I think it’s apropos to say something about this 1954 book, given Our own present situation.*
Two points are particularly relevant, and recall that they are being made in 1954.
First, he points out that an abundance of natural resources does not in and of itself constitute national wealth. Rather, it is the national ability to work the “conversion of natural resources” into actual wealth through productivity that will actually create and constitute a nation’s wealth. (See pp.86-7 for this entire aspect of the discussion.)
And in this regard it is “not a matter of luck” that a nation manages to effect such a conversion of its resources. He quotes a then-recent 1949 study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research that listed “climate and natural resources” as only the first prerequisite for a nation’s achieving ‘wealth’ and a high standard of living.
But beyond that – for which a certain amount of ‘luck’ is indeed relevant – “natural resources are relative to a people’s capacity to use them”. Which leads to the second vital factor: “quality of population”, which comprises “the importance of education, of moral qualities, and of ‘diffused ingenuity and enterprise’.
You need, they were saying half a century and more ago, a people that is grounded in and Shaped by a ‘character’ that includes disciplines of self-mastery and self-discipline, such that they can apply themselves over the long haul to the task of converting resources into marketable wealth.
In that sense then, such ‘character’ is itself an indispensable element of ‘national wealth’: without such ‘character’ the resources remain undeveloped (because the people remains, in a very real sense, undeveloped or under-developed).
At the time such an analysis was no doubt relevant to examining the economic potential of what was then called the Third, or Developing, World. America in those days was peopled by a society Shaped by its culture toward a certain capacity for sustained self-application.
But since the later 1960s the government’s embrace of the New Left’s agenda, heavily tinged with victimism and simple entitlement, has done much to erode this capacity: the New Left opposed American culture because it was ‘masculine’ and ‘smokestack’ and ‘patriarchal’ and ‘oppressive’, and the New Left itself was heavily tinged with both a Boomery, youthy aversion for the drudgery of ‘work’ and that queasy radical-feminist antipathy to anything that gave ‘men’ some sort of ‘advantage’.
Hence the Deconstruction of the culture that supported a competence for ‘productivity’.
Potter mentions several other essential requirements: “incentives”, especially “individualistic incentives”. Meaning that the workers have to have a sense that real sustained effort will be rewarded with some sufficient degree of material gain and reward. Of course, ‘individual’ was taken in the context of a parent working to provide for a family, not quite the ‘total autonomy’ of each individual person (which would inevitably lead to undermining the Family, which is the first and indispensable ‘school’ in which the young are raised into this type of ‘character’, a task for which government is remarkably unsuited, if for no other reason than that by the time government can play a hands-on role the individual child is already deeply shaped by the Family experience in those utterly vital early years of life).
All of this, clearly, was incompatible with certain unavoidable requirements of radical-feminism as it has mutated here. In the Correct vision the Family, as you may recall, is the site of much ‘oppression’ (being compared to Dachau and Auschwitz) for ‘women’ and as the greatest crime scene (sexual and emotional) in the country, in which women and children are continually assaulted, stunted, and oppressed.
A fourth prerequisite is “capital”, and by the oddest coincidence that element, now, is drying up along with the efficacy of the dollar itself.
A fifth is “institutional conditions and systems”. And for the past 40 Biblical years the Beltway has done its level best to ‘change’ those conditions and systems to make them less oppressive (just as the Boomery youth felt that work was oppressive and conformist and that – although they didn’t get this deep into the matter, as usual – maturity itself was just an opiate designed to render the population more docile and un-creative and conformist).
Worse, as I have often said, the Beltway’s evolved political strategy for the past 40 Biblical years has been to pander to the New Left ‘revolutions’ in order to garner some sort of cobbled-together electoral viability, while also accepting PAC monies precisely to allow Big Money, that has been watching the precipitous decline in the population’s core productive competence, to undermine the gains of Labor effected by the Old Left while simultaneously transferring production overseas (downsizing and outsourcing production activities overseas where folks are more eager to work and will do it for less money and no benefits).
