Thursday, May 16, 2013

What is drift? What is mastery?

In the book "Drift and Mastery" by Walter Lippmann, there are some surprisingly honest pieces of information. The way progressives abuse the language can be truely frustrating, but once you develop the capability to parse it it becomes incredibly easy to deal with. I'll demonstrate this. On page 285, after quoting from Santayana, Lippmann writes the following:
For the discipline of science is the only one which gives any assurance that from the same set of facts men will come approximately to the same conclusion. And as the modern world can be civilized only by the effort of innumerable people we have a right to call science the discipline of democracy. No onmipotent ruler can deal with our world, nor the scattered anarchy of individual temperaments. Mastery is inevitably a matter of cooperation, which means that a great variety of people working in different ways must find some order in their specialties. They will find it, I think, in a common discipline which distinguishes between fact and fancy, and works always with the implied resolution to make the best out of what is possible.

If you have never taken the time to go through Hillsdale's free Constitution 201 course about progressivism, you should. The first video will help you explain this so, so well. Dr. Arnn explains the role of science and progressivism.

What is the proper role of science? If you watched the first inaugural in 2009, (transcript) you might have noticed that at 9 minutes in(according to the YouTube video) he says this:

We will restore science to its rightful place

Oh really? We will? Hayek answers this best in Road to Serfdom, page 198. It's centralized planning. The expert, the unelected bureaucracy, the Federal leviathan. Many scientists believe that they are qualified to run a totalitarian state, and many people who are not themselves scientists are more than happy to go along with this. I have now long stated that the belief of progressives that capitalism, free markets, and individual efforts are akin to anarchy. This belief is held both historically and in modern times. Add Walter Lippmann to that list, as you can see above.

So what is drift? Drift is being used here as a code word for our individual efforts, because of the lack of social planning.

What is mastery? As you can see above, it's cooperation. Forced cooperation, no doubt, through the use of experts in science.(As you will see below)

At the time that Lippmann wrote this book Drift and Mastery, he was an active Fabian, a card carrying member even. But I know this to be absolutely true not because I read it in both of his biographies, but because of what he writes on page 269:

When we cultivate reflection by watching ourselves and the world outside, the thing we call science begins. We draw the hidden into the light of consciousness, record it, compare phases of it, note its history, experiment, reflect on error, and we find that our conscious life is no longer a trivial iridescence, but a progressively powerful way of domesticating the brute.

This is what mastery means: the substitution of conscious intention for unconscious striving. Civilization, it seems to me, is just this constant effort to introduce plan where there has been clash, and purpose into the jungles of disordered growth. But to shape the world nearer to the heart's desire requires a knowledge of the heart's desire and of the world. You cannot throw yourself blindly against unknown facts and trust to luck that the result will be satisfactory.

First, you see him talking down his nose to the concept of individual efforts, and again placing science upon a pedestal. Second, he specifically says that "Civilization is just this constant effort to introduce plan where there has been clash". That's the difference between Liberty and centralized planning. That's the whole theme of the book. The drift of anarchic individuals living their lives as they see fit, vs a centralized totalitarian state. But progressives don't see centralized planning as totalitarian. To them, that's civilized.

One such progressive, Max Lerner, even asks that very question and comes up with the obvious conclusion. Here is his question, and his answer:

"Isn't planning in itself a form of tyranny?" I don't think so.

Here is how progressives see it: Individuals living individual lives is anarchic, centralized planning is civilized, and thug regimes - those are the true tyrants. That's their measure of the world. I brought up Hayek for a reason, because it applies.

Finally, this line of "shaping the world nearer to the heart's desire" is no throw away line. That's Omar Khayyam, that's the banner message across the top of the Fabian Window. Which is another thing that I have written about quite extensively, the friendly relationship between Fabians and Progressives. As far as the two movements are concerned, they are sisters.

This book was then and still is today regarded as a very important book of the progressive movement. That's how Wikipedia puts it, but much more important than that, this book was recommended by a former President: Theodore Roosevelt.

I know I have thrown a lot of information into this blog posting that I'm sure will be met with plenty of different responses, but I want to end this way: The cryptic way that progressives pollute the language actually has some rhyme and reason to it. They use it as a code language, for use amongst themselves. Once you can begin to understand how they are using it, you can nail them on it every time. Even if initially, you don't know what's wrong. Your gut starts talking to you and a flag goes up but you don't know why. If you dig, you'll find the answer. Walter Lippmann tells you everything you need to know, in three simple words. "Drift and Mastery".

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