imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

The Danger of Right-Wing Populism

by Workers Action Friday, Jan. 02, 2009 at 10:24 AM

A strange trend is appearing in the political realm of the Left. Self-proclaimed political conservatives — many current or former members of the Republican Party — are being given considerable room in Left publications, for example in Counterpunch and BuzzFlash. At first it seemed accidental, with only sporadic occurrences. Now these “renegade” right-wingers enjoy ample room in spaces formally reserved for “lefties only.” How is this to be explained?



If you ask a self-proclaimed progressive why he or she admires a particular conservative pundit, you’ll most likely receive a list of “progressive” positions:

* Against the Iraq War

* Against free-trade (especially NAFTA)

* Against Globalization

* Against the bank bailouts

* Against the Federal Reserve

* Against restrictions on civil liberties

At first glance, then, members of the Left feel obliged to open their arms to these strange bedfellows, who feel more like first cousins than traditional enemies. If, however, one looks under their gleaming progressive garments, an unreformed wolf emerges.

Who are the wolves in question?

A short list may include: Ron Paul, Craig Paul Roberts, and Pat Buchanan.

A quick biography of each person is necessary to put their politics in the correct context, especially since none of the three have renounced their political past.

Ron Paul is a long time Republican congressmen in the House of Representatives, while at the same time being a self-professed Libertarian — the party in which he ran for president in 1988. Paul is extremely religious, strongly anti-abortion, anti-homosexual, and incredibly anti-immigration (he regularly refers to immigrant workers as “the illegals”). Paul once famously stated “that 95 percent of the black males in Washington, DC are semi-criminal or entirely criminal." In ’92, Paul was an advisor for Pat Buchanan’s Republican Presidential campaign and more recently ran for the Republican nomination in 2008. Paul became a true name brand when, in 2003, he voted against the Iraq War Resolution.

Craig Paul Roberts is primarily an economist, and in that capacity was chosen to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan. While in this position, he played a critical role in implementing the 1981 Tax Act, which was the first of two tax cuts — under Reagan — for the super rich to the tune of a 42% reduction, while overall taxes for the lowest tax bracket were raised 1%. Roberts has only fond memories of the Reagan administration. Roberts too has Libertarian leanings and has served as a “Distinguished Fellow” for the Cato institute, a right-wing think-tank. He has been a severe critic of President Bush, which gives him credentials with liberals. His syndicated column circulates widely over the internet.

Pat Buchanan is an old school Republican having gained notoriety for being a close advisor and speechwriter for Nixon. During the Reagan years he served as the White House Communications Director, where his principal task was to garner support for the US-backed military intervention in Nicaragua. Buchanan is a proud co-founder of the infamous “culture war” rhetoric of the right-wing, which primarily pits white US Christians against anyone else, especially immigrants, homosexuals, Muslims, and “Zionists." For this, Buchanan has earned the praise and influenced the ideas not only of Christian fundamentalists, but white nationalist groups (Nazis), who regularly post links to him — as well as to Ron Paul — on their websites. Like Paul, Buchanan has solid links to the ultra-right, theocratic Constitution Party. Buchanan, like the above two, has earned praise from liberals for being against the Iraq war, while being staunchly anti-“neoconservative” — all three refer to themselves as “real” Conservatives.

The right-wing populist formula is a simple one, and the above three — and to a lesser degree CNN anchorman Lou Dobbs and billionaire Ross Perot — have mastered it.

As Wikipedia states: “The strategy of right-wing populism relies on a combination of ethno-nationalism with anti-elitist (populist) rhetoric and a radical critique of existing political institutions.”

The question remains: how does the strategy of right-wing populism interconnect with the above list of “progressive” political positions?

The most crucial link between the two is the concept of nationalism. Nationalism applied to economics has serious implications. In practice, economic nationalism equals protectionism: placing taxes on goods entering the US or subsidizing US corporations for better market performance. If one is against globalization and free-trade, while staying within a capitalistic framework, protectionism (nationalism) becomes the only real alternative.

But protectionism comes with a price. Not only the inevitably higher prices of inflation, but subservience to corporations within the US national borders. If a large US corporation is a poor competitor on the global market, its owners quickly become rabid advocates of protectionism. Likewise, if a worker advocates protectionism, whether consciously or not (such as some argue in favor of the idea of "fair trade"”), they are essentially aligning themselves with the fate of “their” native corporations versus “foreign” ones. The worker is thus left without an independent political perspective, and is apt to view foreign workers as opponents, the same as US corporations view their foreign competitors.

Nothing pleases the billionaire shareholder more than hearing that union officials are working together with management towards better “market competitiveness." This strategy of owner/worker cooperation has been proven decidedly bankrupt for workers, who are blamed for the uncompetitiveness of “their” corporation, and thus punished with wage and benefit cuts, as is happening currently with GM workers, as well as with many others.

