Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Republican War on Christmas

Over on DailyKos, GreenMother posted How to Think Ahead, or: What the GOP is really asking for, following to its logical conclusions the inevitable result of Republican policies and the GOP's recent actions.
....we hit the debt ceiling. 22 million veterans fail to receive their retirement checks and their disability compensation. Millions fail to receive their Social Security. Thousands of government workers are now furloughed indefinitely and the stocks crash. Basically the GOP wants to take us through the insanity that occurred in Greece and Spain....

You see the GOP can't think ahead at all, not in terms of steps nor in terms of time, so that they cannot conceive that when they punish what they consider the mooching poor--which would be the indigent, the military retirees, the disabled veteran, the disabled citizen, the surviving spouse or children, and the elderly--that somehow all these individual punishments (deprivation of money) happens in a vacuum.

....With elderly relatives that might be receiving retirement, SSI and Disability payments--which is entirely possible, along with annuity payments for loved ones that gave the ultimate sacrifice--ALL THAT MONEY JUST DISAPPEARS.

It doesn't just disappear from our hands, it disappears from our local economies. Suddenly money that pays for utilities, groceries, prescription drugs, pet food or service animal food, for school lunches or college books and tuition is just gone.

....With the increased strain on the economy, the low confidence in it by investors, a new round of lay offs starts up, right around Thanksgiving. Millions of people simply have nothing to fall back on at all. Their retirements are gone, their disability is gone, everything is simply gone. This reduces the need for goods and services because who has money to buy diddley shit during times like that?

....So what happens to ...the normal Christmas holiday season[?] ...Who can buy gifts when everyone is so concerned with food and heating their homes, if they still have homes?
GreenMother goes much farther than just the approaching holiday season, to the likely outbreak of social unrest "when the GOP turns America into a writhing cesspool of desperate hungry, homeless citizens." It's not a pretty picture - but is is the picture that history has presented to us, over and over again, when societies descend into oligarchy and the privileged and the powerful are allowed to insulate themselves from the realities of the common person.

Which brings us to the underlying nature of the battle between liberalism and conservatism, and how conservatism enables oligarchy, then tyranny. Ian Welsh a few months ago offered a compelling summary of this issue, in The Logic of the Surveillance State.
....Liberalism, in its classic form, is, among other things, the proposition that you get more out of people if you treat them well.  Conservatism is the proposition that you get more out of people if you treat them badly.

Post war Liberalism was a giant experiment in “treat people well”.  The Reagan/Thatcher counter-revolution was a giant experiment in “treat people worse”.  The empirical result is this: the rich are richer and more powerful in a society that treats people like shit, but a society which treats people well has a stronger economy, all other things being equal, than one that treats them badly.  This was, also, the result of the USSR/West competition....

If you want despotism, as elites, if you want to treat everyone badly, so you personally become more powerful and rich, then, you’ve got two problems: an internal one (revolt) and an external one: war and being outcompeted by other nations elites, who will come and take away your power....

The solution is a transnational elite, in broad agreement on the issues, who do not believe in nationalism, and who play by the same rules and ideology. If you’re all the same, if nations are just flags, if you feel more kinship for your fellow oligarchs, well then, you’re safe.

That leaves the internal problem, of revolt.  The worse you treat people, the more you’re scared of them.  The more you clamp down.  This is really, really expensive and it breaks down over generations, causing internal rot, till you can’t get the system to do anything, no matter how many levers you push.

What is being run right now is a vast experiment to see if modern technology has fixed these problems with surveillance and oppressive states.  Is it cheap enough to go full Stasi, and with that level of surveillance can you keep control over the economy, keep the levers working, make people do what you want, and not all slack off and resist passively, by only going through the motions?
So, the possible future pointed to in GreenMother's diary has huge ramifications we best not ignore, but in the meantime, I think it might by useful - and, yes, a bit fun - to sway public opinion by throwing back at Republicans and conservatives the charge that they are conducting a War on Christmas.

No comments:

Post a Comment