Tag Archives: republicans

Sins of Our Fathers: Matthew Karp’s “This Vast Southern Empire”

The subtitle of Matthew Karp’s important new book neatly summarizes the book’s thesis: “Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy” during the period from the nation’s founding to the start of the Civil War. Slavery was not just a domestic issue but a global one, and the foreign policy decisions of the men who were in charge of the federal government for most of the antebellum period, slave owning Southern plantation elites, were well aware that the future of slavery, i.e., their future, would be determined as much by what happened abroad, particularly in the Caribbean and Latin America, as by what happened within the borders of the United States itself—in fact, the expansion of those borders that occurred during the antebellum period was largely determined by the desire of the Southern elite to protect and expand slavery at a time when it was being seriously challenged by both British and Northern abolitionists, as well as by slave rebellions in Haiti and elsewhere.

Karp lays out in ample detail, and in often elegant and occasionally sardonic prose, the policies and motivations of the major political and intellectual figures of the time, including Calhoun, the successive presidents, journalists and writers such as Louisa McCord (who could be called the Phyllis Schlafly of her time) and James De Bow. Since Karp does such a good job of narrating the history, it is not necessary for me to summarize it here—just take my word for it and read the book.

What really struck me as I read was the extent to which the ideologies of the slave-owning elites have persisted in the political DNA of the United States, down to the present day. Virtually every one of the political excuses for slavery and for the domestic and foreign policy positions they adopted have survived to today, though for most of us their original forms are obscured by subsequent layers of circumstance and party politics.

Let us begin with a prime example: Today we are all familiar with the phrase “states’ rights,” and probably have at least an inkling of what it means, and are aware of how it occasionally crops up in current political controversies, such as when the federal government overrides state laws on immigration or gender discrimination.

But what most of us probably don’t realize is that the notion of states’ rights emerged in the very early days of the nation and was taken up by Southern slave owners as a rationale for preventing the federal government (and thus the increasingly abolitionist North) from interfering in the South’s peculiar institution as well as to support the expansion of slavery into new territories. Today states’ rights are usually invoked in support of conservative causes, most notably in the persistent calls for reducing federal spending on domestic issues, whether it be on infrastructure or health care; while at the same time pressing for increased spending on the military in order to ensure America’s rightful place on the world scene and to guarantee national security (in those days against the British)—to achieve peace through strength, as it is often said. Both antebellum Southern elites and our contemporary conservatives want a decentralized government when it comes to domestic issues and a strong central government when it comes to foreign policy. They are strict constructionists domestically and liberal constructionists globally.

Intertwined with this view was Manifest Destiny, the notion that America is a special nation in the history of mankind, with a special mission not only to expand westward across the entire North American continent but to redeem the world. Manifest Destiny was widely popular throughout the United States, North as well as South, but it was especially appealing to the Southern elites as they looked to the southern hemisphere as a new source of commodities which, they believed, could only be exploited by bound labor, preferably African slave labor (which they hoped to supply from their own slave breeding programs). It is worth mentioning here that the four most important commodities for international trade of that day were cotton, tobacco, sugar, and coffee, all of which at that time were “tropical” products largely grown under deeply exploitative labor conditions. Those four commodities continue to be important in trade today, though their predominant role has been superseded by oil, wheat, and corn; sugar and cotton continue to benefit from federal subsidies (as did tobacco until quite recently).

The special mission of the United States led to the Mexican-American war and the acquisition of what is today the American southwest and California, as well as the Indian wars that cleared the West for white settlement. It led to the Spanish-American War and the colonialization of the Philippines; and in the twentieth century to our interventions in too numerous to mention other countries, ostensibly to extend democracy and peace but all too often in fact to protect and expand our economic and geopolitical clout. This has led to our situation today, in which we find ourselves in a state of cognitive dissonance between our fine rhetoric and our actions. American hegemonic ambitions have always been encircled by a decorative hedge of beautiful rhetoric–call it the aesthetic of imperialism.

Much of that dissonance originates in that dark shadow cast by American history, race. Although racial prejudice had existed in American thought since the colonial period and was present even in the Northern states (and even, it must be said, among abolitionists), it was Southern writers who articulated the most sophisticated and virulent racial theories of the pre-Civil War era. Just one writer of the many that Karp cites will serve as an example: Louisa McCord wrote that “God’s will formed the weaker race so that they dwindle and die out by contact with the stronger . . . Slavery, then, or extermination seems to be the fate of the dark races” (qtd. on pages 159-160). As Conrad’s Kurtz would later say, “Exterminate all the brutes!” And this slavery-or-extermination racism was not limited to Africans but applied equally as much to Native Americans and other “colored” races (and note that the very term “colored” makes a classificatory distinction between them and “whites”).

