Archive for the ‘Individualism’ Category

Milton Friedman’s distilled short version of why vouchers work:

HotAir has the news roundup on Alabama’s introduction of a voucher system, where the left reacted with rage.

Milton Friedman’s elaborate, thorough version of why vouchers work, why centralization is a problem, and why decentralization and freedom to choose solves many educational problems:

Around 18:40, he begins to discuss “the modern view”, which is much of what Cass Sunstein and the masters-of-men anointed elite regulators believe.  Friedman then goes on to explain how that relates to schooling, and the collectivist vs. individualist view of the purpose of education.

Follow up to yesterday.

Worth the time to watch.  It’s a follow-up to the last election, and answers some questions about where to go… and sets a really bold blueprint for Whittle’s own ideas.

Via The Blaze:

From the transcript of the President’s speech in Roanoke, Va.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks to sma...

President Barack Obama delivers remarks to small business owners, community lenders and members of Congress in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner has his back to the camera. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back.  They know they didn’t — look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something — there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Emphasis added)

Business Owner: Well what if I didn’t have help, what if I am that smart, what if I do put in a 60 or 70 hour week Mr. President? What if I do have the best product out there? What if people like how I run my business better than the next guy?

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. [Emphasis added]

Business Owner: You know what I might have had a good teacher along the way, but did they actually help me start and run my business, their INFLUENCE may have helped me, but did they actually participate in the blood, sweat and tears that got me to the level of success I have experienced today? How did a road and a bridge help me start a business, sir? People had businesses before interstate highways. I did build my business on my own, I planned it, I executed it, I hired others who wanted to work for me, I constantly made my product better and now its the best out there. How dare you sir, tell me that my business is NOT the RESULT of my OWN HARD WORK!

JBH: Ownership of property is the hallmark of the American way. It has made us what we are today, without it we are no better than the next social democracy out there. For the president to make his comment that business owners did not make their own success is a fallacy in the worst sense. It is an out right lie and should be insulting to every business own out there. You business owners are what make the American economy turn without you there would be no American Dream.

Business Owners please remember the following:

  • YOU are the ENGINE of the economy, not government.
  • YOU are the JOB CREATORS, not government.
  • YOU are the INNOVATORS,not government.
  • YOU are the epitome of the AMERICAN DREAM, not government.
  • DO NOT feel guilt, YOU are VIRTUOUS, not government.

For the record on the internet take a look here. For the record I didn’t see the word government mentioned anywhere.

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Via Sipsey Street Irregulars, a story from Alternet news:

Dallas ATF special agent in charge Robert Champion traced today’s horrifying levels of violence not to Calderon’s deployment of the troops at the end of 2006, but to conflicts that broke out when the Zetas, former Mexican special forces soldiers turned enforcers for the Gulf Cartel, turned on the Gulf Cartel.

“That’s the genesis of where the violence began,” said Champion.

Since then, Champion said, gun running has evolved from being a solely a border issue to being an issue as far north of the border as Indianapolis, St. Paul, and Atlanta.

“We now have organized arms trafficking rings,” he said, adding that some of them use teenagers to smuggle weapons with the serial numbers erased.

The Merida Initiative was some $1.6 billion in US taxpayer money sent to Mexico to “fight the cartels”.  Given the incredibly corrupt nature of the Mexican govt., it’s done little but provide Ross Perot with another “giant sucking sound going south” example.  It started under the Bush administration, and was opposed by anyone who wasn’t a neocon or leftist, and the Obama administration has continued and expanded the release of funds to Mexico.

Mike Vanderboegh makes the point that the ATF is saying “the Zetas made us do it”, and that the “problem” as the ATF sees it, is that they don’t have enough power.  They need nationwide gun registration and tracking, not just for CA, AZ, NM, and TX.  Last night on Hannity, the point was made that the same people running drugs up north now run guns back down.  So even if there’s mandatory reporting of 2 or more long guns being sold in TX, the same guns bought in OK or MO or NH need to be reported as well.

The mandatory reporting basically means that if a federal firearms license holder sells 2 or more guns, they have to fill out a form telling the ATF the guns were sold.  Currently this is the case for multiple handgun sales.  This is the current form for handguns.

The reason that so many firearms advocates oppose this is that you’re informing the fedgov of what you’ve purchased.  The issue is that it isn’t the government’s business for several reasons.  The primary reason is that it turns into a national gun registry, and a national registry is a bad thing.  When the ATF starts keeping data on gun owners, that’s only a step away from taking them away.  For every brain-dead liberal who says “that can’t happen here, you’re a paranoid racist homophobe right-wing loon”, the fact is that registration precedes confiscation everywhere it’s been done.  Let’s not forget gun control is not about controlling inanimate objects, it’s about controlling people and the tools they use to defend their freedom.  Toyotomo Hideyoshi confiscated swords from his enemies (read: commoners) in Japan in 1588, Southern states like North Carolina have “pistol purchase permits” so that local authorities can deny black people (and in Onslow county, Marines) the right to own firearms, and historically, most all US gun control has been racist.

Note the quote here about the special laws and regulations.

This is an issue of ruling class vs country class, as is often the case.  To quote former Texas State Representative Dr. Suzanna Hupp:

How a politician stands on the Second Amendment tells you how he or she views you as an individual… as a trustworthy and productive citizen, or as part of an unruly crowd that needs to be lorded over, controlled, supervised, and taken care of.

Regulations are restrictions, restrictions are infringements.  They are unconstitutional, and the reason they are unconstitutional is because the Founders knew that restrictions on the people lead to tyranny by govt.  They were very, very wise men.

Beyond just they tyranny aspect, there’s also the other problems of having firearms registered.  Since the govt. is terrible at maintaining individual privacy, you’re looking at a situation where your own firearms ownership could make your home a target for theft when you’re not there.  Or if you’re not a gun owner, the safety afforded when a thief doesn’t know you aren’t armed then turns into a certainty that you’re not.

As one final example of why it’s a bad thing, there already is a de-facto registration in many states.  If you want to actually CARRY your firearm for defense, in most states you need to petition the govt. for the priviledge of carrying and get a concealed carry permit.  Many people don’t want to share that information.  There’s no reason for thieves to know, there’s no reason for virulently anti-gun neighbors or people who’ve been conditioned into being hoplophobes to then attack you, and there’s no reason for violent ex-husbands to know where their ex-wives have moved to.

The insipid, violently anti-individual-rights goons who want everyone disarmed at Virginia’s Roanoke Times famously released the names and addresses of Virginians with concealed carry permits.  Their snarky “you shouldn’t have a gun” attitude was conveyed quite well in their article, which then finished with the list of VA CC holders.

I can hear the shocked indignation of gun-toters already: It’s nobody’s business but mine if I want to pack heat.

Au contraire. Because the government handles the permitting, it is everyone’s business.

There are good reasons the records are open to public scrutiny. People might like to know if their neighbors carry. Parents might like to know if a member of the car pool has a pistol in the glove box. Employers might like to know if employees are bringing weapons to the office.

And this is why government should not be handling any permitting or registration.  It is nobody’s business but yours.

People might like to know if their neighbors carry, but it’s none of their business.  People might like to know if their neighbors are 6th degree blackbelts or MMA fighters who could cripple them, too.  People might like to know if their neighbors are deviant sodomites who might corrupt their youth into becoming drag queens.  But none of that is any of their damn business – unless they want to actually talk to their neighbors.

This is not about being for or against guns. There are plenty of reasons people choose to carry weapons: fear of a violent ex-lover, concern about criminals or worry that the king of England might try to get into your house. There are plenty of reasons to question the wisdom of widespread gun ownership, too.

Now, the cretin at Roanoke is pretty much a dead horse in gun community circles, but it’s worth it to look at what he wrote.  First off, he suggests that fear of a violent ex lover is a good reason to carry… but then went on to post addresses of people who WERE LIVING IN FEAR OF VIOLENT EXES.  And he finishes with the snotty snark about the Revolutionary War.  He then dismisses the debate, but says there are reasons to question “the wisdom of widespread gun ownership”.

Really?  Widespread gun ownership means that individuals are exercising individual liberty.  Individuals who are autonomous human beings, each with their own lives, their own concerns, their own fears, their own hopes and dreams, and their own individual value and worth to themselves and their families.  Within your own life, you’re probably the number one person you look out for, even though you put a spouse/children/parents/family at the same level.  So why is your life and the lives of your loved ones less valuable when there are 10,000 individuals?  Are you viewed as a trustworthy and productive citizen, or as part of an unruly crowd that needs to be lorded over, controlled, supervised, and taken care of?

