Random Shots: Post-election Punditry

Against the Current, No. 54, January/February 1995

R.F. Kampfer

THANKS TO MARTY Glaberman for bringing to our attention, in the wake of the recent election, the following timely commentary from a nineteenth century political pundit on the U.S. two-party system. In a passage discussing how the organs of state power “transformed themselves from the servants of society into the masters of society,” this author remarked:

“This can be seen, for example, not only in the hereditary monarchy, but equally so in the democratic republic. Nowhere do `politicians’ form a more separate and powerful section of the nation than in North America. There, each of the two major parties which alternately succeed each other in power is itself controlled by people who make a business of politics, who speculate on seats in the legislative assemblies of the Union as well as of the separate states, or who make a living by carrying on agitation for their party and on its victory are rewarded with positions.

“It is well known how the Americans have been trying for thirty years to shake off this yoke, which has become intolerable, and how in spite of it all they continue to sink ever deeper in the swamp of corruption.

“It is precisely in America that we see best how there takes place this process of the state power making itself independent in relation to society, whose mere instrument it was intended to be. Here there exists no dynasty, no nobility . . . . And nevertheless we find here two great gangs of political speculators, who alternately take possession of the state power, and exploit it by the most corrupt means and for the most corrupt ends — and the nation is powerless against these two great cartels of politicians, who are ostensibly its servants but in reality dominate and plunder it.” — Friedrich Engels, Introduction to the 1891 edition of Karl Marx’s The Civil War in France

Quotable Quips

JESSE HELMS IS living proof that evolution can go both ways.

The “Federalists” have the bizarre notion that fifty state bureaucracies are superior to one national one. Meanwhile, Republican governors are having second thoughts about “local control” if it means local funding as well.

Advocates of parrot-style “basic” education have forgotten that the last time we had it, the country was traumatized when the Soviet Union sent up Sputnik.

Coming soon: “This is Ollie North. You may already be a sweepstakes winner…”

It’s a pretty safe bet that all this anti-illegal immigrant legislation will be enforced only after the harvest is in.

Protection Racket

HEARING PAT BUCHANAN claim that his opposition to GATT was based on concern for low-paid American workers was enough to gag a vulture.

And somebody should tell Ralph Nader that in a war between “protectionist” and “free-trade” capitalists, there is no right side.

Kampfer’s Personal Confessions

A BORDER COLLIE that has spent its entire life in the suburbs can be shown a flock of sheep, and will immediately start herding them. So there’s no reason that a boy from the Bronx shouldn’t become an avid deer-hunter after moving to Michigan.

Vegetarians should remember that every deer Kampfer kills means saving the life of an innocent cow.

If ash trays were made in a sensible size, they wouldn’t need to be emptied every week.

ATC 54, January-February 1995