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A bitterly disputed election.  Mass disenfranchisement of voters.  An outcome that did not reflect the will of the people.  A diabolus ex machina from the Supreme Court ending the counting of votes.  A closely-divided House, and evenly-divided Senate.  One would think the "winning" side of such a tainted, divisive set of events as the 2000 US elections would have had at least a pragmatic interest, if not moral desire in forming broad alliances and an inclusive consensus.  But that is not what happened.  Now fast forward eight years: A landslide election.  The total repudiation of the former majority, almost "from Sea to shining Sea."  Overwhelming public consensus on key issues.  Strong majorities in both houses of Congress.  A president with a mandate to make major changes.  One would think the losing side of such unambiguous events would at least have had a pragmatic interest, if not moral desire in redeeming itself through constructive engagement with their opponents.  But again, that is not what happened.    

"Ah," the dismissive ignoramus sighs, "but that's partisan politics for you.  The parties do what is best for themselves, not what is best for the country."  And the claim seems plausible enough if we ignore what actually happened, and wrack our brains for Democratic parking tickets to hold up against the litany of Republican felonies.  But in the light of events witnessed by the entire world, documented for all history, and remembered by all who saw them unfold, it is meretricious nonsense.  Just a few factoids off the top of my head:  

  • Not one Democratic Senator tried to block the certification of Bush's electors from 2000, despite having ample justification.
  • Al Gore retreated into relative obscurity in the years immediately after leaving office, rather than using Bush's illegitimacy to keep him and his party in check.
  • There were no Congressional investigations of the Bush White House at any level, by any Congress, committee, or subcommittee thereof, ever.  Not one.  There had been, however, numerous investigations into the Clinton White House, at great expense, and often premised on little more than rumors - a performance the GOP has vowed to repeat with the Obama administration.
  • Subpoenas issued to Bush's Executive departments by committees under Democratic majority were ignored or openly dismissed by those named in them, but no Contempt of Congress resolutions were ever introduced as a result.
  • Following public admission of war crimes by George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their appointees both while in power and afterward, no articles of impeachment, special prosecutor appointments, investigative commissions, or even resolutions of censure were introduced by Democratic majorities.
  • No Democratic Congressman ever stood up during one of Bush's State of the Union speeches and yelled "Liar!" or other epithet despite the unprecedentedly psychotic, bellicose, and delusional content of those speeches.
  • Bush's unprecedentedly right-wing, often unqualified Judicial and Executive appointments were approved en masse under Democratic Senate leadership in 2001-2, and the relative few resulting in extended hearings were overwhelmingly approved.  Bush got to fill so many judicial vacancies largely due to all-out GOP obstruction of Clinton's appointments - another performance they are clearly repeating with the Obama administration.

There was, in other words, nothing in the political environment inherited by Republicans in 2001 that motivated their subsequent behavior - no recognizably sane grievance; no offended sense of fairness; nor even a "score to settle" existing outside their own twisted imaginations.  Their behavior as a majority and/or WH-occupying party, quite simply, bore no resemblance to their treatment as an opposition.  Every time the GOP has lost power, they've obstructed the majority more bitterly than the last time; every time they've regained power, they've abused it with more viciousness, bigotry, and inhuman malevolence than ever before.  And every time, there are the Democrats, behaving in power with magnanimity to the point of abdication; in minority, exercising their opposition with a restraint bordering on (and sometimes literally amounting to) collaborationism.

Democratic Senators and Congressmen throughout the Bush era - a period of unprecedented authoritarian arrogance, criminal savagery, and illegal partisan abuse of government resources by Republicans - simply would not extend their criticism of Bush or the GOP beyond matters of degree, emphasis, or competence.  Every objection was either a matter of "too much," "not enough," or "unskilled governance": A crime against humanity openly conducted from the Oval Office might be criticized as "negligent oversight" of lower-echelon forces by a departmental executive.  It was sufficiently ridiculous and surreal that, to this day, I can't decide what extent of it was sincere obtuseness, what was corruption, and what (if any) might have been actual fear for their lives.  

The point is that from 2001 to about 2006, the Democratic Party didn't really exist above the level of citizen-activists: America was a One-Party State, and that party was the GOP.  Seats held by Democrats were merely a pressure-release valve, mitigating the barbarism of their environment rather than offering any active, substantive obstacle to it.  When in the majority, their boldest achievement was simply to argue with the rhetoric of Republican impunity, while abjectly conceding it to be a fact in practice.  Republicans got every last thing they wanted, doing every inch of the damage that was physically possible for them to do without prematurely aborting their own power, and they were treated for years exactly like they saw themselves: Inherently entitled to rule, irrespective of personal talent, achievement, or the outcome of elections.

But the very instant that situation changed - the very moment Democrats stared operating as a political party again, Republicans began behaving like long-suffering, aggrieved victims of a crime of infinite magnitude.  Being merely indulged beyond all reason or justice - as opposed to being allowed to dictate policy as a fringe minority - was some kind of Stalinist oppression worthy of a Solzhenitsyn treatise.  The mere acknowledgement of the American people's right to send them packing was a bridge too far for the Republican Party, and it seemingly gets harder for them to accept every time it happens.  Conversely, any level of victory on their part - even if modest, tainted, disputed, or numerically trivial - they interpret as giving them carte blanche to radically alter decades (or even centuries) of American law and political tradition.    

I witnessed the derangement from the very moment Obama was projected to win the election by the major news channels: Right-wing commenters on internet forums said things to the effect of, "This can't be happening," and made clear they meant it literally.  The universe as they understand it does not permit Democrats to win by explicitly campaigning against conservative values; nor does it permit Republicans to let the American people make such a decision.  "God won't let it happen - something will change this!" seemed to be a disturbingly common view among them, expressed openly several times that I saw.    

You see, it is simply inconceivable that they do not get what they want.  If trying to bribe people with a bottomless fish-basket of tax cuts for their corporate masters somehow isn't compelling, there is always lying, race-baiting, and character assassination; and if that doesn't work, there are always paperless voting machines, voter suppression lists, and "2nd Amendment solutions."  So if even all of that doesn't make it happen for them - if it fails to materialize sufficiently to get what they want - well, clearly Satan is at work.  

Supernatural forces of evil and oppression beyond the conception of mere mortals have clearly hatched an infinitely-layered tableau of conspiracies so monstrous and insidious that not one iota of Democratic policy must even be considered, let alone worked with; not one actual Democrat must be acknowledged as even being human, let alone American or (gasp) someone respected and admired by the American people in general.  The GOP now fully, and unabashedly embodies the infamous quote:

As soon as by one's own propaganda even a glimpse of right on the other side is admitted, the cause for doubting one's own right is laid.

--Adolf Hitler

And, in point of fact, Hitler's thought is not at all true of any group of people whose intentions are the least bit noble - it is rather a unique trope of the totalitarian, the militant, the murderer: The total obscuration of another's humanity, the truth, and your own obligations toward them both, in service to a zero-sum struggle for power as an end in itself.  Republicans are in just such a struggle, except there is no real competitor for absolute power driving them down that abyss - no real-world external force motivating their escalating cycle of psychosis and violent malevolence: They are, quite simply, engaging in monologue, and by turns revealing themselves at an ever-spiraling cost to this nation.  

Their hate, lunacy, and infinite selfishness have fed back into themselves to the point of transcending mere language manipulation: It is so intense they can barely hold on to even the superficial elements of English speech when talking about President Obama, and degenerate into a kind of gurgling, snarling, wheezing, incoherent word-salad with a syntax not yet fully understood by linguists.  And yet, in the face of this, our President treats every last one of them as if they were intelligent human beings who love their children more than they hate their litany of personal scapegoats - exactly as he should treat them, as a President of the United States.  

So there is no longer any deeper level of lying or merely verbal hate they can sink to: Their lying is constant, unbounded in magnitude, totally unhinged from reality, and has a dominant media platform from which to spread its poison, and yet we abide and make progress.  The lies they tell are less effective than ever, despite being told in the loudest shrieks they can muster, and their unquenchable desires run up against the immovable fact that we will never agree to their ruling over us as kings and absolute barons.  Whatever Republicans choose to do then, when they finally realize they will never truly possess this country, I would give them this warning:

This is not a game for us.  Not a game the way it is to the corporations and preacher/con-artists you serve.  This is life, and freedom - the real things, not the words you carelessly toss around when trying to justify your cowardly atrocities.  So say whatever you want, because the 1st Amendment is 1st for a reason.  But if your actions ever grow to match the tone of your words - if you start exploring your "2nd Amendment solutions" more deeply - this whole nation will come together and be done with your ravening, grasping, murdering arrogance.  

Look on these intervals of change as your grace period: The time We The People are magnanimously giving you to get used to the fact that you are not antebellum plantation owners or medieval lords.  Taxes are your duty, not your gift; health care is a right, not a privilege; matters of fact are not overruled by matters of faith or financial convenience; and you are what you bequeath to this world, nothing else.  Your greed and insanity are growing even as society's ability to indulge them is declining, so pretty please, with a cherry on top, learn to passably pretend you have a mind, a conscience, and a priority other than yourself.

Originally posted to Troubadour on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 03:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight and ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.


Which do Republicans enjoy most?

3%15 votes
4%24 votes
0%4 votes
0%2 votes
1%7 votes
12%61 votes
0%2 votes
1%5 votes
1%6 votes
4%22 votes
6%29 votes
57%278 votes
5%27 votes

| 482 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (144+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gemina13, sceptical observer, kevinpdx, Jim R, fthomas, Sybil Liberty, palantir, JG in MD, sleipner, nargel, foucaultspendulum, missliberties, ItsaMathJoke, Matt Z, glitterscale, bmcphail, Jim P, Maori, Lujane, MikePhoenix, Youffraita, Zinman, psyched, kafkananda, Trotskyrepublican, bablhous, Shockwave, x, LHB, ybruti, luckydog, WheninRome, No one gets out alive, fallina7, isabelle hayes, Joe Willy, wmc418, JTinDC, neroden, renbear, Thoughtful David, Ronald England, Deoliver47, AnnieR, manoffire, ricklewsive, concernedamerican, a2nite, chidmf, PBen, petulans, Floande, JimWilson, CA Nana, kamarvt, Xapulin, wader, carpunder, emmasnacker, rimstalker, Jimdotz, Vacationland, tomjones, John Campanelli, rmabelis, donnamarie, neecie100, h bridges, MKinTN, Ex Con, LS Dem, buffalo soldier, glitterlust, amk for obama, ramara, DontTaseMeBro, Dragon5616, MikeTheLiberal, highacidity, jguzman17, FishOutofWater, mkfarkus, native, Yellow Canary, Neosho, zerelda, jfromga, SoCalHobbit, etherealfire, flowerfarmer, eru, mikeconwell, tin woodswoman, Mac in Maine, efrenzy, mofembot, draa, birdbrain64, DianeNYS, Deep Texan, Mayfly, IowaBiologist, Chirons apprentice, Viceroy, karlpk, ceebee7, sawgrass727, Grumpy Young Man, Kayakbiker, Taxmancometh, Sapere aude, anodnhajo, Sister Havana, roadlion, Mistral Wind, greengemini, elwior, myboo, Rick Aucoin, NCJan, Sun Tzu, coloradocomet, Karl Rover, Sam Hill, millwood, Libby Shaw, maybeeso in michigan, jazzbuff, Doc Allen, antirove, too young to give up, arch, Words In Action, tbetz, Neon Vincent, Harper, OrdinaryIowan, Timbuk3, BYw, Im a frayed knot, Cassandra Waites, expatjourno, BarackStarObama, Eric Nelson

    The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

    by Troubadour on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 03:29:44 PM PDT

    •  Where did GOP get their Insane Master Plan (19+ / 0-)

      They got it from this then put into their own words for action by Eric Huebeck.

