Stay Informed

stay informed

media library

media library

get involved

Register | Forgot login info

Elie Halevy Quote

The socialists believe in two things which are absolutely different and perhaps even contradictory: freedom and organization.

ideas > Can a leader be pragmatic without being ideological...Barack thinks so

Can a leader be pragmatic without being ideological...Barack thinks so
In an article posted online at MSNBC.com (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23785660), Robin Toner of the New York Times writes that Barack Obama states that he was a progressive and a pragmatist. Robin adds that “Mr. Obama insists that while his core values are progressive, he himself is not ideological.” Finally, Barack Obama states that ““I’m interested in solving problems as opposed to imposing doctrine.” Before dissecting these statements, it is important to define the terms progressive, pragmatist, and ideology.

I turned to the dictionary for definitions of these terms. A progressive is defined as “favoring or advocating progress, change, improvement, or reform, as opposed to wishing to maintain things as they are, esp. in political matters” A pragmatist is defined as “a person who takes a practical approach to problems and is concerned primarily with the success or failure of her actions”. Ideology is defined as “the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.”

Progressive, just like conservatives, liberals, fascists, communists, or any other group subscribe to a particular set of doctrine or ideology. What is that ideology which progressives subscribe to? To answer this question, I turned to the Congressional Progressive Caucus (http://cpc.lee.house.gov), a large group of Congressmen and women who believe in the progressive ideology. On this website is “The Progressive Promise” which lists their ideology, which is too long for this article. To sum it up, the progressive promise is big government, big regulation, anti-business, anti-capitalist, anti-freedom agenda. Progressives believe that they know better than you do on how you should live your life. In a nutshell, they are the worst kind of ideologues along the lines of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro and the Communists; of Hitler and the Nazis; and on and on. These men were all progressives of their time. They all thought they knew best how their citizens who live, work, think, and play. They sought to micromanage their affairs. That is what progressives do. There are ideologues and then there are progressive ideologues.

Now that we have defined what a progressive and we understand what a pragmatist is, we can ask ourselves, is it truly possibly to be a pragmatist and a progressive at the same time? More importantly, the question that needs to be answered is “can one forget one’s ideology and make pragmatic decisions?” Also, is it really an asset to be a pragmatic leader, or a leader who doesn’t stick to his beliefs, values, or ideas. To answer these questions, we’ll have to take a little journey through history.

To begin, I would submit to you that it is impossible to ignore one’s ideology for a sustained period of time. One’s ideology or beliefs and values are at the core of one’s being and therefore guide one’s actions most of the time. Therefore it is impossible to do what Barack says he will do. Eventually, he will fall back on his ideology for his decisions. It is humanly impossible to be pragmatic over the long run or for an extended period of time. Unless Barack is not human, he will make his decisions based on his progressive ideology. At least that is what his voting record shows.

I have been reading a revealing book called “Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe” by Robert Gellately. The author of this book portrays an astonishing brutal portrayal of these three men. Hitler rose to power on a platform that was anti-Communist and anti-Jewish. It was clear to all who voted for him that he hated Communism and he hated Jews. He hated Jews because he felt they were behind Communism. He fought World War II to extend the Germanic races control over much of Europe and to destroy what he called the “Jewish Bolshevik” conspiracy which would take over the world. When he rose to power in the early 1930s, he did not initially take over Jewish owned businesses for fear that it would hurt the economy. This was a very pragmatic decision. Shortly thereafter, Hitler’s program of persecuting and expropriating Jewish businesses and killing Jews began with increasing force. This was an ideological decision. Hitler could be pragmatic, but in the end, he succumbed to his ideology which was at the core of his being and drove his decisions.

As World War II concluded, the Allies consisting primarily of Britain and the United States agreed to Stalin’s demands that Eastern Europe should be Communist. Surprisingly, Winston Churchill jotted down the division of these countries on a piece of paper which Stalin agreed to this. The division of Eastern Europe was listed as such:

    Russia 90%
    The others 10%
    Great Britain 90% (in accord with U.S.A.)
    Russia 10%
Yugoslavia 50-50%
Hungary 50-50%
    Russia 75%
    The others 25%

This was a very pragmatic decision at the time, but Churchill realized later that in reality he was consigning hundreds of millions of people to the depredations of Communism without giving them a voice in deciding their own fate. In reality, this pragmatic decision was wrong and morally reprehensible for freedom loving countries who enjoyed freedom to consign millions to Communist chains. The Allies sought to not continue the war, but instead sold their fellow human brothers and sisters into slavery, just as Judas betrayed Jesus thousands of years before. Look at the cost to human life that this pragmatic decision created. Stalin supported the communists in China, Vietnam, and Korea. He provided supplies and armament and military knowledge to ensure that the communists won. Trillions of dollars were spent by America in the Cold War to fight the USSR. Hundreds of millions of civilians were murdered brutally by these communist regimes. Was the pragmatic decision that Roosevelt and Churchill made in 1945 to cede control of Eastern Europe to the Soviets the right decision? From a pragmatic or short-term viewpoint, it was the right decision because the war ended. But pragmatic decisions by nature are short-term oriented. In the long term, it was a terrible decision. If we had pressed ahead and done what General George Patton wanted to do, world history would have been much different than today.

After World War II, General George Patton argued that we should march on Moscow since we would eventually have to fight them. He complained that politicians were always ending wars to soon leaving the military another war to fight later. This proved prophetically true. Pragmatic decision making is inferior to ideological decisions based on moral right and wrong. Progressives will argue that there is very little right and wrong, but in reality they are wrong, no pun intended. Making decisions based on and ideology of truth and rightness, and there is truth and rightness out there, is far superior to pragmatism any day.

What Barack Obama offers is a ruse. He offers us something that can never exist, a pragmatic leader who will act without paying heed to his own progressive ideology. In reality, he will bring us closer to the socialist paradise that all progressives long for. He will bring us closer to the world that Stalin, Hitler, and Lenin envisioned, a world where the government provides and decides what you and I will do with our lives. In exchange for our acquiescence to his superior intelligence and decision-making, he will promise us what all socialists, progressives, and communists of the past have promised their citizens. He will promise security, leisure, food, property, and prosperity. Initially he will be able to deliver on some of these, but ultimately this ideology will fail because it fails to take into account human nature. It fails to admit that human beings are driven by a desire to improve their lives and those they love which cannot exist under a collectivist, socialist utopia. Barack Obama’s progressive world will squash this individual drive that produces material wealth and prosperity. The government cannot create wealth or prosperity. Stalin, Hitler, Lenin, and Mao already proved that. It is individual drive and innovation that leads an individual or nation to material wealth. Progressives and socialists lampoon this drive and greed and seek to replace it with a hard-to-define shared prosperity or a collectivist good. Ironically, they fail to see that this shared prosperity is driven by envy and jealousy, which is worse than greed. Envy and jealousy are nothing more than greed driven by hate.
Contact us