And THAT gambit has now reached the point where there is not only much less of the peoples’ competence to produce but also much less – perhaps beyond the point of replacement – productive infrastructure (factories and facilities).
The population was for a time lulled with the phantasmagoric construct of the Knowledge-and-Service economy: America would retain its economic primacy and health merely by ‘producing’ knowledge, the knowledge-elites being freed from ‘smokestack’ (and male-friendly) drudgery by a ‘service sector’ of leaf-blowers, cell-phone sellers, nannies, and barristas pouring the most complex and exotic beverages.
And this dynamic has progressed (or regressed) to the point where even as the government brays about ‘jobs’ such employment is hell-and-gone from a ‘job’ as an American of 1954 would understand the term: a reliable and decently-paid employment that enabled one to provide a decent life for oneself and one’s family. Instead, jobs that in 1954 would have been the purview of teens looking for pocket money are now being touted as life-sustaining ‘jobs’ for adults (which most of them surely are not).
This is a catastrophic consequence of the past 40 Biblical years, no matter how well-intended (dubious to begin with, certainly debatable) all of this ‘change’ has been.
Even as the work-force was theoretically doubled at a stroke by the radical-feminist efforts to redefine ‘individual’ most radically as the totally free-standing individual un-hampered by Family and commitment, and even as Multiculturalism seemed to justify the importation of huge numbers of immigrants from those under-developed and less-productive cultures who would be more amenable to lower-paying jobs (buttressed by government entitlements) and whose ‘diversity’ would go a long way toward erasing the ‘white patriarchal smokestack’ culture of yore.
And even as youth were assured that if they got a college-degree they could all work for Microsoft and earn fabulous sums without ever getting their hands dirty or even breaking a physical sweat … even as all that was erected by the Beltway into a national policy and Plan, actual genuine productivity and the competence to effect and sustain it was allowed to corrode and rot away just like the amazing infrastructure of vital pipes and dams and roads and bridges was being allowed to fall into decay.
Although in the matter of such vital physical infrastructure, the assumption was also prevalent – witlessly – that once built (by hard physical labor) such structures would remain pristine and in peak condition without any need for further (now derided) hard physical labor. This was akin to imagining that the Golden Eggs would continue to flow regardless of the health of the Goose. Only ideological cadres and kids could consider such a fantasy real.
But Potter’s second point is even more stunning: in 1954 he is suggesting that it is America’s Abundance (defined as not only the natural resources but the cultural competence to convert it into productive wealth) that has shaped the country and even Democracy, rather than the other way around.
Faced two centuries ago with a national endowment of resources and an ‘independence’ that seemed to be infinite, Americans could indulge the thought (Potter writes in 1954) that “social barriers” (p.101) didn’t exist at all and did not need to, and that America would thus offer an infinite scope for individual achievement (later ‘fulfillment’).
But Potter notes, and I fully agree, that no such perfect and infinite society has ever existed or could ever exist among humans. There is an element of both incompleteness and – more importantly – imperfection to humans, and thus to everything they undertake. Boundary is far more a reality among humans than any perfection or infinity, just as (my image here, not Potter’s) a ship or aircraft, while marvelously capable, is limited in its scope by the very nature of its shape (you can’t drive a ship or plane on land).
But this sense of limitation – even of constructive and shaping limitation and boundary – has never counted for much in American popular ideology (although it figured greatly in the Framers’ construction of the Constitutional machinery and ethos). The very brief historical blips of the ‘mountain men’ and the ‘cowboy’, as if they provided a usable template upon which to pattern a mature and sustainable life, remained ‘popular’, while the ‘farmer’ and the ‘townsfolk’ always appeared dull and boring (especially to Boomer kids watching lots of movies and TV).
