What we are seeing in the midst of America’s financial crisis, is a crisis not so much of confidence as it is of ideology, for the crisis has its origins in an economic outlook that has been ascendant for generations.
I speak of the idea of deregulation, championed by former President Ronald Reagan, who became symbolic of the shrink-government movement. His reign marked the coming of age of the so-called conservative movement, built on principles (ostensibly, at least) of reductions in government, expansion of ‘free’ markets, lower taxes, and strengthened nationalism, usually by military means.
Although this has been primarily a Republican agenda, Democrats, like neo liberal President Bill Clinton, have hewn closely to this formula — hence his claim to be a "new" kind of liberal.
At the heart of this philosophy has been trust in ‘the blind hand of the market’, with a distaste for the heavy hand of regulation. As such, both of these relatively recent incarnations of political parties have had a deregulation bent, and depended on the market to set the economic beat of the nation.
This has necessitated the rise of a kind of political deception, explained by scholar and Critical Resistance activist Ruth W. Gilmore as "anti-state actors." In the 2007 book, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex(Cambridge, MA: South End Press), Gilmore notes:
Strangely, then, we are faced with the ascendance of anti-state
state actors: people and parties who gain state power by
denouncing state power. Once they have achieved an elected
or appointed position in government they have to make what
they do seem transparently legitimate, and if budgets are any
indication, they spend a lot of money even as they claim they’re
"shrinking government." Prison, policing, courts, and the
military enjoy such legitimacy, and nowadays it seems to many
observers as though there was never a time things were
Years of governance by these "anti-state state actors" has seen the growth and expansion of government by leaps and bounds. The prison-industrial-complex is now the largest on earth; while the military has been engaged in dubious occupations which closely resembles security services for the oil industries.
And the market is about as ‘free’ as the U.S. was during slavery. As deregulation crumbles the state emerges as the guarantor of corporate profits, where tax dollars are used to replace sour business deals choking with ‘bad paper.’
While unemployment, foreclosures, homelessness, and repression evokes little more than a sneer, let the market feel failing stocks, or let banks stumble, and the deregulators come running to save their betters. Need loans? Need a bailout? Need a buyout? Nothing is too much for the well-to-do.
And your money is necessary to protect them!
This is socialism, with a wicked twist.
[Source: 'The Revolution Will Not Be Funded' was edited by Incite! The Women Against Violence Project.]