Sunday, February 28, 2012 — Made For Each Other: The Conservative Love Affair with Communism and How It Is Destroying Us

This is a blog, not an aca­d­e­m­ic paper, and the con­tent is dri­ven by per­son­al pas­sion. I am very angry about what is hap­pen­ing to my coun­try, and to North Amer­i­can soci­ety as a whole, and this blog will not be tem­per­ate in tone. 

Con­tem­plate the fol­low­ing details very close­ly, because they are what is planned for you. 

You are an employ­ee in a fac­to­ry. You have no union. Any­one who attempts to form one, or even casu­al­ly speaks of the pos­si­bil­i­ty, will be arrest­ed and sent to a con­cen­tra­tion camp. In fact, all sorts of polit­i­cal and reli­gious dis­si­dents are sent to camps, where they are often dis­as­sem­bled for med­ical parts [1]. This sug­gests cau­tion is in order. Any­way, the issue nev­er comes up, for noth­ing along those lines has ever hap­pened in your fac­to­ry, and you have no notion of how work­ers could chal­lenge or influ­ence any­thing. Your employ­er mon­i­tors and con­trols every aspect of your per­son­al life. You have no “pri­vate” life. You are unmar­ried, and will remain so. You live in sex­u­al­ly seg­re­gat­ed bar­racks. There is lit­tle free time to do any­thing about it, any­way, because your work shifts occu­py most of your time awake. If there is a sud­den need for some change in pro­duc­tion, you are roused by supe­ri­ors at four in the morn­ing and sent to the assem­bly line. If you are injured on the job, or expo­sure to pol­lu­tants ren­ders you inca­pable of work­ing, you are sim­ply thrown out with­out com­pen­sa­tion. You earn a pit­tance. The shiny prod­ucts you pro­duce are for export, and you could not afford to buy any of them. Not that you care. All you are con­cerned with is keep­ing this “good” job, which is actu­al­ly one of the cov­et­ed ones. All the oth­er alter­na­tives are worse.

The fac­to­ry you work in is gleam­ing and new. All the best archi­tects and engi­neers have been employed in build­ing it, and it is a mar­vel of pro­duc­tive effi­cien­cy. The cor­po­ra­tion incurred very low costs, and con­struct­ed it in record time. There were no envi­ron­men­tal inquiries, no tedious legal bar­ri­ers, and no annoy­ing reg­u­la­tions to wor­ry about, once the Par­ty okayed the deal. Sev­er­al thou­sand peo­ple lived on the select­ed site, but there is no “pri­vate prop­er­ty” in this set up, at least when it comes to ordi­nary peo­ple. The State owns all land. They were all cleared away at gun­point, and their homes bull­dozed. They now live in a shan­ty­town slum. Few of them were for­tu­nate enough to get jobs in the new fac­to­ry, like you were, so you give thanks for your good luck. What­ev­er the Cor­po­ra­tion needs to thrive is pro­vid­ed by an omnipo­tent State, which owns and con­trols every­thing in the final analy­sis. It has at its dis­pos­al a huge army, a vig­or­ous­ly active Secret Police, and a horde of local inform­ers who will rat on you if you step out of line. It con­trols all com­mu­ni­ca­tions, choos­es who will be edu­cat­ed and who will not, and makes sure that edu­ca­tion includes a com­plete­ly fic­ti­tious “his­to­ry”, with sub­stan­tial events sim­ply erased from the past. Life, even out­side work, is sex­u­al­ly repres­sive, rigid, and con­formist. A small “mid­dle class” of tech­ni­cal pro­fes­sion­als, man­agers and Par­ty offi­cials has access to a much more pleas­ant lifestyle, shops in shop­ping malls, goes to amuse­ment parks, looks up things on the (heav­i­ly cen­sored) Inter­net. Their life is a lot loos­er, but they are adept at feel­ing out the lim­its that they must stay with­in, which con­stant­ly shift with state pol­i­cy. Any­way, things for this group are immea­sur­ably bet­ter now than they were in the past, and they are not going to “rock the boat.” How­ev­er, as an ordi­nary indus­tri­al work­er, this does not con­cern you. You have no access to any of these priv­i­leges and you don’t expect to ever have, though you main­tain a dim hope that your “good” job will enable you to keep your fam­i­ly from sink­ing back into the squalor of your native vil­lage. Any­way, you have lit­tle to com­pare with. The events of the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion were so hor­ri­ble, that your par­ents won’t even talk about them. As far as every­one around you is con­cerned, things just keep get­ting bet­ter and better.

This, of course, is the Con­ser­v­a­tive Utopia, the kind of soci­ety that every Con­ser­v­a­tive intel­lec­tu­al yearns for, and con­tem­plates with sali­va drip­ping from their lips. It’s called “Com­mu­nism.” The work­ing con­di­tions described above are not from some dystopi­an sci­ence fic­tion nov­el. They are the recent­ly doc­u­ment­ed con­di­tions in some of the most pres­ti­gious facil­i­ties of glob­al cor­po­ra­tions man­u­fac­tur­ing in Chi­na. Any­one famil­iar with Chi­na knows that con­di­tions in many oth­er Chi­nese fac­to­ries are much worse.

Com­mu­nism is an ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive ide­ol­o­gy pro­mot­ing exploita­tion, slav­ery, and geno­cide. It has no con­nec­tion what­so­ev­er with any­thing pro­gres­sive, demo­c­ra­t­ic, egal­i­tar­i­an, or “lib­er­al.” It is, how­ev­er, very close­ly con­nect­ed to the mod­ern Con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment, which emerged in the Unit­ed States dur­ing the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion, sat­u­rat­ed Amer­i­can life, and was sub­se­quent­ly export­ed in var­i­ous per­mu­ta­tions to oth­er coun­tries (includ­ing my own, Cana­da). It is this con­nec­tion that I intend to explore. It’s a very inti­mate con­nec­tion, which has result­ed in the trans­fer­al of most of North America’s wealth to the Com­mu­nist Par­ty, a decades-long process that is now almost com­plete. Con­ven­tion­al polit­i­cal thought con­tin­ues to rep­re­sent Con­ser­v­a­tives as ide­o­log­i­cal oppo­nents of Com­mu­nism. Noth­ing in the events of the last few decades sup­ports this mind­less­ly repeat­ed notion.

