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The Most Dysfunctional Ideology

It is not the act of being ideological that disturbs the left, it is the ideology.  Faith in an idea or principle makes you ideological;  faith in their own  ideas and principles makes them pragmatic.  Pragmatism with a capital ‘P’ became an ideology in the early days of Progressivism.  Pragmatism may be the most dysfunctional ideology on the political scene.

John Maynard Keynes famously noted, “in the long run we are all dead.”  that may be the ultimate statement of progressive ideology.  Keynes may be dead, but those of us still n the right side of the dirt are paying the price for their pragmatism.

from Daniel Henninger at the WSJ, Government Hits the Wall

 Brexit is shorthand for “government is the problem.”

Liberal intellectuals have mocked Reagan for reducing his theory of government to a bumper sticker. But he elaborated on the idea with words that would have fit in the Founders’ debates:

“We have been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. But if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?”

A good and just society comes through an economic and social compact between citizens and their government. If citizens will transmit sufficient tax revenue to the government, it will hire experts in public administration (to Reagan an “elite group”) who will deliver socially desirable benefits to everyone, and will do so with equity. It is an appealing promise.

People who believe this, and some still do sincerely, regarded Reagan’s inaugural formulation as the words of an antigovernment “ideologue.” Still, ideology matters, and they have their own founding ideologue, Woodrow Wilson.

In his 1889 book called “The State,” the future progressive Democratic president of the U.S. wrote: “Government does now whatever experience permits or the times demand.” Across the 20th century, that broad claim summarized the justification for building the administrative state, here and in Europe.

That sound you heard in the United Kingdom last week was the administrative state finally hitting the wall.

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A Pitiful Revolution

from David French at National Review, The Sins of the Elite Don’t Excuse the Sins of the People

Here at home, it should surprise no one that a wrecked culture is spawning a pitiful rebellion. When a population is both angry and uninformed, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are the result. Sanders’s socialism is laugh-out-loud insane. His economic proposals would combine the largest government expansion in history with the largest tax increase in history and the largest deficit increase in history. And the last thing our culture needs is an even greater sense of dependence and helplessness.

As for Trump, his “burn it down” revolution has been replaced with a “bumble around” carnival sideshow. Nobody is doing more to preserve the establishment — the Democratic establishment, that is — than Donald Trump. As a “bonus,” he’s unleashed an unhealthy strain of white nationalism and taught us all a master class in deception, opportunism, and incompetence. Washington had Alexander Hamilton; Trump had Corey Lewandowski. Our cultural descent is nearly complete.

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The New Age of Mencken

HL_Mencken

from Jonah Goldberg at National Review, The Wisdom of Mencken and Nock Seems Fresh Today

Today, America looks very different from the America of Mencken and Nock’s era, but the similarities are hard to ignore. Liberal elites have decided that if you have a problem with men using women’s bathrooms, you’re not just wrong, you’re a bigot. A registered Democrat murdered 49 Americans at a gay nightclub, in the name of the Islamic State, and the smart set insists that conservative Christians are somehow to blame. The zeal of Prohibition has multiplied like a cancer cell, with reformers wanting to ban everything they don’t like: vaping, free speech, coal, Uber, refusal to bake cakes for gay weddings, and, if they could, guns.

 

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The Twilight of the Elite

National Review has developed a stable of the most insightful writers of the conservative movement. I have long been a fan of Jonah Goldberg, Kevin Williamson and Charles Cooke,  David French has joined this elite group in my view.

David French

David French at National Review writes Brexit and the End of International Progressive Inevitability

I’m old enough to remember when history had a side. History, you see, had chosen to progress toward an international order that de-emphasized international sovereignty, elevated a bureaucratic and technocratic elite, and sought to solve international conflict through a combination of moral and economic pressure. Nations caused wars, so nationalism (and even patriotism) had to be set aside. Democracy unleashed bigotry, so “the people” mattered mainly when they agreed with the elite.  

It was a system that worked remarkably well for the international upper class. Men and women dedicated to commerce enjoyed unprecedented access to international markets. Activists dedicated to social justice could engineer their societies without ever truly facing the accountability of the ballot box. The logic of the system was self-proving. It would triumph through the sheer force of its virtue.

Unable to grasp the extent to which the new international order had endured and prospered not so much through its self-evident goodness but through the protection of American arms, it proved completely incapable of meeting the challenge when America chose to retreat. Vladimir Putin wanted no part of a system that sidelined Russia and viewed it as just one more economic and bureaucratic entity in a global superstate and decided to exert raw power to shape the world. He put boots on the ground in Crimea, and he dared the world to move him. He exerted his will in Syria, and he dared the world to stop him.

Is it any wonder that citizens of one of the greatest and strongest nations in human history would recoil from an international order that was proving mainly that it could enrich an elite without seeming to lift a finger to preserve the nation’s core values and traditions — the very things that had made it great and strong? Is it any wonder that citizens of other great countries are —wondering what loyalty they owe to that same elite?

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Democracy and Brexit

from the editors at National Review, Reflections on the Shock of Brexit

If most of the expected shocks haven’t materialized, what about the shock that has? As several commentators, from Megan McArdle in The Atlantic to Rupert Darwall in National Review, have noticed, many liberal journalists, representing elites throughout the advanced world, have reacted with indignation to the fact that 52 percent of U.K. voters (many without degrees) have rejected the EU system of supranational government of which the elites approve. Naturally, these journalistic spokesmen argue, the common people could not possibly have good reasons for such an act of multinational vandalism. So they must be inspired by, er, racism, xenophobia, fear of globalization, and related other thought-crimes.

One aspect of it, however, is ideologically fascinating. Among the central arguments of those favoring Brexit was that the Brussels system was dangerously undemocratic and that British voters and MPs had lost the power to propose, amend, or repeal failed or oppressive laws. This was a passionate concern among English people who had grown up in a self-governing democracy, who may have fought for it in wars, and who simply couldn’t understand why the loss of their democratic rights didn’t worry their opponents. Yet again and again liberal journalists treated this passionate belief as either abstract or a cover for more primitive emotions and bigotries. Democracy as such was rarely given weight in Remain or liberal debates on the cost/benefit analysis of Brexit. They treat multinational political institutions as such unalloyed goods that it would be impolite to raise questions about such defects as a democratic deficit. Has the knowledge class/meritocracy/cognitive elite/nowhere people/etc., etc. developed not only an intellectual snobbery towards the rest of society, but even an impatient, dismissive contempt for democracy that cannot be openly avowed but that does influence its other political attitudes?