Our longtime Capitol Ideas columnist looks back.
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In some ways, present-day liberalism is far more radical than Communism ever was. Consider, for example, the current pretense that there are no real differences between the sexes, or that same-sex marriage is a desirable policy goal. Communists entertained no such delusions.
But there have also been opposing trends since the Hiss days. Blue-collar workers, once known as the working class, have shown they are not revolutionists. They aspire to join the middle class, not overthrow it. Think “Reagan Democrats.” It’s intellectuals who are, and always have been, the core of the revolutionary party.
Another change is that market forces, despite the liberals’ regulatory zeal, are far stronger than they were in 1962. The world’s two most populous countries, China and India, are becoming market economies, and we should no more fear their growing wealth than we did Japan’s after World War II. Regulatory agencies, including the EPA (a Nixon creation!), may hamstring the U.S. If so, China will move ahead all the faster. Don’t think of China as “Communist” either. True, that’s what their government calls itself, but they seem to be pulling off the unprecedented feat of both staying in power and encouraging capitalism. Taiwan may be the mainland’s undeclared model. China is not our enemy, and the same goes for Russia.
In Europe there’s a comparable lesson. Bond markets are now more powerful than politicians, despite the best efforts of the IMF. This frustrates the intelligentsia, who want Europe to submit to their foolish Euro-diktat. It won’t work. Europe is fragmenting, not uniting. Its countries are subdividing and will continue to do so. The EU is emerging as one of the great planning disasters engineered by the postwar ruling class.
Technology meanwhile is ushering in huge changes. I am thinking of the digital world, the Internet in particular. It is so recent that predictions about it are hazardous. But its major effect will be to decentralize power. This is already happening, and the mainstream media can tell you about it. But they would rather not. Their semi-monopolistic mainstream is dividing into a thousand rivulets. Television is finally waning. The stock price of the Washington Post has fallen by two-thirds, while that of the New York Times is down to one-sixth of its peak a decade ago.
Technology they cannot stop, but conservatives they can. “Media bias” seems to be stronger than ever. When the Dow fell 313 points immediately after the election, what was not responsible? Obama’s win. Reuters was particularly bad. The sharp market decline was attributed to the fiscal cliff, which we have known about for months. The underlying philosophy is that a faltering economy must not be attributed to Obama’s policies. It’s a gross anomaly for a free press to constantly advocate the expansion of government power. Why do they? Because it suits the pretensions of journalists, who see themselves as the custodians of righteousness. Also, their “free press” exemption expands their own power relative to the dwindling private sector. Notice the word “sector,” by the way, implying something cordoned off.
Another huge development has been the revival of Islam. What are we to make of that? Islam today probably threatens us as much as international Communism once did, but with this big difference: The intellectuals, who often secretly admired Communism, loathe Islam. They are afraid—rationally afraid—of those who are willing to die for what they believe.
Whittaker Chambers identified Communism’s great strength as the recovery of faith abandoned by many Christians and Jews. But liberals today have no such faith. Many believe little more than that we should make women equal to men and make amends to the planet by ceasing to reproduce. Meanwhile we should feel free to enjoy ourselves by treating sex as fun without consequences. But these ignoble causes are not things liberals will die for and the Islamists probably know this.
Hilaire Belloc wrote in his book The Great Heresies that “in Faith we have fallen inferior to [Islam].” That is far truer today than when he wrote it in 1938. He also saw Islam as a faith that was determined to destroy the Catholic Church. Today, the progressives aim to placate Islam at every turn. The latest notion, to install democracy in overwhelmingly Muslim countries, makes no sense. The Arab Spring is already turning into Islamic winter.
The restoration of Israel, in what the Islamists regard as their own land, has turned Islam from a somnolent to a fiercely crusading faith. Today it is Israel that Islamists really want to destroy, and many secular leftists both here and in Europe quietly feel the same way.
My guess is that over the next 50 years, the rise of China and the fate of a beleaguered Israel will dominate the news—but don’t ask me how it will turn out.
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.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online