the hammer and sickle, the liberals who took it slow, working from within the system instead of seizing the reins and executing anyone who got in the way, isn't big on guns. The Clinton and Obama administrations both inflicted massive cuts on the military because it was extraneous to their domestic goals. They didn't want guns, but they didn't want butter either. They wanted a third thing.

The Obama Administration is about as interested in creating jobs as the denizens of the Kremlin were in making sure that every Russian family had plenty of milk and butter on the table. Totalitarian ideologies don't care about individual welfare and they certainly are not interested in individual empowerment. An improved economy would weaken the left, it would undermine its central program of promoting fear and dependence on a social safety net and a rights infrastructure administered by them.

The left is not very good at discussing the economy. Ask its leaders to apportion blame for economic problems and they are right there with denunciations of the banks, corporations and a thousand other factors. But ask it how to repair an economy and after some mumbling the answer is usually to fund a bunch of its pet projects that have nothing to do with the economy and everything to do with its social agenda.

The left's goal is to transform society, not to empower individuals to make their own choices. That is why an arena like birth control is its natural territory. A society with state subsidized birth control has a low birth rate, low marriage rate, high demand for social subsidies and a high demand for immigrants to compensate for the low birth rate and pay for the social subsidies. Now whether or not you think such a society is a good thing, it is the kind of society that the left wants.

Given a choice between universal birth control and universal free market jobs, the former is a priority and the latter a threat. It's not just birth control, there are any number of elements, which may be benign in and of themselves, but which fit into a larger picture of the kind of society it wants.

The Communist era left thought big. If there was hunger, they would grow more wheat. If there weren't enough jobs, they would create more factories. It was a grandiose insanity that eventually brought down Communism, but it was healthier than the post-human left which is declinist. If there is hunger, then their solution is to raise the price of food with a tax that will subsidize meals for the poor. If there aren't enough jobs, the solution is for more people to go on the dole and for everyone to make do with less.

From a distance this looks like wealth redistribution, but it's actually a program for teaching everyone to make do with less. That is why Obama has done everything possible to hike energy prices, by making it harder to get to oil, coal and natural gas, while promoting expensive "clean energy" and "energy efficiency".

Faced with a challenge, the new left's solution is always make do with less. Less heat, less food and less children. The old left still had some faith in human aspirations. The new left only sees humanity as foolish children who have to be regimented and taught self-discipline. To sacrifice not for a better world, but for a more sustainable existence. There is less of Marx to it and more of Gandhi in that.

There is a mystical strain to this incarnation of the left. It does not see economic problems as arising from natural causes, but spiritual causes. It assigns blame primarily to "greed", a venial sin and a spiritual problem. Its solutions all involve remaking society in ways that have little to do with creating jobs or even regulating the banks, but address their secular notion of spiritual ills that are responsible for the malaise.

Teaching everyone to make do with less of everything is just step one. Step two is to break down the structures of attachment. Break down the family, religion and the nation. Teach people to stop being possessive of the old structures. Wipe out the tribal and national bonds so that there is no longer any war or jealousy. Eliminate marriage and stable parenthood to end possessiveness. Leave people as isolates, individual units, citizens of the state.

It's an old program. The Nazis made some slight progress on it. Various leftist movements and regimes have flirted with communal arrangements, but no one has made an entire society work that way. Yet.

To people who think that way subsidized birth control is very important. So is tolerance, international travel, centralized schooling, learning to appreciate nature, disruptive immigration, extended adolescence, higher education, state subsidies, free love, multilingual training, world citizenship, social safety nets and a thousand other things. None of which involve creating jobs.

The left believes strongly in social solutions. It believes that all our ills are social in nature and that social justice can only be practiced by a healthy society. Their idea of a healthy society is totalitarian but they have that in common with most ideologues who want a perfect state, rather than a free state.

The mantra of a society where people are less concerned with things and more concerned with people repeats itself incessantly. But a society where people are constantly concerned with other people is a totalitarian state. In East Germany, there were as many informers as there were citizens. The people were not concerned with things, because they had very few of them. They were concerned with informing on everyone around them so that they would not be suspected of caring more about things than about people.

