It's Not 'Unwisdom', Peggy. It's Hubris
Here we go again. Peggy Noonan just expressed concern about “The Unwisdom of Barack Obama.” She writes of the president:
His essential problem is that he has very poor judgment.
When Aunt Peggy says it then attention must be paid. She's not your ordinary racist, sexist, homophobe spouting “hate speech.” Peggy Noonan demands respect.
Peggy goes down the list of Obama's unwisdom: Syria “red line”, “I don't have a strategy,” ObamaCare instead of jobs and the economy, misreading the situation of Republicans in 2009.
But what jumps out at you when you read through Peggy's list is that Obama's unwisdom is nothing special, nothing unique to him. Obama's folly is just liberalism's folly; he and his administration are just executing the 30-year-old playbook of modern liberalism right back to his liberal base, just what it wants.
But really, the liberals' problem is not unwisdom; it goes deeper than that. It is good old Greek hubris. As Wikipedia says:
[Hubris] means extreme pride or self-confidence. When it offends the Gods of ancient Greece, it is usually punished... Hubris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence, accomplishments or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power.
Would a man that “could probably do every job on the campaign better than the people I’ll hire to do it,” not to mention be “a better political director than my political director” possibly have a problem with hubris?
It all started with lawyer's son Karl Marx pronouncing on capitalism as though he knew it better than the merchants and manufacturers that practiced it. So he set workers against employers in a class war to destroy capitalism. After a hundred million deaths, you can see how well that turned out.
So the Marxists turned from economic Marxism to cultural Marxism. Blow up the middle class's hard-won social peace with identity politics and everyone a victim.
In cultural Marxism we see the same hubris at work as with communism/socialism. Only now liberals have graduated to gender/ethnic/race wars after failing Class War 101.
But I've just been reading Rene Girard's Violence and the Sacred. It's all about the basic problem of non-state societies: uncontrolled community violence. Without a justice system, disagreements and feuds easily escalate, and once started, the retaliatory violence easily escalates into a chain reaction of uncontrollable violence.
So the focus of ancient religion was to prevent all-out mayhem between warring factions through sacrifice and ritual.
It was the state with its monopoly on violence and its justice system that put perpetual feuds between the Hatfields and the McCoys to rest, because people came to feel that the justice system would punish malefactors for them.
Enter liberal politics with its elevation of grievance and protest into a holy cause. Under liberalism the highest and best purpose in life is teach people they are victims, to create division, and then exploit the justice system to favor certain interests over others.
What happens if liberals actually succeed in their project of division and further politicize the justice system and the regulatory agencies? When do ordinary Americans start to lose faith in the impartiality of the justice system and return to the stateless culture that seeks redress of their grievances directly?
Liberals like to complain about the divisiveness of our politics, and they sneer at backlash from the bigots and the bitter clingers. But backlash from the white working class began when liberals started affirmative action, which privileges race and gender minorities over working class whites. Liberals complained about the Christian Right that rose out of nowhere when liberals went all-in for abortion. They started to call defenders of traditional marriage haters when liberals went all-in for “marriage equality” and made ordinary people into bigots.
It doesn't seem to occur to liberals that maybe these movements of rejection are a response to the liberal corruption of the justice system and its conversion into a tool of liberal policy.
Electioneering used to stop right after the election; but now today's permanent campaign keeps political division going strong between elections. Presidents used to assemble a bipartisan majority for major legislation to avoid inflaming the losers against their program. The IRS used to be kept pretty clear of partisan politics to keep people paying their taxes.
But the partisan liberals in the Obama adminstration think that the rules don't apply to them. They are blind to the dragon's teeth of division and mistrust that their social justice politics sows in the body politic. They honor and celebrate the “activist,” the “community organizer” and the social justice warrior, whose proud life purpose is to “raise consciousness” of injustice and marginalization.
No doubt Nemesis will soon correct the president's hubris, just like she did with Narcissus.