“In America some of the ripest recruits for Marxism have been the idealists who loved the doctrine of equality too well and who would not compromise with the realities of a society which merely offered a relatively closer approach to equality than other stratified societies”, says Potter – again in 1954 long before the New Left and the culture-gender wars that it began in the late 1960s. (p.101)
What Potter is saying here is that a) there is no easy and simple and total path to everybody having a good and decent life, and b) that America is neither the present nor future site of any ‘total perfection’ of human aspiration, since – although he himself doesn’t go into the philosophy of it – such totality and perfection is by the very nature of the species not possible in the realm of the human.
But such sober insight was not audible to the ears of an American culture that had never much detained itself with ‘deep’ questions, so busy and perhaps excited it had been with the possibilities surrounding it in the material realm.
And that was in 1954. By 1968 and subsequently, such insight was precisely NOT what those hyper-excited cadres of a regurgitated Marxist enthusiasm wanted to hear or wanted anybody else to think. Nor did such insight serve the purposes of a government that was rapidly coming to depend upon a politics of excitement, ‘hope’, ‘dreaming’, and a frothy insistence that the Impossible must and could be made Possible – because, after all, this was ‘America’, seat and site of human perfection and fulfillment.
I would say that this Impossible-Possible presumption was the core Impossible Thing that Americans came to believe, among the many Impossible Things that people were urged to believe before breakfast in the Looking-Glass world that the country became, with dizzying intensity, after 1968 or so.
The vision of the un-boundaried and ‘classless’ (and perhaps now ‘genderless’) society that was the frakkulent and opiate pipedream of Marxism was simply altered and intensified by the Marxy ‘revolutions’ of the New Left age, and – who can be surprised? – has now led America to much the same place it led the Russians and Soviets: a shockingly rigid class-stratified society that, by the by, cannot support itself with effective productivity. There is a hugely wealth class and an increasingly non-wealthy class, and even an alleged ‘knowledge’ class waited-on by the helots of a ‘service’ class. And then there is the whole ‘gender’ type of ‘class’ with men as the new Kulaks. Funny how the night moves.
But it gets worse.
In his fifth chapter entitled “Democracy and Abundance” Potter proposes that Democracy did not create Abundance but rather that Abundance nurtured Democracy. (pp.111-127)
Given the remarkable natural wealth of the American territory, he says, it was possible to imagine that the most efficient way of converting all of that natural potential wealth into actual wealth was Democracy: in the absence of “scarcity” a careful politically-grounded system of allocating what resources there were was not necessary as it had developed in Europe (and all of the world's preceding historical civilizations).
Instead, Americans had a very reasonable shot at being able to provide well for themselves and their families simply by being allowed to run their own affairs and enterprises.
Indeed, with Americans thus able to experience a certain responsibility of ownership through their management of their own productivity, then they might very well achieve a level of competence for responsible self-government never before seen in the world or in human history (not ‘total’, mind you, but far more advanced than anything previously seen).
Hence Americans would be able to make do with a limited government that needed primarily only to protect the Abundance and provide general-referee services to ensure that fair-play was maintained as best as could be managed (humans not being perfect creatures and their creations and constructions being therefore imperfect and incomplete as well).
This was significantly (but not ‘totally’) different from the European societies of the day, where governments – still heavily soused with monarchical systems and possessed of a very palpably finite supply of natural abundance – were far more intrusive and regulatory in the most profound sense of the term.
Hence American Abundance made possible American Democracy. (And perhaps the exception that proves the rule here is that in the very beginning – in the earliest colonial settlements of the 17th century – the scarcity of such Abundance among those small and bedraggled settlements resulted in a far more rigid management of such resources and products as were available).
“A democratic system depends upon an economic surplus”, he says. (p.114) It is this hope for achieving a larger slice of the pie that keeps the people constructively occupied. As opposed, he notes, to the efforts of European social systems “to keep their peoples contented” as the Marxists did with the promise of a future utopia, the Romans did with bread and circuses, the Spanish did with lotteries and such hope-pandering and desire-exploiting tricks (once the ‘free’ wealth of the New World had been exhausted). I would add the Egyptians who simply locked the population into imagining that their own fulfillment consisted in nothing more than assuring the this-worldly and next-worldly comfort of the Pharaoh, in whom they all would symbolically ‘succeed’.
