Shivani: Republicans are Crazy Like a Fox
“If we discount the doubtful elections of 2000 and 2004, the Republicans have not won a national contest fair and square for more than twenty years; and they’d be hard pressed to do so in the foreseeable future, because of demographic shifts that are now an accomplished fact. So what is the party of the elite to do, how can it face electoral realities and yet make progress toward its goals of privatizing, defunding, and delegitimizing essential social functions? Viewed from this angle, the fact that defaulting on the national debt is being discussed as a real possibility is the kind of chaotic development that can bring more recruits of a simplistic mindset to the Darwinian ideology. The classes are being pitted one against the other, there is a distinct racial taint to the whole theater of absurdity, and when values are upset in such a radical way that no historical precedent has any meaning, then the disaffected are free to form incongruous political alliances. This is still not sufficient to offset the overwhelming demographic disadvantage, but it is enough to keep things in play, close enough to harm any emerging liberal consensus. The result of all this frantic activity is to set course for the next stage of neoliberal economics. After we have come this far in thirty years, what else remains to be done? A lot, really. Exactly what Ted Cruz and his compatriots are seeking, a total abandonment of government’s commitment to ensuring a level playing field, so that class and inheritance once again become, as they already have to a very large extent, the ultimate determinants of one’s place in society. This final stage of neoliberalism looks suspiciously like a return to feudal arrangements, as one can tell by a cursory look at, for example, private school admissions stakes in Manhattan or Los Angeles, or who gets the desirable entry-level jobs that lead to social prestige.
It is a rhetoric so extreme — deport every child of every undocumented parent, leave sick people to die on the streets, lock them all up, shoot before thinking, sacrifice every freedom for security, blame yourself if you’re not successful — that it actually begins to sound logical to those on the outs already, those without a substantial economic stake. It is a rhetoric meant to make the center-right look positively socialist, and it is the perfect governing strategy when demographics and cultural democracy are absolutely stacked against you. Don’t count on them buckling before the debt ceiling deadline. Going over would serve their purpose quite well, and Wall Street, despite some expressions of worry, wouldn’t be entirely displeased with its revolutionary arm in Congress. When Republican leaders assure the public that they will not let default happen, what they mean is that theoretically there is enough revenue to make interest payments; it is a radical reprioritization of government, just as the partial shutdown favors the militarized functions of government. To inject this idea alone into the public bloodstream, to make people think that everything but militarism is redundant, is a success of the advance guard of the Republican party, which continues to set the agenda for the rank-and-file.
Does the ruling class know what it’s doing, is it really coherent, or is there a civil war in progress, befuddling and confusing them, so that they’re split in two directions? Alas, there is no civil war. They are very much in control, precisely when it seems they’ve lost control.”