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Hillary as Reaganite Malware

What is Clintonism?

by ANDREW LEVINE

There are no American politicians whose views on politics merit serious consideration for any reason other than the power they wield.  With only minor exceptions (from long ago), it has been this way since the founders’ generation passed.

From genuine (though often mindless) conviction or to enhance their electoral prospects or to further their pecuniary interests, politicians sometimes do wax “ideological.”  But they don’t work with ideas or fashion theories or practices on their basis.  They wouldn’t know how.

This is one reason why “Reaganism” is a misnomer.  It is a convenient and frequently used term, but it gives too much credit to a maleficent actor who could barely keep more than one idea in his head at a time.

“Neoliberalism” would be a better name, except that it suggests too narrow a focus on economic policy issues.  Reaganism is not just about economics; it is a retrograde political phenomenon as well.

The term denotes a theory and practice that a few currently celebrated but vastly overrated economists and political theorists concocted by reviving long dormant strains of classical liberal thought.  It is a lackluster confection, void of intellectual cogency and moral appeal.

But thanks mainly to the vicissitudes of late capitalism, it has won the day.

In the 1970s, as capitalism’s post-War reconstruction and growth phase ground to a halt under the weight of excessive productive capacity, it became obvious – especially to capitalists searching for investment opportunities – that the bad old ways had to change.

The result was a rise in the political influence of the financial sector, and a decline in the power of organized labor.

These developments paved the way for the so-called Reagan Revolution.a

No more would capitalist development, for all the harm it did, at least make most people better off materially; and no more would there be any semblance of fairness in the distribution of the benefits and burdens that come with economic growth.

Reaganism initiated a new “social contract” – according to which the handful at the top benefit egregiously, while everybody else works more and gets less.

Rising personal debt and the ready availability of shoddy goods made abroad, along with other palliative measures, masked the new reality for a while; and a series of economic bubbles kept the economy afloat.

But there is no denying the sad fact that the economic condition of most people has been stagnating or deteriorating, and that the public sphere, starved of funds, is declining even more rapidly.  This is what Reaganism does.

And because the idea that government is the problem, not the solution, is a core Reaganite doctrine, Reaganism also militates against ameliorative public programs and welfare state remedies.  In their stead, it offers the snares and delusions of free market theology.

As societies become wealthier,...

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