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Glenn Beck’s tour de force of a CPAC speech has gotten attention for accusing Republicans, as well as Democrats, of not fessing up to the "disease" of progressivism.

But I want to know where are the stunned dropped jaws over his insistence that allowing the weak to die is the path to reclaim America’s greatness?

Beck’s just a wingnut, you might say. Pay no attention.

No. This guy is mainstream now. He represents current conservative ideology. He’s deadly serious. And he’s getting through.

If we let these sentiments slide without comment, we are complicit in the coming Randian revolution.

Beck’s lack of sophistication helps us clearly see what savvier conservatives are more careful to hide: many among us with power, money, and resources are single-mindedly spreading the meme that power disparities are precisely what makes America great.

This is not an exaggeration. Look at the following passage from Beck’s speech (found at about 34:30 into the C-Span video:

There is some sort of element to competition to life. "Oh that’s not natural," [says the squishy-sounded liberal]. Oh really? Go out and watch the lions eat the weakest. And that is what America is missing right now. The ability and willingness to compete! To even admit that there’s a competition.

Got that? What America is really missing is lions eating the weakest.

"Everyone won’t get a trophy," he says, conflating reward with survival. "We should be correcting our children’s work in red ink again... "'Well that’s a little traumatic,’" [says the liberal]. "You know what’s even more traumatic?  When little Johnnie keeps getting these answers wrong and he goes out into the big bad world and he’s EATEN."

Beck relishes the word eaten, making it sound, not like a tragedy, but like someone more powerful prevailed in an Olympic event.

How does he get away with such blatant championing of this survival-of-the-fittest mentality?

He moves seamlessly between concepts no one would argue with ("It’s not the government’s job to ensure happiness") and pure Randian thought ("Life is not fair, bad guys sometimes win, and some people will die").

It’s precisely these sorts of conflations that help the city employee I see regularly behind the counter at the golf course insist that we don’t have a right to healthcare. He's a friendly fellow -- lower middle class, with a job, a house, and healthcare. A huge Beck fan, he thinks people who don’t have healthcare or housing are simply not willing to work hard enough because they think they’re entitled to happiness with the help of the government.

This kind of conflation is mainstream thought today.

"What we don’t have a right to is healthcare, housing, and hand-outs," says Beck to wild cheers.

Now, take a second to digest this curious Beckian construction:

You do not have a right to NOT pursue success.

This sentiment is key to understanding the conservative mindset that is so incapable of empathy. Beck describes his own life challenges, and how he studied successful people to learn how he could succeed. It’s the old pulling-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps narrative. It dismisses the facts that some people are simply unfortunate, some are incapable, and some are attempting to contribute in important ways that are inherently riskier and more difficult than the single-minded pursuit of financial success. Did you (for example) get a degree in literature instead of business? In Beck’s mind, you’re a parasite and deserve to be eliminated.

Beck talks about growing up above the bakery his family owned. He said he learned to work hard there, to interact with people, etc. It never occurs to him that, even though his family might not have been rich, these skills, imparted to him early in life, gave him quite a leg up in the world of competition.

After years of studying how to emerge on top, Beck became one of the world’s lions. He's now fighting ruthlessly to preserve his power. With the prospect of the pendulum swinging toward a much-needed infusion of progressivism to slow the rapidly widening gap between rich and poor, he’s leading the Fox News pack tirelessly spreading the narrative that it is perfectly natural and acceptable that some of us get eaten.

Originally posted to Petey2 on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:24 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Government Employee With Govt Healthcare (14+ / 0-)

    says that people without healthcare are to blame for not getting better jobs.

    Presumably, government jobs.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:35:55 AM PST

  •  Isn't this.... (12+ / 0-)

    Go out and watch the lions eat the weakest. And that is what America is missing right now.

    Just a tiny bit close to the idea of Death Panels?

    Will there be crowds of Democratic supporters decrying Beck for this?

    where?

    when?

    'The behavior of any bureaucratic organisation can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.' Robert Conquest

    by Airmid on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:37:07 AM PST

  •  I think we have to be confidant (10+ / 0-)

    that our perspective is more persuasive.

    This sentiment is key to understanding the conservative mindset that is so incapable of empathy.

    I very much agree.

    Life and death is our turf, our home court advantage, not conservatives'. Most people want universal health insurance. Most people want environmental protection. Most people want decent wages. Etc, etc.

    What I love about where conservatism is today is that it doesn't even wrap itself up in superficial liberal language anymore to hide its real intentions. The lion makes a perfect image.

    We either believe all people have rights, or we don't. If we don't believe that every person has a right to healthcare, a right to decent wages, a right to due process, etc, then eating the weak actually is a rather honest, efficient proposition. And with lion prides, it's the females that do the hunting, and they do it in cooperative groups. Money has openly supplanted gender and racial forces. That's progress, to a certain extent, a peeling back of the onion to reveal the only driving force all along: the concentration of wealth and power.

    What's funny is that people like Beck actually spell out our choices much clearer than many fence-riding Democrats. Do we want to be a civilized country, or live by the law of the jungle? Both are acceptable outcomes. Isn't the point of being a Democrat that we want the civilized country - and we believe most of our fellow Americans feel the same way?

  •  I have noticed with people I know that (6+ / 0-)

    subscribe to this Beck kind of philosophy that they are envariably the first in line to demand/ask for help from government sources if they reach a point in life when they are in need.

    I have a brother like that--rails against the "lazy and unproductive" but when he hit a patch of hardtime he was out there looking for every handout and source of help he could get from society/government.Flash past the hardtime and now he is back to his ways of condemnation of the needy and those he considers a drag on our society.

    And let us not forget those powerful lions of WallStreet who came a begging when they where in need.

    Hypocrites the whole lot.

    What people like my brother are really saying is--I of course deserve any help when I require it--it is the the different, the non-whites,or those that are not of my religion or peer group that don't deserve any help.

  •  What Glenn Beck (7+ / 0-)

    and many other conservatives either fail or refuse to acknowledge is that there's a meaningful difference between "not everybody gets a trophy" and "if you live in squalor it's your own damned fault, so pull yourself up by your own bootstraps (even if you don't have boots)!"

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:57:34 AM PST

  •  every time (8+ / 0-)

    you see a starving homeless guy huddled in an inner city doorway, there's a guy eating lobster and aged kobe beef in a 6,000 foot home overlooking the ocean.  and the second fact is dependent on the first.  that, in a nutshell, is what these guys believe--and it's an inconceivably ugly vision of society.

    •  Let them eat their beef (5+ / 0-)

      Really, I don't particularly mind if they want to spend their lives in pursuit of mansions and boats. If luxuries get their rocks off, fine. I'm not saying we're all entitled to drive $100,000 cars.

      But in a world where we are all connected by the same pool of resources, you're right: their pursuit of luxuries can in fact cause some people to die.

      That's why they have to stomach some higher tax rates (for example). They're getting rich off of all of us. It's not too much to ask that we have access to basic security and healthcare.

  •  Becks view-argument (0+ / 0-)

    is a little more complex than "eating the weak".  I know because I grew up in a household that very much indoctrinated competition and learning from failure.

    His argument is that if you nurture the poor or weak too much, the weak will have no incentive to improve.  

    My mother sent me a clip of him quoting Benjamin Franklin in which he said something along the lines of:  The best way to help a poor person is to make them feel uncomfortable with being poor.  

    I don't know.  In an ultra-competetive world, there will be disparities between rich and poor.  And there is some truth in our current crisis being tied to our entitlements.  

    I think trying to dissect what Glen Beck's message is futile.  To sit here and analyze his speech to like minded people is also futile.

    His 15 minutes are stretching to 20 minutes.

    •  There's a huge difference (4+ / 0-)

      between making people stand on their own feet, and shooting them in the foot and making them try to stand.  The latter is what Beck is for.

    •  Struggling minds (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      weinerschnauzer

      A lot of these people are inarticulate. The ideas are vague. They're wholly general and are jam-packed with outrage by people who are morally and philosophically illiterate. They're the weak. They're weak in the head. But they're more willing to resort to violence, so they think this makes them the strong.

      There's no truth to the idea that our current crisis is tied to our entitlements. Our current crisis is the result of military spending only. Entitlement programs are what our government's purpose is.

      They would disagree with that.

      They would say its role is ONLY the military and the enforcement of contracts. It's a dead model, thrown in the trash heap of history by the smartest political science minds in the world.

      The reason people treat the weak badly or toughly is because of the way they were raised.

      They were raised incorrectly. They equate authoritarianism with benevolence. They're sick in the head. Sigmund Freud would agree.

      "Calls for economic democracy may be painted as anti-business, but that's a bit like painting George Washington as anti-government." - Marjorie Kelly

      by Goodkind on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 09:01:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Beck just wants (0+ / 0-)

    ...the lion to come eat his competition. So he won't have to work so hard.

    People think Social Darwinism is about the strongest getting what they deserve, but it's really about reducing the competition so it's not so hard to get the plum rewards.

  •  Actually, I haven't (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, weinerschnauzer

    heard much about his speech thus far, just about the GOPride controversy and Ron Paul's winning of the straw poll. But I'll have to check it out.

    But yeah, we don't want to pay terrorists like Glenn Beck the wrong kind of attention. Just like we shouldn't pay terrorists like Joe Stack the wrong kind of attention. They do what they do specifically for attention, which catapults their ideas into the mainstream. I call it hierarchical meme propagation. It interrupts the regular grassroots level flow and creation of memes by using violence as the catalyst. We're inherently shocked by violence and hostility. Our paying attention to it makes celebrities out of the immoral, thus making immorality a path to fame.