When you look at the many zeal­ous Con­ser­v­a­tive ide­o­log­i­cal mis­sion­ar­ies, you are see­ing exact repli­cas of the Com­mu­nist Par­ty appa­ratchi­ki that once preyed on East­ern Europe, like so many were­wolves. Peo­ple such as Bill O’Reilly or Ann Coul­ter are Com­mu­nism incar­nate, per­fect exam­ples of ruth­less, moral­ly cor­rupt ide­o­log­i­cal fanat­ics claim­ing to voice the revealed “laws” of his­to­ry and eco­nom­ics, obliv­i­ous to any human suf­fer­ing, con­temp­tu­ous of the “weak­ness” of those they would destroy, and will­ing to tell any lie to advance their cause. Like most such loud pub­lic bul­lies, they are snivel­ing cow­ards in real life. Any per­son who grew up in a Com­mu­nist dic­ta­tor­ship would rec­og­nize them in an instant. The Con­ser­v­a­tive move­ment that con­sol­i­dat­ed in the 1970s, in great part inspired by the philoso­pher Leo Strauss, attract­ed exact­ly the same kind of per­son­al­i­ties as the Com­mu­nist Par­ty did in an ear­li­er gen­er­a­tion. Ruth­less, vin­dic­tive, back-stab­bing zealots who crave the thrill of telling lies and manip­u­lat­ing peo­ple. (Strauss, in fact, open­ly taught the virtue of telling lies, as Lenin did.) Many were old Marx­ists, anx­ious to jump from a sink­ing ship with­out the incon­ve­nience of actu­al­ly chang­ing their ideas. These drew heav­i­ly on that ear­li­er move­ment for both their tac­ti­cal meth­ods and their ide­o­log­i­cal under­pin­nings. In short, Com­mu­nism was rebrand­ed and remar­ket­ed with the label “Con­ser­v­a­tive.” The most appro­pri­ate term for this move­ment would be “Neo-Com­mu­nism.”

But the main dan­ger to our free­dom is not from loud-mouthed colum­nists and ide­o­logues, or even Pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates. They are mere­ly shlubbs who take orders from on high. What real­ly does dam­age is the sol­id core of wealthy and pow­er­ful peo­ple who dri­ve the Con­ser­v­a­tive agen­da in our soci­ety. These are not “true believ­ers,” but cyn­i­cal, cold, cal­cu­lat­ing experts, who know where their inter­ests lie. They cre­ate an atmos­phere of ide­o­log­i­cal fait accom­pli in the major insti­tu­tions of our soci­ety, whether busi­ness, indus­try, edu­ca­tion, civ­il ser­vice, or gov­ern­ment. They have built an enor­mous stock of glib asser­tions and for­mu­lae, with which they can move any insti­tu­tion in the direc­tion they want. Few oppo­nents get past this bluff­ing stuff, which is equiv­a­lent to the spu­ri­ous “sci­ence” of Dialec­tic Mate­ri­al­ism, or the con­vo­lut­ed the­ol­o­gy of the Mid­dle Ages. 

Con­ser­v­a­tives, like Com­mu­nists, are always talk­ing in code. When they talk about the “need to be com­pet­i­tive in a glob­al econ­o­my,” or the neces­si­ty of fac­ing “eco­nom­ic real­i­ties,” it is a disin­gen­u­ous code for “we will not be con­tent until the aver­age Amer­i­can and Cana­di­an is reduced to the kind of exploita­tion and degra­da­tion that the Chi­nese work­er suf­fers, and we will not be stopped until we achieve this goal.” That degra­da­tion is, in fact, their ulti­mate aim and ide­al. Com­mu­nism, and the kind of oppres­sion that Com­mu­nism means for the aver­age human being, is the final and com­plete polit­i­cal expres­sion of Con­ser­v­a­tive values.

Long ago, in this blog, I heaped jus­ti­fied scorn on those who claimed that the rul­ing Par­ty in Bei­jing had “aban­doned Com­mu­nism,” and that democ­ra­cy in Chi­na was just around the cor­ner, part of an inevitable process of reform that should not be tam­pered with by ques­tion­ing the Party’s poli­cies or motives. In 2007, I wrote :

It is this hold on cen­tral pow­er that is the heart of the Com­mu­nist ide­ol­ogy, not some par­tic­u­lar arrange­ment of man­age­ment pol­icy. If the regime choos­es the loos­er option, it is not any less Com­mu­nist, and it is not in any sig­nif­i­cant way chang­ing its ide­ol­ogy. Much non­sense has been writ­ten about Chi­na “aban­don­ing Com­mu­nism”. This is not even remote­ly the case. Any­one who is naive­ly wait­ing for “demo­c­ra­tic reforms” to blos­som in the regime will wait for eter­nity. As long as the cash flows in abun­dance, from glob­al cor­po­rate and state trans­ac­tions, the Com­mu­nist aris­toc­racy will nev­er vol­un­tar­ily relin­quish their pow­er. Why should they? What would make them? In fact, the Par­ty in Bei­jing has made it per­fectly plain that any move­ment toward democ­racy among the peo­ple of Chi­na will be swift­ly and bru­tally crushed. This will not change. Ever.

I think my point can be tak­en as proven. For a long time, much was made of the notion that the emer­gence of a “mid­dle class” by itself auto­mat­i­cal­ly set in motion a process of dem­o­criti­za­tion. There were few con­vinc­ing his­tor­i­cal exam­ples of this, but it was much repeat­ed. But after decades of wait­ing, this was more or less set aside. Claims that Chi­na was democ­ra­tiz­ing, how­ev­er slow­ly, had already worn pret­ty thin when I wrote that piece. They were rit­u­al­ly trot­ted out by politi­cians when they made anoth­er trib­u­tary pil­grim­age to Bei­jing, in order to shrug off ques­tions about human rights. Now, the bulk of com­men­tary assumes that, as long as Chi­na devel­opes a “mar­ket econ­o­my,” democ­ra­cy and human rights are mere trim­ming, nice things that will prob­a­bly “evolve” in some remote future, but are not real­ly impor­tant. Few imag­ine that Chi­na will “democ­ra­tize” or “lib­er­al­ize” sig­nif­i­cant­ly any time soon, and even few­er care. Progress is to be mea­sured by sky­scrap­ers and indus­tri­al out­put, not be human free­dom. This, of course, is the inevitable con­se­quence of assert­ing the pri­ma­cy of eco­nom­ic struc­ture over both moral­i­ty and polit­i­cal forms. This asser­tion under­pins both Marx­ist and Con­ser­v­a­tive ideologies.

What fas­ci­nates and attracts Con­ser­v­a­tives is not Chi­na’s poten­tial for demo­c­ra­t­ic progress, but some­thing much more resem­bling the stuff that devot­ed Com­mu­nists used to preach: Chi­na’s rise as the next glob­al eco­nom­ic super­pow­er, tak­en as self-evi­dent, and inevitable. His­to­ry (rei­fied and per­son­i­fied, in the tra­di­tion­al Marx­ist fash­ion) is On The March, and the drum­beat is to be set by the Com­mu­nist Party.

Con­ser­v­a­tives are keen to pro­mote this notion, but it con­flicts with the tra­di­tion­al mum­mery of “anti-com­mu­nism” ped­dled in the domes­tic tent-show. The trick, then, is to avoid say­ing the words “Com­mu­nist Par­ty.” The bulk of dis­cus­sion in the media mere­ly refers to “Chi­na”. Few notice the dif­fer­ence. In my writ­ings, I’ve always been care­ful nev­er to refer to any polit­i­cal or eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty by the Com­mu­nist Par­ty of the Peo­ples Repub­lic of Chi­na as being done by “Chi­na” or “the Chi­nese.” I am on the side of the peo­ple of Chi­na, who are quite dis­tinct from the crim­i­nal scum who rule over and exploit them. You will nev­er hear me refer to these crim­i­nals as “Chi­na”. They are the Com­mu­nist Par­ty, and should always be called by that name, and by no other.

