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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/8905/breaking-barriers-or-dividing-society/

Breaking Barriers or Dividing Society?

November 6, 2008 by

Among those who are bemoaning the election results, one must ask supporters of liberty: given the choices, what would have been a good outcome? We’ve lived through eight years of what might possibly be the worst executive-driven meltdown of human liberty outside civil or world war in American history, and this is true regarding domestic policy and foreign policy.

A McCain victory would have been perceived at home and abroad as a ratification of the past eight years, and it is hard to imagine a worse course of events than that. The Obama victory symbolizes a well-deserved repudiation of this ghastly experience.

Of course, the Obama victory elicits its own spin, which is also highly dangerous. The main message concerns race. All the headlines blared that a racial barrier had been broken. The subtext here is impossible to miss: heretofore America has been a hopelessly racist country that put up barriers to the advance of people of color.

But why should politics be the standard for what constitutes a barrier or a barrier broken? FULL ARTICLE

{ 12 comments }

Keith November 6, 2008 at 1:49 pm

The surest sign that there is still racism (on both sides) is the continued proclimations that now somehow racism has been vanquished. If it truly had been, then we wouldn’t be talking about it.

The only thing this election will prove is that a black politician is as incompetent and self-serving as a white one.

Now, that’s equality.

Evans Munyemesha November 6, 2008 at 3:02 pm

This election does not only make Obama the new American face of legalized plunder but also (I think) subtly suggests a historic shift in sentiment which now publicly condemns the White male politician for his role in the mismanagement of American public affairs…of course I could be wrong here too!

Franklin November 6, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Brilliant essay.
When very young, my children would sometimes tell a story about somebody, a celebrity, whomever, and it oftentimes was characterized by “rich,” or “lesbian” or “Indian” or you-name-it. And unless it was critical and contextual to the story, I asked, as most of you do, “Why is the ethnicity or personal lifestyle important to this story?” A few times, it was not. So they got the idea and those kinds of descriptions were no longer heard at the dinner table. As these descriptive adjectives were never tolerated in the house, then obviously they must have been heard in school, or among friends. But under no circumstances am I implying that friends or teachers employed them pejoratively. On the contrary, the characterizations of skin color were usually employed with goodwill and admiration: the first “woman astronaut in space;” the first “Hispanic Cabinet member;” the first “openly gay actor”….

Over time I’ve wondered if we are, actually, stuck in time, not moving ahead. Do not all of these qualifiers deserve the same answer — “Who cares?”
Because some ignoramuses throughout history were so gutless and threatened by differences, must we continue to throw pigmentation or sexuality into every conversation?

Does ignoring race or ethnicity or religion diminish the meanness that individuals faced, the prejudices and untold cruelty that was experienced? When do we mature? When do we just get on with the business of living for today, preparing for tomorrow, rather than living in a dark “yesterday” that is thankfully long gone?

Forty-odd years ago, black Americans were marching in the streets to challenge the unkind, revolting, and oftentimes inhumane treatment of which they faced. That irony paints an astonishing backdrop to Barack Obama on the stage of victory and, thus, the accomplishment of the young man is certainly remarkable and “historic.”

So at what time point can the page be turned?
Perhaps I have little credibility in this discussion, according to many left liberals. I can be viewed as the beneficiary of history’s horrors — I’m white, I’m male, and turned 50 today. The genetic roll of the die did not inflict many societal handicaps upon me….. So be it.

But will I always listen to the news, or listen to comedians, or face another Employee Handbook, that must cite color or sexuality, like a “gotcha” Big Brother eye that measures and sternly monitors my every action?
I hope not for long.

Cheers.
F.

Bruce Koerber November 6, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Color is not the sign of progress. In these days – during this the Dark Ages of economics – it is not even character alone.

From the above two sentences it is easy to see the irrelevance of color when compared to the importance of character. But character alone is not sufficient!

The force of economic equilibrium will overwhelm all in its path if the distortions caused by the ego-driven interventionists creates a massive imbalance. Even hard-working and good people will find themselves in trouble and hardship. Character alone is not sufficient.

It is not the color of Obama’s skin nor his character (he seems like a nice person) that will bring about unity and justice. Knowledge about the force of economic equilibrium and its purging itself of all human intervention is the one key to advancement and general weal.

No matter what skin color in combination with economic ignorance spells the destruction of goodness. Exhibiting personal virtues but applying the arbitrariness and soullessness of socialism is not only hypocrisy but unjust and heinous.