“In all societies of economic insufficiency, which is the only kind that existed up to about two centuries ago, certain social conditions have been fixed and inevitable”. (p.114) “The vast majority of the people were inescapably destined to heavy toil and bare subsistence, and the economic surplus in excess of such bare subsistence was not sufficient to give leisure and abundance to more than a tiny minority.”
Hence none of those societies could afford or risk exciting “a great steeplechase” after abundance and leisure on the part of the population, since there were far far too few prospects for any but a handful to actually achieve abundance and leisure (or, I would add, even basic subsistence at the most primitive levels).
“A democracy, by contrast, setting equality as its goal, must promise opportunity, for the goal of equality becomes a mockery unless there is some means of attaining it.” (p.115) But again, this ‘equality’ is more of a realizable goal in a society capable of achieving a larger level of Abundance, but it is not a ‘perfect’ or ‘total’ equality. It can’t be – given the nature of humans and their affairs and the fact that not even Abundance is ‘total’ or ‘complete’ (or, as We may now be noticing, permanent).
But then, he goes on, a democracy is constantly at risk of exciting more “expectations” than its level of Abundance can fulfill – and so there is always the need for a careful management of resources (or a manipulation of people’s desires and expectations) in order to prevent the build-up of explosive frustration and discontent as Abundance proves unequal to the demands and expectations placed upon it.
But this risk can be managed “if the country following [this approach] has the necessary physical resources and human resourcefulness to raise the standard of living”. (p.116) Americans nowadays, I would say, are lacking those necessary physical resources and have been increasingly addicted-to dependence rather than raised to a competence in resourcefulness. Nor has their culture and society helped, since the New Left’s entire program has been to Deconstruct all that ‘patriarchal’ stuff.
Indeed the most common type of ‘resourcefulness’ now is in ‘telling your story’ and making demands and ‘thinking positively and hoping’ – none of which actually produce any increase in national wealth or Abundance.
Then he gets down to cases. “If this is true, it means that the principles of democracy are not universal truths ignored during centuries of intellectual darkness and brought to light at last in the age of the American Revolution, but rather that democracy is the foremost by far of the many advantages which our economic affluence has bought for us.” (p.116-7).
Interestingly, he immediately notes a corollary: “that, when we propose world-wide adoption of democracy, our problem is not simply to inspire a belief [or ‘hope’] in it, but to encourage conditions conducive to it”. (p.117)
BUT of course, one of those vital and indispensable preconditions would be Abundance. To introduce ‘democracy’ into a society not blessed with either Abundance or the potential for converting it into actual wealth is – from an economic point of view – doomed to failure. This, I think, is sobering material for current US efforts to foment democracy ‘everywhere’, especially when nowadays ‘democracy’ in its American variant includes profound assaults on traditions and folkways that – whatever elite cadres think of them – are core Shaping elements that Trellis the target-societies and cultures and the lives of those distant peoples. Indeed, the effects of those New Left cadres’ assaults even on American culture are now revealing themselves to be hugely fraught.
Looking around in 1954, Potter contrasts American and European “equalitarianism”. (p.117) Given the limited resources available, European governments can only conceive of a broader national wealth through redistribution, a zero-sum game whereby wealth must be taken from some and given to others.
Whereas in America, things are different because “The American mind, by contrast, often assumes implicitly that the volume of wealth is dynamic [i.e. it will always keep expanding], that much potential wealth remains to be converted, and that … capital and labor can take more wealth out of the environment by working together than they can take out of one another by class warfare”. (p.118)
Hence, he says in 1954, America does not need to “treat one class as the victim or even, in an ultimate sense, the antagonist of another”. (p.118) Give some thought to this in light of the past 40 Biblical years of Marxy Identity Politics and the culture-war and gender-war antagonisms (I wonder if Potter could have even imagined that implacable antagonism, even deeper than the economic, that abides in gender-based antagonism).
