tv 2018 Printers Row Lit Fest - Jonah Goldberg Suicide of the West CSPAN June 9, 2018 10:32pm-11:21pm EDT
i'm afraid i don't feel qualified to weigh in on the specifics. other people have written about it. >> thank you for your time and your very informative talk. thank you for attending today's program. books can be purchased outside of the y auditorium and you mayo make your way back there shortly. thank you. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> welcome to the 34th annual "chicago tribune" printers row
width as the special special thank you to all the sponsors. this program will be broadcast by c-span2, booktv. there'll be time at the end of this event for questions and answers so think of the questions you want to ask during the program. use a the microphone so the audience at home can hear your questions. before we begin today's programs we ask that you silence your cell phones. let's welcome our two douceur editor of the "chicago tribune." [applause] >> thank you all for joining us for this session. editor and producer r. u bruce dold and jonah goldberg. mr. goldberg's book is about understanding the political world in which we recite that the new book helps those who follow commentary understand why
trump is amiss -- to reagan's populism and further explains why he believes that the current challenge for conservatives is to figure out how they can acquire reagan as principles. one way to think about this book are there many antecedents to this church environment. there is a history. patient explanation of a set of beliefs to illuminate the paralyzing divisions we see now in american society. please welcome r. bruce dold and jonah goldberg. [applause] >> thank you. thanks everybody for braving the chicago elements today and thank you jonah for braving host here in the chicago elements today. you made it. glad to have a chance talk about this. i want to take you through the argument in the book but let's go right to the spoiler alert periods "suicide of the west,"
graham title, no question mark. "suicide of the west" does the patient survived? >> first of all thank you for having me and thank you for doing this and thank you for all the people who showed up including all the chicago conservatives and i mean that literally. not figuratively the way the joe biden said earlier. one of my favorite things about america is i am still congenitally an optimist but the point of the title and i agree it's kind of a graham title not quite taking a bath with a toaster but it's close. they didn't say decline of the west. i said suicide of the west imparted and i hate using the word suicide with all the
terrible things going on with anthony bourdain and kate spade salutes the plate but those are tragedies and all that. suicide is a choice and there's a reason the first sentence in the book is there is no god in this book. the reason i say that is not because i'm an atheist. i'm not an atheist but because my dear friend charles krauthammer like to say decline is a choice. we as a civilization into society ande democracy we have the power to turn things around if we choose to do so. and so just as there is no god in the book there's also no cold impersonal forces of history. there's no right side of history and gnome marxian. we can enlighten you about what is the best policy in the best course of action and it takes persuasion and argument and
passion to doo it. what i'm trying to do is join in that effort. what i'm trying to do is model behavior. i don't want to be sanctimonious about this i a have paid might choose doing the whole tears are delicious argument and what i'm trying to do is with a good faith effort trying to persuade people on the right of the left to disagree with me and say and show that persuasion and argumentation which are essential to politics can still work and it doesn't all have to be the smash down. >> you write the natural state of mankind is grinding poverty punctuated by horrific violence terminating with an early death. you are usually a funny guy in the column by the way. you got the state of affairs but then a miracle happens. >> right.
so for 250,000 years depending on whose numbers you use from the neanderthals the average human being everywhere in the world live than $3 a day, 250,000 years like this. basically statistically virtually zero economic growth for most of mankind. then all of a sudden once and only once in human history did this start to change about 300 years ago starting in england or some people want to argue in holland. there are dutch jingoists in the room who want to fight me on this we can have this conversation in q&a but basically it starts in western europe and it starts to go like this and like this. the reason i called america was first of all because it's miraculous. lives get longer. people have more wealth and lugar is -- literary starts to
glow. virtually every metric that wears the -- that people claim politics is supposed to address alleviation of poverty reduction of bigotry improvement of public health they'll start to improve. not perfectly and not uniformly and not without hiccups or problems but it continues to go like this today. right now this moment we live in the greatest moment of poverty alleviation in all of human history. the last 30 years hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. it's not because of u.n. programs. u.n. programs do their bit and i'm not saying we shouldn't do them and all this sort of thing but the reason weea see hundreds of millions of people in china and in africa being able to eat nutritious meals for the first time to live to old age for the first time in to read for the first time is because the spread of these ideas is liberal democratic capitalism. not without problems and that's
why despite the gloomy title viii tried in the book is talking about the importance of gratitude. this miracle this thing that happened is not natural. poverty iss natural. early death from violence or disease is natural. what is unnatural or things like democracy, human rights capitalism. these things were invented by accident or that's another part of the reason i call it a miracle because it's inexplicable.de we don't have a good explanation for why it happened but we know that it did happen. i think it's something we should be grateful for. >> all these good things happening around the world the u.s. seems. grumpy. you hear people say there are a billion people that have come out of the depths of poverty around the world and yet it feels in the u.s. that it is plateaued that their gain is our loss which makes us see a lot of
political argument right now. >> globalization is come with a price. i don't want to save globalization and immigration and these things do not create losers and i don't mean losers like high school you are a loser. i mean people who get the short end of the stick. mobilization and these other forces have powerfully dislocating ways of doing things. that's all true but first of all let me save for a philosophical matter the beauty of capitalism in a state of nature hundreds of thousands of years and our natural environment if you had lucel of apples and i wanted your apples if i wanted your apples i would hit you over the head with a rock and take you out and with the rise of the market all of a sudden the way i get your apples is i give you money. you like money and i like
apples. it's win-win and we have also -- from globalization but it's hard to give credit to it. instead we notice and emphasize the negative. also one thing that capitalism is not good at is fixing inequality. while everybody does get richer someme people get richer faster than other people and we have it well-documented in the human brain to resent people who seem to be getting a larger share than we did. income inequality really pings our tribal brains in a very bad way. the thing is communism which is baked -- basically what tribalism really was was really good. everybody was equally poor.
>> i was generally favorable about the book but the focus on relentless individuals, that neglected thecu common good. >> i want to be very delicate about this. i like david and i know david and i'm very grateful for the column that david wrote about the book. david is just flatda wrong in hs reading of that part of my book and a huge part, the part of my argument is about the importance of civil society b of family ani doin not advocate individualism. in a lot of ways lockean individualism is a problem. one of my favorite lines comes from the end to election o'connor aren't who said every western civilization is dated by
barbarians and we call them children. anyone who has kids knows the fundamental wisdom of insight. one of the things i think define services is the insight human nature has. you take a baby from new rochelle and send it back up those used to live in the viking village. it would be raised to plunder the english countryside. you take a viking baby and send it to new rochelle it would grow up to be an orthodontist. babies are not born into western civilization. they are born into families and families are the things that primarily, the lot of factory presets. there's a wonderful book by a guy named paul bloom and filled where he surveys how much
software babies are born with. amazing. babies cry should have a shockingly early age with an accent. french babies have a french cry. russian babies have a russian cry. russian babies or english-language babies will be attracted to the english language with distrust ofh a foreign language almost from birth. they've been hearing it in your row. babies have an ethnic facial type of their parents in this gets to one of these clichés i can't stand whichch is children have to be taught to hate. it's just not true. we are born with a deep distrust of strangers. there was an evolutionary adaptation that allowed us to have this in our genes. what we have to do is teach people not to hate and that's a great great thing the family so so much in civilization are supposed to do and that's what civilization does. takes the wrong part of human
