Top Five Signs of Capitalist Dictatorship in the Romney Campaign

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.

24 Responses

  1. Thank you for excellent article. The TRUTH must be told about Mittens and his EVIL GREEDY REPIGGERY OBSTRUCTION.ST

    • Unfortunately, backing down is self preservation. MLK (who was Republican BTW) was called a socialist, communist and often harassed and threatened. However, it wasn’t until his planned poor peoples campaign that would have sought to establish a collective voice for all working class people that he was deemed a serious threat, which lead to his assassination. I don’t know what President Kennedy did to warrant his assassination, but it must have been equally damaging to the BIG’s global pursuits . . .

  2. The oligarchy of the BIGs (BIG-BANKS, BIG-OIL, BIG-ARMS, etc.) is well entrenched. Obama has backed down before it in many ways. Capitalist Dictatorship is well on its way already.

    HOWEVER, Romney seems to welcome it (and the lying typical of Republicans in recent years makes it seem a party thing), welcomes power at any cost (and dishonesty is NOT counted as a cost).

  3. There is often a problem with analyses that reach these sort of conclusions, in that they overstate their case and present a useless caricature of reality. In this country there has been a history of cheques and balances that have tended to keep the US on a relatively even course, which is consistent with what the Founders had to work with in a New World. Viewing our current situation and recent years very coldly, however, I do not think this assessment an overstatement.

    HOWEVER….

    An argument can be and is being made for a Unitary Executive, supported by the thinking of some on the Supreme Court and a number of other GOP elites, DRIVEN by the evolving competitive imperatives of the country in today’s world. What a country will eventually do is what it must do to endure and prevail, and the pressures on the US to dominate its environment is stronger than with any other country. What can/will it do?

    Consider the strength of the PRC when it comes to making economic/strategic decisions, apart from the demonstrate wisdom of the Party. Even with Iran, you have more of an Active Board of Directors structure, with a CEO/COO kinda person to execute policy. In lieu of such streamlined/final decision-making, the US is hamstrung with doing what needs to be done for climate change, amongst any number of other things. Consent of the People in some form or the other has always been needed for civilization to endure, as is done with the good management you see in a successful modern company. People become adequate socialized, sent to War as cannon fodder, or are caged (as we see with the US having, I believe, the world’s highest incarceration rate). Of course, with BUSINESS effectively running things, and abiding by nothing but a quarterly return perspective, things for the People, including the rich, must go into the toilet, since maximizing shareholder wealth is everything.

    So a Benevolent Dictatorship can begin to make sense, if your Fearless Leader is a smart guy who takes his overall responsibilities seriously. Consider Lee Kwan Yew in Singapore:

    link to sustainabilityinstitute.org

    As worldwide economic and ecological tolerances become increasingly thin, any pretense of the traditional freedom to use the world as a garbage dump evaporates. One way or the other, people will need to cooperate and do the smart things, with the finesse of a strong, benign, more centralized and empowered leadership.

    Ironically, Romney may represent a step along this road. Its pretty obvious he means absolutely nothing of what he says. If this practice extends to the ongoing process of playing off his various courtiers/advisors, and there is an underlying devotion to civilization (even as he knows it), there is hope of a sort. You do have to hope his God is the right one, since its a pretty safe bet he really is a True Believer. And if he “works out,” you have to worry about the next guy….so, enter an Idealogical Guiding Board.

    At some point we may need to smell the coffee and entertain the idea that the traditional centrist/consensus approach of a guy like Obama will be ineffective for the road ahead. We may need to consider the world for its evolving needs, and that this way of governance will become increasingly ineffective and inappropriate.

    • Whoa Big Fella! The idea that with a Romney presidency the posture towards the issues of the rest of the world as you described above would suddenly take a tack away from the primary interests of the corporate oligarchs that are dictating right-wing rhetoric, is foolhearted.

      First, capitalists that I’ve observed believe in God to the extent that understanding how the rest of us believe in God is used against us by them.

      Second, there has been a concerted effort over the history of the United States to consolidate the power and wealth of this nation into the hands of a few. They fully realize that the end game is a progression, not a one step execution. To that extent, history has shown what they’re willing to do including armed assaults on encampments when labor uprisings occurred.

      Third, the last 30 years has illustrated clearly a dramatic concentration of wealth with the top 1% increasing their income nearly 300% during that period while the median income has fallen.

      Fourth, the hard-right is locked arm-in-arm in their policy statements as it pertains to: (1)Control of Greenhouse Gas emissions, (2)funding for social programs, (3) funding for public education, etc.

      What you’re advocating is not a pragmatic approach to solving our nations problems or our relationship with the rest of the world. Instead it’s a tired acquiescence to neoconservative ideology that if espoused would negatively impact the quality of life for many americans, not to mention the escalation of American hegemony around the globe.

      Maybe you made this statement to invoke a response, but it’s dangerous to consider as a viable option to the “checks and balance” that the left leaning democrats place on the neoconservative movement.

  4. I have come to the conclusion, independently, though others have reached the same point, that the Republican mindset is best understood as ‘post-truth’. Due to media fragmentation, there has never been less cost to simply manufacturing outright falsehoods for short-run political gain.

    The new lasting post-truth addition to this campaign has been rape, which we are now to understand contains new forms, while women’s bodies have also taken on amazing new powers that supersede biology. ‘Post-truth’ is a pretty easy way to understand the Republican distaste for science, too, as a necessary adjunct to the long-term disposal of the intelligentsia (codenamed ‘liberals’) as a meaningful threat to the agenda of the business elite (people such as yourself, Dr Cole).

    Along with the manufacture of falsehoods, Romney has also reserved the right to refute his own previous statements, even when they are on the record and made just weeks/months ago, i.e., his comments re: cutting FEMA. When the cognitive dissonance grew simply too large, silence was employed.

    I really urge people who have not done so to watch this clip of Romney brazenly refusing to engage on this simple question:

    link to youtube.com

  5. Some capitalist supremos hide behind hard-to-spell names (not Mitt, but those authoritarian foreigners).

    The late South Korean strongman rejoiced in the name Park Chung-hee not in the (more manly?) name “Park Hung Chee” that you gave him… while his Afrikaner colleague went by the name P.W. Botha (not “Boetha”).

    Know your enemy.

  6. If one believes his fitness to monopolize power is so absolute and the need so compelling, why sweat a few lies or political prisoners? A person who entirely lives for the sake of being on top, of ruling and bullying and commoditizing others, and comes from the ethnicity and religion that has always played that role in his society might say or do anything to stay on top.

    They haven’t been punished in any way for this behavior. The government can’t do it unless we are willing to back it up by threatening to do something nastier if democracy is discarded. Recall 1876 – the public was tired of fighting for civil rights, so the Constitution was simply no longer enforced in the South.

  7. Looking at all the deception going on, I think people will be well-advised to read both Manufacturing Consent and 1984. People will also have to look for information beyond American electronic media where they simply say A said X and B said Y, so we are objective. They pretend as if it’s enough to simply give voice to 2 opinions without challenging either as to their veracity. I live in Toronto and we have a program called The Agenda With Steve Paikin on TVO (TV Ontario) that deals with current-affairs. If you want, you can look up their videos on YouTube. They go into much more detail than the American media, even about US issues. Here is a link to their discussion about a US military strike on Iran:

    link to youtube.com

    Compare this with any US media coverage.

  8. Speaking of the Unitary Executive, let us not forget Mr. Obama’s often-used power(much admired by Mr. Romney)to unilaterally order the remote-control assassination of any individual, anywhere in the world. Talk about dictatorship …

    • Do you subscribe to the theory of the “Big Lie,” Mr. Larson? Do you believe that if a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes truth?

      President Obama is not ordering the remote-control “assassination of any individual, anywhere in the world.” That is a lie that deserves being exposed as such. It cannot be stated often enough that the drone campaign is targeting enemies of the United States whose intent and operations are directed against the US.

      “Talk about dictatorship…” indeed! Talk about lies masquerading as hyperbole!

    • Actually, Obama has not asserted any such power to unilaterally assassinate anyone.

      Unlike Bush, who did claim that power under his theories of executive power, Obama has specifically cited legislation passed by Congress – the September 2001 AUMF – as the source of the authority to wage that war. Nor has he asserted the power of “assassination of any individual,” but of those who belong to the enemy force cited in Congress’s authorization.

      Whether you support using force against al Qaeda or not, Obama’s use of that force has nothing to do with the Unitary Executive, nor with unilateral executive power at all, but with the execution of powers granted by the legislative branch.

    • I take a different position from Bill and Joe. America has ALWAYS been involved in assassination campaigns since World War II. We used the CIA to create several governments from scratch, and those weren’t nice governments. Operation Phoenix in Vietnam led to the assassinations of tens of thousands, but in such a corrupt country, (a) was the Southern army really doing all the killings or were Americans doing all the tough jobs, and (b) were the targets really terrorists, or just any young men who correctly refused to accept the legitimacy of the Saigon regime and genuinely wanted to improve their country?

      How large a difference is there between an American (or president-directed robot) killing a dissident and the US egging on and paying generals to overthrow their governments and kill hundreds of thousands of its supporters? We have done this many times. We’ve even let these monsters (from Taiwan and Chile) kill people on US soil. Like Strangers on a Train, it was only a matter of time before we would have exchanged targets, and foreign killers would eliminate US dissidents with plausible deniability.

      The problem is, what are the president’s powers during wartime when wars are no longer formally declared, and thus permanent? If there are no fronts, no battlefields, and no decisive battles, I contend that the cost to our military in limiting its traditional free-fire mentality is less than the cost to us of having it in our streets killing anyone accused of being an enemy based on Congressional authorizations written by paranoid bigots.

      Why? Because when war is this amorphous the adage “For want of a nail the war was lost” is obsolete and evil. The Army is not going to “lose” the war this way any more than it is going to “win” the war because it gets to bomb wedding parties. You cannot say that every local colonial war (which is what we’re really fighting) has unlimited boundaries that places the entire planet under battlefield rules as long as a single armed person has “enemy” beliefs.

      If you can justify that, then declare the damn war and tax the hell out of the rich to pay for it. Oh, but we’re not allowed to do that, are we?

      • “How large a difference is there between an American (or president-directed robot) killing a dissident…”

        In the case of the drone campaign targeting individuals in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, we are not talking about “dissidents”; we are talking about Unlawful Enemy Compatants dedicated to harming the United States.

    • The article presents a good overall analysis. However, I have to agree with Mr. Larson’s comments–which are all the more disturbing when one considers that both candidates support the scuttling of Habeas Corpus (i.e.: NDAA). In other words, neither of these presidential candidate plans to uphold the U.S. Constitution–one of the main duties of the office.

      There seems to be little doubt that Romney and the Republican partners are committed to the Big Lie. The world they envision is so unacceptable to the ‘non-one-percent’ that it requires lie upon lie to achieve. But no one should be fooled; on all the major issues the two major parties support the exact same agenda. They both serve the same corporate interests.

      In any case, it seems that Loren Eisley was correct when he wrote:

      ‘Without spiritual insight and generosity, without the ability to rise beyond power and mechanical extensions, man will encounter in place of the nature, which gave him birth, only that vast, expanding genie rising from his own brain — himself. Nothing more terrible threatens to confront him in his final hour.’

      • both candidates support the scuttling of Habeas Corpus (i.e.: NDAA)

        This is false. If Obama supports indefinite detention powers so much, why hasn’t he used them even once during his presidency?

        President Obama opposed the inclusion of the indefinite detention provisions in the annual National Defense Authorization Act, and used the threat of a veto power to get the watered down so that he could continue to handle terrorism suspects as he has always done – by putting them into the civilian criminal justice system.

        Congress, unhappy with his opposition to indefinite detention, attempted to compel him to start using it, by writing some “shall” language into the NDAA, which would have required him to put terrorism suspects into military detention – that is, to reverse what has always been his policy. Because of the White House’s efforts, this requirement was removed.

        The NDAA is the annual bill that authorizes the existence of the Department of Defense, and spends money on the military. It is written by Congress, and every year, they put some things in that the White House doesn’t want. Remember those destroyers that the Pentagon didn’t want, but that the Republican Congress kept funding, because they were built in Trent Lott’s district? The President always eats something he doesn’t want in the annual defense bill.

  9. my home and native land, Canada is way ahead of the USA as regards corporatizing government.
    Frances Russell states, “The rest of the democratic world should pay attention to the wholesale trashing of Canada’s parliamentary democracy because Canada is the canary in the mine of a dystopian New World Order.” link to ipolitics.ca

  10. Would al-Asad’s Syria qualify as a capitalist dictatorship? Mubarak’s Egypt would seem to, though it seemed to tamp down at least the more racist elements in its society.

  11. And yet, there he is, with a real chance to win

    The lies about Chrysler and GM are so blatant it’s difficult to convince his true believers that they are lies. No one could possibly be lying that overtly…but Romney is.

  12. Obama has repeatedly asserted unchecked assassination authority – and exercised it, including killing an innocent 16-year old U.S.citizen in Yemen. His own circle in White House planted NY Times story glorifying his kill orders. His Attorney General came to Chicago to assert that due process in these cases need not be “judicial,” that there can be such process secretly and without review within the executive branch.
    All this thoroughly documented and commented upon by Glenn Greenwald among many others.

    • I believe the 16-year-old you are referring to was Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, the son of the Unlawful Enemy Combatant, Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been killed in an earlier drone attack. The younger al-Awlaki was riding in the company of a known AQAP militant who was the target of the drone. al-Awlaki’s son was not the target, but his was a collateral death due to his being in the company of the targeted AQAP militant. If you are going to keep that kind of company, you cannot complain if you are in the kill radius.

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