First, for your consideration:
“The current period [this was written in the early 1980s, although it’s even more apt today] … is the first moment since the 1920s in which owners of capital have openly rejected a compromise that involves public influence over investment and the distribution of income. For the first time in several decades, the Right has an historical project of its own: to free accumulation from all the fetters imposed on it by democracy. For the bourgeoisie never completed its revolution.
Just as it freed accumulation from the restraint of the feudal order, the bourgeoisie was forced to subject it to the constraint of popular control exercises through universal suffrage. The combination of private property of the means of production with universal suffrage is a compromise, and this compromise implies that the logic of accumulation is not exclusively the logic of private actors.
What is involved in the current offensive of the Right is not simply a question of taxes, government spending, or even the distribution of income. The plans for relaxing taxation of profits, abolishing environmental controls, eliminating welfare programs, removing government control over product safety and conditions of work, and weakening the labor unions add up to more than the reorientation of the economic policy. They constitute a project for a new society, a bourgeois revolution.” [.…]
Przeworski proceeds to ask: “what kind of society would it be in which accumulation would be free from any form of political control…?” And after informed and intelligent speculation by way of an answer, he forthrightly states that
“All of these changes would represent a reversal of trends that we are accustomed to see as irreversible. Indeed, the picture we drew can be easily obtained by combining the trends of contemporary capitalism described by, say, E.H. Carr or Jürgen Habermas, and reversing them. Economic relations would be depoliticized. Government economic planning would be abandoned. Legitimation would be left to the market. The ‘economic whip’ would be reinstated as the central mechanism of political control.
Is such a society feasible? The Chilean experience demonstrates that it is feasible when accompanied by brutal repression, the destruction of democratic institutions, the liquidation of all forms of politics. At least in Chile—most observers agree—such a restructuring of society could not have succeeded under democratic conditions, without the military dictatorship. But is it feasible without destroying formal democracy, without a ‘Chileanization’ of capitalist democracies?
Where electoral participation has traditionally been high, where working-class parties enjoy electoral support, and where access to the electoral system is relatively open—in most Western European countries—the project of the Right seems doomed to failure under democratic conditions. But in the United States, where about 40 percent of adults never vote, where parties of notables have a duopolistic control over the electoral system, and where the barriers to entry are prohibitive, one must be less sanguine about the prospects.” — Adam Przeworski, Capitalism and Social Democracy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985: 219-221. [emphasis added]
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Background assumptions firmly in place, I can speak my piece:
Whatever their shortcomings, which only the Left appear to sufficiently appreciate, the “founding fathers” were well read, philosophically adept, and historically literate (by the standards of their day). Instead of asking what Jesus would say or do should he miraculously appear among us, let’s consider what these men would say or do were they to walk our roads and streets:
In lieu of cataloguing the details, it would be safe to imagine they would be aghast, disgusted, nauseous even at the frequency at which their names are collectively invoked by conservatives (and sometimes liberals, at least those who do not want to be in any way associated with ‘the Left’) to ideologically and sanctimoniously legitimate and justify regressive public policy and legislation, policies and laws that are at once politically unimaginative, democratically dangerous, and fundamentally at odds with enhancing the common good (the preference being rather for the private good of privileged classes and strata of a capitalist democracy), a good whose core is articulated in the terms of enhanced public welfare and well-being which, in turn, permits if not encourages individual human flourishing.