We generally refrain from commenting on current events because such events almost always fade into obscurity along with the people responsible for those events. But there is something happening currently that is troubling. It’s not just one thing; it’s a constellation of events and the people behind them that cause us to question where it will lead our country and the Liberty we cherish. Among these events are clueless voters, illegal immigration, deep state operatives, and pathological educational institutions.
There are pockets of voters in certain regions of the country that are electing people who do not seem to share our common understanding of limited government, personal Liberty, and property rights. While we label some rank and file voters as “clueless,” their leaders in the DSA, and public icons like Elizabeth Warren are clearly not clueless idiots. Now, if some polls are to be believed, 40% of Americans are willing to embrace various tenants of socialism. Their numbers are enough to elect inexperienced representatives who are masters at self-promotion but very weak on intellectual achievement.
Among these unusual new representatives are the four congresswomen known as the “Squad.” They openly call themselves Democratic Socialists. That by itself is nothing new. There is also the granddaddy of Democratic Socialists, Bernie Sanders, who is mercifully coming to the end of his long political career feeding at the rich bosom of capitalism that he claims to despise. It is highly doubtful that the hapless voters who put him and the Squad into power have ever heard of Eugene Debs or Michael Harrington, who have also mercifully faded into obscurity.
Socialism is Incompatible with Freedom
A generation of self-indulgent citizens has failed to learn enough about history and economics to understand that free market capitalism has produced unprecedented wealth for the great mass of humanity. It has lifted people out of starvation around the world. It is responsible for the freedom that people need to be creative. Despite these obvious lessons of history, many current voters are willing to sacrifice our freedom to once again experiment with failed Marxist philosophy.
Democrats who call for socialist policies stress that their socialism is not that of Venezuela and Nicaragua. They like to claim that theirs is the “third way,” like Norway, Sweden, and Denmark.
If anyone was paying attention, these countries did indeed experiment with a few socialist policies in the 1970s, and subsequently corrected their mistakes. They are small enough countries to quickly change direction. They are now in many respects more free than we are, with no guaranteed jobs, no minimum wage, and no “Green New Deal.”
James Madison knew that people need to educate themselves if they want to be self-governing. The alternative is for carelessly ignorant people to submit to the tyranny of dictators. In 1822, Madison wrote to his friend William Taylor Barry:
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
One of the issues that is popular among Democratic Socialists is globalization and the eventual dismantling of nation states. They may not frame their arguments in this way, preferring instead to advocate for compassion, free medical care, free education, free housing, and sanctuary cities. (Last month we published a lengthy article on this subject)
Some states and many cities are becoming microcosms for socialists policies. This is actually a good thing because it demonstrates the long-term problems of socialism before too much damage is done. It also gives current generations of idealistic voters time to mature and learn from their mistakes.
Migration between states is a feature of our Republic. When one area of the country becomes too socialistic, those who cannot thrive in that environment can move. The opposite is also true. Masses of homeless people and illegal immigrants are flocking to large west coast cities seeking a myriad of benefits, such as Medicaid and Section 8 housing.
Deep State Operatives
The subject of deep state operatives is controversial. Wikipedia classifies it among conspiracy theories. Eventually more information will reach the light of day and it may cease to be a theory.
At a rally in Billings Montana, President Trump referred to “unelected deep-state operatives who defy the voters to push their own secret agendas are truly a threat to democracy itself.”
Many believe that elements in the CIA, FBI, and Department of Justice, conspired, and may continue to conspire through elected representatives in Congress to remove Donald Trump from office. It is obvious from their public statements that they hold president Trump in disdain. While a classic coup d’état, South American style, is not a possibility, a more sophisticated campaign to impeach the president or at the very least prevent his reelection is not mere conjecture. It is playing out daily in Congress and on all the news outlets.
Regarding the ongoing investigation by Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said, “I can’t tell you what he found, but I can tell you that if you care about the rule of law you’re going to be very upset about how the DOJ and the FBI behaved themselves during the 2016 election,” “If you hate Trump, you won’t care. If you love the rule of law, you’ll be very upset.”
Senator Lindsey’s calm characterization of the investigation gives a hint that those involved will fade into obscurity. Then the famous words of the Bard will once again intrude on our skeptical minds:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28
Pathological Educational Institutions
Universities are one part of the educational institutions that we address here. They, in contrast to smaller community colleges, have become breeding grounds for theories that interfere with students’ rational thinking and their ability to enter the job market. Ideology is a luxury that should be reserved for tenured professors.
Jordan Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. He has become one of the foremost critics of what Universities have become in North America.
We accept as axiomatic Madison’s assertion that if people are to govern themselves, they have to be smart enough to do it. Prof. Peterson makes a strong case that Universities are actively promulgating spurious ideas that weaken the ability of people to make historically informed decisions. Watch the video below.
Further educational institutions such as community colleges, trade and technical schools, and military colleges/academies are more targeted to preparing student for an occupation, and so they generally avoid the culture battles taking place on some university campuses.
Another significantly pathological educational institution is the Internet as a whole.
The Internet with the omnipresent screens, both large and small, give us an endless about of information. The great barrier to turning knowledge into wisdom is that most people are not prepared to deal with the vast amount of information. They don’t have the critical skills to know what is true. Nor do they question the concept of truth.
Added to blatantly fake content on the Internet is the reality that the Internet is the hunting ground of thieves, robbers, child molesters, murderers, Nigerian princes, fake IRS, fake banks, and fake people.
Most people think that what they believe is true. Very few people have developed the ability to separate emotional beliefs from potentially empirical truth. And in our zeal to embrace all that is new and exciting, we reject the wisdom of history and tend to repeat the same stupid mistakes.
Invariably students don’t understand what a current event is all about. Ideally teachers should train students to use their intellectual faculties to evaluate events and put them into a historical perspective. As much as this would be an ideal outcome, current events in most of the country point to an electorate that makes decisions based on emotions. And the teachers are themselves part of that emotional electorate.
How can a student, or anyone for that matter, discover the truth behind what is happening. The bias of news outlets borders on criminality. Who has time to spend hours comparing opposing opinions? And those who spend the time will have a very difficult time separating fact from propaganda. A cynical view of network news is that it’s an extension the entertainment industry, which distracts the populace from their lives of quiet desperation.
If we venture into an arena that should be relatively free of fake information such as medical research, what can we believe?
In the International Journal of Surgery, (2006), and article entitled Deceit and fraud in medical research laments a loss in public trust in medical research and doctors. It shows how researchers misuse statistics to give weight to incorrect conclusions. It reminds us of Benjamin Disraeli’s opinion of statistics, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”