Friday, December 23, 2016

Disestablishing an Establishment?

 Although she passed away in 1982, Ayn Rand's philosophical insights proved prescient to today and explain the real reason the Democrat and Republican establishments lost the 2016 election to political outsider Donald Trump and how the intellectual establishment got the election so wrong.
"They still think that it is daring, idealistic and unconventional to denounce the rich. They still believe that money is the root of all evil--except government money, which is the solution to all problems. The intellectual Establishment is frozen on the level of those elderly "leaders" who were prominent when the system of governmental "encouragement" took hold. By controlling the schools, the "leaders" perpetuated their dogma and gradually silenced the opposition."(from "The Establishing of an Establishment" in her book "Philosophy: Who Needs It.)
This was written in 1972. True then and true today. The Democrats still try to peddle worn out notions like the rich are evil, white people are evil, the businessman is the workers' worst enemy and they care about the poor and needy. The GOP theme was always "me too." Americans are now seeing through phony postures and lies. They are waking up to the fact that both parties have an establishment concerned only with serving itself instead of them. And they see the intellectual establishment in the media supporting the political establishment mostly of the Democrats and tolerating the GOP as long as it's willing to maintain its punching bag status.

One of the characteristics of an establishment is the creation of an orthodoxy, a set of beliefs or narratives universally accepted and from which members are not allowed to dissent. Thus establishments are usually hostile to outsiders. But what happens when such an establishment is challenged by an outsider? Rand speaks to that too:

"This kind of psycho-epistemology (concrete bound method of thinking-ME) works so long as no part of it is challenged. But all hell breaks loose when it is--because what is threatened then is not a particular idea, but that mind's whole structure. The hell ranges from fear to resentment to stubborn evasion to hostility to panic to hatred." (from the essay "The Missing Link" in the above mentioned book)
That hell is what we saw on the faces of the media on election night and the following days of protests. What's being rejected by voters is governmental encouragement of how we should live our lives. I don't think all Trump voters see it in these explicit terms. It may be more like an appealing feeling. It remains to be seen whether Trump will withstand the push back from today's establishments.

Here is why: the Democratic Party prides itself on being the party of altruism, the morality of human sacrifice. It claims to be the moral party willing to force citizens to make the sacrifices altruism requires them to make. Republicans shout they just want kinder and gentler sacrifices.

But Trump bases his 'Make America Great Again' on just practical grounds, not moral ones. 'Making better deals' is his solution to being great again. The leftist media will assault all his policies as being immoral. Will he defend his positions or attack theirs on moral grounds? I for one don't think he knows how. That takes a knowledge of principles, moral principles.

Trump could go a long way towards a moral stand if he would say something like "When I say "America first" I mean you first, your life first, your family first." I don't think he will though.

Today the government is encouraging us to let it control all aspects of our lives; transportation, education, health care, insurance, financing and virtually everything. Fortunately, for now at least, it is still up to us. Thanks to free speech, politicians still have to persuade us to vote for them. But even this Constitutionally protected right-speech-is under attack today with calls for outlawing so-called "hate speech" and "offensive speech." If these are actually outlawed, complete censorship will soon follow. Censorship is an absolute requirement to establish a dictatorship.

The above essay "The Establishing of an Establishment" on governmental encouragement, mostly via government grants, was a real eye opener for me. It shows how an establishment becomes one and thus the urgent need to get the government out of the encouragement business. I highly recommend it.
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