Technotranscendence (neptune@mars.superlink.net)
Sat, 23 May 1998 21:18:29 -0400 (EDT)

Date: Sat, 23 May 1998 01:18:53 -0700
From: aarmstro@netONE.com (Ari Armstrong)
Subject: Bulworth

Bulworth and the Socialist Critique of Capitalism

I thoroughly enjoyed *Bulworth*. Warren Beatty portrays a California
Senator who breaks down and becomes honest again. Beatty's Bulworth is a
refreshing alternative to our real politicians who talk to and from nothing
but big money. (One woman asks Bulworth, paraphrased, "Why haven't we
received the Federal Aid you promised us?" He responds, "Well, you haven't
really contributed to my campaign, have you?") Bulworth realizes he's been
a sell-out, and then he fights to make a change.

Beatty is on the rampage here. He is subverting the entire
Democrat-Republican cooperative, and challenging us to stop prostituting
principles. This, I love. (Oh, and the plot and characters are developed
fully and interestingly.)

What I love rather less are the particular principles for which Beatty
fights. He explicitly calls for "socialized medicine" (at least he has the
balls "to call a spade a spade"), private subsidization of insurance for
the poor, and a myriad of other socialist programs. What I don't get is
that, while Beatty recognizes that "politicians have f**ked up public
education," he expects them to expand public education, government
medicine, and government on all levels.

As Murray Rothbard and others have long-recognized, the radical left and
radical right share a number of similarities. We both call for radical
cultural changes, we both believe that the current system is corrupt in its
power, we both denounce Democrats and Republicans. Where we differ is in
our interpretation of corruption. We libertarians think that the
government is responsible for the current problems in medicine, education,
and so forth. Socialists such as Beatty think that big business is the
source of corrupt power. Hence, our political agendas are the precise
opposite. Libertarians call for the radical cutback of government so that
the private sector can fulfill human needs; socialists call for the radical
increase of government so that the government can fulfill human needs. We
agree only that the current nexus of government and big business is evil;
libertarians think that government is the fundamental corruptive force
while socialists think that big business is. Perhaps this is the root of
Mises' theory that one system will ultimately drive out the other.

Largely our disagreements are an empirical matter which can be resolved by
open-minded discussion and research. (*Can* be, not *will* be.) I think
that Beatty errs on two counts - first, that big business is inherently
corruptive and that the free sector is incapable of providing just, honest
business, and second, that the private sector is incapable of providing
charity, quality health care, and so forth.

See Bulworth for two reasons. In the abstract, Bulworth represents a
dedication to Principle. We can be inspired by Beatty's devotion even as
we are repelled by the particular content of his principles. The second
reason to see Bulworth is to get a better idea of where the socialists in
America are coming from - what they believe and what they advocate. I
actually agree with a lot of what Bulworth says. Bulworth and Pat Buchanan
share some notable beliefs that I dismiss. If the libertarians are
supposed to contain "the party of principle," I'd say that Beatty and
others are trying to restore that title to the Democratic Party. The
Republicans obviously are ideologically bankrupt; if the Democrats find
their moral voice, then we are in for some major shifts in favor of
government power. That is unless, of course, we are able to manifest a
fervor and eloquence in support of *our* principles to match that of Beatty
and the other Democrats-of-Spine.