His­tori­cism ― the doc­trine that some par­tic­u­lar polit­i­cal enti­ty is mys­ti­cal­ly fore-ordained and des­tined to rule ― is a clas­sic com­po­nent of Marx­ist and Nation­al Social­ist think­ing, and has been applied to every empire-on-the-make. His­tori­cism has always appealed to the greedy and pow­er-hun­gry, who are eager to re-inforce the notion that they’ve hopped on the right band­wag­on. In 2012, the right band­wag­on is the (dis­crete­ly unnamed) Com­mu­nist Par­ty. Every­one eager to make a buck, or pro­tect their bucks, is going to pro­claim that its suprema­cy was pre-ordained, is unstop­pable, inevitable, and right. See what hap­pens if you sug­gest, in any respectable pub­lic forum, that a pub­lic pol­i­cy be pur­sued in the Unit­ed States or Cana­da that in any way con­flicts with the pros­per­i­ty and future dom­i­nance of the Com­mu­nist Par­ty. The cho­rus of denun­ci­a­tion will be defean­ing, and it will be tricked out in the “mar­ket” ver­sion of pre­des­ti­na­tion, lit­tle dif­fer­ent from the old Marx­ist his­tori­cism. If the prod­ucts export­ed from Chi­na are cheap because the peo­ple of Chi­na are crim­i­nal­ly exploit­ed, experts in the media will insist, the solu­tion can nev­er be to pre­vent or lim­it the pur­chase of goods pro­duced by crime. Peo­ple who down­load a copy of a tv show from the inter­net are dead­ly men­aces whom the tax­pay­er must pay to hunt down and pros­e­cute, but some­one who locks a hun­dred women in a fire­trap build­ing and chains them to their sewing machines, beat­ing them with a stick when they don’t pro­duce, and can deliv­er a cot­ton gar­ment for fifty cents to be sold here for fifty dol­lars, is not to be hin­dered in any way. The rea­son giv­en is always lit­tle more than some indi­rect way of stat­ing that the whole world must con­form to the stan­dards, poli­cies and morals of the Com­mu­nist Par­ty, because its supe­ri­or­i­ty and des­tined suprema­cy is inevitable and unstop­pable. Again, it is polit­i­cal Con­ser­v­a­tives who most con­sis­tent­ly put forth this argu­ment, echoed by cor­po­rate pow­er and the rich in general.

For us to under­stand how this ide­o­log­i­cal imper­a­tive has been fol­lowed, I will have to make clear who most ben­e­fits from the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. It is not the peo­ple of the Unit­ed States and Cana­da, nor is it the peo­ple of Chi­na. It is a small group of indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies who con­sti­tute the glob­al aris­toc­ra­cy. The present glob­al aris­toc­ra­cy, who pos­sess wealth unimag­in­able to any ordi­nary per­son, include a hand­ful of tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tors who built indus­tries, but the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of them are mem­bers of ancient Euro­pean aris­to­crat­ic fam­i­lies, old Com­mu­nist Par­ty gang­sters, scions of the third world mon­archs who were installed by the colo­nial pow­ers (such as the Saud­is), drug lords, arms deal­ers, stock mar­ket and real estate manip­u­la­tors, or mil­i­tary thugs sit­ting on valu­able chunks of nat­ur­al resources. The cor­ner­stone of the glob­al econ­o­my, the oil indus­try, which direct­ly or indi­rect­ly deter­mines the nature of every trans­ac­tion on earth, is owned over­whelm­ing­ly by hered­i­tary nobil­i­ty, mil­i­tary dic­ta­tors, or ex-KGB goons.

This is not, how­ev­er, how the mem­bers of this aris­toc­ra­cy view them­selves, or like to talk about them­selves. Every one of this mangy assort­ment sees them­self as a sort of Ran­di­an super-hero ― a per­son who deserves every pen­ny of their wealth because of the inate supe­ri­or­i­ty they pos­sess as a mem­ber of the “cre­ative class.” The more obvi­ous­ly these “cre­ative” super­men acquired their wealth through inher­i­tance or crime, the more aggres­sive­ly they will pro­mote them­selves as a mer­i­toc­ra­cy. This is echoed even more vocif­er­ous­ly by the small fry, the par­venus aching to join the upper echelons.

This psy­chol­o­gy can be shown with a very small exam­ple. Leo Den­nis Kozlows­ki was the CEO of Tyco Inter­na­tion­al from 1976 to 2002, and was briefly among the wealth­i­est men in the Unit­ed States. Tyco Inter­na­tion­al was a hold­ing com­pa­ny that may, in its ear­ly days, have financed and nur­tured some cre­ative endeav­ors, but by the time Kozlows­ki became CEO it grew fat by buy­ing up com­pa­nies, strip­ping them of their assets, and destroy­ing them. Tyco absorbed over a thou­sand com­pa­nies in this way, in fields as var­ied as fiber-optic cable and dis­pos­able dia­pers. Those that were not shut down were agres­sive­ly “down­sized,” their Amer­i­can employ­ees elim­i­nat­ed, the remain­ing jobs export­ed. Kozlows­ki, in this way, sub­tract­ed a con­sid­er­able amount of pro­duc­tive indus­try from the Amer­i­can econ­o­my. For this achieve­ment, he was the object of gush­ing admi­ra­tion among Con­ser­v­a­tives colum­nists, and graced the cov­er of Busi­ness Week. Few­er jobs for uppi­ty, demand­ing Amer­i­cans, and more jobs for obe­di­ent and con­trol­lable Chi­nese work­ers! More Amer­i­can pro­duc­tion was being elim­i­nat­ed. Kozlows­ki was anoth­er hero push­ing the heavy wag­on of his­to­ry down the cor­rect path of des­tiny. But the only “cre­ativ­i­ty” that Kozlows­ki brought to the enter­prise was the inspi­ra­tion of team­ing up with CFO Mark Schwartz, who helped him cook the com­pa­ny books and steal a hun­dred and fifty mil­lion dol­lars from share­hold­ers. Even with­in the lim­its of what’s legal, share­hold­ers end­ed up pay­ing for the $6,000 show­er cur­tains in our hero’s $30,000,000 apart­ment, a $15,000 umbrel­la stand, and a mil­lion dol­lar birth­day par­ty graced with a life-sized ice sculp­ture of Michelangelo’s David uri­nat­ing Stolich­naya vod­ka. Nev­er­the­less, when Kozlows­ki sur­pris­ing­ly faced prison for his crim­i­nal activ­i­ties, he was wide­ly regard­ed as a mar­tyr in the busi­ness press. He cer­tain­ly regard­ed him­self as such. From his pub­lic pro­nounce­ments, it is appar­ent that he con­sid­ered him­self the supreme exam­ple of the innate­ly supe­ri­or per­son, the quin­tes­sence of the “cre­ative class,” a noble exam­ple of the aris­toc­ra­cy of mer­it brought down by the jeal­ousy and resent­ment of the rab­ble. Didn’t they know that he deserved a $15,000 umbrel­la stand, and that mere laws and reg­u­la­tions should nev­er have stood between him and and its acqui­si­tion? Mul­ti­ply Kozlows­ki a thou­sand times, and you get the clam­or­ing horde of self-styled “entre­pre­neurs” who have strip-mined the Amer­i­can and Cana­di­an economies, and you get an idea of the tone on the pre­car­i­ous fringes of the glob­al aris­toc­ra­cy. Greg Palast, a jour­nal­ist who uncov­ers busi­ness and stock mar­ket fraud, once asked a par­tic­u­lar­ly loath­some bil­lion­aire why he both­ered going to con­sid­er­able trou­ble, mere­ly to devise a com­pli­cat­ed fraud that robbed a few hun­dred dol­lars worth of fuel from every­one who lived on an impov­er­ished Indi­an reser­va­tion. His answer: “Because I want every pen­ny that’s com­ing to me.” There are hun­dreds of this type, small fry with a few hun­dred mil­lions, but they remain inse­cure. The real­ly wealthy and the real­ly pow­er­ful have less neu­ro­sis and more con­fi­dence in the per­ma­nence and inher­i­tabil­i­ty of their pow­er. They gen­er­al­ly do not pub­licly boast about how cre­ative they are. But they hold, in the long run, the same sense of entitlement.

