Are Americans Not Submissive Enough?

David Brooks is wrong about political authority.

(Page 2 of 2)

You end up with movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Parties that try to dispense with authority altogether. They reject hierarchies and leaders because they don’t believe in the concepts. The whole world should be like the Internet—a disbursed semianarchy in which authority is suspect and each individual is king.

Again, I wish he were right. But he is far too optimistic. (He’d call it pessimistic.) Neither Occupy Wall Street nor the Tea Party have identified the root of our political and economic problems, and consequently their solutions are not anti-authoritarian enough. But at least they sense something is wrong systemically. That’s a start.

Brooks, on the other hand, thinks it’s not the leaders who need changing so much as those who distrust “their” leaders.

“We have to relearn the art of following,” he writes.

No we don’t. We need to learn the art of living free.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Va., author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and editor of The Freeman magazine. This article originally appeared at The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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  • sarcasmic||

    We need to learn the art of living free.

    How can you live free when you can't do anything without asking permission from some jerk in government, and can't go anywhere without having to take orders?

    Liberty is dead.

  • Pip from the forge||

    ^
    Why nobody takes anarchists seriously, Part MCMLXIV.

  • sarcasmic||

    Don't you mean MCMLXXXIV?

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    What did he say that isn't true?

  • John||

    It is true but it doesn't quite describe our current situation.

  • Rick O'Shay||

    Fuck that. I don't ask permission from anybody. If you truly believe in freedom than you should just live it. Yeah you can't exactly be stupid about it these days or walk around blowing pot smoke in a cops face, but it is possible to side step most rules and get away with it. And yeah, sometimes it does require an occasional trip to jail.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I think it addresses an important part of it. Living free takes practice, and it's getting harder and harder to get that practical experience because our range of "permissable" decisions gets narrower every day.

  • ||

    I disagree. I think Americans suck the cock of authority better than almost any others in the world. 'cept maybe the North Koreans.

    Just look how pigs act when you question their authority. If pigs were used to people questioning their authority, then they would probably not knee react with violence. In such a world Radley probably would be a professional dog blogger and not the agitator that he is now.

  • MOFO.||

    David Brooks needs to eat my shit.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I really hope Brooksie's dominatrix eventually speaks out.

  • Bill||

    Do you think she pees on him before or after she beats his ass?

  • BakedPenguin||

    After. To torture him into thinking he's not getting it.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Cripes BP, you beat me to it.

  • Pro Libertate||

    If there's anything generically exceptional about Americans, it's our history of resisting authority and respecting the rights of the individual. It's been the losing of that tradition that's weakened us more than anything else.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I wonder about this. It certainly does seem as if there's a new supplicancy among Americans today. We should not be an easy people to govern.

  • John||

    Fifty years of liberals running the schools has something to do with that.

  • Suellington||

    I think you mean "leftists", they are for the most part definitely not liberal and should not be called such.

  • Bill||

    Or "progressives" It has that nice self-satisfied aspect to it that sooner or later people will realize means douchebag.

    I try to avoid using liberal as a pejorative.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Lots to do with it.

  • ChrisO||

    A lot of it has to do with our overall prosperity and leisure now. People are less willing to take risks.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I don't think it's just that, though the greater affluence does make us a little more amenable to subjugation.

  • ChrisO||

    Oh, I agree that's not the only cause. It's been a slow process of removing people's sense of responsibility for their own lives, dating all the way back to the Progressive Era.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Khan was right--we need to improve the species.

  • RG||

    I think there are large swaths of people willing to resist authority. However, they keep quiet about it or are marginalized by the mainstream.

  • John||

    Well then how about getting with the program?
    Why don't you jump on the team and come in for the big win?

    That is all Brooks is asking.

  • Jesse James Dean||

    lol. Sir! Yes, Sir!

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I think Brooks' complaint is not that the American people aren't obedient enough. I think his complaint is that too many people don't love Big Brother; he and those like him (e.g. Tony) think that we should worship and adore our "leaders".

  • John||

    Brooks' big bitch is with the culture war. He thinks that everyone should roll over and practice the good PC secular life that him and his friends at the NYT practice. He just can't stand the idea that people in this country do things like believe in strange religions or hold onto traditions or do anything that goes against the elite consensus of how you should live your life. He is a cultural totalitarian of the worst sort.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    The Tonys of America only think we should worship and adore our leaders if they're Team Blue.

