September 30th, 2010 // 4:00 am @ Oliver DeMille
Imagine what would happen if a huge chunk of citizens stopped accepting what they are told by one of the parties, stopped just aligning themselves with candidates from one of the monopoly parties, and started deeply studying, analyzing and thinking about the issues of government independently.
Imagine if they shared their thoughts openly with many others, instead of just letting the news be defined by the big media responses to the big parties.
Imagine the revolution that would occur in the voting citizenry.
This is exactly what happened in the decade the Internet went mainstream. It is valuable to know the profound history that led to this freedom revolution.
Karl Marx agreed with Hegel that history is created by the dialectical conflict between upper classes and the masses; Lenin transferred the attention from class warfare to the conflict between rich and poor nations.
Most Americans and Europeans adopted this view during the Cold War. Indeed, the Cold War was the “inevitable” result of class conflict leading to conflicts between the governments of the “greedy” nations and the collectivized socialist states.
Keynes, like Lenin before him, shifted the debate by arguing that since many nations were not willing to adopt socialistic government ownership of all business, the only solution was for big businesses to give people privatized “socialism” such as health insurance, savings programs (like the current 40lk), retirement programs and other employee benefits.
Keynes further predicted that if government did things right, then small businesses would be increasingly less able to offer such benefits over time and that eventually big business would run the entire economy in partnership with highly-regulating governments.
Together, Keynes thought, big government and big business would phase out the disruptive, nonconformist and anti-social element of independent small business power and replace it with big corporations offering all the benefits envisioned by socialism.
Simultaneously, governments would keep mavericks, entrepreneurs and innovators from rocking the boat. Socialist goals, albeit through private corporate means, would be implemented into all capitalistic nations.
The result would be the end of warfare between owners and labor and the solution to most world problems.
Keynes said that once companies become so big that they are less focused on profits than appearing caring, helpful and socially responsible to the public, they will make decisions based on public relations and therefore socialistic values rather than making money.
If enough big companies could be coaxed to this point, and if increased government barriers to small-business success could effectively squelch entrepreneurial initiative, even the most capitalistic nations would provide privatized “socialist” safety nets for the whole society.
This is aristocracy, pure and simple.
In such a system, big corporations would work together with big governments to continually increase the delivery of socialistic goals such as:
- Free education for all
- Free health insurance for all
- Free health care for all
- A society of employees
- Jobs for everyone
- A meritocracy of experts ruling society
- A docile and obedient populace
This system was adopted slowly but consistently so that Richard Nixon could announce by the mid-1970s that “we are all Keynesians now.”
In short, Keynesianism promotes big government with high levels of regulation along with big business promoting various private offerings of socialist goals.
This social safety net has proven popular in all the Western nations, and has offered a number of short-term and positive lifestyle benefits.
It has also proven a better solution than government-only socialist equivalents in one-party states like the USSR, Eastern European nations and modern Russia, China and Cuba.
In multi-party nations like France and Germany some parties promote big business and others big government, and still others emphasize their pet areas of focus.
In the United States the maintenance of Keynesianism requires a major party supporting the government, a major party supporting big business, and a system of swinging back and forth between the leadership of each.
When the big-government party is in power, the Government-Industrial-Complex grows, and when the big-business party is in power the Industrial-Government-Complex expands.
When Keynesianism is flourishing, both parties use power to increase entitlements, foreign involvements and government spending.
Taxpayers and small businesses suffer.
The End of History
Francis Fukayama predicted in the 1990s that with the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War this conflict between the rich and poor nations was over; he called this “the end of history,” citing both Hegel and Marx.
In the ensuing model of the 1990s, where everybody was a “capitalist,” economies flourished.
With a united Germany, declining Soviet power, and the dot.com and real estate booms, everybody seemed to have forgotten Keynesianism in the Roaring 90s.
Everybody, that is, except the two big parties.
Entitlements, debts and deficits grew during the Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations.
When 9/11 struck, everyone realized that history was far from over and that major challenges were still ahead. If the end of history had come, Keynes won.
