NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 3, 2010

In "The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future," Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, argues that the new culture war in America is not over guns, gay marriage or abortion, but instead between a socialist redistributionist minority (the 30 percent coalition) and a massive free enterprise, work ethic, opportunity oriented majority (the 70 percent majority). 

Yet, despite the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe in free enterprise, the Left's dominance of the intellectual upper class (opinion makers like the news media, academia and the entertainment industry) has enabled the minority to dominate the majority: 

  • They have been able to dominate because they are professionals at using words.
  • They use the language of morality to achieve their redistributionist ends while those who favor freedom, individual opportunity, the right to pursue happiness and personal liberty have been maneuvered to a series of banal and ultimately unattractive positions in the public debate.
  • The Left speaks in the language of right and wrong, of equality and inequality, while the leaders of the free-enterprise majority speak in the dry language of economics.  

Thus, despite the overwhelming majority in America who support the tenants of free enterprise, the Left is winning both elections and the hearts of America's young people, who did not live through the Cold War and shockingly view socialism almost as favorably as they view capitalism.  

According to Brooks: 

  • This fundamental conflict has reached a tipping point, where America will either become a European-style, socialist country, or the 70 percent majority will assert itself and our country will have a renewal of economic liberty and freedom.
  • In fact, the rise of the Tea Parties has been the first explosion of energy on the side of this overwhelming majority.
  • But energy is not enough; the only way for those who love liberty to win is to reassert the moral case for free enterprise.  

Brooks' key insight in "The Battle" is that the case for free enterprise is not materialism, but human flourishing: 

"Free enterprise is not simply an economic alternative.  Free enterprise is about who we are as a people and who we want to be.  It embodies our power as individuals and our independence from government.  In short, enterprise is an act of self-expression -- a declaration of what we truly value -- and a social issue for Americans." 

Source: Newt Gingrich, "There's a New Culture War and We're Losing It," Human Events, June 2, 2010.


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