It must also be emphasized that, under capitalism, putting up trade barriers is a serious international matter. The countries whose goods are being excluded likewise put up trade barriers in retaliation, and goods and raw materials that were once freely traded (relatively) on the world market must be attained through other means. This complete breakdown in international relations, itself beginning with the breakdown of the world economy, logically leads in the direction of war. The right-wing populist clearly understands this, but is driven to economic protectionism not by choice but by the corporate interests that he ultimately represents.

Why does right-wing populism emerge at all?

In normal times, when capitalism is functioning without crisis, there is little room for the far right. When capitalism does enter crisis, the political parties subservient to corporate interests evolve accordingly. This is why both the Democrats and Republicans have been veering to the right for decades; it represents the deterioration of American capitalism’s global position, which is related to the inability of US corporations to maintain their past rates of profit. When an economic crisis intensifies, as it is now, not only does the ruling class require a new political path, but a new vehicle too.

In the 1980’s, when Japanese and European corporations successfully “caught up” with many US companies, Pat Buchanan prophetically remarked that “there was a political vacuum to the right of Reagan."

Buchanan and the other right-wing populists strove to fill that gap. Foreseeing that the so-called neo-conservative movement in the Republican Party was headed for utter failure (because of losing two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), the right-wing populists began a campaign of radical rhetoric, denouncing everything within the existing two-party system. They are not against wars in general — since they happily supported the war in Afghanistan — but against, as Obama put it, “dumb wars." As the economic crisis deepens, the rhetoric of the ultra-right will continue to radicalize likewise.

This anti-government speechifying can resonate in the ears of many workers, since they have a valid deep-seated suspicion of the two-party system, not to mention the many other institutions the rich use to rule over the

majority — the Federal Reserve, CIA, electoral college, the judicial system, the police, etc.

And while the far right says they are against most government institutions, they are primarily against business regulation, public education, the social safety net, and against whatever else that reduces the profits of the corporations they serve. And this is where the different groups of the far right — Libertarians, Constitution Party, “real” conservatives, etc. — sing a hymn together in perfect harmony.

They loudly condemn government to the masses, while quietly idealizing both the market economy and “private property” to their corporate backers. Private property is, to them, not the home you live in, but the giant corporation owned by an individual or small group. In their idealized society, there would be no limit to the mega-employers greed for profits: no minimum wage, no social security, no workers' protection, no social safety net, etc. The majority of people would naturally rebel against this, requiring the "free-market" idolaters to quickly reestablish all the old, “repressive” institutions.

Since the right-wing has ultimately the interests of the rich in mind, they must resort to radical rhetoric to secure a mass base, while distracting their followers away from the source of their seething anger - capitalism. This is the same reason that they pander not only to religion, but also to ignorant racists by focusing on immigration, condemning both homosexuality and Islam, while ranting against "multiculturalism."

Unfortunately, the radical rhetoric has fooled a great many workers into supporting the cause of the right-wing populist. This rhetoric, combined with the poor education many schools and unions provide — since the union bureaucrat benefits from the status quo — not to mention the limited perspective of most progressive organizations, makes large sections of the working class especially vulnerable to these radical appearing ideas.

The need, therefore, to be able to distinguish between the political essence of Left versus Right is fast becoming critical. As the recession deepens, the far Right will use their rhetoric and large donors to gather strength. Unmasking their “progressive” positions for what they are is paramount if their true role in support of their capitalist masters is to be exposed. No alliances can be made with this dangerous group.

Below the progressive phrases of the ultra right lie class interests, and explaining the fundamentally opposed relationship between worker and owner is crucial if we are to prevent their ideas from developing a mass base capable of being transformed into fascist reaction.

Workers should not adopt the ideology of their employers. We need one that is radically different in essence, not only in appearance. Luckily, such a perspective already exists, and is ultimately the only path that strikes at the root of capitalism — socialism. Workers do not need owners, managers, or bureaucrats; we are capable of running society ourselves.
Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 5 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
Zeitgeist movie, Alex Jones, etc. mous Saturday, Jan. 03, 2009 at 9:34 AM
also, there is conservative progressivism mous Saturday, Jan. 03, 2009 at 9:52 AM
?R? what? Saturday, Jan. 03, 2009 at 8:08 PM
not just the Fed mous Monday, Jan. 05, 2009 at 1:14 AM
tweet! Tweeter Monday, Jan. 05, 2009 at 6:25 AM

Local News

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

TheMilitary of Yemen IN In The 1990's A26 5:42PM

The Shortwave Report 04/27/18 Listen Globally! A26 4:03PM

Federal Bank Examiner FDIC recalls year long 1999 robbery in 2017 A26 3:24PM

Doxa du lobby A25 2:03AM

Tech workers organize A24 6:24PM

Architect Stephen Francis Jones A24 3:01PM

UN Forum Wrestles with Economic Policies 10 Years After Financial Crisis Islands Call for A24 12:34PM

Xyloglossie attitudinale A23 8:07AM

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy