It was said of Rome, that she “laughed and died”. It will be said of us as well. But at least, from a certain point of view, it will be amusant. US politics has become a total farce.
Wikipedia (yes, I rely on Wiki!) defines “farce” as “a comedy ... which aims to entertain the audience by means of unlikely, extravagant and improbable situations, disguise and mistaken identity, verbal humour of varying degrees of sophistication, which may include sexual innuendo and word play, and a fast paced plot whose speed usually increases, culminating in an ending which often involves an elaborate chase scene. Farce is also characterized by physical humour, the use of deliberate absurdity or nonsense,....”
Lessee here.... the aspirants for Emperor have included a senator turned impersonator who runs on his record as tv prosecutor; a real-time prosecutor who runs away from his record as an adulterer, mafia pimp and real-time cross dresser; a kiddie bomber turned torture victim whose damaged psyche promises to keep the country embroiled in a 100 year war aimed at ferreting out a quasi mythological figure of evil; and lastly, a bible thumper and a Mormon Savant... Where, oh where is Moliere when we need him?
On the Demorat side we’ve had a crowd of mediocrities, the chief ones of which is a lacquered matrioshka doll whose revealed and uncovered political positions remain the same: progressively bigger versions of herself. While matrioshka jets around the country telling Arkansas, Iowa, Georgia, Florida, and Nevada how “thrilled” she is to “be here” (Hi there!!!) she is trailed by her bully boy hubbie who has given off intoning lachrymose renditions of Amazing Grace in favor of negro-bating and snarling “you, get out of here” to questioners at public meetings.
This duo is followed by another -- for Tintin buffs, the American version of Thompson and Thomson (Dupond et Dupont) -- a black man peddling “change” trailed by a white suthner’ peddlin’ “hope”. Were they to run on a ticket, the platform would undoubtedly be: It’s Time for a Change Hope is on the Way. By all accounts, prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary has a better record of effective relief.
To be effective, every farce needs just a hint of reality missed, which in this case is provided by a reactionary who wants to return to the statu quo ante 1812 and a jug eared dwarf married to a towering stunner, who wants to move the country forward (while, perhaps, communicating with alternative life forms from outer space).
If tragedy can be enveloped within farce it lies in the fact that contradictions like Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich represent what paradoxically enough needs to be done. The United States, needs to return to its constitutional foundations, reviving its spirit of laissez-aller, while at the same renouncing laissez faire and moving forward toward social-democracy.
For those not blessed with French, the two laissez’s are not the same. The first refers to a spirit of live-and-let live and to a concept of the State that does not look too hard at individuals, does not probe into their lives and respects their privacy even if it leads to some minor social deviances and sloppiness around the edges. In every day American life, this spirit once led to an easiness not found anywhere else in the world. You could get a drivers license simply by passing a test and telling the clerk who you were. You could get into the country simply by knowing where the Orioles came from and you were a shoe-in, if you said that you had gone to Grover Cleveland High... because God knows only Americans could come up with something like that. Juridically, this concept of laissez aller was enshrined in the first four articles of the Bill of Rights and, most practically, in the Fourth Amendment. As Burke put it, howsoever drafty and humble the abode, “all the Kings horse and all the King’s men dare not cross the threshold!”
But there is a difference betting “letting him be” and “letting them do”. The line may be imprecise and shiftable, since all being involves some doing and all doing involves some being. But basically, we all know what it looks like when some asshole is going on a rampage that doesn’t do the public much good. Incredibly enough laissez faire became the prevailing political philosophy --at least the "resounding cymbal -- of the 19th century. This doctrine of irresponsibility (for that is what is at issue) took hold precisely on account of a confusion and equivocation between individual aller and corporate faire. This confusion lives on today, in such absurd notions as “our family budget is just a smaller version of GM’s”. Well... it’s true, both use math... but that really isn’t the point.
From this equivocation, a further petard sprung up; namely, the propaganda that pursuit of private interests promotes social good: “What’s good for me, is good for you, Jack; have faith.” This notion was no more than a perversion of altruism. It is one thing to say, as the ancient Romans did by way of greeting, si vales valeo (if you are well, I am well); it is a moral distortion to invert the greeting into si valeo, vales.
