Tuesday, 9 August 2011

STARVE THE BEAST; Ayn Rand for Europeans

The US credit downgrade was no accident. To understand why the American Right brought the world to the brink of financial collapse by threatening to veto the US budget extension you need to know what their real intentions are, ("the most pernicious fiscal doctrine in history”) and why they they think corporate anarchy should replace elected government.

“This is a manufactured crisis”
Too true. Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was quite right. The trigger for the U.S. debt rating downgrade, and the disaster we stared at from the largest economy on Earth defaulting, was an entirely self-inflicted wound. But Mrs Bachman’s statement was not just stating the obvious. She was trying to convince the American voter that a budget default could only be good for the U.S. Why would a serving U.S congresswomen and Presidential candidate suggest that?

To understand this you should be aware of political strategy of the far right called Starve The Beast

To quote the Wikipedia link above, 

"*Starving the beast*" is a fiscal-political strategy of some American conservatives to cut taxes, depriving the government of revenue that enables spending on social programs …in an effort to create a fiscal budget crisis that would then force the federal government to reduce spending.”

Economist Paul Krugman: "Rather than proposing unpopular spending cuts,
Republicans would push through popular tax cuts, with the deliberate
intention of worsening the government’s fiscal position. Spending cuts could
then be sold as a necessity rather than a choice, the only way to eliminate
an unsustainable budget deficit."

Sarah Palin is hardly even coy about this  “[Congress], starve the beast,
don't perpetuate the problem, don't fund the largesse, we need to cut

If you are anything like me (a naive idealistic European), you will be astounded at the cynicism of this. We might be aware of the naked political cynicism of Soviet Communism or Nazism but the perpetrators in those cases were brutalised gangsters or embittered World War 1 veterans. Not Christians. And many of the American far right claim to be exactly that. What defines the conscience of a devout Christian who is prepared to inflict widespread economic misery across his own nation for political gain?

George Monbiot thinks they are hypnotised by Fox news. It is much deeper than that. To accept what comes from Fox, and to perpetrate what is political cynicism of the highest order, you need to have already accepted a whole new morality based on 'freedom' as 'the law of the jungle'.

Adherents to this new freedom are people living in a moral mirror universe, role-playing that beard heavy episode of Star Trek without any hint of irony. They can bring the world to its knees over a budget crisis but will not pay any tax themselves. They can cry foul at the excesses of Greeks and then perpetuate endemic tax evasion through their own political system (40% of the U.S. budget deficit is Bush tax cuts for the top 1% of Americans. It is growing all the time and fiscal suicide.)

Once labelled a grass roots organisation, in reality, the Tea Party is as much a grass roots movement as the tobacco industry and the Oil Lobby. It has now been revealed a Republican front organisation, each political alter ego of the other. Sharp dressed responsible businessman by day, white hooded pyromaniac by night. If ‘psychopath’ sounds harsh consider the definition “ characterized by a tendency to commit antisocial and sometimes violent acts and a failure to feel guilt for such acts”. And then apply it to recent political acts by the U.S. Republican party.

Those doubters who are unaware of the depths of Republican thinking might
need to read the around The Southern Strategy<
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_strategy>, for 40 years dismissed as left wing conspiracy theory, now accepted as truth.

‘The Tea Party’ is a dumbed down political off shoot of Republican Supply Side economics (and ultimately Starve the Beast) in the same way that Nazism was an off shoot of Eugenics. Supply Side (or Trickle down) economics, has all the real world practical advantage for the overall economy and the average person as the English National Opera. Even No.1 Ayn Rand fan Alan Greenspan should be thankful that devotees like Reagan, Thatcher and their heirs were too corrupt or incompetent to completely usher in the ‘share owning democracy’, as the stock market cataclysms since 2008 would have left the world population actually destitute instead of theoretically destitute.

And the less said about their business/service industry vs. manufacturing policy the better. How many times have you watched that Knight of the Chipping Norton Set, Jeremy Clarkson opine about the lack of British industry without bothering with the slightest mention of where it went to? In retrospect destroying our own manufacturing base looks uncomfortably similar to the self destruct button being pushed on our economies.

The ideas behind all this, and their moral base, have become all the more pervasive since the 1980s. The political and economic ideas which were once just ruthless self-interested greed among the haves have become a mean meme running the through the meanest of the have-nots as well.

