It is interesting to see clearly the two theories of capitalism reflected in the government shut-down. On the one hand one has the ultra conservative section led by the Koch Bros. finances of “give the people nothing because it will encourage them to take more” and on the other hand the theory of allowing some sliding benefits to delude the people that in gradual concessions they have won something worthwhile and that their life is bettered.
The resistance to the obvious exploitation of the people by this Affordable Care Act shows that the US public is not so easily deluded any longer The ensuing health benefits are a stop-gap to blind the exploited to the real underlying purposes of this ‘health’ law, which is to guarantee more profits to the large insurance companies. At the same time it obviates calls for a single payer national health policy at the government’s cost like so many of the industrialized countries already provide.
Of course the information industry will confuse and then reinforce that confusion into compliance. An unease of experiencing the subtle oppression that US citizens are subject to, is becoming more palpable, even though most of this remains unexpressed and not acted upon except by groups such as the Wall Street Occupiers. Despite the take-over as usual of revolutionary slogans (the 1% versus the 99% , a term now touted by all the media as if they care), the US public is notoriously compliant and locked into a firm bourgeois ideology and existence, whether they are from the financial upper-classes or middle-class wage earners.
The shutdown provides measures to shrink the government in order to further reduce social benefits and make the government leaner and meaner and more competitive. In consequence the cost of governing will be drastically reduced through the far smaller amounts of people to be employed in government agencies. It is the perfect means to apply capitalist principles of lower labor cost with a higher productivity as the available government jobs are to become scarce. Both parties agree on the waste presently in force in Washington and the governmental agencies spread elsewhere in the US and abroad.
Additionally the debt ceiling crisis is the perfect method for starving out competitors by lowering one’s prices, i.e. the dollar will fall sufficiently so that China’s investments become well-nigh valueless. At the same time the guarantee that the US fully backs US government bonds will be moot and thus by as it were bankrupting the nation, the US will be able to keep its economic hegemony. As for understanding these tactics, it is good to keep the excellent analysis in mind of “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein.
Gui Rochat is an art dealer and consultant, specializing in in seventeenth and eighteenth century French paintings and drawings. He lives in New York.