Jewish World Review July 7, 2010 / 25 Tamuz 5770
One Giant Leap (Backward)
By Jonah Goldberg
"Waste anything but time." That was the motto of the teams behind
We've gone from "waste anything but time" to "waste everything, especially time" in about a generation.
Liberalism is caught in something of a Catch-22. Under Obama, liberals are determined to reinvigorate the reputation of government, to prove that only the state can get important things done. That is why the Gulf oil spill, for instance, is so vexatious for the
It was one thing when the feds failed after Hurricane Katrina, liberals reasoned, because Bush didn't like government. This was not only untrue, it overlooked the fact that the permanent government bureaucracy is on liberal autopilot. Regardless, Obama is different. He loves government, he sees it as the most noble of callings. That's why he wants to make student loans much cheaper for kids who go to work for the government, and it's why he wants government jobs to pay so much better than private sector ones.
According to contemporary liberalism, the government is the control room of society, where problems get solved, where institutions get their marching orders, where the oceans are commanded to stop rising. Each institution must subscribe to the progressive vision, all oars must pull as one. We are all in it together. We can do it all, if we all work together. Yes, we can.
In my book, "Liberal Fascism," I called this phenomenon the "liberal Gleichschaltung" Gleichschaltung is a German word (in case you couldn't have guessed) borrowed from electrical engineering. It means "coordination." The German National Socialists (Nazis) used the concept to get every institution to sing from the same hymnal. If a fraternity or business embraced Nazism, it could stay "independent." If it rejected Nazism, it was crushed or bent to the state's ideology. Meanwhile, every branch of government was charged with not merely doing its job but advancing the official state ideology.
Now, contemporary liberalism is not an evil ideology. Its intentions aren't evil or even fruitfully comparable to Hitlerism. But there is a liberal Gleichschaltung all the same. Every institution must be on the same page. Every agency must advance the liberal agenda.
And this is where the Catch-22 catches. The dream of a nimble, focused, problem-solving government is undone by the reality of hyper-mission creep. When every institution is yoked to an overarching philosophy or mission, its actual purpose can become an afterthought. In 2005, volunteer firefighters from all over the country offered to help with Katrina's aftermath. But
Such examples are everywhere. What is political correctness other than the gears of the liberal Gleichschaltung? The financial crisis was worsened because
Liberalism has become a cargo cult to the New Deal, but many of the achievements of the New Deal would be impossible now. Just try to get a
President Obama likes to say "if we could put a man on the moon" we can do anything, from socializing medicine to abandoning fossil fuels. That's nonsense on stilts for a host of reasons. But it's also ironic, given that we can't even put a man on the moon anymore. Not when
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