Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson: Obama’s Gotta Go
Harvard Professor Niall Ferguson has penned a scathing piece in Newsweek arguing that Obama’s “gotta go.” It won’t be easy for the mainstream press to dismiss Ferguson’s op-ed like they would most others because the messenger happens to be an accomplished historian and can frame America’s decline under Obama in world historical terms.
By now, everyone has heard of historian Niall Ferguson’s “Six Killer Apps.” In this presentation, the Harvard professor explains how The West was able to conquer its enemies and ascend to world power. If you haven’t had a chance to view Ferguson’s presentation, do yourself a favor and give it a watch.
It is important for people to note how directly contrary to the historically successful cultural strategies the agenda of Barack Obama and the Democrats runs.
What I propose is that the American left, and by extension its political vehicle the Democrat Party, intentionally embrace the antitheses of what made Western Civilization great, plus two more blights thrown in for good measure: eight killer “Non-Apps,” or “Naps” for short. (Republicans may be guilty of these things to the extent they agree with the left.)
Below is a quick-and-dirty breakdown and a smidgeon of commentary:
1. Competition: a decentralization of political and economic life, which created the launch pad for both nation states and capitalism.
The Democrat Party has built its reputation on the argument that the market is too mean, and if it were not for government we’d all be slaving away in a coal mine somewhere. On the contrary, it is government, the monopoly of legal coercion, that forces people to labor for subsistence compensation in nations around the world.
From bailouts for too-big-to-fail banks and corporations to green subsidies for shady businesses, the Democrats eschew market accountability any chance they get. Dispensing grants to “non-profits” for everything under the sun, paying hefty wages and pensions to government workers, and pampering unions around the nation, the Democrat Party is the sugar daddy of non-competitive wages and unaccountable labor. In summary, the Democrats’ goal is to centralize complete power and they have no problem using taxpayer money as a political slush fund to do so.
2. Scientific Method: A way of understanding and ultimately changing the natural world, which gave the West (among other things) a major military advantage over the Rest.
Nothing has shown more poignantly that the Democrat Party is completely cynical about abusing science for political gain than so-called “green energy.” From its applause of ethanol subsidies, leading to escalating food prices around the globe, to its attempts to get more than $72 trillion out of a global carbon tax, the left has shown little reverence for science as a method of inquiry. The left has politicized science and everything else it touches, just like Frankfurt School doyen Theodore Adorno advised the New Left to do in the early 1980s.
3. Property Rights: the rule of law as a means of protecting private owners and peacefully resolving disputes between them, which formed the basis for the most stable form of representative government.
If there is anything the Democrat Party is opposed to it is private property rights. In perfect accordance with the socialist goal of eliminating all notion of private property, the Democrat-led government has eroded all vestige of the legal concept et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium (a man’s home is his refuge). Zoning laws, eminent domain, environmental regulations, safety regulations, ordinances, taxes, fees, licensing…the constrictions on private property and free exchange of goods in our society are virtually endless.
4. Modern Medicine: a branch of science that allowed a major improvement in health and life expectancy, beginning in Western societies, but also in their colonies.
One of the more frustrating aspects of living in contemporary America is enduring the endless deluge of hodge-podge “homeopathic,” or “New Age” remedies for everything from the common cold to terminal cancer. Needless to say, we might as well bring back witchcraft to cure us of our maladies, as prep-work for dealing with the joys of socialized medicine. One can imagine the folksy alternatives that will appear if Obamacare gets fully implemented, such as if one is slated for an operation in nine months and only has six to live. But to wit, the trend in medicine is towards the primitive and away from the modern. The organic food movement, for its part, virtually sprouted up from out of nowhere, and it is one of the delicious ironies that the use of organic fertilizer spread diseases like e Coli. On the other hand, the banning of the pesticide DDT caused millions of deaths from Malaria. There is certainly an anti-scientific, anti-rational tendency in left-wing thought, and it continues to permeate Western culture. (Or what’s left of it). And incidentally, our scientists haven’t effectively cured a major disease since Polio.
