A world tour of addictive stupidity
Addiction to welfare, deliberately promoted for reckless political aims, is capable of extraordinary damage. The West is about to find out the hard way leaving the door open for a grand circle of history
A World Tour of Addictive Stupidity? Quite a long journey?
Let's start in Beijing, back on October 24th1860. British and French forces are busy burning down the Old Summer Palace in their fury at the torture and mistreatment by the Chinese of an allied delegation. China accepts defeat; its markets are to be opened up at long last to Western trade.
For many decades previously China had insisted on being paid only in silver for its much prized tea and other exports, prompting British traders with London's official approval to smuggle opium back into China instead. Given the staggering sums of Western public money and the human lives wasted on a doomed War against Drugs in recent decades, it's almost impossible to grasp now the far-reaching cynicism displayed back in the 18th and 19th centuries by successive British administrations in welcoming the spread of opium addiction in China as a way of getting leverage in bilateral trade talks.
Fast forward 106 years and jump across continents to the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York. A married couple of left-wing activist academics, Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, publish in The Nation a paper of no less far-reaching cynicism. They call for a huge effort to increase the number of poor Americans signing on for welfare and other benefits with a view to deliberately putting the welfare system under so much strain and chaos that new federal-level socialistic policies including a "guaranteed annual income "for all have to be brought in. Forget the quaint racist terminology of an era before political correctness. Look instead at the deadly serious ideology (emphasis added)
Advocacy must be supplemented by organized demonstrations to create a climate of militancy that will overcome the invidious and immobilizing attitudes which many potential recipients hold toward being "on welfare." In such a climate, many more poor people are likely to become their own advocates and will not need to rely on aid from organizers…
One salutary consequence of public information campaigns to acquaint Negroes with their rights is that many whites will be made aware of theirs. Even if whites prefer to work through their own organizations and leaders, the consequences will be equivalent to joining with Negroes…
… those seeking new ways to engage the Negro politically should remember that public resources have always been the fuel for low-income urban political organization. If organizers can deliver millions of dollars in cash benefits to the ghetto masses, it seems reasonable to expect that the masses will deliver their loyalties to their benefactors. At least, they have always done so in the past.
Here is Frances Piven, 45 years later, warmly congratulating herself on her radical prescience. You have to hand it to these ’60s Marxist agitators and agitatrixes (agitatrices?) They just don’t give up.
Finally, we cross the Atlantic to today’s Paris and Athens, where voters have been busy rejecting something howwid called ‘austerity’ in favour of something nice and reassuring called ‘growth’. This in fact takes us full circle back to China, which is now being asked to lend money at lower than market rates to greedy Europeans to help them subsidize for a while longer their plump bourgeois living standards.
The point, you Europeans who invented world trade and bashed China into accepting your logic, is really one you should have grasped by now. If you want to borrow money, you need to pay the going interest rate. That rate is going to vary according to how credible a borrower you appear to be. If it looks to foreign borrowers that you are not working hard enough and (worse) have bad demographics, so that in a couple of decades’ time you won’t have enough people to support your debts, those selfish foreigners may bump up the interest rates.
And if your government wants to pay out to you more in benefits, social workers, roads, armies, wars, diplomats, publicly funded sex-change operations and diversity policies than it takes in taxes, that government is going to borrow money on world markets and have to accept those higher interest rates. Simples!
In fact it does not matter whether you have "austerity" or "growth". You still have to borrow money at the prevailing market rates and repay your debts on time, lest you start to slump into a fearful crisis of ever higher interest rates and ever-declining capacity to pay back those debts. How long will it take President Hollande and his left-wing electorate and all those busy Athenian anti-austerity campaigners to find out just how remorseless real life can be? Months? Weeks? Hours?
Over in the USA, PJ Tatler has been warming to this very theme:
France elected Socialist Francois Hollande as president, and in his acceptance speech he promised to increase government benefits and amp up “stimulus” spending programs — the exact things that got France into a metaphorical debtors’ prison in the first place.
But exactly as Cloward and Piven had surmised, once you get 50+% of the population hooked on “free” government money, there’s no turning back — they will vote for socialists every time. The election of Hollande is the culmination of Cloward-Piven; the strategy worked, but in the wrong country.
What is the common theme here? Addiction; addiction to drugs or addiction to welfare state privileges and benefits, both deliberately promoted for reckless political aims and capable of doing extraordinary long-term damage.
The strange thing about promoting mass addiction to anything damaging is that as a policy it may win you some short-term and medium-term advantages, but in the long run it must end in disaster; the addicted population will be too weak to do anything useful.
Or is that not a bug, but a feature? In fact the main feature? It's much easier to boss around enfeebled slaves, and creating addiction is, almost by definition, all about creating first physical then psychological dependency:
The soul, Peter, is that which can't be ruled. It must be broken. Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it—and the man is yours. You won't need a whip—he'll bring it to you and ask to be whipped.
This explains why sane people in Europe should ignore those chattering class commentators and commentatrixes who bewail the rise of the Tea Party tendency in the USA. That Tea Party tendency is surely on to something of the greatest moral importance when it points out time and again that America's federal budget deficit is spiraling upwards towards eventual disaster.
The fact that President Obama and the current Democrat Party have nothing sensible to say on the subject – on the contrary, at best they exhibit a blithe Micawberistic hope that "something will turn up" – gives us some scratchings of hope. Hope that in the best possible Marxist way, the Cloward-Piven strategy of creating deliberate mass welfare dependence to drive through wider socialist policies is going to collapse under the weight of its own contradictions before it finally wrecks the Western world and leaves the ruthless Chinese to define a new global order on their terms. What a grand circle of history that would be.
Charles Crawford is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. A former British Ambassador in Sarajevo, Belgrade and Warsaw, he is now a private consultant and writer: www.charlescrawford.biz. He tweets @charlescrawford
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