Is Obama an ego-driven interventionist? Skin color has nothing to do with this.

Sebastian Fernandez November 7, 2008 at 8:18 am

Although I agree that Obama’s win is seen through a very distorted lens by his supporters I doubt he himself sees it this way. After all, his mother is white and his father is black so he is more post-racial than a lot of people give him credit for (on both sides). Although he does talk about redistribution I doubt it is a “white-black” redistribution but a general redistribution. I think his is more a message of inclusion than of conflict.
Although I cannot dispute the figure of black businesses but one can also point to many other economic indicators that demonstrate the difference between different colors of people, even between shades of people. This stems largely from (real and imagined) exclusion that hopefully will be put to rest now. Barack Obama gives us the chance to leave behind Jesse Jackson. Personally, I’d take Obama over Jackson any day.
On economic topics I doubt we will see full-on socialism. Some people point to Clinton as Obama’s economic model which might not be optimal but it is far from catastrophic.

newson November 7, 2008 at 9:02 am

…whatever full-on socialism is. the clintons’ agenda would have been disastrous, had the upper house not blocked the more fanciful projects.

Philippe Gay November 7, 2008 at 9:10 am

Merci Monsieur Rockwell.
Very good point of view, tottally in the spirit, in the heart of Frederic Bastiat.
Could somebody here in France speek publicly like you do !
But your last words seem to me a little week … pas à la hauteur du reste ….
Wy do yo say «To the extent that there is truth in the conflict view of society» ?
To my point of view ( and to yours since the begining of yor text) There is NO truth in the conflict view of society …

The truth is in the difficulty that arise with the will of power ! ( which helas is in the heart of all of us !)

So the fight for liberty is of a very different nature than those fights seen as atagonists conflicts.
There is no antagonism between the “state” and the “rest of society” ( horrible hollist terms!) , there is more simply real human difficulty to keep power under control … and it is if course an institutionnal problem , but first of all a problem of person ( it is alway person that build and make live institution no ? )
And facing administrations … is not a question of loathe than a question of … patience, hope and strong will … and good will, and clear views
Am I too “harmonic” ?
But you see Lew these 3 very last lines of your text did not seem to me in harmony with the rest.

Philippe

Franklin November 7, 2008 at 9:57 am

Ref. Sebastian’s post: “Although I cannot dispute the figure of black businesses but one can also point to many other economic indicators that demonstrate the difference between different colors of people….”

Why is it important to do so? How long must we measure so-called economic progress by categorization of individuals into ambiguous race pools?

F.

prettyskin November 8, 2008 at 1:07 pm

I gathered from this that, (“Far from being a healing force in American life, his success at taking from one group to give to another will only increase conflict”), ‘another’ implies black Americans. Certainly, ‘another’ should have been clarified with nouns like downtrodden or poor (of all groups). So, the critical word is not ‘conflict’ as stated but rather ‘another’. We are a nation of good people living in a good country with inherited ills. And, onward we march with our enslaved history as a nation.

What an Obama win has as a ‘feeling’ for children of enslaved ancestry is mountainous to the historical prodigiousness of his current title. The ‘feeling’ can not be described, but felt. It is modern Americans collectively, from all corners of this nation, that choose not to wear the burden of conflict handed down and the legacy of discrimination by white people with delusions of grandeur. The 2008 presidential election outcome may have just well spelled out for Americans with enslaved ancestry that white America is looking past color. This is true for some whites, but for others it is the fear of being called ‘racist’ so they placed their votes out of fear. There are fears among white people, no one wants to be labeled racist. Another fear is the dismantling of ‘unearned white privileges deeply rooted in this nation. It is getting by without true merits. “White people blame non-white people for raising the question on race as if non-white people are responsible for perpetuating the problem” (Jensen, R., 2005).

The system of judging and discriminating by color is still with us and an Obama win is just that a win. What it means to anyone is their prerogative.

ari-freedom November 9, 2008 at 5:49 am

Abraham Lincoln was also
-from Illinois
-a lawyer
-very little experience
-gifted oratorical skills
-opposed the Mexican American war. “God of Heaven has forgotten to defend the weak and innocent, and permitted the strong band of murderers and demons from hell to kill men, women, and children, and lay waste and pillage the land of the just.”

Hopefully the comparisons end here.

