Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Radicals Of The Right


—George Orwell 

Much is made about left-wing radicals and their destructive ideas, and understandably and justifiably so; and yet the right has produced three radicals who made it to the top echelons of power in their countries of origin. These right-wing radicals accomplished much in their tenure as political leaders, including the dismantling of the Social Contract, transforming the Just Society into one full of inequalities, and allowing corporations to become so powerful and big that they cannot fail, while allowing individual citizens to fail. All with a nod and a wink and a slap on the back.

The powerful and arrogant troika are no other than President Ronald Reagan of the United States, his pal, Margaret Thatcher of Britain and Reagan’s Irish singing buddy, Brian Mulroney of Canada. Each leader contributed independently and collectively to ensure that their socio-political and economic policies would achieve their aims—essentially pushed down the throats of citizens, like bad medicine, whether they liked it or not. True dictators. Let’s take a look at the measure of each man and women with a view to get a better understanding of their thinking,

Canada: Mulroney and the Schreiber affair: I will start with my own nation’s sordid history. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was caught taking $300,000 in cash, in 1993, from one Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber, one of those shadowy figures that move within government circles, often unmolested. The cash was ostensibly for acting as a lobbyist for Airbus, after Mulroney stepped down as prime minister but still was an M.P., a member of the government. Then, Mulroney conveniently “forgot” to declare said sum in his tax filings for that year, only doing so six years later. An article, by Chris Higgins, in the National Post says the following about the incident and subsequent government inquiry:
Nov. 7, 2007: German businessman Karleinz Schreiber claims in an affidavit filed in Ontario Superior Court that he and former prime minister Brian Mulroney made a $300,000 deal. He say the agreement came about during a meeting on June 23, 1993 at Harrington Lake, the prime minister’s summer residence in Quebec. Mr. Mulroney allegedly agreed to help establish a light armoured vehicle facility in Nova Scotia or Quebec in exchange for the money. Schreiber claims he provided Mr. Mulroney with three envelopes, each containing $100,000 in cash, over the next two years.
May 14, 2009: Mr. Mulroney fights back tears at the inquiry as he tells of the Airbus affair’s effect on his family. His spokesman claims that the tears came as a result of seeing several reporters laughing during his testimony.
By the time Mr. Mulroney finishes his testimony, he has admitted accepting $225,000 from Schreiber after he resigned as prime minister, but says he did not ask for it as cash. There was nothing “sinister” about accepting it, although it is “to his eternal regret” that he did not ask for a cheque instead. He did not report the cash payments on his income tax until six years later.
When questioned under oath, the ever unctuous Mulroney came up with a convenient excuse, paid his taxes (years later, it seems), and all was forgotten, while Mulroney skulked off into the evening, proud of his abilities to deceive the public, manufacturing tears at will, it seems..

U.S.: Ronald Reagan and the Iran-Contra affair:. An article in PBS Experience spells out the details of what took place under Reagan’s watch in 1985, where he agreed to sell weapons to Iran in exchange for the release of hostages.
The arms-for-hostages proposal divided the administration. Longtime policy adversaries Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and Secretary of State George Shultz opposed the deal, but Reagan, McFarlane and CIA director William Casey supported it. With the backing of the president, the plan progressed. By the time the sales were discovered, more than 1,500 missiles had been shipped to Iran. Three hostages had been released, only to be replaced with three more, in what Secretary of State George Shultz called "a hostage bazaar."
When the Lebanese newspaper "Al-Shiraa" printed an exposé on the clandestine activities in November 1986, Reagan went on television and vehemently denied that any such operation had occurred. He retracted the statement a week later, insisting that the sale of weapons had not been an arms-for-hostages deal. Despite the fact that Reagan defended the actions by virtue of their good intentions, his honesty was doubted. Polls showed that only 14 percent of Americans believed the president when he said he had not traded arms for hostages.
Britain: Margaret Thatcher and the Pinochet affair. Thatcher has never met a right-wing dictator that she didn’t fancy, admiring the strong and despising the weak. The most notable example was Augusto Pinochet of Chile, who had murdered 3,197 of his countrymen and tortured another 29,000. Those that he didn’t kill or torture, he maimed by other means, through his economic policies of austerity through free-market policies. An article, by Walden Bello, in The Guardian says how much influence Pinochet had on Thatcher’s economic policies;
Chile's assistance to British forces during the 1982 Falklands war is said to have indebted Margaret Thatcher to the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. However, Pinochet was probably a greater inspiration to Thatcher as the pioneer of radical free-market policies in the mid-1970s, a period when Keynesian policies still reigned in Britain and much of the rest of the world. At a fringe meeting during the Conservative party's annual conference in 1999, Thatcher implicitly acknowledged her debt to Pinochet, saying his enemies hated him because of his "success" in transforming Chile's economy from 1973 to 1990.
The Chilean strongman's free-market policies that the Iron Lady admired indeed transformed his country's economy, but in ways that could hardly be considered a success except among doctrinaire followers of the University of Chicago economist Milton Friedman. Pinochet's programme subjected his country to two major depressions in one decade, first in 1974-75, when GDP fell by 12%, then again in 1982-83, when it dropped by 15%. Contrary to ideological expectations about a positive correlation between free markets and robust growth, average GDP growth in 1974-89 – the radical phase of the Pinochet revolution – was only 2.6%. By comparison, with a much greater role for the state in the economy during 1951-71, Chile's economy grew by an average of 4% a year.
Radical Thinking Predominates

