Skip to comments.Victor Davis Hanson: American Mob Rule. We need a Socrates in Washington right now
Posted on 03/26/2009 5:36:24 AM PDT by Tolik
In the last three months, weve been reduced to something like the ancient Athenian mob with opportunistic politicians sometimes inciting, sometimes catering to an already-angry public.
The Greek comic playwright Aristophanes once described how screaming politicians posing as men of the people would sway Athenian citizens by offering them all sort of perks and goodies that the government had no idea of how to pay for.
The historian Thucydides offers even more frightening accounts of bloodthirsty voters after they were aroused by demagogues (leaders or drivers of the people). One day, in bloodthirsty rage, voters demanded the death of the rebellious men of the subject island city of Mytilene; yet on the very next, in sudden remorse, they rescinded that blanket death sentence.
Lately weve allowed our government to forget its calmer republican roots. Weve gone Athenian whole hog.
Take the AIG debacle. The global insurance and financial-services company is broke and needed a federal loan guarantee of $180 billion to prevent bankruptcy. Some $165 million (about 1/1000th of that sum) had previously been contracted to give bonuses to its derelict executives.
That set off a firestorm in Congress. Politicians rushed before the cameras to demand all sorts of penalties for these greedy investment bankers. Soon, they passed an unprecedented special tax law just to confiscate 90 percent of these contracted bonuses.
Those who shouted the loudest for the heads of the AIG execs had the dirtiest hands. President Obama was outraged at their greed. But he alone signed their bonus provisions into law. And during the recent presidential campaign, no one forced him to accept over $100,000 in AIG donations.
Rep. Charles Rangel (D, N.Y.) was even more infuriated at such greed and helped pass the retroactive tax bill. Yet for years, the populist Rangel who is in trouble over back taxes owed and misuse of his subsidized New York apartments had tried to entice AIG executives to fund his Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York.
Sen. Chris Dodd (D, Conn.) was the fieriest in his denunciations of Wall Street greed. Yet he was the very one who inserted the bonus provision into the bailout bill, despite later denying it. And Dodd has taken more AIG money than any in Congress in addition to getting V.I.P. loan rates from the disgraced Countrywide mortgage bank.
Then there is the matter of blowing apart the budget. President Obama inherited from George Bush a $500 billion and growing annual budget deficit and a ballooning $11 trillion national debt. Obama nevertheless promised us an entirely new national health plan, bigger entitlements in education, and a vast new cap-and-trade energy program.
But there is a problem in paying for the $3.5 trillion in budgetary expenditures that Obama has called for in the coming fiscal year. Proposed vast additional taxes on the rich still wont be enough to avoid tripling the present budget deficit and putting us on schedule over the next decade to add another $9 trillion to the existing national debt.
During the Clinton years, we got higher taxes but eventually balanced budgets. During the Bush administration, we got lower taxes but spiraling deficits. But now during the era of Obama, we apparently will get the worst of both worlds higher taxes than under Clinton and higher deficits than under Bush.
In other words, we through our government are spending money that we dont have. Were told the rich will pick up the tab, even though there are not enough rich with enough money to squeeze out the necessary amounts. Our new demagogues, though, are arguing that this is the only fair course of action. Meanwhile, these leaders who have taken so much Wall Street money in the past are driving us into fury to punish the guilty on Wall Street. This is truly the age of mindless mob rule.
Of course, we probably wont hear any candidate in four years assure the voters, I wont take any more money from Wall Street and will give back any that I already got. And if elected, I promise four consecutive years of budget cuts to achieve each year $1.5 trillion in annual budget surpluses. Only that way can we get the national debt back down to the past manageable 2008 sum of $11 trillion.
We need such a Socrates in Washington right now, who would dare tell the American mob the truth of how we are descending into financial serfdom. But in this present mood, the aroused mob would first make him drink the hemlock
VDH is right on target with this one. Barry’s whole presidency is about appealing to the worst in people and transforming a democracy into a mobocracy - which is nothing but a dictatorship run by an individual through a mob that is too frenzied to realize how it is being used.
Let me know if you want in or out.
Links: FR Index of his articles: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/keyword?k=victordavishanson
His website: http://victorhanson.com/
NRO archive: http://www.nationalreview.com/hanson/hanson-archive.asp
Nope - there were no balanced budgets during the Clinton years.
According to the Bureau of the Public Debt, the last year the National Debt did not increase was 1957.
The deficit dropped to "only" $20 billion one year late in the Clinton administration, but it was still a deficit.
Hanson's generally better than that.
comments on Drudge story about death threats being made against AIF families “WE WILL GET YOUR CHILDREN”
From “nd”, a zeroBama voter and Dodd constituent
Stop the threats, just take their homes away, an eye for an eye! As an Obama supporter I am disappointed. Where’s the change? Looks like politics as usual. Let AIG and those other dirtbag companies go under, they’ve been stealing our money for years anyway and living high on the hog with their lavish lifestyles. Bail out us hardworking people who need help directly (middle and lower class) then you will see change!Stop the threats, just take their homes away, an eye for an eye! As an Obama supporter I am disappointed. Where’s the change? Looks like politics as usual. Let AIG and those other dirtbag companies go under, they’ve been stealing our money for years anyway and living high on the hog with their lavish lifestyles. Bail out us hardworking people who need help directly (middle and lower class) then you will see change!
