“One of the most baffling phenomena of fascism is the almost incredible collaboration between men of the extreme Right and the extreme Left in its creation. The explanation lies at this point. Both Right and Left joined in this urge for regulation. The motives, the arguments, and the forms of expression were different but all drove in the same direction. And this was that the economic system must be controlled in its essential functions and this control must be exercised by the producing groups.”
~ John T. Flynn, As We Go Marching, 1944
While the fanatics from the Left have been calling all comers either “racist” or “child-hater” over whether or not people should be forced to buy a product they don’t want, their opposition is divided into two oil-and-water camps.
In the first camp are the stereotypical partisan naysayers of the political Right. Think of the football fans who spill their beer tele-heckling the referee every time the call on the field hurts “their” team. They all voted for Bush the Lesser despite his theretofore-unprecedented prescription drug entitlement program and expensive and murderous imperial campaigns, and now they don’t even see the obvious hypocrisy of their newly vivified, newly vocalized small-government, slash-the-budget convictions. And of course, don’t take away the Department of Education, Social Security, Medicare, or the minimum wage — what do you think this is, the Old Right? Those guys who swore to fight those New Deal and Great Society abominations to the death, well, they did. And heaven forbid that we jettison the DEA and the CIA! Who would protect us from third-world peasants and their dangerous plants and headgear?
No, this is compassionate Jack Bauer neoconservatism! We need our kids lined up every morning feeling their hearts beat in pace with the rhythm of that glorious denial of the individual conscience, the Pledge of Allegiance, and we need them doing it in a public school while sipping on subsidized milk! Just don’t tell us where to shop for our gallbladder surgery — not while you are holding that blue campaign sign anyway.
In the second camp is every sensible human being in the United States who has ever balanced a checkbook and who has not been convinced by state apologists that math somehow functions differently when numbers get really, really big. This camp contains the people who realize that the problem with Johnny’s credit card debt is not that the credit card companies refuse to expand his credit line anymore. The folks who have the free time to stand around and wave signs in DC’s barren wasteland of sterile bureaucracies and cold monuments to war criminals probably aren’t going to be representative samples of this population. Regardless, even these people know that more indebtedness now means more pain later.
Like most law students, I came to law school because I like to gab and wave my finger in the air and because I am not particularly interested in doing math professionally. But even with only vague memories lingering of my last math class in the fall of 1999, I can count. And I could count on Dec. 16, 2007, when I participated in a Ron Paul rally at Faneuil Hall commemorating the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. The original occasion for the Boston Tea Party was provided by the arrival of a boatload of mercantilist East India Company tea. The 2007 event was about denouncing the bipartisan corporate leviathan state, and was full of antiwar rhetoric, talk of slashing the federal budget, and gleeful notions of a central state small enough to fit in a bread box.
All that ire was directed at the establishment, which in 2007 was the Republican establishment. While rising unemployment and despair have perhaps freed up more warm bodies for protests since then, no honest person who has done his research can claim that the tea party vitriol was brewed from partisan gamesmanship on Inauguration Day 2009. Folks who had been marching for years in step with Ron Paul on instituting a non-interventionist foreign policy and kneecapping the federal budget were called “crazy,” “terrorists,” and worse by the Giuliani-McCain-Romney GOP primary home team.
Now, two years later, “change” has come, but in form, not substance. And the “change” is that corporate fascism is wearing the clean raincoat of humanitarian concern for the health of the downtrodden. Add to that the fact that the dogs of the Right, licking their wounds and regrouping, have hastily worked to change their own battered faades, rebranding as Tea Party-goers in an attempt to find some campaign lifeblood, and, voila!, the Left’s do-gooder conceit is confirmed by fallacy of hasty generalization: some sniveling imperialist lackeys started trying to drum up business at tea parties, and claimed to speak for “the movement.” To any good, propaganda-eating Leftist this clearly meant that everyone at those events must keep a shrine to Bill Buckley tucked away with the Confederate sabers and lynching ropes out in the garage.
As Flynn observed, the snuffing out of individual autonomy is a bipartisan affair. Luckily, as with all empires, the “parasite economy” eventually drains its host and must succumb and give way to a more sensible state of affairs. Those on the Left who watched as George W. Bush spared no expense sacking Iraq and Afghanistan after complaining about Clinton’s penny ante nation-building are justifiably skeptical of the cries of “freedom!” from the Right. But those on the Left and Right should consider whether or not the end result of this destructive tug of war will leave anything with which to rebuild after this whole fascist scheme cracks up.
This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Dicta, the Suffolk Law newspaper.
Dick Clark [send him mail], a native Southerner, currently lives in exile in Boston, MA. He is an SJC Rule 3:03 student attorney and 3L at Suffolk University Law School.