"The Age of the Fine Print: Socializing Costs, Privatizing Profits" -- My new VDARE.com column is up. It's about the berserk reaction by the establishment press to the Speaker of the House's announcement that, rather than go into the smoke filled room with the Senate, the House would hold public hearing on immigration.
Let's step back to put the immigration controversy in a new and broader historical perspective.
At the end of the Cold War, Francis Fukuyama announced that we had reached "The End of History." Obviously, somebody forgot to send History the memo.
Yet, in the narrow Hegelian/Marxist sense in which Fukuyama used the term "History," he was correct. The big controversy of the 20th Century—socialism vs. capitalism—was effectively over. Pure socialism was dead. Capitalism had survived, but not laissez-faire. From now on there would be markets, but with government interference.
Unfortunately, many commentators are still living in the past. They think basic ideology is still the big issue—the free market vs. socialism. Well, history hasn't ended, but it has moved into a new stage. Regulated capitalism has won, so most of the political struggles in the future are not going to be about the old boldface big ideas like nationalizing the means of production, but about the fine print.
The politics of the present and future will revolve around various organized interests trying to put one over on the disorganized rest of us in the particulars of legislation.
Contra Fukuyama, there will never be a ceasefire in this struggle between the clever and the clueless. The Age of Ideology is over but the Age of the Fine Print is upon us.
For instance, back in 1996 when the California legislature unanimously deregulated the state's electricity market, few in public life bothered to read the fine print because the ideological principle of deregulation seemed so historically inevitable at the time. Well, it turned out the devil was definitely in the details. The only people who mastered the minutiae were the traders at Enron and other such firms, who raped California out of billions.
A basic strategy for the crafty to make money is privatizing profits and socializing costs. To do this, they use tame politicians and journalists to help them hand their costs of doing business off to the public. (Economists, when they aren't blinded by ideology, call these costs "externalities.")
By importing “cheap labor”, employers shift major costs—such as medical care and policing—to you and me.
The Senate Sellout would further increase the burdens imposed on us.
And that's why its supporters in the press don't want us to worry our pretty little heads about what's in those 118,227 words in the Senate immigration bill.
A reader writes:
Under post-Cold War globalization, the Age of Ideology gives way to the Age of Ethnology. The big question changes from the (Platonic) policy-oriented “what form of state is best?” to the (Leninist) political-oriented “whose group rules the state?"
It's pretty clear that cultural identity now trumps political economy in determining the great questions of statecraft. The equity of civil society and the efficacy of state polity depends as much upon the citizenry’s individual natures as it does upon the civitas’ institutional structures.
Cultural identity issues are typically unmentionable in normal ethical language since they essentially boil down to grabs for power and money by rival gangs/tribes. That is one reason why cultural theory is so unintelligible – if its assumptions and conclusions were stated in plain language people would laugh or throw-up.