Nor do these upper ech­e­lons both­er to talk among them­selves about the “free mar­ket”, which is always good for impress­ing the yokels, but is not tak­en seri­ous­ly. Any­one who imag­ines that the rich believe in the mer­its of com­pe­ti­tion or free mar­kets is, to put it blunt­ly, a fool. Com­pe­ti­tion and free mar­kets can poten­tial­ly take away wealth from the already wealthy. Nobody who has real wealth or exer­cis­es real pow­er wants any kind of free mar­ket to exist. “Free mar­ket” rhetoric among the rich is mere­ly the equiv­a­lent of “social jus­tice” blath­er from Marx­ists. Nei­ther group ever has, or ever will, have the slight­est inter­est in these con­cepts, except as pro­pa­gan­da tools. When pro­test­ers take aris­to­crat­ic claims at face val­ue, and imag­ine that they are fight­ing against “free mar­ket cap­i­tal­ism,” or some such non­sense, instead of against ordi­nary, his­tor­i­cal­ly tried-and-true aris­toc­ra­cy, they pro­found­ly mis­un­der­stand the nature of pow­er. They then have lit­tle hope of suc­cess­ful­ly fight­ing it.

Con­ser­v­a­tive ide­ol­o­gists are, in fact, no more sup­port­ive of a free mar­ket than was Lenin or Mao. They aggres­sive­ly oppose the three most fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of a free market. 

The first prin­ci­ple of gen­uine free mar­ket the­o­ry is that a free mar­ket can only exist among a free peo­ple. Polit­i­cal free­dom and democ­ra­cy are the fun­da­men­tal pre­req­ui­sites of any free mar­ket. The Con­ser­v­a­tive doc­trine is quite the oppo­site, that polit­i­cal democ­ra­cy is irrel­e­vant to the mar­ket, and that “eco­nom­ic free­dom” (mean­ing the unhin­dered activ­i­ty of cor­po­ra­tions and aris­to­crats) can exist inde­pen­dent­ly of polit­i­cal free­dom. Thus, the econ­o­my of Augus­to Pinochet’s dic­ta­tor­ship in Chile, in which slices of the pie were divid­ed among Pinochet’s rel­a­tives, in exact­ly the same way that the slices of the pie in Cuba are divid­ed among Fidel Cas­tro’s rel­a­tives, was nev­er­the­less uni­ver­sal­ly described as a “free mar­ket” economy! 

The sec­ond prin­ci­ple is what is called the “lev­el play­ing field”, by which is meant that trade in a free mar­ket requires all par­tic­i­pants to be sub­ject to the same rules. Con­ser­v­a­tive doc­trine insists that there should be no “lev­el play­ing field,” that Amer­i­can and Cana­di­an work­ers in a democ­ra­cy should “com­pete” with slaves in slave labour camps, or peas­ants bru­tal­ized by tor­ture and ter­ror, and that these dif­fer­ences mere­ly amount to juris­dic­tion­al vagaries with­in “the market”. 

The third prin­ci­ple is that the par­tic­i­pants in a free mar­ket must be indi­vid­u­als, each account­able for their actions, each respon­si­ble for their out­comes. The very con­cept of a mod­ern cor­po­ra­tion, of course, vio­lates this prin­ci­ple, as it attrib­ut­es “per­son­hood” to an abstract col­lec­tive enti­ty, one that can­not be held account­able in any real sense, or face real pun­ish­ment for wrong-doing. Any of the injus­tices and inef­fi­cien­cies that Friedrich von Hayek iden­ti­fied in the “com­mand economies” of the total­i­tar­i­an State log­i­cal­ly apply to the equal­ly cen­tral­ized “com­mand economies” of cor­po­ra­tions. (Hayek’s argu­ments were based on the nature of infor­ma­tion flow in any col­lec­tive orga­ni­za­tion. If inef­fi­cien­cy and injus­tice are innate to a “state” with a bud­get of a bil­lion dol­lars, then the same inher­ent prob­lems apply to a cor­po­ra­tion with a bud­get of a bil­lion dol­lars.) Mod­ern Con­ser­v­a­tives not only espouse this kind of bla­tant col­lec­tivism, they extend it to its log­i­cal end: the Com­mu­nist Par­ty is seen as just anoth­er cor­po­ra­tion, a con­stituent part of the Mar­ket. You or I might be tarred with the sin of “social­ism” if we joined in a union, or even opened a con­sumer co-op. But the Com­mu­nist Par­ty itself, guilty of mass-mur­der and crim­i­nal­i­ty on a vast scale, cen­tral­ly planned and claim­ing the absolute own­er­ship of a bil­lion human beings, is a mem­ber in good stand­ing of the “free mar­ket.” All you have to do is add “Inc.” to the end of “Com­mu­nist Par­ty” and the log­ic works out thus: the Com­mu­nist Par­ty is a legit­i­mate cor­po­rate part of the free mar­ket; mar­ket forces reward con­sol­i­da­tion and cen­tral­iza­tion; if mar­ket forces made the Com­mu­nist Par­ty the sole eco­nom­ic enti­ty, then that would be quite with­in the rules; ergo, the ulti­mate expres­sion of the Free Mar­ket can be total con­trol of the world by the Com­mu­nist Par­ty. But the argu­ment is nev­er car­ried that far, because it would expose its inbuilt absur­di­ty. Besides, it is all just agit­prop. The “free mar­ket” is mere­ly a rhetor­i­cal tool for bam­boo­zling the suckers.

