After listening to some of the tea party people blog about the government and liberals being fascist, it occurred to me that one possible source for this could be the notion that what they perceive as a unilateral intervention by the government into the private sector is what they deem `fascist’ (I have dealt with the historical notion of fascism as it pertains to liberalism in another blog http://mixermuse.com/blog/2010/01/03/fascism-is-liberal-and-squares-are-circles/). They have an emotive perception that liberals are fascist. Conversely, let me state that while I would not think of many Republicans as historical fascists I certainly understand the emotion that results from feeling like you are being forced against your will to do something you totally detest. I felt the emotion many times when Bush was president (In particular, especially when my tax dollars and our children were being forced into two, in my opinion, absurd wars that actually created terrorists more than diminished terrorism. see http://mixermuse.com/blog/2010/01/08/war-on-terrorism/). The feeling is that one is powerless to stop the perceived aggression against one’s higher ideals. I have dealt with the notion of `higher ideals’ to some extent in the previously mentioned blog (also, see http://mixermuse.com/blog/2010/01/19/the-criminal-and-the-human-a-rational-approach-to-liberalism/ ). What is the higher ideal that is at work in the tea party folks?
I think it may be that they believe the `free market’ is the ultimate dispenser of justice and equality over and above the government. I have also dealt with the notion of the `free market’ in another blog (http://mixermuse.com/blog/2009/12/23/why-i-am-not-a-conservative/) `Free market’ as well as `government’ is a social, organizing dynamic. If the metaphysic of the `free market’ is at work in the emotion of an individual (the meaning-bestowing, intention projecting, higher ideals of an individual), the perception of violation, sin or moral conflict is brought to the fore of the individual’s psyche when external interventions are perceived as threatening. Thus, the emotional latent word `fascism’ seems to capture the dilemma succinctly for the tea party folks.
With the metaphysic of the `free market’ there is the idea that all external intervention is wrong. I have heard many conservative commentators and economists that are lassie-faire draw heavily from the assumption that all intervention (by this government is implied) is disruptive of the implied and pre-understood `justice’ of the free market. This brings the higher ideals of such an individual in conflict with the compelling need to subsidize these violations with their tax dollars. Thus, we see the name calling, town hall yelling tea party phenomenon.
This is my answer to those folks:
Not all intervention is fascist and not all “non-intervention” is free market. Free market is full of intervention – intervention is another word for competition. When a big business competes against a small business the small business will lose in a head to head competition because big business is always the “senior partner”. On the other hand, government intervention is not always wrong as evidenced by the FDIC, NPS, NIST, NOAA, CDC, NIH, FAA, etc. Why draw an abstract line between government and free market? Why not look at it in terms of the dynamics of small and large?
Small companies can generate innovation and efficiency and so can small governments. Large companies and governments can provide mass products and solutions at lower costs due to economies of scale. However, large companies and governments can become fat and bureaucratic and drive out new competition and innovation. If there are no other big companies that can do battle, then we get monopolies, multi-national corporations, “to big to fail”. What is there to restrain corporate totalitarianism? If there is no government that is big enough to intervene then what could possibly stop a corporate totalitarianism?
If the free market hits a snag and can’t solve the health care crisis do we keep trying to believe that the issues are only related to the lack of a truly free market; the market is not “pure” but contaminated by government intervention or can we honestly look at our metaphysic of “pure” vis-à-vis “free market”. If we analyze the economic structures in terms of power structures ranging from small to large scales what we see is a sort of Machiavellian war of all against all; a Darwinian survival of the fittest; a perpetual revolution. As long as these economies of scale are kept from devolving into totalitarianism the benefits to people, individuals, cultures and societies can be allowed to grow, diversify and thrive. If the market is left to itself there really is no way for the small to perpetually overthrow the large. David may have defeated Goliath once but without God to intervene the odds get much worse. It is free market “religiosity” that makes one think the small can always keep the large in check. What is needed is battle of the Goliaths. Goliaths learned a long time ago that collusion (i.e., price fixing) is much better than battle. If there were no government to intervene, regulate, make treaties, etc. the multi-national corporation would have no incentive to address anything such as a “health care” crisis. They would simply continue to spin their propaganda about how wonderful they and the free market are while millions continue to die in emergency rooms and without any health care. The “free market” can work well within limits but every market must have limits as they will not limit themselves in all cases.
The only agency that can limit and require intervention when necessary is the government. The government is not an ideal solution. It is merely another Goliath among the others. However, since a democracy (not a fascist or communist state) has other dynamics and entropies at work it has the innate tendency against collusion and for battle. When the battle is diminished, Wall Street will win every time. If the government continually squashes other Goliaths, totalitarianism will reign supreme. In either case, individuals lose. The natural regulation of the market is not found in Adam Smith or Carl Marx but in-between. Those that are pure free marketers or communists will effectively promote totalitarianism. Diversity should not be thought merely in terms of an un-regulated, pure free market but in terms of the natural antipathy between government and business. When one side of that equation dominates individuals lose. It is ludicrous to think that Goliaths will not arise when humans are present but Davids do much better when Goliaths collide than when God walks away and lets the Goliaths decide. I suppose this means God is not lassie-faire.