    Which is where they fail, of course... Team Red should be scoffed at and snubbed, as well.

  • Rhywun||

    "The whole world should be like the Internet—-a disbursed semianarchy in which authority is suspect and each individual is king."

    I'm struggling to understand what is supposed to be so chilling about this notion.

    Anyway, this is the guy whom that rag props up as the supposed "alternative" to the usual line they feed their readers? Seems like he's just reinforcing the message they get from everyone else.

  • John||

    m struggling to understand what is supposed to be so chilling about this notion.

    Me too. I get the feeling the Brooks goes to bed every night fretting that someone somewhere might be enjoying themselves. He really is just that awful.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm struggling to understand what is supposed to be so chilling about this notion.

    People doing things without first asking permission? Who knows that they'll do? That's, like, scary and stuff!
    An Internet-like world would mean no licensing and no permits!
    Can you imagine someone renovating their kitchen without first getting permission from the town office? The horror!
    Or selling flower arrangements without first attending proper schooling and getting a license from the state?

    What kind of anarchist are you anyway?

  • wareagle||

    well, of course, this kind of stuff is scary to the likes of Brooks. He fancies himself among the nation's literati, the intellectuals who believe all would do well if the rabble among us simply listened to them.

    Wanna know why faith in institutions is decreasing? It's because they are, far too often, shown to be morally bankrupt, self-serving, power-grabbing little fiefdoms where nothing of value is done but where a lot of people manage to do well. For themselves.

  • Raven Nation||

    Brilliant.

  • Brutus||

    Word.

  • Jesse James Dean||

    +3

  • anon||

    "The whole world should be like the Internet—-a disbursed semianarchy in which authority is suspect and each individual is king."

    The problem with treating the world like the internet is that the internet removes all threat of physical coercion. Internet Tough Guys don't actually come to your house to "beat you up." There's limited physical space that's occupied solely by various storage mediums.

    Once we get into the real world, we have to deal with shit like murder/rape/breakingentering;. Once we cede power to government to be an arbiter of justice, it decides to take that power and apply it in ways we don't want as individuals. It's not the power of arbitration that's guilty of these crimes against justice, it's the weak will of the arbiter.

  • ExNuke||

    Physical coercion by someone other than the government is only a threat if you volunteer to be coercied by making yourself helpless and depend on the government for your personal safety.

    D. Brooks is quite the fan of government coercion because he believes he will always be one of the elite few directing the government's select militia. It will someday come as quite a shock to him that he has just been used as a Judas Goat to lead the sheep into the slaughter house.

  • GamerFromJump||

    An armed society is a polite society, as the saying goes.

  • Libertydog||

    what is funny is that these people call themselves "liberal"

  • Ken Shultz||

    They took that label back when the word meant something different. They could have just as easily ended up calling themselves "gay". In which case, maybe we'd be calling gay people "liberal" today?

    I don't know. I'm just sayin'.

  • Suellington||

    Unfortunately, conservatives have helped leftists steal the use of the word "liberal" when they have no claim upon it. Most leftists these days are as far as you can get from the original ideas embodied in that word. Every time I hear someone who is clamoring for more government intrusion into our lives get called a "liberal" it is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

  • Jesse James Dean||

    I know what you mean bro. That's why I refer to them as Democrats and Progressives instead of liberals. leftist doesn't even apply, because on the original left wing - right wing paradigm had classical liberals and anarchists on the far left

  • Suellington||

    Unfortunately, conservatives have helped leftists steal the use of the word "liberal" when they have no claim upon it. Most leftists these days are as far as you can get from the original ideas embodied in that word. Every time I hear someone who is clamoring for more government intrusion into our lives get called a "liberal" it is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Obama is now stumping for Princess Lie-awatha.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/.....th-warren/

    Has anyone in the press asked the president about whether supporting someone like that is insensitive towards real Native Americans?

  • John||

    She is the one candidate in the country dumb enough to ask for his help.

  • anon||

    And he's the one candidate dumb enough in this country to give it.

  • anon||

    er, insert "dumb enough" somewhere in there.

  • BakedPenguin||

    She's in Massachusetts. he will help her there.

  • NL_||

    Seems like the Eisenhower quote is counseling persistent humility, which really runs against the 'great leader' thesis.