The “un-lev­el play­ing field” is more than just a con­tra­dic­tion in Con­ser­v­a­tive rhetoric. It is the prin­ci­ple tool that Con­ser­v­a­tives have used to destroy the pro­duc­tive economies of the Unit­ed States and Cana­da, and to trans­fer their wealth to the pre­ferred polit­i­cal enti­ty, the Com­mu­nist Par­ty. The pro­duc­tive indus­try of the Unit­ed States and Cana­da has been sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly dis­man­tled over the last gen­er­a­tion. The Unit­ed States is bank­rupt (in truth, if not in name), with a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of its astro­nom­i­cal debt in the hands of the Com­mu­nist Par­ty, and much of the rest scat­tered among an assort­ment of dic­ta­tors, kings, and gang­sters. Cana­da is in bet­ter fis­cal shape, but it’s pro­duc­tive indus­try is under the same kind of attack through its cur­rent Con­ser­v­a­tive Par­ty admin­is­tra­tion. Prime Min­is­ter Harp­er (fresh­ly back from a grov­el­ing trip to Bei­jing) is eager to have it return to its colo­nial sta­tus as a back­woods exporter of nat­ur­al resources. Plans are afoot to hand over con­trol of key Cana­di­an nat­ur­al resources to a PRC state enter­prise. Mean­while, every Con­ser­v­a­tive par­ty pol­i­cy con­sis­tent­ly side­lines indus­try. Our once most cre­ative indus­tri­al cor­po­ra­tion, Research In Motion (with its ground­break­ing Black­ber­ry), is col­laps­ing in a sham­bles of man­age­r­i­al chaos, which I sus­pect will turn out to be root­ed in malfea­sance or finan­cial gut­ting. The great fac­to­ries that once ringed Toron­to and Mon­tre­al are now most­ly silent. Que­bec and Ontario, the coun­try’s indus­tri­al heart­land, are not much bet­ter off than the Unit­ed States.

The Unit­ed States does not have the same bankroll of nat­ur­al resources, and has suf­fered longer rule by more fanat­i­cal Con­ser­v­a­tives. It’s indus­tri­al base is pret­ty much gone. Recent­ly, when Pres­i­dent Oba­ma invit­ed the new CEO of Apple, Inc. to the White House, it is said that he asked him “what would it take for Apple to man­u­fac­ture the iPod in Amer­i­ca?” The answer he got sur­prised him, but it would not have sur­prised me. The mak­ing of an iPod by Amer­i­can work­ers would only add a triv­ial amount to its man­u­fac­tur­ing cost, eas­i­ly absorbed by a com­pa­ny with such spec­tac­u­lar prof­it mar­gins — but it would nev­er hap­pen. Why? Because there is no longer a func­tion­ing Amer­i­can sup­ply chain. The intri­cat­ed web of sup­port­ing indus­tries, sub-indus­tries and ser­vices that once made the Unit­ed States the dom­i­nant indus­tri­al pow­er of the world, a net­work built up by gen­er­a­tions of dynam­ic eco­nom­ic cre­ativ­i­ty, no longer exists. The last gen­er­a­tion has seen its com­plete dis­in­te­gra­tion. The oblit­er­a­tion of both America’s heavy indus­try, and the com­plex sup­ply chain that sup­port­ed it, is not the result of blind chance. It is the out­come of delib­er­ate pol­i­cy. I would con­tend that much of that pol­i­cy is made to please a glob­al aris­toc­ra­cy that has no par­tic­u­lar inter­est in the well-being or future of Amer­i­cans and Cana­di­ans, but has con­sid­er­able access to elect­ed offi­cials. As long as the bulk of vot­ers are pre­oc­cu­pied with sil­ly “per­son­al­i­ty” issues or reli­gious obses­sions, these eco­nom­ic poli­cies will be shaped with­out their knowledge.

With their chil­dren attend­ing Swiss schools, their hous­es in France or the Caribbean, and their emo­tion­al loy­al­ties with an inter­na­tion­al sub­cul­ture of wealth and pres­tige, the (tech­ni­cal­ly) Amer­i­can and Cana­di­an rich don’t much wor­ry about most domes­tic issues. But they do care about tax­a­tion. No mat­ter how lit­tle they pay after the appro­pri­ate off-shoring, kick­backs, exemp­tions and spe­cial priv­i­leges, it is a point of Aris­to­crat­ic Hon­our to resist even the impli­ca­tion that they should pay. Out come the sound bites about the men­ace of “social­ism.” It is cus­tom­ary to inform us that “the fall of the Sovi­et Union demon­strat­ed that redis­tri­b­u­tion of wealth leads to dis­as­ter.” This is typ­i­cal Con­ser­v­a­tive sophistry, based on a mix­ture of mys­ti­cal rev­e­la­tion, fan­ta­sy, and lies. No Com­mu­nist regime ever “redis­trib­uted” any­thing, except in the sense that the Com­mu­nist aris­toc­ra­cy stole every­thing from every­one and gave it to them­selves. The Sovi­et Union did not fall because it was gen­er­ous to its peo­ple, or because it taxed the rich. The Sovi­et rich lived in fab­u­lous lux­u­ry, the aver­age Sovi­et cit­i­zen lived in squalor. The few soci­eties in the world that do prac­tice a sig­nif­i­cant amount of “redis­trib­u­tive” tax­a­tion, such as the Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries, are democ­ra­cies, and are also pros­per­ous soci­eties, with a high­er stan­dard of liv­ing than the U.S. or Cana­da, and thriv­ing com­merce and man­u­fac­tur­ing. Curi­ous­ly, the evils of “social­ism,” are nev­er on the table when it comes to Chi­na and its Com­mu­nist Party.

Sim­i­lar sophistries appear when it comes to the mas­sive unem­ploy­ment and under-employ­ment that has appeared in the Unit­ed States, and the less dra­mat­ic, but still wor­ri­some under-employ­ment in Cana­da. Con­ser­v­a­tives insist that we must nev­er tax the wealthy, because they are the “cre­ative ele­ment” of the soci­ety that “makes the jobs” for us. When we ask in turn, “so where are the jobs we used to have, in fac­to­ries and lab­o­ra­to­ries, rather than in burg­er restau­rants?” they quick­ly change their tone. In the man­ner of a par­ent dis­miss­ing a whin­ing child, they scold: “those jobs are nev­er com­ing back again.” End of dis­cus­sion. Appar­ent­ly we must not tax them for fear that they will not “give” us the jobs that they are not cre­at­ing any­way, and have no inten­tion of cre­at­ing. In real­i­ty, as the Unit­ed States and Cana­da have acquired greater and greater income dif­fer­en­tials, with the wealth­i­est stra­tum get­ting more and more absurd­ly well off, these same peo­ple have not only refused to make any sig­nif­i­cant invest­ment in pro­duc­tion in our coun­tries, they have sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly destroyed what pro­duc­tion we had.

There are sev­er­al ways to get wealthy. One is sim­ple enough: steal stuff. Much of his­to­ry con­sists of aris­toc­ra­cies sim­ply plun­der­ing what­ev­er is avail­able. The peas­ants grow the crops because they must, if they hope to sur­vive. Aris­to­crats ride in with swords and armour, and take it. If they’re espe­cial­ly clever, they leave enough so that some peas­ants sur­vive and grow more crops; or they make a “pro­tec­tion deal” where they steal a lit­tle bit less than the aris­to­crat down the road, and promise to keep him from com­ing in. On such pro­tec­tion rack­ets, the basic Con­ser­v­a­tive world­view was found­ed. In return for not being killed, the bulk of human beings sub­mit to rule by a “nat­ur­al” aris­toc­ra­cy, gen­er­al­ly hered­i­tary, always deferred to and priv­i­leged above the com­mon crowd. The his­to­ry books write about them (and pret­ty much only them), and they get to be the “real” peo­ple, while the rest of us are dis­pos­able spear-carriers.

