One of the things you learn by studying “progressivism” (as starkly opposed to classical liberalism) is the contempt its practitioners have for their subjects.
Er, citizens. Sorry. That was a slip.
Micheal Barone reviews a book – ““The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class.” by Fred Siegel – and runs down some history of this contempt, a history lesson you just didn’t get in high school:
Progressivism was repudiated in the landslide election of Warren Harding in 1920, at which point disenchanted [post-Wilsonian] liberal thinkers turned their ire against middle-class Americans who, in the “Roaring ’20s,” were happily buying automobiles, refrigerators, radios, and tickets to the movies.
The novels of Sinclair Lewis, the journalism of H. L. Mencken, and the literary criticism of Van Wyck Brooks heaped scorn on the vast and supposedly mindless Americans who worked hard at their jobs and joined civic groups — Mencken’s “booboisie.”
I’ve always been annoyed by the retroactive regard Mencken gets – but given his resonance with our intellectual “ruling class”, it makes disturbing sense.
These 1920s liberals idealized the “noble aspiration” and “fine aristocratic pride” in an imaginary Europe, and considered Americans, in the words of a Lewis character, “a savorless people, gulping tasteless food,” and “listening to mechanical music, saying mechanical things about the excellence of Ford automobiles, and viewing themselves as the greatest race in the world.”
This contempt for ordinary Americans mostly persisted in changing political environments. During the Great Depression, many liberals became Communists, proclaiming themselves tribunes of a virtuous oppressed proletariat that would have an enlightened rule…The supposedly mindless 1950s, Siegel recalls, were actually a time of elevated culture, with thousands of Great Books discussion groups across the nation and high TV ratings for programs such as Shakespeare’s Richard III, starring Laurence Olivier.
And let’s not forget the left’s tenuous relationship-of-convenience with rationality:
Liberals since the 1920s have claimed to be guided by the laws of science, but often it was crackpot science, like the eugenics movement that sought forced sterilizations.
Other social-science theories proved unreliable in practice. Keynesian economics crashed and burned in the stagflation of the 1970s.
The academy and the media it spawned has spent nearly 100 years trying to give Real America an inferiority complex.
Read the whole thing.
From Historian Timothy D. Snyder’s <Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin:
The CCCP directed a state run economy which successfully industrialized the country, transforming a country of agricultural serfs to a middle class country of factory workers. They installed a great deal of necessary infrastructure, railroads, roads, sewage and water systems. They provided modern education and health systems. In the period from 1920 to 1975 they accomplished what China accomplished from 1955 to 2010. Economic growth rates were average to excellent during that period. Khrushchev was going to ‘bury’ the west, not with nuclear weapons, but with a superior system, and a lot of people agreed with him at the time. But the CCCP got caught in the middle income trap that we are increasingly familiar with (and which China now needs to avoid). Mobilizing the workforce and building infrastructure and some basic health and welfare institutions only takes you so far. At that point, if the state is increasingly corrupt, if there is no independent legal system, if there is no system that allows for the creative destruction of new ideas, new ventures, new political solutions, the country can not progress and indeed begins to move backwards. Russia has not truly moved forward economically since 1975. Whether it has moved forward politically is, sadly, debatable.
Emery, it almost sounds like you are making the case for a command economy.
Don’t make the mistake of believing that the USSR, at any time its history, was anything other than an economic basket case. The industrialization you speak of was accomplished by other nations without killing millions of its own people. If the Mensheviks had hadn’t been defeated by the Bolsheviks, it’s likely that Russia would have became an industrial power by 1970. Big hydroelectric damns impress the rubes. into the 1980s most Soviet roads, outside of population centers, were unpaved, and animals were still used to transport goods.
What in the world did they teach you in those Canadian schools . . .
transforming a country of agricultural serfs to a middle class country of factory workers.
Or killing them.
They installed a great deal of necessary infrastructure, railroads, roads, sewage and water systems.
Using slave labor.
They provided modern education and health systems.
For the elites.
In the period from 1920 to 1975 they accomplished what China accomplished from 1955 to 2010.
In the whole “great wealth for the plutocracy” sense of the term.
Economic growth rates were average to excellent during that period.
Measured in state-supplied figures.
Khrushchev was going to ‘bury’ the west, not with nuclear weapons, but with a superior system, and a lot of people agreed with him at the time.
That part is true.
But the CCCP got caught in the middle income trap that we are increasingly familiar with
…if by “middle income” you mean “centralized, planned economy”.
Mobilizing the workforce and building infrastructure and some basic health and welfare institutions…
…wasn’t what Solzhenitzyn called it in The Gulag Archipelago, but different strokes for different blokes I guess.
At that point, if the state is increasingly corrupt, if there is no independent legal system, if there is no system that allows for the creative destruction of new ideas, new ventures, new political solutions, the country can not progress and indeed begins to move backwards.
Which is in fact uncannily close to the theme of Williamson’s “The End Is Near”, a book I recommend unstintingly.
On what evidence? Most of the rest of the world did not industrialize at that time. Some of it still hasn’t.
The two of you must be kidding. I remember recommending the book ‘Bloodlands” to both of you at one time or another. The author’s findings detailed the many different ways that Stalin and then Hitler starved, imprisoned, executed and otherwise killed millions in the Ukraine, Poland, Belarus and the Baltics.
Emery, use common sense. Look at Europe today. Compare the economies of the nations that embraced market ideals and a consumer economy with those that are ex-Soviet satellites. Compare the economies of West Germany and East Germany in 1990, for God’s sake.
The primary cause of the collapse of the Soviet was economic. The commies claimed a superior economic system was the core of the Soviet system.