Yes. And he is very productive lately maintaining high quality as well.
Actually, just an Aristotelian or two would help.
Someone needs to get the Obammunists' θυμος under control and directing things back toward ἀρετή and εὐδαιμονία in accord with natural law in the sense the Founders intended. There is a λόγος deficiency in Washington right now probably from the dumbed-down secular humanist Deweyite NEA education that has taken over the schools. Good time to recenter conservative philosophy.
"...die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug."
“...nothing but a dictatorship run by an individual through a mob that is too frenzied to realize how it is being used.”
Perhaps if American schools and news organizations had informed the public of the true behavior of Castro, Chavez, Mugabe, etc, then the mob would recogize what Obama and his gang are doing with and to them.
The contrast between the grace and dignity of GWB’s vision of the office he held, and the gross debasement of the office by this president, is immense, and sadly, almost totally invisible to the majority of Americans who absorb ‘news’ purely from leftist-promoting media.
You are correct, but from where we stand now - we can consider that well balanced. At least it appeared that balancing the budget was a goal. Gingrich Republicans forced Clinton to do something right.
“Stop the threats, just take their homes away, an eye for an eye!”
This is what Obama wants his followers to do. He is as radical and dangerous as any crazy who goes around setting off bombs. Oh, wait, Obama knows people who already did that = and they are now living upper middle class lives in academia.
No harm, no foul.
Proceed to hijack the country that our Founders gave us.
When I was a child I was exhorted to pray for the conversion of Russia. Now I pray for the conversion of the United States. We desperately need another Reagan and Thatcher.
...How about arrest for POTUS and those in Congress for conspiracy to incite a riot???
And instead, we have Alfred E. Newmann
“How dare these guys work hard and provide a decent living for their families, and how dare they enjoy the fruits of their labor?!” or better yet “Screw the contracts (that the govt KNEW about); honor means nothing, business ethics are dead - these guys have too much stuff and the govt needs to make them stop!”
On one of the radio shows the other day (I think it was Levin but not sure) he discussed some guy’s article who went on the “bus tour” of AIG homes being run in CT by Acorn. This guy said he was from inner city Hartford and had never seen houses like that before (ie thought the display of wealth was obscene), and that since AIG is 80% owned by the govt, he thinks that the public should have access to all these exec’s toys - their bball courts, their cars, their tennis courts, pools, country clubs etc.
OK, so let’s make sure we have the logic straight. Whoever owns the company should have access to all their exec’s stuff?
People have lost all ability to reason. And they have no idea, really, where they’re asking to be taken. Scary, sobering stuff.
Its very easy to abuse the basic feelings like envy, and direct it into a rage. The experience of Russian revolution and many others was bloody: mobs were killing people, while revolutionary agitators were fueling the fire.
Agreed. However, in Russia, the people did have legitimate complaints against the oppression of the tsarist regime. Then they were exploited by the up and coming Bolsheviks to further a socialist agenda. Example - the significant Jewish population, who for generations had suffered under pogroms (often govt provoked to take the focus off their own failed policies - sound familiar?) and other stuff like the May Laws that restricted travel, jobs etc. They worked actively with the Bolsheviks and once they had served their purpose, Lenin sought to quash their religious and national distinction and the Jews became victim to soviet policies just like everybody else, and not only that, the pogroms continued.
Not that there weren't true Marxists among the Jews; there were, but under soviet control, surprise, they couldn't be Jews anymore. And many of those Russian Marxist Jews emigrated to America and helped maintain the American communism way back in the 20s - David Horowitz's grandparents among them - see his book Radical Son, very good. Unfortunately they hadn't thrown the bathwater out with the baby - they seem to have taken Lenin's betrayal as indicative of the man rather than the movement or both.
And yes, revolutionary agitators definitely fueled the fire on both sides - those who wanted to overthrow Nikolai Romanov but retain imperial control and those who wanted to overthrow Nikolai Romanov and install a communist system.
Some eerie similarities actually - people in America have legitimate complaints too; just as in Russia, the left (and often the govt at large) has gotten really good at shifting the blame to mask their own culpability, so much so that the very policies that are keeping people enslaved are being effectively touted as the solution. What happens when all these people who voted for Obama because they thought he represented them realize that he used them to further a socialist agenda? I guess we'll see.
Speaking about “eerie similarities” - do you remember about Lenin’s “The worse is the better”? - meaning that worsening of living conditions of the working class make it easier for Bolsheviks to agitate in favor of the revolution. For this reason Bolsheviks did not participate in all other revolutionary parties efforts to improve lives of the workers.
Shame on you for insulting Alfred E. Newmann...
ACORN (the group behind these ‘Bus Tours”) is agitating for an incident.