Saturday, October 27, 2018

A New Rationale Every Day

     “Give up your freedom!” the Left shrieks. “Let the State make all your decisions for you!” It’s lunacy, of course. Lunacy with an ever-changing rationale, to be sure. But the prescription is always the same: eliminate capitalism in favor of larger and more powerful government. Here’s an article that lays it out plainly:

     Enter Dr. Jason Hickel of the London School of Economics, a man on a crusade to end "the tyranny of GDP."

     In an interview for BBC's Newsnight show on Thursday, Hickel called for "degrowth." Ignoring energy innovation in fracking, nuclear power, renewables, and battery-based power systems, Hickel claimed that Earth is running out of resources. Rich nations are apparently to blame because we "use three times our fair share of bio-capacity."

     Hickel then claims that degrowth is not the same as "austerity" (reduced government spending). Instead, he says, "the goal is to increase human well-being and happiness while reducing our economic footprint."

     That’s only 106 words. (About “0.1 pictures.”) But what a picture it paints! It helps, of course, if the reader can see the implications of a program of “degrowth.”

     Let’s start with this one: How does it come about? For individuals, following their natural desires to be better (not worse) off, will naturally strive to produce more (not less). So the only route toward “degrowth” is coercion: the heavy hand of an Omnipotent State.

     The rationale is the currently fashionable one about “running out of resources.” It’s never been plainer that this is false. The prices of natural resources of every sort have been falling. We’re better at natural resource exploitation, conservation, and recapture than ever before in history. Scarcity is measured better by price than by any other metric.

     Hickel’s nonsense about increasing “human well-being and happiness” is merely camouflage. There’s no causal connection between making people poorer and increasing their well-being. The reverse is quite plainly true: making people poorer results in a decline in their well-being. If you don’t believe me, ask the Venezuelans.

     What else did this obvious government-worshipper have to say about his program?

  • "Cut excess consumption by curbing advertising and taxing carbon."
  • "Introducing a basic income and a shorter working week would allow us to get rid of unnecessary jobs."
  • "Industrialized countries will have no choice but to downscale their economic activity by 4-6 percent per year. And poor countries are going to have to follow suit after 2025, downscaling by about 3 percent per year."

     The question such ultra-statists never face is quite simple: “What if you’re wrong? What then?” Whether that’s because they’ve made it a precondition that no such question be asked of them or because their interviewers are pusillanimous poltroons, it’s never raised. Coercive utopians have never been able to face it. They can’t be wrong; it’s an article of faith.

     But this is nothing new.

     Consider this snippet from For A New Liberty, by the late Dr. Murray Rothbard:

     Left-liberal intellectuals are often a wondrous group to behold. In the last three or four decades [Dr. Rothbard published this in 1973], not a very long time in human history, they have, like whirling dervishes, let loose a series of angry complaints against free market capitalism. The curious thing is that each of these complaints has been contradictory to one or more of their predecessors. But contradictory complaints by liberal intellectuals do not seem to faze them or serve to abate their petulance—even though it is often the very same intellectuals who are reversing themselves so rapidly. And these reversals seem to make no dent whatever in their self-righteousness or in the self-confidence of their position.

     Dr. Rothbard goes on to catalogue seven successive Leftist demands for greatly increased government power over the American economy: each with its own specious rationale, wholly disconnected from the rationale that preceded it:

  1. Secular stagnation in the late 1930s and 1940s;
  2. Insufficient economic growth in the early 1950s;
  3. Excessive affluence in 1958 (cf. Galbraith’s The Affluent Society);
  4. Increasing poverty in the early 1960s; (cf. Harrington’s The Other America);
  5. The “automation crisis” in the mid 1960s;
  6. Pollution in the later 1960s;
  7. Exhaustion of resources in the 1970s and beyond.

     The malady changes, but the remedy remains the same: Capitalism and private property must be abolished. Quoth Joseph Schumpeter:

     Capitalism stands its trial before judges who have the sentence of death in their pockets. They are going to pass it, whatever the defense they may hear; the only success victorious defense can possibly produce is a change in the indictment.

     Considering that capitalism – the system of free people producing and trading in a free market – is the only economic scheme that’s done anything to improve human well-being and happiness, we must ask: Why is the Left so implacably hostile to it?

