“Fundamental ethos of liberalism is MEOW”

Funny way to position a serious point, from Jonah Goldberg in his “weekly” Goldberg File email:

I believe that the fundamental ethos…  of liberalism is the Moral Equivalent of War (MEOW for short). Conceived by William James, the idea is that liberals crave something that gets everyone to drop what they’re doing and fall in line the way war does, but without the war. The New Deal was explicitly and proudly touted as a moral-equivalent-of-war endeavor. So were the New Frontier, the Great Society, the War on Poverty, and vast swaths of the environmental movement.

Obama has spent much of his presidency trying to gin up a moral-equivalent-of-war atmosphere in America. Personally, I find most of it pathetic and disgusting, as when he said in a State of the Union Address that America needed to become more like the military: “At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together. Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach.”

…Among the myriad problems with this sort of thinking is that it confuses the fundamental reason we have a military in the first place. We have a military so Americans don’t have to live militaristically — i.e., take orders, march in step, etc. We rely on the collective endeavor known as the military so that the rest of us can enjoy our individual endeavors. That is what the pursuit of happiness is about. We do not have a military so it can provide a good example of how we can more productively abandon our freedoms

Anyway, the interesting thing about the sequester is how it exposes the shallowness of his moral-equivalent-of-war rhetoric (or, if you prefer, his equally ridiculous elision of “community” or “family” with “government”). When military units have a hardship, they make do. When communities come up short of money, everyone pitches in. When families fall on bad times, they make sacrifices. But what none of them do is make things as bad as possible just to prove a point. A commanding officer facing the equivalent of a 2 percent — or 20 percent — budget cut doesn’t go straight to confiscating everyone’s rifles right before a battle. A real community doesn’t close the fire department first. If Lowry finally had his way and cut my pay in half, my first response wouldn’t be to stop buying food for my kid, medicine for my dog, or brown liquor for me.

Obama’s approach to the sequester is the exact opposite of a real moral equivalent of war, where everybody makes necessary sacrifices for the greater good. Obama wants unnecessary sacrifices in order to punish his political enemies, and, in the process, demonize them.

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One Response to “Fundamental ethos of liberalism is MEOW”

  1. Paul Marks says:

    The “Pragmatist” William James is indeed at the heart of the problem – he was a direct influence on Sorel (the sickly lover of violence and lover of “myths” to justify it) and more recent fantasy types, such as the Oslo mass murderer (who pretended that he was a warrior – even though his victims were unarmed and defenceless) who cited William James as his favourate philosopher (it was on his Facebook pae but the media just ignored it).

    “But William James was a peaceful man” is not a good reply – as he who opens the gates of Hell has a moral responsiblity for what he lets out (even if he does not use violence himself).

    Willaim James believed in force (government edicts – backed by force) so the fact that he. personally, did not hit people on the head is not a good defence.

    And Willaim James (and the rest of the Pragmatists generally) denied the existance of objective TRUTH and objective RIGHT AND WRONG..

    Someone who declares that there is no such thing as objective truth and objective good and evil – strips people of their philosiphical defences against force.

    Both government force – and the force of private individuals and groups.

    Anything (any lie, and abuse) is justified if it “works for you”, And a policy does not have to objectively achieve anything (as long as it is something to “believe” in – a “useful myth”).

    It is a vile philosophy – utterly vile.

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