My Blog List

Monday, May 25, 2015

Restoring Commonwealth requires Republican Corporations

As usual I find I get my examples for what to do from what the wealthy and connected are opposed to, and my examples for what not to do from their looting and depredations. I also get my models from history, from analyzing the ideas of the right. In an article called "The GOP and ALEC -- ALEC's war on the cities" The author notes:

"Few ideas are more powerful in U.S. politics than local control. The South rallied around states’ rights during the Civil War. Conservatives rage at the federal government for meddling in local matters." []

A writer named George Will has carried on about the Concept of "Subsidiarity" where specific power is delegated to the most local person for good reason.

"Subsidiarity is an organizing principle that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. Political decisions should be taken at a local level if possible, rather than by a central authority." [See Post: Subsidiarity and Fascism]

The concept is well developed in Fascist literature, and also in more communitarian democratic literature. Elinor Ostrom also talked about the importance of keeping control over common properties local in her "8 principles of managing a commons." You would think, with all the talk from both left and right about concepts like Subsidiarity you'd think everyone would be on board.

Sadly, the Con Artist Grifters of the Right are after loot, respect and power; not the common good. And their model is still the "plantation" not democracy. In a plantation organization one person rules the plantation, and everyone works for or is directed by them. As I pointed out in my recent post "Constitutional Tyranny", the Southern States, organized as they were around plantations as extensions of the British Crown, and later as extensions of State Capitals, were organized around a hierarchical counterfeit of liberty that has come to be known as "libertarianism" in our time that reified the planters and amplified the power of hereditary wealth and connections. I quoted the historians David and Jeanne Heidler:

"Plantation agriculture kept the region rural; town meetings didn't occur because there were precious few towns. Instead, southerners relied on hierarchical relationships with planters at the top of a social structure too vertically linear to be described as even pyramidal. A mass of poor whites was at it's base, and slaves were completely under it."

For the right the State (starting with The County) is based on King-like Judges with lifetime tenure,

"County Courts with lifetime judges reflected the will of the upper class, and slavery made white unity and consensus imperative."

Counties that were like little kingdoms, and Sheriffs, and is a model that is excellent for ruling over a mass of poor and dispossessed. If Democracy is confined to easily rigged elections then Subsidiarity in a plantation mentality means that the power is with the local landlord -- the plantation owner and his supervisors. They are overseen by legislative and executive Councils who represent the plantation owners. Something similar has been the pattern for Banana Republics around the world. Change the term "Sheriff" or "County Executive" to "President", "El Caudillo" or "El Jefe" and you have the structure for any Oligarchic Republic from the USSR to Chile.

This plantation model was something the South loved. It was a strict hierarchy that was modeled on the Feudal model of old, which in turn was modeled on the Byzantine Military Model. Essentially a plantation is an army model planted on top of and controlling a base of slaves. Indeed when the Generals of the Union Army won the Civil War they found that model to be excellent and applied it to creating companies that made the plantation conceptual. A "President" who presides over a hierarchy of soldiers on top, yes, an army of slaves. This is a model that contrasts with that of Civility and Democratic Republicans. The Union may have won the war, but the Generals who fought it were converted to a plantation model of running their business. And this contrasts with the concept of Civility.

The US Right Wing Imposing this Atomized Liberty vision on the Country

Southern and Businessmen Caudillos are so comfortable with their model of a strictly authoritarian and oppressive public order that they call the alternative "collective" even when they are talking about the original model for Republics and Democracy -- the City, Town, Village Government. As the South Changes city people and townsmen aren't satisfied with hereditary judges and Governors. They want the real thing. And Democracy is "messy and has to be limited. Thus you get incongruities such as Abbot calling the exercise of Municipal Democracy "collectivism". Abbot claims:

“city-level bans on plastic bags, fracking and tree-cutting” ... “form a patchwork quilt of bans and rules and regulations,” Abbott said, “that are eroding the Texas model” and turning the state into California." []

Something he terms "collectivism" and thus he's pushing on the Texas legislature "pre-emptive" laws to prevent such a horrific possibility. Heaven help Texas if it should "turn into California."

