Michael Ledeen takes a fresh look at Tocqueville’s insights into our national psyche and asks whether Americans’ national character, which Tocqueville believed to be wholly admirable, has fallen into moral decay and religious indifference.
American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Ledeen offers an updated version of the rules for leadership laid down by Machiavelli. Its the nature of humans to do evil, and war is our natural state. Anyone who would wield power in such a setting, writes Ledeen, echoing Machiavelli, “must be prepared to fight at all times.” This is as true in business, sports, and politics as it is on the battlefield. Kirkus Reviews
With the skill of a born storyteller, Michael Ledeen weaves together key moments in the fall of communism. His insider’s knowledge of the interplay of complex personalities and Byzantine strategies makes a compelling narrative, one enlivened by his wry wit and flair for the dramatic.
In this call to embrace the worldwide democratic revolution, the author argues that global democracy should be the centerpiece of U.S. strategy.
Faster, Please! February 12th, 2009 1:38 pm We Are All Fascists Now Michael Ledeen
Second, not one person in a thousand knows what fascist political economy was. Yet during the great economic crisis of the 1930s, fascism was widely regarded as a possible solution, indeed as the only acceptable solution to a spasm that had shaken the entire First World, and beyond. It was hailed as a “third way” between two failed systems (communism and capitalism), retaining the best of each. Private property was preserved, as the role of the state was expanded. This was necessary because the Great Depression was defined as a crisis “of the system,” not just a glitch “in the system.”
And so Mussolini created the “Corporate State,” in which, in theory at least, the big national enterprises were entrusted to state ownership (or substantial state ownership) and of course state management. Some of the big “Corporations” lasted a very long time; indeed some have only very recently been privatized, and the state still holds important chunks–so-called “golden shares”–in some of them. Read More (125) Comments Pages: 12Next
February 14th, 2009 12:21 pm We’re All Fascists Now II: American Tyranny Michael Ledeen
Most of us imagine the transformation of a free society to a tyrannical state in Hollywood terms, as a melodramatic act of violence like a military coup or an armed insurrection. Tocqueville knows better. He foresees a slow death of freedom. The power of the centralized government will gradually expand, meddling in every area of our lives until, like a lobster in a slowly heated pot, we are cooked without ever realizing what has happened. The ultimate horror of Tocqueville’s vision is that we will welcome it, and even convince ourselves that we control it.
There is no single dramatic event in Tocqueville’s scenario, no storming of the Bastille, no assault on the Winter Palace, no March on Rome, no Kristallnacht. We are to be immobilized, Gulliver-like, by myriad rules and regulations, annoying little restrictions that become more and more binding until they eventually paralyze us.
3. Ran: Thanks Michael. The points you raise are frightening... One point you raised in Freedom Betrayed was that expanded Freedom - individual responsibility - gained by peoples in the 19th and 20th Centuries, especially after wars, but often by bloodless revolutions, was the surest road to peace and prosperity. It was an extension - if I’m reading it properly - of Tocqueville’s observation that the human condition had tended towards ‘Democracy’ in the Tocquevillian sense. What bothers me is that America and Europe both appear headed the wrong way in too many respects. We’ve fought wars to take down Fascists and dictators of all sorts only now to go cap-in-hand for cap-and-trade?