September 29, 2008

The Dark Lord Has Spoken

Few on the right are more hostile to the perverse appeal to “creative destruction” than I am when it is used to justify de-industrialization, the displacement of people, the transformation of local communities or demographic upheaval through mass immigration, but what we are faced with this week is the victory of Hamiltonian collusion between finance and government to use the latter’s apparatus of power to shore up the former’s wealth. Central government is robbing the people to prop up concentrated wealth, and claiming in the process that it is doing us a favor. Never mind that the government’s alarmism may well be wrong.
People have been cajoled into submission through fear and intimidation, and above all by the threat that life might become less comfortable. In other words, advocates of the bailout are quite happy to say that liberty has a price and they are very happy to pay it so long as it avoids most of the unpleasantness. “Give me liberty or give me a comfy retirement!” is not exactly a phrase that will live forever. Thus an abject abandonment of liberty is here being implausibly dressed up as a defense of liberty. Burke and Kirk would, I suspect, feel like retching if they had lived to see their understandings of constitutional government and social order used in this way.
It is easy to talk about principle when there is no crisis happening and no risk attached to standing on principle. The real test comes when holding fast may actually cost something. Holding to a principle, if it means anything, means that you value it more than mere self-interest, satisfaction or comfort. A lot of Americans want to have it all–the pretense that they are free, with none of the responsibilities or dangers that go with it. In reality, you can either have the latter and remain free, or you can cease being free and then be kept free (temporarily) from responsibility and danger.

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