Skip to comments.The Death of Liberalism
Posted on 05/08/2012 6:23:17 AM PDT by rellimpank
The characteristics of a baby or child, says Webster's.
Being infantile is a charming characteristic -- in a baby or child. In adults? Adults charged with the serious responsibility of discussing or actually running public policy?
Never good. As seen here in this story about Occupy Wall Street, replete with photo of a protester defecating on a police car.
R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. has been observing and writing about this kind of ludicrous behavior that he terms the "Infantile Left" for some 40-plus years through the magazine that he created and you are reading, The American Spectator.
What brought this memorable photo of a defecating Occupy protestor to mind was reading the stunning, pull-back-and-survey-the-battlefield book that is Tyrrell's new book, The Death of Liberalism.
The book is nothing less than an autopsy conducted while the battle still rages. An astute recognition that Liberalism's defenders are being reduced by the day if not the hour to the political equivalent of the survivors of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, the latter known to history as the high-water mark of the Confederacy. A great swarming, savage last-assault across the political battlefields into the incessant cannon and rifle fire of the American majority. Leaving in the aftermath not only massive Liberal casualties on the battlefield, but inducing a sense of crippling psychological failure among the Liberal survivors, of which at the moment the Occupy Wall Street debacle -- they of the defecating-on-police-cars and rape tents crowd -- is the most vivid example.
(Excerpt) Read more at spectator.org ...
Interesting article, but revolutionaries such as Lenin, Mao, Hitler, Castro, and Obama do not rise to dictatorial power through reason and debate.
Anyone who thinks it cannot happen here is a fool. Anyone who thinks the situation is not already destabilized in preparation for just such an event isn’t paying attention. Remember that Marius, Sulla, and Caesar each led destabilizing dictatorships PRIOR to the irrevocable fall of the Republic under Octavian. After the years of infighting and the Civil Wars, the Roman people were actually happy to see the Republic go - in exchange for order.
I think at least in part Liberalism is going to implode this cycle because many Liberals will be throwing an infantile temper-tantrum over the fact that Obama was not able to deliver up their Socialist Nirvana within four years.
What concerns me about the death of liberalism, is how much more damage it will do before it is truly buried. Like some diseased corpse catapulted over the parapets in a medieval seige - no longer able to raise a hand against it's enemies, the rotting corpse is still able to inflict tremendous damage, and to do so in an insidious, honorless fashion.
You are quite correct about the vast majority of Roman citizens and (especially) Roman subjects being happy to see the Republic go bye-bye.
However, I would contend that the dictators you mention did not destabilize the Republic. In fact, each of them in his own way tried to bring stability back to a crumbling State.
I’ve read a great deal about the last century of the Republic. The closest parallel I can come to is if the world today were to be ruled by the Mafia. The aristocrats of the time fought amongst themselves for power, using the resources of the State to do so.
The Republic of the time was not a functioning political system, it was a corpse propped up by an unwillingness to recognize that it was dead or that other arrangements needed to be made.
It was Weekend at Bernies throughout the Mediterranean world. Kick the Republican can down the road another year or two, till the can blew up and the road disintegrated.
(To mix metaphors as thoroughly as possible.)
Unhappily, “liberalism” is a synthesis of ideas in search of a methodology. The current methodology of liberalism is clearly in its death throes. But ideas, once successfully promulgated and entrenched, are almost impossible to kill. To use a familiar metaphor, the shadow once vanquished will take a new form and begin to grow again.
But by overriding the Republican government, appealing to the mob (with populares such as Caesar), establishing the precedent that Roman armies could be used to enforce leadership, these dictatorships prepared the way for the Principate. People became accustomed to new sources of political power which did not rise from the voting Centuries or Roman traditions, i.e. Moribus antiquis res stat Romana virisque. Outcome rather than intention,wouldn't you say?
I suspect our disagreement is one of emphasis, not substance.
The various dictators and civil wars were a symptom of the decline and collapse of the Republic, not their cause. Though of course they contributed.
In the final analysis, IMO, the Republic fell because absolutely nobody really believed in it anymore. Just as the USSR fell for the same reason.
You can always find people willing to kill for a cause. But if you don’t have those who are willing to die for the cause, its days are numbered.
Yes, I think that’s about right.
And they stopped believing because they lost their moral ‘center’, just as the so-called post-Christian west seems to have lost ours? Funny how the social experimenters think they can change the fundamental building blocks of society, such as marriage, family, sexual mores, with absolute impunity.
