Its not about Krugman, not this time (though the title fits like a glove, pun and all).
Swami had another nice article this Sunday, about the “shareef badmash”–
The year 2009 marks the 200th birth anniversary of Abraham Lincoln, and also the end of Manmohan Singh’s term as prime minister. Both ended office with awesome reputations as honest men in highly corrupt eras. Lincoln was nicknamed Honest Abe. Singh has been called sharif Manmohan.
Yet, critics have accused both Lincoln and Singh of being hypocrites who advertised their personal honesty but agreed to dirty deals to promote their political aims. Singh’s elevation to the top post in 2004 was hailed as a historic breakthrough for integrity. Yet, within days he formed a council of ministers that included seven politicians facing criminal charges. The most notorious was Mohammed Taslimuddin, a Bihari ganglord accused of crimes ranging from murder to rape, a close pal of RJD chief Lalu Yadav.
Earlier, when joining Deve Gowda’s government in 1996, Lalu managed to get Taslimuddin made a minister. But following a public outcry, Deve Gowda dropped Taslimuddin. Deve Gowda was capable of feeling embarrassed at such a scandalous appointment. Not so Dr Singh.
It makes very interesting reading particularly when it comes to Lincoln’s tactics. The history that I learnt as a kid spoke of Lincoln in glowing terms – Lincoln the emancipator. And that was it. The only problem is, that’s just one piece of the whole story – a tiny piece. The civil war forever changed the nature of government in the United States – Lincoln’s victory made the federal government all powerful and the few freedom conscious Americans that still exist today are still suffering the consequences. LewRockwell.com has more on the whole saga, particularly this article–
Every February 12 Americans think they are celebrating Lincoln’s birthday. But what they are really celebrating is the birth of the Leviathan state that Lincoln, more than anyone else, is responsible for bringing about. No wonder federal politicos have made his birth date a national holiday, engraved his face is on Mount Rushmore, built a Venus-like statue of him in Washington, D.C., and put his mugshot on the five dollar bill.
More than 130 years of government propaganda has hidden this fact from the American people by creating a Mythical Lincoln that never existed. Take, for instance, the fact that everyone supposedly knows – that Lincoln was an abolitionist. This would be a surprise to the preeminent Lincoln scholar, Pulitzer prize-winning Lincoln biographer David Donald, who in his 1961 book, Lincoln Reconsidered, wrote that “Lincoln was not an abolitionist.” And he wasn’t. He was glad to accept on behalf of the Republican Party any votes from abolitionists, but real abolitionists despised him. William Lloyd Garrison, the most prominent of all abolitionists, concluded that Lincoln “had not a drop of anti-slavery blood in his veins.”
Garrison knew Lincoln well. He knew that Lincoln stated over and over again for his entire adult life that he did not believe in social or political equality of the races, he opposed inter-racial marriage, supported the Illinois constitution’s prohibition of immigration of blacks into the state, once defended in court a slaveowner seeking to retrieve his runaway slaves but never defended a runaway, and that he was a lifelong advocate of colonization – of sending every last black person in the U.S. to Africa, Haiti, or central America – anywhere but in the U.S.
[L]incoln destroyed the most important principle of the Declaration – the principle that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Southerners no longer consented to being governed by Washington, D.C. in 1860, and Lincoln put an end to that idea by having his armies slaughter 300,000 of them, including one out of every four white males between 20 and 40. Standardizing for today’s population, that would be the equivalent of around 3 million American deaths, or roughly 60 times the number of Americans who died in Vietnam.
As H.L. Mencken said of the Gettysburg Address, in which Lincoln absurdly claimed that Northern soldiers were fighting for the cause of self determination (“that government of the people . . . should not perish . . .”): “It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. The Confederates went into the battle free; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision of the rest of the country.”
Another Lincoln myth was that he “saved the Constitution.” But this claim is an outrage considering that Lincoln acted like a dictator for the duration of his administration and showed nothing but bitter contempt for the Constitution. Even Lincoln’s idolaters, like historian Clinton Rossiter, author of the book, Constitutional Dictatorship, referred to him as a “great dictator” who had an “amazing disregard for the Constitution . . . that was considered by nobody as legal.”
The Dictator Lincoln invaded the South without the consent of Congress, as called for in the Constitution; declared martial law; blockaded Southern ports without a declaration of war, as required by the Constitution; illegally suspended the writ of habeas corpus; imprisoned without trial thousands of Northern anti-war protesters, including hundreds of newspaper editors and owners; censored all newspaper and telegraph communication; nationalized the railroads; created three new states without the consent of the citizens of those states in order to artificially inflate the Republican Party’s electoral vote; ordered Federal troops to interfere with Northern elections to assure Republican Party victories; deported Ohio Congressman Clement L. Vallandigham for opposing his domestic policies (especially protectionist tariffs and income taxation) on the floor of the House of Representatives; confiscated private property, including firearms, in violation of the Second Amendment; and effectively gutted the Tenth and Ninth Amendments as well.
Read it and a better picture of Lincoln begins to emerge. But then as Swami says, “Few people remember or pay much attention to those sleazy manoeuvres today. History remembers Lincoln as the man who won the Civil War and abolished slavery.” And the same will be the case with Singh.
FT: What is the future of capitalism, especially in India?
MS: Capitalism with a human face. We are a mixed economy. We will remain a mixed economy. The public and private sector will continue to play a very important role. The private sector in our country has very ample scope and I am confident that India’s entrepreneurs have the capacity, and the will to rise to the occasion.
This underlines the fact that the prime minister has never been the arch liberaliser that the international media likes to make him. He was not the architect of the 1991 economic reforms – the basic plans were drawn up between the end of Rajiv Gandhi’s 1984-1989 Congress government and 1991. But he did become an enthusiastic – and caring – implementer.
Narasimha Rao, prime minister of the Congress government elected in 1991 in the midst of a dire financial crisis, picked him as finance minister because, it is said, he reckoned that if the reforms succeeded, he (Rao) would get the credit, but if they failed he could blame ex-bureaucrat-Singh. As it turned out, Mr Rao’s calculation was wrong because the reforms were a success and Mr Singh got the credit – despite the government’s loss of nerve in 1994-95 after unfavourable regional election results.