January 30, 2013
By Glenn Fairman
“A society of sheep begets a government of wolves.” — Bertrand de Jouvenel
In his short but profound work, The Ethics of Redistribution, the 20th Century French Philosopher Bertrand de Jouvenel uncovered the ontological core of collectivism’s ideological precepts. In the process, he succeeded in ripping off the mask of altruism that accompanies all economic structures that ultimately infringe upon human initiative and freedom in service to a “benevolent and promethean” reordering of human affairs. On the surface, it appears that confiscatory taxation and the distribution of its proceeds are consistent with a theory of justice that elevates “fairness” and demonizes the inequalities that arise from unfettered markets. Yet Jouvenel, with stunning clarity, draws our attention to the true locus of intent that a systematic revolution of economics portends for societies that place their faith in collectivist schemes. Thus, he writes:
The more one considers the matter, the clearer it becomes that redistribution is in effect far less a redistribution of free income from the richer to the poorer, as we imagined, than a redistribution of power from the individual to the State.
It then becomes apparent that the state worshipping eye, occupied with the misdirection of trumpeted social justice platitudes and the self-interested anticipatory largesse secured through brigandage of the wealthier nodes of society, does not apprehend the subterranean institutions that a regime must set into motion for the mechanics of redistribution to occur. Nor does it readily comprehend that a society’s understanding of liberty, along with its attendant theory of property, necessarily dissolves as the regime accrues power in its own name’s sake.
The expansionist state methodically grows in scope and power into unanticipated nooks and crannies of the private sphere and ultimately metastasizes into a structure where equality not only eclipses negative freedom, but government assumes the gravitas of an avenging angel that rewrites the codes of morality and eventually becomes the arbiter of both success and failure by virtue of its laws, regulatory schemes, and patronage.
As republics inexorably begin their death swoons into full democracies, that great magnetic pull towards equality in all of its forms becomes culturally irresistible, and this degraded form of regime, warned of by Plato and Aristotle, eventually acts as a leveling agent for society. It is but a few small steps from egalitarian collectivist economics to ideological homogeneity. This is not to say that humanity will assume a common face, but that as the incrementally empowered regime reaches its full bloom and ascendency, it by necessity becomes the sole arbiter of moral questions. Since philosophy and the search for transcendent truths are both relegated to a defunct history, the state will countenance and tolerate various modes of being as long as these do not either question the sovereign authority of the regime or declare that their own political expression is categorically superior to the others. It is there that its tolerance bluntly terminates. Jouvenel characterizes the full blown character of the democratic descent:
Democracy, then, in the centralizing, pattern-making, absolutist shape which we have given to it is, it is clear, the time of tyranny’s incubation.
It matters not if the tyranny is of the character of Stalin or of a softened rule of technocrats and managers. Once the rights and liberties of a people fall into disuse or are traded for the pledge of economic security, the people’s envy of all distinctions becomes an internal leveler that the regime gives full moral sanction to. This effectively sounds the death knell for individuation, entrepreneurship, and the classical virtues — in effect, the traditional mores of the American dream that are founded in self-sacrifice, industriousness, and self sufficiency apart from the cloying arms of the collective. The transition from citizen to subject proceeds apace as the quality of a Socialist-defined existence grows meager and life itself loses its enchantment and luster while men and women grow smaller.
When the decrepit Twentieth Century dinosaurs of Marxism met their inglorious ends, it was left to the Progressives and Keynesians to soften the gaze of the collectives’ Stalinist façade; and by jettisoning sound fiscal and monetary policy, a clever political elite could spend profligately while postponing the Day of Reckoning. That day is perhaps at hand for the West, and all we have to show for our labors is a gargantuan debt and an edifice of government institutionally entrenched in nearly every aspect of our lives. In retrospect, Jouvenel was prescient in that he foresaw redistribution as the velvet manacles that ushered in an irresistible state power — but he left out one detail. We have not merely sold our own birthrights for boiled cabbage, but we have passed on this crushing debt to our sons and daughters as we have become profligates of the lowest order. And long after we are dead, should America survive so long, those same children will be tied to the burden we ourselves could not face on our own, having lived so lavishly at their expense.
