15 February 2016

The Christian Right and Free Market Orthodoxy


It continues to surprise me that so many who advocate the free market continue to support Trump. With Sanders on the Democratic side, he doesn't really elaborate his policies. Both populists promote big ideas but seem unable to elaborate on the details. A few people are starting to notice. But one point that Trump does make clear is his economic stance regarding outsourcing, trade deals, tariffs and the like.

He suggests that he would slap a tax on Carrier's air conditioners if they moved their manufacturing to Mexico. When they imported them back into the United States, they would have to pay a tax and therefore the benefits of outsourcing would be eliminated. Companies that continue to manufacture in the United States would of course benefit from this because Carrier would no longer be able to undercut them.

Trump is therefore suggesting that he would effectively tear up NAFTA which is a pretty substantial law. I think he's a bit naive in thinking that will be done without any difficulty and I think he would be rather stunned by how much opposition he would receive from the corporate and diplomatic world. The Canadian government would be less than pleased not to mention Wall Street.

What Trump is suggesting is a form of Protectionism which many continue to demand and promote. Whether Protectionism is right or wrong it must be said that many advocates of the free market insist Protectionism played a huge role in leading to the Great Depression, exacerbating it and contributed to setting the global geopolitical stage for what became World War II. There are just as many voices that disagree but for many this narrative has also become a point of orthodoxy. Protectionism in the eye of free market advocates is a dangerous sin.

This represents something of a split on the Right. There are several advocates of Protectionism. One thinks of Pat Buchanan and Rick Santorum for example. They are by no means alone. Protectionism seems to be on the rise and not a few in the Establishment are upset about it. Others like Cruz for example exhibit a level of schizophrenia and inconsistency on this issue.

Nativists on the popular level believe that these policies wound China, something they are keen to do. And yet the business world will point out that these policies hurt the US financial system, the markets and US corporations. Nativists channel their anger toward non-whites in other countries but the financial analysts make it clear who the real culprit is. This is also misunderstood on a massive scale and it's very apparent at the street level. There is so much anger toward China, something Trump has capitalised on. They should be mad at the American financial and corporate system. These are the people that have destroyed American industry for the sake of their own profits.

On the other hand such Internationalism is at the very heart of US power. Considering that the majority of the population fails to grasp the nature and magnitude of the US Empire it's no great shock that they don't realise the protectionist policies they advocate would deeply wound it. Because of the empire's nebulous and unacknowledged nature, the Establishment struggles to answer these objections. They can't explain it because to do so is to let the cat out of the bag. The nature of the American Empire is a discussion they don't want to have.

Or to look at it from another angle, we still have people talking about the US being the 'policeman' of the world totally masking and obscuring the fact that the US is the 'policeman' because it claims a worldwide jurisdiction and has done so since 1989. Many who speak this way don't realise they are challenging the Imperial system. There's a moral argument to do so but its dismantling would decimate American power. That's fine with me but I have a feeling that those who speak this way do not share that sentiment. They fail to grasp the Americo-centricity of the world system and that their position would bring down the country they are trying to support.

Once again, the Establishment can't candidly explain the real nature of the issue. There are technocrats who will be honest about it but they operate in the world of think-tanks and are largely outside the mainstream/popular media. They are frank regarding the world system but their speech is couched in terms of diplomatic euphemism. If dissected it's pretty clear what they are saying. Sometimes the Secretary of State or Defense will also make some pretty startling statements but again you have to ears to hear what's really being said.

Right or wrong to many free market principles are a point of economic orthodoxy and many in Christian circles cast the issue in terms of morality and ethics. Therefore it is surprising to see people associated with websites like LewRockwell as well as 'Christians' like Jerry Falwell Jr. supporting Trump. On this very key point his position radically digresses from the economic ideology they are standing with.  

Falwell Sr. openly praised Milton Friedman and with Friedman tied in open markets with a restriction of government power and regulation. In fact Liberty University used to (and maybe still does) promote a course connected with Friedman's work and theories.

Do the supporters of Trump and Santorum not understand that their policies actually demand more government regulation and oversight?

In fact in conservative Christian circles it's only curmudgeonly Fundamentalists that tend to oppose the free market. This is largely due to Nationalistic concerns and an eschatologically based fear of open markets and globalisation. Is Falwell Jr. turning his back on his father's Evangelical/Moral Majority legacy and embracing Bob Jones? If so, I think the Christian Right would want to know.

In fact most of the Christian Right is too ignorant to know the difference.

Is Trump planning to dismantle NAFTA? I think people would want to know that. He's made some comments suggesting he would do so, but why hasn't that been a bigger story? How would he do that? Why didn't the CBS moderator's pursue that? What he said about the air conditioners directly contradicts US law vis-à-vis NAFTA. I would think that worthy of note.

Confusion reigns it would seem. What a strange place we've come to. By that I mean both American society and the Church. In the 1980's and 1990's the Christian Reconstructionists and many other ideologues in the Right made a supposedly Christian case for the free market. The ideas of non-Christians like Friedman, Hayek, von Mises, Rothbard and others were combined with or ratified by supposedly Biblical exegesis. And yet their policies are destructive and now many are questioning the orthodoxy of open markets. Will we see a genuine divide within the Christian Right? This touches on a larger set of issues and a larger schism between Christian Conservatism and an ascendant Libertarian wing.

In my estimation both are fatally flawed and both are patently anti-Scripture. Yet, that's where things are at. It's interesting to watch.