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The Tea Party Jacobins
May 12, 2010 6:24 PM   Subscribe

"The Tea Party Jacobins" is one of the better insights into the weirdness driving populist politics in America (and elsewhere) today.

Since the 1960s, in most advanced Democracies, political affiliations have been fragmenting, to the point individualism has come to the fore as the main loyalty - IOW, get government out of my life, I can do it on my own. This sort of libertarian ideology started on the left (anti-establishment hippies, etc.) and has moved to the "right" (Tea Party etc).
But the blame does not fall on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck or the Republican Party alone. We are experiencing just one more aftershock from the libertarian eruption that we all, whatever our partisan leanings, have willed into being. For half a century now Americans have been rebelling in the name of individual freedom. Some wanted a more tolerant society with greater private autonomy, and now we have it, which is a good thing—though it also brought us more out-of-wedlock births, a soft pornographic popular culture, and a drug trade that serves casual users while destroying poor American neighborhoods and destabilizing foreign nations. Others wanted to be free from taxes and regulations so they could get rich fast, and they have—and it’s left the more vulnerable among us in financial ruin, holding precarious jobs, and scrambling to find health care for their children. We wanted our two revolutions. Well, we have had them.

Now an angry group of Americans wants to be freer still—free from government agencies that protect their health, wealth, and well-being; free from problems and policies too difficult to understand; free from parties and coalitions; free from experts who think they know better than they do; free from politicians who don’t talk or look like they do (and Barack Obama certainly doesn’t). They want to say what they have to say without fear of contradiction, and then hear someone on television tell them they’re right. They don’t want the rule of the people, though that’s what they say. They want to be people without rules—and, who knows, they may succeed. This is America, where wishes come true. And where no one remembers the adage “Beware what you wish for.”
posted by stbalbach (50 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
BTW the above quote is not all the article says, it's full of great insights and quotes (I think though you are free to disagree), and well worth the read in full.
posted by stbalbach at 6:26 PM on May 12, 2010


I agree, the article IS great, but the summary actually oversimplifies what it says...there's a lot of meat here.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 6:32 PM on May 12, 2010


it also brought us more out-of-wedlock births, a soft pornographic popular culture

Piffle.
posted by DU at 6:42 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


DU: I assumed that the author wanted a hardcore pornographic popular culture.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:51 PM on May 12, 2010


Before I logged in, the text ad was to "Join the Tea Party." heh.
posted by gottabefunky at 6:56 PM on May 12, 2010


So what is the new populism about? That depends on who grabs your lapel.

This is why it is so hard to take the Tea Partiers seriously; it is such an individual rebellion that there is no cohesion in the party itself. It is hard to reconcile the desire for a smaller government with those who want the government to play a greater role in patrolling the borders, to name just one example. It is as if each and every Tea Party member wants a specific government tailor-fitted to suit that one person without being able to see how their own unique vision for government's responsibilities matches up to the nation's needs and pocketbook.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:59 PM on May 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


It is as if each and every Tea Party member wants a specific government tailor-fitted to suit that one person without being able to see how their own unique vision for government's responsibilities matches up to the nation's needs and pocketbook.

You are almost right. The Tea Party is a manufactured movement, but the only thing the members have been told is to "be discontented" and "oppose the filthy socialists". They haven't been told what to want, so those free variables range over every possible thing conservatives might want. Safe precious bodily-fluids for some, stupid snake flags for everyone else!
posted by DU at 7:12 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


it also brought us more out-of-wedlock births, a soft pornographic popular culture

That part of the quote sounds like the standard "Impartial Media" "I have to criticize both sides" equivalency crap.

If either Beck or Blumenthal is right about the new populism, then it’s not worth taking seriously.

