from the Congress Action newsletter
by: Kim Weissman
May 25, 2003
Last week this commentary discussed the pattern of lies and disinformation used by the left’s media mouthpieces to misinform the public. No suggestion is made of some kind of nefarious cabal regularly meeting in smoke-filled back rooms to coordinate the media’s disinformation. Such plotting is not necessary, since they are all hold a similar belief system about how the world works (and how they believe it is supposed to work). The media disinformation is fueled by academic and think-tank research that generates a gloss of intellectual authority. What all this amounts to is the pervasive and widespread dissemination of disinformation – propaganda – that has serious repercussions for the future of this nation. The lies, distortions, and propagandizing, as despicable as they are in themselves as isolated events, are in fact not isolated – they are part of a larger trend directed at a larger goal.
The goal of any propaganda campaign is to induce listeners to believe a certain interpretation of facts and to adopt a particular world-view, with the ultimate objective of inducing action along the lines desired by the propagandist. So what is the leftist world-view, towards which all of their propagandizing is directed? Since the latest scandal of lying arose at the New York Times, we can use that newspaper as an exemplar. What has their editorial stance been in the days following the Blair fiasco? Were they in any way chastened by the revelations of the frauds they had allowed to be perpetrated on the reading public? Hardly, because hard-core leftists are nothing if not arrogant.
Here are some excerpts from the New York Times opinion pages in the days following the Blair revelations:
A pending Senate energy bill is “making an expensive and chancy bet on nuclear power, it would do next to nothing to address the problem of global warming”; “The fight over the most extreme of President Bush's judicial nominations is…a fight to keep the courts within some kind of boundary that is reasonably close to the mainstream of American life”; “the Violence Policy Center revealed that at least 41 of 211 police officers slain between 1998 and 2001 were killed with assault weapons”; “Last year President Bush, upset by abortions in China, cut off all $34 million in U.S. funds to the U.N. Population Fund… . That was unconscionable”; “The truth is that the pursuit of televised glory – which led the Bush administration to turn its attention away from Al Qaeda, and to pick a fight with a regime [Iraq] that, however nasty, posed no threat – has made us much less safe than we should be”; “Is President Bush a religious zealot, or does he just pander to that crowd?”; “The tax-cutting frenzy inspired by President Bush earlier this year has produced a predictable result: two misguided, poorly timed tax bills”; and with barely suppressed glee in what a writer called the “payoff” of Bill Bennett's “downfall”: “The puncturing of his dishonest public persona is a huge nail in the coffin of the disgraceful national culture wars in which he served as a particularly vicious commanding general”.
The left believes that nations should be ruled by elites, with all political power emanating from the top down; the left believes that the collective is superior to the individual; that wealth is not earned, but is (or should be) distributed by all-knowing benevolent bureaucrats; the left believes that the democratic process may be ignored when it doesn’t produce what they consider to be the “right” result (in the case of judicial nominees, for example, judges who enjoy the support of a majority of the Senate – thus a majority of the country those Senators represent – can hardly be said to be outside the “mainstream”, indeed, majority support can be said to be the very definition of “mainstream”; thus the description of such majority-supported nominees as “extreme” and outside “the mainstream of American life” can only be sustained if the left defines “mainstream” as only what they believe).
The left believes that an armed citizenry is evil, thus they will regurgitate statistics from special interest groups they believe to be on the “right” side of that issue (thus quoting the Violence Policy Center statistic about police officers killed with “assault weapons”, neglecting to inform the reader that “assault weapons” have been virtually illegal since 1934 and blurring the line between actual assault weapons and ordinary semi-automatic firearms). The left believes that nuclear power and industrial production are bad, thus an energy bill that advances nuclear power and doesn’t “fix” global warming is inadequate.
The left believes that morality is a matter of individual choice, and that there is no absolute right or wrong; that there is no such thing as evil (other than armed citizens) but simply the misguided, and that those misguided should be appeased rather than confronted. And the left believes in a perpetual expansion of the power of government, which they see as the ultimate source of all good in society and the means to achieve a nation that reflects their vision – and they are willing to impose that vision by governmental force if necessary.
