Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Is Obama a milleniarian without a plan? Does he even need one?

By Donald Sensing

Let us consider the milleniarian world view. Wikipedia accurately defines millenarianism as, "the belief by a religious, social, or political group or movement in a coming major transformation of society, after which all things will be changed."

Milleniarianism has a long history in western thought and religion. The New Advent Catholic online encyclopedia explains that historic Christian millenaranism,

... may be set forth as follows: At the end of time Christ will return in all His splendour to gather together the just, to annihilate hostile powers, and to found a glorious kingdom on earth for the enjoyment of the highest spiritual and material blessings;
Religious apocalypticism is a flavor of millenarianism that holds that the Millennium - the "glorious kingdom on earth" of highest material and spiritual blessings - is brought about only after a time of agony and horrors. In fact, the Millennium is attained because of the horrors.

But millenarianism does not have to be either religious or apocalyptic. There are secular-political millenarists who believe that human society may be brought to flourishing by properly enlightened human institutions. For example, in 1964, the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was Leonid Brezhnev. He promised that year that the USSR would achieve "true communism" by 1980. In Marxism-Leninism, true communism was a state in which material production was so great that all human needs were met without shortage. Greed would therefore disappear and the inherent but capitalist-suppressed natural nobility of men and women would emerge. They would be transformed into true communists - altruists who worked each day for the good of the people, not for crass, selfish profit. This was the doctrine of the "new communist man," whose fallacies were fully exposed by Viktor Suvorov. And we know how Homo sovieticus turned out.

Political milleniarians believe that society is in deep need of profound change. This change must be compelled from the top because the people are either powerless to bring it about themselves or are too complacent or uninformed to effect it. The present order is corrupt and must be vanquished. Christoph Schönborn in First Things put it this way:
Indeed, the hallmark of this criticism is that society in all its spheres (economics, culture, defense) is continually being told that it should have a “bad conscience”: not because of particular abuses and wrong attitudes, but fundamentally and universally. It is not the abusive practices of banks that are criticized, but their very existence; not this or that measure taken in the defense of a country, but the very existence of this defense. Behind this criticism, which likes to call itself “prophetic,” there lies in reality a kind of “political millenarianism” which, in the name of some future paradisal society, rejects and demonizes the existing society en bloc, demanding that it be overthrown by revolution.
Not necessarily violent revolution, a political one will do just as well, about which more shortly.

Political millenarianism is not purely secular, though. Its adherents have an unbounded (and be honest, historically unjustified) faith in government and its ability to order the lives of the people better than they can order their own lives. Political or religious millenarians are always firmly authoritarian and use the power of government to cement the control of institutions and agencies over the daily lives of the people.Millenarianism always opposes personal freedom. Whether religious or secular, millenarianists have that much in common.
They leave no room in future societies for divergent belief systems. Millennialists have a dualistic view of the present, or an “us against them” view of society. The pluralism of the modern world is rejected in favour of an envisioned perfect monistic future where there are no more political conflicts. These belief systems culminate instead in the end of history, and it is from this monistic approach to the world where the potential for totalitarianism and authoritarianism becomes manifest. “For millennial groups the political compromise necessary for societies to function is anathema, because other groups in society are either in league with evil or under its spell. There is no room for non-believer.”
Barack Obama's campaign slogan, "Hope and Change," is a perfect slogan for a political millenarian. How has that worked out? Thomas Sowell explains that the president has set about "Dismantling America."
Barack Obama has not only said that he is out to "change the United States of America," the people he has been associated with for years have expressed in words and deeds their hostility to the values, the principles and the people of this country. ...

Among the people appointed as czars by President Obama have been people who have praised enemy dictators like Mao, who have seen the public schools as places to promote sexual practices contrary to the values of most Americans, to a captive audience of children.

... Why should we assume that Barack Obama didn't know what such people were like, when he has been associating with precisely these kinds of people for decades before he reached the White House?

