Saturday, October 15, 2005

Are Conservatives Waking Up?

Jack Wheeler, talking before Accuracy in Media on C-Span, discussed why the left-liberal can’t be trusted with defense: their deeply held fear of envy leads them to policies of appeasement. They are constantly apologizing for our achievements and virtues. Feeling fundamentally unworthy inculcates in the left-liberal feelings of guilt for our wealth given the vast poverty in the world. This guilt leaves left-liberal open to moral blackmail by those that envy our success, blame the West for the world’s problems, and demand constant self-sacrifice. (If you don’t subscribe to Jack’s e-zine, catch him on the C-Span replay and see what you think.)

Jack suggests we hold our head up high and make the appropriate moral judgments of others:
We need to go on the moral offensive. The moral currency of Islam is debased. Islam is infected with a moral virus that has rendered it a morally inferior religion as it stands in the world today. It no longer deserves our respect and if Moslems want our respect back they must earn it by disinfecting their religion of moral poison.

Such a moral offensive requires moral confidence. Not only are liberals are incapable of moral confidence … they are terrified of it …

The good news is that some conservatives, like Jack, talking before mainstream conservative groups are raising the important moral issues of the day instead of getting sucked into the moral relativism and politically correct taboos that makes others – including most intellectual conservatives magazines – unable to address today’s greatest threat.

Here’s another good sign that conservatives are starting to wake-up. I recently received a subscription-offer to the venerable conservative publication Human Events that included a bonus of Robert Spencer’s Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades. Spencer has had trouble keeping his book on the National Review online book service after complaints by the Saudi-funded group, CAIR. At least some mainstream conservative organizations are starting to look beyond the clichés about Islam.

Finally, even the President is starting to talk differently. His past method of dealing with the Islamic threat failed to convey the fact that this is a broad ideological movement. Instead, like President Clinton, his misconceptions about Islam have allowed the public to believe we are chasing a small criminal group aided by one or two rogue states. I’ve talked about the consequence of this misconception. It’s finally become obvious to the administration that the public is confused and disillusioned over the execution of the war. A large part is the failure to convey the nature and extent of the threat.

This President isn’t suited to an intellectual fight that requires extensive explanation of ideas, refutation of criticism, and fire-side chats. However, had fellow conservatives undertaken such an intellectual assault as they did during the Cold War, the President would have been able to cash-in on the groundwork without playing the central role in the education of the public. It is here that I believe conservatives have fallen down on the job. Last year I’ve written extensively on this issue. Thus it is good to see some signs, noted above, that conservatives are waking-up.


Blogger unaha-closp said...

By analogy a right conservative cannot be trusted with defence because the belief that acquisition of wealth is the definition of success and that all else shall be put aside in the pursuit of wealth. That strength of faith is admirable, even more so when cojoined with great wealth. This belief in aquistion leaves right-conservative America open to financial blackmail by those that possessing great wealth, purchasing cooperation and demanding immunity from moral condemnation.

Any moral action is going to have a finacial cost.

10/16/05, 7:28 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

I'm afraid the far left finds capitalism morally objectionable and then only after do they look for a reason to hate capitalism and America. Now that it is clear that the working class gains from capitalism, the far left has to see America as the scapegoat for the poverty of underdeveloped nations (as Harris explains.) Of course many non-Western nations have progressed: South Korea, Japan, etc. These are the ones where we have most influence. We have least influence in places like Morocco and we get little from them as well – so their poverty is greatest. The far left was never moved by the facts but by a moral antipathy to individualism. This is where I think Ayn Rand is right: moral arguments move people more than becoming experts in economics. How many of us are experts in economics?

But speaking of economics, one of the facts that the left has never come to grasp is that wealth isn’t something that’s shifted around – it's something that's created and consumed. We create $12 trillion of wealth a year, consume two thirds of it and invest the rest. We do this every year! The fact that we are so productive is something we are rightly proud of. It's not just being materially well-off but having got that way by honorable productive activities involving mutual gain in a free exchange.

It's funny how the left is so much like the Arab culture in its hatred. First they (the left) say we make countries poor by our involvement, like in Cuba under Batista. Now they say we make Cuba poor by our boycott. Of course Cuba can trade with every other country but they produce little of value. The Arabs say we are to blame for our support for Saddam in the 80s, for our boycott of Saddam in the 90s and for our removal of him just recently. We'll be damned if we do and damned if we don't. These are people who are bent on hating us.

However, many people on the moderate left and young leftists who’ve never heard the other side are reachable. So too are Arabs who hear nothing but the government's propaganda.

But here too I think a moral argument comes first. Critics have to be willing to consider the moral ideal of mutual benefit in a free exchange where each person is motivated by their own interest but respects and takes pride in producing something of value for the other. That leads to individualism, liberty, and property rights. If instead they believe one should suffer for others, deny oneself until others are taken care of, renounce personal achievement, and denigrate material production, they will never come around to liking individual liberty or America. We are not a country that feels superior by suffering as an end in itself.

10/16/05, 9:36 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Oh, yes, thanks for the links and the welcome back!

10/16/05, 9:37 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

I think you hit on the key: keep the big picture in focus. When leftists drag-up or manufacture some obscure detail or point of minutia – like Monsanto – how can a debate continue? These points even if they are true are minor and often not significant in the way they insinuate. If they can't see the big picture it's hard to find common ground.

I don't know of any good book on economics but I suspect Thomas Sowell has written one recently that looks promising. If you find a good book, recommend it to others. If a person is open-minded like you and I, we welcome reading other opinions.

Also, there are many things worth changing about American foreign policy. For example, we should stop giving Egypt Mubarak $2 billion a year. However, it won't make a difference to Egypt's future. Our money is not why Egypt is so backwards and has problems. Some leftists try to imply it is. Watch out when they use the word "complicit." It means we are somehow connected to the problem and as far as leftists are concerned that means it is all our fault.

The tough part is trying to see the whole context, getting perspective, and seeing matters in proportion. Often when you meet someone who holds other views it is because their whole worldview is different. And a person's worldview is constructed over years and decades. It seems to each person that this worldview explains everything or has potential to do that. Changing a worldview isn't easy. The most one can do is plant a seed and politely suggest there are other ways of looking at things. Sometimes it's best to just explore the differences rather than try to argue.

10/17/05, 8:40 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Here are two books on economics: Thomas Sowell and Andrew Bernstein. I've read part of Sowell's book in the bookstore and I've read about 20% of Bernstein's book. I'm not the best judge since I know too much about the subject. If you or if anyone else here reads them, I'd like to know what you think. They both look promising. Bernstein brings together many facts and keeps the big picture in focus. Sowell is a great writer who makes many important points obvious (or perhaps they are to me.)

10/17/05, 8:54 PM  

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