Saturday, November 17, 2012

Socialism = Corporatism

Hardcore Republicans talk about freedom a lot. By which they mean "keeping the government off our backs"--smaller government, fewer laws and regulations.

I love the unspoken assumptions holding up this leitmotif of the GOP.

1. That people in power via government position are almost certain to abuse that power, as epitomized by the Soviet Union.

2. That people in power via personal wealth and/or corporate position are almost certain to not abuse that power. That the gray, grim existence of workers in 19th century England--the existence that inspired Karl Marx to invent Communism--is fiction. That Charles Dickens' novels are pure fantasy.

So instead of "power corrupts" we have the GOP's revision: "power corrupts but only if it's government power."

3. That all Democrats (who are mostly blacks & Mexicans) want to avoid work but instead live off welfare from an all-ecompassing Nanny State funded exclusively by Republicans, all of whom are hard-working, self-sufficient, middle-age white men and their wives (remember, I said these were unspoken assumptions).

4. That your continued employment is uncertain, and no matter how hard you work, you're only employed at the whim of the Gods Among Men known as the Job Creators. These Gods are scary gods who must be placated with offerings, not enraged by regulations. If we try to regulate them they'll be angered, and they they'll just give your job to someone in China.

5. So you must both love and fear America's bosses and billionaires, as you would love and fear a stern, judgmental, demanding father--emotionally remote but the source of all earthly blessings at the same time.

6. That the only alternative to stifling, bureaucracy-gone-wild, forcing you to spend every day filling out forms, government agents everywhere throwing sand in the gears of Industry regulation is no regulation at all. This sounds like an extreme interpretation of Republican positions, and of course they'd repudiate this extremist position if asked. But that's the beauty of saying things that imply assumptions instead of stating them.

Meaning that you can't verify this point by asking Republicans. You can verify it from observing Republican behavior. Ask yourself how often you've heard Republicans speak in praise of particular government regulations vs. how often you've heard them angrily denouncing both particular regulations and the overall concept of government regulation.

The best way to figure out what someone means is to infer it from their behavior, not their claims per se. "By his works ye shall know him."


Here Republicans mix & match several rhetorical fallacies--Appeal to Authority, the Straw Man Argument, Emotional Appeal, and of course using unspoken assumptions which can't stand up to scrutiny but which are emotionally appealing.

The notion that government run wild endangers personal freedoms was proven abundantly by the Soviet Union's example, to mention just one. But the notion that unregulated business also endangers personal freedom has also been provent abundantly, and Dickens' England is again just one example.

And the notion that people with some kinds of power abuse it if they aren't checked, while people with other kinds of power don't is deeply ridiculous.

That the GOP advocates such a belief is by itself proof that this party serves its rich patrons first and foremost--what the rank & file want only gets noticed by the Party bosses if it doesn't cost those patrons anything beyond pocket change (for them), or if it's so important to the rank and file that the Party bosses can't get re-elected if they ignore it.

The Democrats also trade in unspoken assumptions. This fact doesn't let the GOP off the hook--and vice-versa.

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