The New Populism is a movement of people dedicated to working against their own best interests, just like the Old Populism. Whether the United States has declined in its collective intelligence so much that it would make Glenn Beck more politically successful than Huey Long is something I genuinely doubt. Which is why he (and every other 'populist leader') is working so hard to make money right now. President? Pshaw, why take the pay cut?
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:13 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is brilliant, thanks! I've made the same point regarding health care: the left blames the right for killing the public option, but the truth is that the left has spent the last few decades promoting the same libertarian-ish ideology that wound up killing it.
posted by AlsoMike at 7:13 PM on May 12, 2010


I don't buy the premise of this article at all. Aside from the Tea Party itself, there's no evidence of any "populist" discontent. And the simplest explanation for the Tea Party is that it's an astroturfing campaign.
posted by breath at 7:14 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's an AstroTurf campaign that takes advantage of this kind of discontent and gets people working against their interests, again. It's kind of beautiful in a horrifying way. The members of the Party get to feel all important and righteous and the actual Owners of the party get richer and have a media club to hit their opponents with. It's just so nakedly cynical you have to admire it.
posted by The Whelk at 7:34 PM on May 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, nothing about the people behind the Tea Party surprises me, but that's mostly because I spent my early 20's playing in an intensely politically-focused game of Vampire. Teaches you to admire high-level bastardry.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:38 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Still waiting for Mark Ames to write Fear and Loathing on the Palin Book Tour.
posted by clarknova at 7:39 PM on May 12, 2010


"This tirade helped to inspire the right-wing radicals who are now trying to purge Republican deviationists like .... Florida Governor Charlie Crist,"
Hey! Mission Accomplished!
posted by Floydd at 7:41 PM on May 12, 2010


That part of the quote sounds like the standard "Impartial Media" "I have to criticize both sides" equivalency crap.

Earlier this very afternoon, if you look about eleven links below this post on the front page of the blue, you will find a SLYT of five seven-year-old girls performing a dance routine consisting mostly of a series of rapid abdominal thrusts while wearing a matching bra and "boy cut" panty set of made of red satin and black lace, to the tune of a song whose lyrics suggests that an unidentified male should, if he was gratified by his previous sexual encounter with the singer, have asked her to marry him, but that as he did not, she will not longer have anything to do with him.

Fifty years ago, married couple on sitcoms were depicted as sleeping in seperate beds. Something has changed.
posted by Diablevert at 7:47 PM on May 12, 2010 [15 favorites]


a soft pornographic popular culture

[singsongy]My ears are burning![/singsongy]
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:57 PM on May 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


they have a pill for that now.
posted by The Whelk at 8:04 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I liked the article.

In tune with Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone.
posted by wilful at 8:16 PM on May 12, 2010


Well hell Diablevert I'd much rather have the option of ignoring a video filmed by some parents who maybe were a little too enthusiastic and didn't understand how out of context they'd taken something that made their kids happy (or maybe didn't foresee how out of context other people could take something they'd thought was pretty cool at the time) than have to pretend that like sex and desire doesn't exist at all in popular art or has to be so heavily coded it doesn't make any damn sense anymore or have any bearing on reality at all, I mean yes there are couples who slept in separate beds sure but it was hardly the norm and there were reasons, man, and you pretend those reasons don't exist and you cripple something in your art and your capability of expression and ultimately yourself. Which is to say sure something changed yes indeed but is there anybody who'd really argue largely or on the whole it wasn't for the better? —Thus: pox-on-both-your-houses bullshit, yup.

—Wait. This wasn't the Tea Party for Drunks thread? I ought to be in the HTML5 Jacobins thread instead? What?
posted by kipmanley at 8:21 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


"... it is significant that at the county level American elections are increasingly being decided by landslides for either Democratic or Republican candidates."

Gerrymandering aside, I think this highlights the fact that local politics may vary strongly from the national mean, and when national politics begins to interfere too strongly it can result in feelings of frustration and powerlessness that the Tea Party is an extreme example of. This article doesn't consider the merits of devolving policy decisions to the level that is appropriate; instead it presents an implicit either/or option of extreme individualism (I don't like the policies coming down from higher up) vs. harmonious nation-wide consensus (I do).
posted by simms2k at 8:38 PM on May 12, 2010


I give this article a thumbs-up just for the phrase "libertarian mob." There's something poignantly paradoxical about a movement of Solidarity for Separateness.

