DAVID SWINDLE: On 9/11 and Benghazi’s Anniversary, We End Conservative Pessimism and Right-Wing Apocalypticism
The world may look bleak as we mourn those we’ve lost, but America’s greatest days lie ahead and James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus’s America 3.0 provides the blueprint for getting there.
For season 2 of the 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen each afternoon I juxtapose book excerpts with a collection of PJ Media’s headlines and links to the 10 most interesting stories I find each morning from other sites around the web. The goal is to make fresh connections between the events of the day and the bigger picture of humanity’s place in the universe. This series’ current focus also begins each day through highlighting the contributions of an important writer.
My original plan for today’s 9/11 reflection had been to write something very mean about Barack Obama and the Shadow President who actually makes his decisions, Valerie Jarrett.
I was angry at the president over Syria and particularly the way he had knocked off the radar his other scandals: the IRS targeting of his political opponents, his NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance of all internet traffic, the myriad of corruptions in Eric Holder’s racialist Justice Department, and, finally, what I still believe and pray will someday emerge in full clarity for all Americans as what it is, Obama’s Worse-Than-Watergate for which he should be impeached. His abandonment of four American heroes to die as they called for help, the still mysterious circumstances of just why Ambassador Chris Stevens was there on the anniversary of 9/11, and then the administration’s denial of a terrorist attack, asserting against all evidence that the attack was the result of “spontaneous uprisings” provoked by a YouTube video whose filmmaker was promptly arrested. (Think any Muslim in the Middle East has any idea he technically sat in jail for a parole violation, instead of for blaspheming the Prophet?)
But enough of all that. Or it’s “goodbye to all that” that’s the cliché of choice for previous generations, right?
Throughout Obama’s presidency I’ve called him just about every name in the book short of the Birthers’ “Kenyan.” But what’s the point any more? There’s no longer an election to win. There is no one left to try to convince of Obama’s stealth-socialist, Alinskyite strategy for “fundamentally transforming America.” Now all that’s necessary is to stand back and quietly mutter “I told you so” as our Democrat, progressive, and leftist friends watch in horror as Obama’s agenda collapses across the board. What will be left to brag about at the end of eight years? A healthcare law that doesn’t work and that Obama himself has delayed implementing?
The Syria speech last night crystallized the confusion of the era. President Jarrett has no idea what she’s doing—and neither does Obama. No matter how malevolent their goals, regardless of postmodern indoctrination distorting their sense of right and wrong, very real limits exist to limit how much damage they can actually inflict. I arrive at this conclusion for two reasons, one that is becoming more apparent even to Democrats, and another that is more hidden, particularly to those like me whose public school and undergraduate history education was so inadequate.
- Obama and Jarrett are not geniuses. They are corrupt Chicago machine politicians, schooled in Saul Alinsky’s Al Capone-inspired methods, once allied with low-level crooks like Tony Rezko and still utilizing the intimidation tactics of New Black Panther Party and Al Sharpton-style agitators. All they know and can do is intimidate their opponents and deceive their way into power. (Obama really had no idea that his mentor of 20 years was a conspiracist antisemite?) But once having seized power, even if the goal is to “fundamentally transform America,” that task remains an Everest peak. Why:
- As I’ve ideologically shifted from the postmodern-progressive-nihilism of my college-educated early 20s, I’ve begun my own education into both American and global history. I strive to read on everything from ancient Egypt and the Jews, through Rome and Greece, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Enlightenment classical liberal revolution, and then the Big Narrative of the rise of America into the most dominant power and culture on the globe. Paul Johnson’s histories in particular have become my literary cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin rolled into one. Read them to inspire excitement at the possibilities of the West’s rise, a joy at the growth of culture, and finally a relaxing contentment inspired by Johnson’s elegant prose.
The tendencies of even many patriots to embrace pessimism and nihilism, proclaiming the impending collapse of America, are refuted through both an understanding of world history broadly and our American history specifically. In my research I have further come to more conclusions:
- The cultural degradation that has occurred over the last decades is nothing new. Counter-enlightenment, Romantic, feelings-based ideologies like those of President Jarrett and her Obama mask have arisen before. And they have managed to take control of political parties and the presidency. (See Michael Walsh’s Encounter Broadside making the case that historically the Democratic Party is better understood as a criminal organization.) Many of America’s presidents can reasonably be described as amoral men who did more harm than good. We survived.
- Our Constitution and the government were built by the brightest lights of the Enlightenment. As stated, but in need of emphasizing repeatedly: Obama and Jarrett are not geniuses. But the men who fought for our freedom and designed our government were. Someone not smart enough to grasp what the founders built is ill-equipped to disassemble it.
The balancing of powers between the branches of government can be thrown off – as it has been over the past 80 years thanks to FDR and his communist- and fascist-inspired agenda. Yet American history has demonstrated that the excesses and failures of ideological programs inspire push-backs to correct them. We’ve seen that throughout American history bad decisions and mistakes can be reversed. Obama’s damage to America’s economic growth, and the backwards turn he’s taken for preventing future 9/11s – these can and will be corrected. The big government built by FDR that has dominated American life for 80 years and whose accumulated debt prepares to come crashing down on us — what James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus call “America 2.0” – will not be with us for much longer.
Today, as we remember the fallen, as we fear for a future of America’s decline and ponder the possibility of destruction – we must reject those defeatist calls, recognizing their often cynical, profit-driven, 501©3-funding motives. There’s always been a lot of money in scaring people and then selling them the snake-oil panacea. The formula has worked for decades for both Right and Left since the end of the Cold War scrambled everyone’s ideological priorities: exaggerate the threat, focus just on seeing America’s challenges through political media almost exclusively, and let the Left/Right liberal/conservative model ascend to one’s primary tool for understanding the world.
But no more. The gradually intensified fever-pitch fear-mongering on the Right is both unnecessary and emotionally destructive. People get burnt out by staying in a constant state of crisis. Concrete solutions and practical ways to overcome America’s problems over the course of the next 30 years – not just thinking in four-year election cycles – are needed instead. And it turns out they’re now available.
I’ve been waiting for a book like Bennett and Lotus’s America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity In the 21st Century—Why America’s Greatest Days Are Yet to Come for years. We’ve needed a book that proclaims with confidence and literary elegance both how we got here and how to move forward to bring about unimaginable levels of prosperity.
While I anticipated a book of futurism at first, America 3.0’s first 170 pages – after the first chapter’s quick jaunt to an ideal 2040 – are an invigorating history, explaining the components of the Western value system that led to America’s founding and evolution into a global power and economic engine so wealthy that her poor suffer not starvation but obesity.
Chapters 2, 3, and 4 describe the cultural inheritance – particularly our English and Germanic influences — that formed the key values that shaped America. Bennett and Lotus also rightfully name and make the case for the Absolute Nuclear Family as the foundation, an institution that nurtures the individual and thus promotes economic growth and a rejection of tribal war. A culture whose people’s primary concern is giving their children the skills and value systems to live free and create their own family will grow, thrive and innovate their way to great, glorious future. (As I blogged about when first starting America 3.0 in July, their vision of 2040 is tantalizing – though they admit that their technological predictions are very conservative. We’ll probably be much further along technologically than they suggest. But there’s no need to distract from the main thesis and serious policy propositions by initiating a debate about the optimism of Ray Kurzweil’s ideas. This Singularitarian radical who plans on living forever forgives them both and understands.)
If the book’s beginning its its soul, the middle is its beating, optimistic heart. Bennett and Lotus argue that the United States has developed in two stages that they call America 1.0 and 2.0. Through understanding how these first two stages developed and why we can work through what’s happening now, the transition to 3.0.
America 1.0 was the country of the end of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th. In a scattered, frontier America still striving to tame a continent, what need was there for a large federal government?
One finds the roots of America 2.0 in 1861 with the Civil War, when, as Bennett and Lotus argue, the federal government needed to assemble an army for defeating the Confederate slave nation that seceded. From these origins the components and ideas of America 2.0 gradually came into place as the industrial revolution transformed the country. When a train can take you across the country in a few days in a trip that used to take six months and a telegraph can transmit information rapidly, it’s a different world.
For a time the solution accepted was the continued rise of federal government bureaucracies. This reached its apex with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and was institutionalized fully with World War II’s victory. America 2.0’s triumph over Nazi, Fascist, and Japanese imperial totalitarianism gave it legitimacy for generations.
But as we now know, the big government programs originally conceived in the worlds of 60, 70, and 80 years ago are not sustainable. People are living much longer and federal government welfare no longer goes to people who are really poor:
SNAP has a monthly average of 46.7 million participants, or 22.5 million households. Food stamps alone had a budget of $88.6 billion in FY 2012.
Bennett and Lotus’s concluding chapters are the book’s serious brain. For millennials and Gen-Xers who are readying to ascend to economic, political, and cultural power, America 3.0 should serve as the blueprint for the next two decades. The coming bankruptcy of a federal government too big to pay what it has promised is a scary proposition. But in Chapter 8 the authors articulate seriously how this process could actually work. “The Big Haircut,” as they call it, will finally be the time limited-government advocates will have their opportunity to do away with the Goliaths of government power, returning more responsibilities to states, local governments, and individuals. (Really want single-payer, New England “liberals”? Go for it. By all means, let Texas and other Red states grow faster economically, thus proving the validity of their people’s traditional values as the fuel of their success.)