Nothing is more consistent with his lifelong patterns than putting such people in government-- people who reject American values, resent Americans in general and successful Americans in particular, as well as resenting America's influence in the world. ...

Nothing so epitomizes President Obama's own contempt for American values and traditions like trying to ram two bills through Congress in his first year-- each bill more than a thousand pages long-- too fast for either of them to be read, much less discussed. That he succeeded only the first time says that some people are starting to wake up. Whether enough people will wake up in time to keep America from being dismantled, piece by piece, is another question-- and the biggest question for this generation.
The main question is not what President Obama wants to do - that seems fairly clear. It is this: Does President Obama have an actual plan to get there?

Recent commentary on blogs and mainline media have tried to disern the president's plan for health care reform, Afghanistan, economic revival, jobs creation, energy policy, climate change, you name it. So far, we have been given from the White House pretty much promises to deliver sooner or later. For example, Obama the candidate promised to end the US military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding service of homosexuals, a promise he reiterated this month in a speech to a Human Rights Campaign audience. Yet the speech contained nothing new..
"He repeated his promises that he's made to us before, but he did not indicate when he would accomplish these goals and we've been waiting for a while now," said [Cleve]Jones, national co-chair of a major gay-rights rally expected to draw thousands of gay and lesbian activists to the National Mall on Sunday.
Okay, one might argue that this issue is far from the most immediate on the president's docket. So let's look at the two issues that are Obama's signature domestic and foreign policy challenges:

Health care reform: No legislation has been proposed from the executive mansion. It's all been written by Democrats in the Congress. The president has drawn no line in the sand of what the bill must include. He's got a wish list, but all are negotiable (read, non-essential).

Afghanistan: The president announced on March 27,
Today, I am announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. This marks the conclusion of a careful policy review that I ordered as soon as I took office.
And that strategy turned out to be exactly what? The LA Times reported yesterday,
It's been about two months now since Gen. Stanley McChrystal submitted his Afghan war report to the Pentagon and White House, reportedly asking for something like 40,000 more U.S. troops. Monday Obama and his advisors had yet another meeting.
Or, as cartoonist Eric Allie put it--

Daily Pundit observes,
It is important that the nation is suddenly awakening to the possibility that the president has no real plan for anything whatsoever, and never did. He literally seems to be making it up as he goes along, and his strategy is to do nothing at all but procrastinate.

In the recent past, we have watched the White House and its branch offices gaze glassily past Iran, the Taliban, North Korea and Moscow in hot pursuit of their real enemy, which appears to be the dissenting media.

Economic policy, formerly the purview of rooms that at least contained Larry Summers, is now directed by a Chicago-hood playground pal named Valerie, and its focus is on the compensation levels of 200 people.

Joe Biden is the commander in chief.

The national health care bandaid will provide improved coverage for a group estimated at between 5 and 20 million people, some of whom are US citizens, at a cost of roughly an MRI machine per newly-covered patient.
Next, Charles Krauthammer, interviewed by Der Spiegel:
SPIEGEL: You famously coined the term "Reagan Doctrine" to describe Ronald Reagan's foreign policy. What is the "Obama Doctrine?"

Krauthammer: I would say his vision of the world appears to me to be so naïve that I am not even sure he's able to develop a doctrine. He has a view of the world as regulated by self-enforcing international norms, where the peace is kept by some kind of vague international consensus, something called the international community, which to me is a fiction, acting through obviously inadequate and worthless international agencies. I wouldn't elevate that kind of thinking to a doctrine because I have too much respect for the word doctrine.
So does the president actually have a plan? Well, fortunately not. But what he has been given is a series of opportunities for the government to seize increasing shares of power or outright ownership on greater shares of the American economy, aided by a Democrat majority in Congress that is more than happy to abet and a Republican opposition that starts in the center and happily compromises from there. So who needs a plan?

It might be a good idea to pay attention to a view from Britain again.

Update: Victor Davis Hanson guides a tour around the president's lala land.

See also, "The Danger of the Ideal Time."