A Day of Reckoning, by Patrick J. Buchanan. St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, 10010, ISBN 0-312-37696-0, $25.95.
Patrick J. Buchanan has written Day of Reckoning in the hope that it will be used in the upcoming presidential elections. Less than 300 pages, it is easy to read. You should read the book because he is writing intelligently about the United States today, her problems, and her needs. Our future will be decided by our reactions to the problems discussed.
We were founded as a Christian nation, under God. Our coins still say "In God we trust," but that is a relic of the past. We believe in money, success, sex, and whatever may be popular. Prayer is out, as are the Ten Commandments. Anything of our Christian heritage is ruled unconstitutional. The U.S. Constitution says there will be no establishment of religion, meaning that no church may receive financial support from the government. An expression of our Christian faith has nothing to do with the establishment of religion. The practical meaning of the refusal to express our faith means there will be no expression of faith. We are commanded to be a secular society with no definite faith.
Though we are not clear in understanding what we believe, we evangelize the world for others to be as we are. They do not believe we have the right to tell them what to believe and how to govern themselves. Washington and Hamilton thought we should be a self-sufficient country and avoid foreign entanglements.
We are committed to a Pax Americana, committed to the defense of Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Pakistan, Australia, Latin America, the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, anyone in Europe, and anyone else we support. Absurd!
We have lost the friendship we have had in recent years with Russia. That the two greatest nuclear powers of the world are critical of each other is worse than tragic. NATO has been planted on Russia's doorstep. U.S. bases have been planted in former Soviet republics. We have interfered in the elections of Kiev, Tbilisi, Minsk, and have bombed Serbia. Fifty-eight percent of Russian citizens look on America with hostility. President Putin lashed out at us saying we are re-igniting the Cold War: "We have the right to ask against whom is this expansion directed." There can be no denial these movements have been directed against Russia. We can understand why some countries will look to a leader they can trust, and want to keep for many years, who will save their country, someone who will protect them from the whims of aggressors.
We are not a democracy but a republic and the difference is important. A republic is more temperate, slower to act, and only after considerable discussion with complicated divisions of authority. Democracy looks for unanimity of opinion and action. A republic is interested in the internal affairs of the country and goes with the least amount of foreign affairs. Let each be committed to its own affairs.
On March 23, 2005, President Bush chaired a summit with President Fox of Mexico and Prime Minister Martin of Canada to form a Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. The idea was to weld the three countries with steel railways and concrete highways as such highways united the United States. The notion is without merit because it would attempt to unite nations of different personalities. The personality of a country is formed by its history that in turn forms local and national habits. Americans are a unique people dominated by daring ventures. Canadians are cautious. Mexicans are lethargic. Each is best left alone.
Pat Buchanan has the unpopular notion that free trade is an error. In 2006 we had a trade deficit of $233 billion with China. Advocates of free trade say this is a Chinese subsidy for American consumers. So it is, but we sell the family estate so we can live the high life in the city. In a healthy society, production comes before consumption. What matters in the long run is not who consumes the apples but who owns the orchard. In 1994 China devalued her currency by 45 percent for domestic products while doubling the cost of imported goods.
In 2006 our trade deficit was $764 billion. The deficit in goods was $836 billion. In manufactures $536 billion. The trade deficit in autos and trucks $145 billion. The trade deficit with China was $233 billion, with Japan $88 billion, with Mexico $60 billion. In 1943-44, at the height of World War II, 40 percent of U.S. jobs were in manufacturing. Today it is ten percent. We are shipping our manufactures overseas.
As a result of our deficits huge wealth has grown up overseas, huge capital funds owned by other governments. By mid-2007 they amounted to $5.4 trillion: China $1.3 trillion, Japan $900 million, Russia $315 billion, Kuwait $500 billion, United Arab Emirates about $1 trillion. Rather than put this money in U.S. assets at 4 to 5 percent they are invested around the world. Sadly, the world is constantly at war, and war is fought not only by arms, but with money.
We could go on and on about this, but to no purpose. The problem is to know what to do about it .The fundamental problem is to preserve our wealth by manufacturing. It may not be the whole answer, but we could begin with the practice of our Founding Fathers at the beginning of our history. After all, the country is always at a new beginning. The Founding Fathers taxed imports to pay for the cost of government and all exports were tax exempt, benefiting local industry. That is what is done to us and we must do as we are done to.