nature and provide software updates so we don't raise kids to be vikings could raise them to be good citizens in civilization. when you have the breakdown of the family and the breakdown of mediating civil society what happens is we were referred to back to our initial programming and we think more tribally. we act more tribally. anybody who has done research or looked at the role of inner-city gangs going back to the irish 19th century or the crips and bloods today understands a big part of the reasons why kids join these gangs is because they are looking to be part of something. they are looking to be part of a group and have a sense of meaning. they do that in large part because the other inclusion to society schools family religion are doing theire jobs. where i think david missed the
chapter or something when he says i'm focusing on lockean individualism, i don't. worried to focus on this idea of individualism is that for a liberal democratic nation the concept of the sovereignty of the individual is essential when you are setting up the rule of law to run a greater society. when you talk about the microcosm of family we are not rugged individualists. in my family i am essentially a communist. i do not charge my daughter for food. i do not put a price tag on something in the fridge. i don't charge her rent. the family is according to the need. it's in what friedrich hayek calls the extended order of liberty the grander society where you have two operate on
contracts trade and commerce and these sorts of concepts. treat people as individuals but in the family we don't do it that way. we want to be part of a group and the whole way you keep the civilization of liberty healthy is by having that right balance. the further out you get and the more you organize in society the more you have to recognize individual rights and individual liberties. >> this general distrust and tribalism can we just blame the kids for a? you know the numbers. there's a big gap in age and distrust of capitalism distrust of democracy. they don't believe in free-speech rights and they
don't even know what the first amendment says. why is there that age gap and those fundamental beliefs in trust? >> well i mean so two caveats. first i'm a big opponent of youth politics. i don't like generational politics very much and so i can't stand when people talk about the greatest generation. if you storm normandy you deserve to never have to buy a beer again as far as i'm concerned. you are a hero. if you're in the drunk tank in peoria when everyone else. wass storming normandy there's o property this is your great to just because you have the same birthday as the guy that -- and the same thing goes with millennials. there are some amazing people out there whom marines are starting businesses and all the rest and there are some millennials out there or
whatever want to call the people today who are just frittering away their lives on the couch in their parents basement. it's unfair to say they are all one ory all the other. that said there's a well-established finding in social literature that says ignorance and stupidity is highly correlated with age. we are all born morons. we only get over it as we get older. some of it, i used to say gen-x doesn't know anything. that said a bigger part of the problem is my friend ben sassa says is a civics question. we do not teach people how the system works. we do not teach people how to be grateful for what they have inherited. we do not teach the idea that there should be a partisan family. the concept of free speech is
the same. it's a suicidal choice we are making in the way we teach history so much in this country is we teach american history or western history is only one story after another of things we should be ashamed of. there a lot of our parents that we should be ashamed of but we should be really proud of how often we have overcome those things aware shame to create take slavery. slavery was a profound moral -- and also hypocritical of the founding fathers to say all men are created equal while not having given women the right to vote. i wanted to show what an incredible story has to be overcame those things that we fix those things. we are not done. we still have improvements to do and every civilization had slavery to oneto extent or another.
what's remarkable about western civilization particularly with the english are better at some of the stuff than we are but we got rid of. we shed blood to get rid of this ev institution. the yethe way we teach our history now so teach those are the ones that define us forever. think a lot of kids are being taught when he don't teach gratitude the opposite floods in. the opposite of gratitude is entitlement and resent in. people are taught from an early age in this country in large numbers that they are owed something from this country that they should be resentful of a country that does not work for them and they should not let go of their identity politics label no matter what. assimilation is evil. this is a real problem and i
think it is a suicidal choice in our culture. >> if you look at a practical implication like free trade where we have come and the general approach. he was a free trader and nafta. obama when he came and he talked like he wanted to be a free trader but walked away from it. he saw where it was going and now we have a republican president who almost talks like a democrat on trade perfectionism. i remember the great political cartoon with the color-coded north and south america where mexico was labeled manufacturing and the u.s. was labeled retailing canada was labeled parking. up. [laughter] >> you get a sense of the
general feeling in the country. in the parking lot now. how do you come back to that? >> it's just not true. that's the biggest problem with ityo. we can talk about immigration if you want but large-scale immigration -- immigration creates dislocation in their art general positions. the national review has been hawkish for a very long time and walked through all of that but the simple fact is that most the jobs that people are blaming that we have outsourced or imported workers for and lost to automation. we are more productive in terms of manufacturing than we have ever been. it's just that we require fewer people to do it. mcdonald's is swinging toffees robot kiosks. those are democrats coming. those are machines and we blame ntskynet.