  • ChrisO||

    Very much so. And Eisenhower was a man who actually did know about a lot of things, unlike so many of our current crop of federal politicians.

    Perhaps he was smart enough to understand his limitations and to know how much he didn't know.

  • John||

    He did. He may not have been the best President. But he was probably the best person to hold the office in a very long time.

  • Raven Nation||

    Yeah, and MAJOR revision in academic scholarship in the last 15 years or so when his papers became available.

    I would also give some love to Coolidge.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    I'm reading a book on Ike's Presidency. He wanted people for his cabinet who were too busy for the job. And by too busy, he meant being productive in the private sector. The opposite of what we have now.

  • DarrenM||

    Seems like the Eisenhower quote is counseling persistent humility, which really runs against the 'great leader' thesis.

    Unless you see yourself as one of those that know more and are better.

  • CharlotteHaze||

    Where are all the "Question Authority" bumper stickers Brooks alludes to? I'd be tickled pink, were such a sentiment commonplace.

    So Brooks thinks America would be better if we unquestioningly obey the Tracy Flicks of the world? Maybe Shepard Fairey should recycle his earlier "OBEY" slogan for the 2012 Obama poster.

    Eff YOU, David Brooks-- you pathetic weenie.

  • John||

    Where are all the "Question Authority" bumper stickers Brooks alludes to?

    The were scraped off the bumpers right around January 20th 2009.

  • Raven Nation||

    "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

  • Jesse James Dean||

    yep

  • Bill||

    More like 1969.

  • wareagle||

    authority is to be questioned only when "the other side" wields it. Left-leaning authority is good. If only we would accept that.

  • Loki||

    The whole world should be like the Internet—a disbursed semianarchy in which authority is suspect and each individual is king.

    First of all, as others stated upthread, the problem with this is...?

    Secondly, anyone who knows even a little bit about how the internet works knows that it's not "semianarchy". If anything it's more akin to a minarchy. You could think of the protocols as the rules or "laws" while users and content creators are relatively free to conduct whatever business they like so long as they follow the "rules" and don't bother anyone else.

    Of course I'm not surprised that a journalist no talent hack like David Brooks doesn't know what he's bloviating about.

  • sarcasmic||

    Internet rules are not enforced by threat of coercion. Nobody's going to come after you if you don't follow proper protocol. It just means that what you write won't work.
    So in a way it is anarchy. Rules exist, but there is no archon (anarchy = no archon) raining down violence if the rules are disobeyed.

  • John||

    "but there is no archon (anarchy = no archon) raining down violence if the rules are disobeyed."

    yes there is. I will be one of them. The day we ever get anarchy, me and several of my friends plan to form a small, well trained, heavily armed army, get ourselves a few slaves and build ourselves a little fiefdom. Being a warlord is great.

  • sarcasmic||

    yes there is.

    I was referring to the Internet you ignorant piece of shit.

    The day we ever get anarchy, me and several of my friends plan to form a small, well trained, heavily armed army, get ourselves a few slaves and build ourselves a little fiefdom.

    I bet you would. Complete with stalls of sex slaves for you to rape on a daily basis.
    Like Bastiat said, when law conflicts with morality, one must choose between the two.
    You obviously left morality by the side of the road a long long time ago.

  • John||

    If not me someone else sarcasmic. It is why I laugh at anarchists. Unless you can create the new man who is perfected by freedom, you will never have anarchy, just differing levels of oppression.

  • sarcasmic||

    I have always said that anarchy is an impossibility because roving gangs of immoral violent thugs (you and your friends) would compete for the "right" to extort "protection" money, and the winner would become government.

    I was referring to the Internet when I said "So in a way it is anarchy."

    Learn to read.

  • John||

    And the internet has its own gangs, they are called spammers.

  • sarcasmic||

    And the internet has its own gangs, they are called spammers.

    Spammers use violence to enforce the rules?
    Dude, you're ignorance is embarrassing. Quit while you're behind.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    roving gangs of immoral violent thugs (you and your friends) would compete

    what do you mean "would". They did. That's how we got here. If you label that a bad thing you are an anarchist, as far as I'm concerned. If you feel the need to apologize for the thugs, and rationalize their actions with some kind excuse about, e.g. how taxation isn't the same as theft, then you are a statist.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That just shows two things, John. The first is that you have no understanding of Anarchist concepts, such as Mutualism. The second is that you are a sociopath.

