Katrina vanden Heuvel, publisher of The Nation, is at it again, this time on Twitter (@KatrinaNation). This morning she tweeted: “Ginning up IRS story to make government seem like oppressor fits into Right’s decades-long narrative. Government for common good is needed.”
Pssssh. That America has ever had government for common good is one of those officially-sanctioned lies they tell you in the public schools’ American history classes. In fact, though, the U.S. government since its beginning has been — like all other states — the executive committee of the ruling class.
It’s probably no coincidence that the nonsensical phrase “general Welfare” appears in the US Constitution’s Preamble right after the equally nonsensical “common Defence.” The idea that American military policy serves some common “national interest,” as opposed to the corporate entities in whose interests wars are actually fought, is pure buncombe. And so is the idea that the American state’s economic policies are aimed at some sort of general welfare.
The examples of so-called “government for common good” that “Progressives” put forth, like the New Deal, are no exception. Whatever benefit accrued to the working class from the New Deal was purely a side effect of promoting the economic interests of the segment of organized capital represented by the Democratic Party.
The Democrats, admittedly, generally oversee a lower overall rate of exploitation by capital under their watch. Part of the reason is that the wing of organized capital behind the Democrats is just a little bit smarter than its Republican counterparts.
The Republican business coalition just wants to strip-mine the U.S. population. They figure if they exploit us for maximum short-term gains and we all die at age forty from dioxin poisoning and black lung disease, all they have to do is make abortion and birth control hard enough to get and they can breed another supply of slave labor in no time.
The Democrats, on the other hand, tend to limit exploitation to the maximum sustainable level, like a farmer who feeds his livestock well and works them only in moderation. But that’s not “promoting the common good.” That’s simply effing us over at a sustainable rate.
The Democrats and Republicans agree on probably ninety percent of the structural monopolies and privileges by which the propertied classes extract rents from the producing majority of the population. The Democrats give just enough of the rents back to the most poverty-stricken segment of the population to prevent the factories from clogging up with unsold inventory or outright homelessness and starvation from leading to political destabilization that might cause them to lose the whole ball of wax. But that amount is just a tiny fraction of the total rents extracted by the classes that own this country.
Of course such nonsense from vanden Heuvel shouldn’t come as a surprise. Remember in the weeks after 9-11, when she gushed about the return of public faith in the government? Thirty years before, in the early ’70s, Samuel Huntington lamented in almost identical language the loss of public trust in government and other forms of authority as a result of Vietnam, Watergate and the student protest movement. It was only public trust in government after WWII, Huntington said, that enabled a tiny clique of corporation lawyers, investment bankers and generals to govern the world without interference from the ignorant public. And the restored faith in government that so tickled vanden Heuvel’s fancy had exactly the same effect. The burst of public trust and support for the government after 9-11 resulted, in effect, in giving the Permanent Warfare and National Security States a blank check to invade, bomb, torture and wiretap anyone anywhere in the world who stood in the way of global corporate power. And it’s a check Obama is still cashing to this day.
I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if an earlier incarnation of vanden Heuvel had supported Hitler for “restoring faith in government,” so long as the death camp guards were unionized.