Monday, February 9, 2009
Droit de Seigneur
In pushing the $1,000,000,000,000 stimulus bill, Obama and the Democrats are arguing for the right to ravish our cash flow before we’ve had the enjoyment of it ourselves. Aside from the inestimable harm that the bill will do to the economy, there is the far greater tragedy that the bill, and the intellectual arguments that are being set forth to defend it, are laying the foundation for a genuinely socialist economy. Just imagine; twenty years ago socialism – and its ugly brother, communism - was on the run, not only intellectually but in practice, as leftist police states fell, one after the other, and even the “soft” socialism of western Europe began to show signs of giving way to the superior logic of Reaganomics. Now, we seem to be making a retrograde lurch back to the 1930’s, a decade when competing statist “isms” led to the Nazi death camps, the Soviet gulags and a world war (and, let’s not forget, to the worst economic depression in American history).
A man may learn the lessons of history, but Man seems destined not to. In 1992 Francis Fukuyama wrote what, in retrospect, seems to have been a fatuously optimistic essay called The End of History, which held that the fall of communism represented the final and permanent victory of western liberal democracy. Quite to the contrary, it strikes me that liberal democracy is a fragile thing that will always be under pressure from the enemies of personal freedom, and will always require a vigilant defense – even in the country where it has reached its highest level of development. I fear that we Americans may not yet have done with revolution, although I pray that the next one will take place only on the intellectual battlefield.