The Paradoxes At The Heart Of The "Conservative" Project

charles hugh smith

What passes for “Conservative” now is not in the least conservative. 

The agenda of the so-called “Conservative” ideology is based on hypocritical paradoxes that its proponents conveniently ignore. The key paradoxes can be summarized thusly: 

So-called “Conservatives” claim to want small government, but they can’t resist fattening themselves at the trough of the Central State/saviour State. Reaching for the very pinnacle of hypocrisy, not only do so-called “Conservatives” greedily lap up all the State largesse enjoyed by proponents of the saviour State–the overflowing troughs of Medicare, for example–but they do other welfare recipients one better by gorging on tax breaks, oil leases on government land and offshore tax-avoidance scams that others at the Central State trough can only dream of.

The number of “small government Conservatives” who renounce their saviour State largesse– Social Security and Medicare–is essentially zero.

And no, you did not “pay your fair share.” The vast majority of these State benefits are welfare, paid by other taxpayers. But so-called “Conservatives” aren’t interested in looking at spreadsheets detailing how their lifetime contributions, including interest, have been paid out in the first few years of these saviour State benefits, and from then on they’re just another form of welfare.

So-called “Conservatives” are against Central State ownership, except when the State gives the immensely profitable mineral rights to their cronies for private exploitation. In other words, as long as public lands can be exploited for private gain, then public ownership of land is OK. But if the lands are reserved for the public, then “Conservative” righteous indignation explodes like a volcano.

So-called “Conservatives” love to pronounce their support of “national defence,” but this is just another form of self-serving complicity–i.e. living large by leeching off the Central State. A staggeringly rich slice of spending on “national defence” and “national security” is just swag distributed to “conservative” cronies.

The Undersecretary for Warming Coffee in the E-Ring, for example, retires one day with a fat government pension and shows up at the Pentagon the next day as a well-paid defence-industry lobbyist.

Just how “small government” is that? Yet so-called “Conservatives” are silent when it comes to reining in Central State spending and power, because they’re too busy exploiting the coercive powers of the Central State for their own personal gain.

So-called “Conservatives” are for “limited government,” unless they can wield its coercive powers to shove their value system down everyone’s throats. The paradox is obvious, isn’t it? A truly limited Central State has neither the funds nor the will to force “social values” onto its citizenry. In this way, the “Conservatives” are just like the “Progressives”–they both love concentrations of “top down” State power because that enables them to force-feed their own “solutions” down the entire food chain.

There is nothing remotely “small government” about a Central State with the power and money to force “solutions” down the throats of its citizens.

So-called “Conservatives” fail to distinguish between the Financial Elite’s cartel-crony capitalism that depends on the Central State and true capitalism.

Cartel-crony capitalism is actually the very antithesis of real capitalism. Real capitalism is the taking on of risk to invest capital in a competitive, i.e. transparent, market.

The essence of cartel-crony capitalism is the exact opposite: cartel-crony capitalism eliminates risk by offloading losses and risk onto the Central State. It creates illusory capital via issuing dodgy debt (“marked to fantasy”) and derivatives that claim to lower risk but only obscure it, and then leverages that illusory capital into mountains of credit. It is totally dependent on this obscuring of risk and leverage, and on the complicity of Central State regulatory agencies which effectively enable this fraud by looking the other way.

Recall that the revolving door between Wall Street and banks and these regulatory agencies is spinning all the time.

Cartel-crony capitalism uses the power of the Central State to eliminate competition and create cartels and quasi-monopolies. The U.S. sickcare system, for example, is presented by “conservatives” as the epitome of “free market” capitalism. Yet if you actually try to buy insurance on the “open market,” you will find the insurers in your area number either one, two or three: in effect, a cartel which partners with the central State to insure their own profitability by the elimination of competition.

In industry after industry, cartel-crony Elites have used the power of the Central State to erect regulatory moats and barriers which effectively limit competition and thus guarantee profits and market dominance.

In other words, there is nothing remotely capitalist in cartel-crony “capitalism.” Yet it is this simulacra “capitalism” that the “Conservatives” fawn over and support. Why? Because their cronies benefit from non-competitive, risk-free, immensely profitable cartels, and multitudes of other phony “conservatives” are personally profiting from the ecology of cartel-crony “capitalism”–the lobbyists, the government contractors, the faux-conservative think tanks, etc.

What would be truly conservative would be to eliminate the cartel-crony/Central State partnerships that are bleeding the nation dry and demand real capitalism that deploys real capital and accepts risk in transparent markets.

What would be truly Conservative would be to stop demanding the central State impose one’s own value system on other citizens.

What would be truly Conservative would be a limited Central State that no longer claims to be a saviour State or an Empire that has “interests” everywhere on the planet, a State whose mandate is restricted to safeguarding civil liberties and limiting the concentrations of wealth and power that have corrupted the machinery of governance and spawned a vast array of ever-expanding, unaccountable states within the State that benefit the cartel-crony “capitalism” of Power Elites.

What would be truly Conservative would be to champion the dispersal and diffusion of concentrations of monopoly-cartel wealth and power, including all the monopoly-cartel-State fiefdoms which are failing so visibly.

Living honestly within our means, with transparency and accountability rather than excuses, denial, self-indulgence and a reliance on exploiting the State’s power over others–now that would be conservative.

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