A Progressive Strategy: RADICAL CONSERVTISM


Richard Moore

The following essay was written in response to the thread "re: A wake-up
call to libertarians".  Andrew Austin and Nikolai Rozov brought up the
question of a "world worker revolution", and asked whether "breaking up of
old ground" is a necessary first step to "planting a new garden".

        "Breaking up the ground" is only one model of radical change -- as
seen in the French & Russian Revolutions.  Britain, on the other hand,
achieved its republicanization on an incremental basis, and the USA simply
severed itself from the parent, and then consolidated its
already-republican colonial self-governance systems.

        Which transformative model makes the most sense in our _current_
circumstances, if genuinely populist democracy is to be attained?


A Progressive Strategy: RADICAL CONSERVTISM

        Few would argue that the modern governments of the world are
managing well in today's economic conditions, or that they are fulfilling
their democratic charter to provide for the common welfare, and to govern
so as to best serve the interests of the people.

        _Everyone_ seems to be disgusted with government.  The corporate
elite, who see governments as the only threat to their power, are merrily
dismantling governmental infrastructures, and undoing 200 years of social
evolution.  The disgruntled citizenry seems to be cheering them on, holding
politicians at a level of esteem just below serial killers and child
abusers.  Politicians themselves vie with one another to demonstrate which
of them holds government in the greatest contempt.

        Under these circumstances, I ask you, what is an appropriate
radical agenda?  How can we move effectively toward a progressive,
sustainable society, under democratic governance?  Do we jettison our
current systems and trust in market forces?  Do we mount an insurrecton and
draw up a new constitution?  What is the basis for a rational strategy?

*  *  *

        In the context of the USA and Western Europe, I humbly submit, it
is essential to keep in mind just how progressive our modern "democratic
institutions" are, compared to what existed prior to 1789.

        In this age of corrupted governments cowering under a flood of
neoliberal propaganda, one might easily be seduced into seeing our
governmental structures as being inherently faulty, and in need of thorough
re-design.  But submission to such seduction would be fatal to democracy
and would put us right back into the 18th century, but with no budding
Enlightenment in sight.

        The U.S. Constitution, and the more evolutionary European systems,
represent the best that Enlightenement thinking was able to realize, in
terms of institutionalizing popular sovereignty.  Are these systems
perfect?  -- hardly.  Do they include built-in anti-democratic compromises
with the "old regime" -- certainly.  But are we likely to come up with
something better in today's unenlightened political environment?  -- only
in fantasy.

        As if "our" designs for change are relevant anyway!  While
self-proclaimed libertarians and others discuss unrealistic,
overly-intellectual utopias, the actual powers-that-be are busy
_implementing_ their own utopia.  They have the money, they pull the puppet
strings of government and media, they are experts in developmental change,
and they have a clear vision of where they want to go.

        What is their utopia?  The IMF is the prototype and the cornerstone
of the brave new corporate feudal utopia.  An accountant-run commission,
whose spreadsheet-driven policy "guidelines" dictate who will starve and
who will toil, the IMF is a machine that ingests capital-investment
objectives, and outputs social policy.  It isn't a bank, it's a political
regime -- a supreme commissariat.

        Upon the IMF foundation, are now being built the walls and police
force of the new utopia.  The WTO, GATT, NAFTA, and NATO -- these are the
structures that are taking over control from parliaments, electors, and
sovereign national states.  They include no popular representation, no Bill
of Rights, and no redress of grievances.

        This new world order is a _corporate_ utopia, a world where money
reigns supreme.  The IMF et al are an artificially constructed "invisible
hand" that creates and maintains the conditions for "market forces" to rule
the world with all the seeming inevitability of water flowing downhill.

*  *  *

        The plain truth is that all of today's dominant change trends run
_counter_ to our interests.  Change itself has become democracy's
destroyer: the reform bulldozers have our shelters in their sights, and we
have no reliable bulldozers of our own.   The radical democrat, the
enlightened worker, and the environmentally aware citizen, are placed by
circumstance in a situation where their only sane political stance is
staunch conservatism -- indeed reaction-ism: unwavering support for the
preservation and strengthening of our official traditional democratic

        Our palace of democracy is occupied by the enemy, and deferred
maintenance has it in a shambles, but it's the only palace on offer, the
only one where we are chartered as masters instead of serfs.  In the new
utiopia the people have no palace, the Earth is enshrouded in a PRIVATE
PROPERTY sign, and citizenship is devolved to a credit rating.

        The true "worker revolution" is to storm the palace of democracy,
expel the corporate influence-peddling interlopers, refurbish it, and open
it for business under a new progressive management.  Above all we do not
want the palace to be dismantled -- which is exactly what government
downsizing, privatization, globalization, and deregulation-frenzy are
endeavoring to accomplish.

*  *  *

        When they tell us government is too big, we should realize that
government has the power to curb corporate hegemony.  When they tell us
Congress is corrupt, we should realize corporate "lobbying" extends too
far.  When they tell us civil rights favor criminals, we should realize how
prized those rights were to the founding fathers.  When they tell us
national sovereignty isn't globally correct, we should realize that
democratic nationalism is our only bulwark against a global WTO
technocracatic dictatorship whose only constituency is anonymous "wealth".

        And when Buchanan espouses (in large part) our own policies, then
we know they're aware of the danger posed to them by a _genuine_ populist
revival -- so aware that they staged a pre-emptive strike by a Perot-like

Richard K. Moore
Wexford Ireland
•••@••.•••   <-- (Please copy directly on any replies.)
5 March 96