Anoth­er way, much more dif­fi­cult, and char­ac­ter­is­tic of rel­a­tive­ly free peo­ple, is to cre­ate things of val­ue and trade them to oth­er peo­ple, who also cre­ate things of val­ue. This is a lot of work, requires you to be rel­a­tive­ly smart, and can­not be achieved mere­ly by being born of the right fam­i­ly. It also requires you to deal just­ly and fair­ly with oth­er peo­ple. If you are inclined to Con­ser­v­a­tive ide­ol­o­gy, this part is par­tic­u­lar­ly oner­ous, because deal­ing fair­ly with peo­ple requires you to treat them as equals, and under­mines the fun­da­men­tal Con­ser­v­a­tive val­ues of rank and def­er­ence. Hon­est trade of this kind does not involve the thrill of dom­i­nance and bul­ly­ing, the delights of theft, and the orgas­mic rush of hav­ing peo­ple grov­el before you. The wealth that you get this way is not much fun. It cer­tain­ly doesn’t appeal to some­one who feels an urgent need for an ice-David that piss­es vodka.

If you are a true Con­ser­v­a­tive, and a suc­cess­ful aris­to­crat, the ide­al way of get­ting wealth, which does not involve the incon­ve­nient risk of fight­ing for it, and the unsat­is­fy­ing bore­dom of work­ing for it, is to posi­tion your­self some­where where the wealth flows through you. Mon­ey must move, in large amounts, from one place to anoth­er, pass­ing through you, cre­at­ing the world of lux­u­ry and pres­tige that you crave. This requires there to be an “upstream” and a “down­stream.” When local economies are dynam­ic and cre­ative, in a demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety, they are con­stant­ly re-absorb­ing their own cap­i­tal. Wealth is being cre­at­ed in great quan­ti­ty, but it is always being re-invest­ed. It is always being used, and it always group­ing and regroup­ing in unpre­dictable pat­terns among a great num­ber of peo­ple. Peo­ple in gen­er­al are pros­per­ing. In an eco­nom­i­cal­ly cre­ative soci­ety, it is actu­al­ly quite dif­fi­cult for any­one to accu­mu­late a huge per­son­al for­tune. A pro­duc­tive econ­o­my, the kind that pro­duces the com­plex and adapt­able sup­ply chain that the Unit­ed States and Cana­da once had, has bet­ter uses for mon­ey than $16,000 umbrel­la stands and vod­ka-piss­ing stat­ues. Such things are char­ac­ter­is­tic of back­ward, prim­i­tive soci­eties, ruled by sleazy mon­archs and inbred nobil­i­ty, not advanced economies. A thriv­ing, dynam­ic, free econ­o­my can­not be eas­i­ly “milked” by a small coterie of wealthy aristocrats.

So the free econ­o­my has to go ― the real one, that is, not the erzatz one ped­dled by Con­ser­v­a­tives. The Unit­ed States, Cana­da, and a hand­ful of oth­er coun­tries have accu­mu­lat­ed a tremen­dous amount of cap­i­tal over many gen­er­a­tions. This cap­i­tal has been gen­er­at­ed by demo­c­ra­t­ic and egal­i­tar­i­an val­ues, and the bulk of it is in a mul­ti­plic­i­ty of small enter­pris­es, and the homes and sav­ings of mil­lions of ordi­nary peo­ple. Much was invest­ed in infra­struc­ture, all direct­ed at the use of the bulk of the pop­u­la­tion. These coun­tries were con­struct­ed, polit­i­cal­ly, for their ordi­nary peo­ple, and their economies were designed to serve ordi­nary peo­ple. To unlock the mon­ey, and get it to flow rapid­ly into the hands of a few, these extreme­ly diverse and pro­duc­tive economies have to cease being pro­duc­tive, and become pas­sive con­sumer soci­eties. It is spend­ing, espe­cial­ly spend­ing on imports, that gets cap­i­tal to move through a small num­ber of hands in amaz­ing quan­ti­ties. Easy con­sumer cred­it, cou­pled with cur­tailed invest­ment in infra­struc­ture, and large-scale mil­i­tary spend­ing get the ball rolling. But to main­tain a fast pace of divest­ment, every fac­to­ry must be shut down, every cre­ative avenue sti­fled, every new man­u­fac­tur­ing enter­prise nipped in the bud. If this can be done, then mil­lions of pro­duc­tive peo­ple can be stripped of their sav­ings, their hard-won social ser­vices and risk-reduc­tion sys­tems, their homes, their mod­est plea­sures, and their self respect. All this vast cap­i­tal will pass through a small num­ber of hands. The “un-lev­el play­ing field” takes care of this. Pro­duc­tion ceas­es to ben­e­fit mil­lions in democ­ra­cies, and is refit­ted to ben­e­fit the few in Con­ser­v­a­tive, anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic societies.

I came to under­stand the true nature of Con­ser­vatism when I stud­ied vil­lage life in India. Not only under its medieval rulers, and under the thumb of the British Empire, but well into the post-inde­pen­dence era, the rur­al Indi­an vil­lage remained a caste-rid­den soci­ety, dom­i­nat­ed by true Con­ser­v­a­tive val­ues. In such vil­lages, a small class of Brah­mins, aris­to­crats by birth, lived quite well. Their dom­i­nance was firm­ly sup­port­ed by reli­gious ortho­doxy and tra­di­tion. They were the “real” peo­ple, who also saw them­selves as inher­ent­ly “cre­ative.” A small lay­er of skilled arti­sans sup­plied them with the req­ui­site amuse­ments and lux­u­ries, in exchange for a slight improve­ment in pres­tige. The Brah­mins’ duties were entire­ly spir­i­tu­al, unsul­lied by the unclean­li­ness of craft or com­merce. But there was one finan­cial task that they were always eager to per­form: lend­ing mon­ey. In fact, is was vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble for any of the great mass of peas­ants to sur­vive for long with­out get­ting in debt to a Brah­min. A bad har­vest, a sick child, or a cow that stopped giv­ing milk would be enough to push a fam­i­ly over the edge. Almost all peas­ants of the low­er castes were per­ma­nent­ly in debt. As debtors, they could be called upon to do almost any unpaid ser­vice, and hav­ing a hun­dred peas­ants in debt to you was equiv­a­lent to hav­ing a palace with a hun­dred, cring­ing ser­vants at your beck and call. At the bot­tom of this sys­tem were the dalit, the “untouch­ables,” whose very essence was rit­u­al­ly impure, and could bare­ly by con­sid­ered human. Once in awhile, on a very rare occa­sion, a dalit, or a very low caste peas­ant would have a stroke of good for­tune. Per­haps a rel­a­tive would get a job on the rail­road, or a son would escape to the city, dis­guise his caste, and get a pay­ing job. When this hap­pened, the for­tu­nate fam­i­ly would be very fool­ish indeed to pay back its debt to the Brah­mins. The val­ue of a debt was in its being a debt, not in the prospect of its being repaid. If a low caste or dalit was not in debt, he might not show the right respect. He might walk around with his head unbowed, and think he was as good as his bet­ters. Any debtor pay­ing off a debt was a bad exam­ple, a bad exam­ple indeed. Such rad­i­cal inso­lence would have to be nipped in the bud. The idle sons of the high castes, raised from birth to abuse and bul­ly their under­lings, were always avail­able and eager to burn down the hov­el of any peas­ant with the temer­i­ty to repay a debt. If it was a dalit fam­i­ly, it was con­sid­ered more appro­pri­ate to burn them alive, along with the hut. It made the point clear­ly. As the the Brah­mins learned, debt can be a very good thing for some peo­ple, espe­cial­ly if only a few peo­ple are count­ed as “peo­ple.”