    The fact that it's ongoing should cause us to worry, but we should address the problem of the fact that it's ongoing, not the one's furthering the problem. That would only exacerbate it.

    Call him a fake. Call him a shock jock. Call him a troll. Someone who will say anything to get attention. Make this your main criticism of him and people like him. Until you do, people will continue to think you dislike him because you're afraid of the superiority of his ideas, which is obviously absurd.

    "Calls for economic democracy may be painted as anti-business, but that's a bit like painting George Washington as anti-government." - Marjorie Kelly

    by Goodkind on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 08:47:50 PM PST

  •  My son ran right into that Randian (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, irishwitch

    you don't have a right crap during the Coakley/Obama rally.  Here's what I wrote in my dairy

    He first told me about the crowds and how he actually didn't get into the the Coakley/Obama event.  He was in the huge group that was turned away. He was miffed at the decision to hold the rally in such a small venue.

    Soon however he was telling me about how he and his friends were getting into it with Brown supporters.  

    One told my son that he must be on welfare because he goes to a public school.  If his parents worked he'd go to a private school. (No, I don't work (outside the home) but I'd wager that my husband makes more than this bozo, even sight unseen).

    Then he told my son that public education is not in the Constitution and therefore he has no right to it.
     My 17yo isn't a slouch, in fact we have long said he would do well pursuing a law degree.  He responded that the "pursuit of happiness" IS in the Declaration of Independence and without an education he would not be able to pursue that "unalienable right."

    (Proud Liberal Progressive mother's eyes welling up here)

    America and her greatness have long been tied to the idea of decency, empathy and compassion.  And it has long been noticed how the Randian/Conservative/Republican followers champion against it, until they, themselves need it.

    And when wondering where it went and demanding it for themselves, they rarely have the personal epiphany or admit to having been wrong all the while.

    I would also like this Randian religious folks (oxymoron I know) to explain how they reconcile the two while giving themselves a pass on hypocrisy.

    Don't want to pay for the uninsured? You already are! All You MoFos are Going to Pay!

    by Clytemnestra on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 09:31:45 PM PST

    •  As much as I (0+ / 0-)

      appreciate the passion and the moral conviction, if that's what your son did in fact say in response, then it was a weak response. No offense.

      He played their game. He felt like he had to justify public education by whether it's in the Constitution or not when, in fact, he didn't have to do anything of the sort.

      Only a tiny fraction of our laws are in the Constitution. It wasn't meant to be the only law our government ever makes. The founders set up a legislature, after all. The laws our legislators pass don't have to be included in the Constitution, but they cannot be expressly prohibited by the Constitution, which public education isn't.

      He should have responded by saying that.

      "Calls for economic democracy may be painted as anti-business, but that's a bit like painting George Washington as anti-government." - Marjorie Kelly

      by Goodkind on Sun Feb 21, 2010 at 11:46:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  my son is 17 years old (0+ / 0-)

        and had just turned 17, 3 weeks before this encounter.

        While it may have been weak by adult standards

        1. He had never encountered something like this before
        1. he was thinking quickly on his feet
        1.  he gave a response that even many progressive adults COULD NOT have given, even given a few hours to formulate a response
        1. take adults to task for weak ass responses to adult right wingers before you take a kid, our next progressives to task.

        Don't want to pay for the uninsured? You already are! All You MoFos are Going to Pay!

        by Clytemnestra on Mon Feb 22, 2010 at 06:01:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  How to react to this particular BS (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    plankbob, Goodkind

    I find that, in dealing with Beck, Rush and the rest, it helps greatly to know when they are running around, spouting off endless variations of their base memes, and when their masters have given them particular marching orders. One obvious clue is when they all get on the same topic at the same time.
      When Beck says something such as this clap-trap, please take a few hours or even a day to see if Rush, Bill O, and others are pushing the same line. Watch for trial balloons too - if Beck floats an idea, look at the first public responses and see if they cause Rush or whomever to float a modified version of the same idea the next day. Learn what causes them to backpedal, so you can use that.  

  •  Their cover is blown (0+ / 0-)

    The best thing (if such a thing may be said) about the recent CPAC and the Tea Party Convention is that you get to see the unvarnished conservative: mean-spirited, willfully ignorant, perpetually angry, latently racist, pointlessly anti-everything.

    This is how ALL conservatives are deep-down.  Some of them are just better at concealing it, even from themselves.

    I want my government to be big enough to drown Grover Norquist in a bathtub.

    by sercanet on Mon Feb 22, 2010 at 06:31:17 AM PST

  •  Lots of Virginians getting eaten. (0+ / 0-)
    some are attempting to contribute in important ways that are inherently riskier and more difficult than the single-minded pursuit of financial success.

    Witness the Medicaid Wavier consumer directed home health workers. Daddy McDonnell will completely eliminate that program if he has his way. 10 thousand workers serving who knows how many families... for 8.80-10 bucks an hour, no health care, no vacation, no nutthin...

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