Thursday, September 8, 2016

Yes, But How Bad Is It?

Yesterday the jauntily optimistic Rush Limbaugh had a field day with a piece in The Claremont Review of Books on the 2016 election as "The Flight 93 Election." The piece argued that, if conservatives are right about our issues, then conservatism -- its gradualism, its respect for the rules -- must be wrong. It's time to say "let's roll," and accept that we have to crash the airplane, even if we die in the process.

We are getting to the point, writes the anonymous author, where the left doesn't think it needs us any more.
Among the many things the “Right” still doesn’t understand is that the Left has concluded that this particular show need no longer go on. They don’t think they need a foil anymore and would rather dispense with the whole bother of staging these phony contests in which each side ostensibly has a shot.
 Actually, I think it is better to compare this time with the Soviet Great Purge of 1936-38, and I just happen to be reading a book about it, Child of the Revolution by Wolfgang Leonhard. Leonard was a red-diaper baby whose lefty mother took him to the Soviet Union in the mid 1930s when Germany became too hot for her after Hitler came to power.

To illustrate my point, let us compare two texts. The first is from Portuguese-born SF writer Sarah Hoyt. She is writing about an American instructor at her Portuguese university giving a lecture in American literature.
Until in the middle of a lecture he said something like “When any writer sets out to do x, he–” And stopped, growing pale, and started apologizing profusely.

Apparently looking on that sea of female faces, he thought he was about to be crucified. When we got it through his head that we were not offended, he said “Oh, wow. American women would be. I’d have to say he or she.”
OK. Now let's switch to Leonhard in a class in Moscow in 1937. The teacher was reading "a passage out of a book by the anti-fascist author Georg Born." But a whisper ran around the class and then a kid stood up.
"Comrade teacher, my father told me that Georg Born was arrested a few days ago as an enemy of the people."

Our teacher went pale as ashes.
Now, my theory is that a revolution transitions into its Reign of Terror phase when it is clear that the millennium is not here, and ain't gonna be any time soon. That is when the party leader needs to start dealing with the "enemies of the people" before they start up a head of rebellion.

And really, why be surprised that liberals are amping up the terror? Things aren't going too well for them right now. Their high-handed assumption that the economy would bounce back with a quick kick in the stimulus has proved wrong, and so the introduction of Obamacare created double-trouble by weighing down the already deflating economy with the lead weight of regulation.

And the point is that, like lefties everywhere since the French Revolution, their religion is politics; they think that the way to solve the problems of the world is through politics. That means, to deploy my catch-phrases, they always think that a bit of government force is needed, a bit of political divisiveness is needed, and a few more of the bad people need to be crushed by government injustice.

The point is that, as we have seen with every lefty regime since the French Revolution, this is not going to end well. As in revolutionary France, as in fascist Germany, as in the Soviet Union, as in Castro's Cuba, as in Pol Pot's Cambodia, as in prostrate Venezuela.

Let us give Wolfgang Leonard another word. He is talking about the four types of members in the Komsomol, the Soviet youth movement, in the 1930s.
There were first the enthusiasts--young people bursting with activity and initiative[.]

[There were also members, like Leonhard, who] joined the organization from political conviction and found themselves principally attracted by questions of the organisation's programme and political discussions.

[There were "careerists,"] principally among the sons and daughters of officials of the Party, state, and economic organisations.

[Then there were young people who] had joined it because that was what everybody else did... because it was the thing to do. I found this type mostly among the girls in the Komsomol[.]
Nothing changes, does it.

Personally, I think that the Obama PC push has been a strategic error for the liberals. The future outlined in The Emerging Democratic Majority by Judis and Teixeira was that the new majority of women, minorities, the educated, and young people would rule for the next thirty years.

And so the new majority might have done if Obama & Co. hadn't pressed the pedal to the metal, and inspired the Republican base to rebel against leaders that weren't leading, and provoked the dying-of-despair white working class to get angry and follow the populist Trump.

Now the whole conservative movement is in ruins and nobody knows what comes next. Or, if you use Mencius Moldbug's formulation, the good old days of the Cathedral and the Inner Party ruling the nation and the folks in the Outer Party touching their forelocks are over.

Now of course, it's possible that the bishops of the Cathedral may turn into Jacobin monsters, mobilize their Black Lives Matter shock troops and wipe white middle-class Americans off the map.

Or not.

What is certain is that the politics of the last 30 years, since 1988 and the end of the Reagan era, is over. Something else is going to take its place.

And one thing more. However crazed the crazies may be, there is a moderating factor. It is that for a modern ruling class to rule successfully it must make capitalism work. The reason that 2016 is the end of an era is that the economy has not been doing well, and the people are restless.

Get the economy right, and all things are possible.

But that is a very hard lesson for religious enthusiasts, particularly our modern secular religious enthusiasts, to learn. Because, after all, when the question is saving souls, or saving the planet, who cares about stupid things like profit and loss and economic growth?

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