After the Great Disappointment
In the latest Weekly Standard James Ceasar likened the Obama adherents to the members of a failed religious cult. How will they react to their Great Disappointment, he wondered? Would it be "acceptance, denial, [or] deflection?"
But I think that it is misleading to think of the Obamis merely as religious cultists. The point of leftism is not merely to be a faith, but a fighting faith. "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it." That was Marx in his Theses on Feuerbach, and he reminds us what "fundamental transformation" is all about. He tells us why the Obamis don't care about things like the letter of the law and think nothing of siccing the IRS on their opponents. After the Change, what difference will it make?
For sure the Obamis are a religious cult. But they are also a political army. The question is not how they will interpret their Great Disappointment, but how well the political army will function now that Obamacare is "uninsuring the insured'" Perhaps it will react like the French Army of 1917, which refused to die in any more useless offensives.
But never mind about the liberals, what about us? If conservatives are to sweep to glorious victory in 2014 and 2016 we need to get over our own Great Bush Disappointment and must renew our own faith -- in freedom, individualism, and civil society. So let us start with a text from Jonah Goldberg's latest G-File. Jonah is talking about liberals hating fascism but giving Communism a pass. What's the difference between Nazi Fascism and the Bolshevik Fascism anyway?
Richard Pipes had the best pithy summation of the difference between Nazism and Bolshevism. They aren't opposites, he argued, they're both "heresies of socialism."
I agree with this entirely, but step back from that a bit. Socialism itself is a heresy -- a heresy of tribalism. Socialism is simply an attempt to gussy up ancient tribal tendencies in modern garb. Nazism was tribalism of one race. Communism is tribalism of one class. Italian fascism was tribalism of one nation.
Exactly. Socialism, or Communism, or New Dealism, or today's "progressivism:" it's all tribalism.
But there is a better way. To adapt the words of the late Trayvon Martin's philosopher friend Rachel Jeantel:
Well, [liberals], they see their facts. My thoughts of [liberals], they old, that's old school people. We in a new school, our generation, my generation.
Liberals are old school, because their identity politics turns the clock back to tribalism. We conservatives, we new school, and here's why.
The great story of the last two thousand years is the gradual and halting attempt to transcend the boundaries of tribalism with something new and amazing. That something new is individualism. It replaces the tribal or collective self with the responsible self. This responsible self simply says, in each one of us: "I am responsible for finding a way to contribute to society."
The day you say "I am responsible" you become free, free to decide how to contribute to society, free to learn, free to love, and free to make mistakes. Thus Heinlein: "I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do."
When the cities began to grow a thousand years ago the people in them originally maintained loyalty to their tribe out in the country, until Christianity taught its believers to think of themselves as united in a universal community. And Christianity banned cousin marriage, forcing young folks to marry outside the clan. Then came trade and manufacturing in the society of strangers and the invisible hand that made each individual serve the needs of others if he wished to meet his own needs. The world was transformed.
But then came the Great Reaction, and the fantastic idea was advanced, as the poor prospered for the first time in history in the great flourishing of 19th century, that it was all an illusion. And people believed it.
We conservatives, we libertarians, are the people of the responsible self and we are called to witness to the light and break the spell of the illusion. We are called to end the night of tribalism that the prophet of Hope and Change has brought upon us. We are called to testify to the truth of freedom and responsibility.
We cannot wait for leadership; we must do the job ourselves. We must be the ones to rally our demoralized fellow Americans and show them the way forward: not with government programs and political divisions but with the unbeatable power of free individuals cooperating freely with each other to create jobs, jobs, jobs, and make a better world for each other.
Forget Obama's Great Disappointment; we are the ones that will make America great again.
Christopher Chantrill (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. See his usgovernmentspending.com and also usgovernmentdebt.us. At americanmanifesto.org he is blogging and writing An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism. Get his Road to the Middle Class.