Our own society is already rather excessively concerned with people. Frighteningly so at times. The social reformers are working harder than they did a century ago when they might have actually been needed. The society they are creating is an obtrusive social surveillance state where everyone is constantly being monitored, where every action has political implications and the weight of children is a national security crisis. Nothing is off limits and no one but the enlightened elite are immune from being brought into line by state employees on a mission to create a noble and enlightened state.

Creating such a state does not depend on pandering to "selfish" clamoring about jobs. What use are jobs except to help people buy things and raise families, two things that the left believes is at the heart of our problems. And those problems can only be solved when people give up on such selfish urges and join in a communal system for the greater good that teaches them to make do with less while focusing on their ethical obligations to society at large.

Rather than addressing economic ills, the Obamas are working on transforming society. Their real response to American economic woes is telling Americans to seek enlightenment, the satori of socialism. A response that positively makes the apocryphal, "Let them eat cake" seem humane by comparison.

Not only isn't the crisis going to waste, its carcass is being skinned, butchered, deboned and ground up for the ultimate teachable moment, teachable year and teachable decade. Economic instability is being leveraged to teach everyone a lesson about the need for a stronger social safety net, which then becomes a lesson about how to sacrifice, how to give up personal freedoms and how to make do with less for the greater good.

The left's rhetoric about corporations isn't limited to companies or to the rich. There isn't really an actual dollar value beneath which your resources don't deserve to be redistributed by the enlightened hand of the state. The left is not at war with wealth, it is at war with private property. It is not at war with corporations, it is at war with the idea that there can be any organization that is not of the state. It is not at war with people who own yachts, it is at war with the idea that anyone is entitled to living without engaging in exercises of conspicuous lifestyle decline, whether it is recycling, sending money to Africa, paying carbon taxes or any other form of tribute to the need to be less selfish.

The mandate has always been social change. According to the left it is not our economy that is broken, we are the ones who are broken. We are too greedy and too selfish, as individuals and as nations. Our possessiveness must be curbed by destroying everything that the individual owns or is attached to in the name of the greater good.

Ideologues define all problems, no matter how minute, in relation to a failure to comply with their ideal way of life. They will exploit a crisis to achieve power and implement that way of life and that way of life alone. Nothing else interests them and they will not solve any problems except through the implementation of their program.

That is what we are up against. That is their weakness, if we can exploit it, but it is also the thrust of their assault on us. On all of us. We are dealing with people who are limited to thinking in very narrow and specific ways. Who are fanatically obsessed with transforming our society, but who are unable to question their own assumptions. That makes them dangerously single-minded, but it also makes them prone to failure.

The Obama Administration has been relentlessly single-minded about its domestic program and as a result it has lost public support. What people perceive as economic failure, it views as successful social reforms. If it can reclaim power, it will proceed with an even more ruthless version of the same program. It is not interested in guns or butter. Only in social change.

16 comments:

Leah said...

It really is sickening to think that so much of this is emotional instability and hatred. A desire for world domination and other ills seems to be not so far fetched. Chavez, Achmadropdead, Castro, Obama, Abbas. Doesn't matter....they're all the same it seems. Obama, it seems is pulling strings abit here and there to see what he can get away with. SOmetimes he pulls bigger punches. Other times he hides things in multiple pages of bills....

jlevyellow said...

The most telling insight of Mr. Knish in an already seminal piece of writing is that Obama's system (yes, it is unique, never tried before, not in Russia, China or Europe) is prone to failure. It must fail because it is rigid. All systems fail, rigid ones sooner and with more fireworks and bloodshed.

That being said, what will take Obama's system's place is not certain and may be no better. That is why being conservative makes sense, since those institutions that have succeeded in the past are preserved or conserved. Those aspects of society that need tweeking can receive the limited attention they require.

