for the Soul of the GOP": Buchanan's 2nd Wave Reactionaries
Challenge Gingrich's 3rd Wave Conservatives
(page 1 of 2)
By Carl Davidson and Jerry Harris Chicago Third Wave Study
it was Gingrich, now it's Buchanan. We hate to belabor
the point, but the country's right wing keeps making
gains these days by stealing rhetorical thunder from
the left. As Cy.Rev #2 noted, House Speaker Newt Gingrich
launched the biggest attack on the state since the 1960's
left. Now Pat Buchanan has emerged as an opposition
force within the GOP, only he's aiming his populist
invective at the corporate elite rather than government.
Pat recently even had his fellow pundits on the Channel
11 News Hour asking, half seriously, "Has Wall
Street replaced Communism as America's enemy?"!
new turn puts President Clinton in a quandry, with Pat
stealing blue-collar votes by attacking him from the
left while Newt goes after the yuppies from the right.
A lot of people keep hoping Clinton will pick-up the
ball of old-fashioned New Deal liberalism and make a
mad dash down the center. Instead the President wobbles,
first telling us the economy, thanks to him, is doing
just fine for most people, then warning us that it sucks
for most people, especially the 40% who are scared for
it comes to social or redistributive programs, the Clinton
White House has more in common with Herbert Hoover than
Franklin Roosevelt. The limits of the debate in Washington
have become so conservative that Clinton's best package
of "liberal" reforms is considerably to the
right of the Nixon-Moynihan domestic programs of the
1970s. When Clinton's left-leaning Labor Secretary Robert
Reich, in response to Buchanan, made the meager suggestion
that government give tax breaks to corporations who
avoid layoffs, even that cautious idea was attacked
as "socialist" on Nightline by corporate spokesman
no one seems to think the happy days are here again.
Instead every major newspaper and magazine are running
stories about the new insecurity, the gap in wealth,
and greedy CEOs. These are nothing new to unskilled
production workers, who have always expected layoffs
and job insecurity. But the spreading of insecurity
to skilled workers, professionals and managerial employees
at the big money loaded corporations is a different
matter. It reflects a shrinking political and economic
base for what Newsweek calls "in-your-face capitalism."
this breach steps, Pat Buchanan, the new working class
hero. By attacking NAFTA and Wall Street, Buchanan has
split the conservative movement in two. Who ever heard
of a Republican criticizing corporate America in this
way! Even Gingrich quickly distanced himself, as did
the whole wing of economic conservatives.
is going on here? Is Buchanan really espousing left
social democracy wrapped in right wing cultural values?
Is he a nationalist and populist in the same way that
Hitler's fascists were "national socialists?"
fruitful approach to this question is to place the Gingrich-Buchanan
split in the GOP in the context of the basic changes
in the productive forces and the emergence of new ways
of creating and accumulating wealth--the relative decline
of second wave "smokestack" industries and
the emergence of third wave, information-based industries.
Simply put, Buchanan is a second wave reactionary trying
top circle the wagons around the old order, while Gingrich
wants to stake out the conservative pole within the
third wave society of the future.
focus of their difference is globalization. Cybertechnology
has allowed capitalism more freedom to employ anybody
anywhere to make or sell anything--and to do it fast.
The rapid decentralization of production and the octopus
of world financial markets was made possible by the
development of computers that can program a production
robot in Indonesia from an office in New York.
systems now keep open a 24-hour on-line world speculative
market which functions in real time. Today's digital
technology allows a San Francisco bank to do it's accounting
in the Caymen Islands as if the department was down
the hall from the CEO's office.
new freedom has resulted in a tremendous surge of financial
power. Outsourcing doesn't just mean giving autoworker's
jobs to the non-union shop across town. Cheap labor
can now be readily recruited anywhere in the world.
The destruction of corporate liberalism's post-World
War 2 social contract--well paying union jobs and work
security in America's industrial heartland-- is the
result of a many tiered technological revolution, at
home and abroad.
understands this process, cheers it on, and hopes to
become the main spokesman for the infotech global finanace
capitalists and marketeers within this third wave economy.
As production, markets, and finances all globalize,
attacks on national government and its regulatory power
is only natural. NAFTA is thus the practical symbol
of this new world order.
has mapped out an alternative course. He is a conservative
who has decided to base his reactionary populism in
the anger caused by these changes. He has thus become
the defender of the diehard nationalists of the old
second wave national economy. In his speeches, he explictly
refers to industrial jobs, textiles, and even our lost
shoe factories. Buchanan blames immigrants from the
third world as much as global corporations who move
to the third world.
no wonder silicon valley executives got upset when he
called for a ban on all legal immigration for five years.
For some of these corporations 40% of their labor force
is composed of computer literate immigrants recruited
from the global workforce. Buchanan not only targets
the CEOs of the new elite, he also threatens their workforce
and access to new sources of intellectual capital.
in the labor force is not a temporary issue. The current
economic recovery, our first real third wave boom, is
called "jobless recovery" for just that reason.
Production and profits are up, but downsizing is spreading
and most new jobs are part-time or temporary. Two-thirds
of all new jobs in the last quarter paid under $20,000
driving force behind stock prices and the new profitability
is the ability of information technology to downsize
the labor force. Just think of how much more work a
secretary can do on a PC than a typewriter, and the
speed in which she does it. If her output increases
by 20% you can turn her into a part-timer with no loss
of productivity, and with savings on wages, benefits,
pensions, and vacations. There are similar examples
at every level of corporate life. In fact, in 1992 capital
investment in information technology outstripped investment
in manufacturing by for the first time in history. The
gap was $25 billion, and is only growing wider. More