Who was Ronald Reagan?
Former President Ronald Reagan died recently at the age of 93 on June 5th, 2004. However, this article is not an obituary about a bad man who seemed to believe that not getting caught in a lie was the same as telling the truth; who provided a smokescreen to veil the activities of billionaire corporatists; and who eventually became President of the United States. More information must be declassified before an obituary can exist in accurate form. Rather, it is an historical inquiry of the late Ronald Reagan’s state terrorist ties to former CIA Director George Bush, to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and to information warfare (IW) on behalf of American-powered British Empire that is today successfully waging corporatism and state terrorism around the globe in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Arabia, Liberia, Haiti, Bolivia and Guatemala. Even the most innocent of children – infants and babies, have come into the crosshairs of these tax-funded state terrorists. Americans have been living an Orwellian nightmare since World War II, when British elite successfully enticed America’s wealthy corporatists and the late President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to recklessly abandon neutrality and accompany them in waging war and empire. With the transformation of British mercantilism during World War II through partnership with the United States, America was pacified by the British. Pacification established a renewed yet fresh relationship between the formerly rebellious colonial states and their former master. The pacification of America created opportunities for Anglo-American elite to build a global empire.
It is not an exaggeration to say that representative government in Britain and America, also known as “rule by the people”, is today largely a charade and a front for corporatists and their state terrorism; only local governments that are subservient to the larger billionaire-controlled governments are permitted to practice democracy. National politicians do the bidding of their billionaire financiers while providing rhetorical cover through the ruse of democracy. Ronald Reagan was probably the twentieth century’s greatest propagandist for neo-mercantilism. When one reflects on the effectiveness of Ronald Reagan’s free market rhetorical cover at masquerading the machinations of corporatists and their resulting state terrorism, it seems a word pusher can not fade away without leaving behind a resilient myth – the American myth of liberty, free enterprise, and limited government that has long been cherished by ordinary men and women. The confusion inherent in Reagan’s rhetorical contradiction to the reality of his times was not easily discernable for many from the start. During his early phase, Reagan began as a propagandist with the War Department and later a spy with important alliances made with various
right-wingers and covert agents who dominated the Republican Party and policed the Democratic Party during the Cold War years.
The second phase began with Reagan’s ascent into politics and culminated with his legacy that was carried through by George Bush, followed by Bush’s CIA drug money launderer Bill Clinton, and currently Bush’s son George Bush. During those years, Reagan remained essentially a propagandist with only a limited direct influence over his eventual areas of responsibility - the Executive Department of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the militaries, which quickly became apparent after he was shot in 1980 nearly culminating in a tragic ending to a political career built upon informing on his colleagues.
As Reagan’s Vice-President, former CIA Director George Bush had temporarily taken over his reins. Eventually Reagan regained his health and returned to his post, but his own actions were seriously limited to expounding balderdash; the spreading of free market rhetoric and gospel of liberty; the dissemination of a smokescreen to deflect attention from Bush and his cronies, the gross expansion of government, taxes, American-powered British Empire, and increasing deficits.
Reagan was an eloquent speaker who communicated the ideals of free enterprise with a passion, whose free market rhetoric sweet-talked many
listeners into ignoring his anti-market actions, and caused more to dismiss the well-founded complaints of his critics. During the 1980s, Reagan’s actions drew a national body of critics while his rhetoric attracted many defenders as numerous, dynamic, and intense as his balderdash was titanic. Yet Reagan’s stewardship helped realize American-powered British Empire and, in doing so, expanded and enlarged government to unprecedented levels while duping an entire generation. Reagan’s rhetoric allowed economic fascists to ride roughshod over free enterprise and expand elitism in its corporatist form.
The Great Word Pusher
“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind”
– Rudyard Kipling
Ronald Reagan was not merely a hypocrite; he was a spy. Reagan had a
record of bad behavior and covert activity dating back to his earliest days as an actor. Known to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as Confidential Informant T-10, Reagan had acted in military films during World War II under the supervision of actor, informer, and later Senator George Murphy. As a result of this period under Murphy’s organization, Confidential Informant T-10 became an informant “against his own colleagues” for the FBI while “active in the Screen Actors Guild in the 1940s and its elected president in 1947” until 1952 (Mitgang 1988: 31). His superior J. Edgar Hoover later said that Reagan “was a master of photo opportunity” (Quoted in Mitgang 1988: 53).
Listening to Hoover it became discernable that spying was only one function of a state apparatus that not only attached itself parasitically to a robust American economy, but also drew upon the entertainment fields and was a way of life for people like Murphy and Reagan. Reagan, like Murphy, possessed the acting and entertainment skills to give the American people a song and dance.
Reagan divorced his first wife and remarried in 1952 to a wealthy conservative starlet - Nancy Davis. By 1954, he made the transition to television as a show host. The elections of 1952 and 1956 saw Ron campaigning for Eisenhower, then for Nixon in 1960 (Tindall 1988: 1441). During the 1950s, he actively sought out free market advocates, studied their freedom philosophy, and usurped their rhetoric for his campaign speeches (Ebeling 2004: 6). Throughout his career Reagan remained in action, if not in words, a staunch supporter of war and a totalitarian corporatist state.
During the early 1960s, Americans began to respond favorably to Reagan’s borrowed pro-market rhetoric:
“It’s October 27, 1964…Ronald Reagan, then 53 years of age and known to
most Americans only as a movie star and host of two popular television
series, is making a nationally-televised speech on behalf of Senator Goldwater and the Republican Party [in the 1964 presidential campaign]…’A Time for Choosing’ raised $1 million for Republican candidates, more than any political speech had ever raised before…Thus was the image of Ronald Reagan, The Great Communicator, born” (Brady 1984: 1). In 1965, Reagan sought to manipulate and confuse California voters by employing privatization rhetoric:
“Already the hour is late. Government has laid its hand on health, housing, farming, industry, commerce, education, and to an ever increasing degree interferes with people’s right to know. Government tends to grow, government programs take on weight and momentum…But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy” (Quoted in Carson 1987: 263). In 1966, Reagan attacked welfare handouts for individuals, while keeping mum to the fact that the biggest welfare recipients were billionaire owners of corporations such as George Bush’s long-time friend H. Ross Perot:
“Working men and women should not be asked to carry the additional burden of a segment of society capable of caring for itself but which prefers making welfare a way of life, freeloading at the expense of the more conscientious citizens” (Quoted in Brady 1984: 63). The ingenuity of Reagan’s rhetoric enabled him to dupe the voters of California in 1966 to be elected Governor. During his two terms in office, the budget more than doubled, growing from 4.6 billion dollars to 10.2 billion (Tindall 1988: 1441). In 1969, Mad magazine’s satirical December issue asked:
“Ron Reagan. Isn’t he the ex-movie star who wanted to be President? Yep! And it’s something most folks would like to forget! That things like this are happening here in America! That old-time movie stars who weren’t even that good in the first place have become Senators and Governors and yes – even made bids for Presidential nominations. It’s enough to drive a thinking person to drink!” Mad concluded prophetically – “Ronreagan. A rum to help forget” (Mad, No 131, Dec 1969: 50).
During the 1970s, Reagan discovered that free market rhetoric could also be used like sugar in a Mary Poppins sense to help the California public swallow tax increases, which he employed to address growing budget deficits. According to Economic Policy, Reagan’s market rhetoric “was PR from the word Go and remains PR” (Economic Policy Cot 1987: 181). When the effects of the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 struck along with those of the Vietnam ceasefire, the resulting stagflation saw Reagan continue the rhetoric while expanding government and increasing state expenditures:
“The trend today is toward more and more control of the economy by
government that goes directly against our traditions, against the ideas of
freedom and individual initiative that made us great…There’s no question that the self-sufficiency and material well-being of Americans are being diminished by government. We’re following England down the road to intellectual and financial destruction” (Quoted in Hobbs 1976: 39-40).
In addition to an alphabet soup of government agencies such as the IRS, CIA, and NSA, the federal government at that time was comprised of Democrats and Republicans in Congress, nine judges who sat the Supreme Court, and Ronald Reagan as Chief Executive and Commander in Chief of the militaries. With the backing of Congress, Reagan’s administration was certainly diminishing the self-sufficiency and material well-being of Americans. Again prophetically, a few years later America was following England down to Argentina to help direct the British attack on the Argentineans at the Malvinas Islands via AWAC support.
Reagan was so confident of his double-speak that he would first complain about government. Next, in his actions as the Chief Executive of government, he would proceed to do the very things that he had just complained of! As one contemporary statesman warned “Watch what they do, not what they say” (Quoted in Williams 2001: 90).
In Reagan’s January 1977 speech before the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, he said “we stand on the brink of economic ruin” (Brady 1984: 49). Actually, the free market was working well enough but the billionaire corporatists wanted less free enterprise and more mercantilism in order to monopolize market share and stifle competition. “…the system in the course of two centuries had learned a good deal about the control of people”, explained the leftist historian Howard Zinn. “In the mid-seventies, it went to work” (Zinn 1980: 528).