America 3.0’s last chapter concludes with where most American minds are at today as we debate the lessons learned from the bloodshed of 9/11 and Benghazi. We can set the country back on a Reaganite, “Peace through Strength” approach that recognizes Assad’s Syria, the mullahs’ Iran, KGB man Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and Kim Jong-un’s North Korea as what they are: evil slave states. Their policy prescriptions seem to me an institution of the principles that David P. “Spengler” Goldman names Augustinian Realism, which I described a few weeks ago in this piece here in this ongoing series of my favorite writers and intellectual influences – ranks which Bennett and Lotus now join. (This list was originally intended to start with PJM’s writers; I make an exception given I’ve extended the authors an invitation to contribute to PJ Lifestyle…) Just as today’s government is a product of America 2.0, so is our military today. In restructuring the government it will also be time to evolve our armed forces to succeed in fighting today’s enemies.
And so today, we must stop dwelling in a scared paralysis when confronted with the world’s most evil ideologies – both those in the White House and their allies running wild in the Middle East. Faced forward with eyes open, America 3.0 and the amazing technology we create to enable its birth will overcome both our economic and totalitarian threats. The sun will continue to shine on our nation and again we will prove by our military might and capitalist ingenuity the superiority of our value system, the resilience of our nation, and the Truth of our Creator’s watchful providence over our quest to stand as the City on the Hill, proclaiming the triumph of the Enlightenment through American word and deed.
The great Glenn Reynolds (another important writer I’ll include in this series soon) linked to another review of America 3.0 by David DesRosiers at the Washington Times today. He excerpted the same quote that I would have, albeit for a different reason:
While “America 3.0” should be eagerly consumed by the political class and concerned citizens alike, it needs a champion. Twenty years ago, Newt Gingrich saw the future in Alvin Toffler’s “The Third Wave” and brought it to the political mainstream. It was a book tailored to fit its bullish, technocratic times. “America 3.0” is a more serious book written for more serious times, and it deserves a serious booster. Sen. Rand Paul — and his supporters — should make “America 3.0” their book of ideas.
I didn’t name any specific right-wing apocalypticists in my review — it didn’t seem necessary, the trend is so pervasive and a bad habit among even the best of us. Now I will. The Ron/Rand Paul cult is the worst — the most destructive segment of the far Right.
Rand Paul will not take up America 3.0‘s ideas and he will not be the Republican presidential candidate in 2016. (On this latter point it’s something I as an activist intend to make sure of.) The foreign policy vision articulated in the book’s final chapter is not at all compatible with Paul’s stealth embrace of his father’s paleo-libertarian, “non-interventionist” anarchism. Yes, that is the proper word that must be understood regarding the Pauls. They are not libertarians. As I write about regularly and will continue to do so, Ron and Rand Paul are the revival of an evil political movement that is just as intolerable, anti-American, antisemitic and racist as Barack Obama’s: the Old Right.
Here’s a video of Rand Paul in 2010 talking fondly about his memories driving his father’s guru Murray Rothbard (the one who advocated allying with conspiracists, antisemites and racists, perhaps really because he was all three himself) to the airport after a trip to Washington D.C.:
As the controversy with the Rand Paul staffer and co-author of Rand’s book, the Southern Avenger — not fired and still defended by Rand — demonstrates, the poison apple did not far from the tree when it comes to welcoming horrible people into the movement.
Rand Paul is a lousy choice to carry forth the message of a limited government and an intelligently targeted, hawkish foreign policy. He and his movement don’t actually believe in limited government. They believe in no government. I’m so tired of baby-boomer conservatives describing the Pauls and the libertarians as “great on economics, just too bad they’re leftist in their foreign policy.” Both of these claims are wrong. Anarcho-capitalism is not an economic system any conservative could praise — it’s the world of the Articles of Confederation. That’s what Rothbard actually advocated. And it’s why I’ll continue to call the Paul cult anti-American.
Anti-Americanism’s older brother is antisemitism. And Rand’s father is, as others have noted, his Jeremiah Wright. Ron Paul made over a million dollars selling antisemitic and racist conspiracy theories in his newsletters. He made more money than most people make in a lifetime by trafficking in hate. If that doesn’t make someone an antisemite then what does? Speaking for an antisemitic group? Saying Iran, which has made clear its intent to obliterate Israel, should be allowed to have nuclear weapons and they are not a threat to us?
A much better candidate to move forward an America 3.0 agenda is John Bolton. He’s a real libertarian-conservative hawk instead of a libertarian-anarchist utopian.
Book Excerpt of the Day, From America 3.0
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