Commentary Magazine


Commentary of the Day

Warren, on Peter Wehner:

I agree with Murray. I believe the cultural decay combining relativism, altruistic anti-capitalist self-righteousness, a poorly educated populace (especially in economics), and pop culture has led us to a crucial point. Discipline, personal responsibility, and security have take a back seat to radical liberalism and radical egalitarianism. A new president is seeking to drastically restructure society and government’s role within it, promising the introduction of basically irreversible new entitlements (regardless of our inability to fund our current irreversible entitlements), and appealing to the rawest of human weaknesses on a regular basis (class envy, guilt, fear, and unearned entitlement, supplemented by the allure of Obama’s own pop culture glamour). Does human nature, even American nature, have the strength and discipline to resist the idolatry of Change, the allure of getting something for nothing, the class envy to punish the successful and lucky, and the bestowal of self-righteousness by pandering politicians? It has been a long time since America knew real deprivation and struggle. We are weaker in our will than we are in our current resources. Although our traditional systems of social incentives will remain in place, they will be rendered vastly less effective by government controls and regulations. The more we get the government’s direct help, the worse off we will all be. Yet a citizenry whose majority pays no income taxes will begin to expect more help from government, without making the connection between the welfare state’s influence in the economy and the overall decline of living standards. Thus, we will experience the democratic despotism Tocqueville discussed.