Chapter 2 of Patrick J. Deneen’s book Why Liberalism Failed (2018) is “Uniting Individualism and Statism”. The superficial battle between “conservative right” and “liberal left” masks a much more profound alliance between those two “sides” by which both advance a Statist agenda. The philosophy of liberalism, for both progressives and conservatives, is grounded in the idea that people should be liberated from the limitations of birth, time, place, tradition, culture and any other unchosen relationship. Individualism is not the opposite of Statism, it’s the very cause of it. Fighting Statism with free market individualism is like throwing gasoline on a fire in an attempt to put it out – surprising news to conservatives. Deneen writes that the political left and right are two sides of the same counterfeit coin. He probes deeply down into the philosophical basis of why this is true in his book.
Government and its out of control spending, interference with and degradation of private relationships is an increasingly menacing monster. By 2011, government spending as a percentage of GDP grew to more than it was in World War II! We may not be fighting Nazis but families who control wealth are fighting a costly war against Statism.
Daneen’s work is important to us (moderately wealthy, intelligent, hard-working, successful families with traditional moral values) because it frames the enemy – Statism, Hedonism and politicians hopelessly advocating for economic losers – more and more Government redistribution of wealth just makes it worse. We are in a multi-generational war entrenching a new aristocracy that is much more durable than European feudalism. Today’s societal economic and moral woes are not technical problems that we can overcome; they are symptoms of the underlying pathology of liberalism’s philosophic commitments.
Frédéric Bastiat observed that “government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” A majority of Americans are being economically eviscerated by the philosophy of Statism; unfortunate chumps on the wrong side of the largest intergenerational wealth transfer in world history. It’s critical to construct and thoroughly pack a defensive estate planning War Chest. Next week, we move on to how enemy forces of liberalism seek to destroy our family cultural creed of responsibility, work ethic, duty and honor.