Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Dangers of Liberalism

By Jim Simpson

Liberalism is the political expression of man’s sentimental self-indulgence. It is, sadly, understandable folly, for it appeals to our timeless passion to solve all problems, to resolve all mysteries, to know the universe — in short, to “save the world.”

Unfortunately, like all manmade solutions to human frailties, it falls tragically short. It is, instead, a reflection of those frailties. It is merely a modern replay of the age-old struggle, which Whittaker Chambers identified succinctly: God or Man?

Liberals make man God.

Liberalism is the misguided belief that others’ shortcomings, mistakes and misfortunes can be cured with unearned gifts of material wealth, and that such remedies have no downside risk to the recipients or the donors. It fosters a dangerous presumption in society’s collective conscious: the false promise that security, health and well being is our birthright, and can and should be provided at no cost by government.

It ignores the tendency of such schemes to bring out the very worst in people, as it appeals to their basest instincts. Recipients develop an expectation that salvation requires no action on their part. People then develop the delusion that critical life decisions can be made without consequence; someone else will bail them out. When choices have no consequence, people make bad choices.

Promoters of such policies also become trapped in their addictive appeal, seeing themselves as saviors. They are the “enlightened,” they are “progressive,” and as such believe themselves entitled to luxuries and indulgences the rest of us don’t deserve. They are gods. Lenin even gave them a name: “Vanguard of the Masses.”

As sublime keepers of all answers, they arrogate to themselves the use of any tactics that will help them win, with truth being the first casualty. Since they know all and have the best interest of the rest of us at heart, anyone who criticizes them must, by definition, be a mortal enemy. To the beneficiaries of liberal largesse, meanwhile, critics threaten the meal ticket, and thus their very lives. To both, critics thus become villains, and the Vanguard spare no expense in efforts to destroy them.

Liberalism of necessity brooks no opposition. It forces society into two warring camps: those who believe and/or benefit from it and those who don’t believe and/or are taxed to finance its ever-increasing demands. It pits neighbor against neighbor, family against family, brother against brother, generation against generation. Liberal policy must always be divisive.

While appealing to our basest survival instincts, a necessary corollary to liberal thought is the ironic presumption that man does not have such instincts. For example, welfare is presumed to provide a temporary “safety net.” But instead, welfare has become a chosen lifestyle. Poverty has become an institution. Recipients tie their very survival to government programs. The education or job skills they would otherwise have to develop are set aside to atrophy. And when these people cease to be productive, they not only create a drag on society, but frequently turn their attention to other toxic pursuits, like alcoholism and drugs. And careless sex guarantees future generations of welfare addicts. The permanent welfare underclass was an easy prediction.

In foreign policy, this misguided belief lures liberals to make dangerous assumptions about our enemies, such as the absurd notion that intellectually “enlightened” negotiation can secure an enduring peace. It reflects a conceit that liberals can educate our enemies to consider solutions they wouldn’t think of themselves. Because this assumption is patently false, we wind up trying to buy them off with “incentives” or open ourselves to an elaborate con game when we seek to “understand” or “resolve” the “underlying causes” of conflict. These intellectual compromises put us in a worse negotiating position every time.

This may work in marriage counseling, but the enemies we face don’t want to marry us. They see our very existence as a threat to their survival, and nothing short of our total extinction will satisfy them. They only see “negotiation” as a tool to buy them the time necessary to prepare for our ultimate defeat.

William F. Buckley once wrote that Conservatism is “the ideology of truth.” Because truth is often difficult to perceive, especially in human affairs, the road to conservatism is rocky and slow, fraught with pitfalls and diversions. It is of necessity humbling, because truth often reveals our many limitations. As Churchill is reputed to have said: “Anyone who is not a liberal when he is twenty has no heart. Anyone who is not a conservative by the time he is forty has no brain.” Never a truer word was spoken. Conservatism isn’t easy. It isn’t fun. But it is the only answer to the many critical issues this country faces today.

I will repeat here the admonition given to us by Alexandr Solzhenitzyn in his little-known pamphlet, “Warning to the West.” He said that unless Western culture and Western governments return to their Judeo-Christian roots, we will never defeat the enemies now arrayed against us. For it is in those teachings we find the error of Liberal philosophy, which is that Man, not God, is the ultimate source of our salvation.