The More Things "Change"...
As we stand on the eve of our every-four-year national two-week circus, which, truthfully, I will watch with popcorn and soda at arm's length (hey, I'm already watching the Obama-Biden sideshow today!), I am utterly amazed at how enthusiastic some political commentators have been over the upcoming Democratic and Republican Presidential nominating conventions. The coronation of Barack Obama and John McCain as their respective party nominees will give us a spirited debate about ... nothing. That is nothing fundamental. We've heard a lot about "change" over the past year, but in reality, there is nothing that either major party will do to "change" anything about our current political-economic system.
I was looking back over a few older posts of mine, and decided that it would be an entertaining task to re-post some of that material here, with a few "changes" of my own. Back on November 1, 2004, I posted an entry on the "Liberty & Power Group Blog," entitled "A Vote for Nobody Because It Won't Matter." Let's see how some of the changes look:
For the first time in my life, however, I'm profoundly unenthused and/or fully disgusted by the choices. I have voted for major party candidates in previous elections, and am not opposed to it in principle. And I have also voted for the Libertarian Party candidates, at times, just to register my protest, but the Two-Party system is so entrenched that the prospect of even a symbolic third-party challenge is virtually nil. In any event, after reading [about] ... the LP convention ... , I just get the shivers seeing so many libertarians acting like politicians.
I must confess that my mind shifts among various levels of perversity: A part of me feels that [John McCain should] ... be [elected], only because his administration [would be an extension of the Bush years] and ... [the GOP still] ought to stick around and be held fully accountable for the disastrous policies they've instituted, though clearly we will all be paying the price for that. ...
On the other hand, if [Obama] wins, I am not at all hopeful. U.S. policies [abroad] have now been institutionalized. [Obama] gives no indication that he will change anything fundamentally, except, perhaps, his views, depending on which way the political wind blows.
Here in New York, of course, a Blue State by Definition that [Obama] will carry, my vote won't count one way or the other. I will go into the voting booth, vote defensively on a few local races and on various bond issues, and proudly walk out without having cast a single vote for President. As the old adage goes: It only encourages them.
Here's a bit more. How about this entry from November 5, 2004: "A Pox on Both Their Houses." Again, I'll just make a few modifications:
Since I now have a little track record for my soothsaying, I'll make another prediction, though this one is a lot easier: The Democrats will never present any radical alternative to the GOP. And those who think it possible are deluding themselves. ...
Nobody is going to get rid of FDR's "legacy," because it is now part of the American Third Way, one that repudiates both capitalism and socialism, while finding more "efficient" ways to deliver welfare programs. Let's not forget that this President [George W. Bush] has presided over the most expansive extension of Medicare since the days of Lyndon Baines Johnson. In fact, Bush has a lot in common with LBJ: ... he has endorsed all the "conventional Democratic planks: an expanding welfare state, budget deficits, and a war abroad." And let's not forget that the Democrats ... lined up like ducks on a lake to give this President the authority to go to war in Iraq. Democratic duplicity or, worse, self-delusion, is everywhere.
Gone is fiscal conservatism. Gone is opposition to the welfare state. Gone is any opposition to the warfare state, which was so much a part of the Old Right (like that Grand Old Republican, Robert Taft). ... Boy, American politics is God-awful, isn't it? ... [Yes,] even Bill Clinton declared famously "that 'the era of big government is over.'" Alas, it's not over. What is over, however, is the illusion of the limited-government Republican. George W. Bush has succeeded, partially, because he is a Big Government Conservative. [And so is John McCain.] ... One might say that the GOP success owes something to the ability of that party to absorb, rather than to repudiate, the legacy of Wilson, FDR, and LBJ. ...
[Democratic and Republican] positions start to morph into one another, and nobody, nobody on either side of this divide is repudiating Big Government. In the end, with both parties having mastered various forms of pragmatic moral appeasement, each remains a full-fledged defender of the activist state. Their constituencies may differ, their rhetorical emphases may shift, but neither party is questioning the fundamental premises upon which this politico-economic system is based. And neither will present the kind of bold, secular alternative upon which freedom might flourish.
Oh... for those who think that some of the above doesn't apply to Obama because he "opposed" the Iraq war... well, okay. He actually never voted on it one way or the other because he wasn't in the Senate at the time, but even if he had voted against the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, he has shown absolutely no desire to move against the core of U.S. foreign policy. He will not change the structure of U.S. foreign policy or the interests that drive it; he will not change the system that contextualizes virtually every political and economic decision made by Democratic and Republican administrations alike. A promise to shift or "redeploy" some of the resources (human resources) within that system is not an attack on the system as such.
For those who need to be reminded about the essence of that system, let me reiterate another old post, this one from February 4, 2005, "'Capitalism': The Known Reality":
U.S. capitalism as such is ... "crony capitalism" or ... the "New Fascism": the intimate involvement of the U.S. government in the protection of business interests at home and abroad through politico-economic and military intervention. ... [This] is what exists and it is what has existed, in an ever-increasingly intense form, from the very inception of modern "capitalism." Indeed, one of the most insidious forms of state intervention has been in the area of money, banking, and finance. And if Austrian economists are correct that the boom-bust cycle itself is rooted in the state-banking nexus, then that nexus and its destabilizing effects have been around in various incarnations ever since "capitalism" was given its name.
Whether we call it "crony capitalism," "political capitalism," neomercantilism, or neofascism, or "liberal" corporatism, the reality is the same: an evolved and sophisticated organic unity of warfare state and welfare state in which each aspect mutually reinforces the other.
I will have more to say about all this in the coming weeks and months... but for now, I just wanted to put a few things on record. If ever another old adage were true, it is this: The more things "change," the more they stay the same.
Mentioned at L&P.