I was greatly heartened to read Paul Gottfried’s excellent essay in The Imaginative Conservative in which he lambasts so-called “conservatives” for their abandonment of all that has always been meant by conservatism. Why he wonders is “nation-building abroad,” which is nothing but a clumsy euphemism for imperialism, a “conservative” value? And why is the sacrifice of American jobs on the altar of globalism a “conservative” value? And why have self-styled “conservative” pundits nailed themselves to the homosexual mast? Why have they abandoned marriage to the enemies of the family? Why do they want war with Russia to protect transgendered people in Ukraine from Russian “homophobia”? What has any of this to do with “conservatism”?
I should confess that I have paraphrased Mr. Gottfried’s words with more than a liberal use of license, lest he should be accused of putting his case in exactly the manner in which I have characterized it. I will, however, quote verbatim the answer that he gives for all of the questions raised by this bogus “conservative” posturing. “Such sea changes,” he states, “are at least partly ascribable to the transformation of the American conservative movement, when it fell under the influence and finally, control of the neoconservatives, who blew in from the left.” The result of this fusion of Trotskyism and neo-conservatism is that the very word “conservative” has, says Mr. Gottfried, lost “any substantive meaning.”
The consequence of such a situation is that the two-party system in the United States offers a “choice” between the radical relativism of the so-called left and the radical relativism of the so-called right. It’s a choice between two forms of idiocy, Tweedledumb or Tweedledumber, with the only question remaining which is which, i.e. which is dumb and which is dumber. It is akin to the proverbial choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, except it is much worse. If forced to choose between drowning and the devil, only an imbecile or a politician would choose the latter.
Switching metaphors, we might say that this situation is attributable to the plutocratic wolf in sheep’s clothing, the Democrats and Republicans serving as the seemingly attractive and therefore electable “sheep” doing the bidding of their lupine donors. This being so, we should rejoice at anything which shakes to its foundations this two-party monopoly, what might be called this twotalitarianism. We should rejoice that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have shaken things up a bit, regardless of what we think of their policies, though it’s a shame that the corrupt Democrat establishment managed to beat down Mr. Sanders and nominate the horrific Hillary Clinton.
Bernie Sanders might be an old-school socialist who still believes that Big Government needn’t become Big Brother, in spite of all historical evidence to the contrary, but at least he’s not an establishment marionette. Mr. Trump might be inept, tactless, and largely clueless, but at least, like Mr. Sanders, he has no strings attached. They show that it’s possible to break out of the asphyxiating grip of the plutocrats.
There is, however, another way that this twotalitarianism can be shaken and that’s through the supporting of other parties. Even if such parties have no chance of winning in this election, their growth might attract a maverick donor or a group of maverick donors to back such an option in the future. They will also serve as a powerful lobbying presence if they can gain enough popular momentum. Since this is so, I’d like to draw attention to the American Solidarity Party and its exciting platform, which bears all the hallmarks of the common sense solutions offered by Catholic social teaching, subsidiarity, distributism, and localism, all of which are so sorely needed in our beleaguered society and economy.
The American Solidarity Party (ASP) believes that political economy (economics) is a branch of political ethics, i.e. that economics is a derivative of philosophy. It, therefore, rejects all models of economic behavior based on greed or naked self-interest. Seeking to build an economy that is “fair, transparent, and democratic,” the ASP advocates models of production and distribution that are “local, responsible, and sustainable.” It supports “the creation of family-owned businesses and worker cooperatives,” opposing macroeconomic political regulations designed to inhibit competition from smaller firms. It calls for “the repeal of subsidies which encourage urban sprawl and discourage local farming and production.”
Having declared its commitment to subsidiarity, distributism, and localism in the aforementioned policy platforms, the ASP also shows its commitment to dismantle corrupt and bureaucratic Big Government in its demand that funds generated by the Social Security program be used solely for the payments out to recipients, rather than the current use of such funds for other purposes. Nor does corrupt and self-serving Big Business escape the ASP’s attention. It calls for “increased oversight of the banking industry and personal accountability for fraudulent behavior.” It also seeks to tackle the corrupt collusion between Big Government and Big Business in its call for amendment of the Federal Reserve Act, enabling direct investment in public works.
The ASP supports the creation of public investment banks and private credit unions at the state and local levels, and seeks to tackle the usurious debt burden carried by those with unmanageable student loans, advocating deflation of the student-debt bubble through partial forgiveness of student loans and the restoration of bankruptcy protection for debtors. In further measures to tackle the evils of usury, the ASP supports “stricter controls on consumer credit, including limits on interest and regulation of credit-card companies and payday-loan and title-loan stores”.
In a radical advocacy of distributist and localist principles, which tackle the problem of Big Government collusion with Big Business, the ASP believes that “the surest path to really free trade is the removal of obstacles to domestic productivity, such as payroll taxes, government subsidies for cheap energy and big agriculture, and the hoarding of productive land for speculative purposes.” It also opposes the hydra-headed evils of globalism, opposing “regulations and loopholes” in trade agreements “that protect special interests at the expense of consumers,” especially those globalist agreements which offer “favorable trade status for countries in which workers are exploited, and to agreements that favor international corporations over local producers.” In similar anti-globalist vein, the ASP calls for “reform or replacement of international trade organizations (such as the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund) in the interest of transparency, accountability, and fairness to all nations,” opposing “the use of international financial pressure to restructure the economies of debtor nations.”
For those of us that are weary of Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber the policies of the American Solidarity Party come as a breath of much-needed fresh air in the stale and suffocating atmosphere of contemporary politics. It will be good for all of us if the ASP prospers. Its voice is that of an all-too-rare common sense in the midst of the present uncommon madness.
Books by Joseph Pearce may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.