Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Contrary voices are regulated, barred, banned when possible, mocked and marginalized when not; Progressive voices are encouraged, lionized, amplified

In a book which says that (and how) "liberals use the word 'fascist' to describe anything outside the control of the state", Jonah Goldberg clears up a lot of stuff, notably "one of the underappreciated consequences of the explosion in the size of government" (from chapter 8, Liberal Fascist Economics, emphasis mine):
So long as some firms are willing to prostitute themselves to Uncle Sam, every business feels the pressure to become a whore.

…This is the hidden story of big business from the railroads of the nineteenth century, to the meatpacking industry under Teddy Roosevelt, to the outrageous cartel of "Big Tobacco" today: supposedly right-wing corporations work hand in glove with progressive politicians and bureaucrats in both parties to exclude small businesses, limit competition, ensure market share and prices, and generally work as government by proxy. Big business rallied behind LBJ, not the objectively free-enterprise Barry Goldwater. Free marketeers often decry Richard Nixon's wage and price controls, but what is usually forgotten is that big business cheered them

…There's no sector of the American economy more suffused with corporatism than agriculture. Indeed, both Democrats and Republicans are decidedly fascistic when it comes to the "family farmer," pretending that their policies are preserving some traditional völkisch lifestyle while in reality they're subsidizing enormous corporations.

But corporatism is only part of the story. Just as corporations were enmeshed in the larger Nazi Gleichschaltung, supposedly right-wing big business is central to the progressive coordination of contemporary society. If big business is so right-wing, why do huge banks fund liberal and left-wing charities, activists, and advocacy groups, then brag about it in commercials and publicity campaigns? How to explain that there's virtually no major issue in the culture wars — from abortion to gay marriage to affirmative action — where big business has played a major role on the American right while there are dozens of examples of corporations supporting the liberal side?

Indeed, the myth of the right-wing corporation allows the media to tighten liberalism's grip on both corporations and the culture. John McCain perfectly symbolizes this catch-22 of modern liberalism. McCain despises the corrupting effect of "big money" in politics, but he is also a major advocate of increased government regulation of business. Apparently he cannot see that the more government regulates business, the more business is going to take an interest in "regulating" government. Instead, he has concluded that he should try to regulate political speech, which is like decrying the size of the garbage dump and deciding the best thing to do is regulate the flies.

These speech regulations in turn give an unfair advantage to some very big businesses — media conglomerates, movie studios, and such — to express their views in ways exempt from government censorship. It's no surprise that some of these outlets tend to celebrate McCain's genius and courage and use their megaphones to expand on the need for him to go even further and for other politicians to follow his lead. Of course, this dynamic is much larger than mere regulation. The New York Times is pro-choice and supports pro-choice candidates — openly on its editorial pages, more subtly in its news pages. Pro-life groups need to pay to get their views across, but such paid advertising is heavily regulated, thanks to McCain, at exactly the moment it might influence people — that is, near Election Day. One can replace abortion with gun control, gay marriage, environmentalism, affirmative action, immigration, and other issues, and the dynamic remains the same.

That is how the liberal Gleichschaltung works; contrary voices are regulated, barred, banned when possible, mocked and marginalized when not. Progressive voices are encouraged, lionized, amplified — in the name of "diversity," or "liberation," or "unity," and, most of all, "progress."

…In the brave new corporatism, we are all "partners" after all. Environmentalism in particular offers a number of eerie parallels to fascist practices, including as an overarching rationale for corporatist policies. According to generic fascism, an atmosphere of crisis must be maintained in order to circumvent conventional rules. Today, while Hollywood and the press relentlessly hype the threat of global warming, big business works assiduously to form alliances and partnerships with government as if the fight against global warming were the moral equivalent of war. Indeed, Al Gore — who makes much of such public-private partnerships — claims that global warming is equivalent to the Holocaust and anybody who denies it is the moral equivalent of a Holocaust denier.
PS: I typed these notes 10 days ago in preparation for a post of this type and it should in no way be construed as a reaction to the Texas/Ohio vote nor as a suggestion to vote for Hillary or Obama nor as one to refrain from voting altogether.