America Challenged: Issues Foreign and Domestic, by Dwight D. Murphey, Council for Social and Economic Studies, PO Box 34070, Washington DC, 20043, ISBN 0-930690-60-5, pp. 124.
Dwight Murphey is a follower of Pat Buchanan, in this book he refers to most of the books Buchanan has written, and his views supplement those of Buchanan. Thus this book, which is composed of thoughtful reviews of other books, takes on a pessimistic, siege mentality. He questions the viability of the free markets, and sees the world, and the United States, becoming even further polarized than it is now, between the very wealthy and the masses of unemployed poor. The polarization is exacerbated along racial and tribal divisions, multiplying the quantity of hatred in the world.
Murphey sees the infusion of different ethnicities into the U.S. as a contagion that will undermine our shared identity and traditions. There is an intellectual elite ensconced in positions of power, seeking to undermine every institution we conservatives hold dear, and they are making great progress.
He seems to take grim satisfaction in playing Cassandra, believing the genius and drive that has brought America to its present level of prosperity has been spent. Our accumulated cultural accomplishments are headed for the ash heap. We may have been able to put a man on the moon, (to what purpose, really?) but don't look for us to able rise above racial animosity, class warfare, and economic decline by mid-century. This book is not about solutions, only problems, which is a bit ironic really, in that Dr. Murphey would seem to be defending Western culture and American traditions, yet he himself is devoid of the can-do spirit that has typified American culture up to this point.
The problems Dwight Murphey focuses on are real and troubling. Any conservative would agree that these issues do constitute significant challenges that need attending to.
He traces the alienation and hatred of the "modern intellectual" back to Rousseau, who was one of the first to place himself outside civilization and attack it. Today Leftist intellectuals seek allies among the disaffected and unassimilated. Grievances are cultivated, differences are exaggerated, resentments intensified, antagonisms driven ever deeper among third world immigrants, non-white ethnic groups, and feminists. The white race is the oppressor and everyone else is a victim. The Left hates America and aims to destroy it. Not only America but Western culture too is under attack: its history, symbols, norms, folkways, religious beliefs, and heroes. The Left is only too happy to use mass immigration as a means to bring down Western culture by turning new arrivals against our culture and discouraging assimilation.
Despite the fact that slavery, bonded labor and serfdom have been largely done away with, and that Western culture has been the instigator of the demise of these exploitive systems, and the impetus for a new freedom, it is Western culture that is blamed for continuing hardships. Under the influence of multiculturalism and political correctness every race and ethnic group (along with women too) is encouraged to castigate the Caucasians, but the Caucasians dare not defend themselves.
The perils of mass immigration are well examined by Dwight Murphey: the criminal gangs, the drain on health care and social systems, the formation of unassimilated areas that threaten to become permanent, balkanized, divisions. He points out that those who argue that illegal immigrants are performing an economic benefit to the country are unmindful that these immigrants, forced to live in the shadows, are exploited, and are the ready-made victims the Left uses to condemn America.
As shown by recent events -- Hillary Clinton coming to grief in a debate when she favored giving drivers' licenses to illegal immigrants, and the rejection of President Bush's comprehensive immigration plan last summer by an outraged public that perceived amnesty and half measures -- the American people of both parties are unsatisfied with the status quo. Illegal immigration weighs on the minds of ordinary Americans, Democrats and Republicans. We want solutions and will be hard on politicians who ignore the problem. There is talk, at least on the Republican side of the debate, on the need to control the borders, and to penalize employers of illegal immigrants. There is also concern expressed about the need for assimilating the immigrants that are here -- these are hopeful signs.
The Leftist intellectuals are a scourge, no question about it. They have infiltrated the public school systems, the universities, the law schools, and the judiciary. They have a home in the Democratic Party, in the media (except Fox News, talk radio, and important conservative blogs) and the entertainment industry. They have marched through the cultural institutions of the country, and yet, can we say that they have captured the hearts of ordinary Americans? Dwight Murphy writes, in one of the very few positive statements in the entire book, that: "The alienated subculture's main enemy hasn't come from an opposing ideology, but from the fact that the mass of humanity simply goes about its life." And so we do, because when it comes down to accepting the spiteful ideas of the Left, when they are revealed without subterfuge in the light of day, the decent, average, American recoils.