     This is not a new subject for me. I’ve ranted about it on occasions beyond counting. What brings it to mind afresh is not some recent change in the Left’s arguments against capitalism. The arguments enumerated above seem to have exhausted their ingenuity. Rather, it’s about the Left’s recent descent to violence.

     When a miscreant is determined to have his way, but he’s become convinced that he can’t get it by peaceful means – i.e., reason, evidence, victories at the ballot box – he’ll recur to seedier methods. He’ll usually start with deceit. If deceit proves insufficient, he’ll try fraud next. But if he can neither lie nor cheat his way to his goal, he’ll consider violence.

     Violence as a political tactic works when it’s not vigorously opposed. I’m not talking about what we might call “normal violence,” the sort the police and justice system exist to deter. I’m talking about large mobs of violent thugs, sufficiently numerous to overwhelm normal police forces.

     The Left’s embrace of AntiFa makes it plain that the critical battle for the soul of these United States is at hand. They’ve failed to persuade a majority of Americans that their nostrums are right for us. They’ve cheated their way to several Congressional and Senatorial seats, but haven’t managed to achieve a majority that way either. Other fraudulent tactics have proved no more useful to them. Violence is their sole remaining weapon.

     A political movement that chooses violence has “crossed the Rubicon.” If it doesn’t win, it will be exterminated. The Left’s strategists know this. Therefore, knowing that to lose is to lose everything, they will go “all in.”

     A rational man must ask why. What makes the risk seem worthwhile to them? Considering that the majority of Americans are happy with capitalism and don’t want to see it replaced by a socialist system, the Left’s masters must know that the odds are against them. Why not accept being the “loyal opposition” for a generation or two, and live to press its case some other day?

     The only plausible explanation is hatred. But it’s not quite plausible enough.

     Hatred attains its greatest intensity when it’s conceptualized in personal terms. That is, the hater must conceive of his target as a conscious entity that is doing him harm, or seeking to do so. It’s far easier to inflame oneself with hatred of Smith than with hatred of an abstraction such as capitalism. So how did we get here? How did we reach a point at which large masses of people – mostly young people – are willing to risk unlimited harm to themselves for the chance to suppress the views and associations of peaceable strangers?

     Perhaps if we knew the answer, we might find an antidote. But answers are lacking at the moment. All we have is video clips of thugs smashing windows, setting fires, and attacking peaceable conservatives and Republicans. We infer their hatred without being able to explain it – and owing to the many flip-flops their pseudo-intellectuals have committed, none of their rationales will hold water.

     It might be a consequence of the numbers involved. When millions of people are engaged in discourse over a political or economic subject, some will be more passionate than others. Perhaps the numbers are large enough to provide for a few thousand conscienceless, utterly violent souls willing to do harm to others in the name of their passion.

     But their absolute, unreasoning antipathy to capitalism still requires an explanation, and I don’t have one.



P hall said...

Socialism doesn't tell you that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

LiberTarHeel said...

My initial thought is that true capitalism offers the least opportunity for control by those who desire it the most. A free market is self-regulating. One does not need any form of "government" intervention. The Puritans of the oligarchy cannot accept the notion of a populace ruled only by their religious laws and the laws of nature. They insist on removing all traces of "impurity" from their inferior subjects -- impurity being defined as anything that they cannot control and do not like. This impurity is shapeless and malleable, according to the current "beliefs" of the controllers.

McChuck said...

Leftism is a religion. Capitalism is their Hell. America is their Satan.

Warmongerel said...

Perhaps this is a bit late, but I think that it's very easy to explain the attitude of the Left: Just look at them.

Those on the Left are the misfits, the dorks, the geeks, the nerds, the bullied kids that we all went to school with. Look at most Leftists and regress them in your mind to their school days and you'll see what I mean.

Most Psychologists/Psychiatrists will tell you that a lot of kids who were badly traumatized will stop their emotional growth at that point and never grow beyond it.

The childhood of most Leftists was such a living Hell of bullying and ostracism that they are stuck in their childhoods forever.

It's why they are all so full of rage and hatred - especially at the "normal" people whom they equate with the normal kids who "oppressed" them as children.

"The only plausible explanation is hatred. But it’s not quite plausible enough".

You are looking for logic in their actions through the lens of an adult. Try looking at their actions through the lens of a damaged, rage-filled child and everything that they do makes perfect sense.

Try it for awhile. Once you start seeing it, it is amazingly obvious.