Today’s left cannot in any sense be called “liberal”, because the belief system of today’s left is a complete and utter refutation of the classic Jeffersonian liberalism that informed the foundation of this nation – belief in the superiority of the individual, suspicion of and limits to the power of government, retention of a sphere of individual privacy into which the government has no right to intrude, the protection of private property rights and the right to the fruits of one’s labors, and the concept that governmental authority is only legitimate to the extent that it flows from the informed consent of the governed who are the source of all legitimate power in our republic.
This commentary is called the “Dead End of Liberalism” because that tradition of Jeffersonian liberalism has been overwhelmed by its complete antithesis – the hard left of totalitarian socialism. As liberalism moved down the road towards radical egalitarianism, it became necessary to expand and centralize governmental power to enforce the doctrines of radical egalitarianism, in which artificial leveling in all things overwhelms natural individual differences and merit. In so doing, liberalism came to a dead end, ran into a box canyon as it were, from which there is no escape without turning around, retracing its steps, and dismantling the structures of centralized governmental power that it created. But that is something that the hard left cannot do, since doing so would vitiate their entire reason for being.
From the left’s world-view certain concrete policy prescriptions naturally flow. From their belief in the superiority of the collective over the individual comes their faith in centralized planning, their inability to “understand how complex and useful social orders [can] arise from any source other than conscious planning by a purposeful mind” (Milton Friedman), and their hostility to private property rights. From their faith in big government flows their belief that income is distributed, that people work for the purpose of supporting government, and from that comes their perpetual opposition to anything that they believe will deprive the government of revenues – their opposition to tax cuts, for example.
From their belief in the ultimate good of government comes their belief that jobs are created not by a private sector capitalist economy driven by millions of private individuals with widely divergent values who make billions of decisions every day, but by a government in which “every spontaneous effort has to be approved, and nothing can be done without the sanction of the central authority” (Friedrich A. Hayek). It therefore follows that anything that deprives government of revenues impairs the creation of jobs, which is why it makes perfect sense (from the left’s perspective) for a commentator to write, “The president’s latest argument for the new tax cut…is that it will spur job creation. Bush says this with a straight face, despite the fact that 2.6 million jobs have vanished during his administration, thanks in large part to his $1.35 trillion tax cut in 2001” (emphasis added). According to this writer, “more tax cuts and less government spending…[causes] the deficit to surge and unemployment to rise.” Assuming a zero-sum game as leftists do, removing capital from the government and thereby increasing capital in the private sector destroys jobs, and the corollary must then also be true – removing capital from the private sector and giving it to the government creates jobs.
This makes perfect sense, if one believes that the government, not the private sector, creates jobs. The left simply cannot understand the creative chaos of “Adam Smith's invisible hand – the possibility of cooperation without coercion” and the importance of free market prices that “will make the individuals do the desirable things without anyone having to tell them what to do” (Milton Friedman).
Free market economists understand how private property rights encourage self-interested producers and consumers to act in mutually beneficial ways; indeed, it is that very self-interest of profits (selfishness, leftists call it) that causes people to pursue a vast array of novel and untried activities if they believe that, some time in the future, such activities will result in financial gain, and if they live in a society which will allow them to benefit from that gain by respecting private property rights. That is why technological innovation is far more robust in free rather than in totalitarian societies. The imagination and creativity of millions of free individuals, pursuing personal gain, is always far more varied and innovative than that dominated by a government bureaucracy.
