Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A New Hope

Peter W. Wickham, Jr.

"Two things are infinite: The universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

Albert Einstein

When I was in the sixth grade, I had a friend who had been caught by her mother smoking one of her father's cigarettes and she had to endure that interminable period of time known as "wait till your father gets home." Her mother told her father about the situation and after supper, her father supervised my friend in a session of chain-smoking a whole pack of cigarettes that left her as sick as a dog. To say the least, my friend thought long and hard about wanting to ever try smoking again.

Yesterday, the majority of registered voters who decided to venture to the polls and formally express a choice for President of these United States elected their new Fuhrer. Now I don't use that term lightly or for dramatic or comedic effect (though I will take what I can get). As Jonah Goldberg points out in his book, Liberal Fascism, the biggest success over time for the Left is to paint the Nazis (and the Fascists of Italy) as a Right-wing Conservative movement. The Nationalsozialistische Deutshe Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers' Party) began as a movement from the Left of the political spectrum. The Nazi's were the party that worked to ensure the fairness on the distribution of wealth for the workers of Germany and strong advocates of large government intervention in the life of the average citizen.

The Nazis were strong proponents of protecting the environment which included trampling over private property rights. They were also strongly behind the popular science of their day in decreeing what people could and could not eat and what kind and how much exercise everyone should do. And they were also behind a push for mandatory national service all in preserving and protecting the Fatherland. The Nazis were responsible for a large number of atrocities in history but at the time they came into power they had overwhelming support from the adoring masses and the American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. They certainly didn't advertise that they intended to commit any act that the voting populace would have considered evil.

Now I am not saying that Barack Obama is the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler (that requires a religious faith that I do not have) and the modern Nazi party would not allow Obama into their ranks but these two gentlemen have remarkable similarities in their lives and their political philosophies. Both men had strained relationships with their fathers. Hitler was a powerful orator and persuasive speaker before large supportive crowds much as Obama is today. Hitler had his Youth Groups and his Brown -shirts and Obama has a Junior Regiment and supporters in SWAT uniforms . Hitler was an advocate of gun control to keep power over the "subject races" which he sold to his fellow countrymen as a crime prevention measure and Obama and his party are proposing "reasonable" gun control measures for the same purpose though he and his party reserve the authority to define what is "reasonable." Adolf Hitler was self-described and by all meanings associated with the term, a socialist, and so is Barack Obama.

When a man discusses Santa Claus, flying reindeer, and trimming a tree then it can be safe to assume that he is talking about Christmas. When a man speaks in an inspiring fashion with phrases and terms direct from the Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx it can be safer than not to assume he is at least a socialist if not a communist. But like Hitler, Obama plays his cards close to his chest when it comes to discussing all his future plans with the press and with the people. As labels and their definitions go, socialist fits Obama like a good, broken-in pair of loafers.

There are members of academia resting high in their ivory towers that tell us that true socialism has never been tried and they are partly correct but for a reason that seems to escape them. Socialism cannot work because it depends on central planners who are omniscient, able to perform millions of calculations a thousand times a second in order to make a best guess about the next minute into the future, and omnipotent, able to control all factors of production including the output of the sun and other energy sources from off the planet Earth. Socialism also depends on a population so subservient to the central planners that each and every individual is ready and willing to self-terminate their very lives if called upon to do so in the name of preserving the social organism.

Because socialism is implemented by and inflicted on self-centered, fallible human beings, all planning is skewed towards ultimate failure. Socialism denigrates into a system where the governing engage in "lawful plunder" (Frederic Bastiat) of the governed so as to obtain and preserve a life of luxury for themselves, their families, their friends, and to a lesser degree, other members of their tribe, clan, or ethnic group. The early Christian church practiced a form of socialism known as communalism and even it had its failings (Acts 4:32-5:11).

So with all that an Obama presidency might entail for America, where is the hope? The economic law of Supply and Demand teaches that people have a tendency to treat cheaply a commodity that is quite plentiful and this is true for intangibles like good health and liberty. My friend in the story above took her good health for granted and acted as if she was the one person in history who could look cool by smoking and suffer no consequences for her choices. Her father gave her a good idea of what was in store for her if she continued along that course of action.

People in America have been taking their liberty for granted for some time now and have been quite willing to give up their's and the liberty of others in the name of being protected from terrorists even though they are more likely to be killed by a lightning strike. Now people have chosen a leader who promises to protect them from economic failures like unemployment, inflation, and recessions/depressions and again they are willing to give up liberty, and the wealth of others, in the name of security. Hopefully as liberty becomes more and more scarce and people are sickened by an overexposure to socialism, people will begin to treat liberty as more precious and will change their behavior. It will become a time for those of us who have dedicated our lives to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity" to lead through education and example by explaining why things are going wrong and how they can be made better.

I did not take the title for this column from a trite campaign slogan but instead from the secondary title of a popular war movie that came out in the late 70's. The story in this film was about a group of rebels who fought back against their own oppressive government and through a series of minor victories they came to finally triumph over an evil empire. History teaches that many resistance groups are successful in overthrowing despotic governments and dictators but not always within the lifetime of the founding members. It can be a long struggle and hopefully for the young amongst us it can be a bloodless revolution through the democratic process.

So "Vive le Resistance" and "may the Force be with you." Life does go on and all we have to do is live it...

Peter W. Wickham, Jr.
AKA The Ol' Grey Ghost

For further reading I would like to recommend Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and also Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysisby Ludwig von Mises.

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