The rhetoric of Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton about the sad state of America is reminiscent of the suspect populism of John Edwards, the millionaire lawyer who recently dropped out of the Democratic presidential race.
Barack Obama may have gone to exclusive private schools. He and his wife may both be lawyers who between them have earned four expensive Ivy League degrees. They may make about a million dollars a year, live in an expensive home and send their kids to prep school. But they are still apparently first-hand witnesses to how the American dream has gone sour. Two other Ivy League lawyers, Hillary and Bill, are multimillionaires who have found America to be a land of riches beyond most people's imaginations. But Hillary also talks of the tragic lost dream of America.
In these gloom-and-doom narratives by the well off, we less fortunate Americans are doing almost everything right, but still are not living as well as we deserve to be. And the common culprit is a government that is not doing enough good for us, and corporations that do too much bad to us.
You have to admit, it's a bit strange that all these multimillionaires who have greatly benefited from the freedom and opportunity offered by this country are competing with each other to see who can yell the loudest that the American dream is lost?
What's going on here is not just a case of pessimism about what America stands for; it is a deliberate, calculated attempt to manipulate and appeal to one of the worse aspects of human nature--primitive envy--and stoke the fires of resentment and entitlement.
The message from the Democatic presidential candidates is almost exactly identical and it is the same message their party has been promoting (except, of course, when THEY are in the White House) since the 60's: Things are BAD! Poverty is INCREASING! DOOM DOOM DOOM! You foolish people out there only think you are content!
Don't you know that there are people in this very country who are richer than you are? There are even (gasp!) people who are smarter, more talented, and happier than you could possibly ever be!
Is this fair? Is this something that we have to put up with in our politically correct, culturally diverse, and oh so egalitarian society? You don't have to be satisfied with life, liberty and only the pursuit of happiness-- WE CAN GUARANTEE HAPPINESS FOR YOU!
You only think this is a land of opportunity...but vote for ME and you will see how much MORE you will have!
And now we have Barack the Messiah, who manages to cloak this same old tired egalitarian message in his lovely rhetorical babblings about "hope", and "change", and "yes we can"--as if he were actually appealing to the best, instead of the worst within each of us.
It all reminds me of the scene in the movie "Key Largo" where Frank McCloud confronts the criminal thug, Johnny Rocco:
Frank McCloud: He knows what he wants. Don't you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Sure.
James Temple: What's that?
Frank McCloud: Tell him, Rocco.
Johnny Rocco: Well, I want uh ...
Frank McCloud: He wants more, don't you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Yeah. That's it. More. That's right! I want more!
James Temple: Will you ever get enough?
Frank McCloud: Will you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Well, I never have. No, I guess I won't.
We have become a country of thuggish Johnny Roccos.
The Democratic Party is there for all you unhappy people who want MORE--but who don't want to work for it. They will tell you that you are entitled to it; that it is your right and that they will get it for you! Yes they can!
Ironically, they can even while they proselytize with their trademark intellectual and moral superiority, against the wickedness and selfishness of our materialistic/capitalistic society.
Only in the incredible wonderland of their benevolent neo-marxist uptopia is it possible to have your cake and eat it too.
Progressives such as Clinton an Obama, operate under an economic model that is more genetic as opposed to cognitive. They are still functioning with the herd mentality and have yet to embrace modern civilizization or individualism, preferring instead to function on an instictual, rather than a rational level. This is why they find capitalism and market economics so repugnant.
From a recent article by Andrew Cassel:
In other words, to have an intuitive grasp of economics, you might just need to take a step or two up the evolutionary ladder."Finally, it all makes sense!The economic primitivism that is unceasingly promoted by the political left is a remnant of the cave-dwelling days of mankind; an idyllic era of history to which the left desperately yearns to return.
The word "progressive" is thus a simple rhetorical manipulation to diguise the essential backwardness of the left's economc thinking.It also might explain the sense of solidarity that many leftists feel with the various primitive cultures still existing in the 21st century. Try as they might, they just can't hide their admiration for cave-dwellers like Osama; or the egalitarianism of the most backward societies on the planet.
The "Ivy League populists" of the left (and there are a few on the right, also) are always willing to give away other people's money and denigrate other people's success; but you don't see them living in ordinary homes or taking regular commercial flights to do their campaigning. Yet, how is it they always get away with the ridiculous assertion that they are somehow "champions" of all of us little people?
The left is so immersed in class envy and socialist rhetorical bullshit, they haven't seemed to notice that this is the same bankrupt ideology that could never deliver on any of its promises in the last century; and will never deliver in this one either (just ask the people of Venezuela as their economy goes down the proverbial toilet).
But hey! Class warfare is a well-trod path to power. Look at Hugo Chavez. Having duped the peasants of his country into a state of perpetual envy and entitlement, he now is poised to dupe them into endless, perpetual Hugo-ness by making himself their Dictator for Life! I mean, isn't that so cool?
No wonder the left loves him so. He's very good at what he does. They undoubtedly envy him and wish they had his cojones.
