I elsewhere speak of both Adam Smith and Karl Marx, who are often portrayed as opposites. Only, the latter deeply respected the former, writing of Smith’s vital role in ‘bourgeois revolution’ – a necessary intermediate stage on the road from feudalism and monarchic despotism to final-stage worker paradise.
Mind you, it’s a pity 99% of moderns know next to nothing about these two thinkers, beyond inaccurate clichés. (See: Adam Smith – Liberals must reclaim him.) Smith was brilliant, helping set in motion many of the positive sum processes I’ll speak of below.
Alas, though the younger Marx offered cogent insights into economics and historiography, he was an utter failure at predicting future events. Eventually, he became a quasi-religious figure, a tool of neo-feudal lords, who made him the iconic saint of a state religion, excusing murderous tyranny.
But his biggest mistake was assuming that human beings are too stupid to read Karl Marx! And thereupon draw lessons, taking actions that render his scenarios obsolete.
That’s exactly what FDR and others of the 30s thru 50s did, performing reforms that Marx never imagined possible, sharing significant power with the working classes and luring them into a prosperous middle class. Indeed, for a while there, our Rooseveltean Reforms seemed to toss Old Karl into the dustbin…
…till a new generation of oligarchist fools set to work obeying almost to the letter his predicted patterns of dimwitted, self-flattering greed, restoring vast disparities to French Revolution levels. Thus they have resurrected Marx, his books now fizzing again across all the world’s campuses and ghettos.
Elsewhere I talk about the worst of these would-be lords and their sycophant lackeys, the so-called neo-monarchists, who now openly call for a return to rule by ‘unitary executive” kings, claiming that “freedom and democracy are incompatible.”
At all levels and in all ways, they are the very best friends the Marxists ever had.
But here I want to talk about the vast majority of those on the right. Not the neo-monarchist extrema, but a far larger number whose core hypocrisy – continuing to claim fealty to free-enterprise – is easily exposed as two-faced pretense.
== What is the ‘C-Word’? ==
What chafes me about ‘capitalism’ ravings from all sides – from far right to far left – is how almost no one ever defines the term or shows even a clue of understanding its meaning or implications.
Worse, almost no one nowadays mentions the other c-word… competition. Even though – unlike ‘capitalism’ — we can actually agree (a bit) what competition means!
For one thing, it’s blatantly obvious from both evolution and history that humans are deeply competitive creatures.
(Those of you who denounce me for saying this; aren’t you thereby vigorously competing with me?)
…though the truth is diametric opposite!
Across the last 50 years, every measure or action that has lessened effective competition in the U.S. has been perpetrated by hypocrites of a sellout Republican Party — a cabal devoted to replacing flat-fair-open-creative competition with privileged oligarchy and monopoly.
In contrast, the Rooseveltean social contract – which Republicans strive to demolish – enhanced creative competition, including entrepreneurship, small business startups, inventiveness and the most vigorous era of new products and services, ever.
(I invite cash wagers on all of those assertions, which are overwhelmingly proved.)
Liberals did all that (if imperfectly) by:
– Using regulations to limit the power of mighty corporations and oligarchs to quash upstart competitors.
– Using tax policies to keep wealth disparities low enough so that – while getting-rich remained an incentive-allure for creative enterprise – the rich could not tower outrageously above us all, like lords. Or gods.
(Example: there was a time when you’d see a rich or famous person flying First Class, now and then. They mostly rode the same airplanes, sipping mimosas in seats only 2x as large as ours. Alas, no longer. And note that all modes of transportation decline when the rich abandon them.)
– Using tax laws to encourage R&D, productive capital and hiring workers, rather than Supply Side parasitism.
– Encouraging unions (who were vigorously anti-Leninist) so that the working class joined the middle class, a feat Karl Marx never expected and that tossed all his predictions into history’s dustbin. For a while.
– Creating a vast ecosystem of community colleges and universities that allowed many children of field hands and factory workers to transform into professionals and entrepreneurs.
– Liberal social programs and justice reforms that reduced the nasty, unjustified, though all-too human practice of prejudice. And thus (only partially, so far) achieving Adam Smith’s top recommendation to stop wasting talent! …
…Because, as Friedrich Hayek said (before the mad right perverted his memory), any competitive system will function best when it involves the largest number of knowledgeable, empowered, confident and eager competitors, unencumbered by insipid bigotries.
All of those endeavors – which define liberalism at its core – had great effects at many levels: fighting injustice, improving lives, preserving freedom – but with an added benefit that (alas) no democratic politician or liberal philosopher has had the savvy to explain…
…that all of those endeavors also enhanced flat-fair-creative competition! And hence our creative inventiveness.
(I exclude mutant-liberalism – the so-called far-left – whose arrogant demands to equalize outcomes, rather than opportunities is almost as jibbering loony as the entire-right’s devotion to restored feudalism.)
And that’s my capsule argument about the C-Word that is no longer spoken aloud by ‘conservative’ writers or pundits.
== C-Words … all words… merit scrutiny! ==
Alas, no liberal pundit or politician ever points to this hypocrisy, or that the Founders and the original Tea Party rebelled primarily against cheater oligarchy.
Moreover, anyone who actually reads Adam Smith knows that – were he alive today – Smith would be a flaming Democrat.
That hypocrisy – betraying and almost never even mentioning the most important c-word – competition – spans the entirety of today’s conservatism, with that one exception that I describe elsewhere…
…those neo-monarchists who thus have one virture… evading hypocrisy. They are totally open about their hatred of fair competition! They openly espouse completing the antipodal migration of conservatism, from once-upon-a-time extolling competition all the way to openly justifying its utter suppression.
From Adam Smith to Louis XIV.
Again, unlike every other kind of contemporary conservative, at least members of that extremum – while nauseatingly evil imbeciles – are no longer hypocrites! I’ll grant them that.
See my posting: The Return of Neomonarchy.