December 10, 2008

Strakon Lights Up

Pragmatic Bolshevism

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Last week I blipped several of my correspondents on the scariness of Eric Holder, Obama's attorney general-designate and a proven enemy of gunowners, sending them the URL for a piece at AlterNet by Alexander Zaitchik, "Untold Story of Election 2008: The Death of the NRA." One of my sagacious comrades replied in this wise: "Obama seems to be showing a pragmatic side for the moment. He is not known for his loyalty to any particular person or idea. For him to take on the gun lobby at this early date would be as stupid as the Clintoons' early adoption of their 'gays in the military' plank."

I think he's right. Actually I myself had already predicted that the Obamites will try hard not to repeat the disastrous Bolshevik frenzy that the "Clintoons" indulged in during their first two years, leading to their sharp defeat in the 1994 midterm elections. But attend to the phrase disastrous Bolshevik, not just to the word Bolshevik. There is the possibility of a Bolshevism that is popular and politically successful. At this point it might help to recall how fatally degraded and mentally disabled the American sheeple are when it comes to political-economics. And how terrified they are right now. In the present intellectual climate, terrified sheeple are more likely to run toward the wolves than away from them.

On the "Fox News Sunday" program for December 7, liberal commentator Mara Liasson declared: "The [economic] environment has given Democrats what they always said was the absolute pre-requisite to passing the dreams and visions that have been on hold since whatever — 1950.... Democrats have always said it would take a depression for us to get universal health care [sic]; it will take a depression for us to do the big, sweeping progressive change. And they have [a depression] now, and they have a majority, and they have a president."

Robert Higgs (Crisis and Leviathan) might well have offered the same analysis, if he'd been allowed on the panel, but he wouldn't have sounded nearly as happy about it. Essentially, Higgs's argument is that, at least since Wilson's War, the Central Government has used crises of war and political-economy (which it has done so much to create) to increase its power and decrease our liberty. Under the pattern identified by Higgs, when a given crisis ends, leviathan's power subsides somewhat but never all the way back to its pre-crisis level. Thus, the "secular trend" (if I may use social-science jargon) is for more and more state power.

The Higgsian Curve, once understood, should make us shudder especially hard whenever a president declares a perpetual war on something. It certainly made me shudder when George W. Bush declared his perpetual (because unwinnable) war on evildoing. The decades-long perpetual war on government-disapproved drugs, also inherently unwinnable, has destroyed the liberties of people who have never even seen a marijuana cigarette. (In constitutionalist terms, it has shredded the Fourth and Fifth amendments, and torn the Second in half.) Obama, no doubt, will have to declare a perpetual War on Economic Badness, since the socialist/fascist policies that both he and his faux opposition are pushing will ensure that Economic Badness will be perpetual — and perpetually worsening.

In November, showing that he knows where the bodies are buried and where they will be buried, the famously "pragmatic" Rahm Emanuel testified to Higgs's point: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." I'll bet Miss Liasson was familiar with that utterance before she did her own uttering, but most of the mainstream media seem to have buried it. As far as I'm concerned, as a warning it deserves to be carved on the dismal Gate, right alongside Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate.

What I'm suggesting is that the Obamites will seek to stay "pragmatic" — i.e., they'll stick with the kind of Bolshevism that is politically practical and popular among the terrified — while back-burnering gunowner-control, Negro "reparations," and — I don't know — compulsory androgyny. (They can depend on the culture to pick up the slack on the androgyny front.)

The immense subsidies flowing to bankers — and probably flowing on a smaller scale to ordinary corporations — should disabuse anyone of mistaking my use of the term "Bolshevik." It's not all frizzy-haired tofu-eating screamers from San Francisco and Boston. In my "Dark Suits and Red Guards" analysis, I argue that our forced march to serfdom proceeds most swiftly down paths paved jointly by fascists of the corporate mainstream and socialists of the Left. The Guards sell their Bolshevik schemes to the Suits by showing how the Suits can make a buck with them.

Though the statization of the medical industry will no doubt accelerate under Obama — and I invite the reader to forecast his own most-feared socialist tsunami — it looks as if Obamite Bolshevism will feature a distinctive Green tinge. An obsession of the hard Left, which invented it, enviro-totalitarianism has already proved popular with many millions of people outside the Left, thanks not only to state-school and established-media propaganda but also to its envelopment by corporate fascists. Some have proposed that the economic collapse will induce the Obamites to downplay the Goreite environmental drivel, but I don't think so.

Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program for December 8, NBC News political director Chuck Todd noted that despite Obama's failure, so far, to appoint the wildest of the ideological whirling dervishes to senior posts, the "criticism on the Left is somewhat muted." Todd's idea is that the hard leftists are waiting for the next round of appointments: "I think the energy and environmental picks ... will be the first time he tips a hat to the liberal elites on the Left." And liberal commentator Juan Williams, appearing on the same Fox News panel as Miss Liasson, reported that "Obama is talking about putting smart meters in people's homes to measure their energy consumption." (The civic-minded may want to just leave their front door unlocked after January 20.)

Digressing into ancient history, I recall that earlier this year, enviro-Stalinists in California actually attempted to seize control of people's thermostats in "new homes and commercial buildings in emergencies" but then dropped the plan for the moment. If the "smart meter" program were adopted, how long would it be before the totalitarians started moving from mere measurement toward actual control of consumption?

Please note that almost everybody already has meters hooked up to measure their consumption of electricity or natural gas, for which they are billed in the ordinary way. Those meters may be said to reflect and to serve what Franz Oppenheimer termed the "economic means" of getting things done in society. I don't know just what the Green Guards' "smart meters" will measure, or how, but we may rest assured that they will serve the "political means" of getting things done.

The media liberals I've quoted don't see it, but those things will get done to the satisfaction of both Guards and Suits — i.e., both the hard Left and the corporate fascists.

Design, manufacturing, distribution, and installation of the "Green" doohickeys will create thousands upon thousands of jobs dependent on politics, pols, and bureaucrats. And the Polite (or Smart) Totalitarian way to ensure their "voluntary" installation will be to bribe homeowners, landlords, and residential developers with subsidies, tax breaks, and the like, which will make those people, too, even more dependent on leviathan than they already are. That will please the Guards as well as garden-variety pols and bureaucrats.

At the same time, the Dark Suits will be pleased as politically favored companies reap government contracts, subsidies, and tax breaks to employ those "Green" workers and make all the "Green" thingamabobs, which of course will go far beyond the "smart" meters I've focused on here, to include such products as electromobiles, windmills, and maybe even more of Obama's favorite chemical, corn ethanol.

"Pragmatism is what works," according to the kindergarten-level formulation, and it may seem odd to characterize as pragmatic a program that will help destroy what remains of ordinary people's liberty and property. But in respect of "pragmatism" we must always ask — Works to accomplish what end? In other words, and here I'm channeling the late Murray Rothbard, Cui bono? In the Obamite context, pragmatism is what works to benefit both Bolshevik and fascist.

December 10, 2008

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