"Texas legislators have responded with proposals to preempt local laws, including a bill that would prevent local governments from issuing any ordinance that “conflicts with or is more stringent than a state statute or rule.”" []

But it isn't just Texas doing this. The "Southernization" and "corporatism" of the North is proceeding apace. And pre-empting "subsidiarity" and local democracy has become their response to "wild" civility:

"Such bills blocking progressive laws are growing in popularity across the United States, especially in GOP-controlled legislatures. Last year, for example, when Oklahoma City debated raising its minimum wage to $10.10, the state legislature passed a law preventing cities from enacting wage increases." []

This is an assault on the concept of civility itself. And this battle. This battle for the soul of the United States is a battle between a future that resembles the past and one that builds on the past. It is a battle between the founding vision of "civility" and the counterfeit vision of authoritarian hierarchy. Between whether we embrace a founding vision of civility and common good or of libertarian "do what you will" individual freedom to be local tyrants over others. In one the people feel free because the only check on their own power to do as they please is the Sheriff and County Judge and of course, the local landlord or boss. In the other people participate in their own fate. And it only has to be nipped in the blood:

"Progressive muscle-flexing by urban America on the minimum wage, fracking and other key economic and environmental issues poses a serious challenge to the GOP’s program of obstruction in Congress. It also threatens the deep bias of our national politics toward red states and conservative ideology. That makes subverting the power of cities an urgent task for conservatives, even if it means becoming “meddling bureaucrats” themselves." []

A Corporate Model of Civility as "Collectivism" versus Caudillo-ism

I believe that what they really fear is not "collectivism" but that people will catch on to their "caudillo-ism" and resist. Plastic bag laws and other restrictions on public behavior can infringe on the "personal liberty" of people to do as they please no matter how crazy or short-sighted, but what they really represent is a growing sense of empowerment and a return of:

"Civic Virtue: corporate exercise involving church elders, town aldermen, even congressional delegations, all working in concert to advance the common interest." []

The fact is that we already have an alternative corporate model to the tyrannical, hierarchical caudillo model of corporate governance. And it is the Republican model. Why a party named "The Republican Party" would be obsessed with poisoning and reducing it's original version would escape me, except that that is the vision of the Party of Lincoln. The New England Town Hall, with it's direct Democratic forms, limited executive, enfranchised citizens and civic virtues was a model developed over time by people devoted to principles developed from classical times to the present in the face of tyranny. The Republicans, seduced by a different, militarized model fear it. They have to stop it.

Rather than conceding power to tyrannical corporations, gerrymandered districting and Senates and Houses that rabidly attack the very principles of Democracy. We need governments that replicate the principles of the constitution and not in cynical counterfeits of their forms. We should be pushing for a model of governance of our common systems that is networked, deconflicts powers for the common benefit and has bottom up representation. Yes, the executive should be "top down" but each level should have to stand election, and have citizen oversight. We shouldn't have standing armies standing on the necks of ordinary citizens, but local order. We shouldn't have giant companies that pay hundreds of millions to their CEOs while ignoring the pleas of householders for an extra day to pay. Instead our national companies should be run under Republican principles. At the same time we need giant organizations to govern and direct our national networks. These should be governed with a legislature from below and an executive that consults subdivisions. Privatizing public utilities grants their revenues to caudillos. Often for the foreseeable future.

These ought to be principles of good governance. It shouldn't be up to a cabal whether plastic bags are supplied free by companies or are taxed. The power of legislatures over purse, requirements and law is the power of good government and is a principle our ancestors fought for over a 500 year period. The antidote to excessive bureaucracy and top down dictatorship is neither in the Caudillo style government nor in Caudillo Corporations but in the vision of Democracy established, first in the North and later in the Constitution, there are three branches of government each independent and each limited with separation of powers. But it's not so easy.

"Power concedes nothing without a demand,” Frederick Douglass wrote. Injustice and wrongdoing will, as Douglass put it, “continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both.” Cities are beginning to demand an end to our national political paralysis and to implement policies that most of us agree on. Conservatives are pushing back. The evidence suggests that the war between urban America and a political system radically rigged against it is just beginning."

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