Nevertheless, this perversion became the foundation stone of capitalist ideology. It had a false and seeming corroboration so long as the irresponsible party was wasteful enough to leave juicy scraps all about making it appear that the proposition was true. But it was “true” only so long as there could be an abundance of waste... waste that inevitably some poor, oppressed peon in one of them inferior undeveloped countries paid for with sweat and a ruined life devoid of anything but underpaid labour.
Most of the world gave up on this nonsense by 1880. By then, even Bismarck caught on which is why he coopted huge chunks of the socialist platform from Ferdinand Lasalle. Historically viewed fascism is the progression past capitalism. From the Communist perspective, it was “capitalism in its last stages” From the fascist perspective it was “the first stage of the post-capitalist “third way”). To put it very simply (in what is after all an essay on farce), the argument between the two sides was over intent and purpose but neither side disputed the structural character of a "regulated economy". Only the imbeciles and morons in post-war/pee-cee political science departments could elaborate the manichean fairy tale that has become the accepted view of “fascism”.
The difference between what the French called the "radical right" and social democracy was simply the degree of laissez aller that each was willing to allow. Both philosophies accepted private enterprise as an engine of production. Both put limits on laissez-faire. Both fascism and social democracy regulated capitalism to insure that it behaved more or less responsibly. The difference basically boiled down to tolerance. Historically, speaking the European fascist movements encompassed racial, religious, cultural and geo-political aims in addition to the central socio-economic one; and this endeavor to “regulate” these other issues is what gave fascism its totalitarian taint.
To give a simple and minimally controversial example, fascist programs to get rid of “degenerate art” and to “restore decency” to culture were in fact an unnecessary side issue to the underlying restructuring of political-economy. Communism also embarked on these side dish crusades, and this coincidence on irrelevancies has led bimbos in America to argue that communism and fascism were “the same”. They were not.
Under FDR, the United States too became a fascist country. Anyone who does not understand that should start up his or her own campaign for president. The underlying proposition of the so-called New Deal was that the “the economy needed to be regulated”. Duh. And so fifty years after Bismarck, the ever avant garde United States came up with a rudimentary social security program.
In some ways, US fascism was the worst of the lot. There is no question that its main target was to protect and promote capitalism. Roosevelt made this very clear in a speech to preppies in which he avowed his love of bacon, eggs and the “capitalistic system.” Whereas, in European countries fascism was avowedly undertaken for the good of “the State” the “Das Volk” the La Nación Una y Grande... in the US it was undertaken to salvage “the system” i.e. capitalism. It was a subtle but important distinction.
Leftist orthodoxy would have it that fascism was just a razzle-dazzle capitalist "trick" on labor. In my view, that is an incorrect oversimplification which overlooks the contradictions inherent in any attempted synthesis of opposites. Bismarck's trenchant remark about assuming responsibility for the "welfare" of the "labour soldier" bespoke the dualism involved.
Under the European fascist model, state intervention in the economy was avowedly undertaken for the direct benefit of ordinary people and in some not insignificant respects this was in fact the case. The underlying notion was that business owed and the worker had a social right to a certain standard of living. Under the Rooseveltian model, intervention was undertaken for the direct benefit of the “business community,” and "the flow of interstate commerce" in the belief that that would indirectly benefit the public in general. In other words, the Rooseveltian model did not depart one iota from the trickle down theory. For that reason, and with good reason, some commentators have called it National Capitalism.
The virtue of American Fascism Lite was that whatever it did to regulate the faire of the matter, it left largely unregulated, the aller of life. The cruel irony is that since the 1960’s , America’s pursuit of multi-cultural, multi gender, political correctness has ended up making it more fascistic by attempting a totalist management of culture and social mores while leaving an essentially 19th century political economy intact.
A comparison between the United States and Germany is once again illustrative. No one can doubt that the current regime in Germany is anti-Nazi. But to be “anti-Nazi” can also simply be to be Nazi in reverse. The facts bear this out. The German government today criminalizes and sends people to jail for invoking illicit symbols, illegal ideas, impermissible beliefs. Just as Goebbels tried to purge the German language of “non-Germanic” words (mandating haarschneider versus friseur) so today German wort-leiters are purging the language of words that have “unsavory” connotations such as “degenerate” and “lager”. Why? Well, because Nazis used them.
