Superficiality is a necessary part of liberal-progressive-socialism. Without bothering to determine how deep the water or how many boulders lie just below its surface, liberal-progressives are ready to leap head first off the cliff into any pool that looks nice on the surface, from afar.
A typical example of such superficiality is described in Are the Uninsured Getting a Free Ride?
Liberal-progressive obsession with "taxing the rich" is another example of superficiality, or more often today, mendacious political posturing. Democrat-Socialists tell us that we can cover government's gigantic spending deficits simply by repealing Bush-era tax cuts. The fact is, of course, that taxing 100% of income from "the rich" would cover only a small fraction of present and mandated future deficit spending.
The true conservative view is that economic efficiency requires slow, incremental experimentation by millions of individuals over long enough time periods to conserve useful aspects and to detect and correct flaws before great damage is done.
None of that is part of the educational matrix that shaped President Obama's view of the world. His paradigm is shaped by the philosophical and secular religious views spawned in 1789 French Revolutionary socialism, nurtured in Hegelianism and Marxism of the German Empire universities, and imported thence to America's elite universities in the late 1800s. The finishing touches were applied by the revolutionary agenda of student anarchists of the 1960s and 70s, people like Obama's friends and advisors Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.
Careful, incremental improvement was not part of Obama's "change we can believe in." The implicit end point of his New New Deal was displacing the existing Constitutional and Judeo-Christian religious ethos with an all embracing secular collectivism under Big Brother. Nancy Pelosi's legislative bulldozing to impose Obamacare over majority revulsion is consistent with that end point.
Obama's administration accordingly has been heavily populated with ivory-tower, liberal-progressive theorists. These are not people who gained their positions by demonstrating executive competence in the real world outside academia.
Liberal-progressives' secular religious faith tells them that governmental and economic systems worked out over the ages, in particular free-market capitalism, are corrupt and must be replaced entirely. It's the grand schemes - man-made-global warming, Obamacare, or redistribution of wealth to transform human nature and perfect society - that appeal to them. Invincible confidence in the righteousness of their aims and power of their intellects leads them to disdain cautions and objections from the common man. The Tea Party phenomenon must, therefore, be nothing but a front for malevolent capitalists intent upon gaining monopoly control of the economy.
One of the best statements of this understanding is Bill Greene's Common Genius: Guts, Grit and Common Sense: How Ordinary People Create Prosperous Societies and How Intellectuals Make Them Collapse.
Depriving individuals of their Bill-of-Rights political and economic liberties to achieve their grand schemes is inconsequential in the liberal-progressive view, because the original Constitution is presumed to have evolved in the synthesis fashioned through the Hegelian-Marxian clash of thesis and antithesis (which, of course, only they understand).
This combination of presumption and superficiality was prominently displayed during the Democrat-Socialist Party's ram-rodding Obamacare through Congress. Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrat-Socialists were unconcerned that hardly anyone had even read the entire bundle of Obamacare legislation, and that no one could foresee all of its destructive effects. When asked whether certain aspects of Obamacare are unconstitutional, Mrs. Pelosi said, in effect, that there are no limits on government power; the Federal government (provided that it is in the hands of liberal-progressives) can do whatever it deems desirable.
Such arrogance arises from the spread of Godless socialism that infected our nation after the Civil War. To a degree that is hard for people today to envision, socialism and liberal-progressivism, its American variant, were fashionable ideas between the 1890s and the 1920s. By 1912, socialism had become a favorite topic of magazine editorials, church sermons, college lectures, and academic theses. Socialist propaganda was pouring forth in magazines, novels, and dramas.
Herbert Croly, the founding editor of The New Republic, the most influential liberal-progressive publication in the first half of the 20th century, was an advisor to President Woodrow Wilson, himself an ardent liberal-progressive. Croly's classic statement of American liberal-progressivism (The Promise of American Life, 1909) illuminates an essential quality of liberal-progressive-socialism: its faith in the efficiency of experts and technicians, coupled with its disdain for the average person down where the rubber meets the road. Above all, liberal-progressives abhor businessmen, a class synonymous in their view with greed and criminality.
The Eastern liberal establishment, Republicans and Democrats alike, were schooled in this attitude by Ivy League universities. Most of the best known late-19th-century and 20th-century writers and thinkers who influenced the understandings of college and university students considered themselves to be socialists or anarchists, and in a few cases communists. Edward Bellamy's novel Looking Backward, published in 1888, sold over a million copies; it described a paradisiacal socialist society of the future that had eliminated wars, crime, poverty, and all manner of human social ills.
In addition to John Dewey and Theodore Dreiser, there were playwrights George Bernard Shaw (a leader of the British socialist party) and Eugene O'Neil, as well as the young Walter Lippmann (fresh from the presidency of Harvard's student socialist club). Others extolling socialism and damning American society included Carl Sandburg, John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, Frank Harris, William Dean Howells, Jack London and Upton Sinclair. Journalists Henry Demarest Lloyd, Ambrose Bierce, Robert Herrick, Frank Norris, Charles Edward Russell, Allan Benson, and David Graham Phillips kept the promises of socialism in the public eye.
In 1906, Upton Sinclair and Jack London founded the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. Journalist John Reed, a staff writer for Max Eastman's The Masses, wrote Ten Days That Shook the World, the 1919 account of the Bolshevik revolution that made him an official hero of the Soviet Union. In recent years Reed was made the subject of the sympathetic Hollywood movie Reds.
Economist Thorstein Veblen savaged the capitalist system in his 1899 Theory of the Leisure Class. In 1913, Charles A. Beard's An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States endeavored to prove that the Constitution was no more than a conspiracy by wealthy property owners to exploit the workers. Historians like Vernon L. Parrington in his Main Currents in American Thought ignored the property rights concerns of colonists that led to the 1776 War of Independence, instead declaring that the essence of American history was its conversion to French-style socialism at the expense of inalienable natural-law rights to private property.
Despite the consistent failures and frequent horrific savagery of socialism around the world, superficiality enables liberal-progressives to remain confident that they alone can divine the future course of history, inculcated by our educational system. They are determined to follow Democrat-Socialist Party leaders toward the cliff, focusing upon far away dream clouds, ignoring the destruction just ahead of them.
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776
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