Goldilocks and the Minotaur

Gordon Fitch gcf at
Tue Aug 1 06:29:56 PDT 2000

> Chuck Grimes wrote:
> > As far as I can tell the method of compassionate conservatism is to
> > corrupt traditional liberal or social welfare state discourse with an
> > over lay and comingling of nineteenth century homilies on competition,
> > volunteerism and individual entrepreneurialism, coupled with an
> > intensified dismantling and reconstitution of what remains of the
> > federal welfare state.

Sam Pawlett:
> So-called compassionate conservatism is an old staple of libertarian
> ideology cf. *libertarianism* by John Hospers. They argue that once the
> coercive act of taxation is abolished, private philanthropy will again
> flow taking the place of the welfare state. It's not that people don't
> like giving aid to the poor, they don't
> like being coerced into doing so. However, the idea is to strengthen the
> class power of the rich over everyone else, making the poor and working
> classes completely dependent and thus completely at the whim of the
> rich. All of the Goldwater-Reagun-Gingrich ideas about privatization and
> the consequences of state welfare programs revolve around these ideas as
> well as old Malthusian arguments about the poor multiplying and putting
> pressure on the food supply if they are not condemned to starvation and
> celibacy.
> ...
> Its not that a big jump from Stalinism into conservatism. Both rely on
> complete devotion to state power and use of that state power to vilify,
> defame their critics. ...

I wonder if there is not some kind of shadow-boxing going on in regard to the Republican position on Welfare. A straight abolition of Welfare systems would actually decrease the power of the rich over the poor, as follows:

1. The rich own and operate the State.

2. The State operates Welfare.

3. Welfare regulates the poor by offering them subsistence funds dependent on their conforming to its discipline.

The practical outcome of Welfare diminution was observed in the suburban county where I live as an offensive rise in the number and obtrusiveness of the very poor, homeless persons who lived in public spaces by means of begging and scavenging. That is, while many suffer more and some die if Welfare is cut off, in general the poor become more restless and aggressive and less easy to control.

Therefore -- the Right being the party of authority and force -- rightists cannot rationally support the reduction or abolition of Welfare as a control system. In fact, historically they have favored Welfare schemes like poorhouses and workfare which increase control of the poor, but are more costly than simply giving the poor the money.

I expect, then, that Bush and the Republican half of the capitalist party cannot intend an actual dissolution of the Welfare State but rather its transformation into a different and more authoritarian form -- quite possibly a more costly form. But their competitors (the other head of the two- headed monster) won't exploit this disadvantage among the taxpayers because they go along with the con.

That is, they speak of Welfare as involving compassion whereas it mostly involves control, sadism and expediency.

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