Three Revelatory Passages from the Pundits (Will, Krugman, and Krauthammer) and Comments from Me

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    George Will writes:

    For the indefinite future, a specter is haunting progressivism, the specter of {energy} abundance. Because progressivism exists to justify a few people bossing around most people and because progressives believe that only government’s energy should flow unimpeded, they crave energy scarcities as an excuse for rationing – by them – that produces ever-more-minute government supervision of Americans’ behavior.

    Andy Schmookler:

    Does anybody who has been involved in progressive politics recognize in Will’s portrait anything they’ve ever seen about progressivism or progressives? I for one do not. I cannot think of a single person of the progressive persuasion who aspires to have a country with “a few people bossing around most people.” They want a society that works, a society where all the important values get served. Where no regulation or supervision works fine, that’s OK with them. Does George Will actually believe the nonsense he says here?

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    Paul Krugman writes:

    [T]he economic ‘experts’ on whom much of Congress relies have been repeatedly, utterly wrong about the short-run effects of budget deficits. People who get their economic analysis from the likes of the Heritage Foundation have been waiting ever since President Obama took office for budget deficits to send interest rates soaring. Any day now!

    And while they’ve been waiting, those rates have dropped to historical lows. You might think that this would make politicians question their choice of experts – that is, you might think that if you didn’t know anything about our postmodern, fact-free politics.

    Andy Schmookler:

    I often lament how it is these days in America that “the lie defeats the truth.” Surely, one of the factors that makes this possible is the strange lack of respect for evidence that Krugman here alludes to (our “fact-free politics”). After centuries of human knowledge and understanding growing exponentially through an epistemology based on evidence sifted by reason to yield reliable findings, American public discourse has descended into a place where predictive failures do not call into question the assumptions on which the failed predictions were predicated. Where know-nothingism is triumphant, a nation is imperiled.

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    Charles Krauthammer published a piece yesterday in the Washington Post entitled “Are We Alone in the Universe.” In it, he presents an argument that goes like this: Given how many planets there evidently are, our failure yet to have heard from other intelligent life seems to suggest that intelligence is dangerous. In other words, he imagines that intelligent species elsewhere have done themselves in with the destructive powers they developed (as humankind came close to doing during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962). I am not ready to endorse his reasoning process, but I do think the thoughts on which he closes the piece contain a vitally important piece of truth.

    Krauthammer writes:

    [L]et’s put the most hopeful face on the cosmic silence and on humanity’s own short, already baleful history with its new Promethean powers: Intelligence is a capacity so godlike, so protean that it must be contained and disciplined. This is the work of politics – understood as the ordering of society and the regulation of power to permit human flourishing while simultaneously restraining the most Hobbesian human instincts.

    There could be no greater irony: For all the sublimity of art, physics, music, mathematics and other manifestations of human genius, everything depends on the mundane, frustrating, often debased vocation known as politics (and its most exacting subspecialty – statecraft). Because if we don’t get politics right, everything else risks extinction.

    We grow justly weary of our politics. But we must remember this: Politics – in all its grubby, grasping, corrupt, contemptible manifestations – is sovereign in human affairs. Everything ultimately rests upon it.

    Fairly or not, politics is the driver of history. It will determine whether we will live long enough to be heard one day.

    Andy Schmookler:

    The subtitle of my first –and principal-book is “The Problem of Power in Social Evolution.” It is about how the free play of power has warped how civilization has developed and, correspondingly, about how controlling power enough to allow human choice to rule is the major challenge confronting humanity. Politics is about power, and so I concur with Krauthammer on this (even if I’ve agreed with him on little else for years): our well-being as a nation, and as a species, depends upon how well we’re able to conduct our “politics.”

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    Andy Schmookler is running for Congress in the 6th Congressional District of Virginia, challenging the incumbent Congressman, Bob Goodlatte.  An award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, Andy moved with his family to Shenandoah County in 1992.  He is a graduate of Harvard University and holds a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.  

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    To learn more about Andy, please go to his website. You may also follow Andy on Facebook and on Twitter.  

    • normanva

      Isn’t this the actual end result of republican economic policies?  Having a rich elite ruling class running the country bossing the rest of the folks just struggling to survive.  

    • The Richmonder

      What he is describing is the consequences of keeping our society addicted to fossil fuels: government by and for oil and coal barons.  If we perfected energy alternatives like solar and wind, we’d have energy abundance and all that coal would just be worthless, soft rock.