By the way, Dwight Murphey, writes "There has been little intellectual defense of the mainstream society of the modern West." Didn't Ronald Reagan formulate an ideological answer to the Left, and didn't he lead a powerful and effective movement, along with Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II? We will have to oppose the Left longer it seems than it took to defeat the Soviet Union, much longer. Opposing the Left is the purpose of the St. Croix Review.
Dwight Murphey describes his work as "ideologically non-conformist analysis," and so it is. He uses the very terms the Left does when criticizing the Bush administration's foreign policy. He writes of our "moral presumptuousness" and "messianic" preening. He believes we have unfairly branded Osama bin Laden a "fanatic" and that we "fail to come to grips in any serious way with the grievances he articulates. . . ." What about bin Laden's own presumption? He presumes to speak for all Muslims yet he has declared a vast number of fellow Muslims apostates, and al Qeada has murdered many more Muslims than Westerners, in many nations. Al Qeada has killed innocent women and children, and those who would not conform to his version of Islam, in the most barbarous manner. Dwight Murphey takes bin Laden's flimsy pretexts too seriously.
Dwight Murphey is on more solid ground when he reviews Amy Chua's World on Fire: Worldwide Ethnic Conflict and Its Implications for the United States (Anchor Books, 2004). Chau describes dozens of nations governed by ethnic or racial minorities who enjoy all the economic benefits while the majority are impoverished and powerless: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Burundi . . . India, Indonesia, Israel, . . . Panama, Philippines, Poland . . . Romania, Russia, Rwanda . . . etc. All these nations are torn by ethnic hatreds within their borders and or with neighbors. Chua and Murphey believe with justification that U.S. policy-makers have been ignorant of the histories and internal dynamics of other nations, and blundering where we have intervened (Somalia). Whether the U.S. would have been better off not invading Iraq should be debated. We need to remind ourselves of our limitations, and a little humility would be wise.
But Chua and Murphey contend that "exporting free market democracy breeds ethnic hatred and global instability." It is one thing to say that the United States should not intervene in the internal affairs of other nations except under compelling circumstances of national security, but to say that we should abandon our ideals is nonsense. In one place he writes that slavery, bonded labor, serfdom, and peonage have been done away with by Western culture, to the benefit of all, and in another he writes that it is none of our concern whether much of the world remains tribal, racist, tyrannical, and impoverished.
Dwight Murphey does acknowledge that the United States is an open society and "exceedingly vulnerable" to asymmetrical attack that could produce "hundreds of thousands, if not millions of casualties, as well as social and economic chaos," but he thinks we are "morally presumptuous" and "messianic" when we seek to lessen the frustration and misery in the world in a way that has worked for us: with free enterprise and the rule of law. The United States is threatened by the outer world's chaos, the way forward is uncertain and perilous, and Dwight Murphey is a little presumptuous in his criticism.
Dwight Murphey and Pat Buchanan distrust free markets. He quotes Buchanan approvingly: ". . . Buchanan calls the rage for globalization and free trade a form of 'neo-Marxist ideology,' since it posits 'that economics rules the world.'" To compare the system of thought that evolved into the liquidation of class enemies (mass murder), that practiced totalitarian control of the economy, and that sought world domination through armed conflict with free markets is crazy.
And here we come to the nub of the matter: Pat Buchanan and Dwight Murphey believe in Fortress America, and that we should turn our backs on a corrupt and irredeemable world. Logically if one disbelieves in free trade, why would our navy have to defend the sea-lanes from pirates, why would we have to defend South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan? There will always be in India "one million applicants for nine thousand technical jobs," and when the Indians can't find jobs in India they will take away jobs from Americans. Buchanan and Murphey believe that ordinary Americans cannot compete in an increasingly globalized economy, and so they favor government protection of U.S. industry. They take the view that if India and China get wealthier, we get must necessarily get poorer. When it comes to the economy they lack faith in the intelligence and motivation of the American people. They distrust free choice, even though it has been the operation of a capitalistic, free enterprise system (with some regulation) that has created unparalleled wealth and prosperity for Americans.
Isn't it better to believe that the world is better off with more free choices than fewer, with more wealth spread throughout, and fewer blood feuds, less tribalism, ethnic hatred, and religious animosity? America must take the steps necessary to defend itself, while at the same time not antagonizing the rest of the world -- this is not a simple matter. But turning our backs on the nations of the earth is not a solution.