  • John||

    No HM, it just shows that I understand people and how they actually act. And mutualism is no different than the Marxist idea of the new socialism man. Notice in Marxism eventually the government goes away because everyone is perfected. When you think about it it is no surprise communists and anarchist get along so well.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    No HM, it just shows that I understand people and how they actually act. And mutualism is no different than the Marxist idea of the new socialism man.

    No, you're just arguing from Hobbesian "life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short" point of view, which is inherently and explicitly against any philosophy of liberty, as Locke proved. You're entitled to your opinion, but don't pretend it's any more valid than then Lockean view.

  • sarcasmic||

    Mutualism assumes that John and his friends will not use force of numbers to make plunder their lifestyle. Unless you have your own gang of violent thugs to fight them off, but then your gang will just start plundering themselves.

    Anarchism in any form is impossible because of people like John.

  • John||

    Anarchism in any form is impossible because of people.

    Fixed it for you sarcasmic.

  • sarcasmic||

    You assume everyone is an immoral fuckwad like yourself, John.

    You are wrong.

  • John||

    Rhetorical irony really is beyond your comprehension isn't it sarcasmic? And if you don't think most people in the world are not at heart pretty bad, you have have lived a very sheltered life.

  • sarcasmic||

    And if you don't think most people in the world are not at heart pretty bad, you have have lived a very sheltered life.

    If you think most people are at heart pretty bad, it just means you surround yourself with people who, like you, are at heart pretty bad.

    Birds of a feather...

  • John||

    Have fun in your bubble sarcasmic.

  • sarcasmic||

    Have fun in your bubble sarcasmic.

    Human beings are social animals. Most cooperate by choice. It's a minority that disregard the unwritten rules of social interaction and harm their fellow man.
    Some are criminals, others are government. The only difference is their employer.

  • Jesse James Dean||

    this.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Actually, you don't have to assume that everyone is an immoral fuckwad. The entire thing falls into failure if only some people are immoral fuckwads.

  • sarcasmic||

    The entire thing falls into failure if only some people are immoral fuckwads.

    true

  • anon||

    Actually, you don't have to assume that everyone is an immoral fuckwad. The entire thing falls into failure if only some people are immoral fuckwads.

    Funny, my base assumption is that most people are immoral fuckwads.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    No, Mutualism includes mutual defense.

  • sarcasmic||

    Mutualism will not work because it ignores the moochers and looters, and assumes everyone will be content to be a producer.

    Unfortunately that is a false assumption, and any train of logic based on a false assumption is a fallacy.

    Sorry.

  • Jesse James Dean||

    We have moochers and looters under statism, so how would they suddenly become a bigger problem if the state's authority was no longer recognized?

  • ExNuke||

    Because without the Government extorting money from the producers to buy the votes of the moochers they would get hungry. A feral dog can be kept peaceful if he is fed often and generously, stop feeding him and you won't like the results.

  • John||

    No, Mutualism includes mutual defense.

    That only works if everyone agrees to defend each other rather than oppress each other. It is totally naive.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    That only works if everyone agrees to defend each other rather than oppress each other.

    No, it just requires a simple majority.

  • sarcasmic||

    No, it just requires a simple majority.

    So when the moochers and looters become the majority, then what?
    Oh yeah, you're living it.

  • John||

    "No, it just requires a simple majority."

    Not when my well armed, trained and organized minority shows up. My army will beat your mob every time, especially when I start buying off your better people to join my side.

    If mutualism worked, things like William's conquering of Anglo Saxon England could have never happened. History is full of small, organized, trained and committed armies conquering larger populations.

  • sarcasmic||

    Not when my well armed, trained and organized minority shows up.

    That requires a lot of coin. You don't get one of those overnight. You need to do a lot of pillaging first.

    Who knows, you may stumble on Suthenboy's compound and get your head blown off before you've managed to fully equip and train your little army.

    One can only hope.

  • John||

    If it is not me, it would be someone else. That is the whole point sarcasmic. It is not that I personally would do all of that. It is that someone undoubtedly would.

  • sarcasmic||

    It is not that I personally would do all of that.

