Political Luddites


    The Tea Party movement, working within the Republican Party, has momentum after rubbing out Senator Bennett’s career in Utah and forcing Charlie Crist in Florida to call himself an Independent. Whether the Tea Party participants realize it or not, their mission has mutated from an amorphous anger against the modern world of diversity and what they refer to as “big government and too many taxes,” into a flat-out commitment to the catechism of corporate feudalism, which masquerades right now as a movement to restore the capitalist free market of a (mythical) 18th century political past, as they believe it was created by our Founding Fathers in an infallible document venerated as The Constitution.  

    The entire scenario admits of no questions and no deviation—- it is like a secular religion, despite being a confusing mishmash of various wish lists from groups on the extreme right. The one over-riding message buried in that mishmash is the intent to dismantle the government, while pretending to save it—– rather like the military commander who lamented, “In order to save the village, it was necessary to destroy it.”

    The Tea Party’s primary aims are actually a distillation of long-cherished Republican fetishes, like distaste for government, that date back even to pre-Reagan days, including a bed-rock conviction regarding all taxes as an immoral taking from the prudent and hard-working by the lazy and improvident through the power of what they see as a fundamentally illegal government (which can do nothing right anyway: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you. Hahaha”). The Tea Party, therefore, is Republicanism on steroids. They are political luddites, one and all.

    This hatred of government has been craftily rationalized by a political philosophy that combines a version of libertarianism with corporate control of the political system.  It equates Freedom with the establishment of completely unregulated free Market Capitalism. When examined closely, the idea seems to be that government exists primarily to give assistance to corporate business interests by providing stability and enforcement of contracts (the “rule of law”)—- the mystical “hidden hand” of The Market will provide everything else.  

    The philosophy goes on to say that if “government” develops delusions or mission creep, and tries to serve any other interests (like those of workers, environmentalists, or pensioners for example) it is illegally meddling beyond its constitutional job description—- God and our Founding Fathers clearly meant there to be very limited government, and for individuals to be responsible for themselves; if they cannot manage to accrue enough wealth to take care of themselves, and provide safety, shelter, sustenance, and education for their families, then no one else, least of all government, has any reason to help them.

    The ideal, the Nirvana promised to those who apply this theory is a curiously anarchistic society reminiscent actually of the promised outcome of communism, in which The State, once seized by workers, would “wither away” into a minor administrative function. The difference here is that the promised land has been updated so that Labor (i.e., workers), far from being honored, will eventually be less than serfs, and the corporations, having attained personhood, will be the dominant elite.  Not to worry, though, says the theory: unregulated free market capitalism will provide endless growth and prosperity, while any glitches will be summarily worked out by The Market by itself, without human interference—- and that, folks, is true Freedom.

    Greed is sanctified; corporations are designed solely to make a profit for their shareholders (and, coincidentally, for the entrepreneurs and upper echelon of their leadership). Believers are convinced that single-minded concentration on this principle will create the best of all possible worlds, a Nirvana on earth.

    Getting to this Nirvana involves dismantling what they call “the liberal state” by any means possible. That includes seeking elective office in order to control the power of the state, whence true believers will privatize every function they can, install incompetent cronies in positions of leadership which they will mal-administer, cut taxes while borrowing funds to pay for their schemes, divert enormous amounts of taxpayer money to chosen cronies in sweetheart no-bid contracts, or to their own pockets, appoint to regulatory bodies members of the industry supposedly being regulated, indulge in military action or wars at the behest of corporate buddies without paying for them out of current revenues, defund or otherwise destroy  any and every so-called liberal program or group(like ACORN) they can, but provide public money for various private pet projects of their own—– in short, destroy government as we know it, even including public education (they say public education “teaches statism and liberal ideas”)

    Why? The new Republicans regard this destruction as necessary to reach their Nirvana. The truth, I fear, is, that the destruction of powerful central government suits the corporations. It has taken the business oligarchy a few generations to figure out that:

    1) they no longer need the help of a nation state to grow big and powerful,

    2) it is far better if they and their minions run the political side in order to enhance their profits and power, and prevent presumptuous taxes and regulations against them—– plus, they can dip into the public treasury for their own uses (like bailouts and subsidies) if they run things, and

    3) with globalization, petty, small-sized political entities are easier to control than big central states.

    Just as business interests after the American Revolution were ill-served by the chaotic lack of stability and standardized laws under the Articles of Confederation, and were one of the main groups pushing for a stronger central government under the Constitution, so now global corporations today feel themselves ill-served by the federal government, the only organization powerful enough to have the slightest possibility of reining them in. Big Business and Big Finance had a taste of being pretty much in charge during the Bush years, and they have no intention of accepting anything less.

    One result of the Republican party’s subservience to this political theory is that there is no longer a middle ground. There is no longer a center of moderate political views, where reasonable people can meet to craft policies or legislation based on shared principles of government. It is “my way or the highway” with today’s Republicans, desperate to serve their business and financial masters.  

    Thus, Democrats (and with them, know it or not, small business, workers, indeed the entire so-called middle class) are in a fight not just for their political lives, but for the entire concept of democracy and self-government by the people. Democrats should not expect to do more than peel away an individual here or there from the other side, and should stop playing for “bi-partisanship,” which is now just a joke.  

    All the Republican bleating about freedom, personal liberty, personal responsibility, small government, and lower taxes is smoke and mirrors to cover the onward march of the business oligarchy toward a new world of corporate feudalism.  The existing patchwork of political entities will no doubt continue to exist, probably in attenuated form, but real power will reside with the corporate and financial oligarchies of the world.  

    The change is not yet complete, of course, and I am not saying the scenario is necessarily a full-blown conspiracy, or even inevitable.  It is more like one very possible outcome of current events. It behooves progressives to get their contrary philosophy out there in the public square, and fight for it. No quarter allowed.