Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Way Forward: What Went Wrong

By now nearly everyone in America senses that something has gone wrong, that somehow, after the promise of Hope and Change in the maelstrom of the Crash of 2008, things in America are going from bad to worse.

What is it?  What has gone wrong?  Why did President Obama's promise of an end to the mistakes and the corruption of the Bush years, an end to partisanship and polarization not turn America around?  Why has it seemed to go from bad to worse?

Is it because the president has tried to implement “fundamental change” when fundamental change wasn't needed?  Or did he not go far enough?  Perhaps the problem is that he has abandoned the good old All American Way for a farrago of untried and untested ideas.  Could it be that underneath the comforting assurance of the president's rhetoric hides a Marxist fanatic that wants to destroy America before rebuilding it as a neo-Marxist utopia?  Maybe the failure is nothing more than good old All American political corruption, the Chicago Way in black-face.

You'll be frustrated to learn that the answer is None of the Above.  Our problem here in America is not a specific problem but a generic problem, an old problem; perhaps it is the oldest problem in human government.  Our problem is not merely the good old human evil of bad government, or even worse, good old bad government incompetently conducted, but merely good old human folly, playing in endless repeat.  It is the problem of the ruling class that forgot what government is for.  Government is not instituted among men for the ruling class to indulge itself with glorious visions and pet programs, to admire itself in the mirror and reward its friends and punish its enemies, to legislate its evolved morality over the cramped visions of the great unwashed.

No, government must cringe and recoil before such self-indulgence or it is rubbish.  Government must sail, with ears deaf to the song of the Sirens of power, between the Scylla of defending its people against enemies and the Charybdis of free human flourishing.  Or, in left-wing terms, we must defend the road to enlightenment and liberation from exploitation and injustice, and that means defending our glorious vision of a world of peace and justice from the power of government, any government, as much as the power of corporations and the rich and powerful.

Yeah.  Pity the poor schmuck who thinks that the road to the future is paved with government programs, in other words with force. Because even if you delude yourself into thinking that government is nothing more than the slightly doddery kindliness of an absent-minded librarian that listens to NPR, it is still true that government is force.  As the saying goes: all power corrupts librarians, but absolute power corrupts librarians absolutely.

But if the path to the future is not paved with government programs and defended by force, how shall we find it?

Link to the next post in this series as we drill down.

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