Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Guilding The Polity Part 2: Recognizing The Distribution

Yesterday's essay introduced the concept of a contemporary guild system -- i.e., a governmentally enforced distribution of "rights" among recognized groups -- as the Left's structural aim for American society. However, I deliberately left the treatment incomplete, and a good thing, too.

On Monday, the great Charles Murray wrote in the Wall Street Journal (sadly, subscriber-only) about the Right's failure to recognize a correlated distribution on the Left: "The Trouble Isn't Liberals. It's Progressives."

Social conservatives. Libertarians. Country-club conservatives. Tea party conservatives. Everybody in politics knows that those sets of people who usually vote Republican cannot be arrayed in a continuum from moderately conservative to extremely conservative. They are on different political planes. They usually have just enough in common to vote for the same candidate.

Why then do we still talk about the left in terms of a continuum from moderately liberal to extremely liberal? Divisions have been occurring on the left that mirror the divisions on the right. Different segments of the left are now on different planes....

It is that core philosophy [Progressivism] extolling the urge to mold society that still animates progressives today—a mind-set that produces the shutdown of debate and growing intolerance that we are witnessing in today's America. Such thinking on the left also is behind the rationales for indulging President Obama in his anti-Constitutional use of executive power. If you want substantiation for what I'm saying, read Jonah Goldberg's 2008 book "Liberal Fascism," an erudite and closely argued exposition of American progressivism and its subsequent effects on liberalism. The title is all too accurate.

Murray's distinction between liberals, whom he can judiciously approve, and progressives, whom he characterizes as the enemies of American ideals of freedom, is an important one. It illuminates a critical parallel to the behavior of the various segments of the Right at election time.

Despite the policy differences that divide social conservatives from libertarians, we in the Right tend to rally behind the same Republican candidate, especially in presidential elections. The general thinking is that the GOP candidate might not satisfy us in detail, but that he's "the lesser of two evils." Anyway, there's too much to lose should the Democrats gain or retain political hegemony. Similarly, liberals (in Murray's sense) will rally behind the same Democrat candidate as progressives (again in Murray's sense) under the same rationales. While that effect tends to make the Republican Party "split the differences" among the preferences of its subsectors, on the Left it causes a continuous, fierce struggle over the control of the Democrat Party, especially its mechanisms for choosing and promoting candidates for federal offices.

For the past eight years at least, the progressives have held the levers of Democrat Party power. They've striven to use their period of dominance to make themselves its permanent rulers.

The dominance of the Democrats by progressives has put the liberals in a corner. They can't bring themselves to side with the Right except on the most singular subjects. Atop that, absenting themselves from votes and public debates over progressive policy prescriptions is electorally hazardous. In consequence, these two blocs, which would appear to be separated by important differences on fundamental principles, vote together -- and as the progressives hold the whip hand, that will both advance the progressive agenda and solidify progressive control of the Democrat Party.

Contemporary American progressivism, as Murray delineates it, is militant social fascism. It's a perfect fit to Jonah Goldberg's conception of liberal fascism, marching under the flag of "social justice." Indeed, we can penetrate it further by noting its similarities to National Socialist Fascism, the key figures of which populated its hierarchy of "fuhrers."

The fuhrer personified the leader principle of National Socialism. A fuhrer of any level wielded absolute authority over all matters given to his jurisdiction. He was subject to being overruled only by fuhrers above him. Just as Hitler had ranks of "fuhrers" -- "leaders" -- inside his regime with himself at the pinnacle, in the cosmetically private sector, every industrial organization of any significant size had its betriebsfuhrer: an official approved by the Reich who exerted absolute authority over every aspect of the firm's operations. It was the National Socialist way of preserving the fiction of private enterprise.

Compare this to Obama's "czars," and to the progressives' demand for the absolute submission of any and every private organization, regardless of its purposes, to the dictates of the federal government.

The enormous foofaurauw over the Hobby Lobby decision is because the Court's defense of the private rights of the owners of a family corporation crosscuts progressive fascism. Progressives are unwilling to allow that any aspect of employer / employee relations should be exempt from federal mandates or a requirement for federal approval. The recent (2011) flap between Boeing and the Washington state machinists' union was a fine illustration of the progressive mindset. The NLRB permitted Boeing to shift aircraft construction to a site in right-to-work South Carolina only after Boeing agreed to preserve and expand union employment in Washington state.

Unions, as I mentioned yesterday, are a modern variety of guild. But let's not limit our perspectives to formally organized groups. Consider gender-war feminists, who are united mainly in sharing a hostile, aggressive attitude toward anything and everything they deem "patriarchal." In recent years that community of conviction has advanced through the law, steadily slicing away at employers' rights, men's rights generally, and longstanding conceptions of justice. It's hardly mattered that their assertions are nearly always counterfactual and foolish, for they are politically favored by the progressives who dominate the federal edifice, especially its regulatory sectors. They have the power and influence of a guild without being openly organized or recognized as such.

When viewed in that light, the Left's tumult over the Hobby Lobby decision becomes easier to comprehend. It's a step backward for the progressives' drive to eliminate the individual as the possessor of rights, and to replace him with guild-like groups whose "rights" are parceled out and protected by the State. Sandra Fluke and her ilk have never had a problem obtaining or affording contraception. Cost-free provision of contraception is merely the next hill their campaign has determined to secure, on the way to establishing "women" as a "stakeholder group" with specific "rights" it can exercise at the expense of non-members.

The ultimate beneficiary of this creation of de facto guilds is, of course, the State -- and America's progressives are determined to remain its masters.

More anon.


T. Paine said...

It has been abundantly clear for many years that the liberals/progressives in our country are sowing the seeds of their own demise. Many of us on the 'leave me, my family, my country and my God given rights alone!' conservative right not only have the means to resist, but the will as well. I imagine when the hots fly, the libs will cower in fear in their urine soaked panties.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a mistake to think that those of the progressive philosophy only control the Democrat party. The progressive movement of the early 20th century had a home in the Republican party (think Teddy Roosevelt and Bull Moose) and it never left. Progressive Republicans would be an adequate description of most of the 'establishment' Republicans like McCain or Arlen Spector. Or even Bush Senior, there is a reason he couldn't describe himself as just a conservative, but a 'compassionate' conservative...he was and is a statist progressive Republican who thought true conservatives were heartless rather than right. The establishment/progressive Republicans are like taking the local train to hell instead of the Democrat Progressive express. The destination is the same, it is only the speed which varies.

Daedalus Mugged

Anonymous said...

The correct terminology, which I have been proposing for years, is crony fascism.