Tuesday, April 15, 2008
  The Amity Horror

Rush has been using a false premise for quite a while, especially when discussing the diff between Hillary and Obama.


More dangerously, the same false premise is being spread through the intellectual Right via new books by Jonah Goldberg and Amity Shlaes. I've been especially disturbed by the Shlaes book, and I've been trying to kick dents in it here and there ... it really deserves a comprehensive and conclusive refutation, but I don't have the talents or resources to do it.

The false premise is that FDR's variety of socialism is identical, or even continuous, with the modern post-1968 variety. In fact they are opposite. FDR's variety follows Marx: redistribute income. The post-1968 variety follows Gramsci: redistribute good and evil.

A second and more important missed difference, which has less connection to theories:

FDR wasn't a socialist, though he had plenty of them (and serious Reds as well) in his cabinet and associates. He was a pragmatist and nationalist who used socialist ideas to keep Americans working. Some of the jobs wouldn't have been done by private companies, but the results were real and lasting. Most cities in the Midwest have beautiful parks and public buildings, erected by FDR's programs, still standing and serving the people. Right here and now, 70 years later, my computer is using non-polluting electricity from WPA-built dams to write this text. The people who worked under WPA didn't turn into a permanently useless and criminal class; in fact WPA brought many people out of that condition. When private jobs were available again, these people took them.

Shlaes includes a series of pictures in her book, showing many of these WPA accomplishments. Each picture has a caption like "Completed October 1937". For Shlaes, these Completed buildings and dams prove the point that FDR was misusing and abusing the power of gov't. Perhaps fortunately, she doesn't realize that her repetition of "Completed" actually proves the opposite point. Let's look at the accomplishments of Bush The Younger. What has he Completed? Well, Rumsfeld has Completed a vastly smaller and weaker military. The Bush economic policy has Completed many new factories in China and Mexico, providing the dignity of work to Chinese and Mexicans, while abandoning American factories. Bush is Completing a fine modern infrastructure for Iraq, while selling the American infrastructure to Arabs and Chinese. Bush economic policy has Completed the process of ginning up inflation, while using fraudulent measurement to insure that inflation benefits only Arabia.

So we have the obvious comparison. Every American still derives daily use and benefit from Roosevelt's Completions. Every American - except those who are rich enough to occupy any country they please - is harmed by Bush's Completions, because all of Bush's Completions SERVE OTHER GODDAMN COUNTRIES.

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Just now Rush said:
"They have destroyed everything they tried to fix."

This is perfectly true of LBJ and Nixon's application of socialism, which has no utopia in mind and only seeks to destroy civilization. The modern left doesn't even bother to discuss improvement any more. Its sole directive is EXTERMINATE GOOD, NOURISH EVIL.

This is perfectly untrue of FDR's application of socialism, which freed southern blacks and whites from the plantation, kept families together, kept men within the dignified world of work, until capitalism could recover from its illness. After FDR was done, America had a modern infrastructure and American values and capitalism were stronger than before.

If you doubt it, ask yourself: When were American values and capitalism firmest and most powerful? From 1945 to 1970. From the end of FDR's work to the point when LBJ's evil took effect.

There. I kicked a sizable hole in the Shlaes thesis. Feels good!





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Later note: My long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is an attempt to provide a more definitive answer, in fable style, to Shlaes's false idea.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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