Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Conservatism" or Oligarchy

“Conservatism” or Oligarchy
P. Schultz
July 10, 2013

            Below there is an editorial from the New York Times on what is happening in the state of North Carolina, where I happen to live. It is interesting for the following reason: Those who label themselves “conservatives” are enacting a distinct kind of “conservatism,” which should be noted and relabeled “oligarchy.”

            Note should be taken what these Republicans are not doing: They are not dismantling or limiting or reorganizing the powers of the government. Nor are they holding the line on taxes or reducing taxes, which of course is one way to limit the powers of government. Limiting access to abortion and other reproductive services, which services are not provided by the government, does not limit the power of the government. In fact, such action increases the power of the government and limits the freedoms of the people. Moreover, while reducing taxes on the wealthy, the legislature wants to increase taxes on every one else by raising the sales tax, as well as some other taxes which will fall on those who are not wealthy.

            A little history for purposes of illustration: Thomas Jefferson conducted a genuinely conservative revolution as president and one result was that, after Jefferson left office, the Congress became the focal point of the then new national government. That is, Jefferson reorganized the government so that what the Constitution had created, an energetic, unitary executive, no longer could control the government. Andrew Jackson, as president, did pretty much the same thing, although he used different means. Jackson did enhance the prominence of the presidency, but his presidency would be prominent within the context of a national government whose powers had been shrunk. Jackson waged what has been called “an attack” on the national government, including of course his creation of what has come to be called “the spoils system.” The latter legitimized putting party loyalists in the bureaucracy as a reward for their loyalty, not because they merited such appointments on other grounds. What many fail to see is that this “system” was created not just to reward partisanship, but also to decrease the power and authority of the bureaucracy. Party hacks, even those with offices, don’t carry as much “clout” as, say, experts or persons appointed because they have “character.”

            And, lastly, it was conservatives who opposed the creation of the Department of Defense and, by implication, of our national security state because such a state would limit our individual freedoms and foster the creation of an American empire.

            So, bottom line: Not only is what is happening in North Carolina a rejection of “progressivism,” as the Times points out. It is also a very strange kind of “conservatism.”

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