Beck Breaks From The Pack

Ilana Mercer, April 23, 2010

By declaring war on the Bush/Obama doctrine of gratuitous futile wars and occupations, Beck has driven a wedge between himself and the major conservative and neoconservative opinion-makers on an important point of policy ~ilana

Republicans generally euphemize the inconsistencies between support for small government stateside and big government overseas by claiming they are for a ‘strong national defense’ ~ilana

Not a week goes by when Fox-New phenom Glenn Beck doesn’t make libertarian pedants and purists bristle. Examples? The mushy slogan “Faith, Hope, Charity” on which, Beck insists, the old republic was founded. I’m with Beck’s favored founder Ben Franklin who said that “he who lives upon hope will die fasting.”

Then there is charity: Americans hardly need a nudge in that direction as they are already abundantly charitable. Our countrymen are also constant in their faith ─ to a fault perhaps, as too much faith in mystical forces beyond one’s control may compound feelings of helplessness. Conversely, Beck could be more reverential in his approach to the free market to which the Talker often refers in rather pedestrian, almost statist terms. “It is the system that we have; it’s a system that works” are refrains Beck is fond of repeating.

If instead of waxing fat about “Faith, Hope, and Charity” Beck built on life, liberty, and property,” his viewers would come to understand that the voluntary free market is a sacred extension of life itself. The free market ─ it has not been unfettered for a very long time ─ is really a spontaneously synchronized order comprising trillions upon trillions of voluntary acts that individuals perform in order to make a living. Introduce government force and coercion into this rhythm, and you get life-threatening arrhythmia. Under increasing state control, this marketplace ─ this magic, organic agora ─ starts to splutter and people suffer.

In the context of the man’s incalculable contribution to liberty, these are, all-in-all, minor quibbles ─ all the more so given that Glenn Beck has now taken his most significant step in defense of freedom and constitutional order. Beck has seen the writing on the tottering walls of Empire, and has dedicated himself to that humble foreign policy espoused by the founders.

Glenn first dipped a toe in these politically turbulent waters at the 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). During the delivery of the keynote address, Beck blurted out the following: “We don’t need to export democracy; the best example to the world is to lead by example.” Then he fell silent for some time. No further forays into foreign policy were made.

Before CPAC, in January this year, Beck had inched a little closer to denouncing the imperially imposed foreign policy he shared with the major conservative pundits in his orbit. In his groundbreaking series on the American Progressive Movement, the Fox News personality had touched on the differences between Republican and Democratic progressives vis-a-vis foreign policy. Warring for Democracy was the Republicans’ homage to President Woodrow Wilson’s progressivism; nation-building abroad was how Democrats honored the illiberal Wilson’s “legacy.” Two sides of the same foreign-policy coin.

This was the closest Beck, once unambiguously pro-war, had come to examining the contradictions between his opposition to the welfare state and his support for the warfare state; his support for small government stateside and big government overseas. Republicans generally euphemize these inconsistencies by claiming they are for a “strong national defense.”

The final commemorative Beck breakthrough came on April the 15th, when the Fox star roared, “I’m with Ron Paul on foreign policy!” Beck followed with a column, “America Is a Republic, Not an Empire” in which this scrupulously good fellow announced his support for a “no loitering” policy. If Glenn got his way, no longer would the United States be “the world’s loiterer,” spending hundreds of billions (closer to a $1 trillion by the estimation of economist Robert Higgs) on spreading Jacobin ─ not Jeffersonian ─ ideas across the globe.

Glenn appears to have finally grasped that war, as Randolph Bourne warned, is the health of the state.

Hitherto, Hannity, O’Reilly, Malkin; Krauthammer, Kristol; Coulter ─ all had done their bit to collapse the distinction between the wars we’re currently waging and the need for a strong national defense. Their ditto heads were behind them all the way. By declaring war on the Bush/Obama doctrine of gratuitous futile wars and occupations, Beck has driven a wedge between himself and the major conservative and neoconservative opinion-makers on an important point of policy.

By pulling away from the pack and denouncing the talismanic faith in the Bush/Obama wars, Beck has created oscillation in an otherwise-ossifying GOP.But more importantly: Good guy Glenn is finally espousing a foreign policy compatible with limited authority and republican virtues.

April 23

CATEGORIES: Anti-War, Constitution, Foreign Policy, Founding Fathers, Free Markets, Media, Political Philosophy, Republicans, War, Welfare State