If meat is murder, are eggs rape?
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Some of the folks propounding the above-listed anxieties, cavils, and peeves are amateurs: New Agers who will believe in anything but facts, environmentalist softies who think the white rats should be running the cancer labs, or bong-smoke theorists who would have the world be as stupid as they are. But many of the fretful—the “multicultural training facilitator” is an appalling example—are pros. Professional worriers put our fears to use. Masters of Sanctimony have an agenda. The licensed and certified holier- than-thou work toward a political goal. And whether these agony merchants are leftists (as they usually are) or rightists (as they certainly can be) or whether they head off in some other and worse direction (the way religious fundamentalists do), the political goal is the same.
In fact, if we use the word politics in its broadest sense, there really is only one political goal in the world. Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without possessing merit. A politician is anyone who asks individuals to surrender part of their liberty—their power and privilege—to State, Masses, Mankind, Planet Earth, or whatever. This state, those masses, that mankind, and the planet will then be run by … politicians.
Politicians are always searching for some grave alarm that will cause individuals to abandon their separate concerns and prerogatives and act in concert so that politicians can wield the baton. Calls to mortal combat are forever being sounded (though only metaphorically—politicians don’t like real wars, too much merit is involved). The idea is that people will drop everything for a WWII. Remember the War on Poverty? And how Jimmy Carter asked Americans to respond to a mere rise in the price of crude oil with “the moral equivalent of war”? (What were we supposed to do, shame the gas station attendant to death?) Now we’re “fighting pollution,” “battling AIDS,” “conquering racism,” et cetera.
Ralph Nader is as much a politician as Senator Robert Packwood, even if Ralph isn’t as smooth with the ladies. Such professional worriers as Al Gore, Paul Ehrlich, Jeremy Rifkin, Joycelyn Elders, Barry Commoner, Jesse Jackson, and Captain Planet want our freedom, on the grounds that they are better than us. (You may have noticed how politicians are wiser, kinder, and more honest than you are.) Because politicians worry so much about overpopulation, famine, ecological disaster, ethnic hatred, plague, and poverty, they must be superior people. And because they worry so much, they must be experts, too. (Said the Austrian political economist Friedrich Hayek, in his 1944 book The Road to Serfdom: “There could hardly be a more unbearable—and more irrational—world than one in which the most eminent specialists in each field were allowed to proceed unchecked with the realization of their ideals.”)
The bullying of fellow citizens by means of dreads and frights has been going on since paleolithic times. Greenpeace fund-raisers on the subject of global warming are not much different than tribal wizards on the subject of lunar eclipses. “Oh, no, the Night Wolf is eating the Moon Virgin. Give me silver and I will make him spit her out.”
THE GRAVE WORRIES facing the world today mostly don’t have solutions. That is, they don’t have solutions outside ourselves. We can’t vote our troubles away. Or mail them to Washington either. We can’t give fifty dollars to the Sierra Club, read Douglas Coupland, and sing the Captain Planet theme song and set everything right. Instead we have to accept the undramatic and often extremely boring duties of working hard, exercising self-control, taking care of ourselves, our families, and our neighbors, being kind, and practicing as much private morality as we can stand without popping.
To the extent that our worries do have public, collective solutions, the solutions are quite simple. Though, like many simple things (faith, grace, love, soufflés), they are difficult to achieve. It was Thomas Robert Malthus himself, arguably the father of modern worrying, who set forth these solutions in the 1803 revision of his Essay on the Principle of Population:
The first grand requisite to the growth of prudential habits is the perfect security of property; and the next perhaps is that respectability and importance which are given to the lower classes by equal laws, and the possession of some influence in the framing of them.
We have been miserably deficient in the instruction of the poor, perhaps the only means of really raising their condition.
Property rights, rule of law, responsible government, and universal education: that’s all we need. Though no society has achieved these perfectly. Our own nation is notably lacking on the fourth point. (And such things as huge federal regulatory agencies and the Menendez jury aren’t helping items one through three.)
Let us seek out the worries but avoid the worriers. They are haters of liberty and loathers of individuals. They wish to politicize everything. Imagine Bill Clinton conducting your love life for you. And watch out, he may be trying to.
To quote Malthus again:
The most successful supporters of tyranny are without doubt those general declaimers who attribute the distresses of the poor, and almost all the evils to which society is subject, to human institutions and the iniquity of governments.
We should wipe the Gnostic smirk of self-righteousness off the faces of the moral buttinskis. Anyone who thinks he has a better idea of what’s good for people than people do is a swine. Let’s give the professional worriers something to worry about. (And memo to Generation X: Pull your pants up, turn your hat around, and get a job.)
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online