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Jim Cook



Every once in a while I switch the TV channel from Fox to CNBC to see what the liberals are saying.  After listening awhile I get a deep sense of hopelessness and foreboding for our country.  The most important thing for the left is giving money to people.  They are happy to see the growth of food stamps, disability payments, housing subsidies, free healthcare and all the other welfare benefits.  They utterly fail to see the damage it is doing to the recipients.  Whole cities that once flourished have deteriorated into rotting eyesores populated with shambling hulks of chemically dependent drones.  These people are no longer employable.  They have become incompetent and helpless and the liberals can’t see that it’s their doing.

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The Best of Jim Cook Archive

Commentary Of The Month
December 6, 2005
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National Socialism Comes to America

By Joe Sobran

In 1956, at the height of the Cold War, the historian John Lukacs smiled skeptically at the notion that it was a contest between the opposing principles of capitalism and communism. Actually, he said, it was a rivalry between two broadly similar states, Russian and American, both of which might be more accurately described as "national socialist."

Unfortunately, that term had already been taken, and nobody wanted it after 1945. But Lukacs was far from the only one who saw that it fit most of the regimes that had survived World War II. In his influential 1941 book, THE MANAGERIAL REVOLUTION, the former Communist James Burnham argued that the American, German, and Russian systems, despite superficial differences, were all variants of a new type of bureaucratic state, in which the actual control exercised by the burgeoning new "managerial" class was separate from nominal ownership.

John T. Flynn saw Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal as an American transposition of Fascism. Garet Garrett, another critic of Roosevelt, understood that the United States was undergoing a revolution -- of the kind Aristotle had called "revolution within the form."

America was not so different from its enemies as most Americans liked to believe. By now it's a little late for conservatism; most of the things worth conserving were destroyed a long time ago.

Still, "superficial" differences can be important. If all modern states are versions of national socialism, I'd rather live under one with habeas corpus and freedom of the press than under one without them. I'd rather be permitted to speak my mind than forbidden to.

But let's be clear about this. Americans are still permitted to do a great many things, though not as many things as their ancestors could take for granted. Fine. But permission isn't freedom. The privilege of a subject isn't the right of a free man. If you can own only what the government permits you to own, then in essence the government owns =you.= We no longer tell the state what our rights are; it tells us.

Such is the servitude Americans are now accustomed to under an increasingly bureaucratic state. Permission, often in the form of legal licensing, is the residue of the old freedom; but we're supposed to think that this is still "the land of the free," and that we owe our freedom to the state, its laws, and especially its wars. The more the state grows -- that is, the more it fulfills the character of national socialism -- the freer we're told we are.

President Bush, who is not exactly your philosopher-king type, would probably react with surprise, indignation, and bafflement if you called him a national socialist, since, after all, he thinks a fair amount of capitalism should be permitted, even encouraged; and he's really not all that different from most of our rulers. But that's the point. Few of these men really know what they think; they came in late in the game, and they play by the rules they see others playing by. What's philosophy got to do with it? (That was an elective course, wasn't it?)

Let's put it this way. If our rulers were all shipwrecked on a desert island with no means of escape, they might eventually build monuments and skyscrapers; but can anyone imagine them creating free institutions? What sort of Republic would this be if it had been founded by the Bushes, Clintons, Kennedys, Bidens, and McCains? Its rallying cry would have been something along the lines of "Give me Medicare benefits or give me


This is not to insult them, merely to point out their shared premise: they all think from the perspective of power, of the rulers and not the ruled. They may be benevolent, in their way; but when they want to do something for their subjects, it goes without saying that they also reserve the right to do something =to= those same subjects. Controlling the nation's wealth, even under the guise of "capitalism," is always the main thing. It's "our" wealth, isn't it? Monarchy is so =over,= but rulers still love the first-person plural. As in "We owe it to ourselves."

And even when the subjects criticize the rulers -- which is permitted -- the criticism itself assumes the same premise and perspective. After all, we're told that in a democracy the subjects themselves are the ultimate rulers. Hence the taxpayers themselves may wish for higher taxes to pay for their privileges, calculating that these will be chiefly exacted from others.

And freedom? Well, under national socialism, freedom is where you find it.