The Reagan-Thatcher Gang
“I saw in the newspaper today that Congress came back into session. I was afraid they were going to do that.” – Will Rogers
The Anglo-American corporatist movement employed free market rhetoricians to camouflage their efforts to spread corporatism and state terrorism. Margaret Thatcher, like Reagan, made effective use of free market rhetoric to hide the machinations of corporatists and monopolists. In 1979, Mrs. Thatcher half-lied to Parliament:
“The choice before the people was to take further strides in the direction of the corporatist all-powerful state or to restore the balance in favor of the individual. The Labour Party stood for the former. We offered the latter [actually the Tories, like Labour, offered the former as well]”. (Quoted in Havighurst 1985: 590).
Reagan said in 1981 “I regret to say that we are in the worst economic mess since the Great Depression” (Quoted in Congressional Quarterly, 1982: 111). The government-generated business cycle recession resulted in a ‘rust belt’ in America - a diagonal line running from Detroit through Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Baltimore in which manufacturing virtually stopped. The result was a major liquidation of manufacturing concerns that were completely ‘gutted’ when Germans took their contents to Europe. Especially hard-hit were factories with unionized work forces that have since re-opened with non-union employees. According to a conservative historian, “What was going on was major liquidation” (Carson 1987: 311).
England’s government-generated business cyle had been hard hit too from
a receding world economy with too little free enterprise. The Black Country in the Midlands crashed to a rusting standstill. Like rotting corpses of a dinosaur race in the aftermath of a volcanic holocaust, huge foundries and factories lay limp along the canal routes. “By 1979 Britain was pitied abroad and mixed in an all-pervasive defeatism at home” (Lawson 1992: 30). In 1979, she had 17% inflation that in 1980 was nearly 22%. In 1981 it was still over 10% (Havighurst 1985:597). Added to this were “serious waves of mass rioting” and industrial strife. From 1979 to 1984, “unemployment had increased three hundred percent, and now at 13 percent of the work force was higher than in the United
States, Germany, or France” (Havighurst 1985: 615). Of all the nations in the EEC, Britain “suffered the deepest recession and the most extensive unemployment” (Havighurst 1985: 603-605). In 1983, “British steel was losing £7,000,000 a week” (Havighurst 1985: 613).
In June 1981, Reagan went to England to hype “a ‘new’ gospel of conservatism” to the British Parliament and probably to inform Her Majesty the Queen of his plans to extend government control in the guise of market rhetoric:
“History teaches the danger of government that over reaches: political control takes precedence over free economic growth; secret police, mindless bureaucracy – all combining to stifle individual excellence and personal freedom.” (Quoted in Brady 1984: 61- 62).
Reagan continued his borrowed rhetoric, giving a talk on 29 September 1981 to international bankers titled “The Magic of the Market Place: We cannot have prosperity without economic freedom” (Brady 1984: 59).
Thatcher, ignoring the proffered compromises by the Argentinean government, moved against Argentina militarily at the Malvinas with U.S. AWAC support. She exclaimed “We have found a new confidence born of the economic battles at home and tested and found true 8,000 miles away” (Quoted in Philo 1985: 138). After quickly dismantling the Argentinean presence in the Malvinas and dubbing the conflict “The Falklands War”, she hit the British miners’ strike of 1984-85 with similar veracity. The British miners were hit again by their government in 1990 when Arthur Scargill, President of the striking National Union of Miner, was “subjected to a succession of smears and that these culminated in an entirely false allegation’, partially concocted by former MI5 miners” union mole Roger Windsor (Milne 1994: 430).
Libertarians and a few conservatives suspected that privatization had been a series of attempts using market rhetoric to hide machinations of groups of power-seekers and monopoly-seekers against the public welfare. “Sitting on the inside seeing Reagan and his advisors squander opportunities for cutting government and seeing Congress head Reagan off at almost every pass, I found it hard to think that I was part of a revolution”, commented a libertarian insider (Henderson in Reason Dec1988: 33). “Reaganomics turned the economy into a money-making machine that allowed him to preside over the largest increases in social welfare spending of any country in history”, commented another (Niskanen 1988: xxx). The Cato Institute’s Richard Ebeling wrote prophetically in 1981 “By following the course he seems to have marked out for his administration, President Reagan has assured that long after he’s gone the corrupting hand of the Interventionist State will still be us” (Quoted in Ebeling 2004: 8). Conservative economist David Stockman left Reagan’s team in 1985 to write a book on the failure of the Reagan revolution (Tindall 1988: 1463).