I wonder what a libertarian mob would look like? Or a neo-liberal mob? I think I know what a neo-con mob looks like (hint: mercenaries)…
posted by LMGM at 8:39 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that the Tea Party has it backwards. Yes things are getting ruined, yes your life is controlled by others. No it is not the elites. If anything the elites have given up out of apathy or realization that the inchoate masses are idiots and not worth the trouble to dominate.

So in the end, tea party-ers, your life is being run into the ground by that screaming idiot next to you with the goofy hat and no idea what useful legislation would look like if it gave him a tax break, protected you from corporate greed driven subjugation, or provided meaningful health-care directly to your dieing son.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 9:13 PM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Diablevert: "Fifty years ago, married couple on sitcoms were depicted as sleeping in seperate beds. Something has changed."

For the better, yes.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:34 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read this in print form and after doing so, I bet it would be on metafilter within a week. I win my own bet!
My favorite part -
But what happens after the class president is sworn in and the homecoming queen is crowned? The committees dissolve and normal private life resumes. And that, I suspect, is what will happen to the Tea Party organizations: after tasting a few symbolic victories they will likely dissolve. This is not only because, being ideologically allergic to hierarchy of any kind, they still have no identifiable leadership. It is because they have no constructive political agenda, though the right wing of the Republican Party would dearly love to attach its own to them. But the movement only exists to express defiance against a phantom threat behind a real economic and political crisis, and to remind those in power that they are there for one thing only: to protect our divine right to do whatever we damn well please. This message will be delivered, and then the messengers will go home. Every man a Cincinnatus.
posted by SouthCNorthNY at 9:38 PM on May 12, 2010


Diablevert: "Fifty years ago, married couple on sitcoms were depicted as sleeping in seperate beds. Something has changed."

Joakim Ziegler: For the better, yes.


Not everyone agrees. Which is, of course, what all of this is about.
posted by codswallop at 9:41 PM on May 12, 2010


Well hell Diablevert I'd much rather have the option of ignoring a video...than have to pretend that like sex and desire doesn't exist at all in popular art or has to be so heavily coded it doesn't make any damn sense anymore or have any bearing on reality at all...you pretend those reasons don't exist and you cripple something in your art and your capability of expression and ultimately yourself.

My point is simply this: People like fucking. It's the most pleasurable thing humans do. Start talking about fucking, suggesting it in even the most subtle and unconscious way, and bam, you got people's attention. Natural fact. We used to have quite strong taboos aimed at, if not stopping people from wanting to fuck, at least stopping them from publicly and openly talking about fucking, except in the most allusive, roundabout, double-entendre-ish way possible. And then we decided that those taboos were, as you put it, "crippling" something important and that it should be pretty much okay to talk about fucking. And now we talk about it all the time, and it's used to sell us stuff in a more and more direct manner, and becomes part of the conversation in places where, all things considered, we might prefer it not be discussed, simply because it always gets attention and we've decided repressing it is crippling.

Which is to say sure something changed yes indeed but is there anybody who'd really argue largely or on the whole it wasn't for the better?

I'd certainly agree that on the whole, the sexual revolution of the 60s had many benefits. I'm certainly glad I don't have to marry the first person I slept with (or at least maintain the facade that the person I married was the first one I'd slept with). But to pretend that because we like the benefits there were no costs is asinine. I don't think it's false equivalence to point out those costs, and I think that was the author's point as well.
posted by Diablevert at 9:43 PM on May 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


oneswellfoop: The New Populism is a movement of people dedicated to working against their own best interests

You know this? You know what their best interests are more than they do?

Gee, how could that possibly piss someone off?
posted by codswallop at 9:45 PM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not everyone agrees. Which is, of course, what all of this is about.

Really? There are people who think married couples should sleep in separate beds? Even if they do, they don't tell others they should. Maybe in some far corner of Utah they still preach that publically.

The article, if you read it carefully, says that there is agreement on these things, we all agree that freedom and individual choice is a good thing. He makes bullet points case by case where issues have been resolved between former warring factions. The "libertarian revolution" is over, it won.
posted by stbalbach at 10:09 PM on May 12, 2010


Teabaggers seem to be to the right of everything except the Bell Curve.
posted by trondant at 10:24 PM on May 12, 2010 [12 favorites]


You are almost right. The Tea Party is a manufactured movement, but the only thing the members have been told is to "be discontented" and "oppose the filthy socialists". They haven't been told what to want, so those free variables range over every possible thing conservatives might want. Safe precious bodily-fluids for some, stupid snake flags for everyone else!
I find the argument that the Teabaggers are a "Manufactured" movement a little annoying. The right claimed that the entire left-wing movement during the bush years was created entirely by George Soros. Liberals are at least a little more realistic and not claiming a single mastermind is doing all this.

