David Brooks: Bludgeoning the Ghost of the Welfare State, in response to the Failure of The Free Market Delusion by Political Cynic

"“We have a sense that the economic order we knew in the second half of the 20th century may not be coming back at all — that we have entered a new era for which we have not been well prepared. … We are, rather, on the cusp of the fiscal and institutional collapse of our welfare state, which threatens not only the future of government finances but also the future of American capitalism.”

This is a quote from an essay pretentiously, melodramatically titled 'Our Age of Anxiety', by Yuval Levin in the Weekly Standard, ( A reader of Mr. Levin's essay, in which he casts himself as the arbiter between the two propaganda's of Obama and Romney, might just find his proclaimed status of judge and the implicitly implied practice of 'objectivity' hard to take seriously, even find it questionable.) characterized as 'definitive' by Mr. Brooks in his essay titled What Republicans Think, that provides a confirmation of the thesis that the Welfare State is pernicious and needs to be discarded as a destructive relic of another century, or more pointedly as a morally corrupting impediment to natural capitalist dynamism. Where that 'dynamism' resides, or even better, what that construct might mean, in economic terms, remains a mystery, in our post 2008 world. That Conservatism has made it's mission to destroy, utterly, the Welfare State in all it's guises, since the days of the New Deal is carefully elided from Mr. Brooks argumentative frame. It could not be otherwise- the current worldwide economic crisis is now the final and 'definitive' rationale for the ascent of the dog eat dog 'economic philosophy' of Modern Conservatism: an amalgam of Friedman/Hayek/Mises/Rand with a heavy garnish of Carl Schmitt and his philosophical ally Leo Strauss. This ethical/political toxin has changed the American political discourse into a sterile debate between New Democrats, Conservatives, and Neo-Conservatives, all members in good standing of the Neo-Liberal cabal. In this instance Mr. Brooks usual bloated platonic chatter devolves into unsophisticated propaganda. It doesn't serve the notion that he, somehow, transcends the real political divide in post 2008 political/economic debate.
Selective quotation is illuminating:

" The average growth was a paltry 1.7 percent annually between 2000 and 2009. It averaged 0.6 percent growth between 2009 and 2011. Wages have failed to keep up with productivity. Family net worth is back at the same level it was at 20 years ago."

In the years 2000-2009 a Compassionate Conservative occupied the Presidency and the crisis occurred in late 2008, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. 2009-2011 can best be considered as a deepening of that collapse across the economy, accompanied by a too small stimulus package and no mortgage relief for home owners.

"In America as in Europe, Republicans argue, the welfare state is failing to provide either security or dynamism."

The Free Market failed and in the process failed to provide security or dynamism. Just a bit of recasting of the main characters can illuminate the failed promise of the Free Market mythology.

"The welfare model favors security over risk, comfort over effort, stability over innovation. Money that could go to schools and innovation must now go to pensions and health care. This model, which once offered insurance from the disasters inherent in capitalism, has now become a giant machine for redistributing money from the future to the elderly."

Here is the Conservative argument; security vs. risk, comfort vs. effort, stability vs. innovation, all neatly framed moralistically, having nothing to do with morality but everything to do with a theological conviction of rightness, of the moral high ground as a priori. Next : the old folks rob the young in this Neo-Darwinian fable.

"This is the source of Republican extremism: the conviction that the governing model is obsolete. It needs replacing."

Republican Extremism is about political purity and an effective political conformity, that expresses itself as 'no compromises' in the hopes that the failed presidency of Barack Obama will usher in the vulture Capitalist Mitt Romney. Mr. Brooks proclaims the necessary demise of the Welfare State amid the ruin of the Free Market Delusion, the failure to deliver on it's promises of a better future, that amounted to economic chaos and world wide economic decline, predicated on an unsustainable model of growth rather than a model based on development, abetted by wholesale mendacity and thievery . Mr. Brooks argues, propagandizes, for the end of the Welfare State as a well worn tactic of Modern Conservatism, displacement: proclaim the necessity of the end of the Welfare State in the wreckage of the Free Market, remembering to strike the necessary pose of high moral seriousness.

Political Cynic

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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