21st century democracy and the Third Way

By Steve Farrell and Diane Alden
web posted October 18, 1999

Last time around, this column raised a justifiable flap about the hush-hush history of that Tsunami for political and sociological change called the Third Wave or the Third Way. We presented evidence that today's famously popular Third Way emerged like a creature in hiding from the socialist badlands of communism and fascism.

Among the plotters who laid the foundation for this modern mistake were Plato in his manifesto for a pre-Christian communist tyranny, The Republic; Karl Marx in his 19th Century Communist Manifesto and his sundry other works; and Adolf Hitler and his 20th Century plunge into fascism, which he identified as a Third Way or safe alternative between the two extremes of communism and capitalism.

It's a dark account, and assuredly Third Way proponents would be hard pressed to admit the connection to any of these. But then, who would? Socialism, communism, and fascism, are all deservedly four-letter words in anyone's common sense and political vocabulary. So, roughly every decade, their supporters are forced to search through the archives for a new name for old tyranny.

The Third Way just happened to be next in line.

Disturbingly, consideration of the Third Way presents not only links to foul political thought in far gone times, but highlights the unsettling possibility that the fall of communism and socialism was not the result of the victory of capitalism or Reaganism, but rather a Communist vote of confidence that the West was dumbed down, disarmed and ripe and ready for the long ago predicted comfortable merger.

The Third Way wants this merger, and wants a removal of all stopgap reform tactics in favor of a radical new approach; one befitting our fast paced and rapidly changing world.

Pathetically the Third Way has succeeded in attracting a crowd of fanatical followers both in Europe and in the United States, who really think they are on to a fresh Jeffersonian formula. It's utopian Woodrow Wilson's holy 'Lets make the world safe for Democracy all over again' minus sensible opposition from the US Senate. Today the dream is of a 21st Century Democracy that will compassionately and progressively lead the world.


Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, and the Third Way

Fortunately for the conservative movement, Tony Blair pulled an international boo boo by confessing before the World at NATO's 50th Anniversary Celebration that he, Bill Clinton, and other national leaders, were hammering out "a political plan for the future loosely based around the notion of the Third Way, which is an attempt by centre and centre-left Governments to re-define a political program that is neither old left nor 1980s right." He declared that the Third Way is their way, and the way of the future for both NATO and all the world under the United Nations.

Coming right on the heels of President Clinton's Impeachment, right in the middle of a fresh Clinton China treason scandal and also the first use ever of NATO as an offensive war power, Blair couldn't have done a better job of casting a suitable cloud of suspicion over the Third Way.

That said, his explanation of what was the Third Way was even more ominous.

"It is not," he said, "Mrs. Thatcher with a smile instead of a handbag (compassionate conservatism), [or] really old-style socialists (Fabians) in drag, desperate to conceal our true identity." Rather it is something different, something "new."

But what is new is not a rejection of socialist principles. It embraces those fully. Blair, himself, chose the Socialist Fabian Society as the publisher of his booklet The Third Way. What is new, or so they claim, is their rejection of socialism's incessant inflexibility in a modern world. This then is an out of the closet and better-educated Socialism.

Seven months earlier, September 21st 1998, speaking at a Third Way Conference at NYU, again with Bill Clinton, Blair clarified this point. "The Third Way rejects the moderate left which too often . . . argued for a slower pace of change, [while ignoring] the world of ideas. . . The Third Way is a serious reappraisal of social democracy, reaching deep into the values of the left to develop radically new approaches. "

The Radical Center

Radical, as a matter of fact, is on the frequently-used-words-list in all Third Way literature. Appropriately the Third Way Party in Great Britain describes itself as the Radical Centre (sic). And the Third Way truly is radical. A summary of their beliefs from Prime Minister Blair, from the Third Way Party, and from Bill Clinton and the Democratic Leadership Council, includes the following:

1. "On top of [the] foundation (of the Third Way), is a new economic role for government," which is this: "We don't believe in Laissez-faire [free enterprise]."

2. The Third Way also opposes compromising socialism, which Lenin decried as spontaneous socialism, that is, a socialism that's so busy cutting deals with capitalism that it loses touch with its founding principles and becomes but an arm of the capitalist ruling class or state monopoly capitalism. Nevertheless, the Third Way accepts some capitalism, because it claims to have experienced a Russian/Chinese like awakening that a little bit of capitalism is necessary for the sake of efficiency and adaptability in our high tech world. With one proviso:

3. The socialists must be in charge, and the capitalists closely monitored, serving the interests of the state and the people not the interests of individuals. This socialist in charge idea is critical, because although the socialist has been awakened to the benefits of capitalism, nevertheless, he declares unequivocally that:

4. Capitalism cannot be left to itself (laissez-faire] because of its self serving, lawless, unstable, divisive, and environmentally insensitive nature. And so it must be tempered with the social justice, equality, law, peace, environmental protection, and the good of the whole, which socialism offers. Thus, socialism becomes the moral and legal fabric of society; capitalism, the financier.