    I am sure that you would try.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I think in this point we have to agree to disagree, John. Your view of human nature comes from a Christian belief in original sin, and perhaps even a Calvinist belief in Total Depravity. Whereas, my view of human nature is shaped by the Buddhist doctrine of the Luminous Mind, that is, people are inherently good, but that since we are raised in ignorance of how to deal with our lust for sense pleasures, the light of our mind gets covered with the dust of sin.

    However, what we can argue is which doctrine is more conducive to physical, mental, and spiritual liberty. I believe there is a stronger argument for my view of human nature being more conducive to liberty.

  • John||

    HM,

    I have the entire history of man kind as one giant experiment that bears out my view of humanity. If human nature was good, communism would have worked and we would live in a much better world.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    If human nature was good, communism would have worked and we would live in a much better world.

    I don't see what Communism has to do with a discussion of Anarchism. Other than that, I think you have a very selective and pessimistic view of human history. Have there been times where the strong oppressed the weak? Of course. But there have been just as many examples of people working together in voluntary association without any form of coercion.

    Cincinnatus returned to his plow, yes?

  • John||

    Communism has everything to do with anarchism. They both depend upon the perfection of man in order to succeed. Remember Marx predicted the end of government once socialism was fully achieved. The only difference between the two is that Communism thinks man can be perfected by government and anarchism thinks he can be perfected by freedom. Both are equally foolish.

    And sure there have been short lived examples of voluntary association. But so what? There have been many other and more numerous examples of the opposite. And until the test rate is 100%, anarchy can never be achieved.

  • John C. Randolph||

    I'm sure you think you just said something clever, but you're wrong. Anarchism has no requirement of perfect people. You can be a flaming asshole, but as long as you don't attempt to use force against me, that's your problem, not mine.

    -jcr

  • ||

    If mutualism worked, things like William's conquering of Anglo Saxon England could have never happened. History is full of small, organized, trained and committed armies conquering larger populations.

    Anglo-Saxon England was a monarchy, not an anarcho-capitalist society.

    And what happened in 1066 was that the king of England and his army (not "the people" of England) fought off one band of invaders in the north, then rushed south, badly weakened and beat up, to face the Norman invasion.

    Basically, one warlord beat another warlord, but was so weakened by the victory that he then lost to yet another warlord.

  • John||

    But protefeed. Even after Hastings William had not conquered England. He has a small army of four or five thousand men. England still had an entire population. But they were never able to organize another army and concentrate their forces. They were thus destroyed piece meal with William laying waste to any area that rebelled one village at a time.

    That is my point. If mutualism worked, the people of England would have risen up and wiped out his army. But they didn't. Without a king to rally them, they could never organize and concentrate their forces. And thus the small well trained army won.

  • Rasilio||

    No you are both wrong.

    The majority of people are not sociopathic thugs only held in line by the threat of government force but it takes far more than a simple majority to successfully hold those who are at bay.

    For mutualiasm to be an effective deterrent to warlords in an anarchic system you need fully 65 - 75% of the population completely buying into the mutual defense civilized anarchy concept in order to prevent the 10% who decide to become warlords from tearing the whole system down.

  • ||

    "Being a warlord is great."

    I like you John, but if that day comes, dont come around my neck of the woods. Any such behavior around here and you would be feeding buzzards. I dont tolerate bullys.

  • ||

    Bullies....sorry.

  • John||

    That is why will shoot you before you get the chance.

  • DarrenM||

    What? No long diatribe first, like in the movies?

  • Loki||

    Internet rules are not enforced by threat of coercion.

    True, there's no coercion involved so parallels to systems of government are tenuous at best.

  • sarcasmic||

    I was making a parallel to systems of how society interacts, like the free (absent government intervention, like the Internet) market.

  • GILMORE||

    to hold up others who are immeasurably superior to ourselves

    John Holmes' Law = All Superiority Is Measurable

  • anon||

    Subjective value? What's that?

  • J_L_B||

    I remember reading on the HuffPo a few weeks the usual banter about how the Europeans are superior to us in every way possible.

    This issue came up and the consensus was basically that we view our rights like spoiled children who do obnoxious things with them just because we can.

    It doesn't shock me that they view rights as positive things only if used for the things they approve of. Those aren't rights, those are government-granted priviledges, kinda like how the left views free speech.

  • Brutus||

    I'm going to flog my pet issue again: Federalism.

