Top Five Signs of Capitalist Dictatorship in the Romney Campaign by Juan Cole
Source Dave Anderson
Date 12/11/01/22:30
Top Five Signs of Capitalist Dictatorship in the Romney Campaign
by Juan Cole

THE MAINSTREAM media and even Democrats have been slow to call Mitt
Romney’s deliberate falsehoods “lies.” But after just calling them
what they are, it is also important to analyze their meaning. Lies on
Romney’s scale do not simply show contempt for the intelligence of
American voters. They show contempt for democracy, and display some of
the features of capitalist dictatorship of a sort that was common in
the late twentieth century. Mohammad Reza Pahlevi in Iran, Alfredo
Stroessner in Paraguay, Park Hung Chee in South Korea and P.W. Boetha
in South Africa are examples of this form of government. Capitalist
dictatorship has declined around the world in favor of capitalist
parliamentarism, in part because of the rising power of middle and
working classes in the global South.

Capitalist dictatorship has many similarities to fascism, but differs
from it in lionizing not the workers of the nation but the
entrepreneurs of the nation. Fascism seeks a mixed economy, whereas
capitalist dictatorship privileges the corporate sector and attacks
the non-military public sector. But both try to subsume class conflict
under a hyper-nationalism. Both glorify military strength and pick
fights with other countries to whip up nationalist fervor. Both
disallow unions, collective bargaining and workers’ strikes. Both
typically privilege one ethnic group within the nation, marking it as
superior and setting up a racial hierarchy.

One big difference between capitalist democracy (as in contemporary
Germany and France) and capitalist dictatorship is the willingness of
the business classes to play by the rules of democratic elections, to
allow a free, fair and transparent contest, to acknowledge the rights
of unions, and to respect the universal franchise. Businessmen in such
a society share a civic ethic that sees these goods as necessary for a
well ordered society, and therefore as ultimately good for business.
They may also be afraid of the social disruptions (as in France) that
would attend any attempt to whittle away workers’ rights. Attempts to
limit the franchise, to ban unions, and to manipulate the electorate
with bald-faced lies are all signs of a barracuda business class that
secretly seeks its class interests above all others in society, and
which is not afraid of workers and middle classes because the latter
are apolitical, apathetic and disorganized.

Sound familiar?

1. Romney’s contempt for the democratic process is demonstrated in his
preference for the Big Lie. In order to scare workers in Toledo, Ohio,
into voting for him, he alleged that President Obama was arranging for
Chrysler’s Jeep production to be shifted to China. Chrysler CEO Sergio
Marchionne sent an email to all employees refuting Romney: “I feel
obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will
not be moved from the United States to China…” He pointed out that
Jeep production in the US has tripled since 2009. Romney’s political
ad containing this sheer falsehood, is blanketing Ohio.

2. Romney backs Koch-brother-funded attempts to bust public unions, as
in Wisconsin, even though that effort has run into trouble with
Wisconsin courts.

3. Romney supports Koch-brother-funded attempts to suppress voting,
typically through state legislatures requiring voter identification
documents at polling booths. Such identification often costs money, so
that it is a stealth poll tax. It also requires, for non-drivers, a
trip to a state office and bureaucratic runarounds. Voter i.d.
requirements hit the poor, Latinos, African-Americans and urban people
who use public transit hardest, i.e., mostly voters for the Democratic
Party. In some states, the courts are questioning the laws. But in
many states they are now entrenched. Limiting the franchise was a key
tactic for Apartheid South Africa’s government under Boetha, which was
run as a capitalist dictatorship on behalf of the white Cape Town
business classes.

4. Romney’s devotion to increasing military spending and his rattling
of sabers at Russia, China, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
(aren’t we up to about half the world now?) are typical of the
militarism of capitalist dictatorship. His repeated pledges to defer
to the wishes of the officer corps with regard to whether to end the
Afghanistan war suggests a certain amount of Bonapartism, where the
business classes bring in the generals to make key decisions. The
problem for small authoritarian business classes is that they are in
competition for resources with the much larger middle and working
classes and in a parliamentary system they risk being outvoted. In
order to suppress the latter’s claims on resources and deflect any
tendency to vote along class interests, the business classes in this
system pose as defenders of the nation, thus hiding class conflict and
legitimating the diversion of resources to arms manufacturers and
other corporations. Nationalism, militarism and war, along with voter
suppression, can even the playing field for the rich.

5. The Romney campaign’s remarks about “Anglo-Saxons” better
understanding allies like Britain, and its support for the racist
Arizona immigration and profiling law show a preference for racial
hierarchy, with “Anglo-Saxons” at the top. Again, many capitalist
dictatorships privilege a dominant ethnicity, as with Apartheid South
Africa or discrimination against native Chileans by the Pinochet
regime in Chile. Fostering racism is a way of dividing and ruling the
middle and working classes, of binding a segment of them to the
dominant business classes.

Obviously, the Romney version is capitalist dictatorship lite. But its
strong resemblance to the full form of that sort of polity is highly
disturbing. While these tendencies have existed on the Republican
Right for some time, the sheer level of contempt for democracy as
demonstrated in the Big Lies, the exaltation of war, the racial
profiling, and the new extent of attempts at voter suppression and
union-busting all indicate a sharp veering toward authoritarianism.

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