The Lynx Bulletin
18 October, 2010
Ruminations On The Current Unease
It’s a disgrace. At a time when the electorate should be debating the roots of problems and the available remedies, it is flooded with libel, slander and lies. That inundation of verbal sewage comes from the ruling class, which, on noting the disobedient and disrespectful protests of the electorate, has revealed its authoritarian hauteur. This may be the first time — or one of the few times — in US history that the Congress and the executive branch of the federal government are literally anti-democratic.
I. The Tea Party phenomenon as unprecedented and alien
A puzzled Bicoastal Elite is struggling to wrap its collective mind around the origins, meaning, implications and dangers of the Tea Party Movement (TPM). Politicians are sniffing at its influence; editors are trying not to give it any more publicity than absolutely necessary; columnists are treating it as if it were a fad that intelligent, well-educated folks automatically consider beneath them. The activists on the collectivist end of the political spectrum have tried everything from lying and slandering/libeling the TPM to beating people.
Nothing works. It just won’t go away.
So there are calls for the intellectual cadre in the Bicoastal Elite to explain the TPM to the frustrated faithful. Here come the articles and references in Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, The New York Review of Books, The Nation, The New Republic, and a raft of smaller journals.
The authors describe, define, enumerate, and illuminate with examples, trying to transform what appears to them as the through-the-looking-glass quality of the revolt of the Grate Unwashed into something comprehensible. The accounts read like high school journalism students’ reports on what it is like in an insane asylum. A sense of wonder and amazement at the misbehavior of the primitives suffuses the texts. The reporters are slumming, mingling with overweight racists and tastelessly-clad Nazi-lionizing romantics. These firearms freaks and snake-handling throwbacks must be receiving money behind the scenes, for they are too ignorant to understand what they are talking about…astroturf…what do they know about politics? …they couldn’t tell you the difference between a zinfandel and a Chablis…. The gap between observer and observed could not be more obvious.
II: List the first: Denunciations both inchoate and evolved
The explanations of the TPM dribble down to newspapers, weblogs, the electronic media and the large and diverse Establishment. It had to happen, because “progressives” want to know why the knuckle-draggers have not been driven back into their caves.
The campaign was expected to work according to plan, for it was thorough and vigorous. Parts of it owe a debt to the approach of the Frankfurt School’s Theodor Adorno, a socialist/communist who promoted his ideology with sociological-appearing texts. True, initial responses to the TPM were crude efforts to stigmatize and frustrate the uprising, but as the collectivists’ charges failed to silence expressions of discontent, more intelligent approaches were attempted.
As could have been predicted, the Tea Partiers were immediately charged with racism, for many “progressives” assume that anyone on the right must necessarily be a racist (Sarah Palin is widely regarded as a horrible example). Because only a few black folks were in evidence at the Tea Parties, it was easy to liken the movement to the KKK. Yet, using that twisted logic, the paucity of black voters at TPM functions can be explained by black racism: black folks stay away not because they are discriminated against, but because they are racists, as they proved when more than 95% of black voters supported Obama. Well, enough! The obvious (and only ethically correct) solution is to ignore race, but the collectivist elite cannot afford to ban the emotionally effective race card, despicable though it is.
Next the TPM was accused of being the dupes of lunatic fringe groups and known crazies; trivialized by analyses dependent on simple Marxist economic determinism (including the concept of “false consciousness” and its variants); and described as the GOP summoning up one final counterattack. It was a scattergun blast of deceitfully objective-appearing sociological descriptions and analyses intended to explain and discredit the target.
If that sounds odd, it certainly should. The nation languishes in a genuine economic crisis created by political insanity, and people are upset; what’s to explain?
Well, nothing…except the delusions that plunged the Republic into its current crisis, and the mindset that crafted those delusions.
While the fonts of collectivism’s journalistic and academic holy writ are explaining explaining explaining the easily-understood TPM to a worried and indignant constituency, the obvious remains invisible. The phenomenon is called “denial,” which is simply the refusal to acknowledge and respond to reality. In too-simple terms, it’s a defense triggered by fear. When the unthinkable happens, thinking shuts down.