The left’s hostility to private property rights and their adoration of central planning takes concrete form not only in their opposition to free market capitalism, but in the ever-more extreme radical environmental movement. This core constituency of the hard left believes that only command and control by enlightened elites can prevent the inevitable environmental catastrophe that would result from private property owners pursuing their own self-interest. To them, it is inconceivable that the private individual who owns a resource has the strongest motivation to preserve that resource. To them, resources must be held in common – by the State – to be best managed and conserved. But the massive environmental destruction we have seen across a host of socialist societies provides us with real world experience of what biologist Garrett Hardin, in 1968, called “The Tragedy of the Commons”; which states that when everyone – i.e.: the State – owns a resource, then nobody owns it, and thus nobody has a vested interest in conserving it.
But that is another immutable trait of the hard left – when there is a conflict between their theoretical ideology and the facts, the actual real world consequences of that ideology, they will ignore the facts in favor of the theoretical ideology every time. To them, ideology must never be adapted to fit actual observable facts; it is the facts that must be distorted – or ignored – to legitimize the ideology. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I chose it to mean – neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that's all.” (Lewis Carroll)
The expansion of government power, subservience of the individual to the collective – whether it be the collective of government (individual rights must fall before what someone declares to be the national good or the “general welfare” – a clever perversion of what the Founders intended that phrase in the Constitution to mean), or the collective of a group identity or affiliation over the qualities of an individual (affirmative action, for example), and the subservience of national sovereignty to the unaccountable collective of global government, and decimation of private property rights – toward what end is all this headed?
The hard left laments what they call a corporate dominated (i.e.: profit-driven free market economy) superpower empire (i.e.: where national security is determined by state sovereignty rather than by subservience to collective security) with a ruling class of the wealthy (i.e.: wealth earned by individual merit rather than forcibly redistributed by class as required by radical egalitarianism) that results in “a corporate economy of ruthless downsizing, withdrawal or reduction of pension and health benefits; a corporate political system that relentlessly threatens to privatize Social Security and the modest health benefits available, especially to the poor.” In the left’s view the purpose of corporations is to provide jobs and healthcare, and the purpose of government is to redistribute wealth to create a social welfare society.
“To take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father's has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association – the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” – Thomas Jefferson.
But are the redistribution of wealth (necessitating the destruction of private property rights and a threat or actual use of force by government) and the creation of a collective social welfare society (requiring the creation of a massive and intrusive national government bureaucracy) the basis upon which this nation was founded? Or are these the complete antithesis of our Constitutional Republic? Now we come to the heart of what the left stands for – the elimination of our Constitution, and in its place the substitution of totalitarian socialism.
Readily using lies, distortions, and deception whenever necessary or convenient, the hard left has been very successful at this throughout the 20th century, and they admit as much. Indeed, a great fear of the left was recently enunciated in the left-wing magazine The Nation, that conservatives are trying to “roll back the twentieth century, quite literally. That is, defenestrate the federal government and reduce its scale and powers to a level well below what it was before the New Deal’s centralization.” The left is so hostile to this nation’s Constitutional foundation that they view with alarm any attempt to return to the core values established by that Constitution (“before the New Deal’s centralization”). In this view any renewed respect for private property rights is “a radical new Constitutional doctrine” – ignoring the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition, “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”.
And so enamored are they with their “wall of separation” between Church and State (and so hostile to individual morality – recall the Times query, “Is President Bush a religious zealot…”), that they scoff at the proposal to, as The Nation put it, “allow churches to include sanctuaries of worship in buildings financed by federal housing grants” – oblivious that both Thomas Jefferson (author of the “wall of separation” phrase) and James Madison (the “father of the Constitution”) both regularly attended religious services held in the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court’s chambers when they were president. Nor does the left even have the basic respect for the basis upon which this nation was founded to ask where the federal government obtains the authority to take money from one group of people and dole it out to others in the form of “federal housing grants”.
Thomas Jefferson observed that, “The natural progress of things is for government to gain ground and for liberty to yield.” So no one should be surprised at the constant pressure from government to expand its power and authority. To counter that expansionist pressure from government there is a check built into our system – our Constitution. But the Constitution is not a self-executing document. Yes, our elected representatives take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, but limiting the power of government means limiting their own power, which is not likely to happen. The federal courts are also supposed to hold the Constitutional shield between a rapacious government and the rights of individual citizens. But the federal judiciary is one of the three co-equal branches of government with an interest in preserving its own power; and more than that, the federal judiciary is designed to be accountable to no one.