All claimed solidarity with the middle-class, claiming their earlier upbringing with the lower-classes made them suitable for higher office as a man (and women) of the people. Mulroney, the son of a paper-mill electrician; Thatcher, the daughter of a small grocery-store owner, and Reagan, the son of a salesman. Yet, despite their upbringing in humble ways, they all disowned it and decided money and power was the way to a better life. Mulroney became a high-priced lawyer, Thatcher a chemist, and Reagan, of course, an actor of dubious talents and abilities. His real talent lay elsewhere. It was Reagan who said government was the problem, and went about dismantling it as quickly as he could—all with a smile on his face and a quip on his lips.

If they spoke individualism and individual liberty, it was directed at only the few. They had no desire to spread these ideas to the masses. As noxious and deleterious as these individual actions are, they pale in comparison to what their policies achieved in society, and the eventual erosion and destruction of social cohesion. Their policies were as every bit as radical as the policies of marxism. Here’s why.

If marxism is about reducing individuals to mere slaves of the state, then right-wing radicalism is about reducing individuals’ability to make a decent living, thus making them slaves of multinational corporations. Both have similar economic outcomes, in that choice is reduced as either the state or corporations control more of the nation’s or world’s wealth. Coupled with deregulation and unfettered markets, and you have a witches’ brew favouring corporations and not favouring the average citizen. Small wonder that corporations today, which wield so much power and influence, display an arrogance at any thought they ought to be reined in.

How much power? An article (“Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world”), by Andy Coghlan and Debora MacKenzie in New Scientist, reporting on an academic study found that 147 super-corporations control 40% of the world’s wealth; most are banks and other financial institutions.

Coghlan and MacKenzie write:
When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a "super-entity" of 147 even more tightly knit companies - all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity - that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. "In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network," says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.
John Driffill of the University of London, a macroeconomics expert, says the value of the analysis is not just to see if a small number of people controls the global economy, but rather its insights into economic stability.
Concentration of power is not good or bad in itself, says the Zurich team, but the core's tight interconnections could be. As the world learned in 2008, such networks are unstable. "If one [company] suffers distress," says Glattfelder, "this propagates."
Such super-corporations are not too big to fail; they are too big for the health of democracy. But that matters little to the radicals. They believe in such wealth distribution for individuals, as well, chiefly that it flows upward and remains so in what is called a trickle-up economy. In the U.S., for example the top 1% control 43% of the nation's wealth; and the top 5% hold 72% of America’s wealth. Figures are similar in other industrialized nations..

This is wealth distribution, but not as conservatives decry—to the poor and lower classes; it’s wealth distribution to the wealthy. Wealth distribution is a radical idea and every much a departure from liberal democracy as is marxism and other radical ideologies. So, when the radicals speak out against wealth distribution, that is, a fairer tax code, they are really speaking out against liberal democracy. To consider them conservatives is to deny reality. The only thing they want to conserve is wealth and power, chiefly for themselves, and also for their cronies, including the wealthy and super-wealthy. As for the rest, let them eat cake, if they can purchase it.

It’s hard to understand why the troika gets such acclaim and respect from certain quarters; they are infamous figures, in my estimation, who did more harm to each nation’s health and welfare than any common criminal. Their economic and social policies, simply stated, are unmitigated disasters. They might not have killed with bullets, or caused widespread famines, but their social and economic policies have done great harm to both democracy and capitalism. For some, it’s easy to ignore what they have done. I don’t, and view these individuals—two men and one woman—as they truly are: Radicals of the Right.