That explains the explanations on which the Bicoastal Elite dotes. According to the underlying dogma of the collectivist ruling class, the TPM is a fractured mob, not a unified force. Laced with nutcases and loons, it is brainless and has no rational agenda. Anencephalic, culturally and politically unlettered, responding to circumstances it can not comprehend, it is hysterically thrashing about as history moves on and leaves it behind. When certain governmental agencies are in place, order will be restored, and the hysterics will move back to the ignored fringes of a progressed society.
Were it not for denial, the TPM could be perceived accurately. It is easy to understand. It is composed of people who cannot believe that a crisis caused by forcing bad loans on folks unable to pay them back was a good idea. The Tea Partiers do not believe that the solution to staggering debt is to be found in pushing debt up to astronomical levels. They are suspicious that the imposition of a mandatory government scheme of health care will do well in the USA, when it has failed in the UK and Canada, and overstressed the financial systems of all other nations in which it exists. They are alarmed by a future that seems to them to be in the hands of people who do not understand the economy, unemployment, and even the very concept of national sovereignty. As the dollar declines and there is talk of inflation (!) being a remedy, the voters respond with anger, blaming a Congress they see as not sharing its constituents’ values. Can the problems be solved by the people who are the problem?
Indeed, the TPM has been a shock to the ruling elite. How to cope until the rallies end, and the rabble departs? Well, once the TPM’s misbehaviors are described, explained, and categorized, they can be ignored. After all, being a Tea Partier is rather like practicing incest, or listening to country music: it’s just another of those primitive excesses that come naturally to the lower orders. Pay no attention to people who don’t know what’s best for themselves.
This defense mechanism may sound far-fetched, but the seductive appeal of a deliberate misapprehension of the TPM should not be underestimated. The process of developing a coping strategy begins with the fostering of alienation: “They are not like us, and we can prove it.” With numerous trenchant icons and stereotypes bolstering its partisan talking points, the Bicoastal Elite can fabricate a sophisticated-sounding analysis that culminates in optimistic prediction. This allows it to assert that because the TPM is rotten with nonsense, the future will belong to the political left.
III. List the second: The TPM’s sins against progress
Among those “progressive” icons are the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma; the rise of small private “militias” across the nation; the crazy talk of cutting back essential agencies or even eliminating them altogether; the conspiracist nonsense about a New World Order; the insanity of insisting that education and journalism are biased; ignorant claims about “socialism” taking over the country; the “Birthers'” obsession with a debunked lie; the refusal to accept the solid scientific fact of anthropogenic global warming/climate change; a paranoid hatred of the UN; rank discrimination against immigrants and the desire to instigate a Nazi-like mass deportation of millions of them; and finally, there is the greatest of all the icons, the race-hatred of the TPM’s most solid supporters.
Note, please, that the above problematic flaws in the TPM’s character are insubstantial, off-target assertions. Some are downright silly. Many represent the TPM as including and approving of loons, crazies and conspiracy theorists…nuts who would, if they stayed around to discuss things with the Tea Partiers, be bored to distraction by the common sense of the TPM.
But isn’t the TPM catering to the fringes? Isn’t it doing the work of the KKK and the neo-Nazis? Isn’t it guilty as charged? That’s a fair question, even though it’s framed to express nonsensical accusations. Just as FDR refused to reject and denounce the support he received from the Communist Party of the USA, the TPM hopes that everyone, rational or not, will vote against the politicians who have wrecked the economy…and who plan to transform the Republic into a European welfare state.
The Bicoastal Elite would, of course, rather spend its energy trying to indict the TPM on absurd charges than debate the real issues. As an example, consider the fact that the federal government refuses to permit private health insurance companies to operate beyond the borders of their respective home states. That nonsensical restriction on the free market drove up the price of insurance, limiting the consumer’s choices and making it easier for the central government to mandate Obamacare. The restriction seems, at first look, to be in violation of (at least) the spirit of the constitution. Had the prevention of business across state lines been accomplished by prohibitive tariffs, the result would be the same. The Founding Fathers would be appalled.
There are other issues and questions that the Bicoastal Elite considers unworthy of examination and debate. Anthropogenic global warming is today simply asserted to be scientifically proved, for example; the discussion is over — when in fact that is just the result of the press ignoring scientists who have demonstrated the perversion of science by the AGW cult.
The ignored issues include an examination of Obama’s complaint that the US constitution does not provide the citizenry with benefits, but enjoins the governments from restricting individual Liberty. Nor is anyone arguing over the meaning and importance of federalism. Whether health care is to be addressed with coercive means has not come under consideration. Sarah Palin was right about “death panels,” a point now being studiously ignored by the media. Those on the left are unwilling to talk about, let alone consider, whether the non-constitutional department of education is worth the cost.
Yet more: the definitions and significance of “fairness” are not topics for discussion, though Obama said that a high capital gains tax is necessary in the interests of fairness, even though it would result in lower revenues. The One’s attitude toward the strata of US society should be a topic, but the ruling elite’s press does not consider it worth mentioning, let alone questioning.
A thorough examination of the commerce clause of the constitution should be under way in the nation’s press, and a public ill-served by its educational system should be asked to think about what the Founding Fathers did, what they intended, and what they bequeathed to the USA. Does the body politic feel there is need for legislative reform? Is Congress doing its job properly, and if not, can that be corrected by elections, or must there be changes in the rules by which the House and Senate proceed?
And so it goes, with numerous fundamental issues begged. Yet the crisis tells the wise that it is time to reconsider everything from the proper conduct of commerce to the ethics of journalism. When US citizens should be thinking seriously about the philosophical roots of their nation’s laws, they are being distracted by silly hysterics (“They have swastikas,” bleated Pelosi).
One recalls the burning of the Reichstag. A public preoccupation with that trivial event allowed villains to distract and enslave a nation. While that is unlikely to happen today, history should remind everyone that distraction and misdirection do militate against wise choices.
The collectivist elite sees its enemies as cultural, intellectual and ethical dwarfs (no, the correct plural is not “dwarves”). These puny creatures are portrayed as the embarrassment of the nation, the hindrances to progress that sustain poverty and support the exploitive rich. Because they are disinclined to unity — morons do not have the discipline to cooperate — they will fail. They always have, for what began with Woodrow Wilson and was carried on by FDR will be completed, and the pathetic wretched of the nation will be forced to evolve.
Thus is expressed the raison d’etre and mandate of the collectivist faithful. These authoritarians know that in solidarity is strength, and they intend to use their strength.
The above paragraphs limn the gross anatomy of the ruling apparatus. Its elitist viewpoint precludes insight into its own ideology, making it incapable of benefiting from even the most rational criticism.
The parallels with religious faith are obvious. Where faith leads, reason cannot follow. That truth can not damn all religion or spirituality, of course, because matters of belief that extend to the supernatural need not be a basis for inhumane policies. (Islam, however, demands totalitarianism.)
V. List the third: Failures overlooked in the fracas
It is clear that if anything genuinely needs to be puzzled out and explained, it is the smug elitism of the collectivist segment of the body politic. This political bloc’s qualification as truly democratic is dubious at best, and certainly impeachable. As manager and guardian of the common weal, it has failed — spectacularly. The ruling elites are intolerant, officious, and bigoted; “Let them eat cake” comes to mind. As educators, they are a bizarre suicidal disgrace, playing virtually no role as the preceptors of Western Civilization’s history and values. As political thinkers, they are amazingly old-fashioned, clinging to nineteenth-century fables and impossible dreams.
Of course the counter to that is that individualists march to a drum that was created in the eighteenth century. Surely Marxist theory, being newer, must be more relevant than hoary Enlightenment texts. The distinctions, however, are unrelated to chronology: the reduction of human history to an inevitable series of economically-determined stages always was faith in a baseless myth, while the values of Locke, Bentham, Franklin and Jefferson are of a purely ethical sort. Ethics are relevant in all ages, while a mystery religion passing itself off as a scientific and prophetic mastery of history can only be an absurdity.
Marx was obsessed with and deluded by quasi-religious belief in a godless but still supernatural inevitability that drives cultural evolution. His soothsaying was based on the false belief that the future can be predicted by reference to the past. Though Berkeley had long since argued convincingly that patterns and trends do not exist outside the human imagination, Marx ignored this rather obvious insight, looked into his crystal ball, and delivered himself of nonsense. In all likelihood he believed that he was somehow doing science.
From that self-deceit to the claim that science must be allowed to decide political questions is but a short step.
In fact the claim that man can be or is being governed by scientific insight is always a fraud. It has reappeared in the manifest absurdities of anthropogenic global warming. Earlier, when scholars and legislators mistook the study of economics for a science, a similar tragic error was made. Its familiar result is Keynesian political/economic policy. The world had been warned that when politics and economics mix, disaster is likely, for the Corn Laws should have been an object lesson. Unfortunately those in power at the time realized that in poorly-understood economic activity lay the rationale for greater control of the individual. That deathless notion is the single greatest domestic danger to the USA today.
Science is not governance, nor should it try to be. Politics is the child of ethics, and economics is neither philosophy nor science. Confusing or conflating these areas of human activity, or subordinating three of them to one, only leads to tragedy.
This helps to explain what is so wrong with contemporary legislative tampering with the market. Again and again, politicians claim they can improve mankind by extending their power over the creation and delivery of goods and services. It is a delusion, and often a lie.
Whom to blame when the disaster arrives? For quick and easy answers to many “Whodunnit” questions, one can look first to Congress, and secondly to the neo-Marxist theorists and True Believers who see control of the economy and of the individual to be central issues of governance. Rather than ethical and principled custodians of human rights, they are doctrinaire authoritarians who fear and hate Liberty…for it will erode their power. This is why Barney Frank appeals to the voters, “…give us the authority!” He is really saying, “You will be better off if you give up freedom.”
So the battle lines have been drawn. On the one side are hoaxes, fables, fell philosophical traps and dictatorial legal codes that generate poverty and crush the human spirit. On the other are the imperfect assets of adaptive common sense, federalism, and an ethic that recognizes the primacy of the individual.
Neither side can produce a Utopia. This is Earth, not Heaven.
Barney Frank Is A Case In Point; His Example Should Lead All Voters To Consider Some Fundamental Questions And Issues
Longtime US Representative (29+ years) Barney Frank is worried. Nervous. Outraged that he has a genuine opponent. This in spite of the fact that the dignified young man challenging him will almost certainly lose. So the congressman agreed to debate his opponent on radio. A video recording of most of the debate is available.
In the second segment of video, Frank says that the TPM (Tea Party Movement) is not helpful because it scares some GOP legislators into opposing bills they would normally vote for. He’s right about spooked Republicans, but he’s also out of line. When the beans are spilled by the TPM and the Republicans are criticized for their “cooperation” with big-government/high tax Democrats, some GOP legislators do balk. No surprises there — the TPM has indeed put pressure on Congress by publicizing its actions, and that produces shifts in alliances.
Note that Frank is not candidly saying that voter awareness and opinion are inimical to his brand of governance. He’s complaining that, when the TPM exposes what his bills contain, he won’t be able to get as many votes for them as he would like.
He’s expressing a core value of those who consider politics “the art of the possible.” It’s sometimes called log-rolling, and sometimes ethical compromise. Its fundamental motivations are the desires to remain in elected office and exercise control. It fosters the formation of malleable blocs and ad hoc alliances, and it thrives on privacy — or, better word, secrecy. The quid pro quo is its currency.
Every reformist political movement views compromise with scorn. Whether the reformers are Nazis, Stalinists, Abolitionists or Jeffersonians, they do not appreciate or seek compromises. The reformers have goals, and anything less than purity in the efforts to achieve them is frowned upon, if tolerated at all.
