Studying history requires one to study the history of ideas. I know that ought to sound so obvious, but to many, probably most, it isn’t.
The 20th century was witness to the most horrible acts of inhumanity and destruction, acts that were driven almost entirely by ideas.
Fascism and Bolshevism, while appearing to be opposites, are actually almost identical. They are both a fanatical belief in the greater good, the community as a whole, the supremacy of the state over the individual. The only thing that separates the two was one was based on ethnic/national identity, the other on class.
Nearer to home, ideas matter every bit as much. We’ve just seen that with the disastrous stimulus bill, and it’s little siblings like cash for clunkers. We’re poorer because if it, we’re deeper in debt, and farther from real recovery. The Fed is still wed to the inflationist model, still pushing interest rates as low as possible, flooding the economy with money.
Now, one might argue that “they’re policy measures”. But those policy measures are based on ideas: spending drives an economy, you can inflate your way to prosperity, etc.
Ideas matter, and they matter more when they’re put into the hands of people with the power to implement them. By all standards, a “bohemian corporal” and failed artist, who happened to harbor some very extreme views, would be completely anonymous to history. Unless of course, he was in a position of power. And we know the rest.
We have people in positions of power today, in the current administration, with very dangerous ideas. To compare them of course the worst horrors of mankind is ludicrous, but I won’t spend my anger on them. They are fools at best, tools at worst.
No, the real criminals are those who use and abuse their authority to promote ideas they have to know are wrong at best, terribly destructive at worst. There are “economists”, and I use that term loosely, who promote ideas such as deficits and debt are not harmful, inflation is a good thing, et al. They have to know, they cannot not know, that those ideas are dangerous.
My real anger is directed towards those who sit in ivory towers, moonlight as newspaper columnists, are bestowed international honorifics, and command the attention of those in power. They must know, absolutely must know, the terrible price of debt and inflation.
They must know that debt destroys wealth, that it transfers wealth upwards, from the productive to the idle. They must know that it impoverishes, that the only way out is inflation. They must know that inflation likewise is destructive, that it destroys wealth and savings, retards real growth and investment, and impoverishes a nation. No nation, ever, in the annals of history, has ever trod the path to prosperity through debt and inflation. In fact, if history is any guide, as well it ought to be, debt and inflation are the path to ruin.
They must know this as they are not unintelligent nor are they ignorant. And that is why I hold them in such contempt. It is precisely because they use their authority in nefarious ways. I can almost excuse the fools who hear and believe, even those who once taught constitutional law (Of course, one has to wonder, which constitution!!). And I can excuse, almost, those who are not knowledgeable in economics who listen and believe despite everything even common sense must tell them.
Yet they push forward their ideas in what must be a grand and selfish indulgence. They see an outcome they desire, and a means to that end. Though neither is possible, they act as though they are. The abuse of their titles is no different from a prince or potentate who would do the same.