Three years ago, I proposed a radical theory about what Obama was up to. The explanatory graphs were:
I think I’ve been asking the right questions all along. (I’ll leave it to you all to make the appropriate citations.) I never thought his goal was defined in European terms. If he was a muslim child in the far east, he was also an American visitor in the most heavily populated region of the world, where the American economic model was proliferating in ways no one could have foreseen, with one country after another exploding in terms of capitalist economics, technology, and common aspiration. He was a witness to the unbounded, and unregulated, consequences of the American Way unleashed on a world that had long been governed more by tradition than freedom.
As a result, I don’t think he is as much an enemy of America as he is of the American Way leading the world into a technological chaos we’re not prepared for. I don’t think he’s as much a Marxist as a Luddite. I don’t think he’s as much a totalitarian Maoist as a Mandarin…
I do think he’s planning to slow it all down, dumb it all down, knowing full well that all his dumb-ass, putative allies have it in their power — via stultifying regulations and stagnating economic policies — to recreate something like the old Chinese dynastic cycle, in which a durable professional bureaucracy staffed by “mandarins” ultimately forced every new emperor into the mold of his predecessors.
Now, three years later, National Review’s Kevin Williamson has articulated a similar theory in an essay called The Lawless One.
Barack Obama did not invent managerial liberalism, nor has he contributed any new ideas to it. He is, in fact, a strangely incurious man. Unlike Ronald Reagan, to whom he likes to be compared, President Obama shows no signs of having expended any effort on big thinkers or big ideas… This is not to say that he is an unintelligent man. He is a man with a first-class education and a business-class mind, a sort of inverse autodidact whose intellectual pedigree is an order of magnitude more impressive than his intellect…
“Democracy never lasts long,” Adams famously said. “It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” For liberal regimes, a very common starting point on the road to serfdom is the over-delegation of legislative powers to the executive. France very nearly ended up in a permanent dictatorship as a result of that error, and was spared that fate mostly by good luck and Charles de Gaulle’s patriotism. Long before she declared her infamous state of emergency, Indira Gandhi had been centralizing power in the prime minister’s office, and India was spared a permanent dictatorship only by her political miscalculation and her dynasty-minded son’s having gotten himself killed in a plane wreck… But the United States is not going to fall for a strongman government. Instead of delegating power to a would-be president-for-life, we delegate it to a bureaucracy-without-death. You do not need to install a dictator when you’ve already had a politically supercharged permanent bureaucracy in place for 40 years or more. As is made clear by everything from campaign donations to the IRS jihad, the bureaucracy is the Left, and the Left is the bureaucracy. Elections will be held, politicians will come and go, but if you expand the power of the bureaucracy, you expand the power of the Left, of the managers and minions who share Barack Obama’s view of the world. Barack Obama isn’t the leader of the free world; he’s the front man for the permanent bureaucracy, the smiley-face mask hiding the pitiless yawning maw of total politics.
In an important sense, the American people have no political say in the health-care law, for example, because Congress did not pass a law reforming the health-care system; instead, Congress passed a law empowering the Obama administration, through its political appointees and unelected time-servers, to create a new national health-care regime. The general outline of the program is there in the law, but the nuts and bolts of the thing will be created on the fly by President Obama and his many panels of experts.
Because this is my blog, I will close with a quote from my much older post, which strikes me as more resonant because it was more prediction than prognosis.
Obama thinks he knows better. He’d prefer being a Mandarin to being Mao. He’s not a communist internationalist. He’s a dynast. He thinks the best way to save America — much like Ron Paul — is to segregate his nation as much as possible from the world at large, abandoning overt attempts to control other nations, and reestablish a dynastic bureaucracy of the kind that managed profitably to suppress Chinese innovation for centuries and keep the people safe by only modest oppression. He may be positively inspired by the fact that it was a dynastic custom of the Chinese census never to report more than 60 million as the population. Stasis is preferable to dangerous change. (Change we can believe in?) He sees himself as Ch’in (builder of the Great Wall), the oppressor who in a few brutal years laid down the framework for 2,000 years of stability and relative freedom from outside interference. I’m thinking that’s the real long-term “vision” of so-called American progressives. They don’t hate us. They just fear and mistrust our vitality as a contagion that could destroy the world.
It’s the residue of Obama’s Marxism we should be skeptical about. The belief that history and human destiny are still somehow controllable by the pronouncements of the smartest rationalists. The last thing he doesn’t understand — that so many of us are eager for the adventure of human life, whatever highs and lows it brings. His arrogance is not that he regards himself as smarter than all human ingenuity and aspiration, but that we need to be protected from these things by a dull, depressive seer like him.
You could read all of both posts. But you probably won’t. On the other hand, Raebert has a response of his own.