Ultimately, assuring the obedience of our government to Constitutional principles rests in the hands of the citizenry – that is our duty. But in order to fulfill that duty – in order to make sure our government obeys its limits – it is essential for citizens to know what those limits are, and to understand why those limits are important. And that is where We, the People, have failed to fulfill our responsibilities to ourselves, to those who created this nation, and to our posterity.
What is the cause of that failure? Why have We, the People, abandoned our responsibility to hold our government accountable to core Constitutional principles? It is because, to put it bluntly, we no longer know what those principles are; nor, when we happen to stumble across a Constitutional stricture, do we understand why those principles exist.
The blame for that sorry state of affairs can be laid at door of our public education system, a key power center for the hard left, responsible for mis-educating generations of our nation’s youth into blind acceptance of the pernicious and anti-Constitutional doctrines of the left. James Madison wrote of public education, “Learned Institutions…throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty and dangerous encroachments on the public liberty.” Further, “It is certainly very material that the true doctrines of liberty, as exemplified in our Political System, should be inculcated on those who are to sustain and may administer it.”
But we have become a nation ignorant of those “true doctrines of liberty”, ignorant of the history of our nation that put those doctrines of liberty into practice. One current example of this historical ignorance – compare the complaint that Iraq has not yet (a few weeks after the end of the war) become a garden spot of peace and enlightenment, with our own history. The treaty ending our Revolutionary War was signed in 1783. We were a new nation of people with similar cultural and religious backgrounds, all speaking the same language, and with a tradition of self government. Even under those favorable conditions it took four more years before our Constitution was adopted. This knowledge used to be taught in our schools, but such teaching is rarely found anymore since it might distract from other manufactured, politically correct, agenda-driven topics such as the History of Women in the Revolution, or the History of African Culture, or the History of the Racism and Oppression of Western Civilization.
The focus of modern education is not what unites us as a people (E Pluribus Unum), but rather on what divides us into competing cultural and racial enclaves (diversity and multiculturalism). The advocacy of endless rights but no corresponding responsibilities to society leads to the breakdown of civil society – look at the chaos of leftist-run urban centers, overwhelmed by criminals they refuse to punish, bums (“homeless”) they refuse to bring under control, and violent juveniles they refuse to discipline. None of this is accidental. Intact nuclear families and a self-reliant local community, imbued with a strong sense of civic responsibility, are anathema to the culture of government dependency that the left seeks to foster, so the first step toward replacing the independence inherent in individual liberty, with subservience, is to break down the pre-existing social order.
begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and
prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.”
Such historic, civic, and Constitutional ignorance is depressing in and of itself, but in this age of global terrorism such amnesia poses positive dangers to the safety of this nation. For example, how many who criticize the present administration for alleged intelligence failures that led to 9-11 would therefore vote for a democrat in 2004, ignorant of the three decades of left-wing evisceration of our national intelligence agencies? How many, who accept Bill Clinton’s self-serving accusation against the Bush administration for failing to capture Osama bin Laden, know about the, at least three, occasions when Clinton, while he was president, was offered bin Laden by Sudan, and refused to accept bin Laden’s capture?
While launching veiled (and not so veiled) criticisms at the present administration for present alleged failures – in essence simply echoing left-wing democrat party attack lines – how many in our media bother to provide their readers with this background information to put it all into context? Not many. And not knowing that history could lead someone to cast a vote that could actually increase the danger to this nation, by returning to power those whose ideology is inimical to this nation’s well-being. Do you think the danger posed to the security of this nation, by electing democrats, is overstated?
