Edmund Burke, Irving Kristol and Professor Tom Flanagan

Neoconservatism: causation factor of financial crisis

White Rock B.C. - Tuesday, November 25, 2008 - by: Brian Marlatt

During the recent election there was one question I found impossible to answer in the 45 seconds allowed me and I stumbled around a lot in trying to answer it: how do you justify the statement that neoconservatives in the US and Canada have brought us to the brink of economic ruin, as I claimed. A short quip might have served but the question required a fuller answer, so I stumbled a bit (that happens to policy wonks asked to be candidates).

To deconstruct the neocon train-wreck we must acknowledge their ideology-based failings. Greed is their philosophy, their religion; beggar-thy-neighbour is their answer to every question, their catechism, in international trade and domestic economy. This is not conservatism.

Edmund Burke, the godfather of conservatism, warned against extreme individualism, praising instead the individual within the community. Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservatism, described neoconservatism as specifically anti-Tory (his word for classical conservative) and specifically American (hence, I suppose, the focus on extreme individualism). Kristol and others merged classical liberal laissez-faire capitalism with corporatism, bringing them together with the Libertarian's disparagement of order, expressed as a preference for no government or at least smaller government. An aggressive foreign policy completes the paradigm. In short, the neocon sees private corporate interest as superior to society's public interest.

This continues to be their philosophy. The term neoconservative is hardly shopworn despite the passing of the discredited Bush presidency. Last week's Throne Speech tells all: it ignores neo Con responsibility and even denies the GST cuts we barely notice wiped out the surplus and will likely contribute to deficit. Stephen Harper may try to pretend he was never a Bush acolyte educated by the neo Con "Calgary school" led by ex-pat neocon Republican Tom Flanagan, but he shouldn't be allowed to fool anyone. (PCs were often described as Kennedy Democrats, incidentally.)

Irresponsible tax cuts and ideological deregulation in the largest world economy are responsible for today's financial crisis and may be the ruin of us all. Irresponsible tax cuts to billion dollar corporations and the richest few, allowing crumbs to trickle down to the rest of us, have beggared the economy. Ideological deregulation allowed unfunded leveraged buy outs, bank mergers and failures, and the mortgage meltdown. All this we are told, almost daily now, although during the election the neocons merely heckled. Wars in Iraq and elsewhere may do to the West what it did to the USSR.

As we saw in the US election, neocons will accept even electoral ruin rather than admit their errors, at a cost to us all. The Prime Minister's APEC and G-20 comments were barely reassuring.

My fear, for Canada, is that Stephen Harper is committed to neoconservatism while mouthing other things.


Brian Marlatt

PC Party (Progressive Canadian) Candidate in South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale


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