[Posted by Karl]
Over the weekend Rep. Paul Ryan reviewed The Price of Civilization, the new book from Jeffrey Sachs, which apparently argues that America needs to adopt Euro-socialist policies, rather than learn from the misery inflicted by the worst of democratic socialism there. Rather than rehash that debate, I want to focus on the totalitarian and liberal fascist aspects of the book Ryan mentions.
According to Ryan: “The Constitution imposes too many restrictions on government interference for Mr. Sachs, and we’d be better served if we moved toward a ‘French-style’ constitution that consolidated the executive and legislative branches and empowered experts to help us manage the ‘complexity of our economy.’ ” Ryan also notes that Sachs echoes the arguments of French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham. Ryan does not mention that Rousseau’s theory of the general will is the forerunner of modern totalitarianism and Bentham’s idea of Utopia was a prison under his total control.
It is worth noting that Sachs is not considered a fringe character. He has been named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” twice and Vanity Fair magazine put him on its list of 100 members of the New Establishment. Moreover, Sachs is hardly alone in indulging these sorts of thoughts on the left.
Ed Driscoll collects a few examples. Gov. Bev Purdue (D-NC) recently suggested “we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover.” Former Obama budget director Peter Orszag wrote a piece for TNR arguing “we need to jettison the Civics 101 fairy tale about pure representative democracy and instead begin to build a new set of rules and institutions that would make legislative inertia less detrimental to our nation’s long-term health.” (Ezra Klein’s defense of Orszag shows the disdain for bicameralism or checks and balances you would expect from someone who finds the Constitution too old and confusing to be anything more than a political football.) Lastly, Driscoll recalls NYT columnist Thomas Friedman’s desire that we be China for a day (a proposal that would likely ensure that we were China for a very long time). Although Driscoll also found a tantalizing video of Pres. Obama finding tempting the idea of acting on his own, you have to read the NYT to find Obama complaining that it would be so much easier to be the president of China.
But wait… there’s more. US Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) delivers a harangue that could have been titled, “All Your Wealth Are Belong To Us,” and the video goes viral. The left lapped up a relatively unvarnished argument that the people are slaves to the state. When Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) was asked “Of every dollar that I earn, how much do you think I deserve to keep?”, there is a reason she did not have an answer. When Fareed Zakaria pines for the US to adopt a parliamentary system, he is in tune not only with Sachs, but also Woodrow Wilson, who was not a big fan of separated powers or checks and balances. When a legion of lefty pundits argue that Republican “obstruction” of Obama’s agenda shows that “the system is broken,” they reveal an Orwellian contempt for the system of separated powers our Founders envisioned (and argued for in no less than five of the Federalist Papers) for the protection of our liberties.
This Fall, it seems that liberal fascism is the new black — and it likely will remain in style for the foreseeable future. After all, progressives think they are losing and black is the color for mourning clothes.