Starve The Beast, has been a virus handed out in blankets in the corporate breaks between the commercial breaks on Fox News. But economics alone does not climb into peoples hearts and make them this mean.

For that, you need ideas powerful enough to subvert the basic human behaviour (call it Christian morality if you like) given at all, to allow normal people to coexist happily in society without resorting to shooting sprees. To make the morality of the Tea Party Republicanism and policies such as Starve the Beast and the Southern Strategy make any kind of sense you need to understand their cult hero, Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand is to these people what Wagner was to the Nazis. She would be its heart and soul if they actually still possessed anything in that cavity except for blackened lemons full of spite and negativity. (How do such creatures pro-create? They stare into each other’s eyes and marvel at their mutual self-interest?). Readers in the U.K. may well be unaware of Ayn Rand, a Russian Kulak émigré from Stalin to Hollywood whose two cult novels, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, defined her philosphy of extreme selfishness, Objectivism.

Atlas Shrugged is the most nakedly political of the two, a science fiction parable in which the talented elite (say, the Chipping Norton Set) "down tools" to re-take the world from the shiftless parasites (you and me).

The real meat though, a brilliant piece of moral subversion, is The Fountainhead. On the surface a Dallas-like saga of feuding architects determined to bring modernism (Art Deco) to the skyline of New York, it is thrillingly bad in four dimensions, like reading a novel written by a J.G. Ballard character, or putting on a great suit once own by Oswald Mosley. It is a novel so intoxicated with its own personal integrity it seems unaware it is flirting with extreme politics like Eva Braun after a bottle of Black Tower.

The Fountainhead is full of fetishistic moral inversion and dark obsessions that have been running through U.S. society for decades. The hero, an almost farcically principled artist, martyrs himself by blowing up a building he doesn't like. He counts among his friends a tabloid press baron, a young protégé convicted of attempted assassination, a love interest that seems to invite consensual rape shortly after they meet, and most chilling of all, the villain, Toohey, a cartoon Liberal manipulator, who uses morals and charity as a tool only to place others in his debt and advance himself.

Toohey is a Bond villain whose tool for world domination, his orbital space laser, is a social conscience.

If I described a flashback from The Fountainhead in which Toohey thwarts and exposes the school bully just to advance himself, and the sympathy of the writer is most definitely with the bully, you would struggle to believe me, but it is there. As seen by Rand the school bully is a free spirit, oblivious to the constraints around him. (Chapter VIII)

Rand is not only a cult hero to the Tea Party Republicans she is the idol of the economists that have shaped our world since the 1980s, and is now regularly featured in U.S. schools forced to ‘balance’ the liberal leanings of their other literature. The fact that Rand ended her days living off the state under an assumed name has been quietly forgotten. Vice Presidential nominee and new face of the Republican Party, Paul Ryan, is in record as being a disciple of Rand. “There is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism," Ryan told The Atlas Society in 2005, "than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works."

Rand has ushered in a mirror moral universe, where the' freedom' of press Barons in the Chipping Norton set to run tabloid surveillance amounts to a corporate totalitarian state for the rest of us. Here is a headline from the tabloid newspaper in The Fountainhead. Compare with the level of press morality seen by some of Fox News’s paper stablemates at News International.

 *“Hell is said to be paved with good intentions” said The Banner “Could it be we’ve never learnt to distinguish what constitutes the good? Is it not time to learn? Never have there been so many good intentions proclaimed in the world. And look at it”* (from XIII)

Ayn Rand herself was fiercely anti-religious, a fact conveniently forgotten by most of her followers, who seem unaware that her message of extreme self is not unlike that of a near contemporary.

"Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law".

That the political and economic message of the Tea Party seems closer to the ideas of Aleister Crowley than anything in the Bible has to be an irony that will keep amused whatever replaces us on the surface of this planet. Perhaps the human race is lucky to have got this far. With Tea Party levels of social co-operative behaviour 50,000 years ago the human race would never have made it out of the caves, in fact we would probably have sold each other out
to the Neanderthals.

With the Tea Party, the Republicans and the Party Whose Job It Is To Fail (the Democrats) pushing the U.S. face first into an extreme experiment with gangster economics and plutocracy, it all seems very dark. There is only one horrible blood red light on the horizon. What was that quote about capitalism and rope?

"The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them."

Are we sure Lenin never worked as a Republican strategist?

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