The Battle

What I’m here to talk to you today about is my new book, The Battle. I make a pretty controversial claim right at the very beginning. That claim is that America is in a new culture war. Now, I know that this is a jarring thing to hear, and it makes you think of culture wars from the 1990s. But we are not in a culture war over God and guns and gays and abortions. And we’re not in a culture war between Democrats and Republicans. My book argues, and I argue—and my institution is arguing today—that America is in a culture war over free enterprise.

The choice before us is of two visions of this country. Will we continue to be a culture of free enterprise—which is to say, a culture based on limited government, on rewards and consequences of behavior that are adjudicated by markets, and by a reliance on and a celebration of entrepreneurship? Or will we become a culture that’s more like European-style social democracy—which is to say, a culture characterized by a large and growing government, a managed economy, and a hard-core focus on income equality? These are our two options, and we have to choose between them.

Now, I know that many people will tell you that we don’t have to make any such choice. That we’re a country of compromise. That there’s no such thing as pure free enterprise or pure socialism. But we do have to make a choice. Why? Because in not choosing the country we want, a choice is made for us. As I will argue, when we don’t make the choice for free enterprise, the choice will always be made for statism and redistribution—and that’s a different culture.