Starve the Beast is a conscious long term Strategy
A friend of mine posted an article on David Stockman and Von Hayek that confirmed to me what I'd refused to accept until recently. What that is is the depths of depravity that Reaganomics and it's subsequent manifestations represented. The allegations that Reaganomics was a deliberate effort to "starve the beast" are true. The evidence may be circumstantial, but it is pretty obvious. No less than Frederick Hayek let this slip when he was talking to an Austrian Journalist:Von Hayek, it appears, boasted about this strategy. Turns out that Hayek was a personal friend of Reagans and Stockman's.
"‘A 1985 interview with von Hayek in the March 25, 1985 issue of Profil 13,....Von Hayek sat for the interview while wearing a set of cuff links Reagan had presented him as a gift.....
Von Hayek continued (referring to David Stockman):
“You see, one of Reagan’s advisers told me why the president has permitted that to happen, which makes the matter partly excusable: Reagan thinks it is impossible to persuade Congress that expenditures must be reduced unless one creates deficits so large that absolutely everyone becomes convinced that no more money can be spent.” Thus, he went on, it was up to Reagan to “persuade Congress of the necessity of spending reductions by means of an immense deficit. Unfortunately, he has not succeeded!!!”’"
Thus Reagan's deficits in the 70's, and the support for them, since then, from movement Republicans (neo-fascists) date back at least to the Reagan years and have been an intentional effort to "starve the beast." This is just one little piece of what all this means. And for someone remembers his comments about saving the "safety net."
Libertarianism as a direct descendant of Fascism
This is just a new piece to add to the direct and circumstantial evidence I've been building up over the years that modern Fascism == Libertarianism. It may seem fantastical, but libertarianism is known as "neo-liberalism" in much of the rest of the world and has been associated with anti-democracy dictatorial regimes everywhere it is popular. Von Hayek, Von Mises, and probably the rest of the so-called "Austrian School" have been pretty open about it that they are more fascist than conservative. In previous blogs I've shown, from Von Mises' defenders own materials that he was the Economic Minister of Dolfuss, [see this entry:http://fraughtwithperil.com/cholte/2009/11/29/von-mises-and-economic-anarchism/] not so much a Hitlerian Fascist as a Mussolini Style Fascist (I revisited this here: http://fraughtwithperil.com/cholte/2009/12/15/austria-during-the-1930s/), but a fascist none the less. A few years ago I found links that showed that Von Hayek was correlated with Pinochet's brand of fascism. These latest revelations confirm what I discovered then.
But of course you wouldn't know this from the Propagandists
There has been a constant barrage from the right of defamations of liberals and liberal integrity. Starting back in the 1950's (or so) with allegations that they were crypto-communists to modern folks making the ludicrous allegation that fascism was a liberal creed. In retrospect, if they used the word "liberal" the way they use it outside the USA they'd be right.
As Michael Lind noted:
"the American right now routinely accuses the center-left of being fascist. This libel was given currency in Jonah Goldberg’s 2009 book “Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.” From the support of a few progressives a century ago for eugenics, and expressions of admiration by a few 1920s liberals for Mussolini’s ability to make the trains run on time, Goldberg and others on the right have crafted the latest in a series of right-wing conspiracy theories about American history, this one claiming that Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt deliberately set the U.S. on the road to an American version of Mussolini’s corporate state."
It turns out that he's half right. You find this sort of "abusive projection" where the Right accuses their enemies of their own behavior. Here we have numerous quotes from neo-liberals (Libertarians) praising fascists like Mussolini or Dolfuss, and folks like Goldberg would have you believe that the fascists were actually something different. Lind then notes this quote that I saw in my own researches a few years ago. Because the quotes come from folks like Von Mises who said at one point:
"Freedom" over, well,...Freedom
Michael Lind notes, Von Mises praised Fascism in respect to Mussolini:
"It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements aimed at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has for the moment saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history."
And Lind notes;
Friedrich von Hayek, who was, along with von Mises, one of the patron saints of modern libertarianism, was as infatuated with the Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet as von Mises was with Mussolini,...
Hayek the Fascist
Friedrich von Hayek, the Austrian émigré and University of Chicago professor whose 1944 Road to Serfdom dared to suggest that state planning would produce not “freedom and prosperity” but “bondage and misery,” visited Pinochet’s Chile a number of times. He was so impressed that he held a meeting of his famed Société Mont Pélérin there. He even recommended Chile to Thatcher as a model to complete her free-market revolution. The Prime Minister, at the nadir of Chile’s 1982 financial collapse, agreed that Chile represented a “remarkable success” but believed that Britain’s “democratic institutions and the need for a high degree of consent” make “some of the measures” taken by Pinochet “quite unacceptable.”
