Peggy Noonan Ruined My Day

She did so with her Wall Street Journal column yesterday “Socialism Gets A Second Life” which, as a Millennial, reminded me that I belong to arguably the most clueless generation of all time. “I was watching Bernie Sanders speak last week at a town hall in Bedford” she says, “when an early intuition became a conviction: Take Mr. Sanders seriously. He is not just another antic presence in Crazy Year 2016. His rise signifies a major shift within the Democratic Party.” She’s right. What is happening in America as manifested by the senior Senator Sanders the socialist is super cereal. Feast upon and digest these quotes for a moment:

“The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” (Also sometimes just said “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”)

– John Philpot Curran

“Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.”

– Thomas Sowell

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

– Ronald Reagan

The rise of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party, and his dedicated support from the hipster elite, is the failure of America to heed these words. We have not been vigilant. We have not civilized our little barbarians. We have passed on nothing of the hard won lessons of the 20th century, and all of history.

How many billions of people had to be enslaved for some utopian vision of “a new way of doing things” or being a “new kind of man?” And how many millions had to die fighting to liberate the world from the hell those visions produced? Two world wars and a prolonged Cold War of proxy conflicts managed to keep the entire world from falling to Socialism in all its manifestations – from Nazism to Communism. At the end of that century socialism and leftism were thoroughly discredited. At the beginning of this century none of that matters. The slate is clean. Back to square one. We have to do it all over again. But, preferably through a war of ideas and not an actual war this time. (This is one thing that bothers me about the Republican candidates’ refrain of “I am the one who can beat Hillary Clinton.” It’s not really about her. If she or Sanders doesn’t win this time, it’ll just be Julian Castro or Elizabeth Warren next time. What they should talk about is who can discredit the left and revive Americanism for the rising generations.)

Noonan says that this is because Millennials have only had negative experiences with capitalism, thus, socialism appears “new” again: “If you are 20 or 30 you probably see capitalism in terms of two dramatic themes. The first was the crash of ’08, in which heedless, irresponsible operators in business and government kited the system and scrammed. The second is income inequality. Why are some people richer than the richest kings and so many poor as serfs? Is that what capitalism gives you? Then maybe we should rethink this!”

If these are the two primary reasons Millennials are turned off of capitalism, that’s relatively easy to fix. The reason they believe these things is simply that they have had the facts hidden from them by schools and the media. For example, one of the biggest factors of the ’08 crash was the housing market collapse (the other was Fed policy). That collapse was 100% traceable to government intervention and over regulation. Read Thomas Sowell’s book for a clear explanation. Or watch him explain below:

The “problem” of inequality can also easily be done away with. Ask yourself, are two people better off in situation A where one makes $1000/month and the other makes $1500/month for a decade, or in situation B where one makes $2000/month and the other makes $8000/month and they are both advancing in the job market? Clearly, they are both better off in situation B, even though there is a greater level of inequality. As long as there is economic mobility, inequality is not a problem. Inequality becomes a problem when force and coercion, that is, government, enter the picture. If the latter is the kind of inequality you are concerned with, you should be devoting your time and energy to reducing the size and scope of the government, and to giving more space to the individual and civil society.

Why don’t Millennial Sanders supporters see this? Simply, they have been trained not too. If I remember correctly, it was William F. Buckley who spoke of a “tendency towards liberty” in an episode of Firing Line. That is, what is your gut reaction, your primal sense of what to do, when confronted with a question or problem? If you have a tendency towards liberty, your reaction is to look for the answer or solution that maintains or maximizes liberty. That is the whole reason behind starting every school day with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer. Children’s brains are not developed, so adults must guide them in terms of values and behavior. Every generation has to be won over, to get them on our side; to instill in them a tendency towards liberty. You can call this brainwashing, and I suppose it is in a sense, but it’s right. Brainwashing is necessary to some degree with children – they don’t know better and adults do (or should). That doesn’t mean that you have to hide America’s past mistakes or faults from young students, but before you do you must have already planted in them the seeds of loyalty to liberty, so that when faced with these mistakes or faults, their moral compass points in that direction.

What we have done with the Millennial generation, and the one after them, is instilled a tendency towards statism. We have trained them to have gut reactions and primal senses that are adversarial and even outright hostile to America and its founding principles. That’s why when you present the above arguments about the ’08 financial crisis and inequality, they become slippery eels in a vat of Vaseline and will do anything to wriggle and writhe themselves out of understanding or accepting what you’re saying, because of their tendency towards statism. Maybe we should elect Bernie and let it all fall apart. Maybe that’s the only way we can re-learn the lessons our ancestors already did, but didn’t pass down.

It all starts with that babbling barbarian on your lap.

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