When the ATF proposes more regulations to your rights and your freedoms, and more regulations that were enshined in the rules that our government is ruled by (or it’s supposed to be when it’s not getting tyrannical), that’s all part of the problem.

Perhaps the greatest amount of offense here is that the ATF is demanding more regulations at a time when they are responsible for the gun violence in Mexico.  They have successfully wagged the dog, because the concept of the ATF’s staggering level of corruption is almost inconceivable.

The ATF actually watched crimes take place, they facilitated crimes taking place, and they were “giddy” when guns that they let walk turned up at crime scenes in Mexico.  The administration at higher levels knew about it, and is in the process of covering it up.  And all the while, they demand more power for the very agency that is the cause of this.


There’s no way that can work.  And there’s no way giving more power to an agency that ran guns is a good idea.  The political end that Congressman Issa talked about – that this could be a criminal act that the ATF was engaged in for the express purpose of demanding more power to fix the crisis they created, is the only logical explanation.  ATF agents who were not part of F&F who testified about it were dumbfounded by the idea that anyone would come up with it as a means of enforcement.  So the logical conclusion is that it wasn’t an enforcement tool.

How does a reporting tool for 2 long guns make a difference with regards to crime when the ATF watched Jaime Avila and his ring purchase hundreds, if not thousands of guns?  How does a reporting tool for 2 long guns make a difference with regards to crime when the ATF and the FBI collaborated to allow felons to buy guns, setting up the NICS background check so that felons could buy over 360 guns?  The law is that felons cannot buy guns.  Yet the ATF and FBI let them, and then let the guns go to Mexico.

They had the power to enforce the law, and yet instead totally ignored it and even assisted in the crime by allowing felons to buy guns.

What logical person would believe that a federal government agency that was BREAKING THE LAW in order to send guns into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels should be trusted with more authority?  They actively broke the laws they were supposed to enforce.  If we believe their story, the underpants gnomes make more sense.  If we believe the facts, we can see they were engaged in a criminal conspiracy between law enforcement agencies and criminal gangs to send guns to Mexico.

Given that they have just asked for more authority, we can surmise the reason why they would facilitate crime: Create a crisis, demand more power.

It’s no wonder ATF agents who aren’t JBTs and don’t want to be JBTs are so shocked.

From Chapter 11: The End of Truth

The most effective way of making everybody serve the single system of ends toward which the social plan is directed is to make everybody believe in those ends.  To make a totalitarian system function efficiently, it is not enough that everybody should be forced to work for the same ends. It is essential that hte people should come to regard them as their own ends.  Although the beliefs must be chosen for the people and imposed upon them, they must become their beliefs, a generally accepted creed which makes the individuals as far as possible act spontaneously in the way the planner wants.  If the feeling of oppression in totalitarian countries is in general much less acute than most people in liberal countries imagine, this is because the totalitarian governments succeed to a high degree in making people think as they want them to.

This is, of course, brought about by the various forms of propaganda.  Its technique is now so familiar that we need say little about it.

Choice architectureNudge.  A velvet glove on the iron fist.

Hayek elaborates on pg 174:

The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those which they, or at least the best among them, have always held, but which were not properly understood or recognized before.  The people are made to transfer their allegiance from the old gods to the new under the pretense that the new gods really are what their sound instinct had always told them but what before they had only dimly seen.  And the most efficient technique to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning.  Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of the meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regime are expressed.

The worst sufferer in this respect is, of course, the word “liberty.”  It is a word used as freely in totalitarian states as elsewhere.  Indeed, it could almost be said – and it should serve as a warning to us to be on our guard against all the tempters who promise us New Liberties for Old – that wherever liberty as we understand it has been destroyed, this has almost always been done in the name of some new freedom promised to the people.  Even among us we have “planners for freedom” who promise us a “collective freedom for the group,” the nature of which may be gathered from the fact that its advocate finds it necessary to assure us that “naturally the advent of all planned freedom does not mean that all [sic] earlier forms of freedom must be abolished.”  Dr. Karl Mannheim, from whose work these sentences are taken, at least warns us that “a conception of freedom modelled on the preceding age is an obstacle to any real understanding of the problem.”  But his use of the word “freedom” is as misleading as it is in the mouth of totalitarian politicians.  Like their freedom, the “collective freedom” he offers us is not the freedom of the members of society but the unlimited freedom of the planner to do with society what he pleases.  It is the confusion of freedom with power carried to the extreme.