All America has to do, he notes, is to “increase productivity”, whereas the British Labour Party (in Potter’s day) had to tax the wealthy in order to create more available wealth; there was little possibility of the Brits being able to simply tap into a national Abundance and potential for increased productivity.
That European ‘redistribution’ rather than ‘increased productivity and production’ was precisely what was force-fed into the American discourse (and far too quickly and easily erected into national policy) with the Marxy excitements of the late 1960s.
For the past 40 Biblical years here it has been axiomatic that a) there are profound if not also ineradicable antagonisms among the American population, not only in terms of economic class but even more so along the fracture-lines of race, ethnicity, and gender and b) that it has always been the maxim of the various cadres of the Identities that a certain REDUCTION in productivity is perfectly acceptable as the price of meeting their various demands as to Deconstructing and Reconstructing American culture, tradition, and society. **
“Few Americans”, Potter says, “feel entirely at ease with the slogan ‘Soak the rich’ but the phrase ‘Deal me in’ springs spontaneously and joyously to American lips”. (p.119) That was 1954. That enthusiasm was fueled by the sense of possibility and the sense of confidence that one could and would make a go of it, because American society and culture was set up to support such an effort. But by the mid-1970s the decent jobs were starting to disappear.
In his proposals and schemes for raising American standards of living in the 1930s, Huey Long, Potter observes, “was not primarily relying on the arithmetical naivete of the American people; he was relying upon their belief in the inexhaustible plenty of North America and in their own unrestrained right to enjoy that plenty without brain-trust or dogma”. (p.120)
Long was playing a bit of the demagogue: he played and pandered to people’s sense of entitlement and of easy wealth, without limning any of the sterner realities about sustaining a character attuned to producing marketable stuff and then putting in the sustained labor to actually make the stuff. And such demagoguery was exponentially intensified in the late Sixties and subsequently, although touted and spun as ‘change’ and ‘liberation’.
There was no need for Americans to distract themselves with dogmatic intellectual arguments about class struggle because America was ‘growing’ and there was plenty of Abundance to be productively harnessed.
But, he asks, “is our hostility to the class-struggle [let alone gender-struggle] concept also linked with our reluctance to entertain the thought that American wealth has ceased to grow, that we can no longer raise the standard of living at one point without lowering it somewhere else?” (p.121) What happens now in 2010?
Americans didn’t need to develop a dogmatic or intellectual approach to Abundance because unlike in Europe, American production and Abundance problems were not “fixed” such that they would be permanent and require serious intellectual consideration to solve. (p.122) Compare this with the eternally and most surely ‘fixed’ antagonisms of gender and, to a lesser extent, race and ethnicity.
On top of the fact that it is quite possible now that the Abundance as well as the productivity are now played out or have been thrown out.
As you can see in the European example, Potter proposes, Freedom and Abundance “do not necessarily converge”. Americans have “made them converge”, taking advantage of North America’s unique endowment of Abundant natural resources and position, but that is not and never was a necessary convergence at all. It just happened that way in the playing out of America’s uniquely-endowed natural position. (p.127)
“Consequently”, he says in 1954, “when America, out of her abundance, preaches the gospel of democracy to countries which see [or have] no means of attaining abundance, the message does not carry the meaning which it is meant to convey”. (p.127) Indeed, he continues (in 1954), “no other part of American activity has been so consistently and so completely a failure as our attempt to export democracy”. (p.127) Because we cannot export our natural Abundance or perhaps even our (then) natural national competence in productivity. No wonder, then, that other peoples, though enticed by visions of American plenty, take ‘democracy’ and even American seriousness with a grain or ten of salt.
(And, I would say, even more so nowadays when ‘exporting democracy’ has become more of a government ploy to establish American culture (in all its mutated fractiousness) and military presence around the world, wherever further natural resources might be obtained to shore up Our own dwindling Abundance and productivity.)