But it's still stupid. These feelings (legitimate or not) are out there and right wing demographers are just soaking it up, like a boat skimming oil off the ocean surface. You're missing what would be, uh, the gusher of toxic stew spewing forth thousands of feet below the surface, in the dark, cold abyss of the right-winger mindset. metaphorically speaking.

---

Anyway, I found this article kind of dull. Just a rehashing of the old culture war 60's nonsense with zero actual data.
posted by delmoi at 10:42 PM on May 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Tea Partiers are not libertarians.

They're just angry populists without a coherent ideology.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:51 PM on May 12, 2010


DU: They haven't been told what to want

You say that like it's a bad thing....
posted by chavenet at 10:52 PM on May 12, 2010


So I did ask myself, this was not upremeditated, I did ask, self, why is this getting to you so much? Why you gonna go and risk derailing a perfectly good conversation about a decent-enough take on the octopus-roots of the swan-songing teabag by kicking around an offhand remark about separate beds? And I said, well, that sort of pontification from the pompitus of love really gets my goat and stirs up the urge for a righteous rant and besides I’ve had three glasses of a 2007 vintage which apparently showed intense blackberry and cherry notes harmoniously exalted by a light spicy background, or so I’m told by the label. All of which are perfectly good reasons not to say a goddamn thing, I said to myself, because you’ll get on that digressive tear where you forgo the comma splice entirely and just jam things together with conjunctions like some mad Schoolhouse Rock outtake and the analogies get more and more left-field until you end up sticking the landing and walking away with a punchline tucked into a brace of small tags. But I went ahead and did it anyway and now I’m told, well, that people like fucking, which, I mean, duh, but also people like talking about fucking, which is a shocker, people talking about what they like to do, but apparently it—
...becomes part of the conversation in places where, all things considered, we might prefer it not be discussed...
—and I think, I think really ultimately above all else, it wasn’t the slap however slight at the seven-year-old girls who only liked something not wisely but too well, and it wasn’t the yearning howsomever ironic for a day when married couples on the screen which was never a mirror anyway always slept in separate beds, dur hur, no, I think, I gotta say, you know, it’s the motherfucking we in that clause that pissed me off more than anything else. (Rhetorically speaking. I mean I’m not pissed at you, Diablevert. I don’t know you from Adam. But that we, goddamn I hate that we. So forgive me if a little spittle slops on you as I direct my vitriol at we.)

And this is about to become terribly unfair, but like I said, piss and vitriol; I’m trying to express why it is my knee jerked so hard at that passage and its repetition here, and I think this does eventually come back around to the whole idea of the mob of one and the distrust of elites and the collapse of consensus or whatever it is we’re umbrelling this under, but you might have to get out and push it over the line, anyway see I read that sort of oh there are problems with the sexual revolution don’t deny it rationalization for the sort of sex-talk is icky and makes me uncomfortable so I really wish people wouldn’t do it on the YouTubes quite so much argument that’s being made here—no, that’s not the unfair bit—what it’s reminding me of is when, and yes, this is the unfair bit, right here: remember a few weeks ago when some spokesperson or other got up and tried to excuse the whole priests-molesting-people thing by saying, oh, you know, those wacky ’60s and ’70s, the sexual revolution, really turned everyone upside down, how could anyone possibly expect poor naïve priests to keep their heads in times like that?

Which rhetorical question I was myself unable to answer due to the inarticulately white-hot rage which enveloped me upon the reading of those words.