also i have a friend scotland succumb a who is a trade expert and i'm constantly worried he's going to start cutting himself on donald trump talks about trade. trade deficits are one of the great bogeyman of economic illiteracy and american life. at some margin there are things to be concerned about it but in general a trade investment is the inverse of a investment surplus. we sell more stuff for people than we import them thosese dollars have become back and they get invested in america because those dollars are american dollars. eventually virtually all the dollars that were brought must come back and they must be spent on america. one of the things that drives me listen to donald trump simo can easily complain about trade deficits while
breaking about a surplus. we got rid of the trade deficits we would lose a lot of the investment surplus because it's a seesaw. if you push one down the other one goes up. some of this has to do with our culture. the problem with journalism and is a problem everywhere problem with their own brains. the caveman who hears a suspicious war coming from a cave and says that sounds interesting, i will check it out the one who said i'm not going and tended to live another day and it's a well documented finding to focus on the down side of things and trade is one of those things. so is immigration. we look for bogeyman. >> when they were public and parties at war with things like trade of all things what is the
republican party if he can have that kind of -- . >> it's a little unfair but a while back a radio host asked me would william f. buckley recognized today the republican party and the only thing that came to mindd was well you know trump has to recognize the statue of liberty at the end of "planet of the apes." [laughter] recognition is not everything gets chalked up to be. >> it's inevitable. all conversations go that way eventually. >> we have known that for a long time. >> we were not members of the resistance but we resisted. their marketable thing to me is not how we are having a war of the republican party about trade
but sort of the reverse. this is the first major public policy issue that a sizable number of republicans are standing up to this stuff and one of my hopes and one of, look people here know i have my problems with donald trump. donald trump is the symptom of the problems that we have to and he makes some of them were sent he's making some of them better i think or at least his administration. one of the more serious structural problems we have in our country is the foundingru fathers never would have dreamed that the legislative branch wouldn't be a jealous guardian of its own power. we don't have three equal branches off government. the congress is supreme. the one that passes the laws. one that has the power to declare war.
it is in charge of trade and for reasons some of which have to do with the coldd war some of it having to do with this abject soft spine cowardice with a lot of politicians, congress is outsourcing enormous amounts of its responsibilities through the executive branch of the quarter what we will call the administrative state of your proceed through so many people in congress do not want to be legislators. it's a problem with both parties. i think it's worse with republicans but it's a problem with both parties. they don't want to do anything that costs them a slot on "fox & friends" or morning joe. they would rather complain about something the president is doing and actually write a law. a lot of the problems we have a lot of reasons we got trump and this is problem before trump came along. barack obama basic week ruled a lot of executive orders.
he did a lot of things that he himself said were unconstitutional and broke a lot of faith andun confidence in the system. we have basically a parliament of pundits right now in congress the real structural problem and one ofun the things i would love to see is for congress to clawback its trade authority. president trump has a lot of errors on the assertion that canada and our european allies pose a national security threat to us. that's just ridiculous. .. authority to decide what a national security threat was during the cold war. congress needs to take that back. >> if you have the white house, your agenda is set by the white house, a chance that you think republicans in congress would try to
one of the greatest disconnects in public life today is what republican congressmen and senators say off the record compared what they say on the record. you hear more people sing off the record. more people say on the record and maybe we need to pull back some of these authorities. it's very hard. donald trump has a real hold over a big chunk of the republican electorate and it's hold.policy you look at the republicans with got in trouble with donald trump and it's not because they didn't vote with him, it's because they criticized him when he said or did things they thought were worthy of criticism. that's whyic corker is leaving office and steve tannen was trying to get rid of mitch
mcconnell even though his agenda is the trump agenda. meanwhile rand paul figured out the secret sauce to obstruct the trump agenda in congress but he fonds over trump in public so no one says he's part of the problem. as long as trump commands a big chunk over the activist space or in fox news, it's very difficult to break with the president. 40 years ago i would have to ask a follow-up question to figure out if you are a liberal orre conservative. partisan id is a profoundly telling label about your entire worldview?
