Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Path to Destruction

If I claimed that the leading candidates for mayor in Houston--Annise Parker and Peter Brown--are fascists, most Houstonians would dismiss me as a lunatic. But I am willing to take that chance, because they are fascists and I am not a lunatic.

To begin, I will define my terms. Contrary to popular opinion, fascism is not an extreme form of capitalism, but its opposite. Fascism is a form of statism--of government control over business, property, and the lives of the citizens. As Ayn Rand wrote in "The Fascist New Frontier":
Under fascism, citizens retain the responsibility of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership.

Consider that both Parker and Brown favor regulation of land-use. Brown supported zoning in the 1990s and is a fervent opponents of billboards. Parker supported the preservation ordinance and opposed the Ashby High Rise.

Neither calls for government seizure of private property--they simply want to dictate how citizens may use their property. Neither opposes the fact that citizens must pay taxes and upkeep for their property--they simply want citizens to seek government permission to use their property. Private "ownership" with government control is the defining characteristic of fascism. But ownership without control is a contradiction.

The fascist tendencies of Parker and Brown do not stop there. Brown, for example, wants more government involvement in the city's economy. He proposes creating an Economic Development Office:

A General Economic Development Plan will coordinate the city's efforts in an intelligent way resulting in well-planned and predictable growth.

Government is an agent of force, and when it plans something the citizens must obey. In the context of the economy, government economic planning means that businesses must adhere to the city's plan under threat of fines, imprisonment, or both. Brown is not content to let individual make their own plans and act accordingly. He wants an economic czar to plan Houston's economy and force every business owner to honor his edicts.

Parker is no better. She wants to build "partnerships" with the oil and gas industry to create jobs. As Ayn Rand wrote:

"Partnership" is an indecent euphemism for "government control." There can be no partnership between armed bureaucrats and defenseless private citizens who have no choice but to obey.

Parker wants to forge a "partnership" in which her word is final, in which her demands are to be obeyed or else. I should not have to point out that, when government is involved, "or else" means "go to jail".

In addition to similar ends, both politicians are using similar means--both are calling for a consensus among Houstonians. Parker calls it "engaging the community"; Brown calls it a "common vision". Both terms mean the same thing--finding a "safe", middle ground that "everyone" can agree to. Both seek to forge compromise between the various interests involved.

In principle, this is a complete rejection of principles. What compromise is possible between a banker and a thief? What compromise is possible between an advocate of property rights and an advocate of zoning? What compromise is possible between an individual who upholds his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and a statist who declares that the individual's life and property belong to the government? In truth, no compromise is possible because any concession on the part of the advocate of individual rights means a complete surrender. In this context, to give an inch literally means to give it all.

Undoubtedly, a certain type of businessman will approve of the tactics endorsed by Brown and Parker. But what of the thousands of businessmen who do not? What of the businesses that will not grovel at their feet seeking government favors? They will be thrown under the bus and sacrificed for the “public good”.

Either Parker or Brown will likely be the next mayor of Houston. The only difference between them lies in the particular groups upon which they will dispense favors. They differ in details, but not in principle. Each wants more control over our businesses, our property, and our lives. Each advocates positions that will destroy jobs, increase the cost of living, and reduce choices. Each wants to take us down a path that will ultimately lead to the destruction of all that is great about Houston.


slowgreenturtle said...

Brian, what is the source of the Rand 'partnership' quote? I'd love to be able to reference it.


T Black

Brian Phillips said...

Both quotes from Rand were from her article "The Fascist New Frontier".