Sunday, May 9, 2010

Right Wing Epistemic Closure, Zombie Tea Party George Washington, and Slavery in America

"We needed workers and they needed a place to live."


So, we reanimate George Washington, ask him what he would change in hindsight, and the answer said Tea Party costume ball attendee offers is some vague response about telecommunications. No, he doesn't mention the genocide of Native Americans, the second class citizenship of women, ending slavery, or expanding the franchise to property-less white men. Nope. He mentions the Internet. Our zombie George Washington could have massaged any of these answers with a bit of Realpolitik. Instead, he showed us who the Tea Party Fox News crowd has always been--a myopic group, robbed of moral and political vision, wrapped in the swaddling clothes of their own victimology laced patriotism. A state of affairs that would be funny if it were not so sad.

As we have seen during these last months, the Tea Party movement embodies the worst type of American exceptionalism mixed with the most willful of self-delusion. We are a shining city on the hill. The greatest nation to ever exist. We are a country born of providence, divine will, and immaculate conception. In one fell swoop our zombie George Washington demonstrated what is so wrong with the American polity...and our educational system.

It is difficult if not impossible to engage in a substantive discussion of the issues with the nouveau Right-wing Populists because their grasp of the past is so flimsy. In turn, their understanding of the present is flawed. When these Tea Bag brigands are exposed to new information they reject it in order to resolve what would alternatively be a crippling state of semi-permanent cognitive dissonance.

We do not necessarily need the rich discourse surrounding epistemic closure and Conservatives (meaning they are simply talking too each other in a closed loop) that has arisen these last few weeks to explain the Tea Party phenomenon and the intellectual crisis on the Right--a crisis that is perfectly embodied by the rise of Limbaugh, Beck, and Palin as the de facto leaders of the Republican Party. No, we can simply point the camera and microphone at the Tea Party movement and their leadership. There, in the starkest of terms, we see the patrimony, spawn, and parenthood of epistemic closure and contemporary American Conservatism.

The masses are once again proven to be asses. And ironically, zombie George Washington has proven the genius of the framers in their creating a representative government designed to circumvent the passions of the mob.


marzolian said...

I agree, many people in the Tea Party -- especially the ones who are running to be at the front of it -- are loons.

But Noam Chomsky has a warning about this. I don't agree with his conclusion (socialism) but this observation is on point.

"So take right now, for example, there is a right-wing populist uprising. It's very common, even on the left, to just ridicule them, but that's not the right reaction. If you look at those people and listen to them on talk radio, these are people with real grievances. I listen to talk radio a lot and it's kind of interesting. If you can sort of suspend your knowledge of the world and just enter into the world of the people who are calling in, you can understand them. I've never seen a study, but my sense is that these are people who feel really aggrieved.

"And in fact they are getting shafted. For 30 years their wages have stagnated or declined, the social conditions have worsened, the children are going crazy, there are no schools, there's nothing, so somebody must be doing something to them, and they want to know who it is.

"Well Rush Limbaugh has answered - it's the rich liberals who own the banks and run the government, and of course run the media, and they don't care about you—they just want to give everything away to illegal immigrants and gays and communists and so on.

"So, there's an internal coherence and logic to what they get from Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and the rest of these guys. And they sound very convincing, they're very self-confident, and they have an answer to everything—a crazy answer, but it's an answer. And it's our fault if that goes on."

Diedre said...

Dear Sir,

This was beautifully written. I mean you finessed the pen...well.
Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It has inspired me to learn and so I go down the rabbit hole...

OhCrapIHaveACrushOnSarahPalin said...

@marzolian, well, I suppose my own take is somewhere between Chauncey's and Chomsky's:

1- ridicule where ridicule is warranted

2- take seriously where it is warranted (e.g. their utter virulence when at the polls)

and 3- don't allow them to scapegoat the rest of us for their own bad judgment resulting in their lot in life. These are the people who consistently voted in every conservative from Nixon and Reagan in CA and nationally, to Bush 1 and 2 which they promptly discarded, and are now frothing at the mouth over Palin, at the behest of Moonies (Washington Times), Rupert Murdoch, and Clear Channel/Premiere.

They're a joke, but a joke we must take seriously. Just my US$.02, adj for inflation.

Anonymous said...

i don't think this video proves much. i watched it, i think it's interesting, but i don't think it proved much.

chaunceydevega said...

@Marzolian. I think Chomsky is onto something. There is something broken in this society and these folks are a symptom of it.But, what of the fact that this knownothingness isn't new? What connections can we draw to the John Birchers, Liberty Leagues, etc. from the past? Are they all symptoms of cultural rot or a natural reaction to social change and the obsolescence of the group they supposedly speak for?

@Diedre. So many complements. Thanks.

@OhCrap--You are nice. Do they deserve ridicule or contempt?

@Wer--It proves these folks are fools, ahistorical, and none too bright.