Thomas Sowell wrote in a one of his many columns on the subject:
People in the media, in academia and among the intelligentsia in general who are obsessed with "disparities" in income and wealth usually show not the slightest interest in how that income and wealth were produced in the first place.
They are hot to redistribute the existing income and wealth but seem wholly unaware that how you do that today can affect how much income and wealth will be produced tomorrow. Any number of schemes for redistributing wealth have ended up redistributing poverty in a number of countries.
"Progressives" in the media and among academics and intellectuals claim to be interested in ending poverty but the production of more output is the only way to end poverty for millions of people.
It not only can be done, it has already been done in many countries, for all countries were once very poor by today's standards. But most self-styled "progressives" show virtually zero interest in economic history or in economics in general.
Sowell is absolutely correct. As I have said multiple times, poverty has a cure and it it capitalism. But for the left--those "progressives" that Sowell identifies, to embrace that cure would require letting go their death-grip on an ideology whose economic redistribution plans have repeatedly been shown to be catastrophically ineffective and oppressive in the real world.
Indeed, their "progressive" ideology has, in fact, caused all the societies which believed in it to regress economically and politically; causing misery and death for many millions of souls.
If trillion of dollars in investment and aid hasn't been able to raise economic output in such countries, then what can? It turns out that democratic institutions and economic freedom have been shown to be the key determinants of growth and have "a positive influence on economic growth, while foreign aid does not."
In other words the alleviation of poverty is directly linked to economic freedom. The more liberty; the more people are free to pursue their own happiness, the less poverty.
And, needless to say, the LESS government interferes in economic matters, the more freedom each individual has to pursue his or her happiness.
It is economic freedom that is the true cure for poverty. Not taxes. Not regulation. Not government control of the economy and redistribution of wealth; but capitalism. And, it is important to note that economic freedom is unachievable without political freedom. That is the link between poverty and governance. It is not enough to have a superficial form of democracy like the Palestinians, Iranians or the Venezuelans. The proof of a free country is more than just getting to vote for various thugs and criminals once in a while. It is in being able to pursue your own, individual goals and happiness freely without interference or contrary demands from the state.
Programs that originate with the "best of intentions" end up doing exactly the opposite of what was intended. Yet, many people are so ideologically committed to one way of thinking that they not only refuse to change, but keep pouring money into programs that can be shown to actively harm the people they are meant to help--encouraging dependence rather than autonomy; a sense of entitlement, rather than a sense of personal accomplishment; and reinforcing stereotypes they were meant to end.
What makes matters worse is that the "champions of the poor and oppressed" (as progressives of the left like to think of themselves) then virtually demonize anyone who suggests an alternate strategy-- even when that strategy has been proven to work.
We see this time and again in their portrayal of Republicans as people who "hate the poor" or as racists, whenever they suggest that pouring money into some programs has not worked or even diminished the problem of poverty. The radical idea that maybe there may be other solutions that encourage independence and self-sufficiency are reflexly deemed as insulting, demeaning, or damaging to the self-esteem and feelingz of the poor.
Such programs are basically all show and no substance. They make the people who propose and maintain them feel good, but do little to change the underlying causes of poverty and, in fact, reinforce the dynamics that perpetuate it.
The true believers of the political left become hysterical and incapable of reasonable discussion at this point; and psychologically it is apparent that their beliefs on this subject serves an intense psychological need. They need to portray their enemies as racist, sexist etc. because their demonstrable behavior often belies their own glorious rhetoric.
This is a very convenient psychological ploy that prevents these progressives from ever having to acknowledge their own innermost prejudices and biases, and hence they can easily convince themselves that their own racist, sexist behavior is appropriate--or even serves some "higher good". In the psychiatry business, we refer to this psychological maneuver as "projection". It requires considerable self-deception and this is usually achieved by "talking the talk" of equality, but "walking the walk" of egalitarianism.
That is how "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" has slowly morphed into "from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs" as the mantra of the Democratic party.
"From each according to their ability blah blah blah.." has NEVER worked anywhere it has been tried. The only result has been dragging everyone down to the level of poverty and misery and keeping them there. There are many people --both Democrats and Republicans-- who genuinely want to end racism and poverty. Many sincerely want to help the poor to have better lives. So, the question is: why not go with what works, instead of what doesn't and has never worked?
Redistributing wealth--the method of choice promulgated by the political left--is a scam that so-called "progressive" con artists have played for many decades now. What they actually do is redistribute poverty because their goal of the scam, as Sowell brilliantly notes, is to give themselves "sweeping powers to control other people's lives, in the name of curing the ills of society."
Scratch a progressive leftist, and you will see that underneath the caring, compassionate exterior he or she presents to the world, is the con artist/tyrant whose primary desire is control over others.
And, the more charasmatic the progressive; the more they can disguise their desire for power in some sort of "selfless" desire to lead you to the promised land where you will all be above-average and rich like they are--the more dangerous such a person is to the real American dream.
