Goldilocks and the Minotaur

Gordon Fitch gcf at
Tue Aug 1 18:54:52 PDT 2000

Gordon Fitch <gcf at>:
> > 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.

Barry Rene DeCicco:
> Remember, the rich don't own and operate the State. They
> 'merely' have a whole load of influence on the State. 'Welfare
> reform', notice, attacks the budget, power and legitimacy of that
> part of the State that the rich least control and which directly
> benefits them the least.

I should have said "bourgeoisie" -- the organized rich. But otherwise, I don't agree. While various games are played around democracy, very, very few people are elected or appointed who are not supported and directed by bourgeois power. I see no evidence that anyone but the bourgeoisie design and direct the Welfare system, and it has every mark of bourgeoiserie upon it -- a heaped-up, inefficient pile of classes, offices and rules veering between cruelty and indifference.

Welfare benefits the rich the same way it does everyone else with a stake in the present state of affairs: it promotes stability and discipline among a part of the population which would otherwise be difficult to control, unlike obdient workers and an earnest and ambitious middle class. The ungoverned poor would be a source of rebellion, crime, disease, decay, novel ideas and cultural mutations even more than they are today. From the point of view of the clean and orderly, we're essentially talking sanitation.

Moreover, Welfare, like war and imperialism, helps keep the wheels of commerce humming.

Hence a soi-disant "libertarian" claim on the part of the Right to be opposed to a serious Welfare system strikes me as insincere. The argument between the Republicans and Democrats makes sense if it's about whether to play hard cop or soft cop; it makes no sense (from their point of view) to play no cop.

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