    I think the problem is the massive consolidation of power in DC. Issues that were once solved at the state or local level are now immediately kicked upstairs to the federales, virtually guaranteeing that the eventual "solution" will alienate more people than would a local one. We are being forced ever more onto the procrustean bed of one-size-fits-all answers when 50 or 5,000 answers would be more appropriate.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Well said, Brute. (As in the vocative case of Brutus, [e.g. et tu, Brute?) not that you are a "brute".)

  • Brutus||

    My previous nick of "Jeffersonian" was taken quickly once registration kicked in, so I picked a nick that belonged to one of the anti-federalist papers authors on the spot. I don't particularly like the old Popeye cartoons.

    Let me say here that you've become my favorite HnR commenter, HM. Keep up the excellent work.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Thanks, man.

  • The Heresiarch||

    Kai su teknon?

  • John||

    All true. And Brooks is so stupid that he doesn't understand that the federal control he so loves is what has made the culture wars he claims to hate so vicious.

  • Brutus||

    Exactly. With subsidiarity in government, one has legislators and regulators that are more accessible and attuned to the local culture. If I don't like something my city's board is doing, I can drive three miles and go rant at them about it. I might not get my way, but at least I can feel as though I've been heard and it may make a difference. And if it really pisses me off, I can move away. That doesn't work at all with the federal government.

    Centralization should be for issues that are simply not feasible for states to control on their own. Miraculously, we have a blueprint - written by political geniuses - for doing just that, but we ignore it vehemently.

  • anon||

    It comes from the whole idea of the "living constitution."

    Once the progressives were able to marginalize the idea that our constitution is one of negative liberties, it found power to do whatever the fuck it wants, superseding state and local laws, with no regard for local conditions.

    Fucking central planners.

  • John||

    People like Brooks just can't get over the fact that people places he would never be caught dead traveling to much less living in might be living in ways he doesn't approve.

  • Brutus||

    "Dyin' ain't much of a livin'." - Josey Wales, political philosopher

    But apparently the document is only alive when it's expanding State power.

  • Bill||

    This leaves no role for "Top Men" whose authority we can respect.

  • sarcasmic||

    Repeal the 17th!

  • Brutus||

    I think that's part of it, but not nearly enough. Several states had already gone to popular election of Senators when A17 was ratified.

  • sarcasmic||

    That is their choice. The 17th takes that choice away.

  • DarrenM||

    I think the problem is the massive consolidation of power in DC.

    I tend to think most issues come down to how power is distributed. The more distributed the better in general. There are exceptions, but they are few.

  • John C. Randolph||

    I think the problem is the massive consolidation of power in DC.

    Hear, hear!

    Power is like uranium. Let too much of it accumulate in any one place, and Bad Things Happen.

    -jcr

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Why am I left with the distinct impression that Brooks' ideal leader would wear a lot of leather and demand to be called "Mistress".

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Nancy Pelosi in BDSM gear? Ewwwwwwww.

  • John||

    For Brooks it would be Jean Kirk Patrick or Condi Rice. And he would be a co sub with Peggy Noonan.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    The way Brooks has been talking lately, I wouldn't be so sure of that, John.

  • ||

    Christ Mr. FIFY! I was about to eat. Goddammit.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    What makes you so sure it is a woman? But, with Pelosi, I guess you didn't make that assumption.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Didja spew lunch on your monitor, Suthen?

  • T. Durden||

    The real reason people are so obedient is one libertarians often ignore or struggle to answer. That reason is that government makes the quality of life for most people go up. And the more government you give the more comfortable people are.

    Libertarians ask people to forgo comfort for liberty and that just isn't going to happen anymore than atheists asking people to forgo comfort for truth.

    People want to be fat and happy whether or not they are free or well-informed. If it were otherwise the world would be drastically different.

  • John||

    And the more government you give the more comfortable people are.

    I guess that is why people in North Korea and Cuba are among the happiest and most content on earth right?

    Fortunately the government rarely makes anyone but a few cronies happy or comfortable.

  • T. Durden||

    North Korea is an awful example because the government there is not egalitarian in design.

    We have evolved into a paternalistic nanny-state and that government keeps people fed and taken care of while also making all the hard decisions for citizens.

    People don't want accountability. They don't want options. They want everything taken care of at a higher level.

    The social democratic governments of Europe and the U.S. version do those things pretty well. It makes people weak and stupid, but at the base level that is a choice the people are making themselves. They are plugging in to Nozick's experience machine.