This so-called scientific racism, this notion that the strong must inevitably exterminate the weak, predated the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859) and Spencer’s coining of the phrase “survival of the fittest” (1864), yet it eerily anticipates the uses to which evolution would be put, in the form of Social Darwinism and eugenics, at least up to the Nazi racial theorists of the mid-twentieth century (I am not confident that it has disappeared even today). In the minds of McCord and others of her ilk, civilization itself depended on racial discrimination, particularly on bound labor—slavery was not only good for true civilization (the high arts and all that) but it was good for the slaves (slavery or extermination). Even “liberty,” of all things, depended on slavery (see page 67). Which raises the interesting question: What did the Founders mean, exactly, when they wrote so eloquently about “liberty”? What Southern theorists of race clearly did not mean was the freedom of the individual laborer to be worthy of his hire; indeed, they argued that “free labor” was less efficient and less orderly than slave labor, and they pointed to the declining Haitian exports of sugar after the Haitian revolution as proof—neglecting to note that sugar production for export may have been good for the bourgeoisie of Europe but not good for the Haitians themselves nor for the natural environment of the island.

The end of slavery after the Civil War did not mean the end of exploited labor and racial theory. The sharecropper system was part and parcel of Jim Crow racism, as were separate but equal, which indeed kept the races separate but by no means equal, and although significant and necessary changes came with the civil rights movement, race theory continues to infect social and political discourse today, however superficially camouflaged it may be. Likewise, the ideology of states’ rights continues to impact political thought and rhetoric, even within certain states whose political classes are reluctant to tax and budget for policies that would enhance the well-being of their citizens even as they provide tax breaks and sweetheart deals for corporations and sports teams. Meanwhile, federal military and surveillance budgets continue to climb, and a candidate for president from one of the major parties brags about bombing ISIS into oblivion.

The persistence of Manifest Destiny is best illustrated by the last sixteen years of federal foreign policy. President George W. Bush said of the invasion of Iraq that it was the “latest front in the global democratic revolution led by the United States,” though others saw that war as being more about oil than democracy. President Obama also wanted to promote democracy and advance our values in the Middle East and thought, wrongly as it turned out, that the so-called “Arab Spring” heralded the beginning of a new era in that region. Since Obama ran his first campaign as the not-Bush, it is ironic that both presidents spoke idealistically while pursuing less than ideal policies, as if they (and their advisors, and perhaps also the American citizenry in general) were unable to disentangle their idealism from the realities of the American imperial project. Perhaps that is because from the very beginning, American imperial ambitions have been couched in the rhetoric of liberty, civilization, and wealth—which makes us not so different from our antebellum Southern elite politicians, after all.


Terror and Security

The quarrel between Apple and the federal government over access to the smart phone of the San Bernardino terrorist shooters highlights the contest between the right to privacy and the need for national security.  At the same time that the government has unprecedented power to electronically snoop into our lives, the individual has new ways to thwart that intrusion, leading to the current confrontation between two giants of information, a global corporation and a powerful national government.

In my own mind there is considerable skepticism that the cell phones in question contain information which federal investigators have not already figured out by other means, given that even the most devious villains have their limits—perhaps they have even greater limits than the average citizen, because of their obsessive-compulsive, tunnel-vision focus on their “mission.”  But be that as it may, in this election year, as voters we will be making a choice about what we value more, privacy or security.

Certainly we are hearing a great deal from the potential Republican candidates about terrorism, national security, boots on the ground, etc., as well as about the perceived threat of illegal immigrants, who might after all include terrorists slipping into the country under the guise of refugees, especially if they’re Muslims.  The Democratic hopefuls also talk about security and terrorism, though they spend more time talking about the economy and the financial system.  But clearly, what to do about terrorism is on everyone’s mind.

Perhaps it would be well to consider history.  Not so long ago, the federal government engaged in domestic spying to thwart the communist threat, with “communist threat” being rather broadly defined.  The FBI under J. Edgar Hoover spied on Dr. King and many others, including the Kennedys (who could hardly be considered communists), resorting to illegal wiretapping, subversion of vulnerable insiders as informants, and other noxious tactics.  Since in fact communism was never all that serious a threat to the United States, one has to wonder if all that surveillance was engaged in for its own sake—it could be done, so it was done.

