Monday, 14 November 2011

Red China - perfect for that special Tea Party

“The ‘Great Society’ has not worked and it’s put us into the modern welfare state,” she said. “If you look at China, they don’t have food stamps. If you look at China, they’re in a very different situation. They save for their own retirement security…They don’t have the modern welfare state and China’s growing. And so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us with the Great Society and they’d be gone.”

 From The Thoughts of Chairman Bachmann

A leading American right-wing, über-libertarian evangelical praising the achievments of the Communist Party of China? Not long ago, you'd have thought anyone positing a Bible-Belt-Beijing Axis must have skipped a dose of anti-psychotics.

Although I don't consider the Tea Party/Communist Party model a remotely desirable terminus for any political journey, I've got to give Bachmann credit for spotting the obvious* fact that the red flag is flying over a full-on, devil-take-the-hindmost Gilded Age. Comrades, we don't need no stinkin' welfare state! Hell, these guys can execute as many criminals as they like and they don't let no jailbird-lovin' pinko liberal bed-wetters stop 'em. Yep, them good 'ol chicom hordes are just the sort of folk Michelle and her fanbase could happily invite round for Thanksgiving dinner, if only they weren't so darned godless.

Like Lenin, Bachman seems to imagine that her revolution will eventually result in the withering away of the state and a truly complete democracy. It's an interesting theory, but the parallels between America's own Gilded Age, with its grim factories and corrupt plutocrats, and modern China aren't encouraging. In both cases, large doses of laissez faire went hand in hand with Tammany Hall-style graft and cronyism. Real unfettered plutocrats (unlike the idealised fictional libertarian, John Galt) didn't even want to shrink the state becuse of some high-falutin' principle, but were quite content to chow down on juicy government contracts, without getting too pernickerty about 'only trading for mutual benefit' (see the Crédit Mobilier of America scandal).

Apparently, Deng Xiaoping probably never said 'To get rich is glorious!' but Mark Twain really did say, tongue-in-cheek:

What is the chief end of man?--to get rich. In what way?--dishonestly if we can; honestly if we must.

I'd argue that Twain's critique of a lightly-regulated Gilded Age in a developing economy is rather more balanced than Deng and Bachmann's uncritical propagandizing.

Hat tip.

*  To be fair it's probably not that obvious from the vantage point of Tea Party voters who believed that Sarah Palins's proximity to Russia made her some sort of foreign policy guru.