• "God invented war so Americans could learn geography" -- Mark Twain.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Faux Again

From the New York Times:

"[T]he question [is] how far governments must bend or even bow to the power of markets.

"Mr. Obama sees retaining the stability of markets and the confidence of investors as a primary goal of government and a prerequisite for achieving any major changes in public policy.

"Mrs. Merkel views the financial industry with profound skepticism and argues, in almost moralistic fashion, that real change is impossible unless lenders and borrowers pay a high price for their mistakes." [ 1 ]
Simple and candid truth; from the Times nonetheless! There is a Santa Claw after all.

We had thought there was something faux about Obama's rediscovered "New Nationalism". Herber Croley's "The Promise of American Life (1909), from which Theodore Roosevelt cribbed the main points of his Osawatomie Kansas speech (1910), had been inspired chiefly by the Great Otto von Bismark's progressive social compact which put in place the foundations for the present European social state.

The essential idea of that compact is that the two principal economic classes of the state must be coordinated for the good of the whole social fabric. Bismark's compact did not abolish private property, nor did it suppress labor; it imposed social responsibility on Capital and Labor, requiring both to work cooperatively for the good of the State.

Because it steered a course between free-market Liberalism and proletarian Socialism, Bismark's compact has been described as the "Third Way". It has also been called "fascism," "state-socialism," "national-socialism," and "social-democracy." As Bismark famously said, "Call it socialism or what you will, it's all the same to me."

In the United States, thanks to a cunning equivocation by Franklin Roosevelt, half-steps down the third way is called "liberalism" (as in "generous") -- which is why Americans are the most politically disoriented people on Earth. But, whatever it is called, the idea is the same: social and economic discipline is required of the worker; social and economic responsibility are imposed on corporations. As Herbert Croly put it,

"The national economic interest demands, on the one hand, the combination of abundant individual opportunity with efficient organization and, on the other, a wholesome distribution, of the fruits."
In Croley's view the French and American notions of "autonomy" and "souverainité" and "individualism" led to disintegration, inequity and chaos. "American, democracy," he wrote, "needs above all to be thoroughly nationalized."

Croley went on to found the Atlantic and the so-called "Progressive Movement;" Theodore Roosevelt went on to play the Bull Moose who roared in Osawatomie Kansas,

"The New Nationalism puts the national need before sectional or personal advantage. It is impatient of the utter confusion that results from local legislatures attempting to treat national issues as local issues. . . . It is still more impatient of ...[the] legal cunning, hired by wealthy special interests, to bring national activities to a deadlock. . . . [T]his means that our government, national and State, must be freed from the sinister influence or control of special interests."
T.R. went on to decry corporations "who twist the methods of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will." He called for "prohibition" of all corporate funding of political purposes, for the "publicity of corporate affairs" and for "a graduated income tax on big fortunes". TR concluded,

"The true friend of property, the true conservative, is he who insists that property shall be the servant and not the master of the commonwealth; who insists that the creature of man's making shall be the servant and not the master of the man who made it."

Does this sound like Obama?

In Osawatomie, Obama cribbed copiously from Roosevelt's "fair shake" and "fair deal" rhetoric; but he studiously omitted even the contours of Roosevelt's Bismarkian New Nationalism.

At least the Times got it right, albeit mirabilis dictu. Obama sees the role of government to be the assuaging of Capital and the coddling investor interests. The real "progressive" (or whatever name you choose au gout) believes that private capital is the "servant" of the commonwealth.