  • John||

    No they don't. they are going broke. They have run out of other people's money. So they won't be making anyone comfortable for much longer. And the reality is they never did make many people comfortable outside of the top men who got rich off the system. What they were able to do is create the illusion of comfort while taking as much money as possible without crashing the system. Now they have gone and done it and stolen too much and the whole thing is going to end.

  • DarrenM||

    North Korea is an awful example because the government there is not egalitarian in design.

    Who said anything about the design of a government. The design is merely how it is 'intended' to start off. What it actually ends up as is usually something different anyway. Sometimes a Weimar Replublic ends up as the Third Reich.

  • Killazontherun||

    Sweden was a capitalist powerhouse for four hundred years before it could afford even a whiff of socialism. Which turned out to be so unsustainable that major reform was needed in the 90's after a mere generation of this unsustainable alternative leeched the accumulated wealth of centuries.

  • sarcasmic||

    "Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else."
    -Bastiat
    http://bastiat.org/en/government.html

  • ||

    You are correct.... for the majority of our species. Brooks is of that ilk, and thinks everyone else is.

    John's criticism is grounded in reality, and he is much like the rest that haunt this board; Libertarians are the sort that value liberty over all else and would rather crawl off in a ditch and die of starvation to avoid slavery.

    Unfortunately for Libertarianism, most people gladly put chains on themselves to avoid missing even one meal.

  • DarrenM||

    That reason is that government makes the quality of life for most people go up.

    I think you may want to rephrase that. Government does not *make* the quality of life go up. Government *can* provide a structure in which people have the freedom to make their own quality of life go up. It is much more capable of impeding that ability than promoting it, though. Advances are often made in spite of government.

    And the more government you give the more comfortable people are.

    Again, you may want to rephrase this. At some point, government becomes more of a burden than a necessity. I'm pretty sure we've already reached that point with regard to the federal government. At least several states, too.

  • T. Durden||

    When government redistributes wealth there s no doubt that it is making people have a higher quality of life.

    Look, we can talk about how liberty is supposed to make everyone better off and how rising tides lift all boats, but deep down you have to recognize that isn't so.

    In a world of personal responsibility lots of people are going to lose and lose big. Governments manage risk. The more powerful the government the more risk they can obviate for citizens by setting minimum wages and providing standardized education, social safety nets, and free health insurance, etc. These are all things that require a pretty powerful state to provide and without the state most people would get left out of those comforts.

    The issue is that libertarians suggest liberty, in itself, is a value that is more important than comfort. Equality of opportunity is more important than equality of outcome. That equalizing outcomes necessarily intrudes upon the liberty of some to benefit the many and still makes everyone a slave.

    However, for many people, being a comfortable slave is preferable to living on the edge as a freeman.

  • ||

    Libertarians ask people to forgo comfort for liberty

    No, libertarians posit that increased liberty will have the happy effect of making people wealthier and more comfortable.

    It is statists who talk about such things as "shared sacrifice".

  • T. Durden||

    Libertarians say liberty will increase people's comfort? In what world is increased personal responsibility going to make most people more comfortable?

  • Pip from the forge||

    Your view of human nature comes from a Christian belief in original sin...my view of human nature is shaped by the Buddhist doctrine of the Luminous Mind

    Awesome! Mysticism vs. mysticism.

  • T||

    It's only awesome if somebody shoots laser beams from their third eye.

  • CharlotteHaze||

    Ben Franklin advised Americans to "question authority*" long before Timothy Leary adopted the slogan (*"It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.").

    A relief to discover-- I've always been vaguely uneasy being in wholehearted agreement with Leary.

  • ||

    Brooks disparages “our fervent devotion to equality” because it’s “hard in this frame of mind to define and celebrate greatness, to hold up others who are immeasurably superior to ourselves.”

    To be fair, given the quality of thinking in this article, it is entirely possible that most politicians are immeasurably superior to Brooks.

    Now, if he would stop projecting, and just concentrate on his personal inferiority, I would be content.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    I'm glad my child never had to attend a school where even the losers were given trophies.

  • Coach Panto||

    Brooksie's androgynous ideology again. Like getting flashed by a hermaphrodite.

    "all people are equal and deserve equal recognition and respect"

    No, all people deserve equal respect OF THEIR NATURAL RIGHTS, but recognition (of achievement) must be EARNED.

