Michael Lind: The War Socialism of the American Right





[Michael Lind is policy director of the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation.]

When American conservatives denounce Keynesianism and socialism, it is difficult not to detect a note of jealous resentment on their part. After all, since Reagan, the American right has made Keynesian fiscal policy and the socialization of American industry its own specialty. Conservatives are rhetorical libertarians but operational Keynesians, when they are not operational socialists -- military socialists.

The old Republican Party of Robert Taft and Dwight Eisenhower was a fiscally conservative party of Northeasterners and Midwesterners who favored balanced budgets and viewed foreign wars and military spending with suspicion; recall Eisenhower’s warning about the "military-industrial complex." The Republican Party of Ronald Reagan and his successors is based in the Southern and Western "Gun Belt," whose economy of military contracting and subsidized agriculture and energy was largely created by New Deal Democrats in World War II and the Cold War. The Republican Party seeks a permanent alliance with the Wall Street financial industry, which, however, flirts with neoliberal Democrats like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama....

If the Wall Street wing of the GOP is factored out, the red-state Republican economy is the military-industrial complex -- or, to be more specific, the agro-energy-military-industrial complex. As the political heirs of the right-wing Southern Democrats of the 1940s and 1950s, today’s red-state Republicans have inherited the old Southern Democratic trick of combining denunciations of big government with support for federal government spending that benefits their constituents. Those constituents include not only well-paid military contractors, who for all practical purposes are government bureaucrats in a socialist economy, but also ordinary men and women in the ranks, where conservative white Southerners are over-represented....

If military Keynesianism is considered such a success by conservatives, they can hardly balk at what the Prussian military, during World War I, called "war socialism."...

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Javier Ramirez - 9/18/2010

I thought Lind's article posted on HNN was complete. There was more to it and I didnt read it all before I wrote my original post. Lind does acknowledge the Paul wing of the party in a around about way. My apologies for implying he didnt. He is absoulutley correct when he says
"Out of power, the Republican Party preaches Ron Paul-style libertarianism. In power, the party practices Martin Feldstein-style military Keynesianism and military socialism -- and Hank Paulson-style financial sector Keynesianism and socialism". This is why I have a very mixed to negaitve reaction to the tea partiers. Where were they under Bush? Is intrusive gov't good under a Republican but bad under a Democrat?


Javier Ramirez - 9/18/2010

Lind makes his point but its not original with him. Its been said many times before most notably the likes of Congressman Ron Paul who was mocked by the war party faction of the GOP on numerous debate platforms and also Rep. Walter Jones of NC. Its a lonely world for those few courageous Republicans who have not bowed their knee to the neoconservative golden calf of big government and never ending puritanical foreign wars.

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