Through illusory free market rhetoric, opposition to the redistribution of the working man’s portion of the economic “pie” from the full-time employed to the unemployed in piece-meal fashion of part-time employment was deflected. The incentive in terms of a meaty, plump, overstuffed bird just waiting to be plucked by finessing elites, was explained by social philosopher Robert Nozik:
“The minimal state best reduces the chances of such takeover or manipulation of the state by persons desiring power or economic benefits, especially if combined with a reasonably alert citizenry, since it is the minimally desirable target for such takeover or manipulation. Nothing much is gained by doing so; and the cost to the citizens if it occurs is minimized. To strengthen the state and extend the range of its functions as a way of preventing it from being used by some portion of the populace makes it a more valuable prize and a more alluring target for corrupting by anyone able to offer an officeholder something desirable; it is, to put it gently, a poor strategy”. (Nozick 1974: 272).
Usurping the Vision Makers
“Ideas have consequences” – Richard Weaver
Without the vision makers at the think tanks, corporatization would likely have never achieved prominence. By providing facts about inefficient state monopolies and neglecting facts about inefficient corporate monopolies, the vision makers helped politicians and electorates to embrace the idea of privatization that was successfully usurped by corporatists.
Paul Weaver said “Since the end of the 1950s, a quiet revolution has
transformed the U.S. political system” (Weaver 1988: 204). He added “The
new…politics is more ideological and conflict-ridden that the old” (Weaver 1988: 205). Most of the ideological movements during the 1970s and 1980s were grounded in market economics (Weaver 1988: 205). Weaver explained:
“The publication in 1970 of The Economics of Regulation by Alfred E. Kahn, the distinguished Cornell University regulatory economist and political liberal, marked the emergence of the new promarket consensus among economists – and the triumph of the Chicago school, which began to merge with the mainstream” (Weaver 1988: 205).
The corporate mainstream then made a request for a public relations campaign:
“In the year 1976, with a presidential election [and bicentennial celebration] approaching…William Simon, Secretary of the Treasury, under both Nixon and Ford (before then an investment banker earning over $2 million a year), spoke in the fall of 1976 to a Business Council meeting in Hot Springs, Virginia…His speech could well be taken to represent the thinking of the American corporate elite: ‘[Americans] have been taught to distrust the very word profit and the profit motive that makes our prosperity possible, to somehow feel this system, that has done more to alleviate human suffering and privation than any other, is somehow cynical, selfish, and amoral’. We must, Simon said, ‘get across the human side of capitalism’” (Zinn 1980: 546).
There was a “proliferation of conservative think tanks and political action groups funded by business” (Weaver 1988: 174). The American Enterprise Institute, “oldest and best known of the big promarket think tanks”; the “liberal Brookings Institution, founded by a Missouri businessman in the 1970s”; “the conservative Heritage Foundation”; the libertarian Cato Institute, funded by “Charles Koch and David Koch, principals of Koch Industries” in silver mining; were some of the major players in the struggle of ideas (Weaver 1988: 216). The Reason Foundation was established during this time and eventually located in Menlo Park, California.
The big three of business lobbyists were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,
National Association of Manufacturers, and Business Roundtable. In late 1980, the American Business Conference (ABC) was founded by American Stock Exchange chairman Arthur Levitt, Jr and the big three became “the big four” (Weaver 1988: 219). Weaver explained “The following year, Albertine [ABC’s leader] emerged as the leader of the business coalition backing the Reagan Administration’s Tax Equalization and Fiscal Reform Act (TEFRA), which rescinded most of the 1981 tax cut” (Weaver 1988: 218). He added “There was an extraordinarily close-fit between the ABC’s interests and the Reagan Administration’s needs in wake of the 1981 tax cut”(Weaver 1988: 220).
“We fit the philosophical predilections of the Administration ever so neatly…We told everyone, if you believe in markets, growth, and efficiency, you’ve got to eliminate the bias in the tax code against fast-growing, non-capital-intensive business. But what sold our position on the Hill was the unfairness argument – the point that some companies pay no taxes while high-growth companies pay very high rates. We also pointed out that there are lots of high-effective-tax-rate companies, that cutting rates is good politics because there are a lot of companies out there you’ll be helping. It was easy to persuade people. We were offering them a way to increase tax revenues – which they had to do to reduce the deficit – while increasing the tax code’s neutrality” (Quoted in Weaver 1988: 222-223).
There developed a “vast array of small promarket public-interest lobby and litigation group”, such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, established by former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) staff member Fred Smith, or Richie Fink’s Citizens for a Sound Economy. (Weaver 1988: 217). These smaller groups often were at loggerheads with “entitlement-seeking business lobbyists” (Weaver 1988: 217). Subsequently, their corporate backing was limited.