    Also

    "movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Parties that try to dispense with authority altogether"

    1. Wrong on OWS: they want a nanny socialist state.
    2. Tea Partiers never said they want NO govt. That's a cheap arse straw man. We want got that limits itself to protecting natural rights and we agree with OWS that the fascist bailouts for too-big-to-fails must end.

  • Coach Panto||

    I've read 100 Brooks columns, and I'm convinced that he doesn't quite know what he believes. One day he recognizes govt has become too big, another he criticizes people who resist govt growth. One day he recognizes the value of competitive entrepreurship, another he wants to helicopter OUR money on to hopeless boondoggles.

    I think he suffers from a perpetual cognitive dissonance from trying to hold a credible middle position between libertarianism and statism, but the problem is that for most beliefs on theos poles, you can't MORALLY hold one without renouncing it's opposite:

    You can't be a part-time capitalist or socialist.
    You can't be a part-time individualist or collectivist.
    You can't be a part-time trader or thief.

    The statists are so radically committed to equalizing outcomes that they will bankrupt the nation trying. You can't compromise with that. You can't be halfway between a pacifist and a terrorist and call yourself one or the other. Both camps will reject you.

    That is the state of ideological war we are in. The statist dead-enders must be identified, isolated, politically neutralized, and socially ostracized.

    And if one tries to take your property by force, send them to Marxist Heaven (a colorless gulag).

    Now get out there and Individualize!

  • John C. Randolph||

    The statists are so radically committed to equalizing outcomes

    No, that's just the PR line that they feed to the proles. What they're really committed to is power for its own sake, because deep down they're a pack of sociopaths.

    -jcr

  • Coach Panto||

    Interesting that you say that as I was pondering the core beliefs behind statism.

    Obviously some idealists do fantasize about an egalitarian utopia, and behind egalitarianism are other idealistic beliefs like the Noble Savage, the Blank Slate, and Emotionalism (I feel sorry for the poor, therefore we must compel the rich to help them).

    But to your point, I think statists do also seek power for power's sake, by any means, which justifies sociopathic takings from others.

    But what is behind that? The absence of a belief in the moral superiority of natural rights and trade is really a belief in either Personal (or Tribal) Supremacy or Nihilism (everything is meaningless, so why not rape and pillage).

    So I agree, while many statists are at the core Utopians, many are Supremacists (narcissism is the supremacy of the self), and many are Nihilists.

    Either way we're screwed if they consolidate power. That Obamacare ruling this morning was a big step towards consolidating the new fascist tyranny they've been working on for 100 years.

    There will be a lot of JSebastians out there itching for insurgency if Romney doesn't win and repeal that new multitrillion dollar dungheap.

  • JSebastian||

    Its pretty obvious that the democracy experiment was a failure. And I think that while you're correct that Tea Party folks never said they want NO govt, most of them realize that the hopes of actually reforming the govt, and forcing it to be Constitutional, are basically nil. So given that reality, most people, regardless of what they profess to support, understand that only revolution will provide reform. That we have to hit the reset button. And, I believe that government 2.0 will be voluntary.

  • JSebastian||

    I hope that Brooks lives long enough to see the bodies of government thugs swinging from lampposts and littering the streets of the capitol.

    Because the only way for this to be a free country again is to kill the State and those who support it, and start over.

  • JSebastian||

    Actually there is another possibility that would yield at least a marginal improvement in the freedom from federal tyranny, which is succession of the states. You need the votes of 32 states to secede and to vote to dissolve the union...and replace it with nothing. Then you have 50, or some other convenient number, of sovereign states.

    That possibility is interesting because it has actually worked in the real world (the breakup of the USSR being the model). States could then compete as political systems - those offering the most popular system would attract the most people and capital and commerce while those offering the least would be effectively punished in the marketplace of ideas.

    For folks who can't stomach actual revolution, but still want one, that's probably the better path to pursue (although I think likely to fail, for the same reason that current attempts at govt reform through peaceful means have failed)

  • ||

    Extending the concept only slightly, coaxial and fiber-optic cables follow public rights of way, periodicals are http://www.ceinturesfr.com/cei.....-c-14.html delivered via public roads, and every speaker's voice is both powered and transmitted by the public air. Does Patrick Trueman have a right to decency in these media as well?

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