Sunday, June 17, 2007

No sainthood for Milton and Ayn

The benevolence about National System economics is that those who still advocate it do not promise a Rose Garden(along with the sunshine) if re-enacted. There will be problems as there are problems with any economic or political program, and utopianism is not the agenda of the American School of economics and it never was. The other competing economic theories and formats such as the Vienna School are steeped in gnostic utopian thinking as much as Marxists are/were; as stated countless times before, these promotors of it are actually right-wing Marxists, and the tragedy, I guess, is that few of its ideologues realize it.

Foraging about at the Uni library I found an oldie but goody book , Not So Free to Choose (Elton Rayek) picking apart the laissez-faire economics of its recently departed guru, Milton Friedman. Rayek demonstrates that in true Stalinist fashion Friedman engaged in revisionist and cavalier history to promote the Vienna School/Chicago Outfit economics such as inventing a "golden age" that never existed of Free Market/Free Trade. 'Classical economics', according to Friedman, had its hay-day from 1815-1914 and gushes in his magnum opus, Free to Choose, that this 99 year period was blessed with "peace, freedom and free market and trade internationally". Such assertions are on par with Rousseau's notion of the 'noble savage'. Anyone who has read an elementary school textbook regarding the history of the 19th Century knows it was anything but one on Pax. European colonialism was quite busy denying freedom and choices to a large part of the globe during the 1800s and fought countless wars to do so. Friedman applauds Great Britain's repeal of the Corn Laws as the epicenter of great liberty and omits that this produced an induced in famine in Ireland to coincide with the repeal. The Chicago Guru also spins a tall one regarding Japan's Meiji Restoration and claims that Japan became a modern power overnight by embracing laissez-faire. Everyone, except for Friedman, knows that Japan has always had heavy statist influence in their economy from day one and Japan built themselves in the late 19th Century up via protectionism and also engaging in colonialism in Manchuria, Korea and Taiwan - denying these people freedom. I could go on about Friedman's cavalier and selected approach to history - its like reading a capitalist version of Pravda. The real bonanza period of classical 'liberalism' is what we are experiencing today which is the corporate feudalist globalizing of much of the planet and the rape of public infrastructure of national economies and their attendant political autonomy.

Friedman's Big Sister and ally was the the emigre novelist, Ayn Rand, with her so-called philosophy of 'Objectivism'. There was nothing objective about it. Rand, despite her atheism, had a Manichean and gnostic view of the world. According to her, at one time the 'Individual' was born free and selfish with a natural inclination to free-market economics but was corrupted by "collectivists" and "mind-blown mystics". Besides Ayn Rand herself, the only thinkers in the Western world who were benign were Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas ; just about everyone else - especially Plato and Kant - were evil. This political cult's influence on the libertarian movement is profound and hardly will one meet a libertarian today who doesn't have a gold-bound edition of Atlas Shrugged on the bookshelf. She is also popular in the NeoCon ranks. There is a Vienna -Chicago connection with about all of these players in the Predator Economics globalizing game: Friedman, Leo Strauss both taught at Chicago Uni in the same period, for instance. Rand just merged the economics of Hayek and von Mises(who brought Vienna to Chicago) with her infantile philosophy, though she had little understanding of them herself. It's analogous to self-proclaimed Biblical fundamentalists who never bother to read their sacred text extensively or with an open-mind.

'Classical' promoters. whilst they be of the economic,educational, religious, political or musical types, all have their Edens - a golden age that never existed except in their own minds. This is odd since none of their historical classical heroes thought that they were being 'classical' in their own day - they all believed themselves to be moderns apparently. These reactionaries in the 21st century need to get with the program, and the program is that we are all post- moderns now. The classical Western canon needs to be respected, and traditions can be quite good, reference points that even self-heralded 'progressives' utilize. But a utopia it is not - never was, never can be - and they need to halt their revisionist historical nonsense.

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