A simple example is universal single-payer health care.  It’s to provide freedom from the evil insurance companies.  It provides “freedoms” as quoted here in remarks by a speaker at a press conference by Nancy Pelosi:

The new law has not only given me the freedom to stay covered, but has also freed me and my family from the fear that an insurer could drop me at any moment or limit me to go without treatment.

The “freedom to stay covered” is at the expense of someone else – at the expense of the individuals who make up an insurance company, or at the expense of the individual taxpayer.  Their freedom is traded for this patient’s priviledge.  Being “free” from “fear” that he could be dropped means that the insurer, or taxpayer, is now enslaved to his treatment.  He is now a guaranteed recipient of the labor of individuals, whether those individuals who also purchase insurance from a company, and now face increased premiums because of this government-protected claimant, or he is dependant on the taxpayer to cover his bill.  Ultimately, he is “free” only insomuch as he takes from someone else.

He is not free to choose a less expensive company, or free to go to a non-profit charity that would look out for his special case and would desire to help him – he is “free” by shackling others to his needs.  That is not freedom – that is parasitism enforced by the state.  Person A now must pay for Person B’s medical needs because Person B is “free” from the costs.

Hayek continues on pg 175:

In this particular case the perversion of the meaning of the word has, of course, been well prepared by a long line of German philosophers and, not least, by many of the theoreticians of socialism.  But “freedom” or “liberty” are by no means the only words whose meaning has been changed into their opposites to make them serve as instruments of totalitarian propaganda.  We have already seen how the same happens to “justice” and “law,” “right” and “equality.”  The list could be extended until it includes almost all moral and political terms in general use.

This is a major, major point.  This is why “liberals” today are intolerant, closed-minded people.  Virtually every aspect of who they are is the exact opposite of what they are.  They fight for “social justice” which is just redistribution, they fight for “human rights” that include health care, and even food – which cannot be rights – as they come at the expense of others.  They call themselves progressives, but they don’t progress towards greater liberty for the individual, they progress towards greater power for what the state “must do on your behalf“.  This is regressive, towards the totalitarianism of dictatorships and kings, not towards the greater well-being of the individual.  Liberal in Hayek’s day meant closer to what libertarian or even conservative means today.  Not what libertarian or conservative is demonized as by the political left/progressives, but what they actually are.

It is for this reason that conservative author/radio host Mark Levin refers almost exclusively to the left as statists, as their main function is to expand government to their own ends.  Also note that there are right-wing, or socially traditionalist/conservative statists, who are often simply a different brand of moralist from the leftist statist.  The leftist statist wants you to stop drinking and smoking for your health and because it’s good for you, the rightist statist wants you to stop drinking and smoking because it’s “fiend intemperance”.  The leftist statist will force you to drive a hybrid car because of his Gaia-worship, the rightist statist will force businesses to close on Sunday to keep the Sabbath holy.

A major difference is that a rightward traditionalist in America, a mindset which often goes hand in hand with the moralist, can still be reminded that a reason the country was founded, and indeed the 1st Amendment was written, was to escape state-mandated religion.  The leftist, by contrast, believes that history started last week, and will reject the past as outmoded and obsolete in their own quest for power and The Greater Good.  As Thomas Sowell writes in his book “The Vision of the Anointed”:

“For the anointed, traditions are likely to be seen as the dead hand of the past, relics of a less enlightened age, and not as the distilled experience of millions who faced similar human vicissitudes before.”

Returning to Hayek, pg 175:

If one has not one’s self experienced this process, it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this change of the meaning of words, the confusion which it causes, and the barriers to any rational discussion which it creates.  It has to be seen to be understood how, if one of two brothers embraces the new faith, after a short while he appears to speak a different language which makes any real communication between them impossible.  And the confusion becomes worse because this change of meaning of the words describing political ideals is not a single event but a continuous process, a technique employed conciously or unconciously to direct the people.  Gradually, as this process continues, the whole language becomes despoiled, and words become empty shells deprived of any definite meaning, as capable of denoting one thing as its opposite and used solely for the emotional associations which still adhere to them.

To sidetrack a while from the explicitly political, using a pop culture reference as an example, you can see how freedom has changed.  Most of the readers of this blog will know who this is.  On the off chance we have some very young readers or very old readers, this is Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots – the good guy Transformers.

His motto: “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.”

