Budgetary Fascism

NYT solemnly exonerates Obama on its editorial page (Apr. 11) for going beyond the call of duty and, in a display of selfless patriotism, calls for cuts in the social safety net, affecting merely the poor and working people, as he nobly strives to break the budgetary impasse and gain the approval, or at least cooperation, of Republicans.

With a president like that, America, notwithstanding the patriotic garbage being written, is on the fast track to liberal fascism, i.e., the corporate-military synthesis, embedded in an hierarchical social system, but with bread and circuses rather than the concentration camp (at least for now).

We kiss the feet of the Assassination President, rather than look our society squarely in the eye.  For if we did, we would recognize how much war, intervention, militarism, torture, Espionage Act prosecutions, the whole bloody show that passes in the name of democracy, has disembowled our most basic values (themselves long fallen into the categories of political mythology and ideology).  Have we as a nation passed the point of no return?  There is little reason to think—or hope (a word which sours in the mouth, given its Obama-politicized usage)—otherwise.

Yet we must struggle, if for no other reason than to make the political-economic leadership sweat, as they tighten the screws—or think they have.  Capitalism has so botched its (and our) future that payback is sure to follow.  America has centered in itself all the forces of world reaction; wherever a dictator on the globe appears, we are sure to find and assist him.

Wherever financial giantism exists, we are sure to find means of integration into the system.  But now militarism stands head and shoulders above all the traits defining America’s counterrevolutionary posture.

Liberals-conservatives, a devil’s stew of corrupt politics, chooses as its representative to the outside world a unified command embracing paramilitary and covert operations up to and then including (after we factor in supercarriers and Stealth aircraft) the highest level of human carnage, nuclear weapons:  an unrestrained force capable of halting temporarily the historical process of self-determination, anticolonialism, autonomous modernization, until either the monolithic haves beat each other down, or the have-nots experience a collective awakening to the same end of supplanting societal elites.

Meanwhile, the US has Obama, dependable to the nth power in serving America’s ruling groups.  Joy to the world….  Years of civil rights demonstrations down the tubes (a greater setback to genuine racial democratization in America than centuries of segregation and discrimination, because hidden under the mask of presumptive advancement is delivery into the jaws of nympholeptic wealth).  I can almost see my Paul Robeson 78s melting in shame.  So, budget, budget—a class process, with the weight all to one side; and a revealing process, not only of where power resides in America, but also of the content of its social values, authoritarian in its complicity with warmaking abroad, and inequality of wealth and power at home.

My New York Times Comment (Apr. 11) follows:

NYT accepts the rightward shift in the political-ideological structure as a given, hence rewarding Obama for shrewdness via putting Republicans on the spot. This mad race to the bottom, symptomatic of bipartisan moral bankruptcy, has no end in sight. Obama proves his mettle by cuts to the social safety net? Nonsense, he proves only his and his party’s political treachery. Democrats stand for very little–Republican lite–as meanwhile military so-called exigencies suck out the lifeblood of the Republic.

I’d rather cut out completely the drone program for targeted assassination, than see privation, mortgage foreclosures, malnutrition define the parameters of American life. And what do we have to look forward to in 2016–a Clinton-Biden fight for the nomination? I’m glad I’m old enough to have seen something of the New Deal, public works, and FDR’s strengthening of the American spirit when all was darkness.

Norman Pollack is the author of “The Populist Response to Industrial America” (Harvard) and “The Just Polity” (Illinois), Guggenheim Fellow, and professor of history emeritus, Michigan State University.


Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.