5. Consumer Society: a mode of material living in which the production and purchase of clothing and other consumer goods play a central economic role, and without which the Industrial Revolution would have been unsustainable.
Few things draw the ire of the modern left than the “materialism” of Western society, a faddish disposition begun by economist John Kenneth Galbraith. But what, pray tell, is a non-materialist economy? The employment of resources to fulfill the demands of the many, fueled by mass production, has led to a dramatic increase in the standard of living in the West. But not to hear the left tell it. Somebody, somewhere, has to be getting exploited. If buying something one wants with money one earns becomes at the minimum a “victimless crime,” then the Democrat Party could easily be put out of business. There would be no need for the left’s hand in the economy, inevitably shoveling money back to itself. And of course, the innumerable regulations mentioned above, to protect us from every conceivable incident rather than allow the law to deter and punish crimes, provides further avenues for manipulation.
6. Work Ethic: a moral framework and mode of activity derivable from (among other sources) Protestant Christianity, which provides the glue for the dynamic and potentially unstable society created by apps 1 to 5.
When the Democrat Party subsidizes failure and rewards idleness, it undercuts the productive dynamism that propels the economy and allows the rising tide to lift all boats. Rather than providing a safety net, it has tied up a hammock; as fellow blogger cosmoscon pointed out, “over 90% of all tax revenues go to pay Social Security, Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid and Unemployment Insurance. … And yes, Social Security is an entitlement program.” That’s before the interest on the debt is paid. America is taking a nap.
7. Constitutionally limited government: A novel form of government deriving from the Enlightenment principles of individual sovereignty and representative decision-making.
The dark days of Absolutism led to a revolt against arbitrary and unjust rule. Scholars such as Locke and Montesquieu devised political arrangements that would institutionally limit government power and unleash human genius and activity through ordered liberty. As the barriers to democratic government that were instituted in The Constitution have been weathered away, the country has become increasingly unstable. The 17th amendment, undoing the authorization for state legislatures to elect Senators, led to direct elections for Senators and a more popularly influenced Congress. The lobbying of interest groups, such as public sector unions, has led to an all-out scramble for the power of the purse. Bills that previously would be considered unconstitutional are being passed or even reconciled in the nominal interest of “democracy.” But our founders specifically designed our government to resist the caprices of democracy, which has proven to be unstable and conducive to the rise of demagogic tyrants.
8. Cultural confidence: When members in a society believe in their way of life, seek to pass it onto their children, and would like to see it promulgated throughout the world.
The left’s counterpoint to cultural confidence is “multi-culturalism,” or the ideal that other cultures around the world hold equal value with one’s own culture. Such a point of view is peculiar to Western Civilization and is indisputably contrived, or in other words, is not “organic.” One of the greatest ironies of the modern left is the notion that other cultures are equal to Western culture, regardless of the content of those cultures or how people live within them. Multi-culturalism is therefore a leveler of the Western-belief system and a facilitator of cultural-political erosion.
Sources of cultural confidence include the Christian religion, which the left is obviously hostile to, and has led the hard left to ally with political Islam. Many societies throughout history have not been directly conquered but rather culturally weakened and absorbed. Both the central European Avar Kingdom and the Jewish Khazar Empire were culturally absorbed by the Slavs (or “slaves” to read one etymology) and disappeared, for two European examples. A culture that doesn’t display any confidence is one that no one can believe in. A culture that no one believes in is one that nobody will stand up for. Such cultures cannot survive, let alone prosper.
Those who are fairly well-read can easily grasp that the American left is doing the virtual opposite of what has been shown to be successful throughout history. Whether one thinks that it is just a coincidence, or that the left has codified its policies with the express aim of “deconstructing” Western Civilization, while reconstructing it through the culture, is up to the reader. But let there be no doubt that the left’s positions are not historically considered to be successful, and the Democrat Party’s record is too strewn with failure for the sane, self-interested person to be impervious to recognizing.