Monthly Archives: February 2010

Left-right unity

Over at the Nation, Christopher Hayes has a good piece identifying what’s going wrong in the country:

There’s a word for a governing philosophy that fuses the power of government and large corporations as a means of providing services and keeping the wheels of industry greased, and it’s a word that has begun to pop up among critics of everything from the TARP bailout to healthcare to cap and trade: corporatism. Since corporatism often merges the worst parts of Big Government and Big Business, it’s an ideal target for both the left and right. The ultimate corporatist moment, the bailout, was initially voted down in the House by an odd-bedfellows coalition of Progressive Caucus members and right-wingers. 

I’ve noticed this, as well.  Many commentators and voters seem to be objecting to the same things, and as Hayes writes, some leading progressive and right libertarian writers and activists have been calling for some sort of political alliance.  But it’s hard to see this coming to pass, based on the sources of the two side’s outrage:

I don’t think that coalition is going to emerge in any meaningful form. The right’s anger is born largely of identity-based alienation, a fear of socialism (whatever that means nowadays) and an age-old Bircher suspicion that “they” are trying to screw “us.” Even in its most sophisticated forms, such as in Carney’s Obamanomics, the basic right-wing argument against corporatism embraces a kind of fatalism about government that assumes it will always devolve into a rat’s nest of rent seekers and cronies and therefore should be kept as small as possible. 

Basically, conservatives and libertarians hate government.  Period.  They see it as an irredeemable institution.  And they hate taxes.  Period.  Taxes are theft.  It’s hard to see how these two sides can come to an agreement.

Still, I think this is valuable to explore.  While in general the right hates government and taxes, I think many who currently identify as conservatives could be persuaded otherwise.  I have this saying, “Many people are liberals.  They just don’t know it.” 

Hayes has more:

(T)he corporatism on display in Washington is itself a symptom of a broader social illness that I noted above, a democracy that is pitched precariously on the tipping point of oligarchy. In an oligarchy, the only way to get change is to convince the oligarchs that it is in their interest–and increasingly, that’s the only kind of change we can get. 

 That argument could be starting point.  Sadly, paying off the oligarchs has been the story of the last year.  And it appears our Master of the Universe are still weighing in.