Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 176
8th November 2008
Barack Obama and America's 1997:
Welcome to the Club!
by Sean Gabb
I have been asked by several of my American readers to comment on their presidential election. I did think to ignore these requests. Having spent very little time there, I cannot be regarded as an expert on America. Nor am I particularly fond of the place. I think its war of independence was brought on less by the Stamp Act than by Lord Mansfield's judgement on the illegality of slavery at common law. I also think its war between the states was won by the wrong side. It would have been better for humanity had the Union been broken up and its member states made into British satellites. Sadly, the United States survived, and was able to grow into the mercantilist oligarchy that took the most significant – because ultimately the most successful – place in the triumvirate, with Soviet communism and European national socialism, that ended the hegemony of English liberalism.
Having considered the request, though, I do have something to say. The range of opinion about Mr Obama's election seems to be marked at its limits by the BBC and by organisations like Vdare and American Renaissance. The former believes he is a fusion of Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, and has turned its news broadcasts into a hymn of secular joy. The latter believes that he is indeed Messrs Mandela and Luther King – the real ones, that is, not the constructs of the politically correct classes – and that he will surround himself with Black Panther bodyguards and declare Ebonics the official language of America.
I think both opinions are wrong. The first is not worth commenting on. The second is wrong because so many American conservatives are still in shock at the thought of having a black man to rule over them. Mr Obama got his campaign funds in the usual way – from business interests that will now want their reward. He will need to operate within a system that remains dominated by whites. Within a year or so, the non-whites who are still celebrating his victory will have noticed that nothing much has changed as it affects their lives, and will be denouncing him as a white man with a black face.
This is not to say, however, that nothing important has happened. Something has happened, and it is both important and dreadful for the American people. America has just had its equivalent of our 1997 revolution. Looking at the eighty four years until then, power in England had become both more oppressive and less accountable. But the main features of our Constitution remained in place, and conservatives had been able to retain sufficient institutional power to slow down the drift into tyranny. The election of New Labour allowed the wholesale remodelling of the Constitution, so that little now remains around which conservatives can unite. I now live in a country where power is less restrained than at any time since the sixteenth century – where formal sovereignty has been passed to various foreign agencies, where the media is controlled, where civil liberties have been casually squashed, where the armed forces have been made into instruments of an imperial aggression that brings neither glory to their nation nor better government to their victims.
So it is now in America. The American Constitution and Bill of Rights have always been a fraud. From slavery to civil asset forfeiture, they have never restrained any abuse of power on which the American ruling class has been determined. But the country is very large, and there has usually been strong local suspicion of Washington. Given a ruling class interested mainly in dividing up the profits of commercial privilege, and prepared to indulge any right that did not get seriously in the way of this, the American people were left with the appearance, and often the reality, of much freedom.
The new presidency is no more about having a black man in charge than New Labour was about having all those Scotch voices in government. It is about a change in the ruling class. This is the election in which those whose minds were captured in the 1960s and 1970s by the neo-Marxists have taken over from their parents. The Clinton presidency was largely a failure because the new ruling class was still too young, and because the old ruling class had not grown too old to cling to power – and because the Clintons were too easy to hate and despise. All is different now. The new ruling class has no political opposition but a group of neo-conservatives who disgraced themselves during the Bush presidency, and who are probably less interested in opposition than in a few compromises on foreign policy. And it has a figurehead that cannot be mocked or even criticised without risk of the most horrid accusations.
Mr Obama cannot be more stupid in his actions or more embarrassing in his utterances than Mr Bush has been. But his essential function as President will be to shield the new ruling class of America while it carries through a total transformation of American life. I do not know exactly how America will change. But I can predict that, come 2016, most Americans will no longer recognise their country. It will be less free. It will be less prosperous. It will be less American. What has happened in England, and what is happening in Australia, will now happen in America.
All this is to be regretted. I think increasingly, however, that if those who are transforming the English world are to be blamed, those who are being transformed are no less to be despised. In 1917, power was seized in Russia by men who were prepared to murder anyone who so much as raised an eyebrow at them. Whether they murdered thirty million or sixty million people is important in the obvious sense. Where ensuring absolute docility of the ruled is concerned, it is the first million who matter. No one can blame the Russian people for grovelling before Stalin. But none of the almost equally radical governments that have taken over in the English world has killed any of its own citizens, or is proposing to kill any. We have been enslaved by a small minority of intellectuals whose most potent weapon is words. Any people who can be so enslaved deserves to be enslaved.
But I am about to digress. I will only say for now that the American people deserve Barack Obama. To some extent, he is their punishment for tolerating, if not welcoming, eight years of George W. Bush. More generally, they are about to lose nothing more than they have long since abdicated their right to possess.
So, welcome, America – welcome to the New Labour Club!
© 2008 – 2017, seangabb.
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