. . .so far, anyway, has appeared in The American Conservative. It is called “Revolt of the Rich,”and it is by by Mike Lofgren, who spent 16 years as a Republican staffer on House and Senate Budget Committees. In the article, he makes a case that very few other Republicans are willing to advocate: not only is wealth not the be-all and end-all of existence, but it is actually a pernicious and corrupting force. In the article, Lofgren calls the super rich “the new secessionists,” by which he does “not mean secession by physical withdrawal from the territory of the state. . . withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration, whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot. Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it.” And, as Lofgren argues, this separatism causes the super rich to be antagonistic, if not downright hostile, to any government programs that try to sustain or support those who live in the country of the less well off.
But they don’t stop with hostility; “The objective of the predatory super-rich and their political handmaidens is to discredit and destroy the traditional nation state and auction its resources to themselves.”
“After the 2008 collapse,” write Lofgren, “the rich, rather than having the modesty to temper their demands, this time have made the calculated bet that they are politically invulnerable—Wall Street moguls angrily and successfully rejected executive-compensation limits even for banks that had been bailed out by taxpayer funds.” With the Supreme Court removing “the last constraints on the legalized corruption of politicians” and with the American standard of living falling at the fastest rate in decades, conservatives face disturbing questions. “Almost all conservatives who care to vote congregate in the Republican Party. But Republican ideology celebrates outsourcing, globalization, and takeovers as the glorious fruits of capitalism’s “creative destruction.” As a former Republican congressional staff member, I saw for myself how GOP proponents of globalized vulture capitalism, such as Grover Norquist, Dick Armey, Phil Gramm, and Lawrence Kudlow, extolled the offshoring and financialization process as an unalloyed benefit. They were quick to denounce as socialism any attempt to mitigate its impact on society. Yet their ideology is nothing more than an upside-down utopianism, an absolutist twin of Marxism. If millions of people’s interests get damaged in the process of implementing their ideology, it is a necessary outcome of scientific laws of economics that must never be tampered with, just as Lenin believed that his version of materialist laws were final and inexorable.
“If a morally acceptable American conservatism is ever to extricate itself from a pseudo-scientific inverted Marxist economic theory, it must grasp that order, tradition, and stability are not coterminous with an uncritical worship of the Almighty Dollar, nor with obeisance to the demands of the wealthy. Conservatives need to think about the world they want: do they really desire a social Darwinist dystopia?”
Many people on the left have been offering this kind of critique, but I’m not aware of other conservatives who have been willing to advance the heretical idea that the drunken binge of marketism that has governed our politics for more than three decades needs to ratcheted back. Three cheers for Lofgren for stating so emphatically that the right’s addiction to money is destroying the country.
Lofgren’s article, no doubt, is from his new book The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted, which I am going to buy right now. I will be curious to see how much he makes of this Old?New Secessionists comparison. I think there is quite a bit there. Many of the Old Secessionists were super rich as well, and many put their wealth and their lifestyle above the good of the country.