Winning Intellectual Battles, Losing Cultural Wars

Winning Intellectual Battles, Losing Cultural Wars

Smith Op-Ed in Liberty Unbound Magazine
December 31, 1999

While free market advocates wage the intellectual fight, the statists have conquered much of our culture. Twice recently, I was asked to contribute to UNICEF (one of many UN affiliates). UNICEF opposes privatization, limited government, free markets and free trade – while endorsing population control, foreign “aid,” larger government – all of course for the children (for details read Nicholas Eberstadt’s chapter in Cato Institute’s publication, Delusions of Grandeur: The United Nations and Global Intervention).<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

 

My first solicitation came from the Westin Hotel in Seattle. I was reviewing my bill and noted a $1.00 item for UNICEF. I queried the desk and was informed that Starwood (the corporation owning Westin Hotels) was “proud” to support “children” and “presumed” that their guests would too. As you might imagine, the subsequent conversation was interesting. Then on a flight to Detroit on Northwest Airlines, the flight attendants came on the intercom to call our attention to Northwest’s “Cause of the Quarter” which was again UNICEF. This time the contribution wasn’t automatic, but the in-flight magazine devoted a full-page to this noble cause and the cabin crew was pushing the program. This incident illustrates on of the many insights of Ayn Rand – that the left’s real victories occur when they are granted legitimacy by their foes. The Show Trials of Stalin, the CEO of Monsanto’s recent apology to Greenpeace (to an organization calling for ending the chlorinating of water!), pledges by business to be “green,” Kathy Lee Gifford’s eager willingness to deny economic opportunities to the children of the world, along with my UNICEF encounters – all indicate that whatever is going on in the War of Ideas, the Cultural War continues to go badly.

 

But there are occasional rays of hope. In a Washington Post review of Princess Monokoke, a recent Japanese anime film, Michael O’Sullivan noted the film’s “heavy-handed ecological message,” and suggested that the film might probably be enjoyed by anyone who can “sit through an entire hour of NPR coverage without screaming for air” and who isn’t too irritated by “pro-environment sentimentality…” All this in the Washington Post! Can it be that even left-liberals are beginning to tire of the ranting of our Chattering Class elites?