>> your conservative writer and thinker in a conservative movement. why are you critical of donald trump. >> i don't call myself and never>> trump but i felt that lost relevance after the election. i call myself a trump skeptic. pat i think all those labels. [inaudible] i take the position, no offense, i know most talk of journalist ethics is a justification for the guild that runs the journalism school in these kind of things but one thing i take very seriously is it's part of my job not to live. i won't say things that i don't believe to be true.
some people were disappointed at me because i failed to live down to their expectations. they thought once he's actually president or once he has the nomination i would have to fall in line and just become a guide for the rnc. that's my job. it cost me friends. i can tell you right now, coming out with the book that's not about trump but has trump stuff in it were just being perceived as being anti- trump is not a great way to sell conservative books. >> i do hear from ate lot of readers who talk about bias in the press, i can argue with them about objectivity of news coveragege i do and we do a good job on that. one area where it's difficult to find a columnist of natural
stature who want to defend trump. who do you most like to argue with who would qualify as a trump supporter. >> at national review we have a few. he does some excellent work in that regard. on specific issues like the fbi stuff, andy mccarthy, there are writers that all in for donald trump, but i'm kind of hard-pressed, part of the problem is that there's this journal that launched a year end half ago that was dedicated to flushing out and defending the philosophical and policy agenda of trump
-ism, and it turned into kind of a disaster because the problem is i don't think there is a core. it's more of a psychological phenomenon. if you put all your betsan on saying his policy x is the right policy, and three or four days he completely reversed himself on that and if you're consistent thinker or writer, what do you do? do then criticize him for changing his mind? or do to send president trump for being flexible or this 14 dimensional chess, you get a lot of those kinds of arguments because you can't follow a straight narrative on a lot of policy stuff. during the primaries, donald trump was for single-payer, he
was again single-payer, he was for a lot of things. ideologically he's kind of like an escaped monkey from a cocaine study. it's very difficult to predict where he's going to go or what he will say. instead a lot of people are the man rather than his policies. he's remarkably consistent on trade stuff. he has been since the s 1980s. not sound like th barack obama but the 1980s called and they want their trade policy back. he brags about the fact that he's very flexible on policy questions and so it's veryy difficult for someone in my line of work to defend this idea of trump -ism beyond its role as a phenomenon or entertainment or populism or sticking it to the man or making these arguments that's justifiable simply because what i call my book, this
tendency to think something is worth doing solely because it makes your enemies mad or upset and the problem on the left and the right. it's tough, and some people are better than others, but it's not a genre that i'm a big fan of. >> we will take questions from the audience in just a minute. we should have a microphone floating around. you can ask question will they think of theirs. with the republican party today be better off with a wave of election against the republican party? what was the outcome be? >> well, there's an old rule in politics that it's always better to win and they certainly think if the democrats take back the house,
it's like trying to get my dog not to trace a m squirrel. they will go after each other. that's actually a tougher thing to game out because depending on what the i underlying facts of what muller and the house find, that could be seen as grave overreach during a time when the economy is doing well, or, if the facts lead to vladimir putin, it could be the end of donald trump. i don't know. as someone who's never really cared much about calling himself a republican, i care very much about calling myself a conservative. i don't invest a huge amount in the fortunes of the republican party one way or another. there are certainly a lot of conservatives out there. i'm not one of them who just decided they get routed who want to see the republican
party destroyed because of the original. [inaudible] if there's anything the last couple years taught us, it's making straight-line clinical projections about what the future holds. that's the surest t way to get the universe to make a fool out of you. if you look at the way the last two and half years have gone, it's the writers of 2017 and 2018, it's like they were dropping acid. it's crazy. by this time last year you all remember fondly how well we did in the great u.s. canada war so it's very hard for me too predict one way or another. >> you mentioned about congress not doing their job, their inability to legislate, how much that power do think they could get back if they actually passed appropriation bills and the full budget
everyas year. >> i think step one would be getting some. [inaudible] the congress has lost interest in controlling the power of the purse. both parties are more interested in running like parliamentary parties. congress has to take responsibility for its role and actually do budgeting and hearing and appropriations close to the right way. >> ano interesting situation, once again we call this trump country. i was wondering who would vote for thisti guy anyway. he's so inconsistent.
