Saturday, July 19, 2014

Liberalism Unrelinquished

George Leef wrote about the Liberalism Unrelinquished site a few weeks ago, and I signed my name to its declaration, which reads

We the undersigned affirm the original arc of liberalism, and the intention not to relinquish the term liberal to the trends, semantic and institutional, toward the governmentalization of social affairs.

The signers are academics and journalists.

The word liberal meant of or pertaining to freedom until collectivists began to misuse it during the late 19th century.  Over the past 130 years the word, in Orwellian fashion, has been transformed from its root Latin meaning to of or pertaining to collectivism and authority.

The reason it was necessary for collectivists to claim that they are for freedom was that freedom, which lasted a few centuries here, increased the standard of living and quality of life.  Millions of immigrants flocked here for a reason that they did not understand: the opportunities here due to liberalism.   In contrast, the effects of the policies of the Democratic Party and its copycat sister, the Republican Party, has been increasing government, increasing control, and declining wealth.

Instead of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, today's America watches bleak futuristic films like The Congress, which sees technological advance as escapism attendant upon widespread decline and impoverishment.  Liberalism in its true meaning requires the opposite world view: Freedom results in innovation that makes us wealthier and frees us from oppression.

My wife just told me about Elizabeth Warren's 2011 statement:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody. You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.

Obama picked it up when he said, "Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own... If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help...Somebody else made that happen."

Of course, if you're unsuccessful you didn't get their on your own either.  If you're unsuccessful it's because of violent thieves like Obama and Warren.

In any case, when I think of all the Americans who died fighting for freedom, and I realize that their descendants elected the people whom they were fighting against, people like Hitler, Stalin, Obama, and Warren,  I was reminded of the importance of language.

Calling authoritarians liberal leads to authoritarianism, and I thank Kevin Frei and Daniel Klein, who started the Liberalism Unrelinquished site, for reminding us to use the word in the right way.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Article on Harris v. Quinn and the CUNY Faculty Union in Frontpagemag

My article "Time to Rethink Government Unions" appears in the current issue of  Frontpagemag. I had researched the material about the CUNY faculty union several months earlier, and the Supreme Court's Harris v. Quinn decision on June 30 gave me a context in which to embed the CUNY material. I relied on interviews with David Seidemann and an anonymous officer of the PSC who gave me reams of information about the bizarre goings-on at the PSC Delegate Assembly and Executive Council meetings. The most striking phenomenon I observed during my research was the PSC leadership's omert√†. The unwillingness to talk to me extended to the out-group led by former candidate Richard Boris and retired union president Irwin Polishook. 

Especially boorish was Stanley Aronowitz, who agreed to be interviewed by phone at specific times, yet when I called at those times he didn't answer.  He didn't four times.  The PSC's leadership advocates a suppressive ideology, socialism, so it's not surprising that they don't refrain from using violence to take money from members, using the money in violation of the members' free speech rights, and then covering up their actions.  Cover-ups are only problematic when Republicans engage in them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Democratic Foundation Finds That Tea Party Donations Came from Average Americans

One of the misleading tales about the Tea Party that media sources have spread is that the movement has been supported by wealthy-one percent donors.  The Roosevelt Institute, whose aim is to further the aims of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, funded a study that found the opposite:  Much of the Tea Party candidates' donations have come from average Americans.  

It is true that the authors, Ferguson, Jorgenson, and Chen, conclude "The Tea Party and its allies cannot sensibly be treated solely in terms of mass politics."  They also note, of course, that Obama, the Democratic Party, and their allies cannot be treated solely in terms of mass politics. Indeed, that is the gist of Ferguson's extensive writings: Capital intensive and pro-free-trade industries supported Roosevelt, and among the supporters were Standard Oil and an array of investment banks that opposed JP Morgan Jr.  In other words, the authors are willing to concede that there is public support for free market-based candidates just as there is public support for collectivist ones. 

That shows considerable integrity.  It is inconceivable to most collectivists that average Americans might prefer freedom; it is inconceivable to them that hardworking, blue collar workers might prefer lower to higher taxes; it is inconceivable to them that those who prefer to support themselves free of government authority might prefer being paid fairly for their labor instead of living off government subsidies, welfare scams,  or the Social Security pyramid scheme.  

Although I disagree with their politics, the authors of the study are exceptional scholars who have carefully tested the lead author's, Thomas Ferguson's, insightful investment theory of politics.  They write this


The statistics in Table 1 provide the answer, which is somewhat surprising. Bachmann, Cain, and Paul attracted truly significant percentages of unitemized funds – essentially half or more of all their funds. Though we suspect Republican donors are likely to be somewhat wealthier than most Democratic donors, we do not doubt that most of this money streamed in from people reasonably described as “average Americans” too.  Gingrich and Santorum also attracted significant amounts from this quarter. By contrast, Huntsman’s and Texas Governor Rick Perry’s contributions of this type were plainly derisory.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Twin Peaks





I'm watching Twin Peaks for the fourth or fifth time.  I put the following review up on Netflix. Some of the commenters claim that Netflix is thinking of doing a sequel or remake. In January 2008 I suggested that HBO do one, but Netflix would be even better.

This is one of my favorite TV programs.  It combines imagination with satire, comedy with spirituality, sci fi and horror with social commentary.  The eerie music is  a metaphor for the unconscious: Maddy Ferguson's murder occurs in a  gap in Julee Cruise's song, for it is through art that inner forces, including terrible ones, are revealed. The program is about immanence, the truth within, and transcendence, the greater truth. False immanence, Killer Bob, takes possession of souls, and true immanence, both the  corruption beneath the town's surface and the good in the Bookhouse Boys, Donna Hayward (Lara Flynn Boyle), and James Hurley (James Marshall) intersect.  Agent Cooper's (Kyle Maclachlan's) struggle, like that of any seeker, is to reveal immanence and seek transcendence.  Good as well as evil are satirized; as in some of WH Auden's poems ("As I Walked Out One Evening"), cliches expressed as satire transcend themselves as art.  Through art we achieve understanding. Lynch's cast, a hodgepodge of talented actors and amateurs, comprise a bohemian  Diane Arbus-like ensemble. (Is it a coincidence that Cooper continually records messages to "Diane"?) The cast is an expression of Lynch and Frost's artistry. It is tragic that ABC allowed the show to run for only 35 episodes, but yes, we are fortunate that ABC allowed it to run at all.