Robert Reich opens a fascinating window into the enraged Lefty mind in a recent post complaining of the recent "coup d'etat" in Wisconsin.
It is fascinating in a few ways. In the middle of the post, Reich expresses his fear that the protestors will get out of hand, giving a public relations victory to the Republicans. Reich even goes so far as to say that "Walker would like nothing better than disorder to break out in Madison"--a vicious charge that says more about Reich than about Walker. Reich worries that his fellow Lefties won't keep their protests civil.
That leads to the strange ending of Reich's post: "The American public may be divided over many things but we stand united behind our democratic process and the rule of law. And we reject coups in whatever form they occur."
Wisconsin worked well within the confines of the democratic process. Changing the rules that govern government unions is hardly regime change. How is that a coup?
Governor Walker was willing to negotiate with the Democrats on several issues, but not on the matter of making the payment of union dues voluntary, and making the re-certification of unions by the members a regularly recurring thing. As some Lefties have noted, such a law takes dead aim at a major source of Democratic power. Hence they regard it as cynical. But why is that the case? The rules of the game, before the law passed, tilted the playing field heavily to the Democrats. The Republicans are trying to tilt it back.
That's a coup d'etat if one believes that the current regime is not, simply, the American, federal, democratic-republic, but rather the broader regime of laws we have now (or at least until yesterday in Wisconsin). For Riech, the additions and changes that were made to the American republic in the 20th century are supposed to be permanent victories for his side, which he things is Progress. Hence making paying union dues voluntary is a coup-d'etat, and not simply politics as usual. In his view, one side is Progress, and the other side is Reaction. The philosophy of History makes that point of view posible. The right of people who work for the government to organize and to bargain collectively is on a par with the right of the individual to the fruit of his labors. The idea of Progress masks a power-play by the Left.
If, however, one believes that there are no permanent victories in politics, the world looks rather different. What looks to a Progressive like an assault on rights looks to somone with a more classic liberal view as a mere argument about how to calibrate labor regulations in the republic.
It's not the first time that the failure of the world to change has frustrated and confused men of the Left. It also suggests that many Democrats who are over 40 or so still have not gotten over 1994. From their perspective Congress is supposed to be a Democratic house, and, beyond that, policy changes are supposed to be those the Left wants. Making laws that not only undo or limit some bits of Progressive legislation, but that go after some of the roots that made the American establishment Democratic is, from Reich's perspective, a coup. Once the Democrats fix the rules of the game, Republicans are not supposed to change them, even decades later.
I know Robert Reich is a defender of the Ancient Regime with a considerable stake in the status quo. As a fomer secretary of labor, and the author of "SuperCapitalism", It is fairly safe to say that a Revolution puts his head under the guilotine either way.
At some point this conservative establishment(Toryism) is going to have to come clean, and say look "left" and "right" are simply social constructs created by lawyers who fail to prevail on notice and comment, or in adjudication. Pay close attention to Fox News and stories about lightbulbs and cracking and drilling for oil, this is rhetoric in action. This entire revolution can't be for real anyways because it is national and president focused, while a good chunk of government occurs at the county level. The welfare state is here to stay... Almost none of this "dream" can or does work. Die Dreams Die! (or unleach the dogs or war and bring the revolution!)
There is a class of people, more or less technocratic experts, lawyers and economists, who run government. (but actually a lot of praise and respect should go to teachers, firefighters, prison guards) Unless you somehow think things are going to get simpler and we are going to return to some sort of agrarian past, forget about it and listen to folks like Pete.
Now because of the way administrative law is set up our politics will more or less track corporate interests vs. those who believe in externalties (i.e. poisoned medicine, bad food, harsh labor conditions, zonning restrictions)
While just as in the stock market it can be dangerous to focus on the ballance sheet and ignore culture, so too in administrative law it can be dangerous to focus on the APA and CFR's and ignore conditions. Nothing occurs in a vacum.
If you are a teacher, a university proffesor, a government worker, or otherwise own considerable capital you need to come together to preserve the Ancient Regime, against the forces of revolutionary democracy and the downtrodden middle class, who would seek to destroy the APA, get rid of the UN, abolish the federal reserve, legalize pot, and end our corporate "neo-con" wars, let the south rise again, and who knows what else?
In fact the reason Robert Reich is urging moderation is that he knows the Ancient Regime is freightened.
The democrats will probably get a hold of their own tea party (in part because these are all moderate government workers) and forstall Revolution.-Winning @ Tory!
Whoa now! Change you can believe in is about calling 70 billion in budget cuts radical! -Tory!
What you really need is a Tory party headed up by analytical party poopers (see Pete, maybe myself.)
Toryism is about securing the status quo, its rights are contract based...with heavy focus upon predictability and promissory estoppel(this is why you can't undo proggressivism) In fact, like Pelosi said of the health care bill you can't even know what proggressivism is, until it works its way thru the system.
Now those Whigs! Boy they get off the chain quick, this is the party of both the tea party and the radical proggressives, the party of idealists and dreamers, reality or Tory reality be damned.