      The Integration of Theory and Practice:
      A Program for the New Traditionalist Movement

      by Eric Heubeck


      The Problem--An Overreliance on Political Activism

      A New Direction

      Still Engaged--But Outside of Politics
      Remaining Importance of Defensive Politics
      New Traditionalists and Libertarians
      Movement Must Serve as a Force of Social Intimidation in Its Intermediate Stage

      Some Basic Premises

      The Movement Must Understand What Motivates Human Beings
      Good Results More Important than Good Intentions--Naiveté Not Excusable
      Support of an Elite More Valuable than Support of the Masses
      Value of Art and Images
      Value of the Tangible Versus the Abstract
      Movement Must Be Based on the Transmission of Ideas, Not Their Creation
      New Traditionalists Must Be More Culturally Sophisticated
      It Is in the Movement's Self-Interest to Improve the Quality of Its Membership
      New Traditionalists Must Concentrate on Students and Young Adults
      The Movement Must Be Willing to Appear Obnoxious

      Ground Zero of the New Traditionalist Movement: The Study Group

      What Are Study Groups?
      Study Groups Will Cultivate Civilized Values
      Study Groups Will Provide a Communal Experience
      Book Clubs Lay the Groundwork for Study Groups
      Acceptance by Fellow New Traditionalists More Important than Acceptance by Wider Society

      Final Thoughts

      Even if We Lose, We Still Win
      Discussion Lists Have Little Value--Action Is More Important
      The Next Step



      This essay does not include a theoretical justification for, or even a definition of, a traditionalist (i.e., culturally conservative) society. Other writers have already done this with far more skill and erudition than I would be able to. For the sake of this essay, I will assume that the reader is already familiar with and sympathizes with the goal of a traditionalist society at some level.

      However, none of those traditionalist thinkers, or anyone influenced by traditionalist thought, has made any serious attempt to directly put his ideas into practice. The unspoken assumption seems to be that if enough time is spent improving our intellectual sophistication and honing our arguments, our ideas will win more and more converts due simply to their irresistible appeal, and by some mysterious mechanism which no one has ever chosen to explain, our society will slowly but surely learn to cherish traditionalist values.

      This way of thinking must be categorically rejected.

      This essay is based on the belief that the truth of an idea is not the primary reason for its acceptance. Far more important is the energy and dedication of the idea's promoters--in other words, the individuals composing a social or political movement. The cultural conservative movement in particular has paid next to no attention to the qualities of the people working in the movement, and the relation of such qualities to the achievement of our goals. At least part of the reason for our failure must be attributed to insufficient interest by traditionalists in organization, the personal development of activists, and--most importantly--action and engagement in the world. The conservative movement has suffered, in other words, from a lack of follow-through on its most meaningful ideas.

      The Problem--An Overreliance on Political Activism

      The conservative movement is defensive, defeatist, depressed, and apologetic. It lacks self-confidence, virility, energy, intensity, vigor, aggressiveness, vitality, and a firm belief in the rightness of its cause. This is because conservatives have failed to devote the proper amount of energy to developing an alternative cultural world-view opposed to the dominant leftist one. They have instead devoted much of their energy to electing sympathetic politicians and lobbying the government to pass or overturn particular laws.

      There are two problems with this strategy. The first and more obvious is that it is exceedingly and progressively more difficult to exert political influence when the cultural assumptions underlying those political goals are being steadily eroded by the popular culture, if no serious attempt to retard or reverse that erosion is ever made.

      Secondly, an overreliance on political change seems to reinforce the very politicization of society that conservatives often bemoan, by ratifying the notion that an individual's personal happiness is inextricably bound up in the activity (or inactivity) of government. While government is certainly intrusive and plays too large a role in our society, the government is not totalitarian. There are plenty of opportunities to make our society more culturally conservative, and our lives richer and fuller, apart from political change, but conservatives have shown very little interest in pursuing those opportunities. They have shown far more interest in expanding political freedom than in seeing that Americans make good use of the freedom they already have, and as a result, they have succeeded in neither. The lack of interest in the latter goal is curious, since freedom for its own sake has never been a conservative goal, at least in theory.

      The result of this misplaced focus is a society that increasingly does not recognize culturally conservative views, and is gradually coming to despise them. The Left has long understood that nothing can be achieved politically unless and until one can capture the imagination of the people--and imaginations are seldom captured by policy wonks on C-SPAN. They understand that a governing regime must acquire moral legitimacy before it can win the consent of the people, and all governments, particularly one such as ours, require some level of consent to govern.

      The relatively recent successes of New Left ideas in law and legislation have only been made possible because their proponents were able to capture the cultural institutions--e.g., the media, academia, publishing houses, advertising agencies, Hollywood--some years earlier. Conservatives have by and large surrendered all of these institutions to the Left, with any opposition being limited to assorted muffled complaints and pathetic appeals for fairness. Meanwhile, conservatives dedicate themselves to political activism all the more furiously in the hope that it can compensate for their weakness in the non-political sectors of society. This effort must be dismissed as hopeless and self-delusional.

      Conservatives must honestly assess the predicament that we are in. We must understand that the American people are no longer on our side, at least not reliably so, and they will be less so as time goes on. But more worrisome still is the fact that conservatives themselves often no longer understand or support a truly culturally conservative vision of America. Being conservative has come to mean nothing more nuanced than holding the belief that every man has the inalienable right to make as much money as he possibly can. True traditionalist conservatives are now seen as oddities in the movement who must be tolerated, or even silenced in order that the movement appear credible in the eyes of the leftist guardians of good taste.

      To sum up, the basic problem confronting us is that those who are familiar with the theoretical underpinnings of conservatism are not particularly interested in putting their ideas into practice, and those who are engaged in activism are not well-read and are obsessed with public policy matters. Those who think do not act, and those who act do not think. If this continues, the conservative movement will cease to exist in every way but name.

      A New Direction

      The dire predicament in which we find ourselves demands a drastic change in strategy by cultural conservatives. It is becoming increasingly clear that we must heed Paul Weyrich's call for a tactical retreat from the fields of political battle--not totally or permanently, but until such time as we can confidently proclaim that traditionalists are a force to be reckoned with in the wider society. Without this, any offensives using political means are doomed to failure. They are therefore a waste of our people's time, money, and energy, and for that reason should not even be attempted. We will never succeed in taking over political structures until we can convince the American people that we can be trusted to take them over, and to do that we must win the people over culturally--by defining how man ought to act, how he ought to perceive the world around him, and what it means to live the good life. Political arrangements can only be formed after these fundamental questions have been answered.

      Once this basic belief is accepted, our next task is to develop the means by which it can be put into practice. We must, as Mr. Weyrich has suggested, develop a network of parallel cultural institutions existing side-by-side with the dominant leftist cultural institutions. The building and promotion of these institutions will require the development of a movement that will not merely reform the existing post-war conservative movement, but will in fact be forced to supersede it--if it is to succeed at all--because it will pursue a very different strategy and be premised on a very different view of its role in society.

      Our movement--which we will call the New Traditionalist movement--will not seek to immediately replace the dominant culture. A retreat will allow us to regroup and find our bearings. The overemphasis on effecting change through political activism has left us disoriented, distracted, and overly prone to accept the cultural assumptions of the Left. But this tactical retreat will ultimately lead to strategic victory.

      A central mission of this movement is to advance a true traditionalist counter-culture based on virtue, excellence, and self-discipline. The New Traditionalists will not be exclusively Christians, but many of them inevitably will be. What binds the New Traditionalists is a belief that each individual has a duty to obey a higher law than his own will and appetite. New Traditionalists reject the materialism, hedonism, consumerism, egoism, and the cult of self-actualization which permeate modern life. We share a willingness to face reality and repudiate ideology--i.e., a set of beliefs that bear no relation to how people really think and how people really live.

      There will be three main stages in the unfolding of this movement. The first stage will be devoted to the development of a highly motivated elite able to coordinate future activities. The second stage will be devoted to the development of institutions designed to make an impact on the wider elite and a relatively small minority of the masses. The third stage will involve changing the overall character of American popular culture.

      Still Engaged--But Outside of Politics

      It must be emphasized that this new movement will not be "disengaged" from the wider society, only "differently engaged." We are, quite simply, replacing political activism with cultural activism as the center of our focus. And while the visibility of the new movement will be less pronounced than the existing (political) conservative movement in the short term, the seeds that we now sow will have dramatic repercussions over the long term. We have the capacity to fundamentally transform the face of American culture in the 21st century by following a different path, one built on the aggressive dissemination of our cultural values, rather than the idle hope that enough of our cultural values still remain in the body of the American people to carry us on to a few more isolated electoral victories.

      We will never stop being engaged in the wider culture. We will not "hunker down" and wait for the storm to blow over. Our strategy will be to bleed this corrupt culture dry. We will pick off the most intelligent and creative individuals in our society, the individuals who help give credibility to the current regime. To do this, we will promote a set of beliefs more compelling than that of our opponents. We will launch a movement with more energy and more intensity than our opponents are capable of summoning. When the choice is made clear, the people--cultural elites and non-cultural elites alike--will vote with their feet by either joining or patronizing our institutions and abandoning those of the Left, and the reigning leftist regime will collapse from lack of support.

      Our movement will be entirely destructive, and entirely constructive. We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them. We will endeavor to knock our opponents off-balance and unsettle them at every opportunity. All of our constructive energies will be dedicated to the creation of our own institutions.

      We will maintain a constant barrage of criticism against the Left. We will attack the very legitimacy of the Left. We will not give them a moment's rest. We will endeavor to prove that the Left does not deserve to hold sway over the heart and mind of a single American. We will offer constant reminders that there is an alternative, there is a better way. When people have had enough of the sickness and decay of today's American culture, they will be embraced by and welcomed into the New Traditionalist movement. The rejection of the existing society by the people will thus be accomplished by pushing them and pulling them simultaneously.

      We will use guerrilla tactics to undermine the legitimacy of the dominant regime. We will take advantage of every available opportunity to spread the idea that there is something fundamentally wrong with the existing state of affairs. For example, we could have every member of the movement put a bumper sticker on his car that says something to the effect of "Public Education is Rotten; Homeschool Your Kids." This will change nobody's mind immediately; no one will choose to stop sending his children to public schools immediately after seeing such a bumper sticker; but it will raise awareness and consciousness that there is a problem. Most of all, it will contribute to a vague sense of uneasiness and dissatisfaction with existing society. We need this if we hope to start picking people off and bringing them over to our side. We need to break down before we can build up. We must first clear away the flotsam of a decayed culture.

      In terms of our long term prospects, because we will be seen as a purely defensive movement, not interested in imposing our views on anyone, only interested in being left alone, we will surely gain the sympathy of the public. The dominant culture will see its life-force being sapped, and it will grow terrified. It will do whatever it takes to destroy its assailant. This will lead to the perception that the dominant leftist culture is empty, hollow, desperate, and has lost its mandate to rule, because its only basis for authority is coercion, much like the communist East Bloc. Sympathy from the American people will increase as our opponents try to persecute us, which means our strength will increase at an accelerating rate due to more defections--and the enemy will collapse as a result.

      Remaining Importance of Defensive Politics

      We must stay involved in the political arena. We do not expect to make any gains through politics. But as our movement grows, the Left will become increasingly likely to try to use the powers of the state to squelch our movement, using whatever pretext they are able to invent. We will need to stay engaged in politics for purely defensive purposes. But all hope for long-term restoration must lie with the new movement. Our only involvement in the political process should be designed to more effectively accomplish secession from, and perhaps eventually, a widespread influence over, the wider culture.

      We have repeatedly shot ourselves in the foot by expecting too much from the Republican Party. Of course, New Traditionalists should not defend the Republican Party when it pushes legislation that makes the government more intrusive than it currently is. But we should not sacrifice a united front by trying to badger the Republican Party into doing what it is incapable of doing. That is a waste of the political capital of the party and the time and energy of our people, simply for the sake of "fighting the good fight."

      New Traditionalists and Libertarians

      There are operational libertarians and there are ontological libertarians. There is nothing in this movement that an operational libertarian would find objectionable. It does not seek to replace an intrusive leftist state with an intrusive traditionalist state. Moreover, the likelihood that this movement would result in a libertarian society is far higher than the likelihood of any strategy succeeding that self-identified libertarians are advocating, because this movement does not promote a direct confrontation with the state, but a sort of "weaning off," or a "walking away" from the state. The state will lose its power when people no longer feel they need it, and only then. Our goal should be to teach the cultural elite, and all people, to find meaning in their lives outside of politics. If they do, perhaps they will leave the rest of us alone.

      But the New Traditionalist movement must be willing to lose allies among the libertarians we brought on board the post-war conservative coalition. While our movement is not anti-freedom, and the practical effect of our ultimate ascendancy to political power (should that happen) would be an increase in political freedom for Americans, we choose not to make a fetish of political freedom. We recognize that there are other freedoms besides political freedom--such as the freedom not to be subjected to a barrage of cultural decadence at every turn. In fact, it could be argued that this is a more important freedom, because popular culture is considerably more pervasive than the hand of government in most people's lives.

      The ontological libertarians make their arguments in terms that the perfectly happy life is a life free from all restraint. The use of these arguments has been a convenient way to achieve some of the short-term goals of conservatives, because this argument is presented in ontological terms acceptable to the Left--but it has been disastrous to American society. It was an alluring temptation that should have been resisted. It has reaffirmed the world-view of the leftist, which holds the unbridled ego at its center. We have undermined the foundation of any resistance to the Left based on the promotion of a fundamentally different world-view. This devil's bargain has therefore helped to perpetuate the decimation of traditional American culture, with its accumulated wisdom and mores and traditions of self-restraint, which is the basis for any hope of a truly workable political freedom.

      Libertarians must make their arguments in terms of the moral benefits of freedom, and not in terms of the glories of nihilism, if we can consider them allies and not opponents. As cultural activism becomes more important to our movement, and political activism less so, we may find that we have less and less in common with many libertarians whose philosophical foundations are not sound.

      Movement Must Serve as a Force of Social Intimidation in Its Intermediate Stage

      We must create a countervailing force that is just as adept as the Left at intimidating people and institutions that are used as tools of left-wing activism but are not ideologically committed, such as Hollywood celebrities, multinational corporations, and university administrators. We must be feared, so that they will think twice before opening their mouths. They must understand that there is some sort of cost involved in taking a "controversial" stand--although positions cannot honestly be labeled "controversial" if conservatives are unable to mount a meaningful opposition. Perhaps once we are able to mount such an opposition, we will be able to take some of the trendiness out of leftist cultural activism, because lukewarm advocates of leftist causes will be forced to actually get their hands dirty. Support of leftist causes will no longer be the path of least resistance.

      Some Basic Premises

      The Movement Must Understand What Motivates Human Beings

      We must perform a brutally honest analysis of what motivates human beings. We must understand what makes them tick, whether that motivation is attractive or not. We must channel undesirable impulses to serve good purposes. For example, it is important to emphasize that the alternative counter-culture must be just that--alternative. It must be different from anything people are familiar with. It is a basic fact that an us-versus-them, insider-versus-outsider mentality is a very strong motivation in human life. For better or for worse, this has to be recognized and taken advantage of for the good of the movement.

      Moreover, the New Traditionalists must be interested in learning about sociology, social psychology, and the dynamics of social change. We must study examples of dissident and counter-cultural groups that succeeded in ascending to dominance--we must learn from them.

      We must recognize the world as it is, not as we may like it to be; but we must never let this line of thinking descend into cynicism.

      Good Results More Important than Good Intentions--Naiveté Not Excusable

      We will apply a scientific analysis to every problem. We will be results-oriented rather than good intentions-oriented. Making a good-faith effort and being ideologically sound will be less important than advancing the goals of the movement. We must learn to be more self-critical. Our efforts should be less haphazard, less prone to fits and starts, and they should make better use of accumulated knowledge and past errors.

      We must not get hung up on the evils of our opponents. We can only control our own actions and responses. We must stop whining when we see an example of leftist double-standards and hypocrisy and accept reality as it exists. The only question to be asked is, what are we going to do about it? We must learn to change our own thinking and our own behavior. We must always operate based on this cardinal principle: Leftists are never morally responsible for the evil they commit; but we as conservatives are morally responsible for not having done more to prevent them from committing that evil. We must learn to treat leftists as natural disasters or rabid dogs. If we act as if this were in fact true (of course, it is not), we will not needlessly expend our energy on being upset with our opponents.

      This is not to discount the importance of reminding ourselves on a regular basis why we ought to hate leftist ideology, in order to keep ourselves motivated to better fight it. But we must be aware that this is what we are doing as we do it--such propaganda must be seen as a catalyst for action, not a substitute for action. We must always understand exactly why we do what we do as we do it, and why our opponents do what they do. We must stop operating according to self-delusion and wishful thinking. Good intentions and good effort count for nothing.

      The new movement must learn never to be satisfied with the way things are. We must ask a long series of "whys" to understand how we arrived at our current condition and what must be done to change it. For example, if a fight is winnable, why have we not won it? If it is not, why are we not diverting our efforts elsewhere?

      We must always recognize and anticipate the strategy of our opponents. There is no excuse for ever being surprised by the ferocity or ingenuity of their attacks.

      One especially naive belief held by most conservatives (at least as betrayed by their actions) that seems to have real staying power is that ideas have a way of disseminating themselves. In many conservative publications, for example, it is unclear who the intended audience is. Articles tend to cover old ground and rehash old arguments, which is pointless if the intended readership is made up of conservative activists who are already familiar with them. But if the intended audience is made up of people who do not already agree, they most likely will not be reading such a specialized publication, but rather reading a newspaper or watching television news, or more likely, they will not follow public affairs at all.

      What the activists instead need is a better understanding of how the current situation has arisen and how to coordinate strategy, so they will be prepared to take action in the real world. For instance, they need to know more about the history of the Left than any leftist. They need to be able to beat a leftist in any debate. They need to be able to make him look utterly foolish. They need, in other words, to become hyper-intellectual--this will make them more self-confident, and with self-confidence, they will have the power to prevail. But the conservative movement is not properly preparing its activists to do what needs to be done. They are instead tossing random opinions into the circulation of national discourse, and merely hoping for the best.

      Support of an Elite More Valuable than Support of the Masses

      We will initially operate according to the belief that it is more important to win over the elites (or create a new, better one) than to build up a mass movement. Furthermore, it is more important to have a few impassioned members than a large number of largely indifferent members. The amount of energy, élan, and self-assurance that we are able to inculcate in the leaders of our movement will ultimately determine its success or failure.

      The new movement must be, in part, exclusive and elite. It must not be afraid to pass along a body of knowledge that is not readily accessible to and understandable by everyone. The strong appeal of a feeling of exclusivity and superiority will give our members a reason to endure the slings and arrows of popular disapproval.

      The New Traditionalist movement will appeal to the masses, but not immediately. The ideas of the masses never come from the masses. To the extent that the masses are more conservative than the elites, this is primarily because the masses have a long collective memory, and they still value the beliefs articulated by a long-lost elite. The conservative instincts of the American people will continue to erode unless a new elite is formed to refresh that memory.

      We must recognize that literature and philosophy do not appeal to the masses. This is why we must develop ways to spread our philosophy using non-rational means--especially the moving image.

      Value of Art and Images

      We must place a high value on art, because the most important thing any movement can do is capture the imagination of the people. One must give them dreams and ideals that have been put in terms they can understand, and that touch their hearts, as opposed to their rational minds. If we cannot capture the imaginations of our members, then we cannot expect our members to make great sacrifices for us. There must be a common repository of books and movies that everyone in our movement is familiar with and inspired by, so anyone can quote a line that will be recognized by everyone else. Young people already do this, only with the wrong movies, songs, and other products of popular culture.

      We have the example of schoolboys studying Homer in Ancient Greece. No Greek would be considered properly educated without an intimate familiarity with Homer. This taught Greeks what their ideals should be, how they should act, and gave them a common base of reference which united them as members of a society. The films Braveheart and Gladiator are possible examples from current popular culture that could serve a similar, but clearly more limited function.