In addition to think tanks and lobbyists, there were other “torchbearers” committed to classical liberal ideas, such as “the free-market types at the President’s Council of Economic Advisers” or the “economists at the Commerce Department” (Weaver 1988: 208-216). In 1980, 22 out of 76 economic advisers to Reagan during his presidential campaign were Mont Pelerin Society members. About 12 remained for the implementation of Reagan’s rhetorical fog of percolate-up economics.
Many of the free market visionaries, failing to acknowledge the inherent statist structural role of the non-profit corporations for whom they toiled, rarely doubted their own objectivity. Most had little awareness of who was holding the ideological leash they were on. In short, they failed to follow the money, which led to owners of big corporations.
Word Pushing and CIA
“A lie for people in the U.S. to get them to open their purse for this obscenity, and a lie for you to pump you up for a fight” – Stan Goff
It was noted at the beginning of this article that Reagan wore a clandestine hat for the Interventionist State. There seems to be no mistaking that Ronald Reagan was the Master of Balderdash and that he was also a creep. But he was no George Bush who actually directed the Central Intelligence Agency, which installs kings, dictators and other despots as leaders in other peoples’ countries and funds its covert activities through CIA drug smuggling. Yet, clandestine activity by the state was not limited to Reagan and his associates during his days as an actor. The Church Committee, in 1976, found that prior to 1967 the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) “sponsored, subsidized or produced over one thousand books” (Mitgang 1988: 299). It identified state-sponsored disinformation:
“The Church Committee uncovered CIA operations to secretly influence the minds of Americans: The CIA is now using several hundred American academics (administrators, faculty members, graduate students engaged in teaching) who, in addition to providing leads and, on occasion, making introductions for intelligence purposes, write books and other material to be used for propaganda purposes…CIA considers these operational relationships within the U. S. academic community as perhaps its most sensitive domestic area and has strict controls governing these operations” (Zinn 1980: 543-544).
Congressman Don Edwards, former chairman of the House Judiciary Committee on Civil and Constitutional Rights and a former FBI agent, warned in 1986 that a “free society can’t work if the government, and especially a secret government security agency, clandestinely publishes books, owns newspapers, and hires professors or clergymen to propagandize the public” (Quoted in Mitgang 1988: 298). Edwards then posed the question, relevant to the extent privatization rhetoric reflected state direction:
“The public is entitled to know if these are isolated ventures, or are we back to the bad old days when one didn’t know which book was a CIA plant or if any particular professor’s research was his or her own or was dictated by the Agency. How many books, magazines and newspapers are there in the US that are in reality CIA propaganda?” (Quoted in Mitgang 1988: 299).
Today in 2004 this question is pressing, as the American government alleges that the dead Arab passengers aboard the planes that tragically crashed into buildings on 9/11 flew them without help from CIA or MOSSAD (although 4 MOSSAD agents atop a building roof were having a laugh while filming the crashes); that Usaamah bin Laadin did it (when he said that he didn’t do it); and that the Saddam hostage is not an imposter (although no DNA testing has been permitted). Nearly everything we hear about what has happened is coming from the government who asks us to believe what they tell us without any evidence apart from their hearsay. Without evidence, what is there to distinguish their information from disinformation or from a grand Orwellian PSYOPS campaign? Nothing. Only their words – “Read my lips . . .”.
Triumph of Corporatism
“There’s no such thing as countries anymore – the world is a college of corporations!” – Ned Beatty as Arthur Jensen in Network (1976)
This section talks about the reality of Reagan’s times, the mythology of free enterprise preached by the Reagan-Thatcher Gang, and its legacy that was made even more effective by the efforts of those involved who genuinely believed they were working to achieve the rhetorical vision of free markets and less government.
Beginning in 1979 with Thatcher in England, coupled in 1980 with Reagan in America, the 1980s and early 1990s were a decade and a half of uninterrupted conservative rule. It was an age of “rhetoric and appearances” (Tindall Vol 2 1988: 1442). Reagan’s “trickle-down” economic rhetoric meant “percolate-up” economics in reality. Republicans and Tories were practicing a “socialism for the rich” philosophy while employing the rhetoric of privatization. It was easy for political leaders to dupe their constituencies and the two people more than any others who paved the way were Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the Great Word Pushers.
Not everyone could plug their ears and trust their eyes during this time. Sadly, these individuals fell for the rhetoric. For example, Berger wrote “Capitalism has been one of the most dynamic forces in human history, transforming one society after another, and today it has become established as an international system” (Berger 1986: 115). Another irksome conservative who could not distinguish a capitalist from a corporate statist was Martin Anderson, one of Reagan’s political cronies, who wrote in 1988 “Today, it seems that everywhere we look in the world, we see the threads of liberty, based on more capitalism and greater prospects for peace” (Anderson 1988: xx-xxi). He added “In Britain, a brilliant, powerful woman led the Conservative party to victory in 1979, reversing the socialist tide that swamped England for decades”. Of his personal role in the corporatist movement, he asserted “It is a story, about the rise of capitalism around the world and about the power of its principles”. (Anderson 1988: xxi).