Some Whig sentiments are a balanced part of any Tory portfolio. But lately the Tory's have lost the ability to control Whig sentiment. Whig Palin is off tossing crosshairs(issueing Fatwa's?) on politicians, and Whigs (even if he was a proggressive whig) are obliging by willing the non-existance of RINO and DINO (read Tory) politicians as a universal via bullets that shred flesh.
Oh, the Revolution is on, and the Tory's can no longer control it.
So here is politics for you: Tory Proggressive + Tory Conservatives vs. Whig Proggressives+ Whig Conservatives/Libertarians.
Whig's are idealists, Tory realists.
Robert Reich is Tory Proggressive, he is definately going down with the establishment in the Revolution, but as a crafty realist he will see it comming and flee to Canada or Sweden first.
Since republicans(Tory's) are out of power, and lacking in any candidates that are both realistic(Tory) and ideological (Whig) and since the distinction seems pronounced, in part because he cannot win, and because the aftermath may return us to sanity, we should allow Ron Paul(the only non-Tory politician) to win the nomination, and bring foward into the light of day the full measure of austrian perspectives that validate his Revolution, the extinction of the federal reserve, the APA and all government agencies, closing guantanamo, legalizing gay marriage and pot, and every other Libertarian Whig dream.
Any Candidate but Ron Paul would be too transparent of a bluff for the Whigs.
Before commenting, I kindly refer all to the following:
How now brown cow? I guess one man's "coup" is another man's fairness doctrine, and vice versa.
I do not mean to be disrespectful, but it does seem that Mr. Reich is going to have to clear up some confusion for me. Is it a coup, driving by only factional desires, if the effects of one's actions include practical side effects such as cutting out the underpinnings of support for a political party that is one's foe? Or are we to view it instead as an effort at what one thinks is statecraft that also, somehow, coincidentally, has political effects that one benefits from? Let Mr. Reich tell us. Certainly for the Fairness Doctrine we know what his answer was....I leave it to him to explain why the Wisconsin situation is entirely different. And I'm sure a reason he has. Or will have. Eventually. At some point.
Of course, if his new understanding is not a situational one (driven purely by factional leanings), but instead a intensely reasoned one and a course of action and way of thinking that he would wish all Republics to follow at all times and places, as a sort of a universal good--then in that case, I suppose by his new criteria, that historically speaking, Abraham Lincoln, by cutting the underpinnings of the pre-Civil War Democratic Party and making it nigh impossible for them to win national election for over a generation after the war, I suppose then that we must say he was *also* guilty of a coup d'etat. Certainly he was accused of such at the time, but posterity has thought he had been handled a bit too roughly at the time and has judged him favorably. Now, however, thanks to the new political philosophies Mr. Reich is equipping us with, I guess we can finally pull the gauze off of our eyes and take this bearded fascist off the five dollar bill...we thus owe Mr. Reich a debt of gratitude....three cheers for Robert Reich...Hip Hip...
Perhaps I am being unfair. No, I am being unfair. Of course....*if* I was in a mischievous mood--which naturally I am not, wishing to treat this matter with all of the due august reverence it deserves--then maybe Mr. Reich's views could best be explained--indeed, considered legitimate--if we remember that the phrase "coup d'etat" *is* probably appropriate to describe what happened in Wisconsin. In fact, it may be the best, most absolutely, accurate phrase to describe the events recently occurring there. In fact, I have no doubt about it.
Because coup d'etat means to overthrow the state, and most definitely did it seem to me that the Left in Wisconsin--the Left everywhere--acts like that when it comes to the state, "L'Etat c'est moi". Sun Kings, indeed.
I hope I can be forgiven the following act of lèse majesté, but at the end of the day I am not quite convinced of Mr. Reich's viewpoint, and so I hope we who are not sure of the complete deviltry of Governor Walker and his ilk will be not be prosecuted for treason---but the fact is that Mr. Reich doth protest too much.
Finally, before finishing, I thought that given the nom de plume I have adopted, I would caution the following as my final word for tonight: that when it comes to coups and overthrows, one should always remember that the Roman Republic ended (and the Roman Empire erupted into turmoil every so often), in part, because the armies became more loyal to their army commander (and the rewards he could deliver to his supporters, if only he could get in power) than to the commonweal as a whole. Or in other words, Rome ran into repeated troubles when large groups that had king-making power would only follow or allow into office those that kept the interests of those groups foremost in thought, all else being hanged.
Just a thought to keep you cozy this winter night, as one ponders the wisdom of Robert Reich, great mind of our time.
Upon further reflection, I have one addition to my above comments:
Given what we can consider as Mr. Reich's most probable views on collective bargaining and forced dues as "civil rights" (presumably unalienable) possessed by all Americans--does he or doesn't he believe that the military should be able to unionize? If so, why? If not, why not?
And would he be in favor of such a move? If not, why not?
Just some ponders for a Saturday morning.