Monday, February 8, 2010

Capitalist Christian Crisis

"All Christians should know, well everyone should, that it's opening up a person to attack, spiritually," he said. "Christians shouldn't use it." As quoted on FOXNews.

Conservativism is self-contradictory. Cons won't shut up about the integrity of the free market and the need for reduced government and regulation. They say, the market works better without regulation. Most of them don't know where this idea comes from and have never read the Adam Smith, Ludwig von Mises, or F.A. Hayek who championed it; however, they are damn sure that if you mess with the market you hurt capitalism and your chances to live that wealthy and secure life you've always dreamed about living. A consumer needs to make his or her own choices and those potential choices should not be curbed prior to the point of sale.

Von Mises liked to argue that consumers are "the captains" of the market, that consumers steer the ship of capitalism. It's nonsense: this consumer power: consumers shaping demand therefore supply therefore price has never been a reality and won't become a reality with less regualtion. If I sound cynical, sarcastic and unconvinced, I admit I am. The "liberal social order" of the capitalist market is not, by any stretch of the imagination never mind philosophy, what you can call good economic theory. The key word is "order". What Hayek and von Mises were up to was attacking socialism and the science of Marx. It's not hard to do with the abject failure of Russian and Chinese Communist revolutions. Call all socialists totalitarians; scare the shit out of citizens who are too busy supporting families to study the economic history and theory; create a theory that supports your world view to keep your ideological foes at a distance and your base in line.

Hayek and von Mises firmly believe in a catalactic economy: that capitalism, at its best, permits people to participate in exchanges (buying and selling goods and services) that turn enemies into friends. Unbridled Capitalism should unite the world. Hayek's use of "catalaxy" in "Principles of a Liberal Social Order" and von Mises' use of it in Human Action are telling. (Von Mises uses catalactic, if my memory serves me here. I could have the spelling wrong.) These words come from the Greek word for cattle. When you're trading cattle with a guy, you're not at war with him. It's common sense, right? Free Trade is supposed to support the development of Democracy. We know how idealistic this is. Actually, it's utopian. As utopian as Lenin ever was. As we have seen, the United States is more than happy to use its military to enforce its values when trade doesn't work.

Why am I offering a summary of my critique of Hayek and von Mises in a post about FoxNews, Christian Conservatives, and Human Life International (HLI)? It's to illustrate why I am always on about American Conservatives contradicting themselves and making a mess of society.

The quote above is from Stephen Phelan from HLI. I'd link to their web site, but it has been down for some time. So, I'm linking instead to Reality Check's information about the group and its associated organizations. It's a fair and accurate entry.

Phelan is quoted above in a story on FOXNews. Fox, as we are all aware, is a news network that fiercely defends conservative, free-market ideals. They like to lie about their partisan behavior, but all media organizations lie about lying. It's annoying that Fox has Americans believing it's "fair and balanced" bullshit. But what can you do about that? It's a waste of time pissing and moaning about it, in my opinion. Fact is, the other networks are only slightly less conservative.
[Rachel Maddow might be the only progressive out there, right now. She insists on fact-checking, fair debate, transparency, and of course the true conservatives in both parties refuse to appear on her show. ]

Regulation & the Democrats Who Regulate is a popular theme in Fox's daily programming. After all, the current Tea Party movement is supposed to be a grass-roots and populist struggle: a return to small government in order to provide Americans with a greater promise of Liberty and appropriate Representation. And the enemy of small government according to conservatives is the liberal establishment.

Is this an accurate portrait of the American market and political discourse? Not at all. Conservatives have never been honest with their whining about regulation. I could address the nonsense that Republicans support smaller government. We could look at how the government grew under both Reagan and Bush. Facts are undeniable.

Human Life International is a famous Catholic anti-abortion organization begun by Benedictine priest, Father Paul Marx. He's a hero to many Catholics and his well-read book, The Death Peddlers, is still used to argue about supposed truths of the Reproductive Choice Movement. A priest like Father Marx who dedicates his life to serving others is not necessarily a hypocrite. I'm not criticizing his work. After all, we have the right to organize and protest and speak our minds. He remained true to his beliefs.

It's that FOXNews will distribute Father Marx's HLI rhetoric to the public without remarking about it's pro-regulation platform. We want health care reform in the United States, and FOXNews will spend hours and hours decrying it as socialism in the guise of reform. What is a Catholic organization up to with its mission to criminalize reproductive choice? It's theocratic regulation. It's one group out of many attempting to legislate its spiritual and moral codes.

HLI seeks nothing less than to convince government to strictly regulate the behavior of American citizens. It seeks nothing less than to regulate the market. It seeks nothing less than to increase the size and influence of government in our everyday lives. HLI is well aware of this. As a conservative Catholic organization, its members are not at all opposed to legislating Catholic Doctrine. They are true believers. Where are our Conservative, Free Market Principles and where are the defenders of Freedom and Liberty when you need them?

It's easy to illustrate the hypocrisy of American Conservatives. In fact, any people who claim to represent common sense while using and manipulating conventional wisdom typically must deny contradiction and paradox, any complexities whatsoever, in wild attempt to maintain practicality in the face of chaotic everyday life. When things get complicated, conservatives get simple, deny philosophy and promote sensibility.

In fact, I could say this about liberals and leftists, as well. It's tempting to move away from active discourse in a public sphere where free speech is promoted and into the legislative sphere where Laws restrict behavior and proscribe speech according to basic principles. It's hard to resist using Law to oppress others. This is not simply a conservative sin, so to speak. Nevertheless, Conservative Christianity is dangerous because it relies on the status quo and the white power structure for its strength. As a social movement, it's organizing principle is based on it's members fear of difference and love of condemnation: the pleasure they get when prosecuting others. It's white, it's Christian and it's interested in nothing less than legislating its principles so that, no matter who you are, you'll have to act in a manner suitable to their doctrine of daily life.

The left sings Yes We Can; the Right replies No You Can't. The Tea Party, in fact, is all about saying NO. That's how it works. Actually, these folks are not interested in Liberty. Many of them are disenfranchised white-power junkies. They are predominantly Christian. They want to create an America that looks like them. It's a difficult task, since Americans decidedly do not look nor act like they do. This populist movement was spurred by the election of a black man and Christian ideologues are now going to attach themselves to it. It has been brewing for quite some time within the anti-immigration movement.

Fear not. They won't accomplish much. In the battle between Capitalism and Spirituality, we can count on one thing only. People are Consumers before they are Christians. Capitalists have even The Supreme Court on their side. Christians must learn to be content with arguing that pink ouija boards are bad for your spiritual health.

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