Jonah Goldberg’s Comical Lack of Self-Awareness

by Will Porter

National Review – “Why the Left Will Never Talk about Its Real Agenda

From his newsletter, the G-File, published to the National Review website May 16, Jonah Goldberg endeavors to criticize the left and to disrobe its “real agenda.”

Taking aim at liberals and progressives (who else?), Goldberg chastises them for their failure to realize that “[t]he State is a human institution, run by humans who are all too human. The problem is that many people want it to be more.”

Hm, well this is a bit embarrassing…

All the skepticism of governments’ ability to engineer societies is great, but what exactly does one call the ongoing Wilsonian project to spread democracy worldwide? You, Mr. Goldberg, support that! Even if democracy isn’t Goldberg’s primary objective, and even if he tends to mostly glom on support for Republican wars, his grandiose vision of what states are capable of is at least as unrealistic as that of the leftists whom he criticizes.

Not only do America’s wars abroad constitute massive wealth redistribution programs to those who neither need or deserve it, but many, if not the majority of our wars, have involved sweeping attempts at some form of social engineering (whether that be to destroy, or rebuild). Governments’ total inability to manage man, society, and economy doesn’t disappear once it crosses an ocean.

In fact, the disparate, widely-distributed knowledge required to accomplish such an agenda is even less available than it is on the domestic front. Government planning fails everywhere, at least in large part, because decision-makers simply do not have access to all of the relevant, on-the-ground knowledge required to make informed decisions. As state power and decision-making become ever-more centralized, one-size-fits-all solutions are foisted upon an ever-larger number of people, with ever-greater blunders as the result. This holds true for war and foreign policy as much as it does for domestic economic programs.

Many on the right still fail to understand this. No matter how much of everyone else’s money and resources government hurls at a problem—real, perceived, or made up—it will not solve the problem. Not for poverty, not for illiteracy, and certainly not for terrorism.

It’s almost as if our right wingers (I refer to those of the neocon-fellow-traveler persuasion) believe that utopia is forever out of reach, unless it is implemented by the United State (singular on purpose), by force. Where ballots and politics fail domestically, bunker-busters and depleted uranium do the trick abroad. America can spread democracy and build governments for entire societies, it just has to incinerate you and poison your progeny for thousands of years first. If our jingoistic conservatives had their way entirely, one wonders how much more the wars overseas would find their way home.

Insofar as Goldberg calls out the left’s cult-like reverence for political power, you won’t find an argument from me. The term “statolatry”—coined by Italian fascist Giovanni Gentile—immediately comes to mind: the religious idolization of the state. While Goldberg’s own comparison of gods and governments does seem to hold water, he may want to reevaluate just what alter he kneels to.