Monday, April 06, 2009

3. Conclusion

What we can say about the Democratic and Republican parties, then, is that they constitute a spectrum of concerns bracketed within the American ruling class.

I have argued that the Democratic Party reflects the management side of this class, while the Republican Party reflects ownership.

Above all, ownership concerns itself with preservation first, and all other considerations second. This lends itself to conservative notions of tradition, defense, self-reliance, even divine providence. It also informs the "libertarian" flavor of conservatism, insofar as libertarianism rejects the de facto authority of the state.

Because the variety of large-scale, centralized ownership patterns of the private sector find their only plausible rival in government, it is not surprising that private ownership remains terrified of "nationalization" and the precedent that might be set by efficiently-run public enterprise.

It is only due to this anxiety that the ownership class has made common cause with libertarian sentiments of the pre-industrial age, as though the modern corporation has the same right to privacy as the yeoman farmer of Jefferson's era.

This is how we arrive, perversely, at Reagan's "government is the problem" declaration 200 years later, which would become the rallying cry of the conservative movement going forward.

Management, on the other hand, is concerned with efficiency, which implies a foundation in higher education, which in turn lends itself to liberalism.

Of course, managers are employed by, and legally obligated to, owners. But because the utility of their skills is not limited to the private sector, managers may not share their employer's wholly negative estimation of the state.

Many private sector managers move to the public sector after growing tired of jumping through hoops for their bosses, particularly in the absence of any socially-relevant pretext. They may also see a role for government in advocating on their behalf vis-a-vis owners.

In any case, managers pride themselves on professional achievement, which presupposes a strong educational foundation, requisite accreditation, and so on. And this in turn forms the basis for liberalism in systems of private enterprise.

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