      There is no medium more conducive to propagandistic purposes than the moving image, and our movement must learn to make use of this medium. A skillfully produced motion picture or television documentary has tremendous persuasive power. It has the power to bypass not only the old prejudices that have been assiduously cultivated by the Left over the past few decades, but also the innate skepticism of the viewer, the resistance to new ideas. Rational arguments simply do not have this power, and all arguments made in print tend to appeal to the rational, critical faculties of the mind to a greater or lesser degree.

      The visual image allows us to illustrate our beliefs and arguments to our members and others in highly compelling terms--we will be able to show all the examples of cultural decadence, irrationality and disingenuousness in public debate, combined with our commentary, selectively edited and arranged for maximum impact. It avoids the vagueness and generalizations that tend to characterize many conservative arguments. It also allows us to show what we think is right about our current culture--examples from movies or television that we as cultural conservatives support and are excited by. The large amount of capital needed for involvement in this medium is hard to come by, and those with the most creativity and skills in this area are by and large not cultural conservatives--but these hurdles must be overcome sooner or later.

      Value of the Tangible Versus the Abstract

      This movement will understand that it is not enough to talk in abstractions only. We need to offer clear examples whenever possible. And the ideas must be lived by our members if they are ever to be actualized in the wider society. The power of example is far greater than the power of exhortation. This is a cardinal premise of the new movement.

      An excessive amount of intellectualization divorced from application in the real world is a kind of escape from reality, or the creation of a virtual reality. Thinking becomes tired, static, and inward-looking. People become more interested in creating mental utopias than in having a real impact on society. Scholars become mere pedants; ideas are no longer creative and vital.

      Ideas interest us only insofar as they offer a guide to action. There is a place in society for abstract, academic discussion. This is not that place.

      Movement Must Be Based on the Transmission of Ideas, Not Their Creation

      This movement is not about the creation of ideas, it is about the transmission and dissemination of ideas. Intellectual cultural conservatism already exists, but it is largely unknown. As it finds its audience, intellectual cultural conservatism will become more creative and will respond to the challenges of the present. The creators of the future will find their inspiration from the great ideas of the past. We maintain that the dearth of new creative thought grounded in conservative sensibilities is due to a disconnection from the great ideas of the past, because those ideas have not been given life and relevance. The New Traditionalist movement will be a revolution in organization, not ideas, but the results will be equally, if not more dramatic.

      The ideas that form the basis of the new movement have been well articulated by people who value theory but not action. It will be the job of the New Traditionalist movement to transmit these ideas to a more action-oriented elite, and through them, to the masses. An action-oriented elite is necessary to force people to confront ideas they would otherwise not be exposed to. Ideas do not automatically have consequences. They do not have an impact in direct proportion to the truth they contain. They have an impact only insofar as adherents of those ideas are willing to take measures to propagate those ideas.

      New Traditionalists Must Be More Culturally Sophisticated

      The new movement cannot be seen as a movement of rubes, or knee-jerk yahoos, or surly malcontents. We must make it clear that we are seceding from popular culture not because we are unable to cope with modern life, but because we are superior to modern life. We understand popular culture--we get it--we simply find it empty and meaningless.

      We may reject the culture of our opponents, but we must never fear it. We must understand the appeal of popular culture before we can hope to draw people away from it. People will not take us seriously until they are convinced we have taken the time to understand its appeal. We need the perspective to be able to compare our current culture with culture at its best, so we not only know when popular culture falls short, but also when it, on occasion, provides examples of culture at its best.

      It Is in the Movement's Self-Interest to Improve the Quality of Its Membership

      We have a dearth of human material that shares our traditionalist values. These people must be created in our own institutions. They must be given a refuge as their nascent beliefs are coming into fruition. They must be sheltered and protected. Improving the quality of the people who make up the new movement will be a primary concern.

      The new movement must understand that it is not enough to wait for people to come to us. Conservatives now seem to feel that the success a conservative activist can achieve in the conservative movement is his own business, merely a matter of building a career. This view must be categorically rejected. It is in the interest of the New Traditionalist movement that every member be given the support to reach his maximum potential. It is imperative that every member be made to feel more confident about his beliefs and abilities, because the movement as a whole suffers from a lack of confidence. Furthermore, there must be a place for people who do not work in the movement for a salary. The New Traditionalist movement is a cause, not a business.

      The new movement will promote discipline and loyalty and self-sacrifice. Advancing one's personal interests by harming the interests of the movement will never be overlooked or forgotten. Modern conservatism has an intolerable tolerance for backstabbers and traitors--it reflects a movement that lacks the self-confidence to demand victory for itself, and to ostracize individuals who interfere with the realization of our goals. I do not refer to genuine differences of opinion. This is not a totalitarian movement. I refer to "conservatives" who feel tempted to denounce other conservatives merely to gain the approval of the cultural elite, or for personal gain.

      New Traditionalists Must Concentrate on Students and Young Adults

      The new movement will inevitably be geared toward children and young adults, especially their education. We will accomplish the goal of retaking our country only when large numbers of young people are educated outside of the indoctrinating environment of many public and private schools, universities, and of course, the popular culture. At this point in their lives, many of their ideas are still in the formative stage, the more so the younger they are. Furthermore, young adults (of college age and above) should be given a large role in the organization of the New Traditionalist movement, as many older people, because of work and family life, simply do not have the time to devote to reading, discussion, and action (and all three are equally important). They also often lack the necessary energy, enthusiasm, and idealism that is prevalent in youth. However, retirees could also make a valuable contribution to the movement.

      College students must be a key audience for our movement, since they are free of excessive time commitments and they find themselves in an environment that (theoretically) encourages activism and exposure to new ideas. We should consider creating alternative fraternities where traditionalists can live, interact with each other, learn from each other, socialize with each other. New Traditionalist fraternities can help replicate lifestyles from the past--emulate "civilized" behavior from the past--by discussing traditionalist ideas, literature, and art, and then acting based on what has been learned. Members of the fraternities and collegiate study groups should build each other up in every possible way: in terms of public speaking skills, debating skills, physical fitness, intellect, manners, aesthetic sense. It is imperative that our ideas be lived and not merely discussed.

      A basic problem is that most bright, creative, dynamic, energetic young people with leadership skills become leftists, and this is why most student leaders--who eventually become the leaders of society--tend to be leftists. New Traditionalist fraternities and collegiate study groups can help reverse that tendency.

      The Movement Must Be Willing to Appear Obnoxious

      Our movement must be highly provocative. The thing we have most to fear is that we will be ignored.

      Cultural conservatives must understand the predicament we are in. We must be willing to take measures that perhaps we would be unwilling to take under different, more ideal circumstances. We will have standards--we will never try to justify dishonesty, destruction of the personal reputation of our opponents, cheating, assault, etc., in the service of victory for our movement. However, we will not consider ourselves above appearing "unseemly" or surrendering some our personal dignity. We must be willing to shake people out of their complacency--which means being obnoxious if the situation requires it--because given the fact that the dominant leftist culture is safely ensconced, complacency only serves the interests of our opponents.

      It is not enough to say that conservative philosophy is more sensible than that of the Left. If we leave it at that, we will only attract "sensible" people to our movement. But "sensible" people do not go to the barricades, they do not make great sacrifices for a movement. And the experience of the conservative movement has shown this to be the case. We need more people with fire in the belly, and we need a message that attracts those kinds of people. As Plato said, "madness comes from God, whereas sober sense is merely human." We should keep this in mind if we expect our people to make superhuman sacrifices for the movement. We must reframe this struggle as a moral struggle, as a transcendent struggle, as a struggle between good and evil. And we must be prepared to explain why this is so. We must provide the evidence needed to prove this using images and simple terms. Putting the debate in terms of mere freedom, the "leave us alone" mentality, does not inspire apocalyptic fervor.

      Some will argue that "conservatives" do not believe in apocalyptic fervor. The reader should simply ask himself, is he happy with the state of cultural conservatism in this country? If not, does he think it likely that conditions will improve in the future by operating according to the current rules? And if not, is he willing to witness the death of true civilization in this country so that conservatism will not suffer the ungentlemanly taint of "fervor"? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, this movement will not appeal to the reader.

      Ground Zero of the New Traditionalist Movement: The Study Group

      What Are Study Groups?

      The study groups will develop a cadre of scholar warriors. They are the vanguard of a counter-cultural movement. Study groups are the basis of all short-term activity.

      Study groups will be imperative because they will be the means by which we combine thought and action. Members will be asked to read relatively difficult or abstract works of political and social philosophy. They will then be asked to come up with examples from our current society that might illustrate some principles contained therein.

      This will not be a movement of talkers. Participants will be expected to engage in tangible, constructive activity. They will be asked often what precisely they have done for the good of the movement. The new movement will not, unlike much of modern conservatism, be a spectator sport.

      Study groups, as their name implies, will be engaged in the intensive study of culture and ideas, but the understanding achieved through that study will be applied in the form of action. Action is defined as either 1) the subversion of leftist-controlled institutions, or 2) the creation of our own institutions of civil society, whose sole purpose is outreach to, and the conversion of, non-traditionalists. Action is partly designed to lead to direct results in society, mostly as a way to build up the qualities of the membership. A membership that never acts is useless, because it does not become more capable, and does not learn from its mistakes. Furthermore, action in the world encourages the identification of the member with, and dedication to the group.

      For example, we will go to public lectures given by leftists and ask them "impolite" and highly critical questions. We must, of course, be fully prepared beforehand for these sorts of excursions, and we must also be prepared to embarrass ourselves, especially at first.

      Money for the new movement will come primarily from the membership at first, because very few foundations will be willing to support us initially. As our movement grows, even if more funding comes from foundations, requirements for personal contributions must remain high to make people believe they are personally invested in this movement. Again, members cannot be allowed to think of themselves as spectators in this movement.

      Study Groups Will Cultivate Civilized Values

      The coming battle for the hearts and minds of Americans is ultimately a battle between civilization and barbarism. The fight between civilization and barbarism is a fight that takes place in society at large, as well as in the heart of each individual.

      Civilization means, in part, the mores and inherited traditions that encourage self-restraint and consideration for other individuals, as well as an appreciation for objective truth, in a way that is sustainable and in harmony with our essential human nature. It is concerned with the health of society as an organism and as the body responsible for perpetuating those traditions. It is the opposite of barbarism, which means obeying one's lowest instincts and drives; barbarism means fidelity solely to oneself, not to an enlightened social code worked out over centuries, representing the accumulated wisdom of generations of men and women. Albert Jay Nock defines culture at its best as "lucidity of mind, intellectual curiosity and hospitality, largeness of temper, objectivity, the finest sense of social life, of manners, of beauty." And this view of culture is clearly incompatible with pure egoism.

      This is also the opposite of a society produced by ideology. Ideology is a substitute for genuine thought, and it is the opposite of all true civilization. A central goal of the movement will be the destruction of ideology in whatever form it takes. It will not strive for its replacement with a "traditionalist ideology," because such a thing is a contradiction in terms.

      The study groups, and through them, the New Traditionalist movement as a whole, will be the means by which the goals of civilization, high standards, and cultural refinement are injected back into society. We have claimed the prerogative to be obnoxious when the occasion demands it. Furthermore, we recognize that refinement and obnoxious behavior can conflict. A rule of reason will mediate. Means should not be allowed to compromise ends, but talk of ends is moot if there are no traditionalists in existence to pursue those ends.

      Study groups will provide an opportunity to discuss movies and books and other cultural products that reflect the values of this society and those of societies separated from ours by time or place. Study groups will rediscover and disseminate our conservative heritage. They will share examples of the conservative ethos at work today, perhaps even unbeknownst to the creator of the work. From there, the long-term objective will be to encourage the creation of new works of art that self-consciously reflect the values of the New Traditionalist movement. We operate according to the belief that current popular culture is distinctly uninspiring, and a great people ought to be able to find inspiration in its culture.

      Study Groups Will Provide a Communal Experience

      Modern conservatism is excessively individualistic. We must find meaning as part of an organization with shared values. For example, it is not enough for a conservative writer to watch a movie, write up a good review in a magazine, encourage other people to watch it, and expect that to form the basis for a movement that is able to stand up to the dominant culture. We must watch movies together. We must feel part of the group as we watch it. And we must then discuss that movie as a group.

      Study groups should engage in charitable activities, partly to build esprit de corps, partly to create positive feelings about our group in the minds of the public, partly to create an alternative to government solutions. Study groups together with other organs of the movement should provide everything that a person could want in terms of social interaction, with the exception of the workplace and the church (although churches will in some cases be allied with the movement).

      We must recognize that bonding with others in one's generation or society is the means by which values are strengthened and perpetuated. It is vitally important that we bond in such a way that the values perpetuated are our own.

      Book Clubs Lay the Groundwork for Study Groups

      The movement should imitate the communist distinction between party members and fellow travelers. Study groups will require high levels of dedication, discipline, and self-sacrifice. Those who are unable to perform will be asked to leave. But it would be unwise to send the signal that there is no place in the movement for people who are otherwise sympathetic to our message. They will be considered allies, but they will not be accorded the status of movement leaders.

      Based on this premise, the book club is designed to be the organ of the New Traditionalist movement that is most accessible to outsiders. The book club will be open to all interested individuals, and will be responsible for introducing its members to traditionalist ways of thinking. The level of commitment required of book club members will be much lower than that required of study group members.

      The study group will recruit mainly from the book club. Members of the book club will discuss ideas at a lower level of intellectual sophistication than the study group. Once the study groups have been firmly established and have arrived at an adequate level of intellectual sophistication, the leaders of the study group will be responsible for choosing the books or other cultural products that will be discussed in the book club, and drawing up the agenda and list of discussion questions for each meeting.

      Acceptance by Fellow New Traditionalists More Important than Acceptance by Wider Society

      The members of the New Traditionalists must make public affirmation of their identification with the new movement. They must seek approval for their actions from other New Traditionalists, and not from the wider society. It is unrealistic to assume that very many mortal human beings will be able to withstand in isolation the vitriol and hatred that our movement's program will engender. Culture wars generally seem to inspire higher emotions than verbal wars over economics, foreign policy, etc., because they address the most fundamental questions of what matters in life. Our people must learn to have contempt and scorn for the wider society, and reject it in all ways. This will never happen so long as our people seek accommodation with it.

      It is important that we form fully well-rounded people who feel that they are lacking nothing that the dominant leftist culture can offer them. For example, sports leagues will be included for young people in the intermediate stage, in order to bring in people who might not otherwise be interested in joining. It is important that there be something for everyone, that there be a place for all kinds of different people. Not all members will be intellectuals, although intellectuals will instigate the new movement.

      Final Thoughts

      Even if We Lose, We Still Win

      Even if our views do not become the dominant views in society at any point in the near future, this must not be seen as a defeat. At least we will have offered many Americans another choice, a refuge from the dominant culture, and a way to at least live a reasonably decent and pleasant life in the midst of rampant social corruption. We will provide people with access to the best civilization has produced--literature, philosophy, and art. We will be a godsend to those who want to raise themselves up, makes themselves more than what they are. Popular culture now acts as a giant narcotic, offering an escape from the difficulty and hard work of realizing our higher selves. Our movement's intention is to break that addiction for as many individuals as possible.

      Discussion Lists Have Little Value -- Action Is More Important

      We must be careful not to overtheorize, or wait until we have everything thought out perfectly before we start to take action. Action is the most important element at first, because much of learning is evolutionary, and one of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes in the real world--but, of course, there is never any excuse for making the same mistake twice.

      Conservatives have an excessive tolerance for incessant talking. The discussion list based on this essay will only involve as much discussion as it takes to form the philosophical basis for local study groups in various parts of the country, and the list will then coordinate the agendas of the study groups. Study groups will be in charge of conducting actual activities. Study groups must form the primary venue for the transmission of ideas, because a discussion list cannot lead to action. Again, the basis of our movement is the integration of thought and action. Neither one is more important than the other.

      We should expect some infighting and sectarianism in our movement at first, as we try to decide what exactly we think should be the basis of our movement--precisely which cultural values we are fighting for. This should not worry us especially, because over time, as we engage each other, as well as the wider society, an equilibrium will be achieved, and a balance will be struck between the competing goals of unity and size in our movement.

      The Next Step

      The reader will have noticed that this essay contains no evidence. It is not concerned with converting anyone to a certain way of thinking. However, certain people will find that its arguments resonate with them, and express beliefs they have long held on an inchoate level. These are the people who will provide the critical mass to begin the organization of the new movement.

      If you are sympathetic to the basic premises set forth in this essay, I welcome your questions and criticisms in order to better clarify my positions and my thoughts on the direction the New Traditionalists must take, particularly in the initial stages. Please contact me at I would particularly like to invite your participation if you would be willing to organize a book club in your hometown. And I especially encourage you to send the link to this page to anyone who you think might be interested in any of the ideas contained in the essay.

      We have a lot of work to do. Let's get started.

    •  this is wrong.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mayfly, elwior, Rick Aucoin, Troubadour
      There were no Congressional investigations of the Bush White House at any level, by any Congress, committee, or subcommittee thereof, ever.  Not one.

      Waxman and Conyers come to mind.

      If you care about your life and your money, it's BEST to vote Democratic.

      by MartyM on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 06:09:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you. This is the clearest, (6+ / 0-)

      most complete, most well-stated exposition of the last 10 years of political reality I've seen.  Outstanding.

      Kick apart the structures - Seth

      by ceebee7 on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 10:11:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Points well taken. (9+ / 0-)

    However, I'd add that the parties started to become irrelevant with the passage of universal suffrage.  When the people govern, they have no need for "authorities" to select public officials to serve various factions.
    Also, the self-centered individuals who fancy themselves as rulers/dictators/totalitarians are incapable of recognizing the existence of the other. The question is why the rest of us put up with their perverse, anti-social behavior.  I suspect it's partly because self-centeredness is strangely fascinating, and partly because, in the long run, these people are ineffectual. "All hat, no cattle," and full of "sound and fury signifying nothing."

    by hannah on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 04:11:02 PM PDT

    •  Parties are not irrelevant anywhere. (17+ / 0-)

      They serve as convenient foci for any given set of values and priorities.  But you are totally correct about egoism having no future in the long-run.  Humanistic ideas that were fleeting dreams when first imagined in ancient India became persuasive arguments in the Enlightenment, then actual policies, then international laws, and now are taken as given by most people who are not utter sociopaths.

      The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

      by Troubadour on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 07:44:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The American Political Psychopath (37+ / 0-)

        is certainly the driver for the Republican Party with its Tea Party core.

        "All politics is psychological" is just a slight exaggeration. Look at the recent "Rapture Day" for example. What it was about was saying to oneself "I am part of the elect of humanity. (one in 3,000). I am so inherently good, I will be saved tribulation and trouble, and the rest of you are fucked and you deserve it."

        What are your motives to be in that place? Where you are guaranteed special, the rest are disposable. To me, it bespeaks of an infantile character with a cover story. Totally self-centered, it assumes that what it wants is what it deserves. Anyone in the way, get them out of the way.

        That means, practically speaking, you crave total control (infantile); to save your self-image (because in your heart you know "want total control" is... ...infantile. Therefore low on the scale of "successful human.")

        Then you alternately throw things around, and sob, to keep everyone distracted from your power grab, and to keep yourself distracted from your own betrayal of conscience by serving the infantile quest of unrestrained indulgence.

        There's no way to drag someone out of that kind of mindset, because that's what they chose. They'll stick with it until it doesn't work anymore as a power device, or they have a St Paul on the Road to Damascus moment.

        So you just have to hamstring 'em, or focus exclusively on building a sane alternative. Probably some people need to do the one, others the other.

        Having pointed out the magnanimous actions of the Democratic Party through all this, it is only sane to point out that the people who voted for them didn't really want that going on. We should ignore the serious blockage between what the voters want in policy and politics and the priorities of Leadership. After all, we've all known since at least Clinton's impeachment that the Republicans want us dead, so what common ground besides our grave are you going to find with that?

        The beauty of the Republican madness is that their hubris is their own nemesis. Because now we have video tape and they've said their agenda and perspective over and over. From calling the citizens "the little people" to apologizing to BP, to their Medicare Program: "If she ain't got the dough, granny's gotta go."

        It is impossible that we can't make the case that "Republicans don't care what happens to you. They'd poke a stick in your eye if they felt like it."

        There are sloganeers and video-makers who could pull this kind of campaign together. Given a track record which makes me think Dem p.r. people are getting paid more by Republicans on the sly, we shouldn't wait for them to get this together.

        This is a job for the Internet!

        PS: Came into the diary and thought I had somehow flashed back to DKos 1.0 or so. Back when writing was much less tweeterish, and much more writerish. A pleasant experience.

        Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

        by Jim P on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 09:33:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I apologize and have fired the proofreader. (10+ / 0-)

          I go through 'em like potato chips. Things should be:

          That means, practically speaking, you crave total control (infantile); to save your self-image (because in your heart you know "want total control" is... ...infantile, therefore low on the scale of "successful human.") you make up any distraction that'll work.
          We shouldn't ignore the serious blockage between what the voters want in policy and politics and the priorities of Leadership.

          Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

          by Jim P on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 09:55:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The term I like to use is "failure mode." (25+ / 0-)

          It comes from the technology sector, and it's basically a pathway that eventually leads to system crash due to a fundamental flaw in initial conditions.  The right-wing mentality is a human failure mode: Somewhere in the developmental process, their emotional and intellectual connections stopped growing before they'd reached a healthy adult stage, or else were driven into unhealthy patterns by environmental or underlying character flaws.

          They attract the whole spectrum of sociopathy: The infantile (gimme gimme gimme!), the adolescent (mean-spirited competitiveness), the manipulative adult psychotic (treat words as meaningless tools of power rather than communicating with people), etc.

          As to the magnanimity of Democrats, I would agree they usually do it wrong, and that an analogy based on war will only imperfectly work while a conflict remains entirely verbal and economic.  But we should distinguish strategic magnanimity from plain spinelessness or dubious motives.  While it hasn't done much for Democrats in Congress, so far it's been vindicated by the administration: Every single controversy Republicans generate ends up blowing in their face because the President confronts it with good nature, humor, and a touch of solemn disappointment at having to talk about such a silly thing.  And as you note, we're continually reaping the political benefits of their blind malevolence.

          The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

          by Troubadour on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 10:34:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I suspect that the corporate monopoly (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          neroden, CA Nana, Mayfly, elwior, Troubadour

          only addresses the sense-deprived -- i.e. people whose input stream is restricted to what they see and hear.  And, indeed, those might even be distinct populations in the sense that the people connected to radio are optically challenged and the people connected to the TV are aurally challenged and don't actually hear what the people they are watching say. That is, they sit and watch TV in the same way people used to sit on the porch, or the fire escape, and watch the world go by without hearing what was being said, only the noise of the street.

          But, if that's the case, then the only real effect of the corporate media monopoly is the extent to which it causes other entities to waste time and energy on critiquing and contesting with it.  If the corporate media monopoly is merely a palliative, there's nothing to be gained from challenging it.  Might as well complain about soap operas, whose cancellation, btw, I suspect the networks are going to regret.

          by hannah on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 03:42:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Every "political" conversation we have (7+ / 0-)

            is set by corporate media.

            The entry into public view is determined by Media Central, whether for people or for issues, and the narrative about who and what is good and bad is set by Media Central.

            200 million people in 2 days heard the "Dean Scream." A use of a crowd-noise-suppressing microphone when Media knew that which, in 48 hours turned Dean from front-runner to screaming madman.

            The swiftboaters, who in one week of constant media promotion, turned Kerry from a war hero into a lying coward and lost him the election.

            Today, the media is talking about Weiner's weiner and nobody is talking about a huge stream of reports, charges, and lawsuits against the big bankers for massive fraud.

            Media Central is at the core of our political malfunction, and it's absent reason to conclude it isn't.

            Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

            by Jim P on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 09:29:28 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The media only controls if you let it. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Dean was undone because he was an incompetent campaigner, period.  I knew that months before the "scream" moment.

              Obama, however, was portrayed in virtually every media outlet on a daily basis as someone perpetually on the losing side of whatever the day's events were.  Images of of him routinely showed him pointing his finger upward like Osama Bin Laden - they clearly waited for him to make that gesture just so they could photograph it and use it on their front pages.  Every single thing that happened was "good news for John McCain."  And nobody gave a shit.

              The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

              by Troubadour on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 11:22:14 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ahistorical nonsense. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JG in MD, Mayfly

                You might find a this or a that which shows the media failed to derail (and btw almost everyone except the most rabid partisans saw the Media after the nomination favoring Obama over McCain in most coverage)

                but the fact that Sarah Palin is even considered a candidate, that Ryan's plan is described as "reform" when it's clearly about ending Medicare,

                Look at the deficit. Now it ranks high as an issue, but 3 months before it ranked low. Then media ran nothing but stories on what a problem the deficit was and now it's ranked high.

                Look at Saddam's WMDs. Soon after we found that there were none, 60% were saying there were none. Media ran two solid weeks of people claiming Saddam gave them to Syria, the Russians, even Iran, and then the "had WMD" numbers were near 50-50.

                Look at the bailout. The public opposed it by 70-30. Then we had 3 weeks of every talking head explaining we needed it or we'd all die, and then the numbers came to 50-50.

                There simply is no greater factor in our political outcomes than the gatekeeper/narrative role played by a media which can implant the identical impression in nearly every person in a 48-hour period.

                Gary Condit. Swiftboats. And you might have known, but the voters didn't know that Dean wasn't viable. C'mon. From a front runner to out of the race in ONE WEEK, after the 2-day assassination effort by mass-media, and that was no factor.

                It's completely against reason to pretend that a ubiquitous and advanced propaganda system, one which decides which issues are covered and how, has a negligible influence on our political life.  

                Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

                by Jim P on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:04:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  In a world where Mark Halperin is taken seriously (0+ / 0-)

                  as a political commentator and prognosticator, you know that things are seriously fucked up.

                  And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

                  by MrJersey on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 02:22:34 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  I totally agree. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JG in MD

            Wasting time wrestling with the media is about as productive as shadow-boxing.

            The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

            by Troubadour on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 11:19:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Top Comment! n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

          by Dragon5616 on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 10:15:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Reflecting on reciprocity overnight, the (9+ / 0-)

        brain came to the conclusion that reciprocity is the key to autonomy. That seems strange.  But, it makes sense when one considers reciprocity as a consequence, rather than an intentional act, which grows out of a habit of taking the concerns of others into consideration, when directing one's own actions.  That is, one can avoid generating opposition to one's own behavior by the simple stratagem of taking other interests into account and providing for their satisfaction either before or after one's own interest is satisfied. Of course, in order to do that, one has to be able to accurate assess the other's interests and to do that one has to have a sense of time, place and circumstance. I think the military calls it "situational awareness"-- an ability that seems to be sorely lacking in many people.  They simply seem incapable of seeing others as distinct from themselves and their emotional impulses, perhaps because they are incapable of being aware of themselves.  So, there's no basis for recognizing difference.

        I think it would be interesting to know whether that Amazonian tribe that's been discovered to have no sense of time or numbering system has any awareness of the individual as a distinct being. I would suspect not.  I would also suspect that what makes them anomalous is that the trait seems to be universally present in the group. Perhaps that could be accounted for by individuals who think differently not being able to stand it and leaving the group.  Since the group has no history, someone leaving would not be noted or recorded.

        Anyway, liberals take other people's interests into account. Conservatives don't because, it's likely, they can't.  Even when conservatives impugn motives, they end up being wrong because they don't even recognize their own as their own.

        by hannah on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 03:31:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Interesting ideas ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Grumpy Young Man, elwior

      Political parties have largely turned American democracy into a spectator sport. Many people on both sides root for their "team" without really allowing themselves the duty to think about their choice. I'd wager a good number of people are born into a party the way they're born into a religion. Sure, some people change religion, but most do not.

      •  Disagree. (0+ / 0-)

        The parties are able to operate as distinct from the people to the extent the people choose to be spectators - it can't be imposed without people already being largely amenable.  Framing like this - "the parties" as two interchangeable entities separate from their constituents - is part of the problem, because it reflects authoritarian assumptions.

        The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

        by Troubadour on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 11:27:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Dominionism is a mental illness (19+ / 0-)

    The book is closed on em.

    From there, since time immemorial, our evil has sprung, and that's where it comes from today:

    the people who either by wealth, color, or religion think they are pre-ordained to control not just the country but the world.

    The rest of us battle it, as our forefathers did, with varying levels of success.

  •  They are the problem not the solution. (20+ / 0-)

    When so much goes to so few like before the Great Depression, the economy suffers.  FDR fixed that by taxing the rich, actually soaking the rich.  Reagan began the process of concentrating wealth and we are back to Great Depression like figures on wealth distribution.  More tax cuts will result in a feudal society.  We will not recover until the wealthy are taxed.  If tax cuts worked we would not be in this hole.  Lack of contact with reality = insanity.

    Tea Parties are for little girls with imaginary friends.

    by J Edward on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 04:49:25 PM PDT

    •  Which touches on the heart of the problem. (18+ / 0-)

      Selfishness in the general culture teaches people to resist and fear tax increases on principle, because they are made to believe that they'll be among the Chosen Few who benefit from feudalism.  When it dawns on them that this isn't happening, they are then fed scapegoats to unleash their anger on, with the full support of the Wealth State.  

      This was actually more or less what sparked the Crusades: A surplus of titled youths with plenty of weapons and not enough patrimonial lands to divide between them.  They endangered the status quo.  The larger and older estates didn't want to spend all their time fighting upstarts, and the Church didn't want its revenues sapped by infighting in Christian domains, so the Pope sent them off to waste themselves fighting an enemy of its power and despoiling foreign kingdoms that wouldn't have contributed to clerical wealth anyway.

      The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

      by Troubadour on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 07:58:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bleh. That playbook could still work. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JG in MD, eru, Troubadour

        What do you think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were being used for?

        The saving grace this time is that the Republicans are so nihilistic that they don't even treat the returning wounded troops decently.

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 04:21:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't see any analogy (0+ / 0-)

          between either war and the Crusades.  The war in Iraq was purely for the profits of the regime and its contractor allies, and a way to intimidate domestic opponents - it was not in any way used to relieve potentially disruptive energy.  The war in Aghanistan was and is self-defense, and something the regime didn't actually want because it delayed their plans for Iraq.

          But you are correct about Republican nihilism sabotaging their own military potential.  The troops may lean conservative politically speaking, but they have zero personal loyalty to the GOP or its leaders.

          The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

          by Troubadour on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 11:33:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Why do you think that the Powerball Lottery is (0+ / 0-)

        so popular?

        And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

        by MrJersey on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 02:24:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What is to be done? Congressman? Anybody? (20+ / 0-)

    It reminds me of WWII—we cannot lose this fight.

    A congressman from my state tweeted today that "the parties must come to an agreement about the budget" or something similar. I tweeted back

    You cannot negotiate with madmen or extremists. What is Plan B?

    I really want to know the answer to that question.

    Let there be light. Then let there be a cat, a cocktail, and a good book.

    by JG in MD on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 04:57:23 PM PDT

    •  Lincoln has the answer. (33+ / 0-)

      You cannot negotiate with madmen or extremists, but that statement is a tautology: You can only know they are mad because they will not accept accommodation, and will choose the most extreme course when you offer compromise that seeks to address at least their arguments even though it cannot appease their real motives.

      Lincoln bent over backward for the slave states when he took office, going so far as to promise that the federal government would never impose an end to slavery under his administration if the slave states remained in the Union.  He basically offered them the Moon, and portrayed the South in every word and deed right up to the attack on Fort Sumter as honorable, noble, patriotic Americans - exactly what they were not.  And that made all the difference.

