Monday, October 4, 2010

Filling In the Blankley

It's almost like a follow-up to Pat Buchanan's column in Friday's paper (which I commented on the same day). On Sunday, Tony Blankley, in a column entitled “Why elites despise 'tea'”, commented on the violent reaction of the “elites” (including the mainstream media) to the “tea party”. And he asks, quite rightly, “Why fear and loathe a movement said to be narrow in its views and scope?” Well, as I've said, over-reaction is the job of the MSM, and they are proud of it. The slightest hint of disagreement with the Regime causes a hysterical fit among “media types” that differs not in the least from the frequent apoplexies of the government-controlled media in China and North Korea. This is just what they do – and asking whether they really “believe” in it is beside the point. The essence of propaganda is not truth, but of establishing a conceptual baseline – a context against which current events can be viewed by the public. So if the “tea party” is portrayed, every day in every way, as an outlying group of right-wing “haters”, that's the context in which it will be viewed when the chips are down – and, in this case, the “chips” means the upcoming election. And even then, it hardly matters because the candidates for any office of significance are thoroughly vetted by the Regime; no one is going to get elected to any post that matters unless they have already had that plate implanted in their skull. And yet the propaganda machine must carry on – because the goal is not only to control the country, but to control people's every spoken word, and, yea, every thought. And this can only be done by a relentless, “24-7”, program of vilifying the opposition and glorifying the Regime and its operatives.

So what Blankley is pointing out is, ultimately, an unnecessary exercise which is nonetheless deemed essential – namely to defame the opposition, and nip it in the bud. The problem is, the “tea party” refused to be nipped in the bud, and its influence has already been felt in the primaries... and might be felt even more in the election. And this is what the Regime fears most – not only active opposition, but doubt – doubt that its program, and its agenda, are the best for America and for the world. Because even the most brutal, totalitarian regime depends, to some extent, on the – albeit tacit – approval, or at least non-opposition, of the people. Look at the most overpowering regimes of the 20th Century, for example – Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, and Maoist China. Were they indifferent as to the attitudes and opinions of the citizenry? Did they depend only on brute oppression? Not a bit of it! There were vast propaganda mills that worked day and night to turn out ideas and images in support of the regime – and this is what seems to be required in all cases where you have (1) a large society and (2) an “ideational” base. Take a hellish place like some dictatorship in sub-Saharan Africa (or Haiti), and you really can rely on sheer brute force; nothing else is needed. And I don't think the Khmer Rouge spent a whole lot of time on propaganda. But North Korea certainly does! And Vietnam seems to get by with a pragmatic approach – undoubtedly inspired by their Chinese mentors. There are very few true fanatics and ideologues left in the world – and most of them (except our domestic variety) are concentrated in the Islamic countries. But even they have to sustain their power and influence through large doses of propaganda; hardly anyone (again, outside of sub-Saharan Africa) rules simply with an iron fist any longer.

But to get back to Blankley – he refers to a book by Christopher Lasch, in which it is argued that “the only hope for American democracy lay in a revival of the middle class”... as opposed to the ruling elite and its captive proletariat. The elites “would undermine American democracy in order to fulfill their insatiable desire for wealth and power and to perpetuate their social and political advantages.” And although the book was published in 1995, the abundance of evidence for its thesis in current events cannot be mistaken. It is clear that, at this point, the ruling elites have pretty much decided that they no longer “need” the middle class (assuming they ever did), and that the world would be a much better place if only that pesky “bourgeoisie” could be eliminated, leaving only the rulers and the ruled – i.e. the proletariat.

And Lasch saw the only hope in the revival of middle-class virtues. Well... that might actually be the case, but then my question would be, where are these virtues to be found? Because the middle class, and more specifically the “tea party”, has been infected by the propaganda put out by the ruling elites to the extent that they are now, for all intents and purposes, unwitting slaves and robots. Yes, they still “cling” (in Obama's word) to what Lasch called “antiquated values – hard work, family, faith, community” -- but that's not all they cling to; there is also a heart of darkness, that goes back to the earliest days of the settlement of America by Protestant fanatics from England. For they have also become addicted to the idea of Empire, and for some reason they do not see this as, in the least, contradicting the notions of hard work, family, faith, and community. In fact, most see this as a complete package – we are “family people”, we work hard, we go to church on Sunday, we support our community, and we send our sons (and daughters) off to blow up ragheads halfway around the world. It is, truly, a seamless garment. But this is precisely the fatal flaw that the Regime loves to take advantage of – that the bourgeoisie can be fooled, time and time again, into believing that the Regime's program is, somehow, consistent with, and supportive of, their core values. How many times do I have to read a quote from a soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan that they're over there to “defend the American way of life”? This is delusion of the highest order, bordering on psychosis. And yet it is so ubiquitous as to qualify as a “meme” -- an unquestioned premise that infiltrates every aspect of life and impacts the thinking and actions of ordinary people. And make no mistake, the Regime knows all this, they know that it works, and that's why they keep doing it. Does anyone really think that anyone in the Obama administration gives a rat's ass what happens to Iraq or to the Iraqi people, or to Afghanistan or to the Afgan people? Please. They'd be perfectly happy seeing them all fall into a pit of fire – and in fact that's pretty much what our efforts over there amount to. “Spreading democracy” in places like this is just a euphemism for getting rid of them as a threat (mainly to Israel). If we could get rid of them through other means, we would – but conventional war is a big money-maker, so it's a win-win situation all around. And the problem with the middle class – and with Blankley's thesis – is that they're all for it. They never question the rationale, or the means, or the (stated) goals – and neither does the “tea party”. It's as though a prohibition campaigner in the old days had a stash of liquor in his basement – and failed to make the connection.

So when Blankley says, “The tea party movement's central tenets – small government, decentralization of power and end to profligate spending – are precisely what Lasch prescribed to restore American democracy”, he overlooks the fatal flaw called the American Empire. With that eliminated as a factor, he'd be right – and so would the tea party. And, so would the elite for opposing it at every turn. But as it is, the tea party's core values are, after all, not so different from those of the elite – only that for the tea party, and the middle class, it's a matter of being exploited... whereas for the elite it's a matter of being the exploiter. Kind of like the conversation between the chicken and the pig as to what to have for breakfast – the chicken suggests bacon and eggs. Well, in this case the Regime is the chicken and the middle class is the pig, fattened and ready for slaughter... and no “tea party” is going to save them from their fate; in fact, it might just bring it on all the sooner.

No comments: