Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Parsing Popular Conservative Pablum in the Twilight of the Wisconsin Uprising: Ronald Reagan's Ideas in a Leninist Framework

One of our original guest bloggers (and WARN's resident historian) has been developing a framework that he has termed "Private Sector Pravda." This great turn of phrase is Werner's way of describing the intersection of the Right Wing Echo Chamber, mouth breathing foot soldiers of the New Right, and the talking point spewing apparatchik's of the Tea Party GOP.

In this latest installment, Werner Herzog's Bear cuts loose and lays bare the deeper game at work in the Tea Party GOP's nationwide effort to eviscerate and destroy America's labor unions through a reframing of the master narrative where the good guys are remade into villains, and the corporate classes are transformed into the great defenders of the American working and middle classes. What is a situation that would be laughable if it were not so tragic.


Reaganist Ideas in a Leninist Framework

Today I'd to spin out my "Private Sector Pravda" meme a little more, and comment on the interesting similarities between the ways that the current crop of rightwingnuts approaches politics and the mentality of Marxism-Leninism. Of course, both sides would be revolted by the comparison, but I am not making it on the basis of ideology. (Ideologically they are almost polar opposites.)

The root of all evil in the world is reduced to one thing whose elimination will bring about a paradise on earth: capitalism in the case of the reds, "big government" in the case of the rightwingnuts. Whether its the revolution or the free market, both are claimed to have magical properties that will somehow solve everything from global hunger to the problems of higher education.

Like a good party apparatchik of the days of yore, your average rightwingnut sees the world through a binary prism: the good guys who are with us and the bad who are against. This I think helps explain the staggering levels of hatred being spewed forth onto public employees these days, by working for the government they are modern day kulaks. The same goes for those snobby college professors. (In either system intellectuals can't catch a break.) The animus against these people has nothing to do with anything they've done, and everything to do with what they represent. They are simply pure, unadulterated evil. Hence the current crop of governors can fire all kinds of state workers in the name of "job creation": those who work for the state are not considered to have "real" jobs, they are parasites.

When a narrow, fanciful ideology eventually fails catastrophically, be it Leninist or Reaganist, its adherents tend to do anything they can to blame something else. In America an unrestrained financial sector created a massive, unsustainable real-estate bubble whose bursting has destroyed our economy. That fact (and it is a fact) does not conform to the rightwingnut narrative, and so they blame government incentives for home ownership, completely passing over the fact that the banks were giving out mortages to anyone with a pulse so that they could create mortages to cut up and speculate upon under the assumption that they would always retain value. In the face of the obvious and complete failure of the command economy of the Soviet bloc, one still hears Marxists who claim that it just wasn't done the right way under the right conditions. These ideologues, no matter if they carry icons of Lenin or of Reagan, are seriously deluded. (And they do mindlessly worship their heroes, don't they? So many who claim to love "The Founders" seem to have little to no idea of what they were actually like.)

Yet these ideologues get constant reaffirmation of their worldview from a propaganda machine that has an easy explanation for every complex problem, and a new set of villians to pour hatred upon each day. They are told that a recent snowstorm negates the scientific consensus on global warming, that union workers rather than corporations are benefiting most from our economic system, that all Muslims are supporters of terrorism, and that modern-day progressives are a cancer to be expunged from the body politic. They and their allies are internal enemies who threaten "real America," be it through the first lady's anti-obesity campaign or history textbooks that fail to present a triumphalist, ultra-nationalist interpretation of the American past.

Perhaps worst of all, those motivated by extremist ideology, be it on the left or on the right, tend to take an "ends justify the means" approach in order to bring about their utopia. Just witness the fillibusters, Swift Boat lies, birtherism, threats of government shutdown, "town hall" screamfests, and unilateral stripping of collective bargaining rights. (By the way, for all of you who are too blinded to see it, the reason that Scott Walker is taking these rights from teachers but not cops or firefighters is that the latter unions supported him. This is really a power play to destroy an important base element of the Democratic party.)

Obviously, I do not think that Bolsheviks and today's right-wing nuts are moral equivalents. However, I do think that our political system no longer works according to the old rules where two centrist, corporately compromised parties vie for power with some compromises along the way. Instead we have one centrist, corporately compromised party willing to work with the other side, which has been transformed into a vehicle for a messianic, nationalist, laissez-faire political movement that will stop at almost nothing to get what it wants. Historically a fight between weak centrists and strong ideologues ends badly.


fred c said...

The 'Bear gets it very right here, and the comparison is very apt. I'm the choir in this case, and didn't need the sermon, but I wish it could be more widely heard and understood.

I hope that the absence of comments doesn't mean that your readers have dismissed this post as unimportant.

Lady Zora, Chauncey DeVega, and Gordon Gartrelle said...

It is the crickets of love Fred C. Folks are tired and I think all this Wisconsin stuff has impacted the zeitgeist a bit.

fred c said...

Do you think? People starting to realize that they've been standing too close to the edge of something that they don't want to fall into? Time to swing back to the center a little bit? I prefer the left myself, but then again, the center is the new left.