This new, unique combination of the left and the right provides for a radical new social democratic state which rejects complete state ownership of all the means of production, in favor of a mixture of private ownership here, state ownership there, and state private partnerships everywhere else.

And although it is apparent that the state penetrates every walk of life, more than ever before, they promise it will not bureaucratize the economy, nor rule it with an iron fist, but only guide and provide opportunities for its success, while keeping a watchful eye for social injustice, unnecessary factory shutdowns, economic fluctuations, and so forth.

That is what they promise. Others see it differently.

Lord Ralf Dahrendorf examining the Third Way in the September/October edition of Foreign Affairs, laments that in the European Union nowadays: "The Third Way is the only game in town;" and although it preaches of a coming wave of democratization, "there is a curious authoritarian streak in it."

The Creative Vocabulary of the Third Way

The authoritarian streak is not readily apparent, however. Third Way propaganda attracts unsuspecting zealots and liberty lovers to their cause thanks to an arsenal of democratic sound bites, which hide very anti-liberty definitions.

So here's a handy decoder:

When [they] speak of a "second wave of democratization," [it] in fact means "deconstructing traditional democratic institutions," or in other words, rejecting representative government, old inflexible constitutions, and majority rule, and adopting direct or semi-direct democracy, with minority rule.

Minority rule, in this new democracy, comes into being through a new kind of representation — focus groups. Here, the government grants bargaining status privileges for minorities, political outcasts, select business institutions and even churches, who will individually barter for rights and privileges at the foot of the state.

No doubt, deals will be cut, but for whose benefit? This is not true representation. It is at best virtual representation, and oddly a privilege only a few will be permitted to possess; so it is unequal, even in theory. In practice it will eventually usher in an era of extreme centralization of power and the negating of both majority and minority rights, as underrepresented individuals feel naked against so distant and powerful a state, and thus compelled to look to one strong voice to lead them.

Third Way "reforms of the welfare state" include compulsory savings and the old communist equal liability of all to work, including single mothers and the disabled. But it doesn't stop there, throw in the part about creating state run Boy's Town-like facilities for the neglected, something Third Wayer Newt Gingrich fought for in his Contract With America, and you get the picture.

First create welfare laws which encourage dads to leave the home, then reform the laws to make moms leave the home, then have the state confiscate the parent-neglected kids - which was the goal of socialism from the start - and the parenthood of the state finally wins the day. Welfare reform at its best.

Third Way "decentralization," as described in our previous essay, is but the local administration of federal and international programs, not our founders federalism, which granted state and local government complete sovereignty over designated powers.

In Europe, says Lord Dahrendorf, it is translating into something far more sinister. He reports, "Decentralization . . . at the sub-national level . . . more often empowers militant activists rather than the people and yields to the new nationalism of self-aggrandizing leaders. And at the national level, problems and solutions alike militate against the liberal [classical liberal] order."

Among the problems, law and order stand out; among the solutions, the proliferation of agencies and quangos (quasi-autonomous nongovernmental organizations) that evade civil control." Again, as previously stated, this smacks of Hitler's decentralization plan: Brutal, lawless, yet subservient to the designs of the new order thanks to its war on the existing order.

Third Way "self-determination," is for minorities, not sovereign states. A key goal: The uniting of minorities across national borders in a joint effort to throw off the bonds of their respective states; an idea lifted verbatim out of the Communist Manifesto. Wrote Marx: "In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they [the communists] point out and bring to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat independently of all nationality.” Or as he shouted: "Working men of all countries unite!”

The Third Way is strongly in favor of secessionist Movements. The British Third Way Party hosted an International Secessionist Conference in 1997. There they presented the opinion that post WWI and WWII political boundaries were drawn up hastily by the hegemons of the world, without regard to the unnatural separation of cultures and peoples they inflicted.

Fifty to 80 years later, these peoples, and others similarly situated [like native Hawaiians], now possess an inherent right of secession, they say; and all who would put the interests of a sovereign nation over the rights of these to secede are "worthy of contempt." Except in cases like Taiwan and Chechnya, no one in the International order has risen to defend their right to secede, have they?

The Third Way "Internationalism" is not just a learn to cooperate better with our neighbors plan. It includes the Globalization of all government and economies, something which they say is an irresistible reality imposed upon us by technology. "We are all internationalists now, whether we like it or not," Tony Blair arrogantly proclaims. Yet it is not just about technology, but the breaking forth of a new social revolution which is intolerant to anything undemocratic, immoral (in a humanist, not religious sense), and destabilizing to peace, prosperity, and world order.