A fantasy, no matter how wishful, can never substitute for a fact, which is that government grew to unprecedented levels under Reagan and Bush in America; and under Thatcher and Major in Britain. Anderson wrote falsehoods and sheer balderdash epitomized in his statement “First came major changes in national economic policy as America moved away from the economics of the Left and sped toward a freer, more capitalistic economy” (Anderson 1988: 5).
“But Reagan’s rhetoric led to few changes in public policy…because in the thinking of the President and his people, talk was one thing and…action another. They were different orders of political activity. Each had its own logic. There was no necessary connection between them” (Weaver 1988: xx).
During Reagan’s two terms, his policy implementation contained many neo- mercantilist and statist elements. It was an “era of officially sanctioned ‘disinformation’, presented with thespian skill to the American public through teleprompters, political pollsters and communications counselors, and in a time of officially maligned individuals” (Mitgang 1988: 85). Just as California’s debts had more than doubled under the governorship of Reagan, the nation’s debts under Reagan were “larger than those under all his predecessors put together” (Tindall vol 2 1988: 1449). Reagan borrowed one trillion dollars from the Japanese and “incurred deficits beyond the wildest dreams of old-time Keynesians” (Tindall, 1988: 1467).
Rothbard’s axiom – “The government is the cause, not the solution” explained much of what America and Britain was witnessing. Partly this took the form of a growing cynicism about privatization. Many observers found privatization to be, in effect, the maintaining of appearance without corresponding markets. Rothbard explained: “Yet both sides of the political fence have bought the rhetoric and claim that it has been put into effect. Reaganites and Reaganomists, for obvious reasons, are trying desperately to maintain that Reagan has indeed fulfilled his glorious promises; while his opponents, intent on attacking the bogey of Reaganomics, are also, and for opposite reasons, anxious to claim that Reagan has really put his free-market program into operation. So we have the curious, and surely not healthy, situation where a mass of politically interested people are totally misinterpreting and even misrepresenting the Reagan record; focusing, like Reagan himself, on his rhetoric instead of on the reality (Rothbard 1988: 362). Thatcher was wordpushing the same dope on her side of “The Pond”. Her billionaire bosses did not like citizen-owned companies or cooperatives. Hence, the corporatization of state enterprises in the guise of privatization was a major aim during her administration. “[A]ccording to the rhetoric of Thatcherism, the state has been rolled back…it is also the case that deregulation has often been accompanied by increased state control and state intervention” (Turner  1996: 219).
Some observers bought the rhetoric while noting the results, leaving confused interpretations of what was happening as evidenced by Handy’s statement - “Capitalism has not proved as flexible as it was supposed to be”(Handy 1995: 1). Advancing business interests in the traditional Italian-styled corporate manner is not capitalism in any pro-market advocate’s view, no matter to what extent free market ideology is applied as “a cover story” (Weaver 1988: 100).
Another problem for pro-market advocates and those observing them was that some of the libertarians tended to forget that pro-market advocates were of two types. So we found the libertarian and late director of Laissez-Faire Books, Roy Childs, erroneously lauding a neoconservative part-faction memoir titled Revolution (1988) by Martin Anderson as “a libertarian counterpart to what liberal historians and commentators did to – or for – the administrations of Roosevelt and Kennedy” (Henderson 1988:34). Child’s statement is simply not true . What Anderson’s corporatist and Republican campaign diatribe did for free enterprise is arguably what Hamilton’s nationalist Federalist Papers (1790) did for federalism. The contradiction of the stated aim to the realized outcome brought to mind George Orwell’s War is Peace (1944) and other “doublethink” phraseology. Many Americans were confused in the 1980s and 1990s just as they were in the 1780s and 1790s.
Some critics were less inaccurate in their judgment of Thatcherism. Lawson commented:
“The right definition involves a mixture of free markets, financial discipline, firm control over public expenditure, tax cuts, nationalism, ‘Victorian values’ (of the Samuel Smiles self-help variety), privatization and a dash of populism” (Lawson 1992: 64). Yergin observed:
“In May 1985, the leaders of the seven major Western powers met for their annual economic summit, this one in Bonn. The themes were free market politics, deregulation, and privatization. Promising a ‘new morning’ in America, Ronald Reagan had recently been reelected by an enormous margin. Margaret Thatcher was well embarked on her reconstruction of British society; commerce, hard work, and breakfast meetings had become positive values in Thatcherite England” (Yergin 1991: 742).