Is there any doubt that our heirs will be facing a bleak and impoverished future as we pass on our very own special incarnation of the Lupine American Dream: having taken every lamb for our own ravenous appetites, while spitting out the bones and scraps for our young cubs to fight over?
Read more: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/01/the_lupine_socialist_dream.html#ixzz2JY0YN8yp
Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook
They should understand what is at stake and this quote from Von Mises sums it up well:
“The state is a human institution, not a superhuman being. He who says “state” means coercion and compulsion. He who says: There should be a law concerning this matter, means: The armed men of the government should force people to do what they do not want to do, or not to do what they like. He who says: This law should be better enforced, means: the police should force people to obey this law. He who says: The state is God, deified arms and prisons. The worship of the state is the worship of force.”
The left loves to warn people about the power and greed of the “rich” and how they might use the power of their wealth to oppress people in their pursuit of more money as if the economy were a zero sum game in which one can only get money by taking, stealing, or cheating it away from someone else. They miss (or ignore) that the truly dangerous and oppressive despots are those greedy for power who use their political power to make themselves and their friends wealthy in their pursuit of ever more power. Because political power IS a zero sum game: whereas you can create new wealth with new ideas, new products, and new resources, you can only have more power by taking power, and therefore freedom, from the people around you.
Great article. The Frankfurt School has merely accelerated this process. When one grants coercive power over the individual to a group, as soon as more power rests with a group than with the individual, it will always, sooner or later, devolve into tyranny. The individual must have the monopoly on force, period.
Perhaps a government growing ever bigger is not so much a planned outcome but the natural direction of any human endeavor.
Consider a small business. Once it is running successfully, it begins to expand till it dominates its market and is no longer a small business.
Socialism is simply the easiest and fastest way for a government to expand.
Actually its up to the voters and taxpayers to curb government size.
Normally this is the same person but now half the voters are not taxpayers. Therefore many voters have little interest in smaller government.
The result is it’s now growing in leaps and bounds and will keep doing so till it completely dominates America.
It’s getting really old reading comments that portray America as a single homogenous state when it is a union of 50 states. If you want to maintain a fantasy of a dictator rising to the use of power previously un-wielded, then you need to start referring to State governor dictators, not a presidential dictator because civil unrest is a state militia matter, not a federal matter
. Governors command the state militia not the president. Get with the reality of your own country for goodness sake. There never will be and never can be a dictatorial president because he has no such authority over the population of individual states unless there is nationwide martial law due to a civil war. But that is a chapter that is behind us and won’t be repeated on a national level.
We are all in a lot of individual state life-rafts that are cobbled together in a union. We can move from one to another and leave the ones that are sinking and disintegrating. That is a freedom that can never be banned. So as Detroit is left to its own pathetic fate, so some states may be also, but the nation will continue, and some states will continue to do most things right. They are the light that will not go out because their people hold to American values. The hope for a survivable future lies with those states that get and keep their house in order. It seems that there are more and more of them and that the path forward is one on which states will become more and more polarized toward fiscal conservatism or toward liberal excess.
It would be bad enough if we just have the USA to be concerned about, but the future of Europe seems to be a lost cause as the consequences of their massive debt and deficit spending will take them down, being as it is far beyond sustainable or repairable. If just a matter of time because their populations are morally compromised by an incurable case of spoiled selfishness, as are millions of Americans who live by getting something for nothing.
Contrary to that overheated “ontological core” nonsense (copy that from an old sophomore essay, did we?), you are describing the what, not the why. I have never seen an explanation of why lefties think and feel the way they do — is it brain tumors, endocrine imbalance, lack of synapses, second hand smoke, what? Put away your thesaurus and simply tell us that.