In his sixth chapter Potter reflects on the relationship between ‘Abundance and the Mission of America”. During the early period of World War 2 FDR sought to avoid the hugely fraught mistake of Wilson, who justified American involvement in World War 1 by sounding highly abstract and impossible-to-achieve and highly idealistic moral and historical goals. Instead, FDR sought to strike more ‘realistic’ notes and emphasized America’s practical and immediate stake in the outcome of the war.
“But he too felt the need for the moral dynamism gained by asserting universal rights for man, hence the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms, which seemed so much more human and therefore more universal in their appeal than Wilson’s Fourteen Points.” (p.132)
Of those freedoms the first two – freedom of speech and expression and freedom of worship – were political rights that it was within the purview of a decent earthly government to provide; but the second pair – freedom from want and freedom from fear – are impossible promises to make, and no human government can assure them reliably and thoroughly and fully.***The best a government might do is assure that it would try to strive toward fulfilling those last two, which in any case are not matters of ‘freedom’ but of ‘security’. (Perhaps, at the risk of sounding a bit Maoist, FDR could have done better to entitle his vision ‘The Two Freedoms and the Two Securities’).
But it was war, not everybody was excited about the prospect, and FDR had to excite as vividly as he could the support of the American public and of peoples around the world whose help would be needed to win the war against the totalitarian Axis.
And then, reflecting (in 1954) on why it has been that American-style democracy has never been successfully sold to the peoples of the world as a Great and Good Thing, Potter suggests that it is because America has never actually understood what it’s actual “revolutionary message” really was.
That message, Potter proposes, is NOT a message of “democracy revolutionizing the world” BUT RATHER a message of “abundance revolutionizing the world”. (p.134)
But then, of course, you can’t export natural Abundance. And the canny peasants of the world – most of the planet’s population, I would venture – realize that and have realized it all along. And still do. (Yes, you can drop industrial-sized pallets of shrink-wrapped C-notes or benjamins for distribution to local warlords, but that’s not really exporting natural Abundance.)
What America has done for the world is provide a living example of how humans may rise out of the toil of genuine life-threatening poverty and perhaps even enjoy the task of conducting a human life, but it was probably no mistake when George Washington sagely advised that America be a ‘model’ for the world, but not a world-wide ‘agent’ of ‘democracy’.
America’s gift to humanity was not purely an ideological one, but also a fundamentally material one – Abundance. And the vision of how marvelously such Abundance could be harnessed when people felt they had a decent chance to participate in the fruits of what their labor achieved.
But even in the America of the 1950s Potter saw that Americans were starting to turn from the harnessing of Abundance to the consumption of it (although the full-blown ‘consumer-economy’ was still a ways down the road in his era). (p.174)
In an economy of Scarcity, human beings must marshal all their energies, must Shape themselves and their children, to postpone gratification of desire and maintain the life-sustaining and indispensable discipline of a character focused upon survival and achievement (at however minimal a level) and of work. Curiously, though it has been a political goal in recent decades to ‘liberate’ people from the work, it has also been the goal to Deconstruct any sense of self-mastery and self-discipline, in favor – it is claimed – of ‘liberation’.
While eliminating the backbreaking and spirit-sapping drudgery of primal toil for the minimum return of sustaining life from day to day has been a long-standing goal in the West, especially under the American example, yet the self-discipline and self-mastery and the formation of what used to be called ‘character’ or perhaps ‘maturity’ were still required when Abundance fueled Democracy and one could now apply oneself productively for the realistic prospect of far greater returns in standard of living.
But with increasing productivity came the opportunity to ‘consume’ – in a simply material sense, that’s how you filled-out your increased standard of living – and your ‘desire’ became not a distraction but rather a prime fuel of the economic engine.