Great harm came from our obsession with the supposed threat of communism: the Vietnam War, for one, and our incessant interference in the affairs of other (sovereign) countries.  Whatever the real or imagined threat posed by Allende, for example, Pinochet was hardly an appropriate alternative.  Likewise, the invasion of Iraq and toppling of Hussein made matters in the Middle East far worse than they were before (and we might mention the disaster that befell the people of Libya after the fall of Qaddafi).  Great harm can come from our obsession with terrorism.  The greatest harm could be to ourselves, as we gradually and imperceptibly become accustomed to being perpetually watched, and as we adjust our behaviors to that environment.  Even our most private moments will seem less than truly private.

Caveat:  There is some irony in a giant technology/information corporation such as Apple (or Google, or Facebook, et al.) taking a stance against the federal government’s collection of our personal “data,” given that the coin of the tech realm is the collection of data from billions of users worldwide.  We are assured this is for our benefit, but we simply do not know what information is being gathered and stored, and we have little idea, beyond those suspiciously specific advertisements popping up on our screens and in our inboxes, what is being done with that information and by whom.  Never before have individuals been so vulnerable to both corporate and governmental, legal and illegal, hacking as we are today, nor, as users of social media, so complicit in that hacking.  It looks like we’re all Winston Smith.

Ben Carson’s Gun Propaganda

How did the Nazis come to power in Germany?

According to Ben Carson and other gun advocates, it was because the German people had no guns. To quote: “I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed. There’s a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first.” Carson is not the first to equate gun control advocates with Nazis, nor the first to thereby demonstrate both a total lack of historical knowledge but also the right wing habit of projecting their own defects onto their liberal opposites.

In a nutshell, the Nazis did not come to power at the point of a gun—they had the support of millions of Germans and the acquiescence of many others, and they were welcomed into Austria (the Anschluss). Opposition to the Nazis within Germany and Austria, while courageous, was neither widespread nor effective. Hitler was seen generally as a great leader who was restoring German pride and regaining its rightful place in the world—much as Putin is seen today by many Russians.

In his book A More Perfect Union, Carson wrote that “Through a combination of removing guns and disseminating deceitful propaganda, the Nazis were able to carry out their evil intentions with relatively little resistance.” It is true that Nazi propaganda was effective—but it is also true that propaganda has its effects only on people looking to justify their prejudices. The gun advocates’ claims that unrestricted access to guns, and worse, that more people carrying guns in daily life (teachers and students on campuses, for example) will magically reduce gun deaths, are propaganda statements that appeal to those who already are looking for any excuse for opposing gun control laws—laws which, by the way, are not meant to confiscate people’s guns but to prevent gun sales to criminals and the seriously mentally ill and to limit the presence of guns in daily life (such as college classrooms). The fantasy that an armed populace will prevent a government from turning tyrannous is disproven by the fact that Americans are in little danger of being shot by the Feds but greatly in danger of being shot by their neighbors.

Additional thoughts: A number of replies to Carson’s comment have been published in the media, basically saying much the same thing as I have above, but all of them have left out one of the most important points: that almost all of the 6 million or so Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust were Eastern European: Poland, Ukraine, etc. Carson and others who use the same argument to focus on German Jews within Germany and Austria miss this fact–see Snyder’s “Bloodlands”. Also, for rich and comfortable Americans to compare their relatively minor frustrations and disappoints to the mortal suffering of Jews under Nazism shows an insensitivity and lack of moral imagination that staggers the mind.

American Foreign Policy and European Imperialism: Pax or Pox?

What is wrong with United States’ policy in the Middle East?

The pundits and policy wonks argue that it’s complicated. But it’s actually fairly simple: Since World War II, the United States has continued the colonial enterprise abandoned by the European imperial powers, particularly England and France, who were too weakened and bankrupted by the war to continue that enterprise themselves.

We have not done a very good job of it, perhaps largely because we deny that that is what we are doing. There is an element of split personality in our simultaneous orientation towards, and disdain of, Europe which causes us to cite other factors as motivation for our continued interference in the affairs of that region: during the Cold War, containing the Soviet Union and communism; always, of course, protecting the flow of oil (apparently under the assumption that independent and autonomous Arab states would not be interested in selling to us the one thing they have to sell), more recently, fighting terrorism and supporting clearly rickety and not widely popular “democracy” movements.

