by Brad Nelson
One way to view our society is to see it as the political class against the rest of us. I think this lies at the bottom of the idea often heard that the Republicans and Democrats “are all the same.” To the extent that they both believe in owning the reins of government and enjoying the privileges of an elite station in life, I think they are correct. But that’s not the entire story, for there are profound differences in ideology between the parties, although I agree with Michael Savage in particular who points out that the Democrats are actually the Socialist Party and the Republicans are more like the Democrats of twenty years ago and that there is no conservative party anymore to speak of.
Factionalism is a part of life and something that the Founders, particularly James Madison, had in mind when helping to write the Constitution. Those who suppose the answer to a smooth-running society is “unity” are fooling themselves and don’t know history or the reality of human nature. You might get three people to think exactly alike and to have the same goals, but you’ll never get 300 million to do so. The only way to manufacture any kind of unity in such a society is by fear and the heavy hand of coercion.
Even so, by such heavy-handed means you’d never get true unity. What you would get would be a fake one in which those who don’t agree with the party line are silent (silenced). A lack of the voicing of disagreements does not necessarily mean ascent, which anyone who has experienced the chilling silence caused by political correctness can attest to.
The danger is not factionalism and division, per se. Madison understood that a multiplicity of factions would tend to diffuse power and be a buttress against the hegemony of any one faction. But if our society is increasingly becoming but two factions — the political class vs. “the rest of us” — then we do have a problem. Two classes do not produce the kind of diversity that Madison assumed would make for a stable and vibrant society. Various factions all competing against each other, with none ever gaining the upper hand (or never gaining it for long), is the very model for a stable, vibrant, and non-totalitarian society that he had in mind.
But a society divided into just two classes – the political class and everyone else – is not that kind of diversity of interests that Madison had in mind. And it’s a particularly dangerous division because the government class wields so much more coercive power than people in the private sector. The private sector does not make the laws and regulations. The private sector cannot tax. The private sector cannot print money.
We’re not quite there yet. We have more than two classes of people in this nation. But the point is, we’re getting there. And you see it when you see people taking sides and defending what can only honestly be called the Socialist Party (formerly the Democrats) as if they were defending freedom itself. If you want socialism, then fine. By all means stump for it. But if by defending and promoting Democrats you think you’re sticking up for the little guy, you have another thing coming. (And if by supporting Republicans you think you’re sticking up for the Constitution, you often have another thing coming as well.)
But many people have been fed so munch information that they aren’t honestly aware of this difference. The heavy Leftist bias in academia and in the media heavily contribute to this state of affairs. But another factor is what happens in any growing state-coerced Orwellian society wherein government begins to loom ever-larger over all aspects of our lives. The rats begin to desert the ship of freedom and join the growing Powers-that-Be. As one reviewer of Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom” said: “Those who will move up the ranks in a socialist society are often prepared to do anything on behalf of the state, no matter how much this opposes one’s own moral principles. Those who are amoral are thus more likely to ‘succeed’ in a socialist hierarchy.”
Increasingly, when government, because of its size and scope, becomes a major factor in a person’s prospects for moving up the economic or social latter, this will begin to squeeze and cripple the private sector — along with the values (such as freedom) that the private sector depends upon. You also get “brain drain.” Dinesh D’Souza in his book What’s So Great About America? notes the drain that has occurred in countries such as has native India. When government becomes the 800 pound gorilla that can’t be ignored, people either leave the country to seek job opportunities elswhere or those with talent who join the government as a career see that talent wasted in ineffectual government bureaucracies. Either way, you get a drain.
Put another way, when the focus of society changes from the pursuit of individual goals and self-actualization to finding meaning and opportunity through the state, life changes from being a personal pursuit of happiness (primarily attained by work, profit, and community involvement) to a life where the good life (or the best life that can be had in the society) is achieved by sucking up to the state. Instead of creative risk-takers, you get a society that instead rewards moochers and bureaucrats. Instead of truth (which any business must stay in touch with if it is to succeed), you get fanciful flights of unreality as government (which tends to pay no price for its failures) takes off on tangents of ideology.
Collectivism of any type produces a heavily stratified society (basically two classes) rather than the “equal” culture they promise. And anyone who supports big government – whether from the right or the left, Republican or Democrat – is contributing to this inherent problem. Such stratification of society is going on right now in America. Government continues to grow – state and locally – far faster than the rate of both population growth and inflation. When the state becomes the giant elephant in the living room that no one can ignore, this changes the personal calculation of one’s self-interest. It may no longer be in one’s self-interest to explore freedom and opportunity in the private sector (the “brain drain”).
In any society burdened and made poorer by collectivist policies (which will always be the case due to both the lessening of personal freedom and the far inferior economic system of collectivism), one of the last places for real opportunity and a good lifestyle is inside of Big Government. But actually working for the government is not the only way to take part in a two-class society of the political class versus everyone else. One can do this by attaching to the political class (and thus feeding it even more) by identifying as the victim class — or simply expecting evermore “free stuff” and entitlements to flow from the political class as the implicit deal for giving up one’s power.
Because of the two-class situation that large, obtrusive, and coercive governments typically generate, it is imperative that we rein in government significantly, cutting as deeply as Calvin Coolidge did in his presidency. It’s not necessarily a matter of ideology on any given subject, per se. I could gladly give in on gay marriage, quotas, activist judges – the whole smorgasbord of noxious Progressive ideas – if this didn’t lead to huge debt and the ever-growing size and reach of government (as such social liberalism usually does). At the moment, it is the size and reach of government – not necessarily whatever cockamamie ideas are being espoused – that is of the most danger. After all, noxious ideas (and the noxious results that always result from them) such as Marxism, Communism, and socialism are never of any harm if government is limited and individual freedom is alive and well. But once government becomes THE THING in society, when it becomes so large as to effect not only economic opportunity but one’s social station in life, then you’ll find plenty of rats ready to abandon freedom and ally with the Big Elephant of Government. Many decry our two-party system as stifling, but the real two-party system to fear is the government class (with its many sycophants and suck-ups) vs. the rest of us. • (650 views)