Sunday, January 04, 2009

Regulating Conservatives

My last post numbers me among the progressives. So I have been really psyched and feeling on top of the world.

In this vein, I thought I would follow up with a post on why people should avoid the labels of "Libertarian" or "Conservative."

At the very top my list is the unfortunate fact that Libertarians and Conservatives are a bunch of chumps.

Progressives are extremely clever. They know they cannot win the power they crave through open debate; So, the strategy is to manipulate the debate at a subliminal level. The process is called capture. If you capture the Universities and press, you position yourself so that you can define the debate. History shows that the army that chooses the battlefield usually wins.

A great example of this technique was the concerted effort to frame the conservative approach to economic reform as "deregulation."

Deregulation clearly is not foundational to "conservatism." One meaning of conservative is resistance to change. As such, conservatives are apt to let a bad regulation stand simply to avoid change.

Now, it is true that most Libertarians and a fair portion of Republicans* dislike centralized command and control structures; However, simply disliking something does not make it foundational. This is especially true of ideologies in the Aristotelian tradition. Such ideologies tend to define propositions in the affirmative and that take great strides to avoid paradox.

Deregulation is the negation of regulation. It is not good material for a foundational belief.

The traditional Republican view of the world is best described as "freedom under the law." This ideology seeks to create a society with a minimum of enforced and effective laws.

The Republican tradition often favors the stability of laws to attempts to engineer society by adding or removing regulations. Deregulation for the sake of deregulation is antithetical to this view.

Digging into Libertarian literature, one finds Libertarians are even more committed to the analytical ideas of Aristotle than the Republicans.

Yes, Libertarians are generally cheering on efforts to remove regulations. This is because they hold fervently to a core set of well examined principles. Libertarians oppose regulations that are against the core principles. Conversely, they are strong supporters of the law that fit their principles. Deregulation is not foundational to Libertarianism. The principle of liberty and the protection of property rights is core to the ideology.

Republicans and Libertarians are anxious to reduce the number of laws, but deregulation, per se, is not foundational to the philosophies.

I think a person would have to be a complete fool to hold "deregulation" as a foundational concept. The term is defined in the negative. Anyone foolish enough to hold "deregulation" as the foundation of their belief system is essentially capitulating on the premise that regulation is the natural state of man.

I don't want to be a fool. I want to be admired for my cunning. The dialectician is the most cunning of all. The Marxist dialectical view is the beating heart of modern progressivism.

The dialectical world view explains political trends in terms of foundational conflicts. Political minds would revel in the dichotomy beteen regulation and deregulation as such minds would see the strategic placement and removal of blocks as steps on the path to power. One need simply find chumps onwhich to project the two halves of the dichotomy and they are set and ready to politick.

A dialectician delights in framing recent economic history as a dichotomy between regulation and deregulation. For that matter, one can properly say that the dichotomy between regulation and deregulation is the very essences of the modern progressive view.

The forefathers of the modern progressive believed that socialist paradise would magically appear after a glorious event called "The Revoluton." They constructed an artificial dichotomy between the proletariate and bourgeoisie. The revolution just killed a lot of people and failed to bring paradise on earth.

The children of the movement realized that the better way to gain a stranglehold on society is with the constrictive grip. This idea can best be described with the analogy of two-steps-forward-for-each-step-back. If one is seeking to transform a free society into a centralized command and control structure, the most effective path is to play on natural political cycles.

Americans, in particular, hate an entrenched political class. An overriding theme in all elections is "Throw the bums out."

When a progressive bum is on the throne, there is an opportunity to substantially increase the size and scope of government. When kicked off, one takes a well publicized half step back while framing any loosening of the command and control state as "deregulation."

The next transfer of power sets the system up for another turn of the screw.

The really funny thing about this last cycle is that the blazing fools who held power in the down years actually did more to increase the scope and power of the federal government than any leader since LBJ.

Don't you see how fiendishly clever the whole thing is? Simply by framing economic debate as a dichotomy between regulation and deregulation, the progressives set themselves up for a guaranteed to win.

The process is simple, coax a few foolish Conservatives and Libertarians into arguing the Regulation/Deregulation debate, and the free society will gladly don chains and willing render themselves up as slaves.

Lakoff, Soros and Chomsky know full well what they are doing.

Meanwhile, Conservatives, who were chomping at the bit for a change to engage in the debate, were chumps from the beginning by accepting the terms imposed on them.

The method is so cunning that it is enough to make a person sneer.