Then why is it that almost the only remaining group anywhere in the world still opposed to the idea of America defending itself from the threat of ballistic missile attack are left-wing democrats in this country? Why is it that a solid block of leftists in both houses of Congress – virtually every democrat plus left-wing republicans – are willing to endanger the lives of our soldiers and impair the efficiency of the military forces that protect this nation, in favor of protecting allegedly endangered species located on military training facilities? Why are those on the left such staunch advocates of subsuming our national sovereignty to global institutions run by people who wish this nation ill? Look at what some of the democrat presidential candidates advocate: Howard Dean champions socialized medicine; John Kerry wants mandatory service to the State unrelated to the Constitutional function of national defense; Dennis Kucinich wants a completely nationalized health care system. Do their ideas reflect the vision of Thomas Jefferson or James Madison? Or are their ideas the antithesis of the vision of individual liberty that created this nation?
This discussion has thus far focused on the threats to our individual liberty posed by the radical left’s undermining of the Constitution, but many also accuse the current administration of posing a danger to liberty due to actions taken and laws enacted in the war against terrorism. While some of that criticism is well justified (the ill-conceived TIPS program and the suspensions of Constitutional rights under the Patriot Act, for example), much of the criticism is not justified (the database mining proposal, for example, simply allows, for the purpose of enhancing national security, a coordination of publicly available information that is already used commercially to sell products), and some changes restore a common sense that was dangerously lacking before (such as allowing law enforcement and intelligence agencies to talk to each other about terrorist threats again – before 9-11 it was actually illegal for the FBI and the CIA to confer about domestic terrorism investigations). Still, it is always necessary to maintain a watchful eye over the actions of government, no matter which political party is in charge (“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”).
But here’s the difference: In past periods of national danger, individual liberties have sometimes been infringed – Abraham Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent following Pearl Harbor – but those have been temporary measures soon reversed when the threats subsided. So it is with those areas of concern today (minor compared to FDR’s action) which have been implemented to enhance national security, many of which will automatically sunset unless renewed. And the objective, even of those problematic and misguided measures, is the preservation of this Constitutional Republic.
In contrast, the pattern of continual infringements by the left is a long-term and ongoing attempt to alter the very culture, the damage to individual liberty their activities involve is not related to any threat to national security, and the goal of the hard left is not the preservation, but the undermining, of this Republic and the Constitutional underpinnings that protect our liberty. It is also interesting to note that the most overheated accusations against current anti-terrorism measures comes from the far left – the very people who themselves pose the greatest long-term danger to the survival of our Constitution.
Even those who can’t be considered part of the hard left but who are leftists nevertheless, as well as many republicans who deceptively call themselves conservatives – remember that the most despicable assault on freedom of speech in recent decades is the signature issue of a Senate republican – run roughshod over the Constitutional limitations on government. They destroy individual freedom and eagerly confiscate taxpayer money to spend on a cornucopia of giveaways to pander to a public that has come to believe that the purpose of government is to give them things paid for by somebody else, far too many people who have developed the attitude that it is entirely normal and justified to claim that whatever they want is a “right” (health care, prescription drugs, child care, affordable housing, etc) that should be paid for by government (i.e.: their fellow taxpayers).
So once again the fundamental questions – where are we, and where are we headed? The radical left still retains an iron grip on our cultural institutions, primarily the media and education. Our Constitutional safeguards continue to slip away, a circumstance in which we and our politicians are equally complicit. Politicians, after all, gain and retain power by giving people what they want, and any would-be politician promising voters that he will fight to be sure the government does only what the Constitution allows – turn to Article One, Section 8 for that short list – would measure his political career in nanoseconds.
There are some hopeful signs, to be sure, but the drift toward statism continues. Our individual liberties remain under assault and continue to fade. The restoration of our Constitutional Republic seems increasingly remote. As it was at our founding, the preservation of our liberty is in our own hands. Have we the courage, the will, and the self-sacrifice, to follow in our Founders’ footsteps and make our Constitution bloom again?
above article is the property (copyright) of Kim Weissman, and is
reprinted with his permission.
Go back and read Part 1
updated 21 apr 2010