The subject before us is the direction taken by modern politics. Why is George W. Bush telling Latinos that America is committed to ‘social justice’ rather than the more modest, old-fashioned ‘justice’? And how cometh it to be that ‘liberals’ in America are opposed to the ‘liberal’ ideas of the 19th century…and that now even ‘conservatives’ in America are opposed to the ‘conservatism’ of their grandfathers?
In the discussion that follows, we propose a theory.
We recall from yesterday that there are two large themes in modern political theory – individualism and collectivism. Individualism is the idea that a man should look after himself. ‘Justice’ is done, according to this view of things, when he isn’t improperly interfered with. The world, then, takes whatever shape it takes, based upon mankind’s aggregated individual results.
Collectivism, on the other hand, is that idea that the political ‘collective’ – the state – should look out for everyone. It implies that the shape of society – the outcome – is not left to chance, but decided collectively, or by the collective’s elite ministers. ‘Social justice’ is what you get when the elite likes the results.
America, in theory as in actual fact, was a nation founded on the rock of individualism. It didn’t matter what the elite liked. But now its ‘conservative’ president proposes a concept of justice that Marx or Lenin would have appreciated. Not only that, but he spends the nation’s blood and treasure trying to make governments half-way around the world more to his liking. And he takes hundreds of billions of dollars from individuals – many of them not even born yet – to reward favoured groups with drugs, bread, circuses or federal contracts.
Your author has lived overseas for more than ten years. Each place he has lived in or visited has its quirks, but in every one, the individual seemed to enjoy about as much liberty as he did in America. Everywhere, a person is taxed, controlled, regulated, licensed, rewarded, privileged and pampered – according to how the ruling elite chooses. What gives? What happened to American individualism?
We mentioned yesterday how our president is caught in the same trap that bedeviled Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt. They wanted to flex America’s new muscles. The United States became the largest economy in the world in the early 1900s. Now that they had power, they wanted to engage in power politics…to shove and scrap…to wear funny hats with giant plumes on them…and to sit down at a bargaining table with French, British and Russian ‘charges d’affaires’; oh, even the sound of it sent frissons down their greasy backs. They wanted to carve up the world…decide the fates of nations…redraw the map. Of course, the whole spirit of it was contrary to the American ideal, wherein a free people determine their own fate and decide their own form of government.
And poor Wilson and Roosevelt were still working within the old American system. The people back in Tennessee and Georgia wanted no part of world domination. They still had the U.S. Declaration of Independence on their walls. They still heard Washington’s words – ‘avoid foreign entanglements’ – echoing in their ears. They still thought only Congress had the power to declare war; the bumpkins didn’t mind a fight, but they wanted a damned good reason for it.
And so the old frauds had to dissemble…they had to talk about ‘making the world safe for democracy’ and about ‘protecting American interests’; of course, there were none…but the rubes wouldn’t know. The whole planet needed to be more like America itself – freer, more prosperous, and more democratic.
George W. Bush continues the humbug, but he has a much easier time of it. Americans have generally forgotten the idea of individualism. They want public schools, Social Security, and free drugs – just like the krauts and the frogs. Bush II comes up with his preposterous “War on Terrorism” and nobody laughs, because Americans, like almost everyone else in the world, have all become collectivists. If a man’s town is flooded, he expects the Feds to come in with donuts and house-trailers. If a man’s wife is sick, he expects the Feds to offer medical treatment…or at least to regulate the marketplace so it is ‘affordable’ for him. If his house is repossessed, he turns his face to Chris Dodd in Washington…and the next thing you know, the windbag senator is proposing to bail him out!
And if a handful of fanatics blow up a couple of office buildings in New York City, he wants the Marine Corps to kick butts all over the world. Whether they had anything to do with the crime barely matters to him; what he wants is for his government to remake the face of the entire world, if necessary, so it is a more agreeable place for him.
The old pioneers…the settlers…the farmers…the inventors…the robber barons – all the people who built America – they were stupid and they were smart…they were wicked and they were saints. But no matter what they were…they stood up straight. How is it possible that these rugged, stalwart Americans evolved into a race of such fear-driven, collectivist drips?
Stay tuned…dear reader…stay tuned.
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