Tuesday, September 08, 2009

LIBERALISM WITHOUT LABOR UNIONS?

So asks Michael Lind on the Salon site.

One of the less examined yet crucial aspects of the past 40 years has been the synergy of allegedly ‘liberal’ advocacy goals and so-called ‘conservative’ goals.

So for example, in criminal justice We have seen – whether We realize it or not – the confluence of a rational feminist desire to ‘re-balance’ law so that it leans more toward ‘women’ with a mid-1990s resurgent Republican urge to expand the police power of the government, resulting – with the addition of radical feminist damp-dreams about a ‘war’ on ‘men’ – in the hugely dubious aspects of the domestic-violence initiatives whereby the courts, on the simple word of one party (usually the female), can now oust a man from his house, access to his children and even his auto, for as many as 30 days.

This is a monstrous undoing of the entire Anglo-Saxon legal tradition upon which the Constitution is based, and it constitutes a regression to the Continental, government-heavy legislative philosophy that sees the Crown as the source of all laws and the people merely as the property of the Crown. Whereas for centuries, culminating in the Constitutional vision*, the entire thrust of the Anglo-Saxon tradition was to get the Crown (the government) out of the homes and hearths of the citizens.

Since the first Clinton Administration, the government – supported by ‘liberal’ feminism as well as ‘conservative’ Republicans – has been invited not only into the homes and hearths but the very bedrooms and beds of the citizenry. This is nothing less than a monstrous regression, and the Continental legal philosophy – no matter how dressed up in ‘modern’ puff or demanded because of the ‘emergency’ asserted by this or that advocacy – may yet prove lethal to the Constitutional reality of ‘America’. And can it be any wonder that We have been seeing so much Constitutional failure in the past two decades?

And does anybody really think that all by himself Alberto Gonzales thought up that bon mot about the Constitutional protections being “quaint”? He got it from those folks who think that the Constitution, having been concocted by Dead White Males is nothing but an ‘oppression’ and essentially illegitimate. That, I am convinced, is what they are teaching in law schools and have been for quite a few years now.

And yet wasn’t the Continental tradition itself concocted by Dead White European Males? Such are the disconnects and incoherences which have been imposed upon Us by the anti-democratic ‘revolutionary’ “liberalism” of the past few decades – and those turkeys are on their way home to roost, if you haven’t noticed.

Anyhoo, Michael Lind sturdily questions whether the Democrats – sodden with forty Biblical years of pandering to any ‘advocacy’ that claimed to be able to deliver its Identity’s votes to the Party – can really expect to usefully maintain a Party comprised of an ‘elite’ of college-educated and oh-so-Correct ‘knowledge professionals’ riding benevolent herd on a ‘diverse’ serfdom of immigrants (of diverse legal status), poor women, their un-fathered and un-familied kids, and assorted other persons and sub-groups.

Lind’s thought, I think, has two parts: first, how can you maintain a political Party that fails to include the working class white males (and the women who have committed to them) and second, how can you sustain an economy based on a small ‘knowledge elite’ producing ‘ideas’ and a serfdom blowing leaves, minding the elite children and pouring specialty coffee drinks … ?

These are not irrelevant questions.

How the frak We got to this point is of some relevance. And I will relate my view of things again:

In the later Sixties, doubly shocked by the ballooning failure of ‘their’ Vietnam war and the urban-riots that proved the most immediately tangible result of their embrace of ‘civil rights’, the Democrats sought to save themselves as a Party by means of a two-part strategy: first, they would give any telegenic advocacy claiming to represent any useful voting demographic carte blanche and thus cobble together a reliable number of votes; second, they would give to corporations willing to pay into Tip O’Neill’s newly-devised PACs carte blanche to do whatever they wanted to make money.

Thus the Democrats, and later the Republicans who were allowed to buy-into the plan, became indentured to their rather radical bases (each Identity had its own cadres of true believers; the Republicans went out and discovered the Fundamentalists who were, by their own definition, the only true and accurate believers). And both Parties became indentured (to put it nicely) to the corporate interests, and then, as the industrial infrastructure withered, to the financial interests.

The media were happy to accept faxes from the assorted advocacies in lieu of expensive though genuine reporting, and realized that it was cheaper to simply give each side a chance to publish its faxes rather than face lawsuits and – the horror! – demonstrations by ‘victims’ or ‘outraged patriots’ or what-have-you. And since the PR elements of both Left and Right always thoughtfully wrapped each fax in a telegenic sob-story or horror-story, then the media could turn themselves into a semi-official version of telenovelas and soaps. Everybody wins!

Except The People.

But a sizable number of The People were ‘males’, and Industrial Age males at that – drenched in both violent macho posturing and “quaint” concepts such as ‘character’, ‘virtue’, ‘commitment’ and other such oppressive ‘abstractions’.

The feministicals wanted to get rid of this bunch. And the corporations wanted to get rid of this bunch because this bunch enjoyed the benefits of the New Deal and Detroit Consensus labor arrangements whereby industrial workers were well-paid and given benefits, and thus fortified bought the products that other American workers had made.

The feministicals and the corporations made common cause on their common objective: to rid the country (and – stunningly – the military) of the ‘classic’ white American male and all his pomps and all his works: ‘character’, ‘virtue’, ‘commitment’, labor unions, the New Deal - it would all go overboard, to be replaced by ‘knowledge elites’ and a brightly diverse ‘service society’ for the menial chores. No more commitment to the corporation in return for a steady job at a good wage; no more ‘achievement’ – it was enough that one’s self-esteem was enhanced by whatever effort one felt was ‘enough’ to feel good about oneself.