This, in a nut­shell, is the fun­da­men­tal basis of Con­ser­vatism, as it is of Com­mu­nism. Soci­ety is envi­sioned as divid­ed into class­es or castes of peo­ple, with dif­fer­ent func­tions, and ranked accord­ed to a inate sys­tem of worth. In the estab­lish­ment of a rul­ing class, all sorts of claims of spe­cial worth and cre­ativ­i­ty are made, usu­al­ly exag­ger­at­ed fan­tasies of a self-described “mer­i­toc­ra­cy”. This is always pre­sent­ed as some­thing new, an entire­ly new stage in his­to­ry, or the arrival of a divine­ly ordained group of “the elect”, or “entre­pre­neur­ial genius­es”, or “genet­ic super­men”, or “new men”, whose tri­umph is pre­de­ter­mined by the laws of his­to­ry. If nec­es­sary, a lot of pseu­do-egal­i­tar­i­an clap­trap will be spread about ― every­one will call each oth­er “com­rade”, or “cit­i­zen”, or the new rulers will strut about in “pro­le­tar­i­an” cloth­ing or play at being ultra-pious, or a great pre­tense will be made that any­one might “make it” in the sys­tem of rank and suc­cess. It’s a lie. It’s always a lie. Every aris­to­crat­ic dynasty in his­to­ry has claimed to be some kind of new thing, com­ing into pow­er through mer­it, rather than inher­i­tance. Com­mu­nists came into pow­er with that lie, shrieked it from every loud­speak­er as they herd­ed their “com­rades” into exe­cu­tion pits, or set them to dig­ging coal with their bare hands, or trudged them off to the cane fields at gun­point. But Com­mu­nist pow­er is every­where exer­cised, now, by a hered­i­tary aris­toc­ra­cy. The indus­tri­al­ists of the ear­ly Indus­tri­al rev­o­lu­tion claimed to be new, as well, ris­ing through work and intel­li­gence to chal­lenge the old land­ed gen­try. But the first thing they did when they got rich was to mar­ry into that land­ed gen­try, and their chil­dren inher­it­ed palaces and cham­pagne frol­ics, not non-con­formist piety. The same is true of the cur­rent glob­al aris­toc­ra­cy, which can point to a hand­ful of gen­uine indus­tri­al or busi­ness cre­ators among their num­ber, but large­ly con­sists of mere thugs, finan­cial swindlers, and titled par­a­sites. The few who did some­thing cre­ative are not to be count­ed on any high­er moral plane, for they are not inclined to buck the sys­tem, and read­i­ly absorb the atti­tudes and swag­ger of the others.

But, back to the un-lev­el play­ing field, for it is the key to our com­ing destruc­tion. Con­ser­v­a­tive ide­ol­o­gy insists, with more hys­ter­i­cal cer­tain­ty than any of its oth­er ortho­dox­ies, that we must not make things for our­selves, and must buy things from Com­mu­nist dic­ta­tor­ships. Every oth­er doc­trine has some wig­gle-room, can be empha­sized or de-empha­sized, or can be skipped over with a wink. But this one must nev­er be chal­lenged, nev­er be doubt­ed, nev­er even for a sec­ond. Nev­er mind that these are stolen goods, sold by habit­u­al crim­i­nals engaged in vio­lent crime and fraud. We must buy them. Nev­er mind that the “com­pe­ti­tion” of stolen goods dri­ves the hon­est mak­ers and sell­ers of goods into bank­rupt­cy. Nev­er mind that the end­less flow of cash into the cof­fers of the slave trade dri­ves every hon­est employ­er out of busi­ness, and throws us out of work. We must still buy the prod­ucts of the Com­mu­nist sys­tem of exploita­tion —- we must, we MUST, WE MUST!!!!!!

Yet there is no escap­ing real­i­ty: every time an Amer­i­can or a Cana­di­an has walked into a store and bought an arti­cle pro­duced in China’s exploita­tive Com­mu­nist fac­to­ries, they have helped seal their own doom. Fake “free mar­ket” trans­ac­tions that are car­ried out on a play­ing field as dra­mat­i­cal­ly un-lev­el as that between a democ­ra­cy and a dic­ta­tor­ship are unmit­i­gat­ed dis­as­ter for the cit­i­zens of the democ­ra­cy. They set up a uni-direc­tion­al flow of cap­i­tal. Accu­mu­lat­ed trans­ac­tions of this sort trig­ger the dis­man­tling of pro­duc­tive domes­tic indus­tries. A pro­duc­ing econ­o­my trans­forms into a “ser­vice” econ­o­my, in which the only jobs are the jobs involved in dis­trib­ut­ing con­sumer goods, the pur­chase of which in turn strip the econ­o­my of more pro­duc­tion, and so on. Debts accu­mu­late. The coun­try feeds off itself, slow­ly pro­cess­ing the rem­nants of past cre­ativ­i­ty and enter­prise, like a fat man on a desert island liv­ing off the meals he con­sumed before he was ship­wrecked. The finan­cial sec­tor booms and thrives, replac­ing indus­try as the prin­ci­ple activ­i­ty in the econ­o­my. This is much like how your wal­let would fill up with cash if you stopped pay­ing bills, took your chil­dren out of school, and sold your car, fur­ni­ture and appli­ances for cash. Your wal­let would be a “healthy finan­cial sec­tor.” But you would be unhealthy.

Cana­di­ans seem to have the bet­ter prospect, tem­porar­i­ly. Our indus­try is trashed, but there are lots of nat­ur­al resources to sell. While Chi­na is still man­u­fac­tur­ing and sell­ing stuff, we can make a liv­ing sell­ing them oil, trees and rocks, much a we did for the British Empire when we were a bunch of back­ward rur­al hicks. I’m try­ing on my porkpie hat, and learn­ing to chew toba­kee, so I’ll be ready. But of course, as the Amer­i­cans run out of cred­it, the num­ber of sol­vent cus­tomers for China’s indus­tri­al pro­duc­tion will quick­ly dry up. So will its demand for our resources. We will rapid­ly move from a sell­ers’ mar­ket, do a lot of “belt tight­en­ing”, then join our Amer­i­can friends in oblivion.