That we have not done a good job is evident in the mistaken and botched invasion of Iraq, in the rapidity with which Iraq has broken down since our troops were withdrawn, in the persistence of Hamas despite decades of American efforts to broker some kind of lasting agreement between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and the creeping back of the Taliban as we draw down in Afghanistan. Not to mention the so-called “Arab Spring,” so named in a rush of misplaced optimism and misunderstanding of the real situations in those regions.

Although we tend to view the various insurgent groups as motivated by religious fanaticism, age-old hatreds, and plain old evil, even as enemies of the United States who want to impose Shariah law on us (how in the world would they do that?), what they are “insurging” against are the artificial borders drawn by England and France (somewhat with the collusion of Russia) after World War I and the Allied defeat of the Ottoman Empire, through such instruments as the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, the British Mandate under the League of Nations, and various policies and actions flowing from them, without regard to the wishes or traditions of the native populations.

After World War II, the old European imperial powers were no longer able to maintain their colonies and areas of “influence,” and the natural course would have been for these artificial entities to quickly break down and sort themselves into new entities more natural to the history, geography, and ethnicities of the region—except that the United States, the new superpower, stepped in to try to continue what England and France had begun. Yet American involvement in the region has always been conflicted, likely in part because the despotic regimes that were necessary to keeping artificialities like Iraq intact went against the grain of American ideals, as encapsulated by President Wilson at the end of World War I—but we should perhaps have been forewarned by the defeat of Wilson’s program at the negotiations over the Treaty of Versailles, a defeat which showed just how reluctant Britain and France were to let other nations and people alone. And so, here we are, one hundred years later, no longer unable to stop the final unraveling of the old imperial structures of the Middle East.

The question is: Why has the United States allowed itself to become entangled in problems created by a defunct European imperialism?

Since its inception, the United States has been oriented towards Europe, more than to any other region of the world. We began as the thirteen British colonies, and since the Revolution we have traded, negotiated, and imitated Europe. Culturally, we have looked to Europe for inspiration and models. Our museums are filled with European art, our symphony orchestras perform largely European music, during the 19th century our scholars and intellectuals pursued European university educations, our own artists and writers have traveled and lived in Europe (T. S. Eliot, Hemingway, etc.), and we remain today fascinated to the point of unseemly obsession with such things as the British royal family and Downton Abbey, French fashions and wine culture, and Italian cuisine. More Americans travel to Europe than to any other overseas destination. We are truly Europhilic, likely because, until very recent times, our population has been predominantly of European descent.

Yet at the same time we hold Europe in contempt, as a conflicted teenager both loves and rejects his parents. Donald Rumsfeld was speaking for a lot of Americans when he dismissed our reluctant allies (during the Iraq War) as “old Europe”—worn out, weak, declining, cowardly, impotent, prevaricating, intellectual and effete! And though he spoke crudely, his sentiment was not new. In the 19th century, Ralph Waldo Emerson and others called for a new American literature and culture, and artists and writers since have struggled to define themselves both in terms of and against European models. There is a tint of inferiority complex coloring our attitudes to the “Old World” in our politics and foreign policy as much as in our culture, and in much of the self-congratulatory rhetoric of our politicians and pundits, particularly following the collapse of the Soviet Union (remember “The End of History and the Last Man”?). We were the sole remaining super-power, the triumphant heirs of the West that had triumphed over the rest; we could step in and repair and regain what the Europeans had lost and thereby lead the world towards a democratic/capitalist utopia, for once and for all. We had finally and definitively replaced Old Europe!

It is therefore with existential chagrin that we now confront the fact that we are as impotent to maintain the old European imperial structure as Old Europe itself. What dangers this humiliation may bring remain to be seen.

Are Social Issues a Distraction?

I recently came across the interesting fact that some of the biggest big-money contributors to right-wing political causes and politicians, those super-billionaires who can fund super PACs to the turn of millions without making a dent in their fortunes (from gambling, oil, coal, etc.), actively support so-called liberal or progressives positions on social issues such as gay marriage, legalizing marijuana, and abortion rights. They are what are sometimes called socially liberal, fiscally conservative. I.e., libertarians.

