Reflections on the 'Crisis'
by Karen Kwiatkowski
Every news report, and every bit of new blather from George W. "I love free markets" Bush, reminds us of George Washington's position, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
As we consider our government's forced federal bailout/buyout of what many Americans believed were private banking, investment, insurance, and auto industries, the key word is not "government bailout," or "nationalized" or "socialism," or even "private." As George Washington and his compatriots understood, the key word is "force."
American foreign policy has long been based on force, and force alone. Forcing people out of arrangements disliked by "our government" and its friends. Forcing people into arrangements that pleased "our government" and its friends. In World War I, we joined a war just to have a place at the table, from which to force "our government's" vision and preferences. The list goes on and on, all the way to Iraq Part Deux and Afghanistan. The central theme is not, and was never, freedom. It was, and remains, force.
In no case of our expeditionary wars and interventions was this force ever brought to bear without a certain key motivating factor, a fundamental animator. Dare I say it out loud, in this decade of the fool-me-one-hundred-times boobus Americanus? This woebegotten species residing on Main Street suspects the truth already: The god who breathes life into our government, fans its flames and if necessary, restrains it, is the state-aligned and state-leveraging corporate class — not boobus.
With war and foreign policy, government force is an easy sell. You're with us, or ag'in us. Support the president, be a patriot, else be a terrorist and a traitor. Support the troops, wherever they are and whatever they are doing, or leave the country.
Such foreign policy is always expensive, destabilizing, and deadly. It's a good thing domestic policy is not conducted this way, huh? During the recent permutations of the bailout, some reporters even used words like socialism and communism to describe the situation, indicating that this wasn't how it is supposed to be. But what we have really been observing is not ideology. It is brute application of government force, up close and personal.
No guns or tanks were used. Printing presses and penalties, executive orders and mandates, effectively forcing valueless paper and market-opposing behaviors on producers and consumers alike, were more than sufficient. Call me boobus, but we were not consulted about this use of the tax- and debt-funded till, and we will never be. The government tells us we have no choice in currency, and no freedom to even think about alternatives to federal decisions.
Without choice, we submit, as the weak always do to those who wield — or are perceived to wield — greater strength. The empire has come home, and it has made us the occupied, the enslaved. Just as the American empire abroad has been motivated and animated by corporate interests, it is so here at home. While many Americans are dazed and confused by this turn of events, they needn't be.
Kevin Carson explains how it works in a brilliant article published by the Foundation of Economic Education's monthly, Ideas on Liberty. He writes, "…the corporate economy is so closely bound up with the power of the state, that it makes more sense to think of the corporate ruling class as a component of the state…." He explains, "The ruling class allows some amount of voluntary market exchange within the interstices of a system whose overall structure is defined by coercive state intervention."
The article from which these statements are taken is about the nature of free market reforms, and understanding primary and secondary forms of state intervention in the economy. A wonderful result of the current "crisis" has been that a majority of Americans are actually thinking about, for the first time, the nature of such government intervention. Unfortunately, like most of our Congress, most are thinking about it in an emotional and uninformed way. But that will change, and change rapidly.
Coercion and force are concepts with which Americans are long familiar and quite comfortable, at least in foreign policy. It's a bit different when these chickens come home to roost.
There are ways to deal with this homecoming, and happily violence is not necessary to bring down an empire. As Michael Rozeff suggests "If the black hole of government proves too powerful for the concerted action of its citizens to control it, then they will control it by their own personal and individual actions."
I would assume these actions include — and are not limited to — reducing and eventually eliminating our physical, moral, verbal, spiritual, and financial support of the corporate state. Instead, we will increasingly choose to support ourselves, those about whom we care, and those with whom we choose to trade, in the marketplace of both goods and ideas. We will shun the state. If this sounds unreasonable, utopian, or radical — consider that the most upstanding and traditional-minded sector in our localities — community banks — are leading the way.
The nature of empire is to expand until it becomes unsustainable and intolerable. The American empire's collapse — something we should fervently hope to witness in our lifetimes — will occur through the actions of millions of people, who first recognize the absurdity and injustice of government coercion abroad and at home, then reject that coercion — and ultimately proceed, each day, at their own lead, and by their own consent.
Now is the time for Americans to embrace the idea that government should be neither our master, nor our servant.
October 20, 2008
LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, has written on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for MilitaryWeek.com, hosted the call-in radio show American Forum, and blogs occasionally for Huffingtonpost.com and Liberty and Power. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here.
Copyright © 2008 Karen Kwiatkowski