Now consider this online discussion amongst a group of Transformers fans.  Here are a few lines from the discussion, starting off with forum member “Octavius Prime” (hereafter OP) citing a movie review that had this line:

(Movie Review): And when Optimus Prime, the chief good Transformer, declares that “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings,” we know we’re in a Bush-era universe.

(OP): if the reviewers had done maybe 10 minutes of online research (say, on the Teletraan-1 wikia), they’d know that Prime has been spouting his line since before Bush’s dad was president. Moreover, what is so bad about freedom being a basic right? Isn’t that in the hugging Declaration of Independence? What is so quintessentially “Bush” about it?

(SD): Pretty much a case of people shooting words off before doing proper research, and an annoyingly over-liberal mindset. I mean, I don’t care for Bush, to put it lightly, but I also don’t wedge my political views into whatever I type/write.

(S): I can see how that line might be used by the likes of Bush to justify a war like Iraq (the lie that the war is all about human freedom rather than oil).

(PTP): Technically we were in a Regan-era universe when it was written, which isn’t all that much better…

(OP): Maybe, but I still don’t see how the motto that encapsulates democracy would be reduced to represent someone’s biased view of the Bush administration.

(D): I’d be hard pressed to vote for a president who didn’t believe in the basic right of freedom.  I mean there’s liberal, and then there’s blindedly liberal. Gah.

(TNG): I don’t really get why anyone would think that “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings” is a particularly conservative viewpoint. Definitions of exactly what freedom means may differ within the political spectrum but I don’t think you’d find many democrats arguing against freedom as a basic human right.

Liberals=progressives=statists, specifically here, anti-Bush statists, who are competing for the same space as state controllers.  Thus Freedom=Bush talking point.  Freedom=bad, to liberals, who are really progressives, who are really leftist-statists.  Also thus the word liberal, which is supposed to mean accepting of others, is now explicitly anti-freedom (even just in this discussion).  Liberal has gone so far as to also include Reagan and all non-leftist statists, thus even the original quote by Optimus Prime waaay back in about 1984 is rejected as being related to Reagan, Republicans, and therefore to a Liberal is a Bad Thing.

According to the leftist-statist, when Bush says freedom, it means ruthless oppression, even if it is freeing a nation from an actual ruthless oppressor.  Don’t bother them with the facts.  Criticism of a poor operational plan and shoddy intelligence (that leftist-statists agreed on) turned into a rejection of freedom in its entirety.  Leftist rejection of Bush-era domestic policies (that pretty much only targeted terrorists, but that should definitely be questioned in Constitutional interests) including the Patriot Act turned into Bush hates freedom.  This year when the Patriot Act was renewed by Barack Obama, without any of the reforms that were complained about during the Bush-era… well, Obama is still a good-guy to the leftist-statist, because he’s their guy there for The Greater Good.

Liberal is anti-freedom, freedom is oppression, progressive is statist.

Even the notions of left and right are reversed.  In France in 1789, at the French Assembly, the rebels who resisted the state sat on the left, while the supporters of the state sat on the right.  Except the French state was a monarchical state that didn’t represent the people, and had subjects, not citizens.  A rebel to the French state would be resisting tyranny.

The United States, by contrast, were formed by the people, for the people, and of the people.  The government was explicity designed to respond to the citizenry, and to be accountable to the citizenry.  The Constitution itself was a charter document designed to constrain any government to the initial agreement that the citizens had made when they settled on a government.  Consider first that the Declaration of Independence was a rejection of tyranny that called for the people to institute a government from the people, then consider that a government, instituted by the citizenry who choose their government, is how the democratic republic set up by the Constitution was designed.

Thomas Paine explains in concrete terms what a Constitution is:

But it will be first necessary to define what is meant by a Constitution. It is not sufficient that we adopt the word; we must fix also a standard signification to it.

A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting its government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article; and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established,  the manner in which it shall be organised, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of Parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and in fine, everything that relates to the complete organisation of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution, therefore, is to a government what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them; it only acts in conformity to the laws made: and the government is in like manner governed by the constitution.

The Constitution is static.  It is what the government is based on, and the laws that the government, in order to remain legitimate and existing upon the consent of the people, must adhere to.  Being on the left in the US and rejecting the established Constitutional order is rejecting a truly classically radical liberal document that enshines the rights and liberties of all citizens.  Being on the left is pushing for statism.  Being a conservative who wishes to conserve Constitutional principles is being a classical liberal, a radical libertarian – one who is opposed to the idea of a controlling state.