It may seem strange that any major national Party in a great nation would lend itself to such a repugnant (and politically insane) project – but the Dems were desperate and – led by the likes of Teddy Kennedy – found that they too really considered Virtue and Character to be “quaint” and certainly oppressive. And, as Teddy knew so well, you could package all sorts of crap as “liberal” and make folks swallow it whole.

“Liberal” and “liberation” – they sounded alike so they must be the same thing. And who in the Beltway didn’t want a Writ ‘liberating’ him from any responsibility for character, virtue, maturity, integrity, ripeness? … Yes, the more Teddy and the bhoys (and gurls) looked at it from their Beltway aerie, the more they realized that they too would benefit from such liberation - responsibility for character, virtue, maturity, integrity, ripeness can be damned oppressive. And for a lot of them, it would require a whole lotta catch-up, and that time and energy could better be spent in fundraising. Let a hundred revolutions bloom!

And realizing that the postwar American economic hegemony was coming to an end, the Dems and later the Repubs figured that the White Working Male and his world was doomed anyway – though that was an elite ‘secret’ deemed unfit for the floppy ears of the “blundering herd”. Feminism and the corporation, with the help of an engorged police power, would, if given the proper and full political support, put an end to the ‘world’ that the Beltway elites could no longer guarantee – and new Identities would be raised up or imported who knew not the blessings of the New Deal.

And when the feministicals hit upon the idea of making sex a crime (and some of them asserted that all sex was violence), thereby guaranteeing an almost eternal expansion of the government police power (against males, anyway) then the Republicans were truly in heaven.

And the women could staff the military and with the Commies gone now, you wouldn’t need a military for anything anymore anyway – paperwork and parades would be the only thing, and you don’t need ‘men’ for that. Sensible shoes were more suited for the task than combat boots; ‘your father’s Navy’ and the ‘Old Army thinking’ were consigned by the Beltway to the dustbin of history. (Until History cast its vote, alas.)

So the sitting government of a major nation actually turned against a huge fraction of its own citizenry. The last instances of that were Mao and Stalin – which weren’t so long before, come to think of it.

Of course, with such a whacky vision (it would be laughable if untold lives weren’t being frakked) it would only be a matter of time before the country had to do something to keep its place in the world. I mean, how many ‘ideas’ must be produced per annum per capita to keep a superpower ‘super’?

No, something else was needed. And so America came to be the world’s “protector”, with a ‘right to protect’ anywhere, anytime. Hell, it was working domestically, with the police and the courts now in every bedroom looking for male violence. So substitute the ‘military’ for the ‘police’, substitute ‘the world’ for American domestic society, and the Beltway could keep itself in business doing for the world’s victims what it was doing for America’s victims. The ‘crime and closure’ industry and the defense-industry were the only two real money-makers left. And the Big Pharma that would keep large fractions of the serfs medicated or obsessed with getting the latest drugs.

And so America would exert its military might on behalf of the world’s victims. Whenever it felt like it. Whenever it needed to. For whatever reason it saw fit. And whenever and where ever that would be, it would be an ‘emergency’ and there would be no time to deliberate, to assess, to discuss. We would ‘just do it’. Because America and only America would really ‘get it’, and was empowered by ‘the emergency’ and/or God to re-educate those who ‘just don’t get it’.

As with the Japanese Empire in the early 1930s, the first run-out of this plan had gone well: the Balkans in 1995 turned out about as well for the Beltway as Manchuria had for the Japanese.

But then things stopped going so well. We went in to ‘rescue’ Iraq and clean up Afghanistan; the Japanese took on larger military adventures. Nothing worked out so well as it had at first. For either empire. The Greater Southwest Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere turns out to have more in common with the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere than anyone had imagined.

There’s still a strong possibility that the whole thing over there is as much of a plan as the erasure of the ‘working class white male’ and his worldview has been over here.

Maybe the plan from the beginning over there was not to enforce any ‘law’ but rather to grab a bigger slice of a now vital pie for the corporations, the elites and the Beltway – oh, and the ‘national interest’. Just as the plan over here wasn’t really ever about ‘justice’ or ‘rehabilitation’ or ‘closure’ but about grabbing a bigger slice of the pie.

Well, the white working class male hasn’t gone gently into that good night – at least not fast enough. Nor have the new members of The Greater Southwest Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

And now the Beltway elites find themselves in the embarrassing position of needing – or at least needing to deal with – the ‘demographic’ that they had consigned to the dustbin of history.

Or it would be embarrassing – if the Beltway banditti had any need or perhaps capacity for such an emotion. But they have been re-districting like mad, to the point that most of them are at this point un-diselectable; they comprise a true nomenklatura.

Teddy K is gone – but his nightmare will live on. He was a dreamer, alright, but in the wrong way. His dream was ‘up there’ but not so much connection to ‘down here’ – not in his personal life and not, I believe we shall see, in the pander-and-pay-to-play gamesmanship that is now being spun as ‘liberalism’ and ‘liberation’ and ‘concern for the poor’ and ‘opportunity’ in all the funeral and post-funeral speechifying that seeks not so much to praise Teddy as to bury Us as a competent Citizenry.

If the Beltway intends to keep that dream and that game going then they are going to repeat the Vietnam era domestically as they are now apparently repeating it in foreign military adventures.

But they truly have – in Jefferson’s vivid phrase – ‘a wolf by the ears’. How back away from Identity Politics? How back away from an alien legal philosophy that may be the death of the Constitutional ethos? How find a productive role in the world economy, one that does not require the endless imposition of military force on places and peoples that are either ‘victimized’ or sitting on top of increasingly valuable resources or advantageously positioned in strategic locations?

How back away from those to whom they have over the course of decades indentured themselves?

And indentured Us.

NOTES

*Yes, imperfect as it was in the matter of slavery.

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