Monday, July 31, 2017

The Left's Syllabus of Errors, Part One

I experience the left as a reactionary and nostalgic movement that arose at the time of the industrial revolution with the goal of turning back the clock to an imagined golden age of perfect and equal community.

Obviously, the first error of the left was the French Revolution, and that is where the term "left" was invented. My knowledge about the revolution is sketchy, but it is obvious to me that the French Revolution is an example of How Not to Do It. Whereas the American Revolution and the Constitution are an example of How To Do It. The result of the French Revolution was that French hegemony in Europe was over. For most of us, that was great. For the French, not so good.

The second error was the folly of the socialist communities like New Harmony, Indiana, founded by Robert Owen who bought Harmony from a German Protestant sect in 1824 and tried out his socialist ideas -- for two years until the experiment failed.

The third error is Marxian economics, based on Karl Marx's idiosyncratic reading of classical economics and its dual theory of value: exchange value and use value. Marx published his theory in 1867 and in 1870 it was blown up by the marginal revolution, that there was no such thing as use value and exchange value, only marginal value. But here we are, nearly 150 years after the marginal revolution and Marxists still haven't digested the annihilation of their flawed economics.

The fourth error is the faith in top-down administrative government, started in a big way by Bismarck in Germany and his government social-insurance scheme in the 1880s. It was left to the economist Ludwig von Mises to predict in 1918 that socialism could not work because it could not compute prices. But this is true of all government centralized administrative programs. Designed to sidestep the price system, these cunning plans always founder on the fact that they cannot adjust day-by-day to changing circumstances. In fact they are designed to prevent adjustment. Thus they always end up in bankruptcy, injustice and waste, whether in pensions, health care, education, or welfare.

The fifth error is the left's intervention to favor its little darlings. This started with the workers, and ended up with unionized workers bankrupting the industries they had organized. It continued with the left warping the law to favor its feminist and minority clients, thus making both women and minorities worse off. The best way to approach marginalized communities is to start with my catchphrase that there is no such thing as justice, only injustice. Thus it is one thing to write civil rights laws; it is another thing to legislate and impose initiatives to benefit "underrepresented" groups.

The sixth error is the left's war on religion. Experts now agree that all humans practice what we would call religion, some way of understanding the meaning of life, the universe and everything, and what to do about it. The deep wisdom of the American founders was to understand that religion and politics needed to be separated. But the left is a secular religion and thinks nothing of installing its preachers throughout the government. There is a word for this combination of religion and government power: totalitarianism.

The seventh error is the left's war on the nation state. With Marxism the left determined to press for a global government based on the class principle, that workers of the world would combine together to fight the capitalists. But World War I showed that the workers identified first with their nation states, British workers believed in Britain, German workers in Germany, French workers in France. In other words the nation state was an astonishing concept that could command the loyalties of humans from all walks of life living in a geographical area, and get them to loosen their blood and tribal and class ties in favor of a single abstract notion of a nation and its people. Then, when the ruling class screwed up in the aftermath of World War I with inflations in the 1920s and the Great Depression in the 1930s, ordinary people strengthened their loyalty to nation, and supported Mussolini, Hitler, Baldwin, and Roosevelt that promised to make their nations great again. The ruling class interpreted this loyalty, after World War II, as "fascism" and a disaster which should never be allowed to happen again. But they were wrong. What never should have been allowed to happen again was the ruling class screwing up the economy again, as in the 1970s inflation and the 2000s housing bubble.

The eighth error is large-scale migration. This error proceeds from the ruling class's war on the nation state and its conceit that it can rule over the result. In fact the best political unit currently on offer is the nation state with its fiction of a single people speaking the same language and descended from a common ancestry. The lesson of US immigration down the decades is that the new immigrants always tend to form sub-communities walled off from the national community, and that it takes a war, e.g., World War II, to bring them all together.

The ninth error is climate change, the notion that we are roasting the planet with fossil fuel use. It may be true, but since we are presently in an "interglacial period" in a major ice age, probably not. In any case, humans are good at adapting, and not so good at predicting. When we make a mess, we work to clean it up. We are really bad at predicting what is going to happen next week, or next year, or next century, and spending a ton of money on the assumption that we can predict the future is utter folly.

Well, that's enough for starters. Next, Postmodernism.

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