Arnold Kling is Naive
Note: Today’s post is a rare foray into the unpleasant world of contemporary politics. Skip it if that’s not your thing. Regularly scheduled programming will return shortly.
As is always the case when I dedicate a blog post to tearing down a single individual, I hope Mr. Kling takes my attacks as a sign of the high regard in which I hold him. The world is full of idiots, spouting idiocy. I don’t waste my breath on them.
Today, Kling quotes the execrable Brad Delong:
“America’s best hope for sane technocratic governance required the elimination of the Republican Party from our political system as rapidly as possible.“
Here we see the virus of Progressivism in it’s morbid final stage of reproduction. After centuries of using liberal ideals to lever the ancien regime from the thrones it once held, it is secure enough in its power to renounce the rhetorical tool of liberty, and consolidate its power. Democracy was a useful ideal when it was used to unseat the vestiges of aristocratic power in the western world. But now that progressive victory over the old guard is complete, we’re told by the likes of Brad Delong that Democracy’s time has passed.
The justification given is that the ideas advocated by right wing extremists (i.e, those calling for sound money, balanced budgets, and a temporary halt to a century of welfare state expansion) are so crazy, they are so dangerous, that we simply cannot tolerate them anymore. To do so would simply be irresponsible. The moderates among Delong’s commenters suggest that Democracy might be possible, if we were to disband the Republican party and re-create it in a saner mold. In other words, if we were to scour it of anyone advocating any sort of real opposition to Delong and his ilk.
Regarding Delong’s vitriol, Kling makes the analogy to the Stalinist Kulak purges and, playing the ultimate internet argument trump card, the Holocaust. Hyperbolic? Sure. But, no less than anyone warning of any of the 20th century’s multiple genocides, a decade or two before they came to fruition. “Stalin vill execute ze Kulaks in ten years? No Comrade, you are beink hyperbolic!”
It’s obvious to anyone who reads Delong, Krugman, the NYT editorial board, and even worse, their commenters: These people viciously hate Red State America. Their brazenness is increasing, and it will not stop of it’s own volition. The raw animosity necessary to disenfranchise and disinherit the Tea Partiers of their status as Americans, rob them of their wealth, and imprison any who complain, clearly exists. The only reason it hasn’t happened yet is the fact that Americans are not yet so thoroughly cowed that they would go happily along with it.
Kling’s calling out of Delong for what he is makes him a rara avis among his peers, most of whom will no doubt continue to link amicably to Delong as long as doing so remains fashionable. It is to his great credit that he has the courage to write posts calling evil by its name, even though his liberaltarian chums will look down on him for his social faux pas of ignoring the cardinal rule of intellectual affiliation in the US today: Pas d’ennemis à gauche, Pas d’amis à droite.
But this is the limit of his wisdom and courage, so far as he lets on publicly. Here is Kling’s proposed solution to our problem, i.e. that the US is governed by a cult of of ideological nutcases who are beginning to speak more and more openly of the hatred they feel for tens of millions of Wal-Mart-shopping, minivan-driving, ATV-driving Americans:
“I think the solution is what in the widely-unread Unchecked and Unbalanced I call Virtual Federalism. That is, we allow people to choose their virtual state, regardless of where they live. My neighbor could choose sane technocratic governance. I could choose minimal government. My neighbor and I would need to have a common defense policy and a common foreign policy, just as in the original federalism. But for many policies, my neighbor and I could have different government. For example, my neighbor’s government can try to make a Medicare Ponzi scheme last. My government would instead limit government support to vouchers for the very poor and the very sick.“
To which I reply: Dr. Kling, what world do you live in?
Brad Delong is not interested in leaving you alone. He does not care whether you offer to do the same for him. On the contrary, he is very interested in seeing your lives become as intertwined as possible.
This is because Progressivism is a carnivorous beast. It must constantly feed to survive, tearing off chunks of wealth and power from the righteous, so that its clients may bathe in unearned rewards. Your proposal for virtual federalism is ridiculous on its face, as it would obviously and immediately lead to an exodus of the productive, responsible half of humanity to your preferred government, while letting the other half rot. Arnold, Brad will never leave you alone. You are his dinner.
I think you already know this, on some level, as do proponents of Seasteading and other such nonsense. I also think there is some value in the advocacy of Virtual Federalism, since it forces the unconvinced to confront the mainstream Left for the the predator it is. But the grim reality is that we will never escape the modern state, unless we defeat it. We cannot compromise with it, we cannot opt out of it, and we cannot roll it back by voting for this or that candidate.
Bravo to you sir, for recognizing the extent of the situation and having the courage to speak openly about it. But eventually, you’re going to have to start proposing real solutions, even if it costs you some friends.