On the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth the conservatives and even NPR are perpetuating his myth. NPR is kowtowing to the republicans in the House of Representatives because they're scared of losing funding. I expected NPR to have more stones. Oh well.
Reagan in One Word
By CHRISTOPHER FONSRonald Reagan was a rat from the beginning. He was a bad actor, snitched for the House Un-American Activities Committee, he shilled for General Electric, and then represented the reactionary forces in the 60's that saw an opening to role back the New Deal and the Great Society as well as the gains of the individualist movements (free speech, civil rights, black power, gay rights, feminism, etc..) of the latter part of the 20th century. He did this by appealing to the American people's worst values; mysticism, selfishness, racism, and extreme nationalism. His was a slick George Wallace, a right wing populist sans the OVERT racism. But we all knew what he was talking about when he talked about "welfare queens," crime and lawlessness. He and Mike Deaver understood that the white ethnics and southerners who were the backbone of the New Deal/Democratic coalition could be split off from blacks and Jews and their labor allies by talking about social issues and taxes. It worked, particularly in the areas of the country where the industrial economy was in decline. Thus the creation of the Reagan Democrat. In the south the process was already underway when the Democratic Party embraced civil rights.
Internationally he allied himself with the most right wing reactionary killers in the world. In Southern Africa they allied with apartheid supporters, supported the prolonged imprisonment of Nelson Mandela, and funded the UNITA killers in Angola. In Mozambique the RENAMO forces that Reagan funded at the time were known to be the most vicious killers in the world. Funded by the US and South Africa their main goal was to terrorize the entire Mozambique population because they had chosen independence and a left wing government.
In Central America and the Caribbean the late 1970's were a time of hope and struggle for human rights and liberation. The Reagan clan said that at all costs, hundreds of thousands of lives and devastated societies, the movement against dictatorship would be crushed. They won. Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Grenada, and the region as a whole have returned to their traditional subservient role in the world economy with the requisite dismal life expectancies, infant mortality, and lack of economic opportunity. In Afghanistan the Carter and Reagan administrations helped create 9/11. They sought out the most reactionary Islamic forces to fight the Afghan government and the Soviets including Osama bin Laden. Their thuggish medieval allies would eventually prevail which gave hope to some of the most reactionary people on the planet. Which is the main reason for Al Queda's success. Billions were given in aid in the name of anti-communism, Reagan's clarion call.
Anything in the name of anti-communism.
The big lie is that he hated "big" government. This was and is a propaganda tool the right wing populists use. They actually use government to discipline the population and redistribute wealth upward. You need a strong state to do this. He increased the size and scope of government not the opposite. Reagan was an expert at this. They claimed that tax cuts got the economy going. Actually the effect of their policies was to lower taxes for the rich and powerful and raise them for working class. State, local, city taxes, fees, tolls, etc... all were raised as result of Reaganomics. Funding for the poor decreased and monies for upper class folks (this was done through tax policy and direct subsidy) and corporations radically skyrocketed giving them the ability to invest where-ever they wanted to in the new Reagan/Thatcher deregulated world. He also represented the massive assault on organized labor that gained steam in the 70's. He and his masters wanted to eliminate the power of labor unions at home and abroad. He saw them as an impediment to unchecked capital accumulation and he did everything in his power, including destroying PATCO, to lessen the power of workers. This development is probably his most long lasting, the fall of the Soviet Union had less to do with him than is claimed.
I had to cringe yesterday when NPR was hailing Ron and Nancy for their "courageous" outspoken views on public health in regard to stem cell research. These are people, because of their bigotry towards gays, stood by while the pandemic of AIDS germinated under their powerful noses. They actually blocked monies for AIDS research and purposefully down played the devastating potential of AIDS. They were in a position to do something, they did nothing because of their bigoted views. In the near future millions will die around the world because of their deliberate negligence.
His legacy is a powerful one. He represents the counter-revolution that we are going through throughout the world. His world was a Hollywood vision of individualism, if you just work hard enough you'll get ahead. From Soweto to Managua millions of people died and will die because in his crony-capitalist world power is highly centralized in private hands and capital trickles up because the state is on the side of the powerful and if you step out of line don't be surprised if El Mano Blanco, a Central American death squad helped by the CIA, puts a cap in your *ss.
In a word, Ronald Reagan: mean.
Christopher Fons lives in Milwaukee and runs the Red and the Black website.