Political Scapegoating

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Scapegoating
is a favorite pastime of politicians and pundits: laying blame on
one’s political opponents. You can tell which group is in charge
by a careful study of the official scapegoats.

Depending
on what the nation’s textbooks say was the great evil of the scapegoats,
it is possible to identify which freedoms we were about to lose
when the textbooks were written. Because that’s what the modern
messianic State does: reduces freedoms. The only question is this:

"Which
ones?" Different political groups prefer to take away different
liberties. Whenever they act in a bi-partisan fashion, this means
that the parties’ leaders have agreed to eliminate the same group
of liberties.

[You
probably don't know this, but college libraries do not shelve
old textbooks. Textbooks change too often, librarians tell us.
Textbooks take up valuable shelf space. They are not considered
academically relevant, once new editions appear. Therefore, it
is close to impossible to trace the history of textbooks' opinions.
But, we are assured by Reputable Sources, that Orwell's Memory
Hole was fiction.]

The
Democrats have a big problem today. They can’t be perceived as not
backing Bush’s War on Terrorism, even though it obviously isn’t
working. No one points out that there is no way to stop suicidal
terrorism. When it takes place in the United States, it is called
something else whenever possible. This is why the Egyptian murderer
at the L.A. airport has not been identified officially as a terrorist.
The FBI actually said that they were not sure about the man’s motive.
"Egyptian immigrant kills Jews in line at El Al Airlines on
the Fourth of July." Now, what might be his motive? It’s so
hard to work for today’s FBI. Journalists ask such tough questions.

I
had spoken with my father three days before it happened. He is a
retired FBI agent. I asked him, "How can the FBI penetrate
these groups?" Tough question. Easy answer: "They can’t."

Meanwhile,
nobody but nobody in the liberal media dares to mention the obvious:
the terrorist was killed within seconds by armed Israelis. Why is
this topic taboo? Because the only non-domestic law enforcement
agents who are allowed to carry guns in American airports are the
security forces of El Al Airlines, a foreign airline. When it comes
to protecting the lives of Jews, the liberal media forget all about
gun control. (All I want is equality: the right to keep and bear
arms, without restrictions in terms of race, color, or creed.)

Tell
me: Did you see any liberal pundit who argued along these lines?
"El Al’s swift response to a terrorist who was armed with guns
and several magazines of ammunition shows why airlines should make
sure that their security forces are allowed to carry guns."
Somehow, I missed it.

When
a government program doesn’t work, what is the response of the government?
Spend more money in the same old way. Give more money to the bureaucracies
that have not solved the problem yet. So, we see bi-partisan support
for Homeland Security. On where this is leading, step by step, my
recommendation in that you go see "Minority Report." It’s
almost prophetic. Philip K. Dick was a great sci-fi writer, and
a continuing theme in his stories was the surrender of liberty.
Do
Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
became "Blade
Runner
."

So,
the Democrats are keeping hands off when it comes to Bush’s identification
of foreign scapegoats, who are still armed and dangerous. What Dems
are ready to do is to find other scapegoats: big business. The new
scapegoatery will be classified as "Enron." Yes, these
companies handed out money to political action committees in both
parties, but they got caught on Bush’s watch. This is why Dems will
campaign this fall against The Party of Greed. They will return
to their constituents with the familiar slogans — slogans that
didn’t work when the stock market was going up.

FOREIGN
AFFAIRS

In
foreign affairs, there is no permanent political scapegoating. This
is because allies and enemies must be allowed to shift. This strategy
takes advantage of a salutary American trait: We don’t hold grudges,
especially when they interfere with business. This is a combination
of Christian charity — "forgive us our debts, as we forgive
our debtors" (what the Greek text says) — and American
capitalism. If you think I’m exaggerating, think about Americans
banks’ readiness to loan money to Latin American nations that declare
bankruptcy and stiff us every decade or two, and have since about
1830. "Forgive us our debts" is the litany of Latin American
governments. (Brazil will be the next one.)

It
is part of the American political tradition — and the Canadian
— to avoid scapegoating our military enemies after the war
ends. Canadians began this tradition. They never sought revenge
against the invader that kept trying to conquer Canada: the United
States. (We tried more than once, whenever England tried to invade
us. The Canadians-British beat us both times, which our textbooks
rarely mention.) We, in turn, rarely hold national grudges. "The
Star Spangled Banner" was composed in the War of 1812. The
banner that was still waving had been under attack by the British.

As
for the Germans (twice) and the Japanese, these countries and peoples
are now our allies and trading partners. We aren’t cozy with Vietnam,
which defeated us, but I am aware of no articulate movement that
seeks to get even. When it comes to war, Americans’ attitude is,
"Let bygones be bygones." This is prelude to the archetypal
American slogan, "Let’s make a deal."

