Why Liberalism Failed
it's because ruling classes want to rule
The London Economist wonders “Are free markets history?” Today the world bows to a
protectionist, high-subsidy, intervention-heavy ideology administered by an ambitious state… But when you lump them all together, it becomes clear just how systematically the presumption of open markets and limited government has been left in the dust.
Jeffrey A. Tucker wonders about it too. He has two reasons why old-fashioned liberalism is dead.
“Governments simply crushed it.”
“liberalism was always deficient of something that society needs, namely a means of protecting the commons, of building community, of knitting together a coherent sense of what it means to be together as a nation.”
And he waffles off into talk about Joseph Schumpeter and his World War II book Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. According to Schumpeter, people just didn’t understand the cause and effect of their prosperity. And then there were the members of the intellectual class that “lack all authentic experience in enterprise but rather only specialize in rallying behind crazy systems of control.”
To you and I this is not so strange. Politics is about rallying the friends against the enemy. For there always is an enemy. There are the thugs on the street looting stores. And in the world of sovereign states, there are always quarrels and wars and rumors of wars.
Since politicians are experts in the practice of rallying people to fight the enemy, it is not surprising that they gussie up fake enemies when the real ones are a bit scarce. Anyone will do. Kaiser Bill and his ridiculous mustache; Führer Adolf and his mustache (cut short in WWI because gas-masks). And if Germans are a bit scarce then there are capitalists, racists, sexists, patriarchs, bitter clingers, deplorables, and ultra-MAGA insurrectionists. Note that women are a bit different on the enemy thing. You an see this in the #WeBelieve yard-sign which implies that if you don’t agree with the anti-racist, feminist, LGBT agenda you are not a nice person.
The other side of the friend / enemy distinction is friends. Politicians are always in the business of gifting their supporters in the voting booth, Thus there is really no limit to the loot that a politician will want to hand out to his supporters. For lower class supporters we have welfare and housing subsidies and government jobs. For the educated class we have high level government and university careers, and government grants. For businesses we have subsidies and tax breaks.
Now, it seems to me that any ruling class is always going to rage against enemies and hand out loot to its supporters. It’s in the genes, going right back to chimpanzees where the males defend the border and the females share out the food.
The difference between humans and chimps is religion, the distinction between good and evil. Most people, most of the time, do not want to be known for being evil. Thus, a political regime that restrained itself on the enemies and looting front would do so because it did not want to be shamed as being evil.
Could a modern politician be shamed like the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, who took the Road to Canossa in 1077 to submit to Pope Gregory VII, there to seek absolution and the revocation of his excommunication?
What would the equivalent of excommunication be today? And how would we inculcate the best and the brightest in that moral framework? You tell me.
Right now, of course, our ruling class worships at the Shrine of Woke, which does the opposite of restraining its instinct for war on the enemy.. Indeed, wokism provides an unlimited hunting license for political activists to search out the White Oppressors and humiliate them.
It’s up to you and I to invent a new religion and a new Road to Canossa for political activists and politicians that need to learn a little humility. But I don’t have a clue how to do it.