The Japanese, starting in the Meiji period, went further and faster economically than the Soviets did, with a fraction of the resources and with little European trade. Whatever you think of Japanese politics 1868-1990, it wasn’t a communist country.
The reason consumer economies produce greater wealth than command economies is because every economic transaction adds value. In a command economy, there is no pricing mechanism to ensure that this takes place. You have, for example, a factory working over time to produce 100,000 pairs of boots that no one will wear because they are hideous or lack holes for laces.
This is textbook, econ 101 stuff.
I actually ordered a copy of Bloodlands on B&N today.
PM: You need to read Ricardo about comparative advantage. Even if country B does everything worse than country A, country B still will produce goods and services. Please read up on it; this is basic Economics 101.
Re the Soviet economy: an interesting web page, with charts: http://akarlin.com/2012/06/the-soviet-economy-charting-failure/
The comments on the akarlin page are great. A lot of Russians weigh in. The commenters who dispute his conclusions do not make the arguments that Emery is making.
I haven’t heard anyone make the arguments Emery is making since Walter Duranty.
I’m exaggerating; I remember some lefty professors who claimed the USSR was a noble, successful experiment that brought a nation of savages into the modern era.
I’m just thinking of all the nations that managed the same feat without, y’know, murdering eight or nine digits worth of people.
I was went to Minneapolis public schools in the 70s. I was taught that the Soviets had industrialized a backward land and that their paranoia and arms buildups were a legacy of suffering under invasion. Also, because America had sent aid to the White Russians fighting the Bolsheviks.
I was not taught that the Bolshies used guns to overthrow not the Czar, but a democratic, reformist government. I had to find that out myself.
One of the harshest critics of Duranty, and English intellectuals who supported the Reds, was Vladimar Nabakov (The guy who wrote Lolita). His family were reformist aristocrats. His father was in the democratic Duma the Bolsheviks kicked out. He had little patience for the White Russian exiles. He found many or most of them to be mountebanks, Czarists, or anti-semites (Nabakov had married a German Jew). But Nabakov despised people who believed that Russia was better off under the Soviets than the Russian exiles, or even the Czar. He knew better.
MBerg: I hope you enjoy the book.
Imagine if the North Koreans had the same leadership with the same human rights abuses, but had managed to create an industrial society half as rich as the South Koreans. Would we make excuses for their inhuman cruelty?
The comparison between the Soviet Union in the 20s and 30s and the present North Korea is apt.
PM; I concur. I have mentioned a few times on this forum that I know several former residents of the Soviet Bloc that moved here for the economic opportunities that the USA offers to people that want to earn it. To a person, they will tell anyone that based on the actions of the current regimes at the Federal, state and local levels, we are being directed toward Communism at a rapid pace and they are scared to death. There are plenty of lefties that scream bloody murder about anyone that points out that the Dems are neo-commies, as being right wing extremists that don’t understand what socialism/communism really means. Of course, they have never lived under that type of system, so they are the ones that don’t understand the meanings. I have to admit that it is extremely entertaining watching one of these elitists get schooled by one of my ex-Soviet Bloc friends.
To me, the most amazing thing about the Soviet system, beyond killing tens of millions of their own people in gulags and through incompetence, is how they transformed the breadbasket of Europe into a nation that needed to import wheat to survive. It’s like a bread shortage in Kansas, for cryin’ out loud.
Moreover, that vaunted industrial might? Well, yes, Henry Ford had sold them the factories that made the Model T and Model A, and in East Germany, the 1955 Fiat–I mean Trabant–burned more oil than most diesels. There is a difference between keeping a war machine going and having a viable economy.
And by the way, having visited East Germany just prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, I can say with confidence that the idea that the Warsaw Pact had half the prosperity of the West is utter, complete, horses**t. Sorry, walking through Checkpoint Charlie was like visiting another planet, and East Berlin was the showplace of the Reds.
Emery, you are FUCKING MORON! I am first hand witness to the greatness of CCCP you espouse. And I dearly wish I could pack your sorry fucking soci@list ass to live in CCCP just for one fucking week! You would come back a fucking wimpering bitch, if would come back alive at all!
Oh, and enough with the crap that pre-revolutionary Russia was a feudal society. There has been enough research done back in the time, subsequently suppressed and refuted via brainwashing by the communist elite, that paints a completely different picture. Adn that brainwashing apparently worked very well judgign by comments on this thread. Evaluation of Kafenguz is a good starting to get you to realize that Russian indistrial output growth rate between 1887 and 1913 outstripped that of UK, Germany and even US.
“…myth about hopeless backwardness of pre-revolutionary Russia, necessitating its path to socialism”, V. I. Bovykin observed that “for our contemporaries, whose historical views were formed under the effect of this myth, it is difficult, understandably, that Russia at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century was one of the most dynamically developing states of the world.”
Just plain ass–clown:
I never knew you to have a reading comprehension problem. This came as quite a surprise. Sorry. I decline to argue with you. We are too far apart in hardware and software. I also don’t talk to people who need a sour fix at regular intervals. Go to a vinaigrette dealer for that. You’re knocking on the wrong door.
Emery needs a five year plan to overcome his curious quality of pompous ignorance.
Come now. Emery isn’t a commie, or even a socialist. At least most of the time.
My only criticism of Emery is that he seems to possess a lot of bien pensant ideas that he thinks are more than bien pensant ideas. The idea, for example, that it is the government’s job to address the perceived social problems of the day is bien pensant. Doesn’t matter if the person who believes it is conservative or liberal.
Back to USA, and no, EmeryTheUSAHater, nothing wrong with my reading comprehension – you espoused that there is nothing better than command and control economy and I called you a Fucking Moron for your ignorance. And you remain a Fucking Moron unable to get past your soci@list blindness. How many people do YOU want to see go to the gulag to achieve your goals?