Unfortunately for everyone concerned, rational systems are not the usual consequence of human interaction. I am afraid that most of what we think constitutes mere rationalizations of previous emotional attachments.

I recall the great irony I felt when I engaged some male demonstrators in the OWS crowd, they indicated that they were there because some of the women were really good-looking. They were not true believers. I must have missed them. Part of hope and change seems to circle around the right to hook up as much as possible under as many circumstances as possible. If you want to know what enslaves us, it's testosterone and the Left seems to know how best to take advantage of that peculiar human bias. So, if the Left offers you sex for nothing, don't believe them. Run like hell. It is more like prostitution than love.

Keliata said...

Obama is leading us into uncharted waters but I don't see him as being particularly successful. All of us have our sacred cows, things we value too much to give up or revise; we don't like to get pushed around or told what to do.

"The Communist era left thought big. If there was hunger, they would grow more wheat. If there weren't enough jobs, they would create more factories. It was a grandiose insanity that eventually brought down Communism, but it was healthier than the post-human left which is declinist. If there is hunger, then their solution is to raise the price of food with a tax that will subsidize meals for the poor. If there aren't enough jobs, the solution is for more people to go on the dole and for everyone to make do with less."

This is interesting. RT reported the other day that Putin is seeking to increase Russia's population through incentives by offering afforadable housing to keep young families, more jobs, and other things to keep young Russians from leaving the country.

Not to mention more afforadable health care (apparently the death rate for men is atrocious in Russia.

Kind of the opposite in the US at least when it comes to population. Russians want Russian citizens.

Our government is apparently seeking to control the population of American citizens through abortion funding etc and yet permit illegal immigrants, often from cultures known for high birth rates, to come here.

I've read that immigrants aren't having as many children as citizens but I'd have to see it in writing to believe it.

Dan Adam said...

For me, the most frustrating part of this problem isn't that it exists, but that those who can see the light seldom choose to eviscerate it when they are placed in a position of power. Instead, those on the right seem to try to make use of the "benign" elements put into place by their leftist predecessors. We need to start recognizing those benign elements as the hidden cache of weapons that the left intended them to be.

While we cannot ignore doing the right things to get the economy back on its feet if Obama is not re-elected, one of the first thing the new president needs to do is dismantle everything that Obama has done... even if it appears to have a secondary usage that seems right and proper. Leaving his infrastructure in place allows his eventual successor a ready supply of ammunition to pick up their war where Obama left off.

The right needs to stop engaging in the battle according to the left's rules. For example, if the mainstream media is firmly allied with the left, then it needs to be neutered when the right ascends to power. It is obvious that the left has no respect for our sacred cows, we can have no less sympathy for theirs. We cannot allow the left's agenda to emerge victorious because if they win, everyone loses.

Keliata said...

I agree and disagree a little. We can't allow the eft's agenda to win the battle.

But...I've always felt that the Republicans should start using the Left's Alinsky/Gamaliel Foundation's leadership tactics against them. Fight fire with fire.

It works, I've seen it work with politicians and to a lesser extent with the media. The Republicans should become students of Alinsky to fight them and then switch to the other hand.

I agree and disagree a little. We can't allow the eft's agenda to win the battle.

But...I've always felt that the Republicans should start using the Left's Alinsky/Gamaliel Foundation's leadership tactics against them. Fight fire with fire.

It works, I've seen it work with politicians and to a lesser extent with the media. The Left won't see it coming. I would compare it to one of the things in one of the Rocky movies--Rocky is right-handed but fights as a southpaw.

In one of the films he's taking a real beating and switches to rightpaw.

The Republicans should become students of Alinsky to fight them and then switch back to fighting for our values.

It's a little on the sneaky side but it does work, and sometimes it is absolutely necessary.

Barry from Victoria said...

I don't think of 'leftism' as a monolithic ideology. I think of it as a hierarchy. At the top are the ideologues who have no interest in ideology at all except as a tool. They are only concerned with power.
The second tier is ideological, but as any student of the phenomenon has noticed, it is incoherent. We have so-called feminists who collude with islam, we have environmentalists destroying the landscape with wind farms, etc, etc. These are the shock troops of the top echelon. They would be found in the universities, schools, media groups, etc. Their job is to indoctrinate the poor and to recruit new blood into their ranks.
At the bottom are the poor who have been bribed with handouts, drugs, and sexual license. These are the cannon fodder. These 'masses' are unable to connect the policies and ideologies of the various leftist dogmas to their poverty and misery. They don't realize that they have effectively been enslaved by the politicians who have brought them into a state of dependency by programs that supposedly help them.
The way the top tier gains power is by identifying constituencies and pandering to them. It doesn't matter that these constituencies are incompatible with each other. The thing to do is to get them to identify with this inchoate movement known as progressivism or liberalism or leftism by cheap bribery. They are bribed by handouts, by jobs that are useless but have imposing titles, and by power over others...even if that power only amounts to taking away a child's lunch.
The enormity and sheer evil of it boggles my mind. Although I have very little knowledge of the organizing minds behind progressivism, the name George Soros leaps to mind... but then we already know that.

careyrowland said...

So I guess this means we'll vote Republican, no matter who gets the nomination.

TBS said...

@Dan Adam

The right need to realise there is a war going on, not just another election.

TBS said...

Interesting to think that the totalitarian govts can achieve the same result for many people as a terrible childhood...;)

Greg RN said...

Very thoughtfull summation David,I saw a glimpse of insight as to their weakness, being narrow sighted,which leads me to believe they are capable of creating a horrific crisis,Hopefully people will see it (Crisis) for what it is, contrived to maintain power. What baffles me is the degree of collusion by so many within. Heartless comes to mind, Honorless as well, Integrity and Dignity, concepts Lost these days, it seems a state of moral decay purposely planned for their final push. And when Maslow's Hierarchy of needs kicks in, The Left will relish the Chaos, but, Perhaps the Dogs of War they think will always be loyal, perchance, will turn on the hand that feeds them. How Apropos.

Greg RN said...

Hey Daniel, just finished a Hot Shower, it occurred to me, something so simple might soon become a luxury, having just read and commented on your Essay, my mind drifted back to early childhood, I wa sabotu to be six when Kennedy was asassinated, i recalled the turmoil and Civil Defense Drills huddling under my desk, the heated political discussions of my Grandparents. Then a Name I've heard again recently Barry Goldwater came to mind, considering the Political climate of that bygone Era and the progenation of One Barry-Barack Obama and the Frank marshall History, Perhaps you could do a Piece entitled "A Tale of Two Barrys" or "A Barry Tale", with your gift of writing, perhaps you could bring to Life an understanding of who the POTUS really is and the History that brought him to where he is today.

Anonymous said...

A very insightful and enlightening piece.
I do wonder about the social engineering aspect of Obama's ideology.His anti/pro racism is beginning to show in unqualified employees,lower education standards and a social net that is expected to hold 1/2 the population to neutralize racial differences in the population.
He is creating more racial tensions and resentment by enacting more extensive nanny care for specific races and religions while the country is in financial crisis.$250 billion in grants to single African - American mothers to purchase everything from clothes to homes is neither a safety net nor a hand up.And it ignores the millions that provided those funds and are now in need,no matter their skin color or reproduction choices.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps laws should be enacted whereby abortion and all forms of birth control are illegal, thus forcing women to have as many children as possible!
It worked for Hitler when he wanted Germany's birth rate to jump - he made abortion and birth control illegal! And it even worked in post-revolutionary United States, when a woman's reproductive capacity was the property of the state and it was her job to make babies for the state - thus making abortion and contraception ILLEGAL>
women = baby factories. anatomy is destiny!

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Like so much of your movement you willfully don't seem to understand the difference between birth control being legal and between other people being mandated to pay for your birth control.

Anonymous said...

I never said anyone should pay for it, did I :P And I am not part of any 'movement' :)
Simply reflecting on history, thats all!

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

uh huh

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