Frederick Hayek, like his mentor Von Mises, had no trouble with dictatorship. Michael Lind continues:
Like Friedman, Hayek glimpsed in Pinochet the avatar of true freedom, who would rule as a dictator only for a “transitional period,” only as long as needed to reverse decades of state regulation. “My personal preference,” he told a Chilean interviewer, “leans toward a liberal [i.e. libertarian] dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism.”
Hayek was ruthless enough to prefer a bloodthirsty, tyrannical and extractive dictatorship to folks having any kind of "collectivism", or "welfare." To him "freedom" was more important than health, or fair pay, or, since he had no trouble with dictatorship and tyranny, actual freedom.
In a letter to the London Times he defended the junta, reporting that he had “not been able to find a single person even in much maligned Chile who did not agree that personal freedom was much greater under Pinochet than it had been under Allende.” Of course, the thousands executed and tens of thousands tortured by Pinochet’s regime weren’t talking.
Pinochet's regime was actually more than just one State misbehaving. I've been following the subject for a while (dirty-war!)It was part of a grander strategy known as "Operation Condor" (for Cono-Sur/Southern Cone), an attack on leftists and centrists, democracy and anti-business notions such as liberalism, by the collusion a number of military factors directed by Pinochet. These people met in Santiago just before the coups started. They were in consultation with Henry Kissinger before the coups, which ran from 1976 to 1984 or so. Pinochet was the darling of the right wing. Collectively these people killed thousands of innocents in their effort to stamp out words like "welfare", "socialism", or "democracy."
Michael Lind continues:
"The Pinochet dictatorship was admired by the right in the U.S. and Britain for turning Chile’s economic policy over to disciples of Milton Friedman and the University of Chicago, who inflicted disastrous social experiments like the privatization of social security on Chile’s repressed population. Following the libertarian reforms, the Chilean economy collapsed in 1982, forcing the nationalization of the banking system and government intervention in industry."
According to Grandin:"
"While he was in Chile Friedman gave a speech titled “The Fragility of Freedom” where he described the “role in the destruction of a free society that was played by the emergence of the welfare state.” Chile’s present difficulties, he argued, “were due almost entirely to the forty-year trend toward collectivism, socialism and the welfare state . . . a course that would lead to coercion rather than freedom.”
It is amazing that people can talk about things like newspeak, freedom, and liberty; or collectivism; while advocating a police state. It is as if the mind is disconnected from reality. As if they think that if a few people have "freedom" or "liberty" that the rest of us don't count. For most of us "what is freedom if we can't eat?" What is "Liberty if we are denied the franchise (vote)?" Either Libertarianism is schizoid, it is an advertizing ploy, Frederick Hayek meant something other than what the rest of us mean by the word liberty, or these people are nuts. A system that kills people is nothing but coercion. Welfare is nothing but a state providing needed services. Deny them and that is a form of coercion. I think Hayek was severely deluded.
Michael Lind gets some of the details wrong but is essentially right here about what was going on under Pinochet's "liberty." And if it stopped with crazy people like Von Hayek, Von Mises or Ayn Rand, that would be one thing, but the article I'm quoting is written by the Grandson of Friedman:
"Friedman politely neglected to mention the lack of political and civil liberty under the Pinochet regime. Many of its victims were drugged and taken in military airplanes to be dropped over the South Atlantic, with their bellies slit open while they were still alive so that their bodies would not float and be discovered."
Actually the dropping of bodies in Chile was over the Pacific, Argentina was where they dropped them in the Atlantic, but the point is that Hayek saw socialism and the welfare state as being so inimical that they justified totalitarian methods to combat them. Hayek was a totalitarian Ideologue. And these modern Libertarians, to the extent that they praise Von Mises and Von Hayek are as pre-totalitarian as she was.
It is amazing that at least one of Pinochet's henchmen wound up at Cato. You can read the rest of the article here: http://www.salon.com/2011/08/30/lind_libertariansim/ But this becomes less than surprising as we go on, because it turns out that the recklessness and Machiavellianism of these people knows no bounds.
For Current(!) Libertarians Democracy is not the Answer
This is where the subject gets chilling, because in addition to the long pedigree of "Starve the Beast" efforts, these folks are fascists in their ideology. The first article, the Salon article by Lind (http://www.salon.com/2011/08/30/lind_libertariansim/) he quotes Piñera:
"Were there abuses? Were there real victims? Without the slightest doubt. A war on terror tends to be a dirty war....Still, in the case of Chile, and contrary to news reports, the number of actual victims was small."
Finally Lind quotes Patri Friedman, Milton Friedman's ideological grandson:
"Democracy is the current industry standard political system, but unfortunately it is ill-suited for a libertarian state. It has substantial systemic flaws, which are well-covered elsewhere, and it poses major problems specifically for libertarians:
1) "Most people are not by nature libertarians. David Nolan reports that surveys show at most 16% of people have libertarian beliefs. Nolan, the man who founded the Libertarian Party back in 1971, now calls for libertarians to give up on the strategy of electing candidates!" …
So what will they do if they don't elect candidates? Are they planning a coup?
