Those entering the business world after World War II inherited the most promising economic conditions since the early years of the “Roaring Twenties.”

Entrepreneurs and working class members of the “boomer” generation thrived on the economic and political liberty that their parents and grandparents had fought hard to rescue.

But, by the latter years of the 1970s, a revival of depression era socialist policies had considerably diminished the post-war liberty dividend. Western democracies found themselves in another period of uncertain destiny. Left-wing parties were becoming powerful factors in the political landscape, and post-war prosperity was interrupted by “stagflation.”

European Marxists developed a theory of social and economic transformation referred to as Eurocommunism. They sought to reduce the stigma of their affection for the Soviet Union by developing a communist movement that was more appealing in the nations of the West. This trend was especially prominent in Italy, Spain, and France, but it also drifted into the zeitgeist of Fabian circles throughout the English “Commonwealth of Nations” and the United States.

In 1976, Americans elected Jimmy Carter. The new president may have had good Christian intentions, but he supported major parts of the anti-capitalist, secular-progressive agenda put forward by the post-Kennedy Democrat Party.

Between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s, Canada’s ruling Liberal Party took a permanent, European-style, leftward turn under the intellectual influence of Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

THE OPIUM OF THE INTELLECTUALS

During the post-war era, French political philosopher Raymond Aron, arguably one of the clearest thinkers of the 20th century, warned the free world against “The Opium of the Intellectuals.”

Aron first encountered his lifelong intellectual opponent, French communist Jean-Paul Sartre. The title of his 1955 book was based on an insightful inversion of Marx’s assertion that religion is the “opium of the people.”

As a young, outnumbered conservative, teaching high school history in the late 1970s, I recall being attracted to a later book by Aron. That one was titled, “In Defense of Decadent Europe.”

Aron’s opus for the seventies had three objectives: to analyze the Soviet regime and its destructive Marxist-Leninist foundation; to undertake an empirical comparison between liberal democracies and collectivist regimes in the East; and, most importantly, to explore the contradictions in democratic societies that lead progressive intellectuals to undermine the best interests of their own nations.

Aron condemned those constantly criticizing democratic-capitalism, while simultaneously defending Marxist aggression and intolerance. He explained how Marxist ideology inevitably leads to totalitarian politics and pointed to the superior economic outcomes, technical innovations, general living standards, scientific progress, and advancement of human freedom in liberal democratic nations.

Aron also noted that certain forms of cultural “decadence” were undermining the strength of Western civilization and suggested that European countries needed to put their own houses in order before they could secure the full benefits of freedom. He recommended restoring more traditional liberal-conservative influence in churches, universities, business, and even the military

DISENCHANTMENT WITH THE LEFT

Aron’s analysis was aimed primarily at Europe. But North American voters also became disenchanted by the left. Many understood that Aron’s case against progressive intellectuals also applied in the United States and Canada. In the early 1980s, enough of us voted for our pocket books and kicked the left out of office.

During the Thatcher revolution in the UK, and the Reagan–Mulroney era that followed in North America, Conservative governments ratcheted back the gears of the welfare state and generally improved prospects for men and women who were willing to work.

In the United States, Ronald Reagan won two decisive presidential election victories and his vice president, George H. W. Bush, won a third. The senior Bush only lost his second term when he reneged on Reagan’s commitment to reduce taxes.

But, while the conservative movement was taking back governments, Frankfurt-school neo-Marxists sought dominance in the West’s formative cultural institutions.

Even while Democrat President Bill Clinton was claiming that the era of big government was over, American academics, journalists, screen-writers, and artists were driven by an increasingly radical socialist agenda.

By the time the 2008 sub-prime mortgage crisis ended a quarter-century of “Reaganomics” prosperity, college-educated Americans had been thoroughly inducted into the anti-capitalist, anti-American, tiers-monde liberationist, radical environmentalist ideological positions held by Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama.

‘DÉJÀ VU ALL OVER AGAIN’

Obama’s presidency brought back more business regulation, discouraged fossil fuel production, opened borders to illegal immigration, and increasingly integrated American business interests with the communist regime in Beijing. Between 2008 and 2016, Democrat policies produced the slowest economic recovery in American history. Watching America in the Obama–Biden years was like watching a preferred team play a really bad game.

In 2016, with fair election practices still in place, sober-minded citizens elected a pragmatic, pro-American, Republican president who began leading the nation back to its former greatness. Freedom-loving people around the world were delighted to see U.S. patriots regain control of their country through the ballot box.

Trump administration policies were an enormous success. By early 2020, his team had significantly deregulated the economy, restored energy independence, lowered taxes, brought back manufacturing jobs, created conditions for full employment, renegotiated bad trade deals, regained control of the southern border, defeated ISIS terrorists, and restored confidence in the nation’s future.

Like the Reagan presidency, Trump built on principles that could have led to another quarter-century of American prosperity. But, a cruel twist of fate turned a Chinese Communist Party propagated global pandemic into an opportunity for the American left to corrupt election practices and bring down the Republican administration. With reference to the disastrous decade of the seventies, it was, as Yogi Berra once said, “déjà vu all over again.”

A Destiny Worth Restoring

In what may be a lost era, our predecessors understood the merits of limited government, fiscal responsibility, religious faith, and the spirit of enterprise. Scores of legal immigrants pursued their destiny in a North America that offered liberty and opportunity. Today, Aron’s “Opium of the Intellectuals” has addicted half of the world.

Even private entrepreneurs, once a thin red line that secured free societies, are willingly surrendering to the demoralizing ideology of “woke” intellectuals. Writing in the same frame of mind as the late Aron, Polish scholar Ryszard Legutko has noted that the self-contained, ruthlessly efficient, competitive men of destiny, once credited with the rise of modern capitalism by German sociologist Max Weber, are shadows of their former selves.

Business leaders have evolved into mere market players who accommodate progressive culture, fashionable impulses, and the prevailing intellectual culture.

Tech CEOs have come to represent a soulless, other-directed cabal of billionaires who collaborate with the West’s enemies.

Once again, issues related to underperforming schools, student indoctrination, regime media bias, unnecessary racial and gender divisions, illegal immigration, energy shortages, out-of-control spending, inflation, crime, public health debacles, feckless foreign policy positions, and military mismanagement have produced a sufficient majority of citizens who appear ready to kick the left out of office.

By now, however, those approaching the sunset years of life have experienced more nightmarish déjà vu political experiences than most care to remember. Victor Davis Hanson’s “dying citizens” are losing confidence in the democratic process.

The potential for bottom-up ballot box revolutions like those that occurred in the 1980s and 2016 has become enormously uncertain. The media corruption in campaign coverage and partisan vote harvesting tactics that have been exposed since the 2020 U.S. election has been breathtaking.

Nevertheless, the spirit of liberty remains irrepressible. Resistance in the form of the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally and the “Canadian Freedom Convoy” stand as testaments to the common man’s natural distaste for submitting to tyranny.

A neo-Marxist, ruling political class presently occupies America’s halls of power and increasingly threatens the security of ordinary men and women throughout the world. At the same time, it’s important to remember that this is not the first time freedom-loving people have faced uncertain times.

Watching UK Prime Minister’s Boris Johnson’s Churchillian walk through the streets of Kiev last Saturday should remind all of us that what we have defended before is worth defending again.

The destiny of America and the Free World is still worth restoring.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Sierra County Sentinel.

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