      It was that which ultimately proved it to be a war between America and treasonous, greedy domestic oppressors - they were offered everything short of total Dominion, and rejected it contemptuously.  And the same story would play out in WW2 - a war that was unambiguously one of good vs. evil rather than a squabble among European aristocracies, purely because Chamberlain was willing to put it all on the line and give Germany what it said it wanted.  However deluded he personally was, it was his actions that made the successful and clear result of the war and its aftermath in international law possible.

      So, learning both by Lincoln's example and Chamberlain's mixed performance, the only way to deal with madmen and extremists in your midst is to cultivate cynical amiability with them: To prove that they are indeed madmen by being generous beyond all reason or justice, and then watching as they inevitably interpret it as a sign of weakness and try to take everything you have left.  

      We are going to get single-payer universal health care in this country, and we are going to get it precisely because Republicans are such petty, evil rats that they could not tolerate even quarter-measures, let alone half-measures.  We are going to get a sane tax system, precisely because they just cannot be content with being overwhelmingly favored - they must go for Total Injustice, and pay nothing while others pay everything.  And all the other things similarly, because they are not content to be pragmatic aristocrats: They must stomp their victims into the dust.  And that is their undoing.

      The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

      by Troubadour on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 08:29:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well I hope you are right (8+ / 0-)

        But did they have Hedge Fund Managers in those days?

        ~a little change goes a long way~

        by missliberties on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 08:58:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hedge Fund Managers are practical people. (12+ / 0-)

          They're thieves when real opportunities for thievery present themselves - they're not Gollum jumping into lava to have a last look at his Precious.  And, truth be told, oftentimes such bastards have found it convenient to be on our side, because they're reality-based villains.  And we've let them, because we're reality-based heroes.  

          We put their thieving in its proper context: They can't steal what isn't generated in the first place, so the competent ones among them tend to view economies like dairy cows - things to be periodically fed and milked, boom and bust, bubble and burst.  They're not the truly dangerous smash-and-grab artists.

          The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

          by Troubadour on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 09:27:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Is it just me ... (8+ / 0-)
        So, learning both by Lincoln's example and Chamberlain's mixed performance, the only way to deal with madmen and extremists in your midst is to cultivate cynical amiability with them: To prove that they are indeed madmen by being generous beyond all reason or justice, and then watching as they inevitably interpret it as a sign of weakness and try to take everything you have left.

        ...or is this precisely what we've been watching?  The error behind the disastrous-for-them over-reach of Greedy Old Patricians?


        by chmood on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 09:05:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think so. (12+ / 0-)

          For our part, Obama is a student of Lincoln's presidency, so I'm sure he recognized the same lessons I did.  Especially because his administration clearly embodies them, and regularly proves their insightfulness.  He is accommodating because that is the way to separate passionate enemies from those who are just phoning it in; to separate the institutional from the radical; to drive a wedge between the nihilistic would-be warlords and the patricians - a progressive and morally upstanding version of Divide and Conquer that depends entirely on their own malevolence to make them impotent.

          The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

          by Troubadour on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 09:57:51 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I worry because of his mis-assessment of... (11+ / 0-)

            "the warlords", as Geithner now calls them, in the financial industry.  Prior to their poltroonish behavior, spitting in the faces of the very government which saved their careers, apparently Obama's administration genuinely thought that they were merely patricians.

            He was wrong.  Making errors of assessment of that sort is very dangerous for this sort of strategy, and I think that Obama's inslightfulness and ability to embody Lincoln's lessons is much poorer than I had hoped.

            I agree completely with all of your general assessment though.  Great diary.

            Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

            by neroden on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 04:12:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  it was the loot that made them radical (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JG in MD, Troubadour

              the payoffs, both in disappearing the losses and in the special deals that allowed a second helping at the trough, were just too much to foreswear.
              Altruistic, compassionate people do not tend toweard Hedge fund management or bank administration careers.

              That doesn't seem to be all that obscure to me, but it was apparently missed by...everyone.

              Obama's like Bush? No. He's more like Cheney. They both shoot people in the face.

              by kamarvt on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 06:29:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I can believe that it's Obama's strategy to expose (5+ / 0-)

            the extent of Republican rapaciousness through 'rope-a-dope' accommodation.  But Obama's accommodation has been financially and politically expensive.  Besides, Obama seems only to be attempting to expose that which was long ago exposed and rejected by the voters in the 2008 election.  

            Obama's initial failure, and the extensive, long-running failure of Democrats in Congress to aggressively combat Republican sociopath-y directly led to the ennui of the progressive grassroots and the loss of the 'favor-the-will-to-win' independent vote in the 2010 mid-term elections. The Democrat's failure of will has given the Republicans yet another chance to attempt their reconstruction of the "Articles of Confederation" version of the U.S.   Republicans have so long been antagonistic toward the notion of perfecting the "Constitution" version of the country that this antagonism has become a party brand value.

            It's been the Republican attacks in the state legislatures that have awoken an effective opposition to the Republican agenda, an opposition that has not be enabled or supported by the Democratic Party in D.C. or its putative leader, the President.  

            Because of the litany of charges you bring against the Dems in your diary, I though you were headed down a different road . . . one that illuminates how a feckless Democratic Party both in power and in opposition has enabled the radical version of the Republican Party that is now dismantling the notion of a 'liberal democracy' in the United States.  That diary would be worthwhile as well.

            ----- GOP found drowned in Grover Norquist's bathtub.

            by JimWilson on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 06:51:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary Trobadour, thank you for a much needed (11+ / 0-)

    dose of optimism.

    "when they finally realize they will never truly possess this country", I have my doubts.

    •  There can be no doubt (12+ / 0-)

      where we understand our country to be a consequence of ourselves, rather than a circumstance imposed on us.  This simple but oh-so-historically-rare understanding is what made the compound improbabilities of our nation's birth and development possible.

      I look at all the disruptive forces that have toppled the great democracies of history, and they were all backed by some kind of substantive politics and motivation: They were not nihilistic.  When Athens fell into oligarchy, it was surrounded and under siege, almost on the point of being razed to the ground, and yielding power to an oligarchy was a practical means of securing peace from Sparta; the Roman legions who tore the Republic apart had personal loyalties to their generals to the point of being essentially extended families; Weimar Germany was only democratic by imposition, and its culture remained overwhelmingly that of obedience to authority and yearning for Order.  

      The forces that prey on America, however, are not human in any of these ways - they are nihilistic and hollow down to their political foundations: Purely mercenary, purely alliances of convenience among sociopaths.  And the one, totally unavoidable necessity of such politics is short-term thinking: If they don't sacrifice the 5-second future to win the 2-second future, someone more cynical and short-sighted than themselves will usurp their position.  And if someone among them does arise who can think ahead, their personal success would contribute to the long-term failure of their party and their values.  It's beautiful.

      The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

      by Troubadour on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 08:54:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I like this analysis and it seems hopeful... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ...but it seems to me that it could be easily hijacked by a sufficiently competent authoritarian group into a plain old palace coup with subsequent installation of a dictator.  

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 04:18:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Bush was a dictator. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          This is crucial to realize: The state he ran was a dictatorship - a one-party state where it was, or at least appeared to be, dangerous to oppose him, and his actions were not constrained to any kind of explicit law.  But he was totally powerless outside the domain of government itself, because no one obeyed him who wasn't under his direct command or who he couldn't get fired.  Dick Cheney tried to set up a rigorous authoritarian state, but his own people weren't interested - they just wanted to create chaos and steal things, not recreate the Soviet Union in conservative terms.

          The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

          by Troubadour on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:00:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  how does the option of violence fit this? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I don't mean the TP wet dream of militias in the streets, i mean domestic terrorism and assassinations.

        An angle I take on the fevered rhetoric from the Right is I think there is a more deliberate attempt to ratchet up the unhinged to become violent.  I actually think some of it is a result of frustration that nobody has shot the president yet.
        There. I said it.
        It ain' t like there's no precedent. Another Lincoln parallel.

        Obama's like Bush? No. He's more like Cheney. They both shoot people in the face.

        by kamarvt on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 06:33:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The thing that separates the GOP from the IRA (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          or other long-standing, strongly-footed militant group is that nobody is going to put their life on the line for nihilism.  So yes, they are infuriated that their dittoheads haven't lined up to be suicide bombers - something it was clear to see when they wouldn't even volunteer to fight in Iraq in any significant numbers.  They're not going to die for a tax cut.  It's like asking someone who says they believe in heaven to go skydiving - suddenly reality is more complicated.

          The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

          by Troubadour on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:13:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  that's one hell of a relief (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and I hope you're right.
            But that still leaves goading the unhinged to violence; at least that's less likely to happen (less of them) and if it does, less likely to be successful.
            Which is no consolation to Gabrielle Giffords or the rest of the victims that day in Arizona.

            Obama's like Bush? No. He's more like Cheney. They both shoot people in the face.

            by kamarvt on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:36:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  But the GOP can depend on the "lone gunman" the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            occasional frustrated crazy who is taught to be enraged at some demonized "enemy" of the Right-Wing.

            Remember, it is "We the People...", not "We the Fat Cats..."

            by Mayfly on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:48:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh, sorry kamarvt, I should have read your comment (0+ / 0-)

              first.  I'm redundant.

              Remember, it is "We the People...", not "We the Fat Cats..."

              by Mayfly on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:50:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  The problem, for them (0+ / 0-)

              is that crazy people are unreliable, and as apt to blind violence against "da gubbermint" (e.g., the OKC bombing), or against racial and ethnic minorities in ways that energize liberal activism, rather than against Democrats the GOP would find convenient to see dead.

              The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

              by Troubadour on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 01:22:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I find it fascinating (20+ / 0-)

    that the sociopaths seem to be eating themselves alive.

     The GOP has become so rigid that they have violated the sacred  3lleventh Commandment. Though shalt not speak ill of another Republican.

     They used the carnival barkers to rile up their base and now the carnival barkers seem hell bent on demanding fealty to such a regressive set of morals that it seems nearly unthinkable.

     Chris Christie the fleshy manifestation of all GOP sins. Rick Scott is their perfect poster child. Scott Walker is the duplicitous grin.

     I find it hard to believe that for the sake of a lobbyists campaign contribution and a black limo they are willing to sell their souls to 'balance' the budget that they blew up in the first place.

    ~a little change goes a long way~

    by missliberties on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 08:25:33 PM PDT

  •  It started way before 2000 (16+ / 0-)

    Who voted in Bush 5-4?  Rehnquist, O'Connor, Kennedy, Scalia, all named by Reagan, and Thomas, named by Bush Senior.

