Hayek and you
Having quoted at some length Hayek’s condemnation of the pretend proponents of free enterprise whose pragmatic policies, were they to be generally adopted would just as assuredly lead to socialism as those of the avowedly socialist, Mark Levin concluded his show last evening thus:
This to me, ladies and gentlemen [...] defines the modern day Republican Party. They are just as guilty of promoting big government socialism as the left. They’re just a little slower about it. Because they’ve abandoned first principles.
Hayek’s complaint was against the corporatism and cronyism that camouflaged itself as free market enterprise, which in the long term was simply socialism under a different guise, namely, liberal fascism. Levin’s characterization of the GOP ruling class — which is right now, in its effort to get Democrats to vote in the GOP runoff, breaking Mississippi election law in order to secure Thad Cochran’s victory over a constitutional conservative, the dual purpose of which is to protect their leadership hierarchy and to handpick his successor when he steps down mid-term — similarly speaks to the lack of principle endemic in the phony “pragmatism” and “realism” of those entrenched elite Beltway operators who chide we, the people, for our unnuanced “purity,” even as it is they refuse to back candidates chosen by the party base in primary elections, and in fact actively work to defeat them, even if to do so means the ascendency of a liberal Democrat, a “progressive,” to take the seat. For my own part, I’ve long talked about the contemporary GOP’s obvious political philosophy, which boils down to losing more slowly – that is, to allow, either intentionally or through a lack of intellectual rigor and an entrenched, incurious, and rote governing (technocratic) template, for the institutionalization of kernel assumptions (in my case, I concentrated on linguistic and hermeneutic assumptions, because it is they that predicate epistemic narratives) that infect prevailing “truth” paradigms and lead inexorably and inevitably toward collectivism by way of structural imperatives built into those institutionalized assumptions.
– Which I don’t point out to compare myself in any way to important voices for constitutionalism, classical liberalism, and free market capitalism like Hayek or Levin, but rather to suggest that this argument has persisted, and yet in large part been actively resisted by those who claim to champion us — to our growing national and individual peril.
It takes an army of dedicated and idealistic crusaders to break through the status quo, entrenched as it is through a political machinery designed to protect and insulate it, and structured in such a way that it creates massive burdens on any challenge to its presumed political and incumbent entitlements. For whatever reason, my attempts have be largely thwarted — though I do believe I’ve succeeded as an unnamed instigator toward a resistance to linguistic tyranny, however nascent that battle is within the internal machinery of liberty-minded resistance movements. Perhaps I lack the tact or the diplomacy to be successful as a voice in the political process — at least among those who at some point (roughly 5 years or so ago) decided my ideas and the ways I expressed them did more harm than good, and so were worth marginalizing, either through a frontal attack on my “pseudo-intellectuality” or through the mere airbrushing of me out of forefront of “conservative” commentary.
Which would matter less to me were we now more further along in our outlawry, rather than suddenly awakening to its necessity.
I want to end this post, which may be my last of day (depending on my state of mind, which just now, were it to be gauged by a mood ring, would show black as the shadow of a charcoal briquet), by excerpting a bit from the piece that, in many ways — though wildly popular and at the time widely read — precipitated the orchestration of my marginalization. Because though it over a half-decade old now, it expresses many of the arguments that we’ve heard before, whether through Hayek or Friedman or others, and that now we’re hearing again, as we of necessity scurry to find our way back toward constitutionalism as a matter of civil survival:
[...] [T]o avoid being misrepresented in a soundbite culture is, frankly, a fool’s game — and, even more frankly, it is indicative of a political strategy that amounts to conceding loss, with the concomitant hope that perhaps we’ll lose more slowly.
– Which is not to say this is a conscious part of the strategy of the realists, just that it is the inevitable effect of backing such a strategy. Because even were Republicans to begin winning elections based on their newly found ability to negotiate a hostile media bent on misrepresenting them, they’d be compelled to maintain the practice of carefully parsing their words, which means they’d always be at the mercy of those looking to attack and discredit. And such has the effect both of chilling speech and of determining in what way a message must necessarily be delivered.
And when your opponents are making the rules, you are necessarily playing their game.
To put it more forcefully, it is a fact of language that once you surrender the grounds for meaning to those who would presume to determine your meaning for you, you are at their mercy. [....] And that way lies totalitarianism and, to borrow from both G.B. Shaw and Jonah Goldberg, “liberal fascism.”
[...] As many pundits will patiently explain to you, ideological purity and idealism doesn’t win elections, so if not pragmatism, what?
To which I reply, pragmatism is fine. But why not use our idealism pragmatically — which is to say, why not make it our strategy to use idealism as our cudgel against the media and the left in such a way that their tactic of misrepresentation and outrage no longer pays dividends? Why not make it our strategy to destroy their tactics — and in so doing, reaffirm the very principles at the heart of classical liberalism?
A few people took up the mantle at the time — this kind of pushback was, in fact, in the air, coalescing into what became the TEA Party movement, and a number of groups and sites speaking for that movement that to this day haven’t read what I think was, at the time, a rather seminal piece in the right-side blogosphere’s nascent divide between establishment pragmatists and constitutionalists and legal conservatives; but for the most part it has remained a relic.
And yet the ideas expressed in it are in keeping with a trajectory that has not changed: we, the people, are not to be subjects; and if we wish to stop our subjugation, we must do so not by worrying ourselves into casting our beliefs in pale pastels, so as not to upset the fictional “independent swing voter;” but rather to by speaking boldly about the very ideals and principles that made this country the envy of the world and history’s greatest success, one that, alas, today finds its way back on that road to serfdom.