Leszak Kolakowski, a Polish philosopher expelled from the Communist Party in 1968 for his heretical views made the following keen observation about the morality of socialism (from My Correct Views on Everything:
Socialism as a social or moral philosophy was based on the ideal of human brotherhood, which can never be implemented by institutional means. There has never been, and ther will never be, an institutional means of making people brothers. Fraternity under compulsion is the most malignant idea devised in modern times; it is the perfect path to totaltarian tyranny.
One of the most important intellectual breakthroughs I achieved while studying economics in college, was the realization that the social engineers of the political left, motivated as they are by their creative utopian aspirations--expressed by the desire to impose (forcibly, if necessary) universal peace, social justice and brotherhood upon humanity--are completely oblivious to the malignant side of their own natures. Both they and the capitalist entrepreneurs of the right who they despise so vehemently are driven by the darker human emotions: envy, greed and a need to dominate others.
However, there is an extremely crucial difference between them:
The do-gooder leftist in all the various ideological incarnations--the antiwar crowd, the environmental crowd, the communists, socialists, and assorted collectivists--offers the rationale that he does what he does for the "common good" and for "social justice", "peace" and "brotherhood". His high-minded, self-righteous rhetoric justifies (to him anyway) imposing his will and beliefs on others for their own good; and he will not hesitate to use whatever coercive capablity he has at hand to get others to do what he wants and what he says.
The capitalist, on the other hand, is overtly out to pursue his own selfish profit, and understands he must use persuasion. That is, he must convince people that his ideas and the products of his mind are better than all the rest so that they will be willing to part with their hard-earned money to possess them. His desire for power over others is manifested in an indirect manner because people must want what he has to offer and believe that they will benefit from an interaction with him.
There is no parallel social limitations on the behavior of the leftist. This tyrant wannabe does not feel the need to convince others of the veracity or even the effectiveness of his ideas; nor does he accept defeat when others are not interested or resist their implementation. He knows in his heart what is best for everyone, and he will use coercion if necessary. He will not allow options; nor will he permit others do do what they think is right for themselves. Their feelings or concerns are a matter of complete indifference to him. Only his own matter.
The leftist's desire for power is direct and absolute; and this is a direct consequence of his utopian ideology.
And there is no area of your life which will escape his intrusive psychopathology, because he justifies it by saying he is really doing it for your sake.
The clever leftist always manages to hide these darker motivations--the envy, greed, and desire for power--and pretend they don't even exist--even to himself. He tells himself he does not possess such dark motives; that his motives are pure and uncontaminated by the kind of self-serving goals the selfish capitalists pursue. The banal platitudes and silly slogans he chants during his protest marches make him feel oh so good about himself--and if he is charismatic, he will make you feel good about yourself. Experiencing too much knowledge and insight about his inner state would make him extremely uncomfortable; perhaps even causing him to question some of his basic assumptions about himself or his beliefs.
This is the essence of the "dilemma of the utopians". They see themselves as so pure and righteous; so correct and virtuous; how is it possible that their beautiful utopian dreams always turn into such horrible human nightmares?
You can then count on the true leftist believer to close his eyes not only to his own internal reality, but also to the external reality that proves the uselessness of his beliefs in the real world.
Many on the left believe their agenda is driven by a piety that only they, in their heightened awareness, are capable of. Their motives are pure, they say. Disagree with them and you are evil. They are true believers, and as such, they are entitled to make decisions for others, on behalf of others and despite others. They love their fellow man, they say. They hate injustice, they say. They are true believers in the highest calling of mankind.
Well, the Nazis were true believers, too. There were communists that were true believers and they have the blood of 50 million people on their hands. The North Vietnamese killed 2-3 million after we left Vietnam. Castro and Che slaughtered hundreds of thousands between them. African communists have shed the blood of millions.
All of the aforementioned were true believers. All of them believed they were serving the best interests of mankind.
Being a 'true believer' is no mark or guarantee of moral or ethical superiority.
That applies to all 'true believers' of every political, religious or ethical stripe. When you are not open to new ideas, thoughts or challenges, you are no better than ther legions of evil 'true believers' that preceded you. This latest crop of 'true believers' are intellectual pygmies, the 'useful idiots' and apparatchiks of our time, afraid of debate and most of all, afraid of accountability.
They are the true enablers of evil. They deliberately choose blindness and deafness, so as to affirm their 'righteousness.' They see themselves as charged with a mission-- to blind and render deaf others, so that their status might be validated. Without their distortions,evil would be held to account. Instead, evil is allowed to flourish.
They are no more than the fertilizer for evil, violence and death.
The current crop of Democratic presidential candidates with all their Ivy League populism, promises wealth and happiness and justice and brotherhood. They talk about hope and change and fairness--if you do as they say (but not as they do, of course). They denounce their own wealth, even as they promise to get it for you. But what they and their brothers on the left have always delivered is an increase in poverty, a decrease in liberty; and ever more envy and entitlement.
If either one ends up getting elected, it will be no different this time around.