Ryan throws around “individualism” and “collectivism” as if they are utterly transparent and self-evident terms, and as if it is 1950. The poor guy was born too late for the intellectual excitements of the cold war, so he insists upon finding them in his own lifetime by apocalyptically transposing the old antinomies onto the contemporary debate about government and entitlement. Yet the analogy between the totalitarian collectivism of the Soviet Union and the role of government in Obamacare is talk-radio stupid. “With the demise of the Soviet Marxist experiment 20 years ago,” Ryan writes in his Roadmap, “the appeal has shifted to European-style socialism, with its redistribution of resources.” What on earth is he talking about? The redistribution of resources is a common activity of government, socialist or otherwise; and the Soviet Marxist experiment was not about the redistribution of resources. It was evil in a way that “European-style socialism” will never be. Is Dodd-Frank Lenin’s ghost? The staggeringly obvious fact is that we are not, in the United States in 2012, on a road to serfdom. Free enterprise in the United States is not remotely threatened. It is merely not universally taken to be the whole of American reality, or the paramount consideration in every American discussion of every American policy. We are living in an age of paranoid capitalism.
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