To most folks, that means that moderation is preferable to reform. Reformers can be and often are seen as radicals, extremists and fanatics.
A radical is not always an extremist, however; he proposes dealing with problems at their root, which is where the word “radical” has its origin (as does the word “radish”). Then too, one man’s extremist or fanatic may be the next man’s hero.
Those who have not thought things through will, however, tell you that if you refuse to compromise, you will never get anything done. Well…depending on what you prevent, might that not be a good policy at least some of the time?
For the contemporary US electorate, important questions to ask might include how much cooperation among its legislators it is willing to tolerate. Are Barney Frank’s deals with members of the opposition good for the country?
Perhaps the best way to gain perspective is to consider the state of the Union. The current Congress has done a lot of work; what has it done to create the USA’s current advantages and problems? Does the system work properly, and what degree of reform is indicated, if any?
This newsletter respectfully submits the following suggestions and conclusions: first, the public should know what its representatives are up to, so Frank is wrong to curse the TPM for letting the voters in on what the GOP agrees to endorse. Frank is, in other words, a Democrat who’s no democrat. Second, it may be best if Frank’s versions of legislation do face more hurdles. If you believe that the TPM’s emphasis on common sense and prudential financial policy are good, then you might also believe that cooperating with Frank and his ilk is not always ethically principled.
Certainly if you give Congress its head, you get watchdogs who, like the stunningly unqualified Frank, know next to nothing about what their job descriptions call for them to monitor. These incompetents can only pretend to oversee the complex machinations of outfits like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. That has not worked out well, now has it?
Is this conspiracist nonsense or the exposure of Slick Willy’s ability to quash criticism of his administration? It’s hard to tell at this point. Perhaps — if this maintains traction in a world cluttered with distractions — some day the full truth will be known.
The Wikileaks mess continues. This appears to be yet another scandal in which there are no Good Guys. The US military made the mistake of hiding things; as Nixon could have told the brass, it’s not what you did in the first place, but the later cover-up that kills you. Meanwhile Wikileaks is hardly a squeaky-clean pacifist outfit. It looks more partisan than uncommitted, and it seems to be on the wrong side.
Italy is mired in corruption, decadence and privilege. For the educated young, emigration is almost the only rational response. Doubtless the spaces created by the departed will be filled with Muslim immigrants. This is how a civilization dies….
It’s known that Nazi weapons were at least the equal of Allied counterparts, and in most cases were superior. The world’s first jet fighter, the rockets, the workmanship of the weapons shops…all deserve highest marks. This link takes you to a site that claims to reproduce a 1946 article suggesting that Nazi technology was a decade ahead of anything Uncle Sam had. If that’s the case, then perhaps the postwar rise of the USA to world leadership was made possible, at least in part, by incorporation of German advances in science. This newsletter has already suggested that the emergence of a united Europe as an economic powerhouse was in accord with SS plans made when the Germans realized the war was lost. So do the Nazis deserve more credit for advancing humanity than their critics will allow? Possibly. But do consider that the website linked here also carries a lot of information on the reverse engineering of technology discovered in crashed flying saucers (Roswell is just a tiny part of the claims). Take the Nazi information under advisement, and with a grain of salt, in other words.
What is journalism supposed to be? Here’s a story about a guy who makes virtually all others in his occupation look like fearful children. Yes, that means all investigative reporters you have heard of. Consider where he works, and you will see that he is a genuine hero. Then note how his colleagues disparage him. That is perhaps the most important aspect of his amazing story; until people like this are role models for entry-level journalists, the reporting of news will remain second-rate — at best.
Finally: it’s just a cartoon. Drawn by a guy who keeps up on the news. Oh, boy….
The staff of The Lynx Bulletin expresses its sincere gratitude to the many people who have gifted the world with Arch Linux, Emacs, Screen, Elinks and Firefox Namoroka.
Publisher:The Eagle Wing Palace of The Queen Chinee