Thomas Frank, the author of the popular book What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America, has a new book out – The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule – which sounds even better. He was the guest on NPR’s Fresh Air tonight (listen to the podcast – it’s worth your time) and I have to say I agree with him 100%.
Heck, I wrote about this many times before, and especially focused in this post and this one – conservatism is antithetical to Free Market.
As conservatives tend to do, they say one thing and think the opposite (you know, black is white, up is down, clean is dirty, war is peace, ignorance if power…). They say they are all for Free Market. And many people believe them. And when they get in power and screw up, everyone says they “abandoned their conservative principles”. No, they did not – they did exactly what conservatives do. Free Market is a danger for their ideology. In a free market economy, they feel insecure because it is not a hierarchical system they like. It is a system in which they can potentially lose. It is a system in which they cannot succeed because the only way they know how to get to the top is by ruthlessly stepping on others. What they like is a hierarchy, a state without government in which conservatives rule through their own corporations, a system in which they have monopoly. And that is exactly what they do when they grab the levers of power.
I’ll be buying that book tomorrow…
One thing that irked me in the interview was a moment when the interviewer (whoever was sitting in for Terry Gross) chided Frank for using “bloggers’ language” in his book. As if that is a bad thing. Eh? Using bloggers’ language is a badge of honor – that indicates that your writing is honest.
Frank responded by saying that he is influenced by the language of the 1910s, 1920s and 1930s. That is – the language of pamphlets. And as there was no Internet at the time, pamphleteers were the bloggers of that age. Or, bloggers are modern pamphleteers, some as good at it and clear-eyed as Thomas Paine was.
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Conservatives aren’t the only one’s these days dressing up a largely corporatist agenda with free market rhetoric. In all the debates around net-neutrality, intellectual “property”, etc., has seen an established mercantile use free market lingo to appeal for what is in reality state-interventionism.
The saddest part is that the PR smokescreen is actually pretty effective.
“Intellectial Propery” is a great example of Orwellian question begging. Society has forgotten to address the question “Are ideas such things as ought to be owned?”. A patent, after all, does not nessesarily grant ownership of an invention in the same sense as buying a pair of shoes grants ownership of them. But by calling patents, copyright, trademarks and so on “IP”, the whole debate is bypassed.