But,
to get into this forgive-and-forget status, there must be closure.
Iraq never got into this status. I visited CNN’s site on Saturday.
There was one of those polls that large-circulation Websites love
to run. The question was: "Should the United States use military
force in Iraq?" Two-thirds said "yes," and there
were about 100,000 participants — large.

Yet
what has Iraq done to us? Nothing. It invaded Kuwait a few days
after April Glaspie, America’s Ambassador to Iraq, assured Saddam
Hussein that the United States had no interest in, or interests
in, Kuwait. On July 25, eight days before Iraq invaded Kuwait, this
exchange took place between Mrs. Glaspie and Saddam Hussein. The
transcript was provided by Iraq to the New York Times, which
published it (Sept 22, 1990). The State Department made no comment.

GLASPIE:
We have many Americans who would like to see the price go above
$25 because they come from oil-producing states.

HUSSEIN:
The price at one stage had dropped to $12 a barrel and a reduction
in the modest Iraqi budget of $6 billion to $7 billion is a disaster.

GLASPIE:
I think I understand this. I have lived here for years. I admire
your extraordinary efforts to rebuild your country. I know you
need funds. We understand that and our opinion is that you should
have the opportunity to rebuild your country. But we have no opinion
on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with
Kuwait.

I
was in the American Embassy in Kuwait during the late 60′s. The
instruction we had during this period was that we should express
no opinion on this issue and that the issue is not associated
with America. James Baker has directed our official spokesmen
to emphasize this instruction. We hope you can solve this problem
using any suitable methods via Klibi or via President Mubarak.
All that we hope is that these issues are solved quickly. With
regard to all of this, can I ask you to see how the issue appears
to us?

http://www.psych.upenn.edu/~fjgil/transcript.html

(Click
through for the complete transcript, plus an analysis by a psychology
professor of the State Department’s silence as evidence confirming
the accuracy of the transcript.)

A
former Wall Street Journal reporter, Jonathan Kwitney, wrote
a book 18 years ago with the provocative title, Endless Enemies:
The Making Of An Unfriendly World. He argued that American foreign
policy since World War II has been one long effort to extend American
power, which creates new enemies. American voters are then willing
to accept American intervention abroad.

In
early 1990, Iran was bad. Iraq was good. We sent agricultural aid
money to Iraq until late July, 1990. Then, overnight, Iraq was bad,
and Iran went off the public’s radar screen. We went to war with
Iraq.

When
George Orwell wrote Nineteen
Eighty-Four
in 1948, he described the endless shifting of
foreign enemies. This was a tactic used by the government to focus
public hatred abroad. The practice works. It works in part because
Americans don’t hold grudges. They are willing to shift their hatred
here and there, depending on the latest government list of proscribed
enemies. There is a long list, and the players keep changing. Russia
is now our ally against terrorism. So is Communist China. So, where
do the terrorists buy their weapons? It’s a mystery.

ECONOMIC
AFFAIRS

Here,
unlike foreign policy, Americans retain scapegoats in their permanent
hate lists.

In
the 1920′s, the stock market boom made heroes out of American capitalists.
The Democrats ran two men for President who were both officially
pro-capitalist: the Wall Street lawyer and Insider John W. Davis
(1924) and Al Smith, the Governor of New York (1928). Nobody had
a bad word to say against capitalism when the stock market was rising.

The
great reversal of opinion came in 1930-40. President Roosevelt announced
the new Party Line in his famous 1933 Inaugural Address. It contained
this famous phrase:

So,
first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing
we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified
terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into
advance.

That
was great rhetoric, and it was a deliberate lie. On January 30,
Hitler had been appointed Chancellor of Germany by the aging Hindenburg.
(Hitler was not elected, for the Nazis had not gained a majority.)
The day after Roosevelt’s Inaugural Address, Hindenburg gave Hitler
emergency powers. Over here, at least 25% of the American population
was out of work. At least 6,000 banks had failed, taking with them
the savings of millions of Americans, but leaving their debts intact
at the 1929 price level, which had been 30% higher. There was plenty
to be scared about, not the least of which was the imminent loss
of Americans’ right to own gold, and the loss of many other freedoms.

The
Inaugural identified scapegoats. Once identified, the voters could
be called on to do battle with these enemies. From that day until
the Reagan boom, the public was told to distrust businessmen. The
history textbooks from 1940 onward repeated the litany, "Roosevelt
saved capitalism from itself."

When
a President calls on us to identify the incarnate enemies, voters
should get ready to hide their wallets.

This
speech is not read much any more. Forgive me for reverting to my
old training to become a history professor, which never came to
pass. As you read the following words, consider what happens to
people’s willingness to resist the destructions of their liberties
in a time of crisis.

Roosevelt
used messianic language that compared bankers with money changers
— and everyone back then knew who had driven the money changers
out of the Temple!

Plenty
is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the
very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers
of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their
own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their
failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers
stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the
hearts and minds of men.

The
money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of
our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient
truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which
we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

The
bankers were the new bad guys. This, you understand, was two decades
after Woodrow Wilson had signed the Federal Reserve Act, which had
established a central bank that would see to it that the nation
would have stable money and safe banking. Then, as with every government
cartel, the beneficiaries blew it. They failed in their official
task: stable purchasing power and economic growth. Prices were falling,
and the economy had collapsed. As free market economist Ludwig von
Mises always argued, the results of government intervention are
the opposite of the official justification for the original intervention.

[The
best book on the FED's mismanagement is Murray Rothbard's 1963
book, America's
Great Depression
, published by Van Nostrand, a publisher
located in Princeton, New Jersey. In that same year, Princeton
University Press published a book by Milton Friedman and Anna
Schwartz, A
Monetary History Of The United States
, which offered a
similar thesis. The second book received the rave reviews because
it taught that the FED's policy-maskers had made mistakes that
needn't have been made, and that can be avoided in the future.
Rothbard's book attacked the FED as a government-created cartel
that cannot be made to work right.]

What
could be done, according to Roosevelt? First, land reform.

Hand
in hand with this we must frankly recognize the overbalance of
population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national
scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of
the land for those best fitted for the land.

What
else would help get the economy rolling again? He was clear on this:
government welfare and economic planning.

It
can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today
are often scattered, uneconomical, and unequal. It can be helped
by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation
and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely
public character. There are many ways in which it can be helped,
but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must
act and act quickly.

There
are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress
in special session detailed measures for their fulfillment, and
I shall seek the immediate assistance of the several States.

With
all this came a promise: that America would be a good neighbor.

In
the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the
policy of the good neighbor — the neighbor who resolutely
respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights
of others — the neighbor who respects his obligations and
respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of
neighbors.

That
was the beginning of a new wave of American intervention abroad,
which led to World War II. This would all be done in the name of
creating a new mentality for Americans, who were to become a vast
army. We forget what kind of outlook undergirded Roosevelt’s New
Deal. He did not hold back rhetorically. When Americans are scared
of a scapegoat, they respond to this sort of rhetoric. Then, after
the crisis is over, and the new laws are in force, and the freedoms
are lost, we find new scapegoats. At that point, the textbooks drop
the document down the Memory Hole. But the Web, marvelously, is
dredging the Memory Hole for treasure. Here is a gem:

If
I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we
have never realized before our interdependence on each other;
that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if
we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army
willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because
without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes
effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives
and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership
which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer, pledging
that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a sacred obligation
with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.

With
this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this
great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon
our common problems.

Action
in this image and to this end is feasible under the form of government
which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our Constitution is
so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary
needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential
form. That is why our constitutional system has proved itself
the most superbly enduring political mechanism the modern world
has produced. It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory,
of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations.

It
is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative
authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task
before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need
for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that
normal balance of public procedure.

I
am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures
that a stricken nation in the midst of a stricken world may require.
These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build
out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional
authority, to bring to speedy adoption.

But
in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these
two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still
critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will
then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining
instrument to meet the crisis — broad Executive power to
wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would
be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.

We do not
distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the
United States have not failed. In their need they have registered
a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked
for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made
me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the
gift I take it.

In this dedication
of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect
each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.

http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/presiden/inaug/froos1.htm

CONCLUSION

This
November, there will be a concerted effort by the Democrats to blame
the market’s recent failures on the Republicans’ close association
with big business. The Republicans can hardly counter by saying,
"It was just as bad under Clinton, when we controlled both
houses of Congress. The Dems also sucked in big bucks from these
crooks, 1993—2000. The Securities & Exchange Commission
is still staffed mainly by Clinton’s appointees."

The
longer the economic recovery falters, the more we will see big business
targeted. The Senate is about to launch hearings on the scandals.
Bush is out front, calling for retribution to a selected few unnamed
scapegoats. He is trying to keep from being scapegoated by the Democrats.
It’s going to be bi-partisan scapegoating.

We
now have bi-partisan scapegoating in both foreign affairs and domestic
affairs. There is not likely to be a minority report.

The
politics of scapegoating is always the politics of wealth redistribution.
There will be more controls, tougher standards, and more regulation.
Red tape is always the solution to every failure of previous government
efforts to create risk-free living. The red flag was lowered in
1991. Red tape is due for another extension.

Over
the next two decades, the welfare State will go bust in every industrial
nation. The governments’ generous retirement systems guarantee this.
Business will be blamed. Taxes will be raised on workers until there
is a political revolt by the employed, which there will be. Means-testing
and rising ages for retirement will accompany the great default.
Each party will blame its political enemies.

Don’t
get caught in the crossfire.

July
9, 2002

Gary
North is the author of Mises
on Money
. Visit http://www.freebooks.com.
For a free subscription to Gary North’s twice-weekly economics newsletter,
click
here
.

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