10/31/2005

Daily Kos: The Great Remaking

The Great Remaking
by Stirling Newberry [Subscribe]
Mon Oct 31, 2005 at 07:15:51 AM CDT

They are at it again. You know who I mean, the people who thought that 2000 was a "tie election" and that now that Bush is in trouble he needs to be nice to them, the moderates and sensible people. This isn't going to happen. Instead what is going to happen is more inflationary pressure and Bush is going to go back to his base, betting that the Democratic Party will round heel once more.

[The Background to this article is The Fourth Republic.]

* Stirling Newberry's diary :: ::
*

George Bush represetnts an impulse among one of the groups of elites of America to remake America in their own image. This impulse is to create a top down society, run by economic elites, supported by a wall of true believing retainers, and one where the rest of us grind along making enough to keep us from getting too unhappy, And if we do get too unhappy, then fear can be used to keep us in line.

What old line academic, media and other technocratic elites - the people who ran the Liberal Democracy - don't realize is that this impulse to remake society extends even to those who seem more reasonable. They see Bush as incompetent or bumbling. He is bumbling, but he is, like many would be remakers of society, relentless in his pursuit of the cause. His recent troubles stem both from his own incompetence, and from a wavering belief in the other people who want to remake the society that he is useful to that project. The first year of his second term has been one failure after another.

The appointments of Alito and Bernanke are intended to get the remaking back on track. In the world view of Bush and those like him, this decade represents the 1930's, a time of such profound crisis in the old order, that a new order can be imposed, even if it is not effective at first. As far as they are concerned Bush is the reactionary FDR.

The basic paradigm of technocrats, even ones who should know better, is that George Bush is incompetent at handling the delicate mechanisms of power built up over a century and a quarter since the Federal government and society came to be bureaucracy's, that is rule from the office. In their view, eventually the unravelling nature of his incompetence would eventually force their return to power, as Bush would be forced to accept their advice as all other holders of power had been forced to do so in the past. In essence, all they needed to do was to wait him out. There are some that are angrier with him than others, and feel that more active opposition to his incompetence was needed, but fundamentally, sooner or later, there would be a "problem" and they would be asked to do what they had done for all of the decades since 1933 - find a way to manipulate the rules, numbers and forms of society so as to solve that problem.

This is why there is tremendous praise for Bernanke - the court system of flattering colleagues in hopes they will listen to you later is back in place, as is the confusion of formal skill with ideological acceptance of the technocratic order. The contrary is the case, the reactionary revolution depends on people who were successful technocrats, but who hate the technocracy and want it replaced with something else.

Bernanke is part of the paradigm that says that the Great Depression was made worse by the New Deal, and that if the old Hoover Administration had simply understood monetary policy better, it would never have been necessary to have FDR. FDR's New Deal represented, not a saving of America, but a shock that slowed down a neo-classically predictable recovery. Bernanke's important work is in how to make monetary policy solely a servant of propping up a reactionary order, without giving it any ability to act in any other case. He believes in inflation targetting, ultra-modelling of the economy, and the theory that if only the Fed had "run the printing presses" from 1928-1932, there would have been no Great Depresssion.

These views are ahistorical, the neo-classical economy's requirements weren't in place until after World War II, and the government has, in the present, a huge stabilizing role. In one sense the technocrats are right, the old order could be maintained with effort and intelligence, however, Bush represents, not an extreme deviation from it, but a concerted and deliberate attempt to break it.

::

One of the keys is economic, to the techocrats - for example, Dr. Paul Krugman and Stanley Roach - the current account deficit, budget deficit and spiralling trade deficit represent a weakness. To Bush and his ilk, it represents a strength. The rest of the world will go out of their way to allow him to do what he wants, and will prop him up, because otherwise the US will topple, and with it their store of wealth. The US owes the world trillions, and if it were to collapse, all of that debt would be very hard to collect on.

Hence, Bush will continue to press, and after him the next reactionary will, until the old order tips over. In their view there are a few key points that have to be taken. One is getting a firm 5 votes on the Supreme Court to overturn the New Deal. We forget that the key elements New Deal was originally declared unconstitutional, and that the far right still believes it is. Their idea is right wing socialism - a big military budget to support corporate feudalism, but otherwise the government has its hands tied. The second part is social security. Social Security is what prevents the government from just being able to inflate its way out of problems, because Social Security is tied to the inflation rate. If the government inflates, it shows up as a Social Security "crisis".

Alito is clearly intended for the first of these tasks, he is in the mold of Clarence Thomas, itching to overturn the evils of Liberalism. Bernanke is the key to the second, by continuing to follow an inflationist path - an inflation that is localized to groups that Bush is one of, namely energy companies - he incrementally will raise pressure on Social Security.

What will make this ultimately fall apart is not some crisis where the technocrats will be brought back into fix it. Neither Bush, nor any of his successors will, now or ever, backtrack. Intsead, each crisis will come with a demand for even more power. What they are betting on is that America will simply move to the next blank slate conservative hoping that this time borrow and squander will work differently than it has in the past.

Daily Kos: The Great Remaking

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