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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The Shining City on the Hill

And the endless slums in the valley. Along with Billmon, the World Socialist Web Site is one of my favorite sites for fairly lengthy and coherent analysis of the news. That the last paragraph of most articles includes something like "the only true solution is for the working classes around the world to unite against international imperialism" in no way detracts from the quality of their writing (at least for me!).
The aim of this unrelenting propaganda is not only to mislead and confuse, but also to intimidate public opinion, that is, to foster a sense of political and social isolation among countless Americans who despised Reagan and everything he represented, to create in their minds, if not doubt about their own judgment, then at least a sense of futility about the prospects for dissenting views in the United States.
These tributes to Reagan are, in essence, a celebration of the services he rendered to the rich. The overriding goal of his administration was the removal of all legal restraints on the accumulation of personal wealth. The motto of the Reagan administration, like that of the notoriously corrupt government of King Louis-Philippe in 19th century France, was “Enrich yourself.” The slashing of tax rate for the wealthy—from 70 percent to 28 percent—earned for the president the boundless affection of the grateful rich.
The typical Reagan speech was a mixture of hokum, bunkum, flapdoodle and balderdash of the type dished out daily by motivational speakers, along with mashed potatoes and turgid chicken breasts, at countless business luncheons in the Marriotts, Hyatts and Hiltons of America.
The critical test of the Reagan administration—and, more significantly, the turning point in class relations in the United States—came with the strike of nearly 12,000 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Union (PATCO) in August 1981. Ironically, PATCO had endorsed the election of Reagan the previous year, after being told privately that a Republican administration would respond favorably to the union’s demands for improved wages and working conditions. However, in accordance with plans that had actually been drawn up during the Carter administration, Reagan announced that he would fire all controllers who did not return to work within 48 hours. There is ample reason to believe that the Reagan administration received assurances from the AFL-CIO that the labor federation would take no action in support of PATCO. There was widespread sentiment among rank-and-file trade unionists for solidarity action to prevent the destruction of PATCO. Had the AFL-CIO ordered industrial action in support of the air traffic controllers, the Reagan administration would have been forced to retreat, thereby suffering a devastating defeat early in its first term.
By the time Reagan left office in 1989, the American trade union movement, thanks to the betrayals of the AFL-CIO, had ceased to exist as a social movement.
The increasingly frantic and illegal methods employed by the Reagan administration to suppress popular insurgencies in Central America—all in the name of the global struggle against communism—culminated in the eruption of the Iran-Contra scandal in late 1986. The exposure of criminal operations organized by rogue operatives inside the White House, carried out in defiance of laws passed by Congress, left the Reagan administration shaken and bewildered. Reagan’s sole defense against criminal charges was that he did not know what was going on in his own administration. In this instance, the claim of ignorance was entirely believable.
Having made these points, it is not our intention to suggest that Reagan achieved nothing as president, that he left no legacy.

That is not at all the case. Though Reagan has departed this world, the accomplishments of his administration live on and are observable everywhere: in the staggering growth of social inequality in the United States, in the grotesque concentration of wealth in the hands of a small segment of American society, in the shocking decline of literacy and the general level of culture, in the utter putrefaction of the institutions of American democracy, and, finally, in the murderous eruption of American militarism.

That is the legacy of Reaganism.
(Editor's note--That was the final paragraph! No "workers of the world unite!")