Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Evolution and the Administrative State

Have you noticed? In the United States we have a political party that champions science, evolution, relativistic social mores, especially where sex rears its head--and it also champions the rigid one-size-fits-all administrative state.

The other party champions religion, fixed social mores, especially in sexual relations--and it also favors the flexible, evolutionary system of free enterprise and voluntary association.

Interesting, innit?

Our Democratic friends are champions of Darwinian evolution. But they draw the line strongly at Social Darwinism and Herbert Spencer, who opposed state aid to the poor and public education and extended the idea of natural selection to "social selection." Susan Jacoby, in Freethinkers, knows that respectable evolution stops precisely at Spencer, called by Richard Hofstadter, "the metaphysician of the homemade intellectual and the prophet of the cracker-barrel agnostic." Which means, presumably: Don't read him!

Republicans like to dabble in the murky waters of Intelligent Design, yet they support the ruthless evolutionary process of capitalism and the "creative destruction" of once proud industries. Yet they also believe in charity and giving.

In the months and years ahead, as the culture war expands in the aftermath of ObamaCare, it will be well to understand and map out the curious contradictions of this ideological landscape.

The postmodernists would say it is all about power, and they are probably right. But we must be alive to other possibilities.

In the great political conflict that lies before us, the most important thing to start with is a good map, to know the lay of the land and the roads upon it. The second thing is good intelligence about the enemy.

Why are Democrats so big on evolution? Is it just because it is a way to stick the dagger into organized religion? Or is there something else we need to understand?

Why are Democrats so big on the administrative welfare state? Is it just because of the power that it gives to the educated class? Or is there something else we need to know?

These are the questions we must start with as we work to mobilize the American people into a great movement of rejection.

The corrupt, cruel, unjust, wasteful and deluded administrative state shall not stand. The United States was not founded to deliver the American people into the hands of an administrative state that combines the worst features of feudalism and absolute monarchy.

On Sunday, Nancy Pelosi had to chutzpah to tie her rigid administrative health care plan to the great American vision of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We now pledge ourselves to the proposition that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is, in fact, something very different, that the American people long for something different and that, in the end, the American people will get what they want, whatever the liberal elite may think.

Think of the horrible social Darwinism of the 19th century. Despite what you have been told it experienced a dramatic turn in mortality. Before the Industrial Revolution, Gregory Clark writes in A Farewell to Alms, there was downward mobility in Britain, as fewer of the poor survived and the children of the rich slid downwards on the backs of the middle class and the children of the middle class slid downwards on the backs of the poor. But starting in about 1800, Britain experienced upward mobility, as more and more of the poor survived and moved up the social scale.

That's interesting. In the ruthless economy of the early industrial revolution the Malthusian/Darwinian system actually reversed. In the social evolutionary system of industrial creative destruction the poor thrived and prospered.

And that was way before the rosy-fingered dawn of the administrative welfare state.

As the liberal college professor said: More research is needed.

Because maybe the social Darwinism of the market economy actually favors the survival and the prosperity of the poor. Even if liberals know it isn't so.

1 comment:

  1. I've been wondering about that contradiction for a while now. I suspect the reasons are emotional, not rational or ideological. Natural selection is a favored theory among those on the left, because it suggests a completely natural origin of life, with no divine intervention. It appeals to atheists and agnostics. However, the left also has a deep-seated emotional need to control everything, to leave nothing to chance in any area of reality, including climate, the environment, extinction/evolution of species, as well as the minutia of human affairs. That means natural selection has to remain safely in the past. From now on human beings, especially those with the revealed truth, must control everthing, inhibiting any spontaneous change in the status quo. This obsession with control is the expression of a profound fear. Nothing bad will happen if we can just control everything. We will be safe. It reflects a profoundly infantile emotional development.