Ironically, the fact that Keynesianism uses capitalistic means to accomplish socialistic ends allowed both liberals and conservatives to claim victory.
Conservatives rejoiced that socialism had lost to markets, and liberals celebrated that the era of big, irresponsible capitalism was over.
Unfortunately, what they brought us was far from the utopian ideal envisioned by socialism’s iconic philosophers or the freedom statesmen in history.
In fact, it was not so much socialism—where the state provides for all—as aristocracy, where the masses provide for the elite.
But back to our narrative: Keynesianism requires both political parties constantly and vocally doing battle. Neither can fully win or destroy the other; and when one wins an election the other is needed to play a minority role until it can win back the majority.
Whichever party is in power, the scope of government and big business must both increase during their tenure.
Of course, the result is that the far right hates Democrats when they are in power, and then turns on Republicans when they win and grow government. The far left does the opposite, hating the Republicans when they rule and then turning on Democrats in power for not doing enough.
Mainstream members of both parties simply support their party and dislike the opposition.
The key action in all this, the thing which makes Keynesianism work, the linchpin of the whole model, is for the citizenry to do nothing but vote.
Of course, they can live their lives, work at their jobs, send their kids to school and volunteer in their community. If they do these things, plus vote, they are good citizens. No more is asked, or wanted, from them.
“Just shut up and vote,” is the subtle message from both parties.
Of course, if one is an expert in politics, if it is their job, they are expected to do more than vote. They are required to study government, the issues and impact public opinion.
The same applies to professional journalists, attorneys, professors, etc. But this only applies to professors of political science, law, public policy or a related field.
Professors of literature or chemistry, for example, like postal workers and soccer coaches, are encouraged to leave governance mostly to the experts.
This cynical view is, unfortunately, widespread. Keynesianism depends on a society of experts where nearly everyone leaves governance to the political professionals.
Citizens are subtly taught that voting is the role of citizenship, along with serving on a jury if called up, and to otherwise leave governance to the experts.
After all, their party is watching their back for them and keeping the other “evil” party from doing too much damage.
Or, if the other party becomes dangerous, their own party leadership and the media will let them know.
Responses to Being Patronized
When a few citizens realize that they are being “handled” by the professionals of their party, the first response is naturally to want to elect better party leaders.
When time shows that this doesn’t work — that in fact it is the nature of party leadership to spin the truth and patronize the party rank-and-file — the disillusioned party loyalist often looks to some extreme group within the party—such as the radical right or the fringe left.
Alas, honest citizens find that faction leaders are usually as prone as major party heads to spin the issues and handle party members.
At this point, many party members just give up.
“The other party is bad,” they rationalize, “and my own party leaders are just too political. But at least candidates from my party are better than those from the other party.”
Some sincere seekers actually ignore tradition and years of brainwashing and seek for a better situation in the other party.
At first, party switchers may find a few things they really like better about the new party—especially if they attend in-person events and get to know some of the people in the other party.
“Republicans /or/ Democrats aren’t so bad,” they realize.
The longer they stay with the new party, however, the more they see that both parties are run in virtually the same way, like a formula primetime program, with the same character-types inhabiting the various roles.
Eventually they see most of the same problems that caused them to question their original party.
The idea that both parties are a problem is like the end of history for many voters. Most have seen politics itself as a war to put the “good” party in power and kick out the “bad” party.
So when a voter realizes that both parties have serious problems, and even worse—that neither party is likely to really solve America’s problems—there is a major paradigm shift.
Some give up in utter frustration, while others get really mad at their own party. Others get even more angry at the “other” party and refocus their support for their original party.
But one reality remains in the minds of most people arriving at this understanding: Neither party has the answers, and neither party is likely to really fix our problems.
More, the system is basically designed so that the party of big government and the party of big business take turns being in charge.
When regular citizens understand the goals of Keynesianism, it is a major shock.
At this point, what is a caring, sincere and committed citizen to do? When you learn that parties are parties are parties, how do you stay involved in governance? And how do you stay positive and optimistic about the future?
