It’s incredible how the U.S. has wound up over the decades adopting not only Oligarchic Party Communism, but even the Planning language and practices of the Communist Regimes.
The “PLANNING” language and practices have led a strange path. The Soviets started central planning of the economy soon after seizing power and holding off the whites and foreign expeditionary forces. That failed, so they pulled back and allowed general economic liberalization under the New Economic Policy. In the 1930’s they seized that wealth and started central planning, killing off the kulaki and others who took the NEP seriously. In the West central planning took a huge leap forward with the U.S. seizure and planning of money and credit under the Fed in 1913, but they didn’t call it that and pretended the U.S. still had “economic freedom.” The wartime planning of the whole economy, media, etc., was huge in WWI in the U.S. and Europe, but became much more total in WWII, except for the Black Market, which was also growing all along in the USSR etc. That had been proposed by the socialist parties and was hailed as a great “success” by all on the left — “Rationalism triumphant” — in spite of the vast explosion of debt, bottlenecks, etc. The planning was very much fascist — done with the Big Corps., not imposing it on them.
Then by the 1960’s vast, whole-economy central planning was begun by people like Tinbergen in The Netherlands, who used the pop-Keynesian mathematical models developed by Hicks, et al., and rejected by Keynes because it violated his basic ideas about the importance of animal spirits, etc. Huge US Corps. working with the government like Lockheed then developed massive central plans for their production — and later went bankrupt. Meanwhile, the U.S. government quietly adopted more and more central, total planning for ever more huge segments of the economy — and then five- and ten-year plans for the whole economy, budgets with predictions in precise terms, etc. These have all proven absurdly wrong even as “indicative” [general goal] plans, but they keep doing more and more of it — right up to vast, minutely detailed plans for Health Care, etc.
Meanwhile, China has been escaping central plans but keeping that quiet.
So Obama just went to China as a mendicant supplicant — “Bakshish, Saab!” The Chinese have openly upbraided the U.S. for its wildly inflationary, irrational spending PLANS for everything.
Each of them keeps using the original language of their nations many decades ago, but their positions are now reversed. The U.S. is wildly planning everything, spending wildly, inflating, and begging for foreign help. The Chinese have allowed vast freedom of investment and production in much of China, most obviously in Shanghai and the vast Guangdong region outside of Hong Kong, is wildly saving and investing, and upbraiding the U.S. for its Banana Plantation Oligarchic Communism.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Media keep singing the praises of “America’s economic freedom” while marching to the quiet tune of the communist international. Marx’s program is now almost totally adopted in the U.S., except we have Rule by the Oligarchic Party Rich and impoverishment of the proletariat and middle classes. In China the entrepreneurs are getting wildly rich and the industrial proletariat is moving up, while the Communist Party has adopted American Keynesianism as its official practices under the very muted name of Marxism.
This Odd Couple started out on opposite sides of the central planning-individual freedom spectrum, have moved to the center locked in each other’s financial arms, and are moving on past each other in certain crucial ways. If Obama gets his way, the U.S. will be vastly more centrally planned than China actually is, but that fact will be largely censored out of the Media and politics, while China will likely be less and less planned because the Party is losing control to freer and freer business people and workers, but that fact is largely hidden by the fraying rhetoric about Marxist central planning.
All the political chatter and social pseudo-science raps about the Odd Couple are now quite absurd — totally out of whack with the changing realities. But few people notice.
Jack D. Douglas [send him mail] is a retired professor of sociology from the University of California at San Diego. He has published widely on all major aspects of human beings, most notably The Myth of the Welfare State.