March 30, 2007

Right Radicals

All of the people now deemed to be on the "left" -- including many who have quite disparate views about the defining political disputes of the 1990s -- have been able to work together with great unity because all energies of those "on the left" have been devoted not to any affirmative policy-making (because they have had, and still have, no power to do that), but merely towards the goal of exposing the corruption and radicalism at the heart of this extremist right-wing movement and to push back -- impose some modest limits -- on what has been this radical movement's virtually unlimited ability to install a political framework that one does not even recognize as "American."

Regardless of what other beliefs one might have, opposition to endless warmongering in the Middle East (and the wonderful tools used to promote it, such as rendition, torture and indefinite detentions) -- combined with a belief in the rule of law, along with basic checks and balances, as a means of modestly limiting the power of the federal government over American citizens -- is now sufficient to render one a "liberal" or "leftist." That's because the political movement that dominates our country is radical and authoritarian -- "security leads to freedom." Our political spectrum is now binary: one is either a loyal follower of that movement or one is opposed to it.

Regular readers of this blog may be interested in Glenn Greenwald's post about "neoconservative radicalism." I've never really thought the term "neocon" was quite descriptive enough. "Radical authoritarian" makes some sense.

Having passed through outrage into some sort of fatigue, I am not in a state of apathy or acceptance. I swear I see something like acclimation in the people around me. Even as Bush's numbers scrape bottom, people get to a point where they seem to just plain think this is the way things are supposed to be.

And I think people, somewhere inside, have bought into the idea that we can't be protected unless we give up at least some of who we are.

It's been said that for corruption/evil to prevail, good people must do nothing. That's meant to be a call to action, but I think it's inaccurate. I think the frustrating thing about pressure from the radical right authoritarianism is that it uses good people to do something. It draws on both fear and altruism to sustain expensive and otherwise impossible and distasteful efforts.

Minions of evil didn't rise up in America and launch an ill-fated war. Well-meaning and frightened people gave their time, money and lives to the effort. My opinion is that they were ill-used.

And that's how this works. People of evil intention don't need provocation. To get well-meaning people involved and keep them involved takes a little effort. And it's not really all that hard to find the button that will motivate one group. Since some buttons just don't work for some people, the trick is to pick the right button so that you get lots of people. And once you find that button, you push it hard and push it at every opportunity.

And when you're done playing with the government, lives and money, when the button is broken from leaning on it, hopefully something is left. Hopefully people can remember where they started instead of thinking it was always like this. Hopefully people don't assume that "everything is different now" but instead think about how they want things to be.

Tangents That Popped Into My Mind

Do second amendment rights become a sort of pacifier to inure people to the loss of other less tangible rights? Does the weight of a gun in your holster make you think you can take back your habeas corpus ant time you want? Is this why some otherwise libertarian-leaning conservatives retreat to gun rights when the discussion/specter of eroding civil rights rears its head?

Do people like being lied to during times of stress? Is there an advantage to being able to block out your aversion to lies (if you even have one) with the feeling that a sneaky lie can motivate more people more quickly than the open discussion of the truth? Complicity and lack of scrutiny is important in most hoaxes and cons. Did John Kerry suffer because people will burst out laughing if they imagine John Kerry trying to sustain a government conspiracy? The man can't hide his intention long enough to tell a joke. And when he changes his mind, actually changes it (flip... flop).

Posted by James at March 30, 2007 12:36 AM
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