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Cognitive Dissonance

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In the United States, neoliberalism's raison d'êtreespecially as it began migrating out of academia and into political-policy-making in the 1970s and 1980s was to dismantle trade unionism and New Deal social democratic programs, and to deregulate business at every opportunity.

Throughout history, neoliberalism has proven to be anti-socialist (even Democratic Socialist like FDR's New Deal RJG) at its core."

Socialism has carefully been tagged by the pundits of the Right as a form of Stalinism ever since Franklin Roosevelt died in 1945. Socialism has become, in Harry Truman's words, "a scare word they've hurled at every advance the people have made. Socialism is what they called public power, social security, deposit insurance, and independent labor organizations. Socialism is their name for anything that helps all people"---Campaign Speech Syracuse, NY; 1952. That it is not.

Democratic Socialism is an American creation, yet we would permit those who would turn us into serfs under a Fascist system, claim that it is of foreign origin, as contrary to the American Dream as the Soviet Gulags. In reality, it is a creation of the deepest thinking of one of our Founding Fathers, Thomas Paine. According to Benjamin Franklin, Paine was more responsible than any other living person on this continent for the creation of the United States of America.

Paine, in The Rights' of Man, Part 2, brought forth a progressive system of taxation and government support of the poor, elderly, and disabled (through grants of land and a guaranteed annual income). This together with public education and other innovations would lead to a leveling of opportunity in a given nation, making a man's ability to succeed more dependent on his ability than upon whose family he was born into. I would add that in a modern society, such opportunities cross lines of race, gender, creed and national origin as well.

Democratic Socialism is a bottom-up system where change comes from 'We the People' in a democratically based governmental system. Marxist Socialism is a top-down system, being imposed by a single Party under a strict model of how things should be, without taking into consideration the differences of various societies or groups within the society. This is Marxist Socialism's greatest weakness: its inability to make room for individual differences within a society. The flexibility of Democratic Socialism, its ability to not force one-size-fits-all solutions to its problems is its greatest strength.

"A managed democracy is a wonderful thing, Manuel, for the managers." Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Neoliberalism's purpose is to move the tax burden from the rich to the middle and working class, while allowing infrastructure, both physical and social (like schools) to go to Hell. This shifting of the tax burden from the rich to the poor was the proximate cause of the downfall of the Spanish, Dutch, French, and British Empires. It is at the root of our current economic, political, and social woes. (See Michael Hudson's book , Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy.) The real parasites in our society are not the poor. It's the rentiers class: the people who collect money on the property and paper instruments (e.g., stocks & bonds) they own. They are the real parasites in American society, just as the nobles and the clergy were in France in 1789.

To the Neoliberals, a large and well-informed middle class is anathema, as such a group makes the robbery of the Treasury and the People all but impossible. The Neoliberals want the plutocratic oligarchs in charge, not 'We the People'. For this reason, suppression of voters, especially minorities and the pooris are at the top of their to-do list every election. The Neoliberals cry out against voter fraud, almost non-existent in the United States, and then commit massive and rampant election fraud though Gerrymandering, illegally removing voters from the rolls, making it more difficult to vote, and not counting provisional ballots. This is being done by both parties (the removal of 120,000 names from the voting rolls in Brooklyn, and the failure to count almost three million provisional ballots in the California primary are Democratic examples; the removal of minority voters from the voting rolls before the 2018 gubernatorial elections in Georgia and Gerrymandering taken to insane levels in Texas are Republican examples), and must stop now. Only a concerted effort by the voting public can make this happen.

"Out of the great progress of this country, out of our great advances in achieving a better life for all, out of our rise to world leadership, the Republican leaders have learned nothing. Confronted by the great record of this country, and the tremendous promise of its future, all they do is croak, 'socialism'.''--- President Harry Truman, Address to the annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner; February 16, 1950

We must adopt Thomas Paine's ideas from The Rights of Man, and Agrarian Justice, as well as FDR's Second Bill of Economic Rights. Add a modernized version of Henry Clay's ideas for an American System of "cooperative abundance" (state subsidized expansion of the railroads, telegraphs, homesteading); these formed the basis of Abraham Lincoln's domestic policies, permitting the settling of the West. Thomas Paine undergirded the political thinking of both Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, and should be kept in mind as we go from the British economic system of competitive scarcity, to Henry Clay's American system of cooperative abundance, i.e., Democratic Socialism for the Twenty-first Century; a system built on the ideas of our greatest thinkers and statesmen. Let these ideas be the ones that return the United States to its former greatness as the home of Democracy and Liberty.

"When liberty is mentioned, we must always be careful to observe whether it is not really the assertion of private interests which is thereby designated."---Georg Hegel (17701831), German philosopher. The Philosophy of History, part 4, section 3, chapter 2 (1837).

The great myth perpetrated by the Neoliberals is that government programs are inherently inefficient and costly, and can be done for less by the private sector. The Neoliberal disciples of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics hold it as an article of faith that all government programs, with the exception perhaps of the military and law enforcement establishments, constitute some form of socialism and, by extension, a loss of individual freedom.

This attitude promotes the great lie about liberty: that freedom and free enterprise are identical, first pointed out by Hannah Arendt in her book, On Revolution, (chapter 6, 1963). "When we were told that by freedom we understood free enterprise, we did very little to dispel this monstrous falsehood. . . . Wealth and economic well-being, we have asserted, are the fruits of freedom, while we should have been the first to know that this kind of "happiness" . . . has been an unmixed blessing only in this country, and it is a minor blessing compared with the truly political freedoms, such as freedom of speech and thought, of assembly and association, even under the best conditions."

The Lord Chancellor of England wrote in a 1762 decision in the House of Lords, which was then England's Supreme Court, "Necessitous men are not, truly speaking, free men; but to answer a present emergency, will submit to any terms that the crafty may impose on them." (Vernon v. Bethel, Eden 2:113), In other words, no human being is free if their living situation provides no available economic (or other) alternative for them. Against the unbridled, overwhelming and omnipresent economic and political power of multinational corporations, the average human being is too often left without any choice in areas employment, housing, health care, or education.

"Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate."---Bertrand Russell (18721970), British philosopher, mathematician. Sceptical Essays, "Freedom in Society" (1928).

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Richard Girard is a polymath and autodidact whose greatest desire in life is to be his generations' Thomas Paine. He is an FDR Democrat, which probably puts him with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders in the current political spectrum. His answer to (more...)
 

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