the big industries of coal mining and tobacco and everything like that, i remember the movie called deliverance and this gentleman reminds me of what trump country is all about. the question is who would support the sky. true republicans don't back up. first of all, i'm delighted somebody brought it up. just to be fair, i'm not sure
that it's really fair to say that the voters -- at the end of the day he did unify the republican party because he had to really important mandates. one was to not be hillary clinton and he accomplish that on day one and the other one was the judges. if you go out and talk to every republican and everything else was potential argument and disagreement. there is a solid core of trump supporters and their other
people who they don't like him but he's better than hillary and i think democrats get themselves into really bad places when they assume that if you voted for trump urine evil, dumb, stupid redneck racist hick but i don't think that's true. i think hillary clinton is a bad politician. i know she's a native daughter of illinois and arkansas and new york. [laughter] but that the horrible thing was a bad idea -- deplorable thing was a bad idea. something like 8 million people who voted for barack obama also voted for donald trump. that alone should tell you.
[inaudible] >> i enjoyed your book liberal fascism. justhis old adage that i'm sure you're familiar with thatt conservative think people on the left around and people on the left think conservatives are evil. there's many americans who were terribly disheartened in reading about charles terminal cancer yesterday. who are some of the other conservative pendants that i truly respect and hold in high esteem. yourself, victor davis and
dennis, obviously that's personal and no one really cares about that. >> i agree with 50% of that, for sure. >> what i am interested in hearing about is the other 50%. that is to say who, living or dead are some of the thinkers that strongly influence your conservative thought that you would put on that. >> charles, for sure. i didn't grow up reading victor dennis, i'm friends with both of them, but myself was sort of baked in when i started following them. krauthammer i read atta a very young age. george will, william f buckley. for me, it's not really a household name anymore but irving kristol who was bill kristol dad had a profound
influence on me. had disagreements with all of them.. those guys were big influences on me. the biggest influence was my dad. he reminded me a lot of my dad. my dad was a jewish intellectual whose idea vacation was going from one seller couch to another to read a different book or magazine or going to europe to look at museums. those guys for sure, i can come up with some other names pretty easily, but just since you brought up charles, i don't want to bring it up too much but the news about charles is just devastating.
i know charles had a strange love persona on tv. a more decent and humane human being, i'm not sure you could name. he was amazing. it is a whole that i don't think never be filled without him in ourur public life. it breaks my heart that he's gone. >> you talk about people within the republican party not getting along very well. only have stuff like what happened with the ram deal where the burdenha of proof was inverted, isn't that the kind of thing that happens that will create a lot of infighting?
>> yes, but i don't know that there's anybody in my circles who thought it wasn't terrible on processor policy. that's one of the things that unifies a lot of people on the right. a lot of liberals get furious whenever i argue or tweet or sa say, they have their share of blame for why trump seemed like the savior to a lot of people. i have my criticisms of seeing him on those fronts, but that doesn't mean those feelings there.gitimate out something that barack obamacr did, he said 24 times he couldn't do daca because the
constitution for bid him to do it and then when the politics seemed right to do it he did it anyway? to me that's impeachable offense. you take an oath to the constitution and then you say on the record dozens of times, i do not have the constitutional power to do something and then you do it anyway, you violated your oath of office which seems like what impeachment wins for food the way the press covered that, look at obama they said, but what we call on the right where we have to use their tactics and fight the same way. there's a big reason why trump fights and why his persona was so appealing to some people. we have a long list of folks that when asked questions.
the book is great. it's a fascinating read. thank you for being here. >> thank you. >> books can be purched outside the auditorium. thank you. >> welcome to the 34th annual book fast. i want to give a special thanks to our many sponsors. today's program will be broadcast live on c-span2 book tv. there will be time at the end of the session for q&a. then you can join us at the microphone w and show that question with