If one is going to go after sacred cows, one should really go after sacred cows. Most of the people in our society who get credit for "going after sacred cows" are just going after unfashionable ones. At least ones that are unfashionable in the circles they want to appeal to. We live in a world of iconodules posing as iconoclasts.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Decline and Hypertrophy

Mark Steyn said recently

"Why squander your presidency on trying to turn an economically moribund feudal backwater into a functioning nation state when you can turn a functioning nation state into an economically moribund feudal backwater?"
Then there's this article by Charles Krauthammer (yes, I'm way behind the "current" normally expected of blogs, but who cares?)
"Facing the choice of whether to maintain our dominance or to gradually, deliberately, willingly, and indeed relievedly give it up, we are currently on a course towards the latter. The current liberal ascendancy in the United States--controlling the executive and both houses of Congress, dominating the media and elite culture--has set us on a course for decline. And this is true for both foreign and domestic policies. Indeed, they work synergistically to ensure that outcome. . .

..."Domestic policy, of course, is not designed to curb our power abroad. But what it lacks in intent, it makes up in effect. Decline will be an unintended, but powerful, side effect of the New Liberalism's ambition of moving America from its traditional dynamic individualism to the more equitable but static model of European social democracy."
I quibble with the first sentence of that 2nd paragraph: It is designed consciously to shift resources from the legitimate functions of government to the illegitimate ones. It's no accident that in an era of runaway, unaccountable spending, the only department that was told to look for every possible "savings" (cut) was defense, and that the only area of spending deliberately excluded from any "stimulus" money was defense, and that after years of saying our soldiers weren't being given the equipment they needed, when money could have been spent to "help" GM and Chrysler buy buying more vehicles for them, that did not happen.

A dream of the Left has been to ratchet up social spending to the point where spending on the legitimate functions of government would necessarily be starved for funds and decline.
This affects the ability to project power. Growth provides the sinews of dominance--the ability to maintain a large military establishment capable of projecting power to all corners of the earth. The Europeans, rich and developed, have almost no such capacity. They made the choice long ago to devote their resources to a vast welfare state. Their expenditures on defense are minimal, as are their consequent military capacities. They rely on the U.S. Navy for open seas and on the U.S. Air Force for airlift. It's the U.S. Marines who go ashore, not just in battle, but for such global social services as tsunami relief. The United States can do all of this because we spend infinitely more on defense--more than the next nine countries combined.
Formerly it was just the Continental Europeans that relied upon the kindness of strangers for their protection. A calculus that might be adaptive if your protectors is the rather generous and benign Anglosphere. Now it will be the entirety of Western Civilization that relies upon the kindness of strangers. Even if these strangers were to have our best interests at heart, a true (as opposed to faux/superficial) multiculturalist would know that their priorities are different from ones we might assert ourselves; liberty is not high on the list of any of them with the possible exception of Anglosphere-influenced India.

I note here that the Obama Administration, for all the plaudits they get for "diplomatic outreach", is engaging in malign neglect of the close relationship the "unilateralist, cowboy" Bush Administration built up with India.
Those are the conditions today. But they are not static or permanent. They require constant renewal. The express agenda of the New Liberalism is a vast expansion of social services--massive intervention and expenditures in energy, health care, and education--that will necessarily, as in Europe, take away from defense spending.

This shift in resources is not hypothetical. It has already begun. At a time when hundreds of billions of dollars are being lavished on stimulus and other appropriations in an endless array of domestic programs, the defense budget is practically frozen. Almost every other department is expanding, and the Defense Department is singled out for making "hard choices"--forced to look everywhere for cuts, to abandon highly advanced weapons systems, to choose between readiness and research, between today's urgencies and tomorrow's looming threats.
See above.

The effect on the dollar is already being felt and could ultimately lead to a catastrophic collapse and/or hyperinflation. Having control of the world's reserve currency is an irreplaceable national asset. Yet with every new and growing estimate of the explosion of the national debt, there are more voices calling for replacement of the dollar as the world currency--not just adversaries like Russia and China, Iran and Venezuela, which one would expect, but just last month the head of the World Bank.
Again, to to the extent to which these cretins are even aware of the value of having one's own currency serve as the international reserve currency, I don't think they mind the U.S. losing it. It doesn't fit with their transnationalist vision.
But, of course, if one's foreign policy is to reject the very notion of international primacy in the first place, a domestic agenda that takes away the resources to maintain such primacy is perfectly complementary. Indeed, the two are synergistic. Renunciation of primacy abroad provides the added resources for more social goods at home. To put it in the language of the 1990s, the expanded domestic agenda is fed by a peace dividend--except that in the absence of peace, it is a retreat dividend.

And there's the rub. For the Europeans there really is a peace dividend, because we provide the peace. They can afford social democracy without the capacity to defend themselves because they can always depend on the United States.

So why not us as well? Because what for Europe is decadence--decline, in both comfort and relative safety--is for us mere denial. Europe can eat, drink, and be merry for America protects her. But for America it's different. If we choose the life of ease, who stands guard for us?
Canada, I guess: Their National Anthem says so, after all. Oh, wait...no, it says "We stand on guard for thee" - meaning people should stand on guard for their nation. Again, inverted under Tranzi progressivism.
Because, while globalization has produced in some the illusion that human nature has changed, it has not. The international arena remains a Hobbesian state of nature in which countries naturally strive for power. If we voluntarily renounce much of ours, others will not follow suit. They will fill the vacuum. Inevitably, an inversion of power relations will occur.
Note how at odds this view is from the alternative view. The alternative view asserts, in effect, that we are the only protagonist, the only "Player Character" in the world: That others are simply NPCs who respond to our stimuli. That any bad acts on their part are in effect caused by our actions, and if we change our policies, they will change theirs and become benign. This is clearly the vision of the current Administration, and of those who awarded it the Nobel Prize. They clearly believe that if we voluntarily transform, others *will* follow suit, because we generate all the antagonism, which otherwise would simply fade away if only we give out the right cookies.
"We've got to think about giving out cookies," said Gration, who was appointed in March. "Kids, countries -- they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement."
Other countries are basically small children aping the "adult", the Actor. They are simply re-actors, without minds and policies of their own. In this way, those who claim to be most respectful of other peoples are actually giving them the least credit as independent actors with wills, desires, and goals of their own, and the vision to pursue them the way we can.



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