Religious liberalism and conservatism became injected into political liberalism and conservatism, as well as social liberalism and conservatism – but there is a wide gulf between what one preaches in one’s private or even public life, and what one inflicts through force of government.  Conservative has come to mean statist-religious, liberal to mean statist-humanist/statist-Gaia-or-Science-worshipper.

In this, the leftist-progressive-statist has changed the entire discussion by changing the meaning of words.  For another example: the religious-statist who would use force of government rather than persuasion has changed the word conservative to also mean moralist authoritarian – a term the leftist-statist is very much willing to embrace, as it drives people into their camp – to accept the “freedom from religion” that then turns into trying to destroy the religions of others – which is explicitly illiberal.  Another example: fascism was a brand of statist totalitarianism wherein the economic means of production were controlled by the state, but not always wholly owned.  Communists attacked fascists, with whom they were competing for the same leftist anti-capitalist statist-totalitarian space on the political spectrum, and accused fascists of being capitalist.  Fascism, descended from national socialism as opposed to communist international socialism, suddenly became its opposite, when the two are nary a hair’s breadth apart.  Yet the modern leftist-statist who favors socialism as an economic means to his Greater Good, will accuse someone who opposes them of being a national socialist.

Paine set up concretely what a Constitution is.  Those who support it, must support it for what it is.  It is a compact between we the citizen and those citizens we choose to serve us.  Words do mean something.  Our Constitution was established as a document that can change through the amendment process, but it is not to be manipulated until freedom means slavery.  But that is precisely what the leftist-statist has embraced (as well as the rightist-statist to a lesser degree).  George Orwell summed much of this up with his coining of the term “Newspeak” in his book “1984″ several years after The Road to Serfdom had been published.  As Orwell says in “1984″:

By 2050—earlier, probably—all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron—they’ll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of the Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “freedom is slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

Sadly, Orwell himself was a democratic socialist, basically a theory of benevolent socialism, but that can be the subject for another tl;dr post.

Lest I forget, the other Hayek:

Eventually I’ll just end up with pictures of chicks from Vienna to represent the Austrian School.

Opinion writer Neal Gabler has this piece in the LA Times today that’s based on so many false premises it demands to be nearly fisked:
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-gabler-morality-20110522,0,5036075.story

America The Stony-Hearted
By Neal Gabler

When the political history of the last 30 years is written, scholars will no doubt describe a rightward revolution that jolted this country out of its embrace of New Deal, big-government progressivism and into a love affair with small-government conservatism. But this change, significant as it is, has been undergirded by a less apparent but no less monumental revolution that has transformed the nation’s values, ideals and aspirations. Over those same 30 years, we have become a different country morally from what we were.

This is bunk.

The United States has always had a complex national moral system. On the one hand, there is the Puritan-inflected America of rugged individualism, hard work, self-reliance and personal responsibility in which you reap what you sow, God helps those who help themselves, and our highest obligation is to live righteously.

On the other hand, there is also an America of community, common cause, charity and collective responsibility. In this America, salvation comes from good works, compassion is among the greatest of virtues, and our highest obligation is to help others.

These two moralities managed to coexist — often within the same person — because they were not seen as mutually exclusive, especially in the 20th century. Nor was either the province of one political party or the other. Conservatives could subscribe to the ideals of generosity and compassion, just as liberals could subscribe to hard work and individual responsibility.

See, the problem is that rugged individualism, hard work, self-reliance, personal responsibility, and also community, common cause and charity exist without big-government progressivism.  Big government progressivism is a means to exercise force on the citizenry.  “Collective responsibility” is a concept that exists only in totalitarian states.  For those who don’t understand “collective responsibility”, see the following two morality plays of the collective:

The Jelly Donut

Blanket Party

That is how collective responsibility works.  The collective is responsible for the sins of one, and pays for those sins.  The collective also holds the one responsible.

When personal responsibility is paramount, the individual pays for the individual‘s mistakes.  Big difference.

But over the last 30 years or so, something has happened to reshape the country’s moral geography. Everyone knows about the rise of Moral Majority-style Christian evangelicals as a potent force in right-wing politics. It injected a certain aggressive moralism into our political discourse and led to campaigns against abortion rights, homosexual rights, sexual freedom and other issues perceived as and then framed as moral matters. As a result, our politics became “moralized”; they were transformed into a contest of one set of values pitted against another.

