Home > Uncategorized > TEA-PARTY, SCHMEE PARTY: Dems, Reps and Baggers all Have the Same Effect

TEA-PARTY, SCHMEE PARTY: Dems, Reps and Baggers all Have the Same Effect

TEA-PARTY, SCHMEE PARTY: Dems, Reps and Baggers all Have the Same Effect

by Wilson Moses

Back during the Presidential campaign of 2008, many of those who opposed the Big Bank Bail-out were Old Reaganites, long-time supporters of the deregulation that allowed the banks to pull down the economy in the first place.  Or they were Old-Goldwaterites, or libertarians, or small-government advocates who oppose the existence of the Federal Reserve System, the Security and Exchange Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and every other mechanism that was established in the 20th century for the ostensible purpose of protecting the public from what Louis Brandeis called “The Money Trust.”

Of course, all the above agencies are controlled by the very entities they are supposed to regulate.  This state of affairs was sardonically predicted in the 1880s by William Graham Sumner, a social Darwinist who insisted that Big Business would inexorably devour individual freedom and that there was nothing anybody could do about it. There was no point in progressive era reform “to make the world better.”  Workers were inevitably doomed to become cogs in monopolistic industrial machines.   As early as 1776, Adam Smith had noted, the progressive tendencies of society towards industrialization. Smith championed the “labor theory of value.”  He believed in the moral and material rights of the working people as did Benjamin Franklin before him and Karl Marx after him.  But Smith, although sympathetic to the rights of the emergent working class, recognized the difficulty of workers ensuring those rights.  He feared that combinations of workers, i.e. labor unions, must always be doomed to failure because, “We have no acts of parliament against combining to lower the price of work, but many against combining to raise it.”

Smith’s statement seemed woefully outdated to anyone looking at the American economy in 1960, when the United Auto Workers was reaching its peak, wages were high, and the population of Detroit was close to 2 million.  The collapse of the Detroit economy, and the concurrent withering of the industrial labor movement, make Smith’s observations tragically appropriate.  Recent  union busting activities of the Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio legislatures, aided by powerful combinations of anti-labor forces, such as the Koch Brothers, Fox Television, and Donald Trump demonstrate that Smith’s grim observations are every bit as valid today as they were 225 years ago.  It is the “masters,” not the workers, who make the laws.

The masters not only make the laws, but interpret them as well, sometimes turning progressive laws against their original progressive aims.  Sumner observed that progressive laws seemed only to generate endless legal disputes, which ended in court decisions favorable to the bosses, not the workers.  As early as the Slaughterhouse Cases of 1873, the 14th amendment was being used by a conservative Supreme Court, not to protect the rights of the emancipated slaves, but as a means of breaking the unions.  It was far from the minds of the Justices that trade unions happened, incidentally, to discriminate against black workers; it was very much on their minds that the existence of unions was bothersome to the master class.   The Supreme Court came to support an interpretation of the 14th Amendment that treated corporations as persons. In the Case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company (1886).  Thus, as historians Tindall and Shi have observed, “the fourteenth amendment became a judicial harbor for laissez faire.”

In Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled as Wikipedia summarizes, that “spending money to influence elections is a form of constitutionally protected free speech.”  Most recently in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, No. 08-205  (2010), the Supreme Court has ruled that money is the same thing as speech.  Thus every political position today reflects the interests of the master class.  The Supreme Court has deregulated campaign donations, and state legislatures have crippled the labor unions.  Big government no longer balances the interests of big business, and the individual American worker is left to his or her own devices.  The historical tendency of the past 35 years is to carry the society in the direction of feudalism, towards an environment of absolute, unregulated “liberty,” in which life will become increasingly “nasty, brutish, and short.”

In the progressive era, a number of wise and temperate members of the elite, most prominently J. P. Morgan, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, recognized the usefulness of a balance between big government and big business, and the necessity of both.  They saw that the anarchy of unbridled capitalism was injurious to the interests of the elite.  For this reason, they worked to fashion a new commonwealth in which government would place limitations on the greed of shallow-thinking capitalists, but could also be used to protect the feckless mob from its own ignorance.

The progressive tradition seeks to protect the mindless masses from their industrial masters as well as from their commercial masters, the greedy banks, insurance companies.  Government is the only instrument that can protect the masses from the free-wheeling robber barons and swaggering exploiters who silently tax them.  As George Fitzhugh observed, the man of strong intelligence and unstable morality exerts at tax on every inferior he encounters. In a world without big government, the brilliant and immoral capitalist exists in the natural state of a feudal lord.  He is a robber baron in a Hobbesian universe.   He desires a state of anarchy in which the ignorant masses suffer under the laissez faire system which they mindlessly praise.

The Democrats, the Republicans, and the Tea Party are tools of the people of superior intelligence and superior economic resources.  All men are not created equal.   Some are born with more money, more brains, better looks, better social contacts, more powerful families, greater charm.  Others achieve positions of power.  Obama is among those who have brains enough to rise to the top, due to the intellectual gifts he inherited from his parents.  But his rise was impossible without the assistance of elites who were already in power.  Thus his vague progressivism, which was doomed from the beginning, is symbolized by his feeble efforts at creating a national health care system.

I was among the first to criticize Obama’s half-stepping approach to health care.  In my view, he should have “thrown the Hail Mary Pass,” as soon as he took office, by insisting on Socialized Medicine. If he had done so, the current state of play would have been no worse than it is.   In the political cycle, Obama was destined to face disappointment.  He should have accepted that fact and taken a firmer stand for the principles that ostensibly drove him in the progressive tradition.   Had he done so, the only consequence of Obama’s failure, would have been the right to say,  “I tried.”

As it now stands we have a weak health bill that nobody understands, and which is disappointing to most progressives.  A series of reforms that will not take effect immediately, and that has a good chance of being overturned, before it can take effect, humble as it is.

Progressive forces in America are scattered and disorganized, just as Adam Smith predicted centuries ago.  Some Pan-Africanists and Afrocentrists are more concerned with defending Gaddafi than with defending the public employees unions.  White workers are terrified of “big government,” suspicious of “big business,” and completely brainwashed by both.  Intellectuals and progressive elites are in complete disarray, and their immediate destiny of weakness and ineffectuality is apparently ineluctable.

American political thought is dominated by the meaningless rhetoric of three parties, all of which stand ultimately for sinking the price of labor, raising the price of education, protecting the insurance companies, rewarding corrupt bankers, inflating the stock market, cutting taxes, devaluing the currency, and bankrupting the United  States Treasury.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 9, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Sir, I see your last post was roughly a year ago, and given the fleeting nature of web presences, I can’t be sure you still maintain this blog (though I do recall that, at least when I took your classes in the early Aughts, you maintained records on several older computer systems).
    I think President Eisenhower was incredibly prescient in his farewell address when he warned against the military-industrial complex. Expanding this to include the entire government, bribes and graft, disguised as lobbying and political contributions, are ruining this country.
    I maintain that, despite the shadier aspects of libertarian thought (e.g. Objectivism), there is hope for equitable government within libertarian ideology. There is a libertarian case for organized labor unions and a social safety net. While only a recently coined-term, “bleeding heart libertarianism” is a growing movement, which, I think, provides a good compromise between free market economics and the need for an authoritative body to ensure social justice.

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