When it had cooled somewhat, I found that I was gripped by an almost undeniable urge to find that spokesperson and have the sort of terribly calm and icily careful conversation one has when one’s trying very hard to remember one isn’t very good at hitting people and besides it shouldn’t ought to be done. —The only thing the sexual revolution did for the whole priests-molesting-people thing, I wanted to say, was give us a language to talk about it. Being able to talk, openly, however haltingly and awkwardly, about sex, and desire, and things that are done and things that aren’t done, to figure out openly and together but each for ourselves things like consent and the part it plays in all of this, and to discuss it, and try to come to some vague operational consensus however fractured and misunderstood that here at least was terrain to be mapped and figured out even if we all agreed to disagree later on the particulars—and being able to do so not in ivory tower’d discussions but in messy ugly reactionary contradictory and gloriously stupid popular culture, where anyone who could listen could grab the words and start to sing along—

It enabled people who had been through that sort of thing to begin to realize that something had been done to them which was wrong, and why, and even though everyone directly around them might not have realized or understood or worse realized and understood but had reasons good or ill for not wanting them to speak out about it, well, now they knew there were words; now they knew there were people however far away who could listen; now they knew there was something to say about what had been done. So they said it, more and more of them, louder and louder. Took a while, but here we are.

So yes, I wanted to say, you stupid motherfucking asshole of a spokesperson, the sexual revolution did cause an uptick in the number of people talking openly about what had been done to them by priests.

But only because we can now talk about it openly, you stupid motherfucking asshole.

Priests molested people before the sexual revolution.

And seven-year-olds were inappropriately sexualized before YouTube.

And married couples can still sleep in double beds on the silver screen even in this freshly sodomitical Gomorrah, and we can still create all the art we want that doesn’t say an open word about fucking but is still deliriously gloriously allusively roundaboutishly multiply-entendredly about fucking so long as you’re in on whichever joke’s being made at the moment, and all those ads which use sex so directly and Pavlovianly start to look pretty desperate and stupid once you’re past the whole reflexive response and can actually deal with and yes talk about what’s going on.

—Yes, there are problems with the mob of one; yes democracy is messy, to quote a great stateman of the age. But so long as we’re being even-handed in our final analysis, we’ve got to admit there are times and places where the emphasis on individual liberty has borne more fruit than not; where the problems we have now (and oh yes we have problems; they will always always be with us, after all), but those problems are so much better than the problems we used to have that it is sometimes inconceivable to people who’ve never stopped to think because why should they? They don’t have those old problems anymore. They have these new problems oh my. But one of the primary areas which has borne more fruit than not—

—though and this is the hard part this is also where some of the rage gets its white heat because my fucking god do you realize how much further it is we have yet to go to even to begin to approach some sort of parity on so many slowly slowly slowly bending arcs—

—one of the primary areas where it is so much better now than it has ever been before is in what it is we talk about now when we talk about love, and sex, and desire, and yes even the fucking fucking.

(And I must admit that yes my we in that sentence is doing one hell of a lot of work, just like the we I took so much offense to before. But you know what? I like this we one hell of a lot better. I mean I would, it’s my we. But still.)
posted by kipmanley at 11:25 PM on May 12, 2010 [8 favorites]


codswallop - cognitive bias in extremis. yes, being told that someone knows what is best for you is aggravating. when you are 12. when you are 30+, sometimes, they are more right than you know, especially when it comes to issues you may be misinformed on. like socialism. and representative democracy. and maybe health care. or taxation. or any number of things that are beyond the scope of a majority of those represented by the tea party movement. hell, beyond the scope of even the people who study the damn subject professionally, like economics and sociology.

an individual knows when he is hungry and when he is cold. he does not know when someone is influencing the laws to make sure his wages are stagnant or rigging a system so that his vote is not as good as his neighbors. thus, someone, somewhere, might know better, and very often does not inform the individual of these facts, and instead pushes the button to stir up petulant anger at anyone who might inform the individual of these things. thus, we get people who think that socialism is evil and that Obama is out to take away your guns and there are secret FEMA death camps being built to round up dissidents.
posted by daq at 11:29 PM on May 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


oneswellfoop: The New Populism is a movement of people dedicated to working against their own best interests, just like the Old Populism.

