Monday, July 6, 2009


The House recently passed the Waxman-Markey bill and sent it to the Senate for consideration. Not a single congress critter claims to have read the whole thing and that's not hard to believe since it's around 1500 pages long. Go ahead and dip a toe in. Read any small piece of it, any part or parts at all. It will become immediately obvious that this "cap and trade" legislation has far grander intentions than merely addressing climate change. Indeed in its whole and parts it is easily the most grandiose, the most far-reaching, and the most stupefyingly minutial invasion of the affairs of the private citizenry that has ever been attempted. In fact it makes the New Deal seem utterly conservative and libertarian in its scope.

I recently read a column by, of all people, the actress Victoria Jackson (a seemingly unlikely commentator to put it mildly), on the website Big Hollywood that dared to use, as she called it, the C word. That word is "communism". If ever a word was more deserving of scare quotes it escapes me but she and a few others may be on to something. Certainly use of the word conjures up the HUAC, the blacklist, Tailgunner Joe, Alger Hiss, and three fourths of a century of red-baiting by a long list of pols & pundits labeled "paranoid right-wingers" by an equally long list of progressive solons and panjandrums. With some, if far from full, justification the word communist in the 40s and 50s became a convenient shorthand for "bad" in the way that fascist is used today--merely code for "something we don't like."

So "communism", whatever any academic considerations as a system of government there might have been, became code for dictatorial repression and insidious anti-American dealings rather than anything that would have ever crossed the minds of Marx and Engels.

It would be difficult to find in the fuzzy logic of Das Capital or the "Communist Manifesto" any apprehensions or approvals of the 70 year long human tragedy of the imperialist expansionist utterly dictatorial Soviet regime. Indeed the Soviet Union's suppression of the private sector and its embrace of the most inefficient sort of command economy ever attempted was the most proximate cause of its eventual collapse.

Apologists for ideas of socialism and communism are heard to say from time to time that we don't know that communism doesn't work because it's never been really tried outside the environs of a totalitarian state. I'd rather not get into that endless debate but suffice to say that a "command" economy is labeled thus because obstreperous humans have not proven keen to participate in great numbers in such schemes absent the presence of the metaphorical and literal gun barrels of an overwhelmingly repressive police state. No it hasn't worked so far but rollerskating elephants, perpetual motion machines, and supersonic flying pigs have not eventuated so far. Indeed I expect to see all of those absurdities occur before the first successful command economy comes to pass.

These days even elements of the far fringes of the socialist, and even unabashedly Marxist, world view seem to think that since they consider themselves "good people" who are so filled with the light of tolerance and diversity that they cannot in any way be considered as "Communists" since in their minds that requires the full apparatus of a coercive police state run by evil "bad" people and they are above all that messy sort of thing. But seen in terms of the ideals of the original socialist and communist theorists we are coming closer and closer to implementing many of those collectivist visions which have been rehabilitated and dressed in the brightly inclusive and multi-tolerant robes of modern progressivism. Expunging not only the words socialist and communist but also tying sundry "necessary" collective actions to the hysteria of climate-change has resulted in a wholesale emotional defanging of the socio-communal bugbear of decades past.

And no I do not believe there is some putative "international communist conspiracy" behind all this collective action. There may have been one at one time but if so its spectacular incompetence, in economics especially, doomed it to failure. No we're all much more "enlightened" now, supposedly immune to the specter of a Soviet style police state. "How droll, how old-fashioned, how 1950s" we now dismissively declare. Consequently as long as we can claim that we are not "communists" (i.e. bad people) and are convinced that we are neck deep in a full blown climate crisis then any action, any at all, however extreme and intrusive, is perfectly acceptable for a cause as noble as "saving the planet". In this enlightened state of grace any insistence on applying outmoded "labels" on such activities is seen as either reactionary fiddling while the planet burns or simple inchoate villainy.

So now governmental intrusiveness on a scale that would have embarrassed Uncle Joe or Mao and astonished Marx or Engels is seen by many as vital to the long-term survival of humanity. Oh please I hear you say. Get real. Couldn't be that bad. You're just an old cold warrior, reactionary to the core, un-nuanced, unlettered, and one of those witless goobers who deny the "settled science" of climate change. Hmmm. Read Waxman-Markey, if you dare, and then get back to me on my pathetic delusions.

I suspect, sincerely hope, that Waxman-Markey will be gutted in the Senate. It will be if anyone bothers to read the bloody thing. And any Republican who votes for this thing might as well just switch parties as the same time for no one with even the remotest pretense of a conservative mindset could ever vote for this galloping herd of progressive hobbyhorses all of which will require truly unprecedented federal coercion to implement. One can only hope that the Blue Dogs will outnumber the RINOs and consign this grandiose boulliabasse of progressive overreach to the seventh circle of heck. If it does pass mostly intact by some anti-miracle then I recommend you start searching for a federal government job immediately for few others will be particularly safe.

Perhaps you might comfort yourself with a variation of a catchy mantra adopted by certain right-wingers back in the 60s. To wit: Extremism in the defense of the environment is no vice.


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