Yergin noted that Thatcher “saw no security reason to maintain BNOC [British National Oil Company], and in the spring of 1985 she simply abolished it”. He mistakenly added “it was another victory for the market” (Yergin 1991:746). The true victors were the new billionaire owners of the oil monopoly and the British state treasury whose income would no longer be tied to dropping oil prices; rather it would be tied to tax rates on North Sea oil.
In 1993, the Economist asked “Why was a politician [Thatcher] who celebrated the individual over the state such a relentless centralizer of government power, and so careless of civil liberties?” (Economist 02 Oct 93: 39). Weaver (1988) discovered the answer to that question when he noted that politicians say one thing to get elected and do another thing to keep their jobs. The ideology of privatization was good public relations. Reagan had great success employing it in his election campaigns. Whitehead tells us that Thatcher too discovered during the same time frame that these ideas were welcomed rhetoric – “[she] actively sought out this [pro-market] constituency and addressed it. Her speeches…carry the credits of…F.A. Hayek, Keith Joseph, Arthur Seldon, Paul Johnson, [and] Robert Conquest” (Whitehead 1985: 335-336).
Ashford explained “The privatization of industries can be explained as ‘blame- shifting’ when the nationalized industries became more of a source of criticism” (Ashford 1993: 1). It was a matter of image versus reality. For Thatcher, it worked for more than a decade – “In 1987, Margaret Thatcher reversed Winston Churchill’s historic decision of 1914 and sold off the government’s 51 percent stake in British Petroleum” (Yergin 1991: 767).
Thatcher rolled onward until November 1990 when she was forced to resign by her own Conservative Members of Parliament in favor of the leadership of John Major. Unemployment was higher than it had been in 1979. Taxes were higher. Britain had a new underclass. In 1993, the Economist remarked “Whatever the cause, after the longest recession for decades, few people in Britain any longer believe in the Thatcher miracle.” (Economist 02 Oct 93: 38).
America in 1992 under Reagan’s successor “miracle man” George Bush, named so for his contribution in corporatizing the international order in 1989, was not doing much better:
“A seventh of the American population need government-issued food stamps to supplement their income. A fifth of all children are defined as poor, with insufficient access to health services. Unemployment, now close to 8%, is growing; the annual deficit has reached $400 billion; and the obsolete transport infrastructure is in dire need of reconstruction”. (‘Clinton’s bid’, The Jerusalem Post International Edition, Thursday, 16 July 1992: 9).
Reagan’s Legacy – Leadership by Professional Liars
“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.” – Mark Twain
Former Director of the CIA and later President George Bush, infamous for his motto of “Read my lips – no new taxes” during the presidential campaign in 1988 said of himself – “They got a President of the United States that came out of the oil and gas industry, that knows it and knows it well” ( Quoted in Yergin 1991: 753). After graduating from Yale in 1948, Bush did not immediately follow in his father’s political footsteps that led him to the office of Senator for Connecticut. Instead, he went to Texas, starting at the bottom, and eventually formed Zapata Oil named after an Anthony Quinn movie. Bush was the CEO and traveled east to mingle with his former associates as a “part-time investor relations officer” (Yergin 1991:753).
Bush became adept at mingling with the friends of his father – Connecticut Senator Bush, and decided to go into politics in the mid-1960s. He became County Chair of the Republican National Committee during Watergate, a U.S. envoy to China, then head of the CIA. In this last role he developed his sinister repertoire of skills for the art of disguise and deceit from which he later drew upon in his campaign pledge of “no new taxes”. After losing the Republican nomination for Presidential candidate to Reagan, Reagan picked him to be his Vice-President in 1980. When Reagan was shot weeks later and survived (thanks to the methodical Dr Rodman), Bush ran the country while Reagan was on the mend. Murray Rothbard had observed that “Bush is, of course, a conservative Keynesian and a veteran arch-enemy of supply-side doctrine, which he famously denounced in 1980 as "voodoo economics (Rothbard 1988, 362). After two terms as Vice-President, Bush was elected President in 1988, taking office in 1989 (Yergin 1991: 754).
Bush had placed dictators, kings and other despots in other people’s countries around the globe ranging from Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran to Charles Taylor in Liberia. He had cozied up to Russia’s black mafia leaders with partnership plans to make them billionaires with the long-range goal of tapping the largest oil reserves in the world. In hindsight, it is clear that George Bush and his accomplices were bent on sinister plans of global proportions. 1989, according to Yergin, was “the miracle year – in which the international order had been remade” (Yergin 1991:769).
A New World Order?
