Green Room

Making the right side of history

posted at 4:01 pm on May 12, 2012 by

The idea pops up in Jonah Goldberg’s new book, The Tyranny of Clichés:

Goldberg *** explained that there “is a certain Marxist sting” to the cliché of being “on the right side of history.” It’s a way, he continued, of “saying to your opponents, ‘hey, look, you’re going to lose this argument eventually so you might as well quit now and stop complaining.’”

Indeed, Marx’s stages of history smack of this sort of determinism. Moreover, given his gig at National Review, it’s not surprising that Goldberg — by way of Burke — alludes to part of the magazine’s mission statement, in which William F. Buckley, Jr. famously proclaimed the mag “stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.”

At times, I run the risk of falling into an inversion of this cliché. Less than a week ago, I wrote:

The past century has been one in which progressives have put forth the idea that Soviet communism is what works, that Eurofascism is what works, that Maoism is what works, and that Eurosocialism is what works. The actual history of the past century is one in which Eurofascism was defeated in WWII, Soviet communism was defeated in the Cold War, Maoism has degenerated into a fascism and crony capitalism that only Tom Friedman finds attractive, and Eurosocialism is taking its own road to the dustbin of history. To be sure, voters in the UK and France are resisting, the Germans less so. But fiscal realities will continue to intrude, regardless of which governments they elect. They will eventually figure out what the OECD and IMF already have about the solution to their problems: spending less is the answer.

(More on the degree to which failed European “austerity” has relied on taxes here.) I have also been fairly optimistic about what the current state of the Eurozone will teach Americans:

I am not for doing nothing about the debt ceiling and have written a number of pieces about the need to do something about the public debt at all levels of government. Moreover, it is certainly possible that in a debt crisis, the intransigence of the left could force the federal government to take a tax-heavy approach proven to fail in all those other OECD countries. I tend to think there is still enough of the American spirit around to resist becoming wage slaves to the state. Assuming we can manage to avoid a more statist approach than Canada, Sweden and Finland, it would seem the left ought to have the greater interest in defusing the debt bomb now, as a crisis will likely be tougher on their priorities.

Goldberg’s book, as much as the current political tensions in parts of the Eurozone, is a reminder that good policy choices do not make themselves. Indeed, Matt K. Lewis is very likely correct in declaring austerity “in and of itself,” a political loser today. Unfortunately, simply talking up economic growth is not only insufficient as a policy matter, but also too easily embraced as a political dodge of our debt problem.

History, like policy, does not make itself. One thing the right should grudgingly admire about the left is their relentlessness. The left never stops agitating, “educating” and organizing to push its version of history, even in the face of its evident failure over the past several decades. Excepting Walter Mondale, they rarely run on the promise of massive tax hikes for the middle class — but they never stop talking and writing about the future necessity for them. They never stop writing and talking about their dream of socialized healthcare — and take whatever jumps they can in that direction whenever they have sufficient control over the government.

Non-statists need to be equally relentless, both in pursuing our vision and in confronting the left’s vision. Indeed, non-statists should be even more driven, given the left’s effective control of the establishment media. This structural disadvantage makes our candidates even more important, because for all the of the media’s attempted agenda-setting, campaign coverage (and advertising) still necessarily focuses on the candidates and their messages.

Although I have had my share of problems with Mitt Romney, one of his primary virtues is that he frequently makes the point that Obama is leading America in the direction of Eurosocialism at precisely the moment Eurosocialism is imploding. It is my hope that when Team Obama starts its Mediscare campaign in earnest, Team Romney will lead its response by noting that the do-nothing Obama approach will also end Medicare as we know it — but that the likely result will be the non-innovative, rationed healthcare of Eurosocialism. Even when the left thinks it can put non-statists on defense, we should be working to create the environment in which statism is understood as not “what works,” more tax revenues are a small part of any solution to public debt (preferably from tax reform and consequent growth), and reform of the entitlement state is politically palatable. Many find Romney a weak standard-bearer for conservatism, but he has been willing to carry this banner — and it is a crucial one to carry, not only for this election, but for cycles to come.

Recently in the Green Room:

Blowback

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Liberty and Tyranny, by Mark Levin, should be required reading by every citizen. Obama and the Democratic Party are taking us down the road to socialism.

Elric on May 12, 2012 at 7:03 PM

This post has been promoted to HotAir.com.

Comments have been closed on this post but the discussion continues here.

Allahpundit on May 13, 2012 at 4:05 PM


HotAir — Politics, Culture, Media, 2017, Breaking News from a conservative viewpoint
Top Pick

Taking it to the limit

Sunday morning talking heads

Jazz Shaw Jun 25, 2017 8:01 AM
Top Pick

Health care and tweeting and Russia, oh my!

Will they stay or will they go?

I can’t imagine what I was thinking when I said that

Rocking the boat majorly

Big government never contracts. It only grows more powerful

It’s only a “ban” until it becomes inconvenient

The decline and fall of Obamacare and the AHCA

Jazz Shaw Jun 24, 2017 8:31 AM

This was all over before it began

Fixing crime in America is a complicated issue

Taylor Millard Jun 23, 2017 8:31 PM

Cops alone won’t solve it.

Victim’s father was President Maduro’s supervisor back when he was a bus driver.

Democrats forgot all about the “era of good feelings”

“Bernie and Jane Sanders have lawyered up.”

“the Judiciary Committee is examining the circumstances surrounding the removal of James Comey.”

Winning isn’t everything. It is the only thing

Trump signs VA reform bill into law

John Sexton Jun 23, 2017 2:41 PM

“What happened was a national disgrace, and yet some of the employees involved in these scandals remained on the payrolls.”

A new era of something.

“…died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the U.S.”

The shortsightedness of “Denounce and Preserve”

Taylor Millard Jun 23, 2017 12:11 PM

Pragmatism for the sake of pragmatism doesn’t always work.

Perhaps if you threw in a new car?

Gay marriages still growing, but not as fast

Andrew Malcolm Jun 23, 2017 10:31 AM

More, but not as quickly.

Should’ve stuck with the pirate gig. It was working for him

The battle for the rubble of Raqqa is underway

Andrew Malcolm Jun 23, 2017 8:51 AM

Won’t be much left.

Your list of demands is a publicity stunt

“what happened that day was emblematic of a deeply troubling trend among progressives…”

“The jobs are still leaving. Nothing has stopped.”

Bad vendor. Bad! No cookie!

“The Corps is just starting to grapple with the issues the court has identified.”

“So you want me to sing my praises, is that what you’re saying?”

Why would we possibly want that?

“I mean he sold our country to The Russians.”

I could think of someone else you might want to ask about…

“You can ask a hundred people what hate speech is and you get a thousand different answers”

Trump: I never made any recordings of Comey

Allahpundit Jun 22, 2017 2:01 PM

Bluff.

Hackers stole private data from election databases

John Sexton Jun 22, 2017 1:21 PM

“90,000 records stolen by Russian state actors contained drivers license numbers”

Failure to protect the city