Well, I hope they don't get fooled again....
posted by atomicmedia at 12:02 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the article has a very good point when it notes that the main features of the new populist movements (not just the Tea Party, but also similar reactionary movements in Europe) are a distrust of authority coupled to an excessively high regard of oneself. The author links this to the liberal and conservative revolutions of the 60s and 80s ("Woodstock and Reagan"), but this, in my view, overestimates the impact of politics in deeper social changes. It is my opinion that, behind the unselfconscious individualism which has fostered these changes during the last half-century lies another, much more pervasive influence: advertising. Modern advertising, ever since the "Mad Men" of the 50s, has always sought to flatter its audience. "Freedom", "choice", "being yourself", etc. have been the pervasive advertising buzzwords of the last 60 years. And those are powerful themes: it has been with those words that millions were persuaded, for instance, to take up smoking, despite increasing evidence that it led to excruciating death. And it still works!
The irony in this is that this individualism has always been cultivated in order to manipulate masses. Modern advertising is a much more sophisticated system of mind manipulation than any totalitarian propaganda machine of the twentieth century. This is why its use by economic interests in order to further their social and political agendas is so scary: "YOU DECIDE what we want".
To oppose this impending Idiocracy, we need to revive thoughtful debate. Genuine individualism, as opposed to the fake sort peddled by mercenary persuaders, also involves modesty and self-consciousness, as well as remaining open to the ideas openly articulated by others. Genuine self-interest also goes through recognising the importance of society and of the social conventions which are the price to pay for integration. This is not a left vs. right debate: the left should listen as much to the right about social cohesion, as the right should listen to the left about social solidarity. And, above all, this debate should the open, thoughtful, and respectful, not shrill and manipulative.
posted by Skeptic at 2:32 AM on May 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Surely the alternative to this article's thesis that the Tea Party is an ideological construct that is deeply thought about is that the US economy is driving this. You know how Bill Clinton would, and did, put it.

In the two spikes in unemployment that the US has had since the Cold War 3rd party libertarian setups have arisen.

Around 1990 under Bush Ross Perot his version of this got 19% of the vote in the Presidential election. This compares to the Tea Party's ummm, anything major in any election?

In the lower spike around 2001 there wasn't as much of this because of the alarmism spread about terrorism. In the spikes in the 1970s and in 1980 discipline could be held because of the Cold War.

Graph of US unemployment since WWII.

If the Tea Party spirit lives on beyond a substantial reduction in US unemployment then it would be a serious change or if US unemployment were to remain high then something would crack.

But, basically the alternative theory that considerable chunks of the US seek solutions that do not come from the US's major political parties when the economy goes South is surely a fairly strong counter to arguments describing the Tea Party as a group with a coherent ideology pushing for X or Y.
posted by sien at 5:12 AM on May 13, 2010


At the simplest level, this is what you get when you raise people to be selfish and competitive.

Throw in a distrust of any education that may challenge your world-view and a need to distrust anyone who looks/thinks/acts differently than "normal" and it gets that much worse.

America is #1. Love it or leave it. Shut up and toe the line. And get your hands off my shit.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:20 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find the argument that the Teabaggers are a "Manufactured" movement a little annoying. The right claimed that the entire left-wing movement during the bush years was created entirely by George Soros. Liberals are at least a little more realistic and not claiming a single mastermind is doing all this.

But it's still stupid. These feelings (legitimate or not) are out there and right wing demographers are just soaking it up, like a boat skimming oil off the ocean surface. You're missing what would be, uh, the gusher of toxic stew spewing forth thousands of feet below the surface, in the dark, cold abyss of the right-winger mindset. metaphorically speaking.


Well, the difference would be that the Tea Party actually was manufactured. It's a well-documented creation of astroturf marketers and Fox News. That the conservatives spent 2004 through, well, they'll never stop because a rich Jewish internationalist scapegoat is precisely the sort of villain right-wing and populist movements adore, claiming that Soros single-handedly was masterminding the left is completely irrelevant; there's not a bit of truth to the matter. That somebody could make a similar-sounding claim to the claim you're making is completely irrelevant if their claim is invalid.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:36 AM on May 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


The author misses the role our media is playing in this Tea Party charade. So far the biggest rally I've heard mentioned had @ 8k people. That's not a lot at all. Yet EVERY tea Party event gets endless hype in the media. Hell Fox news even televised an empty lot where there WOULD have been a protest IF ANYONE HAD BOTHERED TO SHOW UP.