There was no reason for aggressive moralizing of a conservative/traditional nature of what was self-viewed as a moral nation before then.  “Abortion rights” didn’t exist before 1973 – though it was favored by progressives who sought to exterminate the black race.  Gays had equal protection under the law, regardless of how biased individuals may have mistreated and abused individual gay people, and how reprehensible bigots may have ignored that gays are also created equal.  Gay rights, unfortunately, is not about acknowledging gay people as people, but is about gay priviledges, and is usually justified under the “pendulum swings one way, then the other” absurdity – equal doesn’t mean some are more equal, whether to make things “fair” or not.  “Sexual freedom” wasn’t about freedom, it was about upsetting tradition.  The pill wouldn’t have caused the same sexual revolution by itself – advocates for free love and hedonism were who was behind “sexual freedom”.  For some also, sex sells, and consequence-reduced sex sells more – especially when driven to break down traditional morality.  Oh, and there were people who did agitate and try to tear down the nation as well (there are plenty more, I just link to some usual suspects here).  And some who were professionals did the same:

That moral upheaval led to the rise of the Moral Majority-style evangelicals.  Well, that and TV allowing evangelists to spread their message and expand their pool of donations.

This was hardly the first time politics was overtaken by morality. One has only to think of abolition and Prohibition. The difference this time was that as politics were being moralized and polarized, our morals were also being politicized and polarized. The two moral systems that had so long coexisted suddenly became mutually exclusive, oppositional and finally inseparable from the two regnant political ideologies.

Abolition was the continuation of original founding principles.  All men are created equal, not all white male landowner upper-class English-blooded men (and men here means mankind).  The 3/5ths Compromise was made specifically to limit the power of slave states, while still allowing the new nation to form – and eventually phase out slavery entirely.  Prohibition was introduced by a moralizing big-government progressives.  Small government doesn’t want to interfere with one’s life.

There were never two moral systems.  There was one – that of classical liberalism.  It was a rejection of monarchy, a rejection of divine right of kings, and the prime acknowledgement that all men are created equal.  Classical liberalism (conservatism, also libertarianism) comes from ideas like John Locke asserting that a just government exists at the consent of the governed, not as a tool for a monarch or dictator to rule over the land.  Progressives used to call themselves progressives  – they stole the word liberal from the classic liberals, who are now called conservatives – who are trying to conserve classic liberalism (though some called conservatives are traditionalists of their own stripes).  Reading older books like Hayek’s Road To Serfdom results in confusion when you see liberal=free markets and liberal =/= central planning and big government progressivism.

One can see this division in something as simple as the denigration of the term “liberal,” the “L” word, with its attendant idea that to be compassionate, caring and tolerant — virtues that had been celebrated, if only via lip service, by most Americans — is really to be mush-minded, weak and, more concretely, willing to give taxpayer largesse to the undeserving and lazy.

That’s because the Modern Liberal is mush-minded, weak, and steals from productive citizens at the point of government’s gun to give to the undeserving and lazy, all the while congratulating themselves for embracing compassion, care, and tolerance – none of which are virtues they believe in.  The do believe in it, of course, when they’re pandering to those they give other people’s money to, and when they’re accusing those they steal from of being heartless.

It is easy to miss how significant a change this is. It transforms compassion, a bulwark in practically any moral system, into a negative force that undermines the good of individual initiative. Indeed, conservative ideologue Marvin Olasky wrote a book to this effect, pungently titled “The Tragedy of American Compassion,” in which he called for the privatization of all charitable efforts. It rapidly became a conservative touchstone.

Compassion isn’t a bulwark in any moral system of government.  If a government rules by compassion, it rules by emotion, which leads to “who is the greater victim?” and “how do we force someone to give to that victim?”  This leads to society based on the whim of whomever holds power.  Also, privatized charitable efforts result in people who give freely, so those who give aren’t harmed, and those who get realize that they are existing on the largesse of those who give – and thus may have some pride in wanting to improve their own status.  The leftist/modern liberal is interested in the recipient maintaining his victim status and blames the well-to-do, or even just the slightly-better-off – thus exalting the caregiver leftist and justifying the leftist stealing from the productive citizens’ childrens’ mouths.

By the same token, liberals have come to see the emphasis on the individual and self-reliance as a form of civic irresponsibility and selfishness — a way to justify rogue economic behavior and enrichment at the expense of the community. It was, incidentally, a charge adherents of the novelist Ayn Rand gladly invited because they believe selfishness is a tough, exalted form of morality. Thus were the moral sides drawn: soft-headed versus tough-minded, big-hearted versus stony-hearted.