So, if we have a coup, who is going to end democracy? Friedman continues:
2) "Democracy is rigged against libertarians. Candidates bid for electoral victory partly by selling future political favors to raise funds and votes for their campaigns. Libertarians (and other honest candidates) who will not abuse their office can’t sell favors, thus have fewer resources to campaign with, and so have a huge intrinsic disadvantage in an election."
"In his recommendations for further reading, Friedman included the Austrian economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s book “Democracy: The God That Failed,” which appeared in 2001, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, during the greatest wave of global democratization in history. In his Cato Unbound manifesto, Friedman called on his fellow libertarians to give up on the whole idea of the democratic nation-state and join his movement in favor of “seasteading,” or the creation of new, microscopic sovereign states on repurposed oil derricks, where people who think that “Atlas Shrugged” is really cool can be in the majority for a change."
So it looks like Democracy is in trouble, but not from communists or "liberals."
Real Beliefs Come out.
In his article in the New York Times David Stockman wrote [http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/opinion/01stockman.html]:
Mr. McConnell’s stand puts the lie to the Republican pretense that its new monetarist and supply-side doctrines are rooted in its traditional financial philosophy. Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts — in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses, too. But the new catechism, as practiced by Republican policymakers for decades now, has amounted to little more than money printing and deficit finance — vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes.
Calling this Keynesianism is a defamation, especially in the context of his ancient discussions with Von Hayek; but Stockman is a conservative writer not a complete liar and this sort of warfare faux Keynesianism turns out to have been a strategy that he knows full well the purpose of. Not to improve society -- but to beat down the middle class and the poor. Not a mere paranoid fantasy of a plot, but an actual intentional 'starve the beast strategy.' He of all people knows this well, but even as much an apostate he is from the new orthodoxy he won't hit it head long. The Republicans strategy to take down the welfare state offends him just enough that he dreams of the old conservative idea that a debtless nation and hard money are a way to create immense wealth -- at the expense of our future. After all, it is win win -- they borrow money from the Treasury to buy the treasury notes that fund our money supply. If it brings down the welfare state all the better. We don't figure into their discussion of "liberty." Liberty is for the vons and the vans, the masters and the warriors. If the government is starved there is no need to pay back pension obligations, pay people decent salaries, or engage in any kind of welfare for the common folks.
These fantasies are false
Aside from the fact that these things put the lie to Milton Friedman's or his disciple's fantasies: [Stockman]
"It is also an outcome that Milton Friedman said could never happen when, in 1971, he persuaded President Nixon to unleash on the world paper dollars no longer redeemable in gold or other fixed monetary reserves. Just let the free market set currency exchange rates, he said, and trade deficits will self-correct."
The Friedman's, Von Hayek's, Von Mises, all these men; elevated and raised, funded and praised, still teach voodoo ideas that don't work as advertized and intentionally degrade and destroy democratic process and overall social function. They are strategies that work for their backers. Here is the full quote from earlier:
"‘A 1985 interview with von Hayek in the March 25, 1985 issue of Profil 13, the Austrian journal, was just as revealing. Von Hayek sat for the interview while wearing a set of cuff links Reagan had presented him as a gift. “I really believe Reagan is fundamentally a decent and honest man,” von Hayek told his interviewer. “His politics? When the government of the United States borrows a large part of the savings of the world, the consequence is that capital must become scarce and expensive in the whole world. That’s a problem.” And in reference to [David] Stockman, von Hayek said: “You see, one of Reagan’s advisers told me why the president has permitted that to happen, which makes the matter partly excusable: Reagan thinks it is impossible to persuade Congress that expenditures must be reduced unless one creates deficits so large that absolutely everyone becomes convinced that no more money can be spent.” Thus, he went on, it was up to Reagan to “persuade Congress of the necessity of spending reductions by means of an immense deficit. Unfortunately, he has not succeeded!!!”’"
Now Von Hayek saw no problem with destroying Chile's economy to save it. Von Mises was adviser to Dolfuss (a dictator), an enemy of labor, and an admirer of Mussolini. If Von Mises hadn't fled Austria Hitler would have killed him, but that's not forgiveness for his own support of Fascism. And talking about Freedom while denying it to the majority is talking about something other than what most people think of as Freedom. As long as Republican policies recklessly disregard the likelihood that starving the beast will bring down their fortunes along with the rest of us they are embracing a deluded and diabolical philosophy. There is a pattern here, and it is obvious from Hayek's comments that "Starve the Beast" is not only a Grover Norquist policy but one widely held by leaders in the Republican party dating back to Reagan himself and being brought to fruition in our own political season.