9.1.19

I SPOKE TOO SOON.

At the centennial of the Armistice, I noted, "We rarely hear Serious People rolling out the Moral Equivalent of War in support of other Grand Public Constructions these days, and yet the mind-set in Official Washington and on the Sunday shows is still the same: some federal agency should be doing more, and smarter, and harder." Now comes newly-sworn-in Member of Congress Alexandria "Sandy" Ocasio-Cortez (Naïf-N.Y.) having a good wallow in the past.
“None of these things are new ideas,” she explained on the campaign trail last October. “What we had was an existential threat in the context of a war. We had a direct existential threat with another nation; this time it was Nazi Germany and the Axis, who explicitly made the United States as an enemy.”

“We chose to mobilize our entire economy and industrialized our entire economy, and we put hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people to work in defending our shores and defending this country,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “We have to do the same thing in order to get us to 100 percent renewable energy, and that’s just the truth of it.”
That "Axis" included the Empire of Japan, and "defending this country" included confining citizens of Japanese ancestry in camps, as well as more than a little additional scrutiny of citizens and resident aliens of Latin American ancestry, just in case they were a little close to Francisco Franco or Il Duce or Der Führer.  Balance that, please, against any feel-good stories about integrating combat regiments in Germany toward the end of the war and creating an office of Navajo code-talkers in the air force.

That mobilization included a Manhattan Project, to create nuclear weapons in order to get 100 percent victory.  I have yet to see any discussion of nuclear generating stations, including breeder reactors, which are likely to be part of any 100 percent renewable energy enterprise from the representative.  I know that such things are in the policy shops, somewhere.  Thirty years ago, when I first worked with the Department of Energy on acid precipitation and climate change, I tentatively raised the ideas of nuclear power as part of the tool-kit.  My supervisor assured me that yes, those ideas were part of the discussion, if, perhaps they were being approached in rather a gingerly way.

Even if Congressional Democrats are serious about Green Energy Independence, perhaps Jonah Goldberg is correct, we should have none of it.
[T]he important point is that ever since philosopher William James coined the phrase the “moral equivalent of war,” American liberalism has been recycling the same basic idea: The country needs to be unified and organized as if we are at war, but not to fight a literal battle. The attraction stems from what John Dewey called “the social possibilities of war” — the ability to reorganize and unify society according to the schemes of planners and experts.

This was the through line of 20th-century liberalism, and now 21st-century liberalism, too. Wilson’s war socialism, FDR’s New Deal, Harry Truman’s Fair Deal, John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier, Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, Jimmy Carter’s declaration that the energy crisis was a “moral equivalent of war,” and Barack Obama’s “new foundation for growth,” with his Thomas Friedman-inspired talk about “Sputnik moments”: It’s all the same idea gussied up as something new.
Precisely. It's always an excuse to ratchet up government activity, because Nanny says it's for Your. Own. Good. Isn't that special?

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