Friday, December 12, 2008


Hale "Bonddad" Stewart says that "the Republicans want a depression." Atrios's image is of Republicans "in smash and destroy mode. It's really all they know."

You have to remember that, in the romance of movement conservatism, one of the most stirring, inspiring moments is the severe recession of the early 1980s in America and Britain, which starred the two greatest saints of the movement, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. This is a moment when movement icons, by busting unions, actually reversed mid-century liberal victories; of course the righties romanticize that. And in America, at least, a Stockholm syndrome set in, as ordinary workers actually came to be grateful to the man who rendered them powerless.

Beyond hero worship, movement righties are absolutely besotted with the notion of "creative destruction." Schumpeter's notion -- or at least the vulgarized version in their heads -- assuages their guilt at moments like this: yes, workers suffer pain when the old is swept away by the new, but this is a positive force, a moral force, so that pain is a good thing. Movement rightists take the notion of creative destruction to mean that all destruction is creative -- every act that wipes away part of the old order by definition makes the new order better. It's simply unthinkable to rightists that some destruction might just be the start of a downward spiral that's difficult if not impossible to reverse. This belief helps them sleep soundly at night.

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