Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Re-re-re-invention of Socialism

It has been in the works for some time. The process of the umpteenth Socialist transformation may be close to completion in the US, where the Democratic Party has been taken over by postmodern, hard, pragmatist reds.

The Dutch Labor Party on the other hand has just woken up to the need for a new coat - the old Liberal gown now all worn out. Leftist political ideologues have been overheard pleading for a return to old-fashioned, red authoritarianism. But this transformation is still an ongoing process at this point in time.

The metamorphosis was also on the agenda Monday night when the Dutch Labor leader and the Finance Minister, Wouter Bos delivered the so-called Den Uyl Oration (Den Uyl being the Dutch Barack Obama, a Socialist firebrand dating back almost four decades). The speech offers a rare insight into the statist, Socialist mindset.

He dealt with the temporary adoption of Liberalism by the Left, now with thinly veiled distaste referred to as Neo Liberalism. Obviously the Left have been wearing the Liberal coat much longer, but it didn't come to the Netherlands before Bill Clinton and Tony Blair toted it as "the third way".

The Labor leader enjoyed brief popularity last year when the voters credited him with "having saved the banking sector" after he nationalized and bailed out a number of banks considered too big to fail.  He and his party are now at an all time low in the polls.

Bos refers to the market in terms of an out of control monster: "Third way progressives fell asleep with the markets tamed, but woke up when the monster had broken its chains" (I kid you not).

Bos has accepted the Obama as the ideological leader of New Old Labor movement after Obama "proved that transnational corporatism (globalism) is man-made and makeable; it's not a natural process and unavoidable as Neo Liberals have been falsely telling Social-Democrats for years". Apparently Bos just figured out that the regulation of markets is a distinct possibility and politicians can dictate what bankers may earn, without capitalism crashing down to earth in shock. Principle is a stranger to these pragmatists.

The same is apparently true of the "Neo Liberal" plea for limited govenment, known in continental Europe as the Anglo-Saxon model. The Scandinavian system is paraded out, proof positive that big government, economic growth, wealthspread and sustainability are all possible at the same time. So, there are alternatives to the Neo Liberal model (as we've also seen in China where mega economic growth is unconcernedly combined with a communist dictatorship).

You might be excused for concluding that Bos is pleading for a return to classical, red, state intervention. But that isn't the case. According to Bos that would be "substituting one failure for another". Rather, he's proposing the erection of a protective barrier between the private and the public sector.

At this point the analogy hits the circus world: the market behaves like a wild, performing animal; you may think you have it under control, but at some point it's bound to act in accordance with its nature. A motte-and-bailey may in the end offer more security than regulation.

In its zeal to tame the beast, the state finds it easier to deal with larger corporations. Therefore rules and regulations have consistently punished small to medium sized businesses to a larger extent than bigger ones. It has created a convergence of interests of the state and big business, which Mussolini defined as corporatism, or fascism.

Bos blames the present crisis in third-way-ism on the contemporary form of cut-throat capitalism, which has more to do with mergers, shareholder value and take-overs, than with entrepreneurs and human resources.

But as Ann Coulter points out in "Can't We At Least Get a Toaster" this "risk-free Clintonian state capitalism" is the product of the third way, rather than unadulterated laissez faire capitalism.
Throughout every bailout, congressional Republicans were screaming from the rooftops that this wasn't capitalism. It was "Government Sachs." As Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) put it, the same rules that apply to welfare mothers "ought to apply to rich Greenwich, Conn., investors who are multimillionaires." But Wall Street raised a lot of money for the Democrats, so Clinton bailed them out, over and over again. Before you knew it, once-respectable Wall Street institutions were buying investment products even more ludicrous than Mexican bonds: They were buying the mortgages of Mexican strawberry-pickers.
It's the same story, over and over. State interventionism creates a monster, calling for more interventionism. Symbol for all that, stands the greedy banker's bonus, and banks not in the service of the "real economy" but as moneymakers in themselves, as Bos puts it.

Bos never gets concrete anywhere, so it's still a matter of conjecture what this motte-and-bailey between the public and the private sector will turn out to be. The entire history of progressivism warrants utmost prudence and vigilance. Ignore the latest transformation at your peril.

Bos' conclusion is sure proof that Liberalism has been abandoned: in the past he would have thought twice of indulging so freely in unfettered elitist moralism. He concluded his speech, expressing the need of instilling into the elite (they wear this now as a badge of honor), a sense of service and civic duty towards public interests. He even sounds ominous when classical progressivism gets a hold on him: "our desire to lift up man extends to the elite as well."


Sure enough, last night from the Socialist Party (Maoist) convention platform it was announced that it and (new) Labor have committed themselves to a government coalition. As the hated NeoLib feathers are being shed entire new combines enter the horizon. The SP is much more populist, less elitist, and deeper red. The time will tell what horrors this marriage of convenience will produce.

Related posts:

- NRC: "Dutch support for Obama plan to restrict banks"
- DutchNews: "Labour leader Bos leaves 'the third way'"
- Politeia: "The New New Left: the Return of Authority"
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James Higham said...

Yes, it really does go through phases and the same people are always there in the thick of it.

Michael Lantz said...

I would like to see a revolution in Western Europe and the United States to move to the center or to the Right.In the United States we need a revolution like the one we had in 1994.If the American people wake up here maybe the people in Western Europe will wake up there.

Cassandra Troy said...

I think you'll get your revolution, Michael. But I fear statism is so rooted in Europe, there's no hope here. I'm afraid the ethics program is such, that lack of state isn't interpreted as freedom, but as neglect by the proper agencies.

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