Only sus­tained inter­nal growth in Chi­na would pre­vent this, but increas­ing domes­tic con­sump­tion in Chi­na would mean sig­nif­i­cant­ly spread­ing the wealth, which would sub­stan­tial­ly weak­en the stran­gle­hold of the Par­ty. It con­sid­ers itself lucky to have sur­vived spread­ing the wealth to the extent it already has. The coun­try is bristling with angry peas­ants and micro-revolts. The boom­ing cities will go sour as more and more peo­ple learn that they aren’t going to be let into the priv­i­leged “mid­dle class” and that try­ing to sneak a wank from a porn mag­a­zine when you get off your shift is as good as its going to get. Ten to one the Par­ty will take the course that all oth­er dic­ta­tor­ships have tak­en in sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances: war abroad and ter­ror at home. That is the solu­tion that Con­ser­v­a­tive soci­eties have usu­al­ly cho­sen, and the People’s Repub­lic is the quin­tes­sen­tial Con­ser­v­a­tive soci­ety. In the long run, the unlev­el play­ing field is no bet­ter for the peo­ple of Chi­na than it is for us.

Much atten­tion is now focused on Amer­i­ca’s debts. This con­trasts sharply with the atmos­phere at the height of the Bush, Jr. admin­ista­tion. When I was post­ing about its dis­as­trous import in 2006, I was in a decid­ed minor­i­ty, as Con­ser­v­a­tives sang the tune “deficits don’t mat­ter.” Con­ser­v­a­tives pro­mot­ed gov­ern­ment spend­ing on a scale dwarf­ing any­thing ever seen before in the coun­try’s his­to­ry — most­ly mil­i­tary spend­ing, almost noth­ing on pro­duc­tive invest­ment. Spend­ing, not sav­ing or build­ing, was the Con­ser­v­a­tive notion of fis­cal wis­dom. When the coun­try was attacked by a group of well-orga­nized reli­gious fanat­ics (who were bankrolled by the the Conservatives’s best bud­dies), Amer­i­cans were told to go to the malls and shop. Few Con­ser­v­a­tives wor­ried about the mount­ing debts, because their ide­ol­o­gy was promis­ing unend­ing pros­per­i­ty in a utopi­an future, which would arrive the minute the last rich man ceased to pay even a dime of tax­es, and the last bur­den of “reg­u­la­tion” was lift­ed from the “cre­ative class.” But when Democ­rats ― slight­ly less Con­ser­v­a­tive than Repub­li­cans (sort of Men­she­vi­ki to the Bol­she­vi­ki) ― came into office, Con­ser­v­a­tive tub-thumpers sud­den­ly dis­cov­ered the debt, which is now mys­te­ri­ous­ly and mag­i­cal­ly blamed on “lib­er­al­ism,” a bit of con­cep­tu­al mag­ic that reminds me of Stal­in blam­ing crop fail­ures on a plot of Jew­ish Doc­tors. But the prob­lem is now beyond any con­ceiv­able polit­i­cal solu­tion, who­ev­er holds office. There is lit­tle prospect of the Unit­ed States ever repay­ing these debts. Canada’s debts are not as dis­as­trous. The pre­vi­ous, Lib­er­al admin­is­tra­tion had bal­anced bud­gets for a decade, and built up sur­plus­es. Their Con­ser­v­a­tive suc­ces­sors went on a spend­ing spree, and pissed away the sur­plus, then were caught up short by the finan­cial cri­sis. The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion is bad, but a return to fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ty might put us back in the black, if the cur­rent Con­ser­v­a­tive anti-indus­tri­al, pro-export-resources pol­i­cy is reversed. But if the cur­rent poli­cies are pur­sued, we too will even­tu­al­ly go bankrupt.

But bank­rupt­cy for our two nations and our new sta­tus as peas­ants is no rea­son for gloom. It’s the play­ing out of the mar­velous Laws of His­to­ry. Every real Con­ser­v­a­tive is delight­ed at the prospect. Our friends in the Com­mu­nist Par­ty have point­ed the way, and Utopia is just around the cor­ner. The “cre­ative class” will be com­fort­ably in the sad­dle, and free of ungentle­man­ly reg­u­la­tions. As for the rest of us, the “non-cre­ative” class, we are to be plen­ty reg­u­lat­ed. In fact, every aspect of our per­son­al and pri­vate lives will come under the thumb of the State, which will, by and by, acquire the pow­er to spy on us at will, con­trol our sex lives, tell us who we can mar­ry, and make us pee in cups on demand. Tor­ture will again be a Good Thing. That pesky Bill of Rights (U.S.) and equal­ly pesky Char­ter of Rights (Cana­da) will be flushed down the toi­let. Mil­lions of us will be shoved into pris­ons, which will use up a sub­stan­tial part of our Gross Nation­al Prod­ucts, and pro­vide a lucra­tive busi­ness for friends of the elite. There may even be some excit­ing devel­op­ments in the field of body part mer­chan­diz­ing. All these won­der­ful Utopi­an ideals are already on view in the People’s Repub­lic of Chi­na, which is where most Con­ser­v­a­tives learned about them, and learned to love them.

We’ll learn to love them, too. Who would­n’t love a real Con­ser­v­a­tive world, full of tra­di­tion and good old fam­i­ly val­ues? None of that trou­bling, con­fus­ing indi­vid­ual free­dom. As hap­py peas­ants, we’ll learn a dis­tinc­tive shuf­fling gait (don’t let those feet get too far off the ground!), and call our cre­ative supe­ri­ors “Mas­sa.” At night, after an inspir­ing lec­ture, we will con­tem­plate the delights of a soci­ety that respects tra­di­tion, where some are born to the manse, and the rest of us sing spir­i­tu­als as we trudge to the fields and work sta­tions. The schools will be gone for most of us, of course, at least the sort where nasty lib­er­al ideas are dis­cussed. No sense in “redis­trib­ut­ing” knowl­edge. Noth­ing but uppiti­ness can come of it. Instead, plen­ty of healthy cal­is­then­ics, pledges of alle­giance, and cool stuff, like Cre­ation­ism, or Dialec­ti­cal Mate­ri­al­ism, or what­ev­er ding­bat hokus pokus our mas­ters think we should think. Come to think of it, most of the things that we once con­sid­ered nor­mal attrib­ut­es of civ­i­lized soci­ety will, one after anoth­er, go to the chop­ping block. Each will require “fac­ing up to the real­i­ties of the glob­al econ­o­my.” The “real­i­ties” will be our cred­i­tors, the ones we’ve been clos­ing down our fac­to­ries so we could pay to build their factories.

Any­way, not to wor­ry, our prin­ci­pal cred­i­tors are nice, respectable peo­ple, much admired by Con­ser­v­a­tives: the Com­mu­nist Par­ty of the Peo­ples Repub­lic of Chi­na, who mur­dered, in their younger, impul­sive days, rough­ly sev­en­ty mil­lion people.

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