    Reagan was a terrible President, all things told, who grabbed the credit for many right decisions Carter did for the long term.

    Arguably the rot set in with the Powell Memo, which outlines the roadmap for the corporatist takeover of government.

  •  Another change noted at the time (7+ / 0-)

    in the media, in 2001, immediately after the transition was the degree of harsh discipline meted out to GOP legislators not in lockstep with the party line. Tantamount to shunning.  Commentators at the time noted that the degree of discipline was entirely new, and probably Rove-inspired.

    Sometimes a .sig is just a .sig.

    by rhubarb on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 09:11:17 PM PDT

    •  Fortunately that discipline was self-limiting. (8+ / 0-)

      They rode Bush's ship straight to the bottom of the ocean, and are now incapable of enforcing discipline on the right-wing side.  The result is a party almost tailor-made to not stay in power.

      The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

      by Troubadour on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 09:50:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately the same seemed true of... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JG in MD, No one gets out alive

        ...the Nazis prior to the "night of the long knives".  I would not at all be surprised if the Republicans found a way of "enforcing discipline" through massacres.  I'm kind of hoping they self-destruct before we devolve to that sort of politics, but I'm not very hopeful.

        Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

        by neroden on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 04:14:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not going to happen like that. (0+ / 0-)

          Much is made of corporate collaboration with the Nazis, but corporations don't collaborate with the GOP - they are the GOP.  For another thing, as much as the personalities of their members resemble it, the teabaggers are not the SA - they're basically props used for Fox News coverage of staged events.  Whenever their corporate masters don't want them around, they just change the subject of talk radio rants to something less stirring.  For another, even if the 'baggers were the SA, corporate culture is all about covering your ass: The most they would do is have the government arrest their own puppets.

          The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

          by Troubadour on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:22:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This Just In... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, Troubadour
  •  Gawd f'give me (7+ / 0-)

    I hate rich people b/c they steal from the poor.

    Even the rich assholes who are so clueless they don't see how they're stealing from the poor.

    Hate 'em.

    This country needs to get itself together, lest we have another French Revolution.

    We don't have guillotines, but a lot of pissed off people can't be pleasant for the ruling class to be looking at.

    Boiling point is not a good place to start making offers.

    Rich people need to take a stand for the battered working class.

    Give us a freaking break.

    GSA Making your School a Hate-Free Zone

    by x on Thu Jun 02, 2011 at 11:50:23 PM PDT

    •  Well, some of us are making a stand. (8+ / 0-)

      There are rich people calling for progressive tax policies: higher taxes on the rich, to pay for better government services for everyone.  George Soros is the richest and most obvious example.

      Unfortunately there seem to be more stupidly sociopathic rich people than there are intelligent rich people.  Intelligent rich people are very worried, because the decent went to the guillotines along with the villains during the French Revolution.

      Read pp. 1-7 of Krugman's _The Great Unraveling_ (available from Google Books). NOW.

      by neroden on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 04:16:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  X, we're not going to have another French (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JG in MD, SoCalHobbit, Troubadour

      Revolution.  No worries there.

      There are plenty of rich people who are taking a stand for the battered working class-- lots of lefties come from backgrounds of privilege, or make good salaries, and are trying to do good stuff with the power and money they have.  I'm not snarking.

      But we really wouldn't have another French Revolution because we live in, in some ways, an entirely different world than that of eighteenth-century France.  A world where billionaires' money is protected by laws and financial infrastructure that no number of torches and pitchforks can touch.  A world where private planes can take rich people away to isolated enclaves at a moment's notice, far from torches and pitchforks-- and where rich people in government positions all over the world conspire through electronic networking to assist one another in escaping the kind of justice that people take into their hands with torches and pitchforks.

      That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

      by concernedamerican on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 05:34:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And we also can look back (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mayfly, concernedamerican

        at the actual Reign of Terror and know that it set back the cause of liberty, justice, and improvement of the downtrodden for decades.  If they had stuck with the principles of the original Revolution instead of letting the Jacobins take power, they could have made steady, regular progress.

        The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

        by Troubadour on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:26:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sociopaths (5+ / 0-)

    may have a brain disorder.

    I can't find the article I read on this issue, but it showed a brain anomaly that might account for a lack of empathy.

    Sociopaths may not be evil intentionally. They may just not have the neurons firing in the compassion sectors of their brains.

    Neurology is a young science. But it is very interesting.

    Perhaps some people simply cannot understand the effect they have on the well being of others b/c they have brains w/o the neuropathways needed to experience compassion.

    Sociopaths may have a neurological defect, which is a medical issue. Perhaps it is treatable.

    GSA Making your School a Hate-Free Zone

    by x on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:28:39 AM PDT

  •  Tarnation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    neroden, JG in MD

    Almost like they're in cahoots and we're bein' plum lied to, ain't it pardner?



  •  Outstanding summary. Thanks so much. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JG in MD, Troubadour

    Ds see human suffering and wonder what they can do to relieve it. Rs see human suffering and wonder how they can profit from it.

    by JTinDC on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 04:25:10 AM PDT

  •  DKos needs a double rec button... (7+ / 0-)

    for this diary. I hope everyone reads it as Troubador has described the despicable behavior of the GOP to perfection.
     Thanks for the reminder btw, I think I forget about their sins to stay sane. Mind you when I try to tell my fellow Aiustralians, they think I'm mad.

    •  Their sins between 2001 and 2009 (0+ / 0-)

      would fill a dozen phone books.  The ones I just mentioned were off the top of my head.  But I know how you feel - even most Democrats seemed oblivious to what was happening around them at the time.  I remembering saying "Bush is evil" sometime around May 2001, and other Democrats acting like I was being hyperbolic rather than making a literal statement.

      The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

      by Troubadour on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:31:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks tipped and rec'ed gladly (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JG in MD, Troubadour

    They are evil and need to be stopped.

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 05:37:40 AM PDT

  •  Beautiful rant (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dragon5616, JG in MD, Troubadour

    Well done, and a good reminder of what they have truly done.

  •  Now that's the Troubadour (6+ / 0-)

    I know and love.

    An eloquent, insightful, and true rant--the epitome of rants. Dare I say it? It's Rantasaurus Rex!

    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others." --Groucho Marx

    by Dragon5616 on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 07:43:18 AM PDT

  •  The problem is that the gop is masters at (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JG in MD, Troubadour

    political thuggery as well as spinning that thuggery is all done in the interest of american nationalism. Majority of voters are politically ignorant (to the point of being criminal) and buy into their crap most of the time. Of course, a corrupt, compliant and complicit corporate media as their messaging machine helps.

    One bitter fact is two bit hacks populate the third rate fourth estate who are truly the fifth columnists.
    A No-Drama Obama Site & Some Straight Talkin'

    by amk for obama on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 07:43:19 AM PDT

    •  I don't think most people buy into the GOP. (0+ / 0-)

      I think they buy into a lazily cynical false equivalency, and dismiss Republican obscenities as "politics as usual."

      The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

      by Troubadour on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:34:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  T/R, but should be 1981-2011 (5+ / 0-)

    Ever since Reagan was elected, they've felt entitled to run the country as they see fit, not as the people do.

    Good diary.

    "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

    by MikeTheLiberal on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 07:45:31 AM PDT

  •  I would also call the phenomenon (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    asymmetric warfare.

    The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

    by Upper West on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 08:13:33 AM PDT

  •  Had to go with Lying about lying (2+ / 0-)

    The missing element: "to themselves."

    In my experience people who cannot be honest to themselves cannot be honest about anything else.  Far too many people today live in denial.  It is especially rife in America where life has been so soft for so long.

    I suspect a lot of the GOP politics of anger comes from self-dishonesty.  People are afraid of losing the simplest modern convieniece because they doubt their own ability to cope.  Who knows how to cook from scratch any more?  Who bakes their won bread?  Who knows how to replace a water pump on the car?  

    People fear political options that will risk exposing them as hapless boobs.  But you cannot defend your politics on the basis of you being afraid to read the operating instructions for a screwdriver.  So it must be something else.  Some sort of evil plot at work.  Therefore Greed is Good.

    Sorta thing.

    Anyway, there's another set of random ramblings to throw on the bonfire.

    Stop. Stand up. Make a sign. Walk around in public. Be polite and orderly and the rest takes care of itself. Want to shake up the Plutocrats? Demonstrate your attention to politics.

    by Quicklund on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 09:00:56 AM PDT

    •  Good point. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The corporations who supply our lifestyles have usurped the position of parents, so the GOP is able to tie them and their interests into "tradition" and "family."  Anyone who favors community, education, self-directed effort, and independent thinking is thus denigrating the consumer-dependency lifestyle people are accustomed to.

      The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

      by Troubadour on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:38:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm of the opinion (4+ / 0-)

    this is all narcissistic behavior; it's pathological and therefore immune to discussion, argument, facts, reality, etc.

    It seems to me that conservatives in general, as a group, seem to exhibit narcissistic traits: a pathological need to feel dominant driven by insecurity, strong ingroup/outgroup identity and bias, challenges to defenses are met with invalidation and blame, etc.

    Narcissists rig the game, so if you play with them, win or lose, you lose.
    The only winnable strategy is to not play at all.

    I'm not suggesting political strategy, nor inferring we shouldn't vote nor anything of the sort. I'm just pointing out what we're up against... They're kinda psychotic. (thanks for keeping us healthy APA... great job!) Their antisocial/narcissistic traits should be discouraged not enabled; just look at Beck and Palin to see what happens when those traits get encouraged, yikes.

    Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

    by SoCalHobbit on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 09:20:40 AM PDT

    •  Definitely narcissists. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MrJersey, SoCalHobbit

      I think that's a different axis from sociopathy though.  There are quixotic sociopaths - people who make others suffer on behalf of some ideal rather than pure selfishness.  And then there are narcissistic sociopaths, who make others suffer because they find it convenient for their personal interests.

      The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

      by Troubadour on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 12:41:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The parties don't do (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    what's "best for themselves", if by "themselves" we mean the actual voting bases of the parties.  What the parties do is the best for hegemony, which Democrats call "ideology" when done by Rubes, but "pragmatism" when done by Dems.

    "Tu vida es ahora" ~graffiti in Madrid's Puerta del Sol, May, 2011.

    by ActivistGuy on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 11:19:28 AM PDT

  •  What do we do about these evil monsters? (0+ / 0-)

    If you look at my sig, I agree with you.

    Looks like guerrilla warfare (non-violent) is the way to go. A frontal assault will be thrwarted by their superior money and power.

    Evil is on their side, and it is unrelenting.

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Fri Jun 03, 2011 at 01:52:41 PM PDT

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