Saturday, June 18, 2011

Failure of Planning is the Planning of Failure

Liberticus Destroyicus
A bird of a different feather?
Why Liberalism always fails. One of the tidbits that left such a lingering impression in Jonah Goldberg's very well-researched book Liberal Fascism was the the Progressive "We planned in war!" lament and critique of how government control of private lives fell out of favor with the average American in the years following World Wars I and II.

A little bit of background is necessary here (and if you want a lot of background on this, I highly recommend Golberg's book). During the world wars, various presidents sought to expand the powers of the government until it was essentially a functioning fascistic state. Granted, at the time these social experiments started up, fascism, bolshevism, and socialism were all viewed favorably not just in America but around the world. How bad did it really get here? Here are a few choice quotes from Goldberg's book where he explains the significance of the Blue Eagle and the strong-arm tactics used by National Recovery Act Administrator Hugh Samuel Johnson:

The Blue Eagle was the patriotic symbol of compliance that all companies were expected to hang from their doors, along with the motto "We do our part," a phrase used by the administration the way the Germans used "Gemeinnutz geht vor Eigennutz." Now largely airbrushed from popular awareness, the stylized Indian eagle clutching a band of lightning bolts in one claw and an industrial cogwheel in the other was often compared to the swastika or the German Reich eagle in both American and German newspapers. [Hugh Samuel] Johnson demanded that compliance with the Blue Eagle program be monitored by an army of quasi-official informants, from union members to Boy Scouts. ... Johnson's favorite means of promoting compliance with the Blue Eagle were military parades and Nuremberg style rallies. ... New York was nearly shut down [by one such parade] ... Under the direction of a U.S. Army major general, the Blue Eagle parade marched from Washington Square up Fifth Avenue to the New York Public Library, where it passed reviewing stand upon which stood Johnson, the governors from the tristate area, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Roosevelt himself was willing to sacrifice the guarantees of the constitution in pursuing the expansion of state over the individual:
Under the New Deal, governmental goons smashed down doors to impose domestic policies. G-men were treated like demigods, even as they spied on dissidents. Captains of industry wrote the rules by which they were governed. FDR secretly taped his conversations, used the postal service to punish enemies, lied repeatedly to maneuver the United States into war, and undermined Congress's war-making powers at several turns. When warned by Frances Perkins in 1932 that many provisions of the New Deal were unconstitutional, he in effect shrugged and said that they'd [sic, I do not use contractions outside quotes in serious writing] deal with that later (his intended solution: pack the Supreme Court with cronies). 

If that really was the case, where did all the goose-steepers go and why is the government so much less invasive today as it was then? The simple answer is that Americans were willing to accept such drastic measures as part of the unique circumstances of having to fight two world wars. When that state of crisis disappeared, so too did its de facto organs and politics. Lamenting that they planned in war but not for peace, Progressives realized they failed to take in account the simple matter that culture trumps politics. A culture that is not disposed to top-down micromanagement by enormous, faceless, and bullying government agencies can, in the span of a few election cycles tear those structures down.

The horrible truth of democracy is the people truly do have all the power. This runs counter to Progressive aims, so the new task of the American political left in the following decades was to continue to search for crises that could be exploited to create new political footholds because not all Progressive institutions were completely erased. That is why the creation of Obamacare in the current financial crisis follows the same tactical pattern as the creation of Social Security during the Great Depression.

That is also why everything Liberals focus on is in the shrieking tones of crisis.

Therein lies their greatest weakness. In seeking to capitalize on so many of our current crises, the current administration is forgetting something else: success matters. In their choice to use guerilla politics to cause the collapse of government institutions in order to build them up again, they are overplaying their hand and putting Liberalism (or Progressivism) in jeopardy of being soundly discredited. This is not the 1930's. These political machinations are happening in broad daylight. And they are not working.

People can see that Keynesian economics failed to help Americans out of our current economic slump and may have even exacerbated it creating a double-dip recession. Social engineering. Managed economies. Managed environment. All of these goals/tactics are quickly losing their appeal in the eyes of  even die-hard liberals these days.

As a villain bent on world-domination, I know the score. There are two widely utilized methods for world domination:

1) Charismatic Leader. This is where you seize power through love. Everybody loves you, and then willingly hands over the reigns of power as some sort of sign of appreciation.

2) Brute force. This involves just taking everything you have the power to take, usually through military tactics but also by intimidation through actual or psychological violence.

Pretty much every attempt at world conquest has used some combination of both these methods. The Charismatic Leader approach relies too heavily on the public mood, which is changeable. Yet the Brute Force method finds itself equally reliant upon military might and terror, which are also too unstable when stretched beyond certain geographical or temporal borders. What is more, it is an amazing trick to be able to move between these two methods because one requires gaining the affection of the masses and the other requires earning their fear.

At the most you can make this crossover about once in a generation. You cannot continually oscillate back and forth without ultimately wearing down the effectiveness of both.

And that, my friends, is where Progressivism finds itself currently. Liberals have nearly used up all their charismatic and fear credit.

Personally, I am determined to use a new method of my own creation:

3) Cultural Persuasion.

This method relies on influencing the culture of the place you want to control. Fear and adoration are mere moods. But culture can endure indefinitely.


  1. You said" "where did all the goose-steepers go and why is the government so much less invasive today as it was then? The simple answer is that Americans were willing to accept such drastic measures as part of the unique circumstances of having to fight two world wars. When that state of crisis disappeared, so too did its de facto organs and politics."

    Actually, the legislation that underlay the NRA, the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) was declared unconstitutional in 1935 by a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court. That is what put an end to the NRA campaigns.

  2. Thank you for disagreeing to agree.

    As it turns out, the NRA thing was meant as an example of how culturally acceptable a quasi-fascistic state was in America during the time of crisis. I was trying to explain the liberal lament "We planned in war!" but not for peace.

    This was the Progressives' own analysis, not mine nor that of any conservative.

    All I can say is the book does a much better job of demonstrating this than I can.