Tuesday, 29 October 2019

The dangers produced by political polarisation

In his new article ‘Rethinking Polarization’, American political scientist Jonathan Raunch argues that the increasing polarisation of the American electorate since Bill Clinton’s impeachment is purely and essentially a reflection of fear of the enemy rather than belief in the party one follows.

Raunch notes that the most recent polls form last year show that Democrats are now as averse to compromise as Republicans – who have long been criticised on that issue. However, what Raunch shows is that:
  1. the political center has little interest in politics and its reluctance makes those who do show interest more extreme
  2. polarisation has been affective in nature – Republicans have developed a hatred of Democrats and Democrats a hatred of Republicans
  3. people hate the opposite party because of disappointment in their own political party
Raunch also argues that the collapse of mainline Protestant denominations has displaced apocalyptic and redemptive impulses into politics, and when one combines this with stagnant real wages for the less educated and the absolute decline of industrial jobs, poor white men become marginalised and extremely open to demagoguery.

When Raunch points out this, I am reminded of the situation in Protestant parts of Weimar Germany. There, urban workers, who had unlike their US counterparts completely discarded organised religion, turned en masse to the Communists, whilst the remainder of ancestrally Protestant Weimar Germany turned en masse to the Nazis. The radically individuoegalitarian nature of the Left’s “identity politics” where each person is special due to his or her lifestyle choice and has no connections with even adjacent residents, was also replicated in the culture of Weimar Germany. This lack of connections eliminates senses of shared citizenship.

Dietrich Rüschemeyer showed in his Capitalist Development and Democracy that the combination of these features with a powerful class of large resource owners was – in part – the cause of the collapse of Weimar into the totalitarian Nazi regime. There is also no doubt that in the US a class of large resource owners is at least privately hostile to democracy when the voters are not white. Unlike in Nazi Germany, the Republican Party has been able to make changes – felony disfranchisement, mass incarceration, voter ID – in a gradual manner. However, it does seem plausible that – even if only the “fringe of the fringe” like Lawrence Auster will dare to say so publicly or in print – the Republican Party’s business backers will not be emotionally satisfied with anything bar a lily-white electorate and no income taxes like existed before the Civil War. If this be true, polarisation is likely only to widen, even if its danger should the Republicans gain more and more power would be economic. Big businesses would be propped up by government to the exclusion of other services, which would create severe social (as “pull” factors lessen in the United States and it is less attractive to immigrate to) and environmental (via greenhouse gas emissions increases) effects that would only flow on to the rest of the globe.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Is this a simple basis for understanding the PIGs?

In recent years, my brother has become more and more critical of the Politically Incorrect Guides and their allies, arguing that the PIGs (as I always call them) have one single objective that is not mentioned in any of their books: to enrich rich people more and more. My brother argues that every policy they argue for is designed to either do this directly or encourage poor people to support their objective.

PIG Policy:

  1. Does it enrich rich people?
    1. If not, do not support it
  2. If it does:
    1. Will it help gain poor votes?
      1. If it does, support it openly
      2. If it does not, support it quietly
When this was discussed, I asked my brother why the PIGs support Christianity. Given that I know traditional religion and moral laws lessen the demands of the majority – if not their actual consumption because of resultant lower taxes and living costs – supporting traditional religion will enrich rich people. It will also help gain the votes of poor people, many of whom fear changing morals from the secular and “big government” Millennial Generation.

In contrast, corporate welfare – consistently ignored by the PIGs although it utterly contradicts their philosophy of zero government regulation – helps make the super-rich richer, so the PIGs simply ignore it for the most part.

Robert P. Murphy is, however, very critical of bank bailouts in his Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal. If my brother’s thesis be true, this could only be because he thinks that they serve as a criticism of Barack Obama, whom the PIGs hate, according to my brother, because he is black and a Democrat rather than because of his policies or dislike of the Constitution as Stephen Hayward says in The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents. The same is true of other PIG-allied groups criticising General Motors, which was once called “Government Motors”.

Philosophically I can only be highly supportive of a constitution that strictly outlaws all business bailouts. Were they outlawed, rich people would lose substantial protection from government, without many costs I can testify from my own life to result from large-scale public welfare. Cuts to corporate welfare would also save a large – if unknown to me – sum of public money to return to the public or to reduce printing of new money. The only problem I do see is that jobs might not be provided rapidly enough to replace those in large businesses after they collapse.

Another book – one of the worst of the series – whose connection to “enriching rich people” I do not see is The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East. Paying for aid to Israel must cost rich people a lot of money given the amount of aid given by the US, yet it is supported vigorously by the PIGs despite their general isolationist leanings and the fact that the US aided the most virulent Muslim regimes to fight Communism. Opposing Saudi Arabia as proposed consistently by Robert Spencer in the Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam would not enrich rich people – it would have made Asia more vulnerable to Communism in the 1970s and 1980s. Indeed, the contradictions between those two PIGs are indication of very bad quality control in the writing of the series, and even Robert Spencer acknowledged these contradictions when I messaged him many years ago.