Saturday, March 27, 2010

RLC Has a Mission

I just submitted the following to the Republican Liberty Caucus (RLC) blog.

RLC Has a Mission

In his historical tour de force, On Power, Bertrand de Jouvenal traces the process of centralization of power in Europe from the fall of Rome. He paints a picture of an unstoppable centripetal force, power, whose ever tightening grip on humanity was hastened first by the increasing power of monarchs and then by the rise of democracy. Prior to mass rule that began with the French revolution and Napoleon, war was limited by the resources of local feudal rulers. Total war became possible with the rise of democracy and nationalistic centralization. The great wars of the twentieth century which saw unprecedented numbers killed were the product of nationalism, mass rule and socialism, indeed, of national socialism and socialism in one country. These last are the ideologies of both the Democratic and Republican parties today.

For a century the United States showed that in the absence of centralization economic progress would come quicker, the public made better off, and war limited to local expansionism. But the Civil War began a process of Progressive centralization, and elite Americans of the Gilded Age after the Civil War, envious of the status of German universities, sent their sons to graduate school in Germany and were surprised when they returned advocating ideas that would forestall freedom and progress. Not having access to the ideas of von Mises, Hayek and Schumpeter, elite Americans adopted German historicism, according to which they, as an expert elite, deserved power and that power ought to be centralized to that end. They chose to remake America in Germany’s image fifty years before the rise of Hitler.

We live with the heritage of their nationalist and now internationalist Progressivism. Progress has slowed; retirement savings are insufficient to cover the needs of the largest cohort of retirees in the history of the world; the Progressive health care system has faltered and been redesigned to restrict care; and for the past forty years Americans have seen the”promise of American life”, an ever increasing standard of living, betrayed and slowed to a halt as the Federal Reserve Bank and the federal government have transferred ever more resources to banks and speculators.

De Jouvenal saw the rise of Franklin D. Roosevelt as the ultimate success of “power” in the United States. But the process has taken longer and become more intense as the centralizers’ ideas, one after the next, have failed and destroyed sections of America’s freedom and affluence. The nation retains its preeminent role because of the nineteenth century’s gains and because its diminishing sphere of private initiative remains larger than under the rigid socialism that dominates Europe and the rest of the world.

No one can calculate the damage that power has done to the nation. It is probable that, based on the absence of real wage growth since the gold standard was abolished in 1971 and the 2% compounded growth of real wages between 1800 and 1971, the real hourly wage today is but 40% of what it might have been without the depredations of the federal and state governments. But Americans are relatively worse off than that because of increases in taxes at the state and federal levels.

Both parties, Republican and Democratic, have participated in the relentless expansion of power. The Republican is the more likely of the two to be transformed from a socialistic, elitist party, to one that represents freedom and decentralization. Hence, there is no more important task in politics today than that which the Republican Liberty Caucus has set before itself: to reform the GOP and transform it into a party of freedom and decentralization; to overturn the process of centralization of power; and to reestablish America as a land of freedom.

Given the low quality of public debate and the domination of the public media, this is a difficult task. Struggle we must.

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