I have touched on this (pre-political foundations) many times in other essays, as have many writer’s here. Their theory of justice and property (fairness vs. desert); their conception of human nature (fixed vs. plastic); their perspective of temporality over eternal; an emotion-oriented worldview rather than a more rationalist view; a seething covetousness lurking behind an egalitarian mask; a psychological indolence manifesting as a right of entitlement; a general ignorance of the mechanics of wealth creation; an infantilism that seeks succor in dependence rather than autonomy; a culture of learned helplessness cultivated by the state that mines votes like a veal farm breeds tender flesh…..but perhaps this should be elementary by now…..
I would recommend Evan Sayet’s new book, “The Kindergarden of Evil — How the Modern Liberal Thinks,” for an excellent explanation of the mental process that causes liberals to be as wrong as wrong can be on, literally, every issue.
Sayet was a typical New York/Hollywood liberal who couldn’t understand why, after 9/11, his friends were blaming us for the terrorist attacks. This caused him to undertake a serious study of leftist thinking which culminated in his making a presentation to the Heritage Foundation about five years ago. This 47 minute speech attracted over 650,000 views on Youtube and is entitled “How the Modern Liberal Thinks.”
Sayet’s book is only about 100 pages, but it is well researched and well presented.
For a quick peek at what Sayet found, he quotes Howard Zinn, whose leftist “history” book “A People’s History of the United States,” is widely assigned reading for our children. Zinn’s statement, “Objectivity is impossible, and it is also undesirable. That is, if it were possible it would be undesirable.”
Sayet elaborates on Zinn’s statement, if objectivity is impossible and undesirable, there can be no objective truth. If there is no basis for truth, then there can be no rational judgement to separate what’s better from what’s worse, good from evil, or behavior that leads to success from behavior that leads to failure.
Therefore, success must be the result of cheating and failure must be caused by injustice or societal failure.
Also, Dr. Lyle Rossiter’s book, “The Liberal Mind – The Psychological Causes of Political Madness,” is quite helpful. Rossiter is a clinical psychiatrist who studied liberals for forty years. Dr. Rossiter has at least one excellent article in the archives of American Thinker.
The left is always an alliance of the marginal and alienated against the main power base of a nation. Now the left has become dominant because of demographic change. Whites have to wake up and start acting like the minority they are soon to become. This means demanding white identity politics and voting as a self-conscious political bloc just like nonwhites.
Keep in mind that many nonwhites perceive that they have an interest in undermining the white majority. This includes promoting nonwhite immigration and feminism. This strategy has worked spectacularly well. Whites are becoming a minority in Western Europe and the Anglosphere because of immigration and feminism. Note that these days the left is an alliance of nonwhites and women against whites and males.
A novel thought occurred to me recently, and this is the place to share it. It’s that liberals are Cats, and conservatives are Dogs. Each wired differently, with a different nature. Cats live in the moment, the perennial moment. There is no future in their consciousness, -like the grasshopper that fiddled all summer in the parable of the grasshopper and the ants, -ants who worked all summer to prepare for the cold winter to come.
Dogs have a consciousness of time; past, present, and future, and whether they contain(ed) reward, punishment, pleasure or pain. While cats have no such consciousness. Only the moment exists. Hence their minds can’t be disciplined or focused on a task. There will never be such a thing as a guide cat, or bomb-sniffing cat, or combat cat, or guard cat. That requires thought, concentration, focus, attention to detail. Cats are incapable of such mental tasks because their minds aren’t capable of thinking in such manners except in the instinctual nature of hunting birds and mice. But that focus has nothing to do with others, or learned behavior.
Bright dogs, like conservatives, can and do take the future into account, along with consequences, dangers, rewards, and risks. They learn from their experiences, lessons are remembered and applied in future situations. Not so with cats. Who’s ever seen a troop of trained performing cats? That’s impossible. Learning isn’t something they’re good at because only the moment matters. That kind of thinking is why liberals think that “we don’t have a spending problem”. It’s true, we don’t at the moment, but what they are incapable of grasping is that the moment will not last forever, and just over that hilltop ahead there is no road. Instead there is a deep abyss, and driving down the road at 100 miles per hour is not something that one can do forever because roads end, and some end suddenly and unexpectedly. But, like brain-damaged toddlers, they can’t grasp that abstract idea. Tomorrow never comes, it always just today.