How the true, first century Romans must have longed for the values of the early Republic, (I’m thinking preface to Tacitus’ Histories here, or Seneca; although Juvenal and Martial provide a biting look into the shortcomings of the ‘new’ Roman society).
Liberals claim great devotion to the Precautionary Principle.
"The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action."
This is used to oppose fracking, nuclear power plants, genetically modified crops, and a host of other proposed changes. The idea being that we should err on the side of caution, since the full impact of changes are often not known in a complex system.
Yet somehow this principle is never even considered for application to the most complex known system, a human society. When it comes to making changes to society, they promote "Hope and Change." With the implication that any change at all will be an improvement and that the burden of proof should fall on those opposing the change.
IOW, exactly the opposite of the Precautionary Principle is applied to society.
Amusing that we run out of money just as their groomed and chosen messiah was inaugurated.
>>>The closest parallel I can come to is if the world today were to be ruled by the Mafia. The aristocrats of the time fought amongst themselves for power, using the resources of the State to do so.<<<
I taught world history for a while at the high school level, and that’s the metaphor I used to describe the Roman Republic, too.
Your statement about the aristocrats fighting among themselves sounds an awful lot like our current circumstances, though - consider Romney from the business/government sector and Obama from the academic/government sector.
I’ve also been worried about the tyrant calling to re-establish the republic, too. A lot of us want a Constitutional republic, and I would think that a clever and unscrupulous tyrant would be able to use that desire to grab enough power to control the state.
God help us.
As you no doubt know, Augustus “re-established” the Republic in form while continuing to hold the real power himself.
Which, frankly, was necessary at the time. The Republic had demonstrated itself beyond dispute to be incapable of governing, and Augustus did quite a good job. Certainly an enormous improvement for all but the tiny number of aristos who lost their chance for power.
The biggest difference between the last century of the Republic and America today is the absence of personal power blocs. We don’t have anything even vaguely resembling the massive client bases built up by individual patron aristocrats and warlords.
But the whole patron and client thing is exactly how the Mafia worked, exemplified in The Godfather movie by the scene with Bonasera the undertaker. Well, that is pretty much exactly how the Roman Republic functioned, except individual patrons would have entire familes, cities and even nations as their clients.
>>>As you no doubt know, Augustus re-established the Republic in form while continuing to hold the real power himself.<<<
Which has always scared me, and that fear has remained with me even after learning it more than 35 years ago. I can easily see the tyrant killing the republic while cooing softly about his (or her) love of the old civic virtues.
>>>Augustus did quite a good job<<<<
And so the people forgot the republic and embraced the tyrant.
Maybe the American experiment, like the Roman one and the Athenian one, has certain elemental flaws which lead to its demise, and two thousand years from now a group of geniuses will make improvements. Either that, or we’re on the road to empire. I guess we’ll see.
I'm not sayin... I'm just sayin.
A good tyrant is indeed a greater threat than an obviously vile evil one.
My point was that the rebirth of the Republic as a viable government was not a possibility. Thus the success of Octavian and the eventual birth of the Empire was the least bad of a host of lousy options at the time.
Dead like a rattlesnake maybe.
Well, apparently that’s the problem Republics come to when they get over a couple hundred years old. I fear we would face the same trouble - if it were time to jettison the Republic and start over, it would get propped up and kicked down the road just like we’re doing now. Oh, now I get it. :(
You’re getting close with the “snake” part.
“Liberalism” is just the latest incarnation of the ideology of the prince of this world,
and it won’t be going away until he is cast into the pit.
But wasn’t massive importation of slave labor and illegal immigration by the cheese-eating Gauls the reason for the pressure on the average Plebe that the dictators were able to exploit?
Like Bush? Oh the days when we used to lament how with a so-called conservative who was really not, all manner of Liberal claptrap could be passed and sent up and he would sign it.
I love George W. Bush, but he used to piss me off, badly, at times, and I’m not going to defend him when he’s not defensible.
I don’t think GW was any kind of a tyrant, as I think he had absolutely no desire to be. I’m not clear what you’re asking.
I found the “diseased corpse” metaphor downthread to be perhaps more apt. I’ll say one thing about the Romans, they never had to govern 300+ million people.
And as an appropriate aside, compare the level of intelligence and civility in this discussion to the postings you see at the Daily Kos or Democrat Underground. Be well.
compare the level of intelligence and civility in this discussion to the postings you see at the Daily Kos or Democrat Underground.
Now there, is a comparison.