Saturday, June 08, 2013

Fantasy Politics

Both the Left and the Right engage in fantasy politics of insurrection.  Someday, they imagine that they will be the vanguard of the People who have risen up against the government of the United States of America.  That the People now appear to be apathetic sheep is a problem, of course.  They appear to be not very interested in revolution, and not hungering for a vanguard to lead them in one.  But the magic mechanism that will turn today's sheeple into tomorrow's heroic freedom fighters is government repression.

So a few ideas clump together into one ideological fixation.  The actions of the government right now are laying the groundwork to repress the coming Revolution; the people must be warned; and present actions, which may be reasonable, must be opposed to preserve the future feasibility of the great revolt.

For the Right, the gun registration and background checks, no matter how reasonable they are today must be opposed because they will, on that great getting up day in the future, be used by the government to confiscate the arms of the freedom fighters.

For the Left, finding out the communication links between foreign militants and people in the United States must be opposed because that spying will be used to defeat the revolution in the future.

Essential to this is the wildest exaggeration of government capability and practice.  How often do you hear that the government is on the verge of confiscating everyone's weapons?  How often in the last few days have you heard that the government is actually listening to everyone's phone calls?  The drone killing of an American citizen who had relocated to Yemen and was actively involved in Al Qaeda there turns into a government that plans to execute citizens on US soil for political reasons, perhaps for filing an improper application for a tax-exemption.

As a result, what the government does is not measured against the concrete problems they are trying to solve.  They are measured instead against a dark future fantasy: if the government was completely totalitarian and the people were in revolt, how would these limited exercises of governmental power be possibly stretched into something fatal to a free people?  It's always 1935 in Germany.

Against that grim fantasy, nothing is reasonable, prudent, measured and effective.

So hysteria reigns, making governance impossible.

As we now see.

3 comments:

Steve Cook said...

You've nailed it, Tom. The Far Left and Far Right are both so deeply alienated from, disgusted with and distrustful of the status quo that they yearn for apocalyptic solutions, for nothing else will do. What I call "the rhetoric of theft" is freely used by both sides to characterize the other: "they" have "stolen" our country and "we" must "take it back!" Since thieves have no legitimacy, they are not to be negotiated or compromised with; all sensible legislative processes therefore become nearly impossible. "It's Germany in 1935" is far too chillingly true.

Clyde Grubbs said...

When I was very young and new to demonstrating and being active, I went to march for desegregation and saw guys photographing us. I asked who they were and was told "Red Squad" by the nun walking next to me. She seemed to find them amusing. She waved.

I am that Sisters protege.

Someday the archives will be openned and we will have some great mateiral for disserations, and all that history of how we "overcame." Isn't the water spray scene from Birmingham's childrens march police footage?

The Revolution is being recorded, there is simply too much on the tapes to sort through.

Clyde Grubbs said...

Steve,

Most indigenous North and South Americans think the land has been "stolen" and we are working creativily "to take it back." From Chile to Artic there are Lawyers, artists, enviromentalists, spiritual leaders, historians, community builders and social workers and all that is understood as one big, multigenerational, multifacted, non violent, "decolonize" our land movment

BTW, we are fluent with the "rhetoric of theft."

Gee Steve, are we Far Left or Far Right?