And whereas it would take a great deal of maturity and character to judiciously consume without sinking into some sort of Flattened fever-swamp of Desire and immediate Gratification through indiscriminate Consumption, the pressures built to simply yield to the Material, the Desire, the Immediate Gratification, and the abandonment of any self-definition or self-concept or life-goal except the purely Flat and Shallow one of ‘having the right consumables’.
Add to that a purposeful and government-supported Deconstruction of any sense of self-mastery and self-control in favor of consuming and – in the era of Identity Politics – demanding, and you can see where the country was headed for a rendezvous with a terrible but hardly unpredictable destiny.
Indeed, Potter notes in 1954 that Abundance-plus-consumerism was threatening the Family, “the one institution that touches all members of society most intimately, and it is perhaps the only institution that touches children directly”. (p.203)
Sneering titters might be expected nowadays from assorted cadres and interests who have seen far too much success in re-casting the Family as the greatest crime-scene and site-of-oppression in the country.
But Potter saw that if human beings were to be formed and Shaped, and in a profoundly human mode, then it had to be by the Family and not by the ham-handed and never-trustworthy tutelage of a government that would no doubt tend to render them liable to a dependency on government that would in turn develop in them a functional predisposition to authoritarianism. He may well have recalled Mussolini’s insistence on raising boy-babies in special government facilities in order to prepare them for the demands of military service.
This however would obstruct the most profound requirements of radical-feminism as it mutated in the American setting and has for these past decades.
Ultimately, the question Potter’s work poses for Us now is shocking as well as profound. If he is correct – and I think he is – in formulating that “The politics of our democracy was a politics of abundance rather than a politics of individualism, a politics of increasing our wealth quickly rather than dividing it precisely, a politics which smiled both on those who valued abundance as a means to safeguard freedom and those who values freedom as an aid in securing abundance” (p.126) … if he is correct in that, then the question becomes: WHAT HAPPENS TO DEMOCRACY WHEN THE ABUNDANCE STOPS?
A politics of Scarcity is a European experience that this nation has never had to face. An intrusive and regulatory government arrogating to itself the power to say what happens when and who gets what is hell-and-gone from the Constitutional vision and ethos in several substantial ways.
Since under the influence of the Marxy, European-derived Identity Politics this country started down the road of an intrusive regulatory government in the National Nanny State that has been crafted over the past 40 years’ worth of ‘demands’, when the country at least enjoyed the appearances of Wealth and Abundance, what happens now as even the appearances of Wealth and Abundance fade?
The National Nanny or Regulatory State sought by the Left and the National Security State sought by the Right are merely two sides of the same coin: the ancient and un-American coin of a Leviathan government.
WHAT HAPPENS TO DEMOCRACY THEN?
*Potter, David M. “PEOPLE OF PLENTY: ECONOMIC ABUNDANCE AND THE AMERICAN CHARACTER”. Chicago: U/Chicago Press, 1954. ISBN of the copy I am using is for the paperback: 0-226-67633-1.
**And as I have said before, this same maxim was deployed in the radical-feminist efforts to put females into the military: a certain “reduction in combat efficiency” was necessary and acceptable. After all, the cadres mused in the early 1990s, the Soviets had gone away, computers would be doing most of the remote-control combat, there wouldn’t be much combat without the Soviets anyway so the military was just another Federal employment opportunity, and there may well be magical computer-driven ‘battle-suits’ that would give any wearer (regardless of gender or physical competence) super-human combat powers. Ovvvvvv coursssssssssssse.
***Ominously, it is especially this last pair of ‘freedoms’ that has come to ground recent American efforts by radical-feminist-leaning ‘thinkers’ such as Martha Nussbaum to assert that they are “rights” and that the Beltway must therefore both disregard the strictures and limits of the Constitution (‘old’ and ‘patriarchal’ anyway) and also the course of deliberative and democratic politics and simply guarantee such ‘rights’ by imposition.
This article was suggested to me this morning as relevant to the topic. As soon as I've read the book to which it refers, I'll be making a Post.
Labels: Abundance and democracy