[This was an update to a previous post, but I decided it should stand on its own. There are some inspiring lessons here.]
This has been an interesting couple of days.
I saw a video of the Restoring Honor event, which struck me favorably. I looked at some commentary about it, and saw that no one was getting it, since everybody seems stuck looking through a straw at second-to-second issues, and narrow politics, where Beck was clearly aiming at big, culture-changing action. This is not, historically, unheard of. There is nickel-and-dime politics, and there is big, who-we-are politics. The second type only comes along once in a while, but when it does it changes the whole game. Beck sees correctly that we are living in an unusual era of major change and he is acting accordingly. I started to whip off an email to some of my usual group of pals about these penetrating insights, but it got too long. So I put it out on the blog, figuring our regular readers might like it, and didn’t think about it anymore.
Later on I saw the post was getting an unusual number of comments, indicating that it was circulating around. I was out of town in a hotel room, working, and would look at the blog from time to time since there was a continual flow of comments. I responded to a few and made sure everyone was playing well with each other. (For some reason, it is always the posts you just type from the gut and dash off that get the most interest.) Then at 10:22 p.m. our pal PurpleSlog left a comment that Beck had tweeted the post, and said “The ONLY guy to actually get it!” Whoa. How crazy is that? The tempo of incoming comments increased, but I finally had to get some sleep. Today went fine at work, and I was able to check up from time to on my iPhone. At 8:22 a.m. a commenter named Jason Wilder commented that Mr. Beck had mentioned the post on his radio show. Cool. More comments were flowing in. Then, Jonathan calls and tells me someone from the Glenn Beck Program wanted to talk to me. I was in my car on the way to the airport when a nice lady named Jenna talked to me for a few minutes. I said of course Mr. Beck could read it or say whatever he wanted about the post on his TV show.
When he did, the incoming traffic spiked and took the blog down. Crunch! The power of a Beck-O-Lanche!
We stand in awe of such vast and primal forces.
I got Jonathan on the phone, he got the hosting company on the phone, and they fixed it. I was getting a real-time feed from several friends via Facebook and email, on my phone, about the show. I got in line to get on the plane, and only then did I notice that in Louisville they have the TVs on Fox! I could have watched it.
So, OK, Lex. Why are you telling me all this? Surely it cannot merely be smug self-congratulation?
Ahem. Moi? Certainly not!
Let us consider the larger lessons. The ability of like-minded people to find each other, to spread ideas, to inform each other, is getting better and better all the time. This little episode is one of many examples of a critical and very hopeful fact:
Today’s tools favor our side in this struggle, which I am calling the Insurgency.
The Insurgency is based on individual freedom, autonomous decision-making, spontaneous order, voluntary association, open-mindedness, adaptiveness, transparency, networks rather than hierarchies. It is at bottom a fun loving and joyful and open spirit. In many cases this is based on religious faith. (I raise my hand.) In others it is based on love of human potential and creativeness, or other positive factors. This model works. And it works better and better with the tools of today and tomorrow.
The Opposition is based on the outdated legacy systems of the Industrial Era. It is based on assembly lines, bureaucracies, railway timetables, rationing, coercive and rule-bound action, mandatory schedules, forcing people into niches and categories, stripping them of autonomy, and turning people into petty little beasts subject to political control. That is the vision of the Opposition: People standing in line, people asking permission, people filling out forms, people without cars, without money in their pockets, who need a political favor to get anything done. It is based on nostalgia for the old-time “Big Unit” America that worked tolerably well in its day, the period roughly 1900-1950. (Michael Barone wrote about this recently.) But a system of centralized control that barely worked in its heyday is utterly unsuited to the world of today. It is increasingly falling on its face. Our institutions no longer work, because they are ill-suited to who we are, what we need, and where we want to go.
This top-down vision lives on because it is based on the self-flattering delusion that just because someone had good SAT scores he is qualified to tell millions of citizens how to live, from his desk. (Hayek could tell you why that is wrong.) The Soviet commissars couldn’t do it, and our smartypantses can’t do it, either.
And of course there are cynical, rent-seeking people who benefit from the regulatory leviathan, and don’t want it to change. All too many in this category are Republicans.
The Opposition’s model is a failure. Doubling down, as Mr. Obama has tried to do, will only dig the hole deeper. The American people have figured that out. They are looking for ways to wind up the legacy systems of the past, and move on. They are going to succeed, but the process won’t be pretty.
The Insurgency is the wave of the future. We are going to wage this struggle on the moral, intellectual and material plane, with a smile, with charity, without rancor, with confidence. Anyway, that’s how I think we should play it.
The American way of life is deeply rooted, it is alive, and it is heading for a new Renaissance. No kidding. You heard it here first. We are going to go through a rough patch, then we are going to win, hands down.
This little episode is one shiny tile in a massive mosaic that we are building together.
We have the tools.
We have our history.
We have our sense of humor.
We have each other.
We can change hearts and minds, then change ideas, then change the politics.
A fair wind is beginning to blow.
It’s going to be good.
God bless America.