That’s because the modern leftist rejects any individuality as a rejection of the collective.  Rand’s extreme version of selfishness as a virtue is functional, if cold.  But the coldly calculating individual who thinks of nothing but self-interest will still have self-interest in maintaining good relations with the rest of humanity, and must acknowledge that what John Donne said is true: “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind.”  Howard Roark can’t build his buildings without Mike Donnigan (who I’d argue is almost the more important character – as he is realistic, rather than a character who exists as an ideal).

Big-hearted versus stony-hearted is another absurdity.

Big-hearted liberals inflate grades for students based on feelings, and leave the students at a disadvantage in the real world.  Big-hearted liberals give handouts to people who need to develop self-sufficiency.  Big-hearted liberals are terminal enablers of drug addicts, permanent welfare families, child-rapists, and baby-killers.  Stony-hearted conservatives reject making people dependent, and reject those who aid criminals, and reject the wholesale termination of the young.

Perhaps it is as simple a matter as self-interest always overpowering communal interest when there isn’t some countervailing force like religion or civic shame to contain it, but by seeking to conflate morality and politics and by discrediting such things as civil rights law, healthcare reform and financial regulation — all fueled by a sense of fairness and compassion — the right has succeeded in making the moral verities of the Protestant ethic seem more moral than the verities of the Social Gospel. In effect, morality is now the preserve of the right.

Communal interest doesn’t exist.  That is the interest of the planner.  A community is made up of individuals.  When an individual doesn’t find their interest represented by the “community” goals, why should they support it?  Communal interest exists for the recruits who don’t want to push for Pyle’s Jelly Donut – and the reason they push is because of GySgt Hartman’s planner tyranny that subjects every individual to his violent authority.

The Social Gospel was a scam.  It is basically William James’s “The Moral Equivalent of War” – a way to justify subjecting the individual to the collective for The Greater Good.  Of course, The Greater Good is decided by the planners and the community and more importantly, by those who control government and can use its force on the citizenry.  James hates war, but loves the idea of moving people with the same speed and intensity – of forcing them to be martial at home.  The reason the military is not a free society is because its function is to preserve a free society.  An individual who values other individuals’ freedom enough to willingly fight for it does so at the temporary expense of his own freedom – but make no mistake – he fights for his own freedom as well.

Scarcely a generation ago, you wouldn’t have found many conservatives who would have sneered at compassion or tolerance or fundamental fairness, even if they disagreed with liberals on how these concepts might operate in the real world. Today, open contempt for these values is conservative boilerplate for Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, and even for the Republican Party itself, whose idea of cutting government is always cutting programs that help the weakest and least fortunate Americans and whose idea of compassion is caring about the tax burden of the wealthiest Americans.

“Compassion” to a leftist means a social justice program designed to take from one and give to another.  “Tolerance” to a leftist means giving special priviledges to one group in order to “even out the playing field”.  “Fundamental fairness” means equality of results and stifling equality of opportunity.

That open contempt for Glenn Beck ignores what he’s done for charity, and promoting flash mobs to “demonstrate goodness”.  Heck, Limbaugh raised $2.1 million for charity by auctioning off a letter that was critical of him.  Hannity, well… he openly says he raises money for charity, but really doesn’t provide much.

Cutting programs that “help” the weakest are cutting the programs that make them dependent.  Cutting taxes for everyone means the poor have more wealth for themselves that they’ve earned, and the rich have more money to hire more poor, who then can become more wealthy.  Cutting government reduces the oppressive tax on everyone’s back, but it does reduce the power of the big government progressive planner.

But it is to say that this moral reconfiguration has not only changed our politics and our perception of morality; it has changed us. If compassion is seen as softness, tolerance as a kind of promiscuity, community as a leech on individuals and fairness as another word for scheming, we are a harder nation than we used to be, and arguably a less moral one as well. In undergoing a revolution for the nation’s soul, we may have found ourselves losing it.

The left changed compassion to enabling weakness.  The left’s tolerance is to support things that offend others and tell others they must embrace it – and misunderstands what tolerance means.  Community is individuals.   Community in the leftist mindset is a society of crabs in the bucket, lorded over by the leftist, who decides just how well off the community should be.  Is it “fair” that one is better than another, whether due to circumstance, luck, or effort?  The leftist-progressive says no.