In the aftermath of 6 November, there are so many things to talk about that it’s hard to scope them down and present them all together. So I’m not going to try to do that, but rather talk about ideas one or two at a time.
The idea for today is what I consider the most basic, which is that the political side that won the election can’t win the future. It has no organized idea of hope or a future. It is not a way for men to live.
Humans are creatures of both reasonable, structured hope and marvelous, ingenious aspiration. Take away the latter, and the former languishes, ceasing to produce and satisfy. If we hadn’t decided to forget all history prior to, say, the inauguration of George W. Bush, we would remember that the constraining of human hopes by communism yields exactly the result I have outlined. Where people are still benighted by communism – Cuba, North Korea – they are still miserable and poor, living lives of discouragement and perpetual alarm. There is nothing good to hope for in a dictated life. Only ruthless political operatives become “wealthy” under these conditions, which they do by robbing their people and gaming foreign governments. The ordinary people themselves are told what will represent an appropriate subsistence for them, and they will actually have less than that.
Ronald Reagan knew the most profound thing there was to know about communism: that it had to lose, because it would never satisfy the people or win their hearts. Collectivism is negative, hateful, and destructive. It runs through “other people’s money” almost immediately, and then there is nothing left but your neighbor’s overcoat and his extra potato. Collectivist ideologies are entirely about requiting one’s anger and resentment toward the past. They offer nothing for the future.
Human beings are not made to live on the hope of vengeance and the next hand-out. Trying to arrange society in this way simply destroys us, one by one. It doesn’t satisfy us. Manifestly, as 50 years of welfarism demonstrate, it makes us more angry, more resentful, and more willing to see destruction visited on others. Living as collectivists would have us do makes us hate other people more. It gouges our consciences, leaving them weak and elusive. It deflates our spirits and deforms our ability to communicate with each other: we truly do begin seeing each other only as political composites, in a way people manage to avoid in a free society.
Collectivism – which in practice has always been about going after other people’s money; it’s not and has never been about any lofty goals – looks very organized and intimidating. There were many Americans whose hearts sank at the advance of predatory international communism around the globe during the Cold War. Many, even on the right, concluded that communism, for all its evil, would probably rule the future.
Collectivism has noise and fury on its side; too often it gets the armament of state power on its side as well. But it cannot win in the end, because it is the antithesis of people having hope and a future. Its purpose is to tear down what is, and keep as many people as possible enslaved to hopelessness. It has no room for independent ingenuity, the wonder of personality, or hope and the building of a life outside of the political collective. Its sole political purposes are to punish – punish anyone, punish whatever, punish on principle – and to enrich and consolidate the power of the rulers.
Collectivism cannot produce any other result. Humans are incapable of standing virtuously to each other in the ruler-ruled relationship inherent in collectivism. If you believe in God, as I do, then you understand that He has that role (or one similar to it; God is not a collectivist). If you do not, then your choices are (a) to assume that humans can’t fill the role without succumbing to corruption and vice – or (b) to insist that we can. But if you insist on the latter, you are bucking the unrelieved evidence of history.
The other thing Reagan knew about communism is that it is weak at its core. Anger, hatred, envy, deceit, soulless ruthlessness: these things do not arise from strength and do not bolster it. When communists sought to keep the record of their real actions from being made public, Reagan recognized weakness in that. He saw weakness in their refusal to engage with the truth; instead, they dealt, by policy, in lies. When the United States stood firm against their gambits, they backed down. Oh, they shrieked and hopped like thwarted delinquents, spitting out strings of accusatory lies – but they backed down.
I am not sure what form of organization it will take to defeat the collectivist juggernaut now seeking to embed itself in America. The Cold War seemed politically complicated compared to World War II, with the latter’s cartoon-caricature villains who were so easy to spot a mile away. But breaking the back of Soviet Communism turned out to be a relatively simple matter among nation-states. It didn’t look simple at the time, of course, but we ended up achieving it doing what Americans know how to do: elect presidents and talk about freedom.
This time, the players and dynamics are different. The problem is within our society. I made the point several times during the campaign that we couldn’t “fix” what’s wrong with us by electing Mitt Romney, but only give ourselves time for introspection and planning. We can’t elect our way out of the problem we’re in.
But we can rejoice – and I mean rejoice – that the side that won the 2012 election is the weaker side, because it offers no hope, no future, no prospect of the freedom to build and plan as humans are predisposed to: for the joy of hard work rewarded, for our families, for our communities, for prosperity, for posterity.
Lies are eventually exposed, and collectivism is a great lie that has been exposed over and over again. The lie cannot win. An angry obsession with the resentments of the past – which is what motivates Obama’s circle; you’d think none of them had gone outdoors since 1968 – cannot win.
The truth, on the other hand, will win. I think we will have to speak the truth and challenge the lies in the coming days. If Reagan taught us anything, it is that people – individuals – must stand up and say that the good things are going to triumph, and call out what’s wrong with the bad things, if the triumph is to happen.
Ultimately, I think evil wins only if we stand by and let it. It is not the strong horse. Evil is the weak horse. But everything comes down to us: are we quailing before evil, fearing its display of power, or are we seeing it for what it is? Do we believe truth, liberty, individual effort, and tolerance have power? Or do we only believe that they are nice-to-have furnishings that anyone with a bumper sticker can take away from us?
If enough of us can get our minds around this conundrum, I suspect we will find that the difficulty of changing America’s course will not be what our fears tell us it is. That doesn’t mean we won’t have to make fundamental changes in how our no-longer-liberal governments operate, or that there won’t be opposition. But ultimately, I believe that the side of liberty is the strong side. The main thing that will hold us back is not believing that.
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