IN the era when progressive minds were concerned about the power of the absolute monarchs the word on the street was "limited government." Progressive minds realized that the absolute monarchs, like the feudal monarchs before them, maintained themselves in power by distributing favors to their supporters. That was insupportable, according to reason and natural law.
That lasted for about 100 years, from 1750 to 1850.
But once the absolute monarchs had been dispatched to the dustbin of history progressive minds forgot all about limited government. Now they saw themselves as the rising ruling class and developed a politics where they would replace the monarch and win political power for themselves by offering favors to their supporters. So much was obvious to the best minds. And it was all discernible from the march of history and from social justice.
Of course, the truth is that politics has always been about loot and plunder. It was about loot and plunder when the hunter gatherers conducted their dawn raids on the neighboring tribe, killing the men and taking the women into slavery. It was about loot and plunder when Agamemnon and his pals including Odysseus, sacker of cities, besieged and sacked the city of Troy. It was about loot and plunder when the Roman legions ranged through Europe and the Middle East. It was about loot and plunder when Europeans discovered America and took the silver from Bolivia and the land from the North American Indians.
The formula is simple. A would-be political leader -- we might call him a freebooter or a buccaneer -- recruits an army with the promise of loot and plunder. We might call these followers freeloaders. If successful, this leader takes political power over some territory and taxes and regulates the people therein to benefit his supporters.
For that brief century from 1750 to 1850 the idea got about that maybe the loot and plunder idea was not such a good plan for government. Because, after all, loot and plunder are destructive. They sweep away productive economic relations and strip people of their wealth. And give it to people whose only talent is military or political soldiering. So the idea got about that government, the agency of looting and pillaging, ought to be limited, so that wealth could increase and benefit everyone.
But in the middle of the 19th century, as we have seen, a new idea got about. The educated sons of the bourgeoisie, shocked by the squalor of the industrial slums, intuited a new society in which all the squalor would be gone and society would become truly social and cooperative, rather than hierarchical and exploitative.
But there was one little problem with their ideas. How would we get from here to there? The answer was as old as the hills. We would get there by recruiting a political army with promises of loot and plunder: bigger wages, less working hours, free education, old-age pensions, health care.
It did not seem to occur to these people -- it still does not occur to their political descendants -- that a political movement based on loot and plunder will end up 100 years later as government based on loot and plunder. And what does loot and plunder do? It strips the land and the people of their wealth and their livelihood.
The trouble with socialism, according to Margaret Thatcher, is that in the end you run out of other peoples' money. It's easy to see why. The nature of the political game is that you must come to each election with a new promise of loot. That is what you have taught your supporters down the decades and that is what they demand. That was why President Obama had to lie about Obamacare and pretend it would lower health insurance premiums, and why Hillary Clinton has to conjure up brain-dead ideas to complicate the capital gains tax to make it look as though she is shaking new money out of the trees that can be spent on her supporters.
In the end the politicians over-promise on the loot. In the end you run out of other peoples' money. In the end you get Greece or Argentina.
So the solution is pretty obvious. You replace the current system with a system of limited government, where the politicians do not rally support by offering free stuff.
After all, any sensible voter should be able to see that in the end the government runs out of money to pay its pensions, so the practical thing to do is to make sure that your life is not dependent upon the continued payment of a government pension. On that view the idea of paying payroll taxes for 40 years on the faith that the government will pay the pensions it promised seems close to certifiable delusion.
But that is the system we live under. Until we don't.
I get it. Conservative leadership, from Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the Senate and John Boehner (R-OH) in the House to the mainstream conservative media is disappointingly wimpy. You might even say that they had been cuckolded by the shameless hussies in LiberalLand who have been cheating on them for decades. Thus #cuckservatives. When are they going to do something about it? And act like real ...
I'M going to be lunching with my liberal women friends in the next week or so. We are talking about the kind of woman that will be on board for the idea that it's time for America's First Woman President. Here I am, aching with sorrow about the way that America's government has failed its people, because of the faith of its ruling class in its top-down paternalism, and your average educated ...
I just had an epiphany on the Blame the Bankers meme that every Democrat and every liberal instinctively believes as the cause of the Crash of 2008. I'd always assumed that it was pure cynical political blame-shifting, the natural instinct of the ruling class to find a scapegoat to take the blame for its feckless and foolishness. Of course, that's what it was, mostly. You can't run a country ...
Download latest e-book draft here.
A New Manifesto
A spectre is haunting the liberal elitethe spectre of conservatism.
The Crisis of the Administrative State
It wasnt supposed to be like this.
Government and the Technology of Power
If you scratch a social reformer, you will likely discover a plan for more government.
Business, Slavery, and Trust
Business is all about trust and relationship.
Humanity's Big Problem: Freebooters and Freeloaders
The modern welfare state encourages freeloaders.
The Bonds of Faith
No society known to anthropology or history lacked religion.
A Critique of Social Mechanics
The problem with human society reduced to system.
The Paradox of Individualism
Is individualism the gospel of selfishness or something else?
From Multitude to Civil Society
The larger the government, the smaller the society.
The Answer is Civil Society
In between the separated powers.
The Greater Separation of Powers
If you want to limit power then you must limit power.
Conservatism Three by Three
Conservatism, political, economics, and cultural.
The Culture of Involvement
Imagining lives without the welfare state
The Poor Without the Welfare State
Can the poor thrive without the welfare state?
The Middle Class Without The Welfare State
How would the middle class live without all those middle-class entitlements?
Liberals and the Welfare State
Liberals, the ruling class of the administrative welfare state.
From Freeloaders to Free Givers
The path to the future lies through moral movements.
The Real Meaning of Society
Broadening the horizon of cooperation in the last best hope of man on earth.
Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education
Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system
James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor
James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls
E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in
Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century
F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law
Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract
John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present
James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.
David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century
David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state
Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again
David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China
Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation
Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state
David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world
After a year of President Obama most Americans understand that the nation is on the wrong track. But how do we find the right track? Americans knew thirty years ago that liberalism was a busted flush. Yet Reaganism and Bushism seemed to be less than the best answer.
But where can we turn? Where are the thinkers and activists of the old days? Where do we find the best ideas? And how do we persuade our present ruling class to loosen its grip on power so that we can move the locomotive of state back onto the right track?
With all of our problems it seems like the worst of times.
In fact, this is the best of times. Under the radar a generation of great thinkers have been figuring out what went wrong and conjuring up visions of a better future. This book, "An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism" is an introduction to their ideas, and to the great future that awaits an America willing to respond to their call.
Although this book is addressed to all Americans, conservative, moderate, and liberal, and looks to a nation that transcends our present partisan divide, I must tell you that liberals will have the most difficulty with the book. The reason is simple. I am asking liberals to give up a lot of the power they have amassed in the last century. But we are all Americans, and we must all give up something for the sake of the greater good.
I am Christopher Chantrill and I am writing this book in full view. I'll be blogging on the process and the ideas, and I'll be asking you, dear readers, to help. Read the blog. Read the articles as they come out on American Thinker and ponder over the draft chapters here on this site.
Then send me your reactions, your thoughts, and your comments. You will help more than you know.
When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of agesthey seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society
We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.
E. G. West, Education and the State
Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures
The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since
1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and
philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West
Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its
characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then,
once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison