Tuesday, September 1, 2015

"The Right Stuff"? How About Conservative Fairy Tales?

On a full, two-pages appearing in the WSJ 'Review (July 25-26, pp. C1- C2) one found the manifesto entitled 'The Right Stuff',  by Peter Berkowitz, a "senior fellow at the Hoover Institution". Since Herbert Hoover's policies were almost single-handedly responsible for starting the Great Depression, it behooves us to look at what one of his disciples has on offer - so that we might consider this balderdash for the nation's future.

Fortunately, much of the lengthy article is essential bollocks, basically a response to the recent Supreme Court decisions (on Obamacare and same sex marriage)  that "have Democrats celebrating and conservatives in a funk". So basically, two thirds of Berkowitz' extensive piece is a serving of conservo history, i.e.

"the conservative movement in the U.S. arose in the years after World War II  in response to the New Deal's enormous enlargement of the welfare state  and the Cold War threat of expansionist communism"

Of course, like most conservative takes, truth is the first casualty - and history ends up being highly selective - with no mention of the fact that the truly "expansionist" drive was motivated by the U.S.  Most of it can be traced to the document known as NSC-68 prepared by Paul Nitze of the National Security Council – completed by 1950. The document essentially contained the blueprint for unending strife and undeclared wars, all of which would be invoked on the basis of a zero tolerance threshold for foreigners’ misbehavior. The putative basis? To enable U.S. agitation, overthrow (or assassination) of democratically-elected leaders, e.g. Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, 

 and large and small occupations (ranging from the few thousand troops in the Dominican Republic in 1965, to more than 200,000 in Iraq by 2006.)  

The motivating force of the document was clear in this regard:

“a defeat of free institutions anywhere is a defeat everywhere”

In other words, any place for which the U.S. even remotely construes a “defeat of free institutions” gives it license to intervene at will. This critical aspect is described thusly by Morris Berman[1]:

Nitze emphasized the importance of perception, arguing that how we were seen was as crucial as how militarily secure we actually were. This rapidly expanded the number of interests deemed relevant to national security”.

In effect, it provided the formula for unending war, and expansion of the capitalist system by force. Fortunately, not all of those brazen efforts panned out- as in the 1961 CIA bid to invade Cuba and Johnson's  Vietnam War - a barefaced effort to dominate Southeast Asia.

Most of the rest of Berkowitz article is an effort to offer palliatives to conservatives in the wake of their recent setbacks.  Thus they are reminded they are the special ones, the "upholders of individual freedom, equality under the law " and other bullshit. To those of us on the left, FDR's words ring most clear: "Necessitous men cannot be free men".  Thus, anyone in a condition of need is not free and any conservo that tells him to go pull himself up by his bootstraps is an idiot.

Yet there are packs of such idiots running freely around in the media spewing garbage in their columns, such as Conservatrix Kimberly Strassel (WSJ, 'The Compassion of John Kasich', Aug. 21, p. A13, who informs us that Kasich's Medicaid expansion in Ohio is misplaced and a case of "surrendering to the entitlement state". Jeebus, if she didn't actually say that, you couldn't make it up!  She also insists the better solution, is to "devolve power to the States" i.e. so they can use their own resources to assist the neediest, rather than the federal gov't. But this only shows how she, like most conservatives, is totally disconnected to reality. Because there is no assurance - not one bit or scintilla- that any state, especially a conservative Red one will do that (Kasich's being he obvious exception).

Back to Berkowtiz and his conservative ideations:

Incredibly, other setbacks - such as the removal of the Confederate flag from the SC State house grounds is revised and portrayed as "a sign of maturity" if you can believe it.  And besides, conservatives who treasure the Stars n' Bars and all it stands for can still fly the flags on private property.

But what really sticks in my craw (and I'm sure every other red-blooded leftist) is when Berkowitz insists with a straight face (p. C2) that:

"limited government allows individuals to take responsibility for themselves and their families and communities".

Yes, in an ideal world of limited corporate influence, that might be so. But not when corporate power and money can purchase political influence that undermines democracy and inveighs against the will  of the people as well as the general welfare. Then, "limited government" becomes exactly what the corporatocracy wants, a government too weak to protect the interests of its citizens against the array of private power. As FDR once put it:

"A democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: .”

Even conservative WSJ columnist William Gaston - in a WSJ column 6 weeks ago-  was  at least honest enough to acknowledge "equal opportunity in the U.S. is an aspiration not a fact". And that, in a nutshell, is what skewers Berkowitz' palsied thinking, as well as Kimberly Strassel's.  Thus, the problem with all conservative solutions is that they're based on an exaggerated assumption that ascribes more power to the majority of people than they actually possess.  Because if private power or corporations can buy off legislators and laws - by specious resort to money as "speech" - then the people become no better than invalids.  THIS is what the Left recognizes which the Right refuses to accept.

 The Right then is blinded by optimistic fairy tales that have no grounding in political or social  reality.  It proffers "limited government" but when that government is too limited to support its own citizens,  fascism prevails. Of course, this is exactly the outcome the Righties and their lot want!

 To see more intricate details of why limited government is the worst idea, certainly in respect of social support of the citizenry, see my recent book, The Elements of the Corporatocracy,
The Elements of the Corporatocracy

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