What they are, what they do.
That the Left has become much more intensively coercive in recent years has not gone unnoticed among conservatives. In Liberal Fascism and elsewhere, Jonah Goldberg has popularized a longstanding view of the left-wing philosophy that in the United States calls itself “liberalism” — though we cannot in good faith call it that — that connects it with the nakedly coercive, antidemocratic, and anti-constitutional tendency of Woodrow Wilson and the progressives of his era, and with the various nasty totalitarian movements that inspired them and were inspired by them in turn. It’s not that we expect Robert Reich to come marching up Fifth Avenue wearing jackboots (the Pride March ain’t what it used to be) but that managerial progressivism is fundamentally corporatist in the sense that Mussolini et al. used the term: It conceives of formal political power and economic production as a single unit to be kept working in harmony, like a well-tuned engine, by such experts as the state recognizes as suited to the task. In theory, these men are to be guided by evidence meeting scientific standards — they are to be the sort of disinterested and dispassionate pragmatists that exist mainly within the narrow confines of Ezra Klein’s cranium.
The problem, as various capital-”F” Fascists and National Socialists and Communist politburos and Vox readers all discovered in their turn, is that even if these dispassionate and disinterested managers existed — and they don’t — bureaucracies do not have the collective cognitive firepower to replace markets, or even to intelligently guide them. From the Soviet five-year plans to Obamacare, all central-planning exercises begin in hubris and end in chaos.
And when the chaos comes, the natural thing to do — the imperative thing — is: find someone to blame. The planners and schemers are intellectually incapable of dealing seriously with the fact that the project that they have set for themselves — substituting their own judgment for that of the billions of better-informed parties in the market and coming up with superior outcomes — is an impossible one. But once you’ve accepted real limits on what planning can do — on what government can do — then you have at some level essentially surrendered to conservatism.
And that means that somebody, somewhere, must be a racist.
Y’know, one of the reasons I link and excerpt just about everything Williamson writes is that he always has such great fun with presenting the hideous truths of the political aspects of life. It’s laugh, cry, or go nuts with this stuff, folks, and given a choice, I’ll take laughter just about every time.