"Will the real oligarchs
please stand up," by
Nicholas Strakon, part eight.
Our Walter Karp table
TOC for Strakon's article
Power to which people?
One problem remains to be examined. I suggested above that Karp's belief in the Authority and Legitimacy of the Republic leads him astray. Insofar as he is a democrat and non-anarchist, he also, and necessarily, believes in Power however much he dislikes the typical results of its exercise, given the system of oligarchical control he condemns. He is a decentralizer, a believer in local control, and a despiser of centralized bureaucracy, and I do not discount any of that. In fact, his analysis of bureaucratic "inefficiency" as a mask for oligarchical rule and as a tool for demoralization of the citizenry is a classic (chapter 11, "The Rule of Caprice"). But the irreducible core of his belief in Power leads him in directions I cannot follow.
Libertarian readers will not be astonished to discover that Karp considers the Great Society a failure. They will be astonished to discover what Karp considers the nature of that failure to be: namely, that all of Johnson's programs were mere Tammanyite "shows of action." Karp writes that "most of the measures enacted were either trumpery or poorly enforced." (p. 157) He considers even the 1964 Civil Rights Act to have been "politically empty," intended only to stave off agitation for real civil rights. (p. 65)
But those measures were not empty; they were full of evil. They destroyed generations, bankrupted the country, and served as a great new bastion for leviathan, built atop the hulking fortresses that Johnson's predecessors especially Lincoln, Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt had established before him. The Civil Rights Act in particular ended freedom of association in America, made inevitable the current system of antiwhite discrimination, and wrote Orwellian thoughtcrime into the law books a full 20 years before 1984.
Karp argues that Johnson involved the United State deeper into Vietnam in order to curtail the Great Society and distract those pressing for genuine reform. I argue that the Vietnam adventure was the foreign equivalent of the Great Society: both were massive acts of state building designed to benefit the higher circles. Smoking guns and rancid butter!
Communists, at least those "with a human face," usually shrank from the grisly abattoirs of Maoism and Stalinism, protesting, "No, no, those things weren't real communism! They were betrayals of communism!" Lovers of liberty replied or at least they should have replied that Maoism and Stalinism are precisely what the "ideals" of communism are likely to lead to in the real world of men, time, and events. As a populist and democrat, Karp assumes that whenever the results of formally democratic action fall short of his populist ideals, it is evidence of betrayal of collusion, corruption, and party-oligarchical rule. He assumes that if only The People were left free to choose, they would choose "right." He believes that, in principle, The People can create, raise, and control those who wield political power.
I think it is more realistic to argue that those few of The People who possess immeasurably greater resources than the mere miserable franchise have immeasurably more to do with that creating, raising, and controlling. 
I wish Karp had been more skeptical of state power per se. He might have been, had only he been able to see what Lincoln was.
To the conclusion: "What Karp means to me"
Posted June 8, 2002
Posted in 2002 by WTM Enterprises.
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