FreedomFromRadicals November 10, 2008 at 11:28 pm

1. Mr. Rockwell’s contrasting of Bush or McCain versus Obama remind me of Hayek’s comments in his introduction to The Road to Serfdom, which I paraphrase here, something I pray will be made abundantly clear over the next 4 years: PARTIES ARE IRRELEVANT! (As a matter of fact, Hayek’s book is dedicated, “To the Socialists of All Parties.” So, please don’t get distracted by which beneficiary a particular party’s patron saint is bestowing my and your money upon this election cycle; pay attention to the hand digging into your pocket and the one on your shoulder limiting your freedoms.
Moreover, Hayek knew what “radical change” means and the threat it poses to liberty. Recall his lament:
“We still believe that until quite recently we were governed by what are vaguely called nineteenth century ideas or the principles of laissez-faire…Only those whose memory goes back to the years before the last war [WWI] know what a liberal world has been like.
“The crucial point of which our people are still so little aware is, however, not merely the magnitude of the CHANGES which have take place…but the fact that they mean a COMPLETE CHANGE in the direction of the evolution of our ideas and social order. For at least twenty-five years before the specter of totalitarianism became a real threat, we had PROGRESSIVELY been moving away from the basic ideas on which Western Civilization has been built…We have PROGRESSIVELY abandoned that freedom in economic affairs without which personal and political freedom has never existed in the past. Although we had been warned by some of the greatest political thinkers of the nineteenth century, by De Tocqueville and Lord Acton, that SOCIALISM MEANS SLAVERY, we have steadily moved in the direction of socialism. AND NOW WE HAVE SEEN A NEW FORM OF SLAVERY ARISE BEFORE OUR EYES, we have so completely forgotten the warning that it scarcely occurs to us that the two things may be connected.”

So, prepare yourself for serfdom, if Bush et al hasn’t already done the job himself! Prepare yourself for Obama’s Three R’s:
Redistribution, which funds the battle for:
Reparations, which funds the battle for:
Revolution, which is “fundamental”, “radical” “change”!

2. Ref. Sebastian Fernandez’s post: “Although he does talk about redistribution I doubt it is a “white-black” redistribution but a general redistribution. I think his is more a message of inclusion than of conflict.”

Retort: a “general redistribution” is largely equivalent to a white-to-non-white redistribution, just examine the demographics.

3. Ref. Philippe’s post: “There is no antagonism between the “state” and the “rest of society” (horrible hollist terms!), there is more simply real human difficulty to keep power under control … and it is if course an institutionnal problem, but first of all a problem of person (it is alway person that build and make live institution no?)”

Retort: but there is indeed antagonism between the state and the rest of society when there is Omnipotent Government. The institutions of the state are self-perpetuating and the people that keep it alive are unaccountable and an amorphous collective force. Moreover, the state is inherently antagonistic and mostly a necessary evil; show me one government that has ever gotten even nearly continually smaller relative to its society over any extended time while it has also maintained or increased its effectiveness for society.

4. Ref. Ari-Freedom’s post regarding the Lincoln-Obama comparison:
- retort:
a) Oh that Illinois were now like it was in Lincoln’s day!
b) Lincoln was a Republican, just as MLK was.
c) Lincoln policies prompted disaffected states to secede and he drove the country to Civil War, killing more Americans than in the Mexican American War and WWII combined. Despite his knowledge of the law, Lincoln resorted to the battlefield, not the court, to have his way; he trampled on states rights, (even if they were morally wrong; pardon the pun). His radical Congressional colleagues’ later Reconstruction policies fanned hatred that enabled oppression of blacks for another hundred years of the Republic.
d) Lincoln’s wife also shared her husband’s ambition and she attended fine schools, just like Obama’s wife, but Mary Todd Lincoln’s mental health issues undermined her husband’s administration.
e) God doesn’t forget anything, regardless of what Lincoln said. He will deliver justice — to all –, in HIS time.

Buckley November 13, 2008 at 9:30 pm

There seems to be quite a bit of rancor and hostility over the selection of Barack Obama as the new President of the United States here. There is a disageement about his ability to govern and he hasn’t been sworn in yet! One would think it would be prudent to give the man a chance before being critical of his governing skills and manner. From a quick glance Mr. Obama can look to be no more a liberal than Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter were. For those he would assume that Barack Obama is an wild eyed crazy propent for the state ,it is safe to say that he isn’t that anymore than more than any of the other recent occupants in the White House in the past 40 years. It is unusual the author would get emotional over the race issue in his article. He seems to push the same divise issue he claims to abhor with relish. Sort of reminds one of his days when he worked closely with John Bryant.

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