Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Reap The Whirlwind

When our parents demand unquestioning obedience, we grow up to obey without asking questions. That simple fact is frequently denied because it means our parents unknowingly and constantly acted abusively, and few people will admit their parents could not love them. It is too painful, perhaps the most painful truth we will ever be forced to accept--or refuse to accept.

Denial carries a heavy price. You must find reasons to explain why your parent ignored your wants and needs and insisted on having their need for obedience satisfied instead. You blame yourself or simply refuse to acknowledge your bad relationship with your parents and look elsewhere for love and acceptance instead. You look for another group to give it to you, trying to repeat the pattern you learned with your parents, this time successfully: You hope against hope that if you are obedient enough this group will give you the love and acceptance your parent withheld. You give all your thwarted love and need to God and/or your church, your country and president, your political party, your political philosophy, your social class. They are your tribe and without them you are nothing, alone and unwanted and unloved. We are human and we will do anything to be loved.

It is extraordinarily easy to manipulate these emotions, these needs. It is so easy that all anyone needs is a simple little picture to elicit the desired emotions. A cross, a flag, a baby, a gun. Use the symbols, or words if you must, to give people a sense of belonging, to make them an authoritarian follower.

Ezra Klein:
The tea parties might be astro-turfed. They might be underwritten by large donors. But I basically agree with Marc Ambinder: They represent an authentic, and strong, sentiment. I think that sentiment is more about minority opposition than health-care reform, but it's real.

I think it would be difficult to find a more convoluted display of reasoning than we see right here. "Large donors" are corporations who are after profit. Astro-turfing is one method they use to obtain that money. It is by definition as deceitful as it can get away with, and is done with a specific agenda benefiting corporations. Unless Klein is saying that conservatives exist to represent and support corporation whether they know it or not, a theory with which I agree, the minority view is not being represented. The corporations were able to get people to go to a rally to prevent legislation which would affect the corporations' ability to make more money. The tea-baggers were told they were protesting spending or loss of freedom, meaningless words with no context. Their "minority views" are emotional reactions to mistaken beliefs about events that never took place. There is absolutely nothing conducive to the democratic process here, just the perpetuation of their self-delusions.

To understand the purpose of the tea parties, look at the result. Universal health care, which was never on the table, is "falling apart" and no longer a topic for discussion. Who profits? One of the bigger astro-turfing and tea-bagging firms, Freedomworks, is led by Dick Armey.
– Armey’s FreedomWorks is actively organizing against health care reform. Indeed, Armey’s lobbying firm represents pharmaceutical companies, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, that oppose comparative effectiveness research in the health reform plan because such a program may cut into revenue for branded drugs.

– Armey’s lobbying firm represents the trade group for the life insurance industry. Indeed, FreedomWorks mobilizes its members for deregulated life insurance reform.

Someone else who profits is Richard J. Stephenson who owns Cancer Center Treatment Centers of America.

But Klein and Ambinder have no problem with the tea-parties. So what if they're bought and paid for and harm the "minority opposition"? Everyone buys and sells access, in one way or another. The Post does it. The Atlantic does it. So what if the tea-baggers do it too? Besides, what are our fine young pundits going to do about it? Fight their own employers? Get fired, lose access and money and media bookings? Lose friends and bigger houses and better book deals? No, it's easier and safer and altogether much more pleasant to go along with the tide, especially when associates are involved.

All of this, however--as bad and sad and stupid as it all is--is nothing to what the tea-parties have done very recently. The conservatives went too far, as they always do in the service of greater obedience and loyalty to their tribe. Their leaders gave the "minority opposition" permission to commit violence in their name. It is shouting and shoving now, but it most certainly will escalate unless it is stopped immediately. The right managed to keep its violent impulses in check by caressing its guns and sending its poor off to war for the past eight years, but that was before the elite stole its hope for the American dream of unearned wealth. Now they're broke and afraid, and their leaders have given them permission to become violent. Stanley Milgrim, in Obedience to Authority:
The essence of obedience consists in the fact that a person comes to view himself as the instrument for carrying out another persons wishes, and he therefore no longer regards himself as responsible for his actions. Once this critical shift of viewpoint has occurred in the person, all of the essential features of obedience follow. The adjustment of thought, the freedom to engage in cruel behavior, and the types of justification experienced by the person are essentially similar whether they occur in a psychological laboratory or the control room of an ICBM site.

Or a tea party. For thirty years the right has sown the wind and now it is about to reap the whirlwind. If the right's leaders do not immediately rescind their invitation to violence even their own leaders will not be safe. Roger Ailes is afraid. They should be too.

UPDATE: Tea-baggers assault a Democratic congressman. It won't be just the Left that is assaulted.


satch said...

Bleeding Jesus, who stole Ezra Klein's brain? "The tea parties...represent an authentic and strong sentiment." Yeah...and the suicides of the Heaven's Gate cult represented an authentic and strong sentiment that there was a mother ship behind the Hale-Bopp comet. I'm tempted to think that Ezra and his pals are just doing this for the money, but think about it, Susan: how much money would Dick Armey or Rupert Murcoch have to pay you to to write swill like that? The fact that you're still in there slugging shows that they haven't met your price yet, or you're incorruptible. No, I think Ezra, Megan, and the rest of the claque really believe this stuff.

Downpuppy said...

I think it's part insider syndrome. (Something that all of us are prey to) Once they're part of the Village they assume everybody on the outside is dummer than they are.

Since they're not that bright, they think we're utterly clueless. Sort of like a movie critic who ends up promoting boring crap because they think we need educatin'.