Paul H.Weaver, a former professor at Harvard University and former editor of Forbes magazine, related how he came to confront some startling revelations concerning corporations and their relationship to free enterprise only after participant observation at the Ford Motor Company. After becoming an insider, Weaver learned how corporations really work:
“Corporatism accepts private ownership of business but sees economic life as a mainly institutional activity that occurs under a bureaucratic supervision rather than in a free marketplace. It likes oligopoly and mistrusts competition. It accepts representative democracy but sees political life as a process dominated by economic, ethnic, and other interest groups rather than individual citizens. That is why corporatism is often associated with racism and imperialism; it was, for example, the official ideology of fascist Italy under Mussolini…What I witnessed at Ford was corporatism up close and personal – the doctrine of raw business advantage as seen from the viewpoint of the intended beneficiary”. (Weaver 1988:183).
The term “corporatism” refers to the symbiotic relationship between the state and corporations in regards to the economic, social, and political decision-making process. Both are constrained by competition in the market. During the 1980s and early 90s, under the guise of “privatization” preached by the Reagan and Bush governments in America and the Thatcher and Major governments in the United Kingdom, corporate statism increased in both countries. Within the government- generated business cycles of both countries, privatization attempts were “a cover story” (Weaver 1988:100) allowing governments to reduce expenditure by applying corporate solutions without regard for the market. It led to the restructuring of the welfare state and the growth of a new public managerialism with the State playing an increased role in determining aims and outcomes, as well as monitoring performance by numerous new agencies. Prices were determined by administrative fiat and not by supply and demand. Taxes still remained the major source of revenue. In short, these new forms of governance associated with corporate globalization did not constitute privatization. Corporatism is a more accurate description of these business practices.
Weaver’s shift toward free enterprise from the corrupting neoconservative embrace of the corporate state opened his ears to the criticisms of corporations coming from the left. He said:
“Aside from their socialism and anticapitalist animus, which I found as alien as ever, the strictly historical conclusions of the New Left historians now struck me as persuasive and even revelatory. There was [original emphasis] something exploitative, aggressive, and constitutionally subversive about the corporation as it emerged in the nineteenth century,…” (Weaver 1988:102).
David Hapgood, former evaluator for the Peace Corps who studied programmes in Education, Public Health, and Agriculture in West Africa, India and Costa Rica from 1964-1968, described in a populist fashion the concentration of American economic production from the many to the few:
“Since the earliest times, ambitious swindlers have been trying to eliminate competition and charge the average man more for less. The robber barons, viewed nowadays as wicked old capitalists, could better be described as early adherents of the currently fashionable philosophy of socialism for the rich. . . Their fortunes were made not on capitalist competition but on the opposite: . . . names like Dupont, . . . and Rockefeller . . .The fastest comer of them all, H. Ross Perot, made his serving the poor and sick on government contracts. All these fortunes have one characteristic in common: none of them was earned in the competitive free market that, according to high-level wordnoise, is the bedrock of the American economic system” (Hapgood 1974: 246).
Herein lies the foreboding legacy of Ronald Reagan.
“It’s absurd to talk about democracy while there is an occupation” –
Prof Wisal Alazawi
For America to be restored in her liberties, the voting public must identify the information warfare practiced by the corporatists, identify their acts of state terrorism along with the individual perpetrators, invoke criminal proceedings against them, and return the corporate structure to the realm of law. The Bush/Kerry Gang and the British-American Partnership plan to do more than occupy and dominate the Middle East and its oil fields. Observers say that the U.S. intends to invade North Korea and Central Asia after entrenching a new U.S.-led government supported by U.S. military bases in Iraq. "Even now, these wars are being planned by the current administration," McGovern said (Quoted in JS Online, 2003: 1). The New World Order is about corporate control of state and economy while disenfranchising the average man. It has resulted in increased militarism here and around the globe, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and information warfare to create domestic fear, stifle dissent and annihilate the Bill of Rights. The global corporatists and their state terrorism are the greatest threats to individual freedom, human rights and democracy.
Today “we the people” are contending with unjustified and un-American acts of U.S. state terrorism against victims in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti implemented by a country that had her birth fighting against British Empire and monarchy rather than for it. Those who wage American-powered British Empire today are in truth Benedict Arnolds and turncoats against our nation and her liberties, which were won from the British through two wars and paid for by the blood of America’s Founding Fathers. The criminals should be brought to justice and should not expect to be treated differently from traitors. And if they are not eventually incarcerated for their crimes, they should at least be shipped back to England along with Ronald Reagan’s corpse where they belong.
As former Presidential Candidate Harry Browne succinctly put it – “I want my America back” (Browne, H., 2003: 1).
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