"We cannot turn our backs on conflicts and the violation of human rights within other countries if we want still to be secure," says Blair speaking for NATO. Defensive wars, he notes, have traditionally been the only just wars. That narrow perspective must be forever abandoned, he demands.

International law must be able to permeate national borders, and the central pillar of that law must be the democratic loving laws of the United Nations. Every prominent supporter of the Third Way has said something like: "[We] labor everywhere for the union and agreement of the democratic parties of all countries," and as they do, they feel like they are quoting the gospel. And it is the gospel of Karl Marx, as these exact words are his found in the closing sentences of the Communist Manifesto.

Third Way Free Trade means "accepting the decisions of international organizations, even when we don't like them." It also means to the US, Great Britain, and Japan, that "protectionism equals poverty." At the same time these Third Wayers insists that protectionism must be the order of the day for Russia, which ought to be flooded with grants, credits, subsidized loans, loan guarantees, and foreign investment from every quarter possible, with "encouragements for Russian companies and savers to keep their own money in Russia."

"Russia," they say, is "unique, with its own special problems, and its own unique potential. We must respect Russia's history, her culture, and her aspirations."

But U.S. history, culture, and aspirations are meaningless dribble and dangerous babble to the Third Way new world order. So Third Way free trade means America must surrender her right to freely choose that which will benefit her own unique interests, while Russia and other communist states may do whatever they please in pursuit of theirs.

Finally the Third Way's belief in the right to property is in the right to collective private property not individual private property. That is, they vigorously support the establishment of co-ops, where employees, not individuals own businesses. This should be accomplished through employers selling shares in the company to all employees, with the implementation of partnerships, workplace representation, and economic democracy (redistribution of the wealth).

Company general meetings should include representatives of employees and consumers. And especially, there should be a government social audit to appraise how far companies meet their stated social objective[s]. Traditional individual private property, on the other hand, is debunked as the main factor leading to the fragmentation of our society.

This, then, is but one more new and radical concept of the Third Way, that a socialist might, for the first time, believe that property is good, just so long as its nature is changed. Radical yes, new no; for again they are borrowing from Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto. Said Marx: "The distinguishing feature of Communism is not the abolition of property generally, but the abolition of bourgeois property. . . When, therefore, capital is converted into common property . . . the social character of the property is changed. It loses its class-character."

And if this change in the nature of property is the very heart of communism, then how is it that the safe middle of this Third Way, or any other Third Way, whether it be of Socialism, Fascism, Corporatism, Keynesianism, State Monopoly Capitalism, Democratic Socialism, or Social Democracy - which all challenge and attack traditional private property - are anything less than Communism?

Four Big Lies

All these Third Way schemes have had their day in the sun, because they perpetuate four big lies. That free enterprise endorses lawlessness, that religion is not the necessary moral glue of a free society, that communists haven't always know that capitalism is more economically efficient, and that communism is inherently inflexible.

Lie 1. Laissez-faire argues for a lawless, morale - less society. That is quite a claim. Is it true? Both Bill Clinton and Tony Blair believe so. In Third Way speeches, both have stated: "We have learned that big government doesn't work, but that no government works even less."

Nothing new there, we've heard that one before. We suppose almost any kid who has had a college course in Political Science or Economics could recite the same, would probably believe it, and would thus find the Third Way, or any derivation of that way, logical. It seems logical, that is, when free enterprise is grossly misrepresented as something that contends that business must operate in a morale-less, lawless vacuum. It never did.

Free-economist Frederik Bastiat explained in his 1850 treatise The Law, that a free market economy rejects only positive, not negative law. Simply, the state has no right to dictate to anyone or any business how to be good or moral, but it does have the right and duty to punish those who violate the sacred rights of others.

This is fundamental. The proper role of government is to administer justice, nothing more. "Anything more or less than this is usurpation and oppression." That means no socialist busy body regulatory state, but a state, nonetheless, which protects rights and permits its citizens to appeal to the common courts of justice when those rights are violated.

This is not anarchy and those who say it is are either miseducated or dishonest.

Lie 2. Religion has no role in a free society. It is really a self-fulfilling prophecy to vilify capitalism as greedy and selfish, while at the same time using the state to strip society of all vestiges of traditional morality. Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote in Democracy in America, "The more the conditions of men are equalized and assimilated to each other, the more important is it to have religion." Democracy, with its freedom of movement tends to fragment society and families, and create a general disrespect for authority and law. Religion, therefore, is all the more necessary as mans freedom enlarges, "so that his self interest is purif[ied] . . . regulate[d]. . . [and made] honest," and also that he might feels a tugging force toward unity with his fellow man, and a reverence for morality and law.

Herein is found the key to resolving the controversial Adam Smith self interest theory of free enterprise. Scholars ask, how can a system which pits one mans self interest against another be inspired and right? But the doctors of economy almost always ignore Smith's reference to enlightened self interest, in settling the question.

That is, that self interest which is natural and good, which urges a man to do better, to improve his surroundings, his education, and that the lot of his family.

Self interest is not, in that sense, far removed from the common religious desire for spiritual fulfillment. We must first love ourselves before we can help others, goes the psychological jargon, and the Bible reads, 'each man must work out his own salvation,' so how is the pursuit of self interest inherently evil? Self interest can be good.

Lie 3. Communists have suddenly awakened to the superior economic efficiency of capitalism.

Marx, writing in the Communist Manifesto of his plan to "wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie and to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the state," admitted: "This cannot be effected except by means. . . which seem economically insufficient and untenable."

Lenin likewise confessed in the Development of Capitalism in Russia, "… We will have to admit that the development of social economy under capitalism is very rapid, in contrast to all other periods in Russian history." And Stalin knew who paid the rent and put missiles on the table when he bragged, "The Capitalist will sell us the rope with which we will hang them!" This is why, from day 1, foreign aide, espionage, patent theft, and joint efforts with the West have always been policy, and critical to communist survival.

Who's fooling who?

Lie 4. Communism is inherently inflexible. This lie, is supported by another lie that Marx knew no other plan than the violent overthrow of the capitalist order, and that socialism and all its varieties, because they seek peaceful, gradual, middle ground methods of approach, are not endorsed by Communists.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Again, in the Communist Manifesto Marx wrote: "Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things."

Contrary to Lenin's strategic criticism of spontaneous socialists, already referred to, Marx wrote: "The Communists fight for the attainment of . . . immediate aims. Thus, in France the Communists ally themselves with the Social-Democrats. . . In Switzerland they support the Radicals. . . In Poland they support the party that insist on agrarian revolution. . . In Germany they fight with the bourgeoisie whenever it acts in a revolutionary way against the absolute monarchy, the feudal squirearchy, and the petty bourgeois."

Lenin's New Economic Plan (NEP) was in reality a call for a Third Way economy of a mixture of state ownership, partnerships, and limited free enterprise, and is all that Gorbachev ever promised to return to under Perestroika - vowing loudly and clearly, that from the Communist Revolution 'we will never depart.'

To suppose that communism is inflexible, also ignores the dialectic. It is the 'one step forward two steps back' game. Lenin said, "…without a knowledge of the dialectic, no one knows anything about communism." We simply need to stop dishing out thoughtless conclusions about momentary, even prolonged communist reversals.

There is no Safe Middle Ground With Communism

In the Book of Revelations we are reminded that fence-sitting is not an admirable character trait. John warned: 'I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.'

On the same subject, Christian patriot and former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson lamented: 'One of our most serious problems is the inferiority complex which people feel when they are not informed and organized. They dare not make a decision on. . . vital issues. They let other people think for them. They stumble around in the middle of the road to avoid being controversial, and get hit by the traffic going both ways.'

This we cannot do!

Besides, the enemies on the other side of the fence know better. Lenin admitted, "There is no middle ground." And Woodrow Wilson, America's first advocate for a socialist new world order believed -

1. About compromising with socialism: "After you start a little way on that road it is merely a question of time and choice as to how far you will go upon it. You cannot, after you have got on that road, arbitrarily call a halt at any one point upon it."

2. About mere "guiding" of private industry by the government: "You are saying: Let the private individual have the burden and risk of the active administration, but let the government say what the character of the administration shall be. Let the individual take all the risks, let the individual spend all the money, but let the government say how the business should be conducted. Now in principle there is no difference whatever between that and government ownership."

Yes, Woodrow Wilson was right; there is no difference. This being so, the Third Way, should receive from all of us a firm, fixed, and unflinching "No Way!" We should all recognize it for what it is, but one more attempt to repackage the bad as good; to mask authoritarian government in democratic, progressive, and moral terms.

Rather than compromise with such a diabolical misrepresentation of facts and intent; we would do better to start a 21st Century Wave of our own, a wave of reeducation of self, family, and friends in the marvel of the American Free Enterprise system and the basic principles of our 18th Century Constitutional Republic - the most free, progressive, and socially just system in the history of the world. Just think of the splash that wave would cause!

Next up: Our next two pieces examine Third Way compassionate conservatism and the Republican Contract With Americas headlong embrace of Third Way theology. It may surprise you. For a footnoted version of this document, please contact the authors.

Newsmax Writers Diane Alden of Holly Springs, Mississippi, and Steve Farrell, of Henderson, Nevada are widely published research writers and former coworkers at Right Magazine where Steve served as managing editor. Their duel projects include their upcoming book, "Democrats In Drag: Another Look at the Republican Party. Please email your comments or questions to Steve and Diane at CYours76@aol.com.

Current Issue

Archive Main | 1999

E-mail ESR



1996-2020, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.