R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. - founder of The American Spectator, noted political essayist, and a long-time deathbed observer of American leftism - has penned a slender volume entitled The Death of Liberalism.
“Surely,” you say, “such a pronouncement is premature. Just look at the committed left-wing partisan who resides in the White House, surrounded by his zealous Mamluks! Look at the U.S. Senate, controlled by the Democratic Party under the leadership of the Undead Harry Reid! Listen to the president’s worshipful chorus of media sycophants!”
All true. But Tyrrell, although an inveterate optimist, is no fool. He realizes that Liberalism is still a potent political force; however, it is no longer a movement with a coherent philosophy, a worldview informed by plausible ideas. It is now nothing more than a loose federation of tribal interest groups whose only goal is the acquisition of money and power, an ever-grasping lunge for the main chance, a strategy of smash and grab. The death to which Tyrrell refers is the extinction of Liberalism’s intellectual pretensions, the complete atrophy of progressive ideas, the meaninglessness of progressive slogans in the face of the relentless, and merciless, operations of human nature and natural law. So, while Liberalism yet possesses the power to do harm, it is rather like the automobile of Secretary of Commerce Bryson, careening madly through the streets, its driver unconscious of speed, direction and even ultimate destination. A crackup is inevitable.
Couched in breezy and occasionally Menckenesque prose, Tyrrell's book tracks Liberalism’s gaudy genealogy back to Rousseau and Marx, and evaluates the evolution of the philosophy through generations of increasingly intellectually-challenged adherents, where it now promises to expire entirely in the incompetent hands of prodigal heirs. Along the way, the author provides us with dozens of amusing vignettes – for example:
Yet through it all [Edward Kennedy] had a habit of going off on sprees with Liberal colleagues like Christopher Dodd. One of their favorite Washington haunts was La Colline, where they would get thoroughly plastered, break crockery, and tear down pictures of their senatorial colleagues from the walls. Another was La Brasserie, where they would occasionally rough up a woman, and Teddy might be caught girl-hopping with his pants off. Occasionally he would journey afar. For instance, the FBI reports that a year before joining the Senate, Teddy attempted to rent out an entire whorehouse in Chile. Closer to home, he would journey to the wilds of Palm Beach with his nephews and son for nocturnal outings. During one famed jaunt, he paraded around, again with his pants off, while nephew William took a woman down to the beach and engaged in sex that she characterized as rape…”Liberal lion, indeed!
Tyrrell sees Liberalism rapidly devolving into “Friendly Fascism”.
The real specter of Friendly Fascism was adumbrated in the crony capitalism that we saw in the first three years of our Stealth socialist, Barack Obama, with ever-larger sectors of the economy coming under government control. Socialism and fascism are not that different. Both disregard property rights, and both rule through bureaucracy. Though fascists tend to wear uniforms, some of which are very smart, socialists have greater direct control of their bureaucracies. If one thinks that a socialist cannot become a fascist, I would suggest following the late Benito Mussolini back to his origins as a lowly socialist schoolteacher; whereupon, as time passed, il Duce became a dictator. The blueprint for the future of the American left, if it can ever resurrect, is fascism with a friendly face.Against the enervated, staggering ideology of Liberalism, Tyrrell suggests, stands the solid, common sense, time-tested values of the Constitution, a bright banner around which the citizenry will flock in expanding numbers as Liberalism either finally collapses, or wanders off in search of designer jackboots. Tyrrell is betting on the American people; I’ve no reservations in taking a flutter on them myself.