Monday, January 6, 2014

Is There a Revolution in Our Future?

The conventional wisdom about political revolutions is that they represent a failure of the "old regime" to modernize and keep with the times.

But Steve Pincus in "1688: The First Modern Revolution" sees it a bit differently.  He experiences the British Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the French Revolution of 1789 as the "old regime" pushing for modernization but losing control.

The problem for the "old regime" is that when it starts to modernize it opens modernization as a political question.  It extends state "authority more deeply into society" and so "politicize[s] and mobilize[s] people on the periphery," the people we call the low-information voters.  But people don't just get mobilized for the state's modernization project. There are regime opponents out there eager to mobilize the lo-fos against the state's modernization project and for their own modernization project.  Pretty soon the issue becomes not just modernization, but modernization for what, and for who.

In France before 1789, it is important to remember that Louis XVI was a modernizer. His modernization opened the question to discussion.
By announcing a break with the past, modernizing states create an ideological opening.  In order to explain and justify state expansion, state transformation, and the necessary intrusions in everyday life, modernizing states have to proclaim and explain their new direction.  In doing so they are compelled to concede the need for radical change... Modernizing states necessarily stir up wide-ranging debates about the means and ends of modernization.  Modernizing states create the ideological space for a modernizing opposition.
 The same thing applied in Britain during the Glorious Revolution.  James II started a modernization project to strengthen the army and navy and ally Britain with Catholic France.  But the Whig grandees wanted to strengthen the army and navy to ally instead with the upstart Protestant Dutch.

You can see where I want to go with this.  For years Democrats have forbidden any reform of their welfare state and have demagogued anyone that tried as tipping grannie over a cliff.

But with the Obamacare reform and its manifest troubles, Democrats have opened the whole question of reform.  With the lies and failures and millions of people losing their insurance the Democrats can no longer stop reform by worrying about grannie or the children.  Grannie is already being hurt; children are already starving.

So now the question is not between doing something or doing nothing.  We have already made that decision.  The question is what is the best way forward?  What kind of health care system do we want?  Do we want individual Americans to make their own decisions about health care or do we want the government to decide for us?

Obamacare is already changing Medicare with its attack on Medicare Advantage.  So that brings the whole of Medicare into question.  Radical lefties like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are proposing benefit increases for Social Security.  Are you sure, Sen. Warren?  Because that brings the whole question of Social Security into the public square.

In the US today it is the liberals that represent the "old regime" and they have fought any attempt to reform their cruel and corrupt administrative state.   But now their modernization of health care is turning out to be a complete disaster they have accidentally opened the discussion about alternatives.

The aftermath of Obamacare may be a revolution in a lot more than health care.

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