28 October 2015
by Kaye Lee
Several years ago, US blogger Conceptual Guerilla coined a three word slogan that explains right wing ideology very succinctly – “cheap-labour conservatives”.
He agrees with Karl Marx that the fortunes of the corporate/capitalist elite depend on keeping the workers “over a barrel”.
Marx saw the conflict between those that own the means of production and those who sell their labour as crucial to the maintenance of capitalism. Its function is to create an obedient, docile, uncritical workforce who will work to support the upper-class’s lifestyle and the economy.
Keeping wages low, or debt pressure high, means workers will be less likely to complain or make demands. As workers struggle to provide their families with all the temptations that a capitalist society offers, they become far less likely to risk their employment, and less able to improve their situation.
At bottom, conservatives believe in a social hierarchy of “haves” and “have nots” that Conceptual Guerilla calls “corporate feudalism”. They have taken this corrosive social vision and dressed it up with a “respectable” sounding ideology which all boils down to the cheap labour they depend on to make their fortunes.
The larger the labour supply, the cheaper it is. The more desperately you need a job, the cheaper you’ll work, and the more power those “corporate lords” have over you.
Cheap-labour conservatives don’t like social spending or our “safety net”. Why? Because when you’re unemployed and desperate, corporations can pay you whatever they feel like – which is inevitably as little as possible. You see, they want you “over a barrel” and in a position to “work cheap or starve”.
Cheap-labour conservatives don’t like the minimum wage, or other improvements in wages and working conditions. Why? These reforms undo all of their efforts to keep you “over a barrel”.
Cheap-labour conservatives like “free trade” agreements. Why? Because there is a huge supply of desperately poor people in the third world who are “over a barrel” and will work cheap.
Cheap-labour conservatives oppose a woman’s right to choose. Why? Unwanted children are an economic burden that put poor women “over a barrel”, forcing them to work cheap.
Cheap-labour conservatives don’t like unions. Why? Because when labour “sticks together”, wages go up. That’s why workers unionize. A united workforce with a representative voice is harder to keep “over a barrel”.
Cheap-labour conservatives constantly bray about “morality”, “virtue”, “respect for authority”, “hard work” and other “values”. Why? So they can blame your being “over a barrel” on your own “immorality”, lack of “values” and “poor choices”.
Cheap-labour conservatives encourage racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of bigotry. Why? Bigotry among wage earners distracts them, and keeps them from recognizing their common interests as wage earners.
Cheap-labour conservatives have hated compulsory superannuation and Medicare since their inception.
Many cheap-labour conservatives are hostile to public education. They think it should be privatized. School vouchers are just a backdoor method to widen the gap.
Cheap-labour conservatives hate progressive income tax.
“Free Trade” and globalization are intended to create a world-wide “corporate playground” where national governments serve the interests of corporations – which means “cheap labour”.
The ugly truth is that cheap-labour conservatives just don’t like working people. They don’t like “bottom up” prosperity, and the reason for it is very simple. “Corporate lords” have a harder time kicking them around. Once you understand this about the cheap-labour conservatives, the real motivation for their policies makes perfect sense. Remember, cheap-labour conservatives believe in social hierarchy and privilege, so the only prosperity they want is limited to them. They want to see absolutely nothing that benefits those who work for an hourly wage.
The strategy is clear. The more ignorant and destitute people there are – desperate for any job they can get – the cheaper the cheap-labour conservatives can get them to work.
Included within the slogan “less government” is the whole conservative set of assumptions about the nature of the “free market” and government’s role in that market.. In fact, the whole “public sector/private sector” distinction is an invention of the cheap-labour conservatives.
They say that the “private sector” exists outside and independently of the “public sector”. The public sector, according to cheap-labour ideology, can only “interfere” with the “private sector”, and that such “interference” is “inefficient” and “unprincipled”.
Using this ideology, the cheap-labour ideologue paints himself as a defender of “freedom” against “big government tyranny”. In fact, the whole idea that the “private sector” is independent of the public sector is totally bogus. In fact, “the market” is created by public laws, public institutions and public infrastructure.
But the cheap-labour conservative isn’t really interested in “freedom”. What he wants is the “privatized tyranny” of industrial serfdom, the main characteristic of which is – you guessed it – “cheap labour”.
Cheap-labour conservatives are BIG supporters of the most oppressive and heavy handed actions the government takes.
Cheap-labour conservatives support the “get tough” and “lock ’em up” approach to virtually every social problem in the spectrum. In fact, it’s the only approach they support. They say our justice system is “too lenient”.
Cheap-labour conservatives want all the military force we can stand to pay for and never saw a weapons system they didn’t like.
Cheap-labour conservatives support intervention in sovereign nations.
Cheap-labour conservatives support “domestic surveillance” against “subversives” – where “subversive” means “everybody but them”.
Cheap-labour believers in “freedom” think it’s the government’s business to decide who can marry.
Cheap-labour conservatives support our offshore detention centres. They also support locking people up incommunicado with “secret evidence” and deportation with no judicial review. Then they say that progressives are “Stalinists”.
These so-called defenders of freedom share a common list of things they oppose.
- “Social spending” otherwise known as “redistribution”. While they don’t mind tax dollars being used for killing people, using their taxes to feed people is “stealing”.
- Minimum wage laws.
- Every piece of legislation ever proposed to improve working conditions.
- Unions, who “extort” employers by collectively bargaining.
- Environmental regulations.
- Federal support and federal standards for public education.
- Public broadcasting.
- Marriage equality.
These cheap-labour conservatives have no problem at all opening the public purse for corporate interests. it’s “social spending” on people who actually need assistance that they just “can’t tolerate”. And now you know why. Destitute people work cheaper, while a harsh police state keeps them suitably terrorized.