Sarah Palin just appeared in Chicago and gave a speech to a massive 4100 people! yet every news outlet felt they had to cover this non -event?

With something like 4% of the population identifying as Tea Partiers, is this really a massive "populist uprising?"

Is there a word for the media keeping something alive? Or does it fall under the astroturf definition?
posted by Max Power at 5:46 AM on May 13, 2010


With something like 4% of the population identifying as Tea Partiers, is this really a massive "populist uprising?"

Any time you have 25 people in one place, look around you and figure out which one is the Teabagger. Your workplace probably has 2-4.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:39 AM on May 13, 2010


With something like 4% of the population identifying as Tea Partiers, is this really a massive "populist uprising?"

No, but never underestimate the power of a determined mere 4%.

(Though my guess is that this will dissipate. Though I could be wrong. By the way, how comes this astroturf reference? I must have been in the bathroom for that scene. Anyone?)
posted by IndigoJones at 7:39 AM on May 13, 2010


The author is Mark Lilla. If you like his article so much, you might have mentioned his name in your post.
posted by languagehat at 7:57 AM on May 13, 2010


this article is off the beam because it's setting up a false parallel between libertarianism and populism, specifically right-wing populism and then broadening it by showing how right and left versions of individualism commit similar errors as political fantasy lives.

The error is the old standard false equivalency: right-wing libertarianism holds that political goods and rights are in permanent shortage. The upshot being that "our" freedoms and rights are being "taken away" from "us" by an unholy alliance of racially inferior underclasses being manipulated by parasitic elites. This is Producerism - an old standby of the John Birch Society and other right-wing conspiratorialists.

The conclusion of Producerist thought is the only way to obtain freedom is to create an underclass from whom rights can be taken and institutionalize that underclass through active discrimination and inequality.

This is so far away from the left wing notion of universal rights that attempts to link right/left hurf durf antigoverment paranoia as sharing similar philosophical causes and partaking of identical analyses is just plain dumb.

This is most telling in Lilla's denial that nativism plays a role in this nonsense, particularly where he says that immigration is not an issue for the Tea Partyistas. I'd love for him to address the Birther situation in his article. He can't because his premises would collapse.

Mark Lilla is reviewing books - he's not doing research himself, he's writing a critique of others, many of whom appear to never have left the shelter of their libraries.

A single visit to a gun show right after Obama got elected would take all the air out this particular right-woos-left fantasy. Get real.
posted by warbaby at 8:15 AM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Corporate media - and not just Fox News - is hyping this movement into something more than it is. They get 200 hundred people at a "rally" and it's plastered all over the news.

This "movement" only exists to railroad Obama out of office. When Clinton was in office and he proposed healthcare reform or went after the tobacco industry all the ruling class had to do was trot out Paula Jones or make up a story like Whitewater.

But since Obama is not blackmailable, The Right had to resort to manufacturing another type of "outrage" with the help of its media.
posted by L'OM at 9:55 AM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


though it also brought us ... a drug trade that serves casual users while destroying poor American neighborhoods and destabilizing foreign nations.

The drug trade has done neither of these things; our government's reaction to the drug trade has. (BTW, poor neighborhoods weren't all that great before the '60s, either.)
posted by coolguymichael at 3:09 PM on May 13, 2010


This is so far away from the left wing notion of universal rights...

This just confirms that today's liberal-progressives aren't left wing at all, having rejected any philosophical notion of universality as inherently totalitarian. As Marxist philosopher Alain Badiou says, multiculturalism is the ideology of global capitalism.
posted by AlsoMike at 11:06 AM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


VIDEO: Jesus Hates Socialism, Obama
posted by homunculus at 12:57 PM on May 15, 2010


Mosque-Mad Tea Party Leader Not a Fan of Muslims or Their 'Monkey-God'
posted by homunculus at 11:52 AM on May 19, 2010


Poll: Tea Party Uncomfortable With Minorities
posted by homunculus at 9:54 AM on June 2, 2010


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