Of course, this “culture management” is totalitarian in the truest and worst way. But, in Germany, it takes place on top of a system that actually does protect and deliver social benefits to ordinary people. The fascio/social democratic economic foundation remains in place. In the United States there is no foundation to speak of. What little there was has been pulverized by the Reagan - Bush - Clinton - Bush regimes. What we are left with is political and cultural fascism without even the economic benefits -- in other words Police State Capitalism.
This then, in summary form, is the situation in its historical context. Once the context is grasped correctly and shorn of the digressive nonsense and ignorance that passes for American political criticism, it can be seen how and why the Ron and Dennis Show embodied the pathetic contradictions of our current in extremis.
Ron Paul is completely correct in advocating a political return to constitutional laissez aller. But he is completely wrong in thinking that this can be accomplished without regulating the corporate beast. In fact, the corporate beast did not exist in 1789, and cannot under any stretch of sophistry be brought within any libertarian framework of an “original intent”.
Similarly, Dennis Kucinich is completely correct in his advocacy of social welfare and environmental protection programs. But he is equally wrong to the extent that he promotes the jumbalaya of political correctness. Nothing has brought the putative “left” into more contempt in the public’s mind than its essentially fascistic drum beating on cultural and personal issues.
At this juncture in history, the only way out of the morass is to pull these contradictory poles into synthesis. The corporate mechanism will not be abolished in our lifetimes, but it can and should be brought under strict regulation directly for the public good. Society must emphatically reject the idea that humans, wildlife and God’s creation exist for the plunder and profit of corporations and an excrescent plutocratic elite. In tandem it must be recognized that the private sector has no role in certain public endeavors, such as health care. This synthesis, forms the structure of the so-called the “mixed economies” -- which entailed laissez faire at primitive economic levels, fascistic regulation in the middle, and outright socialistic control of certain national resources and enterprises. Broadly speaking this was the “state-socialism / social-democratic” system adopted in Europe in the late 19th and 20th centuries. It needs to be adopted in the United States.
A move to such a system is not a simple flip of the coin. Individualist libertarianism and state-socialism are, after all, opposites. The "move" becomes a question of adulterations. For example, in pure Madisonian liberalism, the state has no business knowing if you have hemmorhoids whereas in a system where the state provides health care the question shifts to limits on what can be done with that information. There would be plenty of practical issues to argue over were US social policies to undertake a move into the late 19th century.
Rather than debating such pragmatic and structural questions, the farce that passes for “democracy” in the United States makes Carnival in Rio look like a sober academic discussion. Of course, this farce could not more delight the putrescent scum that control the US media, which fills the airwaves and, thus the empty space in millions of crania, with total nonsense and absurdities. In fact, they have done such a good job in hollowing out what passes for the American brain, that The People themselves DEMAND NONSENSE.
For decades, true political questions and discourse have been dragged through muck and mud of racio-gender-faith issues to the detriment of any serious political or economic thought. It is not that any one of these “issues” is not important to the interested persons or groups, it is rather that, in the scheme things, they are not issues that relate to the whole. Although they have filled the national airwaves they are not truly national issues.... unless, of course, one suffers from Bentham’s Dementia.
Thus considered, the faux left is equally as idiotic as the neo Christian right and between the two of them they have shredded politics to fragmented tatters. And when that gets old there is always the tested standby of racism wrapped in righteousness, which in today's incarnation is blaming Mexican "illegals" for our self-inflicted woes. All of this suits our true rulers who would have us all chase after bugaboos forever rather than come anywhere close to the word “class”.
As a result, the farce will continue. Energy and vapour will be expended in copious amounts on such stupidities as Hillary the Woman versus Obama the Black, when any damn fool can see that neither is either. Pundits will punditize on whether “Hope” is more of an appealing political (sic) issue than “Bringing America Home” or “Fighting Terrorism Wherever it Takes Us” or “Putting the God back into the Budget.”
In the end, no one will shed tears for us, anymore than they shed tears for the enervated and degenerate Romans. Hilarity will reign until the concluding mad “chase scene” when the US economy falls on all concerned, and the Rulers of the World are left bereft, standing next to their rusting SUVs and squabbling over turnips.
Ridet et moritur.