31 March 2010

Part Two: The Reagan Revolution Continues under Clinton & Bush

 The Reagan Revolution Becomes Entrenched Policy

Yesterday we talked about recent revolution in America within the context of the Hegelian Dialectic which posits a construct of history composed of (1) Thesis, (2) Antithesis, (3) Synthesis, or, as I am applying it, (1) Revolution, (2) Counter-revolution, (3) Freedom or Slavery. And we discussed, briefly, the Reagan revolution which was hall-marked by proletariat acceptance of a monetarist fiscal program which was sadly predicated on the wholesale dismantling of the new deal and dissolution of unions.  Make no doubt of it, the Reagan/Bush years were about a right-wing revolution here in the United States and exported abroad (notably Latin America) with a neo-liberal economic policy based on the monetarist theories of Milton Friedman.

Feeling the squeeze from these ill-advised notions, the petite bourgeoisie (small business owners) joined with the proletariat (wage earners) in a sufficient number to elect Democrat Bill Clinton as president.  However, if one plans to look to the Clinton presidency for signs of counter-revolution one is destined to fail.  In no small way Clinton carried on with the primary elements of Reagan's programs--albeit somewhat muted.  At best, Clinton was a Chamber-of-Commerce democrat far more comfortable at wine-and-cheese parties and on exclusive country club golf courses than in the union halls and shopping malls of blue-collar, wage-earning America.  In many ways, he would have fit in quite well in the administration of Dwight Eisenhower--more moderate Republican than Democrat.  The Reagan revolution continued!

Nothing happened during the ill-gotten administrations of George Bush, the second, to counter the revolution and, in fact, the element of engaging in a worldwide war with a nebulous noun (Terrorism) served to provide the proletariat and petite bourgeoisie with a rallying cause directing attention outward and away from the continuing destruction of the new deal and institutionalizing of monetarist deregulation and unrestricted speculation in real estate, banking and finance draped in populist avowals of freedom of "market force".  Wall street had taken charge!  And there would be hell to pay!

The revolution had entered a new phase.  New Deal and Great Society safety nets (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) became the whipping boys as the proletariat and petite bourgeoisie felt the unease and a sense of a declining standard of living.  For them it was not unrestrained, unfettered, unregulated capitalism concentrating more and more wealth into fewer and fewer hands which were the culprits.  It was the give away programs to the lumpen-proletariat  (welfare, unemployed, criminals & other "free-loaders") which were creating a deficit through so-called entitlements and in turn eroding the emergent middle class "all that we've worked so hard for".

The masses sensed something was horribly wrong and were ripe pickings for the jingoistic, nabobism of the bourgeoisie working at the behest of their Wall Street masters. That sense of unease grew into a pathological paranoia and hysteria which have taken us into what, I believe, is the final phase of the Reagan Revolution.

Tomorrow: The misinformed, the misled and the misbehaving face of a revolution getting out of hand!  Ideology trumps party politics!

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