27 October 2010

The left panic over the Tea Party

Daniel Hannan once again writes brilliantly in the Daily Telegraph summarising much of the media coverage of the Tea Party in the past year or so.   It went through the phases of:
- Ignoring the Tea Party as irrelevant;
- Smearing Tea Party members as uneducated redneck country hicks (don't ever say those on the left are liberal and treat everyone as equal);
- Laughing at how the Tea Party was going to make the Republicans extremist and unelectable; and now
- Warning that Tea Party members are stupid and are being conned by a "big corporation" (successful large businesses are evil) conspiracy to take over and run their lives.

He points out at today's Guardian article by leftwing armageddonist George Monbiot (remember him? The same man who preached self immolation saying "It is a campaign not for abundance but for austerity. It is a campaign not for more freedom but for less. Strangest of all, it is a campaign not just against other people, but against ourselves") who says the Tea Party is an exercise in "false consciousness".

Really George?  Yes, believe it or not, he believes that specific billionaires and major companies are driving the agenda, which includes "big government", and duping millions of Americans in the process.  Such stupid little people, don't know when they are being conned.  Good job there is an elite in the media and academia, as well as well intentioned and incorruptible leftwing politicians to look after their interests.
Quite why "billionaires and big business", which has been spending money on politics for a very long time is now suddenly being successful isn't clear, except that Monbiot treats the language of free markets, small government and fiscal austerity as being "the same" as what the Bush Administration and previous Republican Administrations did.   All of which is demonstrably false.

Monbiot's demon is that businesses seek to make money at the expense of their customers, employees and the places they locate.   That businesses destroy and that their wealth creation is a zero sum game, which also involves destruction and theft from others.  It is the scapegoat that Monbiot applies to the world, and so he links the corrupt and statist actions of some businesses (which continue in the form of constant pleadings for subsidies and protectionism by some), to the agenda of the Tea Party, and does so by dismissing freedom, free markets and less government as taking from the poor, and about power moving from government ("good") to companies ("bad).   

The implication goes further than that, as Hannan explains, because it embraces the idea that democracy is fundamentally flawed.  That the average person doesn't know what is good for them, and so votes against her interests because of "false consciousness".  This is where the term "Democratic People's Republic" has relevance.

The core philosophical basis for all of the Marxist-Leninist totalitarian dictatorships of the 20th century (and the few that remain) is that the interests of the people are served only by a single political party that ostensibly represents their interests and acts on their behalf.  That party is an expression of the "general will", and so any who go against the party are acting not only against the interests of the "people" and "society", but themselves.  This is why many in those regimes were treated, not as political prisoners, but psychiatric patients.   It was literally considered insane to go against a party that had everyone's best interests at heart.  In an environment where truth was manufactured and controlled (because of the risk that inconvenient truths would empower those who wish to exploit and manipulate the people, and so be against their interests), it turned everything upside down.

This is what Monbiot is claiming from the Tea Party, that millions of "ordinary people" (unlike he, who knows best) are being fooled and tricked against their best interests by evil people whose only intent is not to do what they say, but to use government to enrich themselves.  

Quite what he would want to do about it, when Tea Party members themselves agree with the objectives of the Tea Party, when they want fiscal responsibility, free markets and less government, and vote accordingly, is unclear.   

Following on from that, worshippers of big government, ever increasing public debt and higher taxes have formed the "Coffee Party" as a lame attempt to raise support for their side.  One only needs to read that the Coffee Party believes "that the federal government is not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will" to notice that the connections between the Coffee Party's philosophy and that of Marxism are rather clear.  There is, of course, no such thing as a collective brain, and so what this really means is not that millions of people's wills are expressed through government (in fact the free market), but that a few hundred politicians vote for the policies they espouse and bind everyone else in the process.   If a majority want to take more money from a minority, or give more of someone else's money to a minority, or regulate a minority, then they can.  Without constitutional limits on this to protect fundamental individual rights, the risks are clear that government can become a tyranny of the majority.   

Clearly those who embrace tax and bigger government are panicking.  Panicking that their self-deluded belief that things can only get better if only they could spend other people's money where it would "do good", prohibit things that are "bad" and promote things that are "good", is no longer being supported.  Panicking that a lot of Americans are seeing the Federal deficit and debt and asking the reasonable question "when does this have to be paid, who pays it".

Panicking that Americans don't want corporate bailouts, don't want politicians using the government to pay minority interests other people's money, and that they actually truly do believe that the free market offers the best opportunities for economic growth, prosperity and the right to live one's life as one sees fit.


Anonymous said...

Yup, there go the ordinary people again, not knowing what's good for them.

Thank god for the Tea Party I say. It's hugely exciting and sooo American in spirit. Really, they are the last line of defense for the free world... yet again.

Jeremy Harris said...

Anyone who uses the word elite so regularly (like being elite is a bad thing) is not be taken seriously...

It appeals to the lowest common denomination; they're elite, you're not, you should hate them...

Libertyscott said...

Jeremy: The Tea Party doesn't talk like that, although some Republicans do. You shouldn't be diverted off the message - the Tea Party websites makes clear there are three goals - fiscal responsibility, smaller government and lower taxes.

The flipside are those who treat with disdain and incredulity those who say they want government to do less. As if it is an insult to be saying "no, I don't want you to spend more of my money".

Both main parties in the US have been corrupted by power and wasted inordinate amounts of money on propping up all sorts of special interests, whilst ever layering new laws on top of old ones.

If the Tea Party can turn things the other way then all power to it, notwithstanding the wingnuts in its midst (which it has no monopoly on, given the hysterical claims of some on the left who are into conspiracy theories for 9/11 etc).

Jeremy Harris said...

I was referring to Monbiot, he used the word elite three times and the word redneck...

I've also seen how he describes AGW skeptics, as though one of the main principals of science - skepticism is somehow evil or immoral...

He is not to be taken seriously...

I hope the Tea Party has a resounding victory, if they can pass the fair tax, repeal the Patriot Act and radically reduce the size of government I'll seriously investigate moving to the US...

Libertyscott said...

Oh yes, Monbiot is a wingnut himself.

As long as the Tea Party remains true to its principles, I am happy.