The Big Decision
The answer to these questions is for citizens to begin to study and think a lot more about government and to stop ignoring freedom by leaving it to the political professionals.
Unless regular people realize that freedom is up to them, not the experts, and that they need to learn more and take more action to make a real difference, they are unlikely to become true citizens.
When a person does make these realizations, however, he or she drastically changes. He becomes excited about impacting freedom.
There are three major ways to do this, and the three are drastically different:
This is “the big decision” for free citizens who really want to maintain and even increase freedom.
Whether your political views are generally liberal, conservative, libertarian, progressive, green, or centrist, the big decision is a powerful way to start making a real difference.
Here are more thoughts on the three paths of the big decision:
This means openly and vocally fighting the system, pointing out its flaws, and actively participating in influencing change.
Populism has a long history in America, from the People’s Party movement of the 1880s and 1890s which arose because many people felt that neither of the two major parties would listen to them, to the Progressives of the early 1900s, the Labor movement of the 1920s and 1930s, or the counter-Culture revolution of the 1960s and the counter-Populism of the 1970s.
More recent populism includes anti-incumbency, Tea Parties, Coffee Parties, and the Green movement, among others.
Activism consists of committing to one of the major political parties and really having a powerful influence on it.
While I strongly emphasize the rise of independents, it should not be understated how valuable truly independent-thinking citizens can be if they choose to maintain strong party ties.
This is not only a legitimate but a highly-needed role of promoting freedom in our society. Both major parties need more members who really study, analyze, independently think and participate in improving party communication, leadership and impact on society.
This means becoming your own, personal political party—a party of one citizen.
Today there are more independents in the United States than either Democrats or Republicans. Independents don’t depend on any party but independently study, analyze, think, spread their influence and then vote for candidates and issues they feel will most help the nation.
Whatever your decision—whether you choose to help improve society through populism, activism or independence—note that is it vital to do certain things.
Those who simply depend on party experts leave these things to others, and the result is a loss of freedom. These things include:
- Making a deep study of the principles of freedom and the U.S. Constitution.
- Studying the history of freedom in order to truly understand current and future events within their context.
- Studying and analyzing current issues in depth and from many different perspectives.
- Considering the views of those who disagree with you and really understanding the points of merit (and not just your points of contention) in their ideas.
- Drawing your own independent conclusions about proposals and policies after deep study.
- Articulating and sharing your ideas with others.
- Using your influence to impact the direction of the nation on specific issues and in general.
Populists are often criticized for not doing these things, but those who do can make a real, positive difference in populist circles.
Activists who commit to these things can greatly support party choices, and independents need to do these in order to have a meaningful impact.
The American founders wanted citizens to do these things, and predicted that the loss of such behaviors by the citizens would be the end of the republic.
If we want our freedoms to remain and even increase, we must be the kind of citizens who deserve such freedoms.
If we leave our future to the current power of Keynesianism, we will see more of the same: on-going crises, angry and ineffective politics, increased government spending and debt, increased taxes and regulations, continuing foreign conflicts and the loss of American lives, and an inability of government to solve our major problems.
The more the parties fight and the louder the conflict, the greater the power of Keynesianism. Keynesianism depends on heated arguments that drive the citizens to demand bigger government programs.
As long as the party of big business and the party of big government hold a joint monopoly on our society, voters will vote and little will change—except that debts, economic crises and problems will increase.
If this is the future we want for our country, we just need to leave politics to the politicians.
In contrast, the future of freedom depends on citizens who do a lot more than just vote and serve on jury duty. It depends on citizens who do the things which bring freedom—as populists, activists or independents, but all studying and thinking independently.
The American system was designed with the people as overseers of government. We all need to fulfill this role better.
We need a party of small business, a party of family, a party of entrepreneurial leadership, a party of the regular citizens, a party of freedom.
The American founders had a name for such a party: Citizens. Such a party naturally occurs and grows in free society when we do our true part as citizens.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.