So, with a big fat sneer on my snout, I thought I would end this post by pathetic video I discovered on YouTube today. The video was made by some chumps with a site called Naked Emperor News. Judging from the date of the video, it was an attempt to influence the 2008 election. The video shows clips from 2004 of Republicans trying to impose regulations of FreddieMac and FannieMae. The Democrats argued for deregulation and were openly hostile to the regulators.

NakedEmperorNews probably thinks that they are pointing out left wing hypocrisy, when they are really just showing how the masters of the game play them for fools.

** Apparently there are many Republicans who believe in the command and control approach to government. Republicans dramatically increased the size of government under Bush. It would be unfair to say that all Republicans believe in limited government just as it would be unfair to say all Democrats are progressives.


Reach Upward said...

Almost everyone in the political class believes in the command and control approach to government, party affiliation and labels notwithstanding. Politics, after all, is simply the art/science of gaining and maintaining control over people. (At least, that's how Webster defines it.)

Despite the myth that our political system is, as H.L. Mencken wrote, "a transcendental organism composed of aloof and impersonal powers, devoid wholly of self-interest and not to be measured by merely human standards," the reality is that the actions of politicians are guided by personal and systemic incentives.

The overriding incentive for the political actor is gaining and wielding power. They way this is done in a democratic society is to appeal to the sentiments of the mob, whatever those might be at any given moment. This provides the illusion that desirable political actions are undertaken by the choice of the governed.

Mencken also opined that "a good politician, under democracy, is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar. His very existence, indeed, is a standing subversion of the public good in every rational sense. He is not one who serves the common weal; he is simply one who preys upon the commonwealth. It is to the interest of all the rest of us to hold down his powers to an irreducible minimum and to reduce his compensation to nothing; it is to his interest to augment his powers at all hazards, and to make his compensation all the traffic will bear."

y-intercept said...

Menkhen ... let's see ... oh yeah. He is filed under "R" for rogue.

When quoting folk like Mencken (1880 – 1956), it is important to note that his generation of thinkers produced some of the greatest atrocities in the history of mankind.

In the first paragraph you give, Mencken mocks classical liberals for an absolute that they never held.

This is pure second rate thinking. Let's ridicule the strawman for being made of straw.

The intellectual tradition Mencken is mocking was better at avoiding absolutist thinking and in finding balance than Mencken's group of dialecticians. Go Figure?

Like Nietsche and Marx, Mencken pretends to have a super human power to see other's motives, then judges people for these motives. I can't see other people's motives. I suspect that the vast majority of people in American politics have sincere hopes of improving the lot of mankind.

I would be as foolish to assume altruistic motives of political actions. I would be equally foolish to decide that politicians are inherently evil people.

I suspect that it is only a very small number of people who are doing the mischief. Mencken comes off as a paid apologist for that group.

BTW, What Mencken says is likely more true of the intellectual class than the political class. Intellectuals tend to have an elitist attitude. It seems especially true of the tenured professoriat who hold the political class in contempt.

The professoriat trains our leaders, so their ideas have enormous impact.

This is a dangerous mix. The contempt the professoriat has for the political class creates a contemptuous political class.

It is comforting that Mencken's second quote came back to the same conclusion of a need for limited government as was held by the classical liberal tradition.

The path he took to get there seems rife with peril.

Reach Upward said...

Mencken made many keen, excessively barbed, observations about human behavior, particularly in the political realm. Rogue is probably a pretty apt description of him, but he had enough useful observations that he cannot be simply dismissed in total due to his roguishness.

The first Mencken quote was actually only a part of the full quote. Perhaps the way I quoted it took Mencken out of context. Here is a fuller version of the quote:

"[Blind trust in government can be attributed to] the survival into our enlightened age of a concept hatched in the black days of absolutism -- the concept, to wit, that government is something that is superior to and quite distinct from all other human institutions -- that it is, in essence, not a mere organization of ordinary men, like the Ku Klux Klan, the United States Steel Corporation or Columbia University, but a transcendental organism composed of aloof and impersonal powers, devoid wholly of self-interest and not to be measured by merely human standards."

I agree that it is difficult to look into the hearts of others, except in moments where they expose such. Even then it is hard to judge the sincerity of such an exposition.

I'm not sure whether politicians are any more or less altruistic than the public at large. However, they operate in an arena where a tremendous amount of mischief can (and often does) result from even the best of intentions. While politicians can be judged by the outcomes of their actions rather than by their intentions, they are often long gone by the time the undesirable effects of their actions are felt. Moreover, due to the way academics (history), journalism, and politics work, the nasty side effects of political actions are rarely traced to their true source.

For these reasons, it is important to hold politicians — even the most righteous ones — on an extremely short leash.