Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bertrand De Jouvenal on the Equivalence of Progressivism and Corporate Conservatism

"Every association of men shows us the same spectacle. When once the social end ceases to be continuously pursued in common (as happens, for instance, in an association of pirates, where there must be a chief, but where no active body emerges over a passive generality) and becomes the permanent charge of one differentiated group, to be interfered with by the rest of the associates only at stated intervals--when once the differentiation has come about, then the responsible group becomes the elite, which acquires a life and interest of its own.

"It withstands on occasion the mass whence it came. And it carries the day. It is hard in reality for private persons attending a meeting, taken up as they are with their own concerns and without having concerted among themselves beforehand, to feel the confidence necessary to reject the proposals which are cleverly presented to them from the platform, and the necessity for which is supported by arguments based on considerations of a kind to which they are strangers."

De Juvenal shows that power is monarchical in nature. The popular sovereignty-based power of Progressivism is an imitation of European monarchy. Europe arrived at this model, shows de Juvenal, via monarchy. Dirgisme, strong state power, is the function of monarchy legitimized by popular sovereignty that has replaced the monarch with the "national will", an abstract concept that is vacuous of meaning. Thus, power becomes the possession of a group of self-interested activists or demagogues who claim to reflect the "national will". In the case of corporate conservatism, the argument is that the efficiency of corporations entitles them to special consideration. This is the corporate conservative view. But the corporations are not efficient and they cannot be because if they were there would be no motive to act as special interests in claiming state privilege.

Both corporate interests and social democratic cliques claim to serve the public. The corporate interest claims to do so through efficiency, when it is actually inefficient. The social democratic clique claims to do so when it actually serves itself.

Progressivism and progressivism, corporate conservatism and social democracy, are the same ideology with two rival gangs competing for power.

What is to be done? The alternative ideology to Progressivism and progressivism is Lockean liberalism: the insistence on individual rights; the insistence on no special treatment for any party; and skepticism that the state has the ability to create benefits out of thin air. This skepticism leads directly to a rejection of Keynesian economics; of socialism; and of social programs that have caused more harm than good.

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