Trump’s World and the Retreat of Shame

Viktor Orban, the prime minister, declares that, “We do not want to be diverse and do not want to be mixed; we do not want our own color, traditions and national culture to be mixed with those of others.” Now, what color, precisely, are Hungarians, and what color were the nearly 440,000 Jews deported by the Nazis, mostly to Auschwitz, in 1944 with the cooperation of Hungarian authorities?

.. Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister of Poland, another European Union member state, defends a new law that makes it a crime to accuse “the Polish nation” of complicity in any “Nazi crimes committed by the Third Reich.” He says there were also “Jewish perpetrators” of the Holocaust.

Yes, shame is in retreat; decency too. Freedom is in retreat. The American president expresses semi-joking approval for Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, extending his rule indefinitely.

.. Why the illiberal counterrevolution? “First,” Berman tells me, “because there’s always a counterrevolution! Second, fear. You can only understand the macho cartoons that are Putin and Trump through the fear aroused by the revolution in women’s rights. Fear of globalization, too, and then we have this cultural collapse that leads so many Americans to be incapable of seeing at a glance that Trump should not be president.”

The Glory of Democracy

On college campuses, according to a Brookings/UCLA survey, 50 percent of students believe that “offensive” speech should be shouted down and 20 percent believe it should be violently crushed.

.. Democracy begins with one great truth, he argued: the infinite dignity of individual men and women. Man is made in God’s image. Unlike other animals, humans are morally responsible. Yes, humans do beastly things — Mann had just escaped the Nazis — but humans are the only creatures who can understand and seek justice, freedom and truth.

.. Monarchies produce great paintings, but democracy teaches citizens to put their art into action, to take their creative impulses and build a world around them.

.. Democratic citizens are not just dreaming; they are thinkers who sit on the town council. He quotes the philosopher Bergson’s dictum: “Act as men of thought, think as men of action.”

.. Mann argued that the enemies of democracy aren’t just fascists with guns. They are anybody who willfully degrades the public square — the propagandists and demagogues. “They despise the masses … while they make themselves the mouthpiece of vulgar opinion.”

.. all they see is the grubby striving for money and power and attention.

.. The authoritarians and the demagogues subjugate action through bullying and they subjugate thought by arousing mob psychology.

.. “This is the contempt of pure reason, the denial and violation of truth in favor of power and the interests of the state, the appeal to the lower instincts, to so-called ‘feeling,’

 

Trump vs. the First Amendment

the hallmark elements of the president’s political style:

  • ignorance,
  • stupidity,
  • pettiness, and
  • malice.

.. the FCC does not license networks or cable channels. NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox News, etc., do not have FCC licenses to review or revoke. The FCC licenses individual stations.

.. Bill Mitchell, the Trump sycophant whose comprehensive lack of self-respect makes Paul Begala look like Cincinnatus, went on to argue that print publications such as Vanity Fair and the Washington Post should have their licenses revoked, too

There is no such thing as a newspaper license in the United States. There is the First Amendment.

.. Gutting the First Amendment is one of the top priorities of the Democratic party, which seeks to revoke its protection of political speech — i.e., the thing it’s really there to protect — so that they can put restrictions on political activism, which restrictions they call “campaign-finance reform.”

.. They abominate the Supreme Court’s solid First Amendment decision in Citizens United, a case that involved not “money in politics” but the basic free-speech question of whether political activists should be allowed to show a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton in the days before an election. (Making a film and distributing it costs money, you see, hence “money in politics.”) They lost that one, but every Democrat in Harry Reid’s Senate — every one of them — voted to repeal the First Amendment.

.. Right-wing populists, too, are an illiberal bunch

.. They are repeating the progressives’ mistake: imagining what their guy could do with vast new antidemocratic powers while never bothering to consider that the other side’s guy is probably going to get in there one of these days and enjoy the same powers.

.. Free speech is extraordinarily unpopular on college campuses, and California has just enacted a flatly unconstitutional law that would empower the government to put people in jail for failing to use the preferred pronoun of a transgender person.

What Happened to America’s Elite? Part II

Around the beginning of the 20th century, the common-sense realist professors were swept from academia by a political revolution in academia. Common sense realism disappeared from the curriculum. This academic political revolution was swiftly followed by the political revolution which laid the foundation of the ever-expanding Progressive federal leviathan we live under today.

.. In 1910, the government’s revenue looked much like it did in the time of George Washington: about 3 percent of GDP, earned primarily through tariffs. In 1913 the 16th Amendment changed all that. It introduced the Progressive Income Tax, overthrowing the limited government of the Founders by opening the door to the unlimited revenue needed to finance the central government’s unending expansion into every area of American life. Also in 1913 Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act, creating a central bank.

.. 1913 also gave us the 17th Amendment which changed the way Americans elected United States Senators. Before that, senators were chosen by state legislatures.

..  Today, academic standards have collapsed; it is possible to graduate from elite colleges with a major in English without ever taking a course in Shakespeare. Before the ’60s revolution, virtually everyone who attended college studied Shakespeare, not just the English majors.

.. formerly serious disciplines, such as geography, are now politically radicalized—if they are offered at all. What are we to call this period? Perhaps the best label is illiberal progressivism.