So I wondered why these individuals are socially liberal when the politicians they so richly support are ultra-conservative or reactionary, and it occurred to me that social issues are irrelevant to them because they cost them no profits. Gay or straight, you still need to drive your car and heat your home, and your dollars are just a green as anyone else’s; and who knows but that legalizing marijuana might be a business opportunity (legalized cartels, anyone?) and at the least provide a source of regressive taxation (by taxing the user’s purchase but offering loopholes to the cartel-corporation now supplying the hemp, you know, for R & D and so forth).

Perhaps more importantly, these and other social issues can serve the purpose of distracting the electorate from the issues that are having the greatest impact on individual Americans, regardless of orientation, recreation, or procreation: job loss, lack of job prospects, declining middle class incomes, wage-slavery (fast food, etc.), billionaire politics, infrastructure, education. Certainly an excellent way to destroy public education and replace it with charter schools and private, for-profit online schools is to get parents so upset about bullying, evolution, sex ed, and so forth, that they vote against every bond issue and tax increase that would benefit the public schools.

Whatever the manifest virtues of social issues is, excessive focus on them can function in the same way as bread and circuses (today’s videos, celebrities, pop music, etc.) do–to distract us from the very serious and damaging rule of Wall Street over our economy and politics. So perhaps we should not grudgingly admire these libertarian Scrooges for their supposedly liberal views of social issues but rather see the ruse and turn our political attention to the wreckage of our economy in the name of ultra-laissez faire capitalism.

Be Very Afraid: Mike Lofgren’s The Party Is Over

There are a lot of books published this year criticizing one or the other of the political parties, written by the usual partisan suspects who grind their party’s ideological axe down to a guillotine’s edge.  They are of little use to the distressed voter because they recycle the wishes, lies, and dreams we have been subjected to over at least the last decade.  They are hardly worth borrowing from the local library, let alone buying them outright.  But there is one book that everyone who fears for the future of our country should read, Mike Lofgren’s The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted, not necessarily because he tells us anything new but because he tells it from an unusually informed perspective.  Lofgren was until recently a loyal member of the Republican Party and a long-time Congressional staff member.  Unlike media pundits of the right and left, Lofgren has not only witnessed the legislative and political process, he has actively participated in it; with 16 years as senior analyst on the House and Senate budget committees, he is particularly knowledgeable about federal budget issues.

I first heard of Lofgren’s book from watching Bill Moyers interview him on Moyers’ PBS show, and he caught my attention when he said that the Republican Party has been taken over by an “apocalyptic cult.”  He does not use that phrase in this book, but he does explain what he means by it, that his former party has become a war-mongering, nihilistic, anti-intellectual (i.e., anti-intelligence), Old Testament, End Times, and authoritarian cabal bent on driving America into bankruptcy in order to force government to downsize so much that the corporate profiteers can clear the field of impediments to their theft of the nation’s wealth, while at the same time increasing the war budget to realize the corollary goal of beating the rest of the world into submission in time for the Second Coming.  You may not be surprised that as I read the book (straight through in a matter of a few hours) I kept thinking of the last days of Weimar and the rise of fascism and Hitler.  Desperate people seek certainty and “strong” leaders to assuage their fear and end chaos—so the best way to secure authoritarian power is first to put people in that state of fear.

I will not pre-empt the book by summarizing all Lofgren’s main points and evidence, but to get a good taste of his thesis, the following paragraph is worth quoting:

“But it is not enough to say that Abu Ghraib, or the renditions of prisoners to countries (including Syria) that enthusiastically tortured them, or the contractor corruption, or the decline in Ameri­can prestige abroad both among foreign governments and their publics, or the fiscal damage caused by the war were all predictable consequences of the decision to go to war in the first place. I believe the toxic dynamic that led to all of these ills is one, the same, and inseparable from the belligerent and avaricious mind-set that de­regulated the markets, pushed the tax cuts, encouraged subprime borrowing, and botched the handling of Hurricane Katrina. The bedrock of this mind-set is a lack of intellectual seriousness com­bined with ideological rigidity, sound-bite glibness, and ethical cor­ner cutting. And power worship, whether the object of worship is money, high office, or military might. The cultural witch’s brew of the last thirty years produced Ken Lay and Bernie Madoff just as surely as it produced John Yoo and Dick Cheney.” (p. 182, emphasis added)

Foreign policy cannot be separated from domestic policy because the same ideology underlies and motivates both.  As Lofgren documents, war has become a means of enriching private corporations just as much as financial deregulation and K Street lobbying.  Periodic bowing in the direction of values-oriented voters camouflages the real purpose of the fat cats who finance the Republicans.

Although Lofgren’s subtitle suggests he will take the Democrats to the same woodshed as the Republicans, he devotes far less time to them, though he makes a strong point that President Obama is a center or even center-right politician who appears liberal only by contrast to the extreme right-wing Republicans.  He knows the Democrats far less well than he does the Republicans, and perhaps there is really less negative to say about them anyway.  Nonetheless, his point that corporate financing of political campaigns has weakened the Democratic program is worth noting.

Lofgren ends the book with a brief clarion call for reforms, all of which depend upon an informed electorate rising up to protest the kidnapping of their country and re-establishing a more truly democratic political process.  Unfortunately, the anti-intellectualism he discerns in the Republican Party is symptomatic of a wider problem of our culture—it touches even putative Democrats—and it may be hoping for too much to advise television viewers to turn off the American Idol and Extreme Makeover fat edition and read Logren’s book.  White bread and cable circuses may be too addicting to quit.

Money vs. People: The Real Difference?

Which political party really has the interests of people at heart?  How does one tell in this complicated time, when there are so many issues to deal with and so many accusations flung back and forth across the aisle?  When there is so much corporate and special interest money washing over the political system that it seems that both parties are beholden to the monied interests rather than to the majority of citizens?

Sometimes a comparatively minor issue can clarify the parties’ stances on the bigger issues.  Take the issue of college affordability, which is a source of angst and worry for the middle class and working classes but of no concern to the well off.  Congress is as usual unable to reach any kind of conclusion, this time on the interest rate for Stafford Loans.  As stated in a recent New York Times opinion piece by Mark Kantrowitz and Lynn O’Shaughnessy, the stalemate is not over whether or not the rates should be kept at their current level but how to pay for the reduction; as the authors state, “Each party has added conditions to the rate extension that are unacceptable to the other side. Republicans want to pay for a one-year extension on the lower Stafford rate by taking $6 billion out of the preventive health care fund established by the 2010 health care legislation; Democrats want to cover the tab by cutting oil subsidies and closing a corporate-tax loophole.”  Here it all is, in one simple straightforward example:  the Republicans want to continue to subsidize hugely profitable industries that need no government support but do not want to subsidize the health of citizens who are already struggling to meet their rising health care costs.

This the consistently repeated pattern:  Democrats for people, Republicans for corporations and the very wealthy.  That’s what it all boils down to, regardless of any rhetoric to the contrary.

Update:  Read this editorial in the New York Times on the Republican attempt to gut domestic programs that aid the helpless in order to add more money to the already excessive defense budget.

Will Right-Wing Policy Lead to Socialism?

Despite the continuing recession with its long-term unemployment figures, high foreclosure rates, underwater homeowners, growth in the number of Americans in poverty, and continuing exacerbation of economic and political inequality, the Republican presidential wanna-bees continue to promise tax relief and other policies favoring the wealthy rentier classes while disfavoring the middle and lower classes by what they call entitlement reform.  They claim that their policies will strengthen the economy and halt America’s slide into international weakness and socialism, and they never tire of calling President Obama a socialist to underscore their point.

So, what if it does happen that the eventual Republican nominee does defeat Obama and the Democrats become an impotent minority in Congress?  What if Republicans in fact do enact their policies?  Will that achieve their goals?

Maybe not.  Maybe they will eventually get the opposite.  There are examples in history that suggest that when the wealthy and powerful get too powerful, and the poor and middling get too poor and politically weak, the weak and poor rise up and depose the wealthy and powerful.  Consider the French revolution and all those heads bouncing to the beat of the Marseillaise.  Consider the Russian revolution—there was never a class so powerful and rich as the czar and his nobles.  Consider the toppling of the corrupt regime of Batista by Fidel Castro and his communist rebels.  Extreme inequalities of wealth and political power may be a recipe for exactly the opposite of what the right-wing Republicans are seeking.

A revolution of the types noted above would not necessarily follow in the United States, since we already have in place mechanisms for throwing the bums out that France, Russia, and Cuba did not have.  Perhaps once the American people have had a dose of Republican ultra laissez faire, they will vote them out and vote in real socialists, ones who will make Obama look like a banker as they enact policies for, say, universal single-payer health insurance, or nationalization of the banks, or perhaps a 100 percent federal tax on gasoline.  They might even change the tax code to tax capital